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TonyDralle
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 08/17/06

Loc: Bethel Park, PA
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: haytor]
      #4989987 - 12/29/11 11:56 AM

Trying to do my bit to promote visual observing and reporting thereof (while in no way disparaging the worthy efforts of our imaging brethren!):

Clouds rolled in early last evening, shortly after I aligned my 8SE, so I thought there would be no observing. But I checked once more around 11 PM and, lo, the sky was crystal clear. (The temperature was about -3°C. I'm neither as intrepid as François nor as well equipped as Peter with his electric coat, so I didn't plan to stay out for long.) Fortunately, I had earlier put the scope in hibernation, so it was ready to go. I used my 17mm Stratus eyepiece exclusively.

The new issue (February !) of Sky and Telescope has an article listing twelve winter planetary nebulae. I checked out the two brightest: NGC 2392, the Eskimo Nebula in Gemini, an old favorite at magnitude 8.6; and NGC 1535 in Eridanus, mag. 9.4 and new to me. Both were easily found.

Then I visited some easy Messier open clusters, M35, M36, M37, and M38, all high in the sky. M35 is probably my favorite winter cluster. I couldn't find the faint nearby cluster, NGC 2158, but that's a tough target in suburbia. Of the three Auriga clusters, M37 is my favorite -- fainter stars, but more of them. Then globular cluster M79 in Lepus -- fairly large but with a bright center. And M42, because I always look at M42 when I can. The Trapezium seemed especially sharp and clear; I wish now I had increased the magnification to look for the E and F stars, but it was late and I was cold.

But no observing session would be complete without a few double stars -- Kappa Puppis, Rigel, and the beautiful triple star Beta Monoceros.

Not a bad night, considering I thought it would be a total cloud out. Alas, forecasts for the next ten days don't look very promising. But, in December/January, I'll take what I can get.

- Tony


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Skip
Starlifter Driver
*****

Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: TonyDralle]
      #4990002 - 12/29/11 12:03 PM

Nice report, Tony. I'm hoping the Texas skies stay clear for a few more days. Wifey and I are headed down to Fredericksburg for a New Year's Eve Star Party at a friend's place in the country west of F'burg (very dark - color-coded blue to gray). If the weather cooperates, temps should be in the 40s(F) on NYE and skies should be clear. Here's hoping!

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Peter9
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/30/08

Loc: Yorkshire - Born & Bred
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: Skip]
      #4990171 - 12/29/11 01:32 PM

Hi Tom,

Many thanks for the report back. Your support is appreciated. Sorry it didn't work out as planned for you.

You've a bit more to set up and take down than us visual lads when the weather interferes. Its very frustrating when the clear patches of sky close so quickly.
Seems though, that you had more than the weather to cope with. Hope you can come to focus once you have removed the F.R. Pleased to see you now have your filter wheel. Saw one for sale on British Astro B & S. I think that was in the Midlands. The two are not connected are they?.

As you say, good to see that Tel managed some time in his dome.

Thanks again Tom.


Hi Tony,
Thanks for a great report. Your support too is much appreciated.
Its good to read what others are viewing and the conditions they are coping with.
Venturing out so late at -3 takes some doing so all credit to you. As you say, when the chances of getting out are so few and far between, its a matter of taking the oppertunities when they present themselves.
You managed to see some good old favorites, including the 4 Ms (M35 to M38) as I call them. Like you, durin the winter months I visit them, along with M42, at every session.
Not tried the "Eskimo" nebula nor NGC 1535, for which I'll need good seeing, as yet. They are both similar in structure if I remember rightly. I've put them on my list for the next time out.
Did you manage a look at Betelgeuse?. I'm sure it looked more disk shaped than usual.

Thanks again Tony.

Regards Peter.


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haytor
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/29/07

Loc: Smethwick near Birmingham UK.
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: Peter9]
      #4992018 - 12/30/11 12:18 PM

Trouble is Peter,

once the AP takes over as one`s main interest in Astronomy, there never seems to be time for pure observation, any observation i do, is purely on the screen of my lap top as subs are downloaded, shame really i know, but considering the few times a year i can get out, then my time is taken up by AP.

Having said that though, i think threads like this are always enjoyable to read through so we AP`ers can enjoy the reports you guy`s submit.

regards,

Tom.


