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Observing report, 1/2/2012

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#1 eps0mu0

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 11:22 PM

1/2/2013 - 9:00pm PDT. Scope=6" Celectron SCT, 1500mm fl. Eyepiece= 25mm Plossl that came with scope.
It was a clear sky, and the Moon wouldn't rise until ~11pm, so I set up the scope on my driveway, in plain view of a street light. No need to follow dark sky protocol... I can read a star map by the romantic glow of the street light. But dew formation on the corrector and eyepiece would be a problem. Fortunately I had a second extension cord and a hair dryer handy. I pointed the scope at Jupiter, in order to align the finder scope. Bands on Jupiter were easily visible... I saw five moons! Of course, given Jupiter's location, there were many background stars. I did a quick search for C/2012 K5, and sure enough, near Theta Aurigae, it was visible as a fuzzy blob. Then a quick look at M42. Even after many years of observing this object, it never disappoints.
I set up the go-to. I cannot understand the choice of alignment stars the controller gave me. First suggestion was Deneb, which at the time was very low in the sky. All other suggestions were not very bright stars. Hamal seemed like a good place to start. As usual, after the two star alignment, it took two additional calibration stars to get decent performance.
I like planetary nebulae, so I chose M76 in Perseus as my first object. After the scope slewed and stopped, it was almost in the middle of the field. It was a small, oblong, faint fuzzy patch, in the center of a quadrilateral of stars. One of the stars was a bit bigger. No detail visible in the nebula. Not surprising, given its faint appearance. There was a recent post about seeing details in M76 using a larger scope (and presumably a darker location). I could only make out the oblong shape.
Next item was M77 in Cetus. Usually galaxies are my nemesis, since they are easily washed out in the light polluted skies. But M77 came through. It was easily visible. A round fuzzy patch, with a stellar like interior. There apparently is also a faint star off to one side. I got out my 8-24mm zoom, to get a closer look. The fuzzy patch got bigger, but I couldn't make out any additional detail.
Next up was the planetary nebula NGC1535 in Eridanus. This was easily visible as a non-stellar object at 60x, even though it was in a bright part of the sky. Once I cranked up the magnification to 125x, some detail appeared visible; one side looked brighter than the other. Interestingly, "Planetary Nebulae and How to Observe Them", by M.Griffiths, states "no central brightening visible", but "The Brightest Planetary Nebulae", by M.Zecchin (available online as a PDF) states "brightness increases toward the center". Griffiths did not mention the magnification used for his observations; Zecchin observed at 250x with a 120mm dia refractor. German observer R.Topler, in "Planetarische Nebel Verstehen und Beobachten", operating at considerably higher magnification (~480x using a 360mm dia Newtonian), indicates a complex visible structure (roughly translated "...around it[the central star] lies a bright oval ring consisting of arcs and knots..."). So, did I see something real, or was it just a combination of the seeing and my poor eyesight? I'll find out next time I get to observe this object.
Feeling lucky, I tried a galaxy, NGC1407 in Eridanus. With the glow from light pollution, I did not expect to see this object, and I was not disappointed.
I then tripped over my power cable, and the scope controller reset. I did not feel like slogging through the re-aligning procedure, so I tried for a few easy objects with star hopping. M35 in Gemini was well placed, and easy to see in the finder. It filled the entire FOV in my 25mm Plossl. Then I went to the location of M1. Maybe this object lives up to its fame under dark skies, but in my light polluted area, it is a large, yet faint fuzzy blob. No detail visible.
I had to quit after about 1-1/2hrs under the skies, but considered the night a success. NCG1535 was a new "catch" for me.

#2 Edward E

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 11:39 AM

Nice report thanks for sharing it with us. It is always nice to add a new object to ones DSO list; keeps things from becoming monotonous and unexciting.

#3 drbyyz

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 01:30 PM

Will your scope let you use Polaris as an alignment star? I've heard many suggest using that as your first star for alignment as it won't really move during the time it takes you to find your second star thus making your alignment more accurate.

Also thanks for the report, always love reading people's opinions on what stuff looked like to them and yours is well documented.

#4 eps0mu0

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 06:52 PM

Drbyyz,
In the documentation for my CGE5, it states that the software 'filters out' stars near the poles. Apparently, using stars close to the poles reduces alignment accuracy. I also learned more about the alignment procedure. Reading the manual can be helpful.
Regards,
JCF

#5 eps0mu0

eps0mu0

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 06:52 PM

Drbyyz,
In the documentation for my CGE5, it states that the software 'filters out' stars near the poles. Apparently, using stars close to the poles reduces alignment accuracy. I also learned more about the alignment procedure. Reading the manual can be helpful.
Regards,
JCF






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