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Thread: Up on the roof: southern skies

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    Default Up on the roof: southern skies



    Ventured out in the middle of the night last night to seek DSOs low in the skies to the south, objects not visible in my northern skies at almost 45° N. In my winter home at 19° N, I was hoping to catch sight of some of these southern treasures.

    My main goal was to see the Eta Carinae Nebula, NCG 3372. At 3 am, this object about as high as it ever gets at this latitude, just under 11 degrees altitude. I had decided to view from the roof of my second story, accessible by ladder from the upstairs patio. That would put me higher above some obstructing trees and gave a clear view to the south.

    At around 9 pm, I packed my AT 80EDT, binoculars, and a couple EPs in a backpack. I hoisted the tripod and manual alt-az mount up to the roof and then carried up the backpack. I set everything up, covered the scope, and came back downstairs to read and sleep until my alarm woke me at 3 am. Put on a hoodie and climbed up to the roof.

    Using the binoculars, I easily found the nebula! The view through thick atmosphere low in the sky was surely far less splendid than those of you in the Southern Hemisphere routinely have, but it surpassed my expectations. The shape of the nebula was clearly delineated and it was bright enough to see some detail.

    There are many things to see in this rich area of the sky. Other objects I viewed were:

    NCG 3532, a beautiful open cluster in Carina, forming an arc of glittering white stars.

    IC 2602, an open cluster in Carina. Termed the Southern Pleiades, this object was dim at only 6° altitude.

    NGC 3114, a pretty, tight open cluster in Carina

    IC 2948, a nebular region surrounding IC 2944, a star cluster in Centaurus. IC 2948 is termed the “Running Chicken Nebula” but I only got a hint of nebulosity and saw no chicken.

    NCG 4755, termed the Jewel Box Cluster, a dense open cluster in Crux. Not as dramatic as I know it must be further south; it’s only at altitude 5° here.

    I ended the night’s observing with NGC 5139, the biggest, brightest globular cluster of them all, also called Omega Centauri. This was not a new object for me, but I never fail to view it when I have a chance.

    I am going to seek out a darker and higher-altitude location where I can take my 8” scope and try to get some better views of some of these and more objects in this fascinating area of the sky.
    Mary

    Scopes: Vixen VMC200L, D=200mm, F=1950, f/9.75; Televue 2" Everbright diagonal. Coronado PST; AstroTech EDT 80mm, F=480, f/6. Mounts: Vixen SXW/Starbook (original); Stellarvue M2C alt-az. Eyepieces: Televue: 55mm Plossl, 22mm Panoptic, 17.3mm Delos, 13mm Nagler, c. 1980, 11mm Plossl, 7mm Nagler; Meade 15mm Super Plossl; VERNONSCOPE 2.4X BARLOW. Binoculars: Leica 8x32 Trinovids, circa 1997; Orion Megaview 20x80, Orion Paragon Plus mount.

  2. The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to Voyageur For This Useful Post:

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    Default Re: Up on the roof: southern skies

    Very good Mary. I don't go up on the roof to often any more. It's a lot of work carrying everything up the ladder (getting older!). Best wishes. Michael
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    Default Re: Up on the roof: southern skies

    Thanks for the great report Mary. You caught a bevy of fine objects. Very exciting!
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    Default Re: Up on the roof: southern skies

    Very nice outing Mary. You observed some of my personal favorites.

    NGC 3532: With various nicknames such as the Pincushion Cluster, Wishing Well Cluster, Football Cluster, Fis Cluster and the Firefly Party Cluster, is one amazingly beautiful and dense clusters.

    IC 2602: I personally have never understood where the term Southern Pleiades comes into play. Nonetheless it is pretty and loose in the eyepiece.

    NGC 3114: Another pretty and rich cluster that is fun to see in the eyepiece.

    IC 2948: This is an interesting object. I have seen the nebulosity with my ED80 from a location around the equator, particularly when using an O-III filter. I totally agree, there is no running chicken here, or any other kind of fowl. The nickname seems totally out of place for it!

