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Sketching the Night Sky with a large Maksutov

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#1 astroneil

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 12:01 PM

Hello,

 

Here I wish to begin a sustained study of the night sky with my most powerful and elegant telescope, a 17 cm f/16 Orion Maksutov Cassegrain, by making simple pencil sketches of the objects I visit. The ultra-portable instrument rides on a SkyWatcher SkyTee II altazimuth mount. Two eyepieces are to be used for this study; a 32mm Plossl yielding a power of 84 and ~0.5 degree true field. For higher powers, I employ the nifty 24-8mm Mark III Baader Hyperion zoom eyepiece giving powers up to 338x. Additional amplifications up to 760x can be coaxed from the instrument using the dedicated Baader 2.25x Barlow, as and when necessary.

 

Date 25.08.14
Time 00:25 h
Object: Psi Cassiopeiae.
RA/Dec: 01 26/+68 08

Seeing: Ant II

 

Notes: My first sketch with the instrument from earlier this year, the primary star (Psi Cass A) (centre) is a beautiful 5th magnitude K0 spectral class star about 193 light years distant. Just 20” or so to its southeast lies the faint magnitude 9.2 and 10.0 (C & D components, sometimes known as Psi Cass B in older catalogues) separated by 2.3” (2007 data). The challenge here is that the C and D components are both very close and very faint and the bright orange glow from the primary right next door doesn’t help. This is a good optical test for an instrument of this size. A/C and A/D are not gravitationally bound but C and D do form a bona fide binary system.

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Edited by astroneil, 11 November 2014 - 06:18 PM.


#2 niteskystargazer

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 03:33 PM

Neil,

 

Nice sketch of Psi Cassiopeiae  :) .

 

CS,KLU,

 

:thanx: ,

 

Tom



#3 Warmvet

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 08:15 PM

Neil,

 

Enjoyed your detailed report and sketch,

 

Cindy



#4 CarlosEH

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 08:00 AM

Neil,

 

An excellent observation of Psi Cassiopeiae using your fine 17 cm F/16 Orion Maksutov. I too am a fan of the Maksutov-Cassegrain and Maksutov-Newtonian designs. I love observing with my own 23 cm F/13.5 Maksutov-Cassegrain. The best of luck in your future observations.

 

Regards,

Carlos



#5 Asbytec

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 05:10 AM

I love observing through Carlos's 23cm MCT, too, soon as he sells it to me. :)

 

Alright Neil, keeping tabs...nice catch, by the way. I may have observed that one, need to check my notes.



#6 frank5817

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 07:28 PM

Neil,

Fine sketch of an interesting star collection.

Frank :)

#7 astroneil

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 07:49 PM

Tom, Cindy, Carlos, Norme & Frank; many thanks for the feedback.

 

Maksutovs certainly rock!

 

Carlos: I've seen some of your exquisite sketches of Jupiter and Saturn with your big Mak in Paul Abel's new book: "Visual Lunar and Planetary Astronomy."

 

Regards,

 

Neil. ;)

 

Date: 13&14. 11.14
Time: 20:15-45h
Seeing: Ant II-III
Object: NGC869 & NGC 884 (Caldwell 14, Double Cluster)
RA/Dec: 02 19/ + 57 08 (NGC 869) and 02 22/ 57 08 (NGC 884)
Magnification: 84x

 

Notes: Over the past two evenings I spent a wee while constructing a composite sketch of the glorious Double Cluster in Perseus, which at this time was very high in the eastern sky. Because the maximum field of view presented by the 32mm Plossl is only of the order of 0.5 degrees, it cannot wholly capture both clusters in the same field of view. Both clusters individually span some 18’ of sky and are separated by about a Moon diameter (25’). Nevertheless I wanted to include both in the sketch, so I took to ‘stitching’ them together by moving the telescope slowly eastward from the core of NGC 869 towards NGC 884, recording as many of the stars as I went along. The area of sky covered is ~ 0.5 x 1.2 degrees. The small but pristine field of the Maksutov presents both clusters beautifully, their constituent stars – shining in a rich variety of hues; pale blue, cream and white. A few – located in the darker space between the clusters – have a distinctly aureal tint. Based on its young age (estimated at 13 Myr), the latter stellar members must have been exceedingly massive to have evolved off the main sequence so quickly. Both clusters lie at an estimated distance of 7,300 light years from the solar system.

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#8 7331Peg

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 01:23 AM

Now that's ambition, Neil!   And a nice sketch, too.

 

I've played with the idea of trying to sketch the double cluster, but the nights just aren't that long even in the winter.   :lol:

 

 

John :refractor:



#9 CarlosEH

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 06:25 AM

Thank you all for the kind compliments on my observing and sketching skills. I enjoy making observations and sharing them with my friends on this excellent forum.

