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Horse Head in an 8", or how I learned to...

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#1 drbyyz

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 01:03 AM

stop thinking it was impossible and start trying!

So here's the rundown on my first, and I'll say fairly successful, encounter with B33. Had the scope out at a green sky sight this evening with great conditions. Seeing was just over a 3/5 and Transparency was a respectable 4/5 if not a touch more at times. ZLM was 6+, I didn't spend a lot of time determining it, but I found 2 5.8 stars quite easily. Several other people had scopes set up earlier in the night but had all left when I started my assault. We all agreed M42 was the best we've seen it in awhile and I even showed a few people their first look at the Flame, which was quite impressive tonight. Once they had all trickled out my serious work began.

From the Flame I worked my way down to NGC2023, a first for me as well. It appeared quite large and circular around a fairly bright star. Almost like the halo caused by a fogged up eyepiece(immediately checked to make sure that wasn't the case!). After a few moments a little definition came out give it a slightly triangular shape with the right angle being the brightest area. Next I moved West to the two stars I knew I should be looking between and to the South of. And that's when the work started. Keeping NGC2023 in the same FOV I played around switching out EPs to decide which one would give me the best shot. The 28mm ES turned out to be the winner, 2.8 exit pupil and 71x, plus a large enough FOV to frame the area while also keeping Altinak far enough away.

I immediately started to notice some extremely faint nebulosity between the two brighter stars. Using various AV and tube tapping techniques I worked to see how far I could get it to stretch. After about 10 minutes I had definitely gotten a nice thin elongation to the South and the original patch of nebulosity was starting to stand out very well. Another 5-10 minutes and I started to notice a darker area to the East of the elongation, which it seemed to wrap around. Aha! This must be it. I began to focus my attention on this darker patch and sure enough, the nebulosity seemed to surround it on 3 sides. After another 10 minutes I was sure this must be it, larger than I expected(even after being told to expect that) and definitely much darker than the surrounding sky.

Time to break out the sketch pad. I was nervous doing this because I was sure I would lose it the second my red light came on. I used my dimmest red light and tried my best to observe with the left eye, and shut it to sketch with the right. I will attach my sketch to this post. I'm sure some of the stars are a little misplaced, but I've never been too good at getting the distances and angles quite right.

All in all this was a great experience and I feel like a huge milestone for me. If it weren't for this forum I probably would have never thought to even try this in an 8" much less give it the time and patience it needed. Now someone loan me a 20" so I can see this sucker in all its glory!

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#2 hbanich

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 02:47 AM

I used my dimmest red light and tried my best to observe with the left eye, and shut it to sketch with the right.


This is exactly how I sketch all the time - not so easy at first but it quickly became second nature. A big part of what makes this work, I think, is keeping the red light as dim as possible while sketching, plus I've found that taking a few minutes break during the sketching process helps reduce eye fatigue.

And congrats on your Horsehead observation! It is bigger than expected, isn't it? It does become quite impressive through a bigger scope too and I hope you get the chance to see it in a 20 inch or larger one day. However, a good view through a big scope can be enough to spark aperture fever all by itself so be careful...

#3 azure1961p

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 05:39 AM

No H-beta?

Congratulations!!!!

Pete

#4 drbyyz

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 10:07 AM

However, a good view through a big scope can be enough to spark aperture fever all by itself so be careful...


Oh don't worry, that fever hit long ago. But, currently I move too often and don't have the desire to transport and/or set up a large scope, especially doing most of my observing alone. Perhaps when I have a more permanent residence with nice skies I'll consider a nice upgrade. I'll just invest in the quality eyepieces for it until then.

#5 Phillip Creed

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 12:03 PM

Congrats. It goes to show you that the biggest impediment often isn't the instrument, or even the observer. It's the psychological angle of it; "it can't be done, I tell ya!"

Once you know what you're looking for, you might find it's doable in smaller instruments. One thing that is important, though, is that the 486-nm H-Beta of the nebulosity surrounding the Horsehead is relatively short, and is scattered more by the atmosphere than longer wavelenths, including the 510-nm peak of human vision at nighttime (reverts back to 550-nm peak in daytime).