    NCG 4755: The Jewel Box is a pretty cluster. Not an overly rich one mind you, but it has some very interesting contrasting color in its stars. That is the main reason for its popularity.

    NGC 5139: There aren't enough superlatives to describe Omega Centauri when seen with some elevation. I know seeing it in my five inch from about 19N latitude a few years ago I was stunned. It looked like a huge explosion of stars, and was easily seen with the naked eye.

    Nicely done Mary, you hit a real who's who of southern objects there.
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    Default Re: Up on the roof: southern skies

    Thanks, Alan. I do feel like I hit the jackpot with those objects. Maybe someday I will see them from a better latitude, but I sure was pleased with what I did see!

    Michael131313, I get it re: ladders and roofs. Can you get a good view from your roof? I really want to have stairs built to the roof. Climbing the ladder is a bit scary, especially with gear, and/or in the middle of the night. Maybe next year I can afford stairs.
    Mary

    Scopes: Vixen VMC200L, D=200mm, F=1950, f/9.75; Televue 2" Everbright diagonal. Coronado PST; AstroTech EDT 80mm, F=480, f/6. Mounts: Vixen SXW/Starbook (original); Stellarvue M2C alt-az. Eyepieces: Televue: 55mm Plossl, 22mm Panoptic, 17.3mm Delos, 13mm Nagler, c. 1980, 11mm Plossl, 7mm Nagler; Meade 15mm Super Plossl; VERNONSCOPE 2.4X BARLOW. Binoculars: Leica 8x32 Trinovids, circa 1997; Orion Megaview 20x80, Orion Paragon Plus mount.

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    Default Re: Up on the roof: southern skies

    A very nice observing session. You hitting the Jackpot were exactly my thoughts when I read your report. From my latitude 52°N those beauties will never be visible. Still I have hopes that once in a lifetime I wil encounter them.
    Thanks!
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    Default Re: Up on the roof: southern skies

    Very exciting Mary! Always a thrill to explore the southern skies from more southerly latitudes.

    I was able to see all the objects on your list when I was in Sydney (and environs) two years ago. All I had with me was a tiny 2" F/7 refractor.

    The Eta Carina nebula I was able to detect only with averted vision from the urban skies of Sydney. Once I took a train out to the rural hinterlands was I able to see the nebulosity in all its glory. You must have fairly dark skies to see the nebula so low down the southern horizon.

    Didn't know there was a "Running Chicken" nebula associated with IC 2944 OC when I was observing the latter - I would have actively looked for the nebulosity if I'd known. No nebulosity mentioned in my notes or shown in my sketch.

    Even with Omega Centauri riding high in the sky, I was not able to resolve the cluster from the city with my 2" 'frac.

    Looking forward to your upcoming report with your 8" in darker skies.
    Last edited by terrynak; 01-31-2019 at 09:10 PM.
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    Default Re: Up on the roof: southern skies

    Nicely done Mary. I appreciate your choice of scope and mount! Great description, too, of your journey. Thanks very much,


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    Default Re: Up on the roof: southern skies

    Outstanding, Mary! Congrats on a great rooftop observing session!
    Bryan

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    Default Re: Up on the roof: southern skies

    Excellent outing Mary!

    As already mentioned a jackpot of the who's who in the Southern skies.
    The Southern Pleiades are best seen in binoculars as it is a fairly extended cluster.
    With my LP I never see the running chicken.
    At one point Gabby sent me a annotated image showing where the chicken lurks, never would have guessed. If I remember(I have trouble remembering how I got to work in the mornings!) I shall ask her to dig out the pic again when she returns from a work trip.
    These are all targets that also sit firmly on my favourites list and most will get a cursory glance during the course of an observing session.

    Thanks for the great report Mary, makes up for all the clouds blocking my views of these magnificent sights.
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