 

Neil - An excellent observation and report on the impressive Double Cluster in Perseus (NGC 869/884). It is one of my favorite deep sky objects to observe. Very spectacular observing it at low power. Thank you for sharing it with us all.

 

Norme - I am sorry but I have requested that my 9" Mak-Cass be buried with me in case I want to use it! :lol: 

 

Regards,

Carlos



#10 frank5817

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 03:28 PM

Neil,

 

That is a very nice, accurate capture of the double cluster.

I like this one. Must have taken some time to put on paper.

 

Frank :)



#11 Ed D

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 04:55 PM

Neil, I'm really happy that you are enjoying your Mak so much and putting it to very good use.  I'm also a relatively recent convert to Maksutov-Cassegrains.  I use a 6" Bosma Mak on a driven CG4 GEM, as well as a 127mm Synta Mak on an Alt-Az for quick setup and use when time is short and/or skies are so-so.

 

Ed D



#12 niteskystargazer

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Posted 17 November 2014 - 04:20 PM

Neil,

 

Nice sketch of NGC 869 towards NGC 884  :) .

 

CS,KLU,

 

:thanx: ,

 

Tom



#13 astroneil

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Posted 19 November 2014 - 02:59 PM

Hello Carlos; you're most welcome. I enjoyed a fantastic spell in the wee small hours of this morning looking at Jove through my Mak. Seeing was very good and I was able to see a tremendous amount of belt detail at powers between 200 and 300x. I hope to begin sketching the planet soon.

 

 

Ed; you have two excellent Maks in your stable to play with. I hope they give you many years of pleasant views. For the Double Cluster drawing I spent the first evening recording the positions of the brighter stars in both clusters and on the second, filled in the fainter members as best I could.

 

Cheers John; A small field of view is absolutely no barrier to a determined observer. Indeed, as you have already pointed out, both clusters are best drawn at these higher powers separately to bring out the fainter members more effectively.

 

Frank: thanks a million for the positive feedback.

 

Much more to come.

 

Regards,

 

Neil. ;)


Edited by astroneil, 19 November 2014 - 03:06 PM.


#14 Mark Costello

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Posted 20 November 2014 - 01:41 PM

Wow, those are really nice sketches, particularly the one on the Double Cluster.  I really like the detail in each one of these heavenly jewelboxes.  :bow:     It's one of my favorite targets for observing and working on my sketching techniques and skills.  The last time I sketched it (or them), I started at 27X and a 2.6 deg TFOV to frame both clusters, then worked up to 118X (0.6 deg TFOV) to add the details on each cluster and the field between them.

 

Here's a question or two for you.  I got an equatorial mount for my refractor to be able to sketch and just slew every so often along right ascension.  I find it easy to keep the object in the field of view and the chore does not detract from my sketching.  I always thought that it would be MUCH harder to sketch with an altazimuth mount where you have to maneuver on two axes to keep the object in sight.  How do you find it tracking with an alt-az mount and sketching.  Does the tracking require a lot of effort to the point of hampering your sketching?  Evidently not, but I would like to know.  Thanks....



#15 astroneil

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Posted 20 November 2014 - 06:54 PM

Good evening Mark,

 

Thank you for your comments. You're dead right. It is considerably harder to track and sketch using an undriven altazimuth mount. But like everything else, you can get used to it. For me, it's become very natural, having done little else in quite a few years. Before I had the SkyWatcher SkyTee II, I used a wooden Televue Gibraltar, which works very well with small refractors. I've also pushed and tugged my fair share of Dobs. No reliance on any power source. That way you can't blame anything else, only yourself. :lol:  Even in the small half degree field presented by the 32mm Plossl, stars take plenty of time to cross it and are helped a little more by the clusters' large declination, away from the celestial equator.

 

Once you get a few reference stars marking the edges of the field and centred on the object of interest, you can always swing the 'scope back to that same spot. In the 'low power' (84x), I find it easier just to loosen the locks on both axes of the mount and move it manually.

 

It's challenging but ultimately very rewarding. Those pristine portholes on the sky keep bringing you back.

 

Best wishes,

 

Neil. ;)


Edited by astroneil, 20 November 2014 - 07:59 PM.


#16 astroneil

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 09:06 AM

Date: 24.11.14
Time: 00:10-00:30
Seeing: Ant II-III
Object: Castor (Alpha Geminorum) System
RA/Dec: 07 34/ +31 53
Magnification: 135x

 

 

Notes: One of the most striking of the winter multiple stars, Castor is easy fodder for the large Maksutov. Located about 50 light years from the solar system, the instrument’s generous aperture easily resolves the A/B components (magnitudes +1.9 and 3.0, respectively) which are separated by over 4" of dark sky. Both A and B present as brilliant white (spectral class A), whilst the C component shines much more feebly at magnitude +9.8 off to the south-south east (A/C 72” separation). The colour in C is much harder to detect but a sustained look will convince you that it has a ruddy complexion. C is in fact an M class dwarf. Astronomers now know that the Castor system has six or more members, some well beyond the power of my telescope to record.

