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Indoor observing

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#1 Astrojensen


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Posted 04 January 2013 - 05:21 PM

Yesterday brought a lot of rain here, but in the late afternoon, it began to clear up now and then, just to turn completely cloudy again a moment later. I kept an eye on it until around 9.00 PM, when a large, promising, sucker hole had been covered by thick clouds that seemed to not open up any more. Not keeping an eye on it was clearly a mistake, as I found out an hour later, when I was heading to bed. It was now perfectly clear. Now what?

I was too tired to haul out a lot of equipment and there was also a lot of wind. I also needed to get up very early in the morning, so a long session was out of the question. I decided to stay inside and look out the glass door to my garden, which faces south-southeast. Is that possible, you ask, and yes, it is, as long as you aren't too critical about image definition. The transmission seems to be quite good and nebulae and galaxies show up quite well.

I used my Zeiss Telemator, which was already in place. I attached the 2" diagonal and inserted my 42mm Kellner, giving 20x and a 2.5° true field. The Orion Nebula was immediately visible and quite well defined, despite lack of dark adaption. A few minutes made a clear difference. Moving north, the large, open cluster around Orion's belt was quite well framed and beautiful, a sight reserved for binoculars and small wide-field telescopes. Northeast of the Belt, I easily spied M78.

Things looked quite good, despite the mushy, spiky stars, so I tried for something more difficult: NGC 2022, the small planetary in northern Orion. After a lot of careful observing with averted vision, I think I glimpsed it. Maybe. Oh well.

The Rosette Nebula was a lot easier, clearly visible at 20x as a soft glow around open cluster NGC 2244. A few degrees north and I had the Christmas Tree cluster in view. It was years ago since I saw it last time, except for a hasty glimpse in binoculars. It was pretty in the 20x eyepiece. I did not bother looking for the Cone Nebula...

But Hubble's Variable Nebula was definitely easily seen at 84x (10mm GSO Superview), (once I found the right spot...) I was surprised to find a clearly visible V-shape with a stellar knot or star at the tip of the V. A very interesting object, that I had actually not seen before. Clearly a mistake.

East and a little north of the Rosette Nebula, I stumbled upon a small open cluster that I didn't know about. Nothing unusual in that, but I couldn't find it in Uranometria 2000.0. I made a notice about it and continued. But next day I still couldn't find it in any source I consulted. Read more about it here:


After Monoceros, I moved eastwards to Cancer, to open cluster M67. With only 20x the cluster was pretty concentrated and stood out well in the field. 42x with a 20mm GSO Superview brought out more stars, but also spread them out a lot more. Still a very pretty sight.

M44 was quite gorgeous with the 20x eyepiece, which allowed the large cluster to really stand out in the field. In larger telescopes with a smaller field of view the cluster tends to stand out a lot less from the background.

NGC 2775 SE of M67 is a small, but quite bright galaxy (as galaxies go). I hopped to it from Hydra's head. It was not visible at 20x, but quite well visible at 84x (10mm GSO). It stood out a bit better in a 15mm GSO, 56x, at which power it was a small, somewhat elongated glow. A 20mm GSO was not nearly as good and the galaxy was difficult.

I suddenly saw that it was already almost 11.30 PM! And I had to be up at 4 AM! I then noticed a glow in the east, the Moon was rising. Time to call it a night, but, oh, what a wonderful hour I had spent with the stars, even though there had been a bit more glass between them and me than usual.

And I hadn't been cold at all! It almost felt like cheating!

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#2 nytecam


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Posted 04 January 2013 - 05:35 PM

Good report and perfectly feasible - the late George Alcock disovered novae and maybe a comet through his landing window with binos ;-)

#3 Carol L

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 07:25 PM

:bow: Great report - well done Thomas!

I'm glad you posted this. :grin: The view through a window might not be a perfect one, but it's a real mood-booster when life's been getting in the way. I did some DSO and lunar viewing through the window at about 2:00 AM last night - had some decent views, too.

#4 Patricko



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Posted 04 January 2013 - 09:28 PM

Hi Thomas, excellent report and a great inspirational post. I have always dreamed of designing an indoor observatory with a piece of high-grade optical glass that could be rotated to whatever position in the sky using the dome. +1 for dedication to amateur astronomy on your part. :cool:

#5 IVM



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Posted 05 January 2013 - 12:52 PM

Nice! I guess the absence of light pollution is the key, window glass is not as important, at least for nebulous objects at low magnifications. I glimpsed an open cluster or two in Cas with binoculars from my window once just out of curiosity, but the light pollution here is so extreme (white zone) that I don't do any deep sky from home, window or no window.

#6 dpwoos


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Posted 05 January 2013 - 01:21 PM

I used to do quite a bit of indoor observing through our large westward facing kitchen window using a homemade 60mm refractor with an Edmund (Paul Rini) achromat. I learned how to find a bunch of stuff, which served me well once we built our first dob. I remember how happy I was that I could find the Crab Nebula lickety-split! I think that folks who have never tried it would be surprised at how much one can see through a (clean) window.

#7 E_Look



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Posted 06 January 2013 - 12:18 AM

Heh heh... maybe my windows are just too dirty! I can barely see planets through mine, and then only big bright ones like Saturn and Jupiter.

#8 george golitzin

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 01:28 AM

I was going to say it sounds like you had a nice outing. Except you didn't! Great report--I'm always inspired by what you pick up in your little Telemator.


#9 Astrojensen


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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:10 PM

I was going to say it sounds like you had a nice outing. Except you didn't!

You could say that I had a good inning! ;)

Great report--I'm always inspired by what you pick up in your little Telemator.

Thanks! To be honest, I am still often surprised by what she can pull in.

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#10 wky46


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Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:08 PM

Very nice report! I have been known to shut my door, the heater register, and point my telescope out an open window (never trusted looking through my window panes). I did it quite often before deciding on a place to put it outside. I have pretty dark skies out of an east facing window and have been tempted to bring my telescope inside. But not now, I may just leave that job to my bino's.

#11 Tim L

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 08:04 AM

You inspired me, Thomas.

Skies were clear last night but the temps were falling below freezing. So I set up my ST80 in front of a window that affords a tiny slice through trees toward the west.

After taking a while to get my bearings, I was able to catch M15. Later I was able to find Uranus. I tried to see gamma Aires and eta Pisces, but couldn't make a clean split. Gamma Aires showed as a blue and white blur only. :smirk:

Anyway, lots of fun, though, and I stayed warm. Thanks for the idea! :waytogo:

#12 stmguy



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Posted 07 January 2013 - 10:05 AM

This reminds me of many years ago when I got my first telescope, a 60 mm Sears Refractor for Christmas and it stayed well below zero for two weeks and all I could do is use it through my window


#13 drbyyz


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Posted 07 January 2013 - 10:44 AM

The moon shines through a fairly large, high window we have in our house fairly often. Maybe I'll work on my AL Lunar program from my couch!

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