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hopskipson
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 06/24/10

Loc: Queens, New Yawk, Light pollut...
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: haytor]
      #5003455 - 01/05/12 10:34 PM

Hi all
Just got back from 5 days in West Boca, FL and was able to pack my Nexstar 8se mount and Mak 90 ota with accessories into a carry-on bag. Got to do some viewing under less polluted skies than in NY. That little scope does a nice job. Tack sharp stars. Didn't get to do as much observing as I would have liked. Holiday and birthday parties got in the way.
Got a nice view of the trapezium in M42. I'm still new but I could tell the seeing was better than at home. Even without my ultrablock filter I could see more faint structure in the nebula. I didn't get much further than that my feet started to get bitten by lots of insects and I still have the red marks and itchyness. Was nice to get away from the city lights and to be able to see more than a few stars in a constellation. Now it's back to frigid temps and lots of LP.

James


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Peter9
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/30/08

Loc: Yorkshire - Born & Bred
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: hopskipson]
      #5004314 - 01/06/12 01:54 PM

Hi James,
Many thanks for the report. Pleased you enjoyed your time under better skies. Its always surprising what a difference a few less lights can make.
I too took a look at M42 last night. Wasn't really feeling too well, but the sky was clear and I'd not been out in a while. So I stuck with some old favorites and had a pleasent enough couple of hours.
It was near freezing here in Yorkshire, bit of a contrast with you being bitten by insects.

Regards. Peter.


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hopskipson
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 06/24/10

Loc: Queens, New Yawk, Light pollut...
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: Peter9]
      #5004727 - 01/06/12 06:49 PM

It's funny, we seem to be getting a mild winter here in NYC. If skies clear up I think I'll be out tonight. with no bugs !

James


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hopskipson
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 06/24/10

Loc: Queens, New Yawk, Light pollut...
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: hopskipson]
      #5006169 - 01/07/12 07:55 PM

Got out last night with the 8se at 11pm local time about 45*F and clear with a slight easterly breeze. Got a alignment failure 11pm is 23:00 not 22:00 oops! Got up and running at 11:20. Went right to M42 always a wow for me. Nice sight in a 24mm 82* ES eyepiece. Popped in the OIII filter and besides increasing the contrast it also boosts the detail. Went up to 14mm (142X) and with the filter enjoyed the view for a good 15 minutes. Higher magnification just not possible (too much turbulence). Went to M1 but forgot the waxing gibbus moon was too close. I've never viewed M1. Is it possible under city skies? Went to Sirius but was disappointed by the seeing. Went to Andromeda Galaxy but once again since it was not near zenith all I could see was a faint barely noticable core. I went over to the Double Cluster and determined I need a longer focal length EP. I went between them with the 24mm. This was the gem of the night. I love star clusters. I cna't see galaxies very well but clusters don't dissapoint. Mars was low on the eastern horizon and I took my first look ever at the red planet. I was a little disappointed. Too much turbulence in the atmosphere. I went inside to warm up a little and have a wee nip of single malt. Went back out and Mars was a little higher but still not ideal for viewing. Went over to Jupiter which was already low in the west. Jupiter is way cool! even with horrible seeing once in a while it comes into focus and WOW. I ended the night with the moon using the OIII filter. I don't have a 2" moon filter. It gives a blue green tint to it. I put in a focal reducer and flattner and took my first astrophotos with my new Canon T2i. Nothing spectacular I will post them on the AP thread once I download them. Got into bed at around 2:30 this morning. Overall anther pleasurable session of course I wish I could see more but but....ahh life.

James


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Peter9
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/30/08

Loc: Yorkshire - Born & Bred
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: hopskipson]
      #5006721 - 01/08/12 05:52 AM

Thanks fpr another great report James.

Seeing conditions can be a real pain at times. Its just a matter of persevering until that rare beast, (a night of excellent seeing) comes along.

I think also you were perhaps a little ambitious with you're targets with the Moon approaching full. Thats not to say that many of us have done, and still do, the same.
Mars has always disappointed me. I can never see the amount of detail I think, or am advised, I should. Maybe my eyes are trying to tell me something.
As for open clusters, they are one of my favorite targets. Apart from their beauty, they show up well in most seeing conditions.
I will be "out of action" for a while now due to using the Obs for temp storage. Having a new kitchen fitted plus replastering of walls and ceiling and a re-wire at the same time.
Yvonne said we might as well go the whole hog. Happy days.

Regards. Peter.


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TonyDralle
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 08/17/06

Loc: Bethel Park, PA
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: Peter9]
      #5006869 - 01/08/12 09:04 AM

Nice report, James. Sounds as if you got the most out of the objects you looked at, given the sky conditions (full moon, turbulence).

