Yesterday started as a typical November day here in Germany: heavy overcast, cool and dreary. But, at 5 PM, the sun broke through and we a peerless blue sky! My weather app said it would stay clear until 7 PM, so I was out with the Vixen 80L at dusk. Mars and Saturn were both low in the sky and the turbulence was too much. I could make out the polar cap and some vague markings on Mars, and very little detail on Saturn. So I swung up to Vega, and split the double double at 80x. I found M57 in the not quite dark sky, checked out some doubles in the area, and then found M56, which was just a faint blob. The clouds were coming in from the South-west, preceeded by some high haze, so I gradually aimed further and further East. I picked up Neptune through the haze, and moved on to Uranus. That was a tough one, and I only got it a minute or two before the clouds covered it. By 7:30 PM the sky was overcast again. It was a good 1 hour session!
What did you observe with your classic telescope today ?
Posted 02 November 2018 - 09:07 PM
Don't know about y'all, but getting to observe at least once a week puts me in a better mood...
Tonight my trusty 1950s Unitron 142 started the session right before sunset with Saturn & Mars. A strong cold front passed through around 1400 local, and the two planets were practically twinkling, so the views were lower power (120x with the spectros PL10) and brief. Cassini's Division popped in occasionally, along with two belts. Mars revealed less -- steady polar cap, the faintest marking, and that's it. I did notice the disk has orange in it compared to my Edmund 4" F15.
Took 30 seconds to swap the 1.25" Baader prism with the spectros 35mm barreled prism -- one tube out, another tube in. Used the Big 40mm Kellner to set the Uni at 30x, and match it to the 5" F5 Triplet (The Thing) + RKE 21mm.
Both scopes got The Ring before 1900 local -- not even an hour past sunset -- and Lyra is perilously close to The Swamp's light pollution dome. M29 was tough for the 3" but brilliant in the 5" (I counted 14 bright stars). Lots of interesting star fields east of Sadr, plus a close faint Double Double, and a cool tight visual triple. Middle star is the brightest, and breaks what would be a straight line into a very flat triangle, with a faint star at < 6" on either side. The west member is yellow, the east member is fainter and red, while the middle is bright & orange.
I wound up sweeping with The Thing, finding something interesting, then "zooming in" with the 142. With the spectros Kellners, the Uni's stars are incredibly tiny -- smaller than The Thing's pinpoints.
Edited by Bomber Bob, 03 November 2018 - 08:11 AM.
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Posted 03 November 2018 - 10:30 PM
Big Green versus The Thing (Too Bad Halloween is Past)
Temperature 54°F (12°C)
Dewpoint 50°F (10°C)
Seeing 7-8 DSO / 5-6 Planetary
First Light with my restored Ralph Dakin 4" F10 refractor [https://www.cloudyni...06#entry8928948], and as soon as I centered Saturn, I remembered why I kept this scope. Despite the wobbly skies, Cassini was sharp & black, and three belts broke out intermittently at 167x (OR6). A good thing, because Mars was disappointing. It was like looking at it through a turbo-fan. Had to drop down to 100x (PL10), and small as it is, not much to see...
Deep Sky was much more rewarding. Set both the Dakin and The Thing (5" F5 triplet) to about 30x. Had both scopes at the north end of the yard, and after quick seeing checks of the Double-Double & The Ring, I went south to Delphinus for my favorite doubles, and then further south to tight doubles (at that power) in Equuleus & Aquarius. Moving time! The Dakin on the Tak EM-1S is at least twice as heavy as the Edmund 4" F15 on the same mount, so I had to stop twice before set up at the extreme south end of the yard. The Thing on the Polaris felt light as a feather! M39 wasn't dazzling. Checked my tablet, and sure enough, thin patchy haze at the mid-levels. It was clear to the east, so I observed M31 in both. At 30x, The Thing had the edge with its huge field of view. But at ~ 100x, the Dakin's darker skies & better resolution won out.
Transparency returned, and DSO seeing was at least 8/10. Too many awesome views for a play-by-play. If you haven't observed NGC 7243 in Lacerta, give it a try. It's described as sparse, but with 4" or more of aperture, low power, and dark skies, I wouldn't call it that. (But then, I like clusters with red stars.) I like to go from it to the NGC clusters in southern Cepheus, follow these east to M52, and then enjoy all the sights in Cassiopeia -- could spend hours in that constellation!
Naturally, I ended with the Double Cluster. It is fantastic in the Dakin. True, my APM 152 F8 ED beats the Dakin, but as I pointed out on another thread, at 10x the cost, it bloody well better! The Thing's large field puts lots of space around the pair, but the Dakin shows more & fainter members -- especially those tight doubles.
