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The Helix Nebula this month

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#1 aa6ww

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 02:02 AM

I always love observing the Helix Nebula. This month its just comes alive in my APM 180 F/6 refractor. Its nearly invisible without an OIII but with the filter installed, it becomes a spectacular big donuts with a nice dark central hole. I think one of my best views of this object was with a 14" dob. I love all that aperature and still was able to capture that big whispy donut in space in one spectacular field of view.

Anyone else enjoy this object as much as I do? If so, what have you used to see it, and have you had much success without an OIII filter?

....Ralph in Sac.

#2 David Knisely

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 02:33 AM

At my dark sky site, I can see it without a filter, but filters definitely boost its contrast and ease of visibility. I do like the OIII filter for providing the most contrast, as it reveals some of the helical nature of the nebula along with some fine-scale dark detail. However, with my 14 inch Newtonian, my narrow-band filter (DGM Optics NPB) does tend to make it look slightly larger with diffuse almost flared ends on the western and eastern sides and hints at some fainter outer detail, like the very faint outer tendril that runs well off the northeastern side of the main doughnut. Clear skies to you.

#3 beatlejuice

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 03:34 PM

The Helix is also one of my favourites this time of year although I have never had a chance to veiw it from a dark sky site. From what has become my most used site on a red-orange border it is always visible in my 10’ with an OIII but the sky transparency plays a huge roll in how bright it appears. I have not been able to tease out much detail and on some nights it is just a very pale haze even with the OIII filter. Have seen it once without the filter from this site. That ghostly image reminded me of what M101 looks like from here. Because I have pretty well memorized the pattern of the field stars and know exactly where it is located it can sometimes seem visible without a filter when in fact it probably is not. It is definitely on my must see list if I ever get to a really dark sky at the right time of year.

Eric

#4 REC

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 04:06 PM

Do you think I could see it in my 8" sct with a oiii from a red zone?

Also can use my 10" dob with a npb filter?

#5 beatlejuice

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 07:16 PM

Do you think I could see it in my 8" sct with a oiii from a red zone?

Also can use my 10" dob with a npb filter?



Sure. Needless to say no moon with good transparency will help. Also, the fact that my location has the major light glow from the city in the north with no major cities in the south. But it gets 3-4 degrees higher where you are. Can be a tricky star hop if thats your method but there are a couple of trails to follow.

Eric

#6 youngamateur42

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 10:00 PM

How does this object compare in visibility with the brighter part of the Veil Nebula (NGC 6995)?

#7 beatlejuice

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 11:03 PM

On the night that I was able to see the Helix without a filter I was unable to do the same on the brighter part of the Veil from my location.

Eric

#8 MrJones

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 06:26 AM

Thanks for the heads up, I waited too late last year and missed it.

We have exceptional seeing and transparency right now (Venus looked like it had gone supernova yesterday evening) so I gave The Helix a shot last night even with the moon and neighbor's lights to the South.

I easily got a nice hazy patch in my mediocre 6" SCT with Meade OIII filter at 44x. I could see no detail other than I could make out that it was oval and I couldn't even discriminate the darker center with a good 20 minutes of trying, but the nebula was there. So you don't need a big scope for this one but you do need great conditions. I'd say it's easier to detect than NGC 6995, but The Veil does have the huge advantage of getting near the zenith for us 40N latitude people.

It was actually less contrasty in the Z12 with Ultrablock filter which meant borderline detectable - I couldn't make out the oval. I expect this is the type of situation where any filters like the DGMs that let through too much skyglow are going to fail. With moon + any lights a good OIII filter is going to be best. With a very dark sky and decent transparency I'm sure it's bright enough for NBP filters as per many other reports.

#9 youngamateur42

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 08:45 AM

Thanks for the replies on that question, seems that some low power is going to help bring it out, and a filter of course

#10 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 09:08 AM

I've had cloudy skies for awhile, at least on the nights I had time to set up and observe. Clouds last night too so a no go. I don't have large scopes but I think I should be able to find this one with my 6SE. I've got some filters to try but I'll have to wait for some clear sky. I appreciate the nice reports...

#11 esd726

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 09:45 AM

How does this object compare in visibility with the brighter part of the Veil Nebula (NGC 6995)?

I think it's easier. I can see both without filter, but Helix is MUCH more obvious to me.

#12 Gil V

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 12:12 AM

Saw this in my 8" SCT tonight. First time for me.

Undetectable without my UHC filter. Pretty easy with it.

#13 John_G

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 06:34 AM

First time for me as well from a Bortle 3 location. I saw it with my 200mm but also with 10x50 binoculars. Ghostly but large and quite easy to see.

#14 Gil V

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 08:56 AM

"Ghostly" is an apt description. Viewing the Helix cemented my opinion about a narrow-band filter being a "must have" for deep sky. Sky Safari had me pointing right at it. Could not see it - until I dropped in the narrowband. Then, it was right there!!

I am still getting accustomed to the process of viewing assisted by DSCs and modern filters. It's really "opened my eyes".

#15 esd726

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 09:06 AM

Ghostly but large and quite easy to see.

Totally agree. I bet it would be even better if I used a filter.

#16 jeff heck

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 10:51 AM

On a good night from a green site I can see the Helix in my finder scope. On these nights it is enjoyable to watch stars along the edges twinkle as you use averted vision. Looks like a big Christmas wreath with blinking white lights, very cool! :coolnod:

#17 blb

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 11:27 AM

I have never seen the Helix Nebula without a filter. I guess that is more of a testament to my light pollution than anything else. Even with a filter "Ghostly" is an apt description of this nebula. Even though it is ghostly, it appears to look like it shimmers in the sky. This is an object I love to look at when I can get out of town. I wish we had darker skies gere in NC.

#18 REC

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 12:34 PM

I had it in my scope with a filter buy barely could make anything out in my Red zone.

#19 David Knisely

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 01:12 PM

MrJones wrote:

It was actually less contrasty in the Z12 with Ultrablock filter which meant borderline detectable - I couldn't make out the oval. I expect this is the type of situation where any filters like the DGMs that let through too much skyglow are going to fail. With moon + any lights a good OIII filter is going to be best. With a very dark sky and decent transparency I'm sure it's bright enough for NBP filters as per many other reports.


Again, I had little trouble seeing the Helix from my home site (ZLM 5.3) using the DGM Optics NPB Filter in a 9.25 inch SCT at 59x. The object was only about 28 degrees above the south horizon where the limiting magnitude was closer to 4.0, but I could still clearly see the darkening in the middle using that filter. The contrast was nearly identical to that of my Orion Ultrablock which has no red transmission, so your assertion about the DGM somehow "letting in too much skyglow" is flawed in this case. Even my Lumicon UHC narrow-band filter provided a good level of enhancement, although I preferred the view slightly more in the NPB. Without a filter, there was only the slightest hint of something in the field of view. The Lumicon OIII provided notably more contrast than the narrow-band filters, making the "hole" in the middle a lot more noticeable, but the overall outer extent of the nebula was very slightly smaller than with the narrow-band filters. The OIII also sharpened the detail on the ring itself, revealing at least hints of the helical form of the object

#20 Fuzzyguy

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 12:38 PM

Last week I viewed the Helix for the first time in my 8" SCT and with 15X70 binoculars under skies similar to David's. As noted above, the nebula appeared "ghostly" to me and barely visible in the 8" without a filter using a 40mm Plossl. While the image was still "ghostly" in the binoculars, it was very easy to see. I couldn't find it while casually scanning the region, but once I identified the correct star field, it popped right out.

I didn't look at it with an UCH filter on the scope, but I did use an OIII. It really popped in the 40mm and revealed it as a big, bright "smoke ring". The view was larger, but a lot less contrasty using the ES24 even with the OIII. I was viewing with a hood to block reflected LP and I was fairly well dark adapted.

My conclusion is that this is a lot better at lower magnification and larger exit pupil with its low surface brightness. I think it would be more spectacular if I'd had OIII or UHC filters on my binoculars than in either of my telescopes.

#21 tigerroach

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 12:43 PM

The Helix is one of my favorite fall objects. From our dark-sky site it is detectable in binocs and unfiltered scopes any decent night, but on nights of exceptional transparency the details of the nebula really start to come out in the telescope.

If the weather cooperates this weekend, the Helix will be on the list! :)

#22 Edward E

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 11:23 AM

The Helix Nebula is one of my favorite early fall DSO. Back in the southeast I could just make it out with a Meade 8" f6 reflector under good sky conditions. Here in S AZ I can see it easily with a pair of 9X56 Orion binoculars (no filter); looks like a small,round, gray cloud. The Helix really stands out nicely in my 11" Celestron GPS equipped with an OIII filter and a 6.3 focal reducer. The best view is in the 20" f4.5 Dob with no filter. Lots of details are visible @ that aperture.

Has anyone observed the edge on galaxy on the Helix's N.W. side just S of a 9th magnitude star superimposed on (or behind) the nebula? I think Stephen J. O'Meara brought the galaxy to readers attention in his book "Deep Sky Companions: The Caldwell Objects" and challenged readers to try to observe it. I'm going to give it a try this Saturday with the 20" and have I can see it have others with smaller scopes on the field give it a try.

#23 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 03:29 PM

The Helix is readily visible through my Celestron 8x42s from a dark site.

I've had some great views of it through large apertures, including John Vogt's 32" ATM Dob.

Dave Mitsky






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