Most double stars are impervious to bright moonlight, so they are good observing targets even near full moon (unless the seeing is bad).

M1 is a tough target in city skies, depending on just how bright the sky is. Wouldn't expect to see it near full moon. I can see it in suburban Pittsburgh, but only when the moon isn't around.

Mars is also tough -- needs steady seeing. Except at its really close oppositions, which the current one is not, I'm happy if I can see either or both polar caps and a little detail on the disk.

- Tony


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jerryyyyy
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/06/11

Loc: Stanford, California
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: TonyDralle]
      #5007105 - 01/08/12 11:22 AM

James, I am waiting for Mars to get into opposition too, believe in March. I also was out last night fighting the moonlight. The combination of moonlight and my new anti-city-lights-filter really limited me to bright stuff... one I think you can count on is M15.

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Peter9
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/30/08

Loc: Yorkshire - Born & Bred
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: jerryyyyy]
      #5015589 - 01/13/12 02:40 PM

Hi Gang,

Although its -1deg and getting colder by the hour here in Yorkshire, and I don't have the use of my observatory,(being used as temp storage space due to work being done to the house) theres's no way I am missing out on the crystal clear skies we have tonight.
So I'm set up outside on the lawn like wot I used to do in the old days.
I'll let you know how long I manage to stay out.

Regards. Peter.


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hopskipson
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 06/24/10

Loc: Queens, New Yawk, Light pollut...
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: Peter9]
      #5016241 - 01/13/12 09:40 PM

I've had cloudy skies for a week and am eagerly awaiting your report. How is that winter coat performing? It's supposed to clear up this weekend but be very windy and cold.

Clear skies!!

James


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Peter9
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/30/08

Loc: Yorkshire - Born & Bred
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: hopskipson]
      #5016772 - 01/14/12 09:22 AM

Hi James,
Sorry to hear your skies are not what you would like. Its been mixed here with three or four clear nights I have not been able to take advantage of due to the strength of the wind.

Last night turned out to be the exception. Seeing was good and there was barely a breath of wind.
It was strange setting up on the lawn again, as was aligning the scope. I used Auto Two Star (Polaris and Betelgeuse).
Went to Jupiter first because at 20.00, when I started observing, Jupiter, although at 40deg, was already dropping in the S.W. Jupiter was a wonderful sight in the good seeing. Lots of surface detail on view with a large barge in the N.E.B. The inner Moons stuck an unusual pattern with Callisto directly under Jupiters South pole.
We will slowly lose Jupiter over the coming weeks, so I spent a good half hour there.
Then on to M42. It looked spectacular in the condintion. The last time it looked as good as it did last night was on the night of 3rd March 2010. I think Midnight Dan (correct me if I'm wrong Dan) was observing that night, and reported on the excellent views he'd had of M42 that same night. Last night, the nebula was a lovely silver grey with the darker lanes and fainter areas on view. I saw the "E" star in the Trapezium with the "F" star being more elusive, but I think I caught the odd glimpse. This was the first time I've been able to observe M42 at length this time round, and as it may be some time before I can do so again, I also spent a good 30 minutes on M42.
To finish, I indulged in a few of my favorite objects, (open clusters) and visited M50, NGCs 2232,2301,2251,2236, and the 9.10 mag 2254. I finally packed up, after a very good night at 22.30.

My heated coat proved to be worth every penny I paid for it last night. Although there was no wind to speak of, the tempreture had dropped to -3 by 22.30. The coat did all it was advertised to do, keeping me snug and warm. The coat reaches max temp, (setting 5) in about 5 minutes. I then had to turn it down to 3 where I left it for about an hour. I was so warm even at that setting, I turned the heating off for the last hour. All that at -2 to -3.
My coat only has one large heating pad in the back. Judging by the performance of my coat, those with three heating elements must be virtual hothouses.
As I said, worth every penny.

Regards. Peter.


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jerryyyyy
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/06/11

Loc: Stanford, California
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: Peter9]
      #5017213 - 01/14/12 02:00 PM Attachment (13 downloads)

Guys,

On Mars, I went up to our dark skys area Thursday and looked at it. Seemed about half the size of Jupiter, so I am still waiting for March.

On the other hand, have been doing a lot of imaging of DSOs for the first time and pretty happy with the results. People have been very helpful out at the imaging forum.

I am learning a few things, especially how to use the software, but also there are DSOs and DSOs.

NGC253 (below) is really a software issue as it is right is the best dark skys for our locale, but still dim.

