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Report(s) from Geraldton, Western Australia

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#1 timokarhula

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 12:34 AM

I'm enjoying my 17th holiday / astro trip to the southern hemisphere.  I flew from Sweden three weeks ago.  I'm staying in Geraldton, a city by the Indian Ocean in Western Australia.  Since 3rd quarter moon (last Monday), I have rented a car that I drive and bring my 10-inch Sky-Watcher Dobsonian telescope outside the city lights every night.  I'm observing from a site some 50 kms due east.  The darkness of the skies are SQM-L 21.8-ish.  It was 21.90 the other night.  If I drive another 50-100 kms, the skies are SQM-L >22.0.  21.8 is good enough for me. :) .  The temperature is around +25 C in the evenings and drops to about +20 C in the morning. One morning it was +31 C (and +43 during the day)!

 

Some highlights so far after four nights.  I'm going to see all the Herschel-400 II-objects. I have now viewed them all (that is visible from here) except three galaxies in Aquarius that set at dusk.  I have to catch them another season.

 

I found Sirius naked eye just before sunset. It was hard to locate against the blue sky. 

 

Horsehead nebula without nebula filters.  With H-beta the HH was a pitch black indentation against IC434.

 

Last night I believe I had seen all the NGC/IC-objects in the Small Magellanic Cloud.  Now, I logged the fainter ones NGC422, IC1655, IC1612, IC1641, IC1660, IC1665, IC1662 and IC1626.  There is a nice globular near 47 Tuc, Kron 3. Lindsay 1 was another surprise.  I have observed 53 Deep Sky objects so far in the SMC.

 

LMC possesses 318 NGC-objects.  Less than a dozen is left for me.  I surfed around the NGC1737 complex and found at least eight nebulae in the same area not plotted in the Uranometria atlas.  Some of them were really bright and it surprises me that John Herschel missed them.  Even if I have logged close to 400 DS-objects in the LMC, there is plenty left to observe!

 

I have tested how many Messier objects I can perceive naked eye.  This night I found M67 in Cnc and it made my 38th naked eye Messier (more than a third of the entire catalog)!  Has anyone seen more?  Close to M67 I noticed a V=7.4 star.

 

The Gegenschein was very obvious situated between M44 in Cnc and Leo.  It was elliptical and 15-20 degrees in height. I could discern the zodiacal band stretching out in both directions from the counterglow.  The zodiacal band to the right (east) was harder to follow because the bright planets Jupiter, Mars and Saturn spoiled the view.

 

The "infamous" LMC-bridge of light that stretches toward Triangulum Australe.  Since I know how this feature looks like, it was not that difficult to spot. The 40 degree long light was best seen when LMC was at the same altitude as the south celestial pole.  The contributions to the background light due south is then:  To the up/left is the black sky, below/to the right is the bright Milky Way, black sky, "LMC-bridge", black sky and below it the air-glow.  The best contrast is the black sky between the LMC band of light and the Milky Way and then it gets darker again on the other side.  Dana de Zoysa, have you any more information on this "LMC-feature"? :)

 

The weather forecasts promise cloudfree skies at least one more week so let's see how I much observing I manage to do.

/Timo Karhula


Edited by timokarhula, 05 February 2016 - 12:53 AM.

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#2 SouthernSkyObserver

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 03:57 AM

I'm struggling to see how you could pick out 318 objects in the LMC! With a 10"! What sort of magnification are you using?

I think the temperature tomorrow might spoil your viewing!

#3 timokarhula

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 05:15 AM

I use mostly 150x using a Baader Hyperion zoom 8-24 mm eyepiece. I can also use 240x (5mm Hyperion).  +30 C during the night this coming week should not spoil the view.  I drink lots of water and energy drinks.  ;)

 

/Timo Karhula



#4 Astrojensen

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 05:20 AM

Words can not adequately express my envy. Please report more observations, so I can get the motivation to move away from here to a place where I can really see the stars.

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark


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#5 IVM

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 02:23 PM

This is some great travel and observing! Do you travel with your 10" from home? Is it a solid-tube? How do you transport it?

 

On the subject of the NGC 1737 area, I have some nebulous notes and comments and a sketchy sketch. This was observed with my travel 5.5" from Australia's Red Centre.