In short, transparency is *absolutely* critical for seeing the Horsehead, not having a gigantic instrument.

Some have seen an unfiltered view (no H-Beta filtration) of the Horsehead in a 4" scope, as detailed in Walter Scott Houston's "Deep Sky Wonders" book. The best I've done is a set of unfiltered 25x100 binoculars (essentially a 4.7" refractor when binocular summation is applied) from Bortle Class 1 skies in Big Bend National Park.

Clear Skies,
Phil

#6 kansas skies

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 12:11 PM

Very nice sketch. I wish I could sketch better, but somehow my sketches never seem to make much sense. Congratulations on a real accomplishment!

Bill

#7 Fuzzyguy

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 02:25 PM

Way to go!! I had very transparent skies here a couple of nights last week, and although I could see the nebula, I just couldn't pull out the HH. I felt like it was just there out of reach, so it was kind of frustrating. :(

I do think I'll see it one day though in my 8" so I'll just keep trying. Your success has refueled me! :jump:

#8 aa6ww

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 02:04 AM

Congratulations on seeing the Horse head. I have seen it in my C14 without a H-Beta filter, in mag 6 skies, but by no means did it jump out at me, and I was only able to do it after other friends I was with at the time had either fallen asleep or passed out from too much smoking or drinking, neither of which I do or even like to be around when I'm out with my largest scope.
There's a lesson here, a hidden message that I have been very adamant about, which my other, mostly former observing friends just cant comprehend when I'm out doing astronomy.
The message is, the importance of dark adaptation of your eyes, and the value they give you when you do so.
The people I've observed with in the past, just don't understand this, and they send text messages in the middle of the night and get inside their cars, and completely blow out their eyes with extremely bright red flashlights and just don't care. As a result, Ive moved away from observing with others, and despite my suburban back yard skies, I can usually see more by myself, then I can under darker skies, with friends.
As I said earlier, Ive been able to see the Horsehead in my C14, but never when others are around me, because it takes time, to sit at the eyepiece, with your eyes glued to the eyepiece for sometimes a half hr or more, and I cant do that around others. When I'm alone and looking for something so dim, i cant see it without extreme focus on what I'm doing.
I had this same issue when trying to observe Einsteins Cross. I could never find the lensing galaxy when I was with others, but when I was alone, twice, I found the lensing galaxy, PGC 69457, though I could not detect the quasar, finding the lensing galaxy was pretty fun, especially since I use a push pull equatorial mount.

Whenever I take out my C14, I want to be left alone and don't care for people asking me questions, or talking to me, or distracting me from what I set out to do for the evening. If I'm at a dark site, people say I seem upset, and I just say I didn't come out here to talk to others, since I work off my own agenda. I go as far as wear extremely dark glasses during the day time and stay indoors or in a tent till the bright sunlight is gone. and I wear the dark glasses till I can no longer see with them on, then switch to red goggles. My friends say this is ridiculous, but the few times Ive seen dim objects and asked them to see for themselves, they cant see a thing in my eyepiece. Lately, I even set up 7 foot portable walls around me and my gear, to keep out any stray light. All of this gives me a huge advantage for deep space hunting, when I'm trying to squeeze out every photon of light from my optics.

....Ralph

#9 leviathan

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 02:26 AM

I was trying to find it in my 8" SCT month ago in grey zone, with Lumicon UHC, but wasn't lucky. I could see the sights of long nebula where Horse Head should be, but not a shape of Horse Head itself. I guess I need H-Beta for this.

The message is, the importance of dark adaptation of your eyes, and the value they give you when you do so.
The people I've observed with in the past, just don't understand this, and they send text messages in the middle of the night and get inside their cars, and completely blow out their eyes with extremely bright red flashlights and just don't care. As a result, Ive moved away from observing with others, and despite my suburban back yard skies, I can usually see more by myself, then I can under darker skies, with friends.

+1. Exactly the same happens with me.






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