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My second dark sky trip!

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#1 StrangeDejavu

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 08:07 PM

Woohoo, i'm about 24 hours away from standing in a blue/gray zone. I've been observing for almost 9 months now, but this will only be my second trip. :) Back in March, I ordered an Omni XLT 102, and went on a family camping trip only a few days later. I had no clue how to use my telescope or how to traverse the night sky. I had no SkySafari/Stelarrium and only knew how to find one object- M42. This was my one and only target I was able to observe that night, but wow it was enough to make me await this day all summer. Now that I have a much deeper understanding of my equipment and how to navigate the sky, I have a few targets I have planned.

At the top of my list is M31, this is a must for me. This will be my first view of a non-light polluted galaxy, as all i've seen thus far have been from the middle of a white zone. Right after sunset, i'll be starting out on M13. After M13, i'll jump up to Andromeda for M31. After M31, i'll be jumping over and checking out M33. From here, i'll drop down and check out the North American Nebula, Crescent Nebula and finally over to the Veil.

The best view I have will be of the West, North West and North skies. Southern and Eastern skies are covered with really tall pines which will obstruct my view unless it's near zenith. Given this, any recommendations? Any "can't miss" targets?

I can't wait. :woohoo:

#2 JayinUT

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 08:33 PM

Coingrats and enjoy your time. Besides M31 try for M33 which is nearby.

#3 labmand

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 10:23 PM

How about a few doubles?
May want to start with Albireo (Cygni), and Almach
(Andromedae) deep sky is nice but doubles rock!

#4 chazcheese

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 11:21 PM

How about M110 and M32 while you're in the area of M31. M45 should be available for the lowest power eyepiece or binos. The double double in Lyra and m57. The Moon! There's gobs of goodies, try a free software program such as Cartes du Ciel or Stellarium <sp?> and input the date, time, and location which will tell you what's up and where to look.

#5 acochran

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 02:22 AM

After several attempts, I recently saw the Crescent Nebula for the first time--very dark/hard to see, even with my NPB filter that I bought from DGM. Thanks to Stellarium and knowing what it looks like, I found it. Otherwise, I would have passed it by.
Veil Nebula is great! Kind of dark with the filter, but I need it. Very big too.
Ring Nebula is nearby, crank up the magnification on that one! Dumbbell Nebula (M 27) too.
North America Neb is huge, not sure what filter to use.
I LOVE galaxy NGC 253 below constellation Cetus! But it may be in the trees.
Galaxies M 81/82 might be up late at night? Jupiter also.
Double open clusters in Perseus is nice.
I like open cluster M 35 in the feet of Gemini. It has a small companion next to it that almost looks like a globular cluster...very pretty.
Sagittarius has many great nebulas (Lagoon, Trifid, Swan) but they may be hard to see as it is setting--Left of Venus at sunset.
Comet ISON maybe pre dawn? Check Dec Sky & Telescope Magazine.
In the CN Celestial Events section, in the November Calendar Dave Mitsky writes a list of objects to view every month, very helpful. Check past months too.
Andy

#6 Tony Flanders

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 08:47 AM

Woohoo, i'm about 24 hours away from standing in a blue/gray zone.


Just to remind you -- the sky won't get dark until the Moon sets.

#7 mak17

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 12:52 PM

Where is this blue/gray zone exactly?

#8 StrangeDejavu

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 01:58 PM

Thanks all for the recommendations. I forgot about ISON, that will be worth waking up for.

mak17, most of my family went in on buying property about 1 hour away from Bull Cove. It doubles as the family campground and a great place for me to setup the scopes.

#9 woodscavenger

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 02:08 PM

You are in trouble. After this trip you will be looking at putting your house on the market and moving off grid......

Hit Casseiopia (sp?) some really cool DSOs there. I like the visual look of M103 in my 12"Dob. To me it looks like a large triangle with a smaller inverted triangle inside due to some of the brighter stars in the cluster.

#10 StrangeDejavu

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 02:14 PM

Hehe, I've been considering it for a while. ;) Somewhere in Colorado or West Virginia would be ideal for me.

Glad you brought up Cassiopea, I need to check out the Double Cluster while I'm there.

#11 WarmWeatherGuy

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 04:17 PM

At the top of my list is M31, this is a must for me. This will be my first view of a non-light polluted galaxy, as all i've seen thus far have been from the middle of a white zone.


Your dark site might not be dark enough to see M31 like you might be expecting. M31 as seen in the pictures is 3° wide or 6 full moons wide. The animation shows M31 as seen in a light polluted place and a really dark site. Actually I doubt anyone can see the full galaxy like you see in the pictures. It is too dim. What you will see is probably something in-between these two images. I look forward to your dark site report when you get back.

Posted Image

#12 PeterR280

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 05:06 PM

it's hard to see the dust lanes. I think you need a large telescope for that.

#13 boandpokey

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 06:00 PM

those are long exposures.. wont look like that observing.. im also heading somewhere tomorrow night to spend the wee hour observing and comet chasing. ill report back

#14 Tony Flanders

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 06:00 AM

At the top of my list is M31, this is a must for me. This will be my first view of a non-light polluted galaxy, as all i've seen thus far have been from the middle of a white zone.