BIF: I also had to deal with surface-level smoke & haze. Half my neighbors were grilling (Bama vs. LSU tonight), and the other half were burning wood in their fireplaces. Okay, Yankees can stop gasping. It got down to 40* last night. We're just a few weeks from 90* humid days, so tonight feels like Ice Station Zebra for us Swamp Dwellers...
BIF2: The Lafayette doesn't have enough back focus for a 1.25" prism diagonal. A mirror might work, but I don't have one. Wound up using it straight-through with the Meade RG ER20, which limited its use tonight. I'll put the .965" adapter back on, and see how it does with that format.
Edited by Bomber Bob, 03 November 2018 - 10:40 PM.
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Posted 07 November 2018 - 11:22 AM
After some rain during the day, yesterday the sky cleared around midnight, a bit late for my original plan to test the night vision (NV) PVS-7 both with 2" eyepieces (hand-held) and in prime focus in a 2" diagonal. As breeze gusts were still sending down rain drops from the trees, I also did not want to get my equipment too wet, so I took out my Televue Pronto only for a quick preliminary acquaintance with NV in prime focus mode, using the 2" step of the C-ring adapter. Reaching focus was not an issue. At this stage I do not have any 2" filters, therefore what follows just documents the light pollution conditions at my North NJ site. At a first and hasty (as the wind was dropping bursts of water drops) NV partial sweep of the narrow NW slice of sky not covered by trees, I did not pick up anything relevant. I then made a more careful check with SkySafari and with my Pentax 8x40 binoculars, and localized the Andromeda galaxy right at the edge of the tree line, actually at a quite favorable viewing angle (around 75 deg maybe?). In the binocs depite the bright color of the sky, the view was better than what I would have expected.
Therefore, I went back to it in NV mode and took a rudimentary pic just holding my Galaxy S5 phone by one of the PVS-7 eyepieces, without even removing the eyecup.
I then ran back inside before the Pronto would get even more wet.
I think that this first glimpse under the effects of light pollution is promising for much better views, once I get the proper filters for both prime focus and afocal use.
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Posted 08 November 2018 - 09:05 PM
10" Starfinder tonight:
M31 - Could just barely see NGC 206 as a fuzzy patch.
Double Cluster - Flocking the scope seems to have improved not only the contrast of the stars against the background but also the richness of the colors.
M56 - Barely resolvable.
Mars - Mare Cimmerium visible.
Uranus - Small bluish disk. Titania just barely visible - my first time seeing a Uranian moon.
M45 - Could sort of see a faint nebulous patch around Merope, but it might've just been glare/dew.
NGC 7479 - Faintly visible.
NGC 772/NGC 770 - Faintly visible with averted vision, could just barely tell 770 was separate.
NGC 891 - Faintly visible with averted vision.
NGC 906 - Slightly easier than 891, was able to confirm by checking the star field in Stellarium.
NGC 1514 - Invisible without UHC. With the UHC, a small faint cloud surrounding the central star.
The motor drive is not fully engaging and the latitude adjustment is off, need to fix that.
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Posted 12 November 2018 - 06:26 AM
Last night I was out early with the Vixen 80L. Clouds were supposed to move in, so I wanted to get some scope-time before we got socked in. The clouds arrived early, so between them I checked out Mars, which was boiling like mad. I could only tell that it was no longer round. I also hit M15, the double cluster, and some doubles through the holes in the clouds. Then I had a big opening to the west, and was turning that way when I saw a bright flash, as bright as from an Irridium satelite. Then, about 10 seconds later, a dimmer flash, maybe as bright as Vega. Ten seconds later, another brilliant flash. This went on, bright and dimmer flashes, as it approached. I picked it up in the finder, and then in the scope itself, and followed it until the tube hit the tripod, the scope aimed straight overhead. I could not acquire it again because of the clouds. It had stopped flashing before it reached the zenith, so all I saw in the scope was an orange peanut, like a really close double star. Anyone have an idea what type satelite I saw? The time was about 7:30 or so. Did anyone else see it?
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Posted Yesterday, 03:25 PM
Waiting for Gemini to rise for a study of some galactic H-II clouds at the left foot of Castor...
Meantime, there's a half moon cruising towards the W, so I point my 4" refractor at the terminator while I wait. The transparency is around medium due to a high humidity (90%) and a dew-point just one degree below the current temperature (6 dg C). The seeing is a little wavering but all-in-all rather good, bordering on excellent in moments. I enjoy a cruise down the terminator at 80x magnification in a field that just frames the whole moon, then I "zoom in" using Barlows for 160 and finally 320x.
I lean back and just enjoy the sunrise over Ptolemaeus… -- Hard to describe in words, so here's a couple of smartphone snapshots, raw from the phone and no processing at all (apart from downsizing to fit within CN restrictions):
Edited by AllanDystrup, Yesterday, 03:26 PM.
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