 

Dunlop+114+area+in+LMC.jpg

 

To get to NGC 1743 (Dunlop 114) I start again from Mu Mensae and this time go to the last (third) star of the said chain leading N to the W of the bar. Near that star are two more, and mimicking their arc and relative brightness somewhat, there is a chain of NGC 1712, -22, and -27. Their fanning arc points at a Uranometria variable, next to which NGC 1743 is obvious at low power with hints of complexity. Higher power resolves the object into 4 as shown on prev. page [sketch above], and reveals the nearby NGC 1756. While 1743 is undoubtedly the brightest, identifying the other three of the tight group requires a photographic chart, and it seems likely that Dunlop 114 is all 4 together (Dunlop notes?).

[Thus Uranometria was no help in this case also (cf. the NGC 1953 case). Back at home, I consulted Archinal and Hynes, who have an extensive note about the area. They cite Dunlop’s original description and identify Dunlop 114 with NGC 1743 alone. The group of 4 together is the association LH 5. NGC 1756 (see sketch) is not part of it. Note that the sketch is mirror-reversed, and note the direction of the west (arrow). The patch E of NGC 1743 is NGC 1748. The two patches to the N, west to east, are NGC 1737 and 1745. All four are nebulous clusters. Some of the respective clusters and nebulae have their own designations. These are outside NGC or IC, with the exception of IC 2114, which is most likely the nebula in NGC 1748.]


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#6 timokarhula

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Posted 06 February 2016 - 12:21 AM

This is some great travel and observing! Do you travel with your 10" from home? Is it a solid-tube? How do you transport it?

 

Ivan, the 10-inch SkyWatcher is a solid tube telescope.  Focal length 1200mm.  I ordered the telescope from Sydney in 2009 and I keep it in my apartment, ready to be used every time I spend my holiday in Geraldton.  The telescope is simply transported in the backseat of the compact rental car and the rocker box fits just in the boot.

 

Yes, I have to consult the Digitized Sky Survey, SIMBAD, Archibald&Hynes, Mati Morel's charts etc to identify these anonymous nebulae. It will be a fun work.

 

/Timo Karhula



#7 timokarhula

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Posted 06 February 2016 - 12:22 AM

I made my fifth consecutive trip to the bush last night.  My SQM-L showed only 21.76 in the beginning of the night and the temperature was +24 C.

 

I continued to explore the Small Magellanic Cloud's contents of non-NGC/IC objects.  The new Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas shows some other clusters and nebulae here.  I viewed most of them; Henize (Hen) 78, Hen 80, Hen 37 and the clusters Kron 28, Kron 31, Kron 29, Lindsay (Lin) 51, Lin 56, Lin 66, Bruck 71 and Bruck 50.  Some of them showed individual stars.  I also found nebulae not plotted on the atlas.

 

In the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) I hunted down the remaining NGC/IC-clusters far south of the galaxy's main bar at declination -75.  One of them was the bright NGC2203 and just 9 arc minutes from it I could see IC2164.  It happens to be a magnitude 14.5 background galaxy at 500 million light years distance.  In the middle of the main bar of LMC, I also observed the galaxy NGC1809.  That means the galaxy shines through all the dust and gas in LMC!  Because of that, NGC1809 looked diffuse and was very elongated.

 

At 1:47 am local time (5 February, 17:47 UT) i gazed up and noticed that Omega Centauri was far larger than the Full Moon.  Strange?!  I had to take a peek in the telescope and found two nebulae next to each other!  The other was something else and shone 2nd magnitude (like Epsilon Centauri).  I had never in my almost 40 years of observing seen anything like this!  It was a green cloud, about one degree in diameter and from it protruded a pointed, cone-formed beam of light towards south.  It looked like a miniature comet just outside the earth's atmosphere.  The head of the "comet" moved slowly eastward among the stars.  I remembered comet Iras-Araki-Alcock in May 1983 which passed close to Earth.  Was this a yet smaller mini-comet even closer to our planet?  I could follow the "comet" about half an hour before it dissipated and disappeared from sight.  I believe this was some kind of fuel emission (barium) from a rocket.  Can someone verify this?

 

In Centaurus, I observed the nebula NGC5367.  When the beautiful Scorpion had risen with the stinger first coming up over the horizon, I tried for some challenges.  Terzan 3 is a faint globular cluster.  I had brought with me photographic search charts, so I was able to pinpoint the cluster's exact location.  Within something that looked like an elongated, poor open star cluster I saw a faint shimmering of light.  This was Terzan 3!  I tried for the even fainter Terzan 2 but was unable to see it. The cluster was still too low on the horizon, so maybe next week.