M81 is tough because it is in brighter skys, but if I wait until later in night it rises higher and I get a better shot. Funny, but imaged M82 for the first time and it is smaller but brighter than M81 and being higher has less light interference.

Anyway, hang in there James.


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hopskipson
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 06/24/10

Loc: Queens, New Yawk, Light pollut...
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: jerryyyyy]
      #5017848 - 01/14/12 08:46 PM

Thanks for the reports guys. It looks like it may clear up tomorrow night but at 23* F I don't know how long I'll be able to take it.

James


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hopskipson
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 06/24/10

Loc: Queens, New Yawk, Light pollut...
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: hopskipson]
      #5044529 - 01/29/12 04:40 PM

Hey all
The clouds finally parted and I was able to do some limited observing last night. Took a couple of pics of the waxing crecent before it got too low. As I started my alignment the wind started to pick up. Gusting up to 20mph made for an interesting night especially with temps dropping into the thirties (1-2*C). My alignment went well even though I didn't align my RDF with the scope. I went right to Jupiter since it too was getting lower in the west. Seeing was pretty poor and I could make out the EQ bands but there was not much detail. I had to also fight with the wind to keep 'er steady. My gotos were close within the FOV but low in the EP. They actually got better after one particular gust of wind. I went to M42 and was really able to pick out more detail than usual. The image was going in and out from my eye tearing up but when it came in I seemed to be able to discern fine filaments and more light. I was using a 0.63 FR/FF and ES 24 and 14mm 82* EP's. From what I remember w/o the FR/FF it just didn't seem as bright. Maybe the long patch of clouds are cloudin my memory ? I went over to The Double Cluster and I really enjoy this target. I wish I had a larger FOV to see it all at once. The next target was Mars. I know it is not at opposition, but I couln't pull out any details, just a red disk. I knew I didn't have much time, some clouds were coming in from the west. I quickly scrolled through the TOUR and came upon some double stars. I really enjoyed Almach with the yellow blue contrast. Well that was quick, I'll post my moon shot if it came out.
Be well and be patient!

James


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hopskipson
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 06/24/10

Loc: Queens, New Yawk, Light pollut...
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... new [Re: hopskipson]
      #5046694 - 01/30/12 08:02 PM Attachment (13 downloads)

Here's the first pic==

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Peter9
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/30/08

Loc: Yorkshire - Born & Bred
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... [Re: hopskipson]
      #5047787 - 01/31/12 12:07 PM

Thanks for a great report and picture James. Seems you made the best of what the night had to offer you.
Jupiter has been good this time round. Pleased you manage to catch it before we lose it altogether.
The double cluster is a wonderful sight and your use of a focal reducer would, I imagine, have made it all the better. I use 2" wide angle eyepieces to get the best I can from all open clusters.
Almach is, I think, a much overlooked object. It is on a par with alberio in my opinion.

Glad you enjoyed the night.

Regards. Peter.


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hopskipson
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 06/24/10

Loc: Queens, New Yawk, Light pollut...
Re: Hope some of you guys are out there tonight.... [Re: Peter9]
      #5078185 - 02/18/12 08:53 AM

I can't believe this is the first report in February.

Clouds cleared last night and I had a few hours to spend under the star challenged sky. Put the scope out before dusk and let er cool down for about an hour. Seeing in the early evening is always horrible, but gets to poor after an hour or two. Wind was gusting so imaging was not an option.

Went right to Venus and of course no details but the gibbous phase was evident. Also Venus was surrounded by a few faint stars. Since Jupiter is getting more westerly, I went there next. Seeing prevented any sharp details, but could make out the 2 dark cloud bands and all 4 moons configured thusly : o : a pretty cool sight. Went back inside for a little dinner.

Aligned my scope and went to M42. Goto was spot on center of my 14mm ES 82. Could only see 4 stars in the trapezium. Went to Rigel but could not split it. Split some other nice far spaced doubles.

Then I went touring (nicest feature of the SE IMO). Went to M35, 36, 37, 38 and 50. All nic open clusters and realitively high in the sky. I just "discovered" them last night and they provided many enjoyable views. I will be revisiting them hopefully before they are gone.

After that I wrapped it up with going to Mars which is at midnight getting high in the SE sky. The disk is rather big but showed no detail with the seeing I had.

Was very pleased that with the temperature around 0 C, I was able to last as long as I did. With the sky still clear this morning maybe tonight I don't dare say it! I might jinx it.

James


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