A few fainter stars in the hinterland of A/B have also been recorded.

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#17 woodscavenger

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 10:19 AM

I read ultra portable and saw "17" in the description and assumed 17 inches.  I was picturing you the size of Arnold Schwarzenegar.   After I reread I saw 17cm.......whooops.   Greats sketches.



#18 Warmvet

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 12:18 PM

Neil,

 

Beautiful work on the Double Cluster. This must have been quite an undertaking! How many hours sketching time would you say it took you? Its on my list, but I am imaging not complete in 1 session. 

 

Cindy



#19 astroneil

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 07:08 PM

I read ultra portable and saw "17" in the description and assumed 17 inches.  I was picturing you the size of Arnold Schwarzenegar.   After I reread I saw 17cm.......whooops.   Greats sketches.

Cheers woodscavenger,

 

 

If I had me a 17' Cat, I think I'd have to entrust the help of both Arnie and Hulk Hogan to lug it about. :lol:

 

Aperture is a great blessing though.

 

Regards,

 

Neil. ;)



#20 astroneil

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 07:13 PM

Neil,

 

Beautiful work on the Double Cluster. This must have been quite an undertaking! How many hours sketching time would you say it took you? Its on my list, but I am imaging not complete in 1 session. 

 

Cindy

Cheers Cindy!

 

I spent about an hour and a half at the telescope, over two consecutive nights: on the first night, recording the brighter stars, and on the second, the fainter glories.

 

Best wishes,

 

Neil. ;)



#21 CarlosEH

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 06:04 AM

Neil,

 

An excellent observation of the Castor multiple star system. Thank you for sharing it with us all.

 

Regards,

Carlos



#22 astroneil

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Posted 13 December 2014 - 01:39 PM

Thanks Carlos!

 

Date: 13.12.14
Time: 00:15h
Seeing: III, temperature -4C
Object: Rigel (Beta Orionis)
RA/Dec:05 15/-08 12

 

Located some 850 light years away, Rigel A is the brightest star (magnitude +0.13) in the constellation of Orion. Its enormous mass (~20 times solar) means that it outshines our Sun by a factor of about 120,000! Its duplicity has been known since 1831, when F.G.W Struve unveiled the fainter companion (Rigel B, magnitude + 6.7) with a large classical refractor. Gravitationally bound, it lies about 12 light days from Rigel A. Though the separation is fairly generous (9.7”), the split is always more challenging than it looks on paper, especially during less than ideal conditions. For one thing, its small negative declination means that it’s always low in my sky, even when it culminates ( when this drawing was attempted). Then, there is the enormous brightness difference between the A and B components (some 500 fold) as well as the effects of mediocre seeing thrown in for good measure. That being so, the large Maksutov delivered the readies handedly, showing the delicate spark of the bluish companion to the south-southwest, just beyond the brilliant white glare of the primary. The companion was observed in frigid conditions (-4 C), thus providing additional evidence that the telescope functions perfectly well if kept at or near ambient temperatures.
Rigel B is itself a spectroscopic binary (thus invisible in the instrument), consisting of two spectral class B stars, which orbit their barycentre in under ten days.

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Edited by astroneil, 13 December 2014 - 01:44 PM.


#23 niteskystargazer

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Posted 13 December 2014 - 01:56 PM

Neil,

 

Good sketch of Rigel A  :) .

 

CS,KLU,

 

:thanx: ,

 

Tom



#24 astroneil

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Posted 29 December 2014 - 03:26 PM

Thanks again Tom.

 

Date: 28.12.14

Time:2350-00:05h

Seeing: II, temperature -7C

Object: Jupiter

Magnification 169x, Televue BPL filter

 

CM1: 300

CM2: 258

 

Notes: Despite a freezing cold night, the large Maksutov performed flawlessly. I was very satisfied with the amount of detail seen in the telescope, the new TV filter working as advertised to enhance the appearance of the GRS and many shades of brown and red in the planet's vast belt system. The GRS seems smaller than in other years and has become more circular, though the telescope clearly showed that its major axis was not squarely aligned with the planet's main belts. Two small white ovals were glimpsed in the southern hemisphere.

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Edited by astroneil, 29 December 2014 - 04:31 PM.


#25 Sasa

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Posted 29 December 2014 - 03:42 PM

Wonderful sketch full of details, Neil. I haven't run on GRS this opposition yet, can't wait to see it again before it disappears (I know it will take some time).




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