 

When I arrived at home, I saw Mercury shining brightly below Venus and the crescent Moon.  This was the end of a 9.5 hour long observing session.  They promise at least one more week of cloud-free skies and 3-4 days with +40 C from tomorrow.

 

/Timo Karhula


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#8 timokarhula

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Posted 07 February 2016 - 01:05 AM

Time for the sixth night in a row in the "Outback". In fact, this turned out to be the most productive so far, in terms of number of new DS-objects, 35-40 objects.  I dunno exactly because I have to research what I saw in congested areas and, for example, consult Mati Morel's charts.  I let the telescope point towards the LMC for the most of the night and I concentrated on non-NGC/IC-objects in the Cloud.  The new Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas (IDSA) shows a large number of them (but is far from exhaustive!) as Shapley-Lindsay (SL), Henize (Hen), Hodge, BSDL, KMK etc objects.  I received this atlas as a gift a year ago from the author Ronald Stoyan.  Thanx Ronald!

 

The surrounding fields of views of the Tarantula nebula is filled of nebulosities and star clusters.  What a breathtaking sight!  In fact, when arriving at my observing spot, I saw a large, black spider running in front of the car's headlights!

 

At half past two, I found a curious row of unplotted nebulae south of NGC2005.  I seem to remember this sight, and sure, I had seen them already on Christmas Eve 2009, from this very same spot!  How on earth could I remember these objects?  :)  These were SL535, HSE327 and NGC2016.

 

I had to take a look at the Red Ruby, Espin-Birmingham 365.  Situated just 2 arc-minutes W of beta Crucis (Mimosa), it first looks like a kind of blood-red optical reflex from Mimosa.  Espin-Birmingham 365 has the color index B-V = +5.8.

 

My last object for the night was the open cluster ESO 131-9 less than one degree south of Gacrux in the Southern Cross.  The cluster's shape looked like a Gauss' clock curve, or why not a hat, with about 25 stars.

 

By the way, I estimated Eta Carinae as magnitude 4.4 tonight.  Quite bright, I think?

 

On my drive home I listened to the local radio station Spirit.  They played some songs of the Swedish artists Roxette and Zara Larsson.

/Timo Karhula


Edited by timokarhula, 07 February 2016 - 01:07 AM.

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#9 Allan Wade

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Posted 07 February 2016 - 08:06 AM

Hi Timo. Interesting reporting. I'm curious why you chose Geraldton, and why so much time on the Magellenic clouds?



#10 star drop

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Posted 07 February 2016 - 08:24 AM

A productive observing session indeed.

 

Timo, how can you handle that heat?



#11 timokarhula

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Posted 08 February 2016 - 03:40 AM

I have now been observing 7 whole nights in a row in almost perfect conditions.  When arriving at my usual observing spot, I noticed what it would like be this night and tomorrow.  It was 9 pm and the thermometer showed +32 C and warmer here than in Geraldton.  It is a remarkable experience when you are sweating and observing with a telescope under pitch black skies!

 

[Allan Wade, my late father lived in Geraldton for 50 years so I stay in that apartment during my holiday.  The Magellanic Clouds are a never-ending treasure chest of deep-sky objects. :) ]

 

Except my usual star cluster hopping within the LMC,  I observed for the first time IC2220 (Toby Jug nebula) in Carina.  It is a strange nebula where the central star is not a blue-white giant but rather a red star.  IC2220 was formed like a banana, or why not like a boomerang, and concave towards NW.  The W part of the nebula was the brightest.

 

I noticed that the Gegenschein had clearly moved eastwards in the sky during this week.  Now, it was placed exactly between M44 in Cnc and Regulus.

 

In the morning, I observed the planetary nebula NGC6337 in Scorpion.  It was circular and posessed a dark, central hole.  Two stars were visible near the rim but no central star was seen.

 

On Boxing Day 2009, I happened to observe a newly discovered star cluster in Carina, ESO 92-18, 3 degrees W of the Southern Pleiades (IC2602).  Back then, I did not know of any other visual observations of ESO 92-18.  It looks like a globular cluster in the Digitized Sky Survey.  Seen from here in the bush, this object was very interesting, like a Palomar globular.  I saw a faintish, pretty large, round glow of light with several (foreground) stars on it.  It is classified as an open cluster but at a whopping distance of almost 30,000 light-years.  As far as I know, there are no even more remote, optically visible open galactic star clusters than ESO 92-18.

 

Now, to a bona fide globular star cluster.  NGC6380 in Scorpion plays hide-