Your dark site might not be dark enough to see M31 like you might be expecting. M31 as seen in the pictures is 3° wide or 6 full moons wide. The animation shows M31 as seen in a light polluted place and a really dark site. Actually I doubt anyone can see the full galaxy like you see in the pictures. It is too dim. What you will see is probably something in-between these two images. I look forward to your dark site report when you get back.

Posted Image


Actually, the entire extent of M31 shown in that photo is visible under dark skies.

However, the photo is grossly misleading - in some ways worse than the actual view -- because the inner portion of the galaxy, which is completely burned out in the photo is actually medium-faint, showing considerable detail. And the outer region is best visible with averted vision, which is impossible to depict in a photo.

#15 azure1961p

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 08:08 AM

If say post this in the deepsky forum and you'll be very happy.

Pete
Ps: stopover with NGC7662 would be worthwhile - its in the neighborhood.
M33 in particular -as u list it - truly benefits from a dark sky. Id also make a stop at The Helix with an OIII and low power in Aquarius. Beautiful object!! The double cluster under dark sky's is particularly amazing.


#16 StrangeDejavu

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 03:37 PM

You were right Steve, it was somewhere between those two examples. I saw no dust lanes, just a gray fuzzy frisbee shape. Same with M33, no dust lanes or arms but through the SW120ED I could see the outline and the general shape. The Moon wasn't completely down yet, it was ~15° above the horizon at the time.

I started out on NGC 7662 (Blue Snowball) which looked fantastic. Even at high magnification, I could see it with direct vision. It wasn't the faint orb that disappears when you look at it and appears with averted vision I see back at home.

M31 and M33 were a bust considering the light pollution thrown out by the Moon. It was however low enough to see M33 in my 9x50 finder. I will give these two galaxies the benefit of the doubt given I didn't have completely black skies. Still dramatically better than the views in my white zone.

I shot up to Cygnus at this point and was stunned at how many stars were visible. After I collected my jaw from the floor, I attempted the North American nebula and the Veil- to no avail. ;)

Next I dropped down to Lyra and spent some time with M57. Same deal as the Snowball, even with magnification cranked up it lost no brightness with direct vision. M56 above M57 wouldn't resolve, but I think this had more to do with aperture than moon glow.

Next stop was M27, which was incredible to see in its full and unmitigated shape. After a while on this object, I attempted to find the Helix. This was going to be the second new object of the night, the first being M33. After a few starhops and going back and forth with SkySafari, I realized I had found its location. Excited, I quickly went to the eyepiece- oh, hello tree branch. :( I got up and moved the setup and tried again. Once again, the tip of a pine was directly obstructing the part of the sky where the Helix hid from me. Around this time, it was getting really cold (for Florida) and I had heard some coyotes nearby, so I decided to trek it back to the campsite.

At this point, the Moon was gone and it was roughly 12:30am. Orion had just broke the treeline when I got back and setup, so I readied myself for the reunion with the first object I ever saw through a telescope. It was just as I remembered it from March- STUNNING. Like a bird, its wings sprawled from one end of my 24mm eyepiece to the other. With the DGM NPB and careful studying, I noticed an incredibly faint hint of pink. It was very faint but real. My parents who usually give the typical "cool cool" took to the eyepiece and both gasped "WOW!". M42 was without a doubt the highlight of the night.

I ended the night laying on the ground by the fire, scanning back and forth from Perseus to Pleiades and the clusters in Cassiopeia with a pair of binoculars. It's trips like this that reinfornce why I love this hobby so much, even on those bug ridden, hot nights in a white zone when almost nothing is visible. We have another trip planned for the weekend of my Dad's birthday (4th week in January). I just got home and I already can't wait to go back. :)

#17 mak17

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 06:04 PM

Interesting report. Im surprised by a couple of things though. Both dust lanes in M31 are easily seen in my 80mm F11 refractor from Chiefland which is in a dark green zone. From a dark blue zone in my 12" both arms could be seen arching around the galaxy. M33 shows almost all its NGC objects even at low power. You need to go back to these with the moon down. The second thing that i found interesting was not that you observed pink in M42, but that you observed it using a filter. With my Orion Ultrablock the whole image turns a very distinct almost teal color. More nebulosity can be glimpsed but the pinks, grays, and purples can only be seen without the filter. If you have a smart phone you should get sky safari plus. Well worth the 15 bucks and will keep you busy all night hunting for DSOs.

#18 StrangeDejavu

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 06:22 PM

When I go back in January, the Moon won't rise above the horizon until 1:00am. I'll be revisting M31, M33 and the Veil at that point (the Veil will be low after sunset so i'll have to be quick.) With M42, I was going back and forth between the DGM NPB and unfiltered. I don't think I even needed the filter, it's more out of habit from where I live in the city.

#19 acochran

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 08:08 PM

Sorry you missed the Veil. I also could not see it at first. Must use nebula filter. Pocket Sky Atlas shows an accurate position for it.
I've never seen the North America, too big for me I guess.
Sounds like a good trip though.
In Jan, Jupiter will be at it's maximum size! In April--Mars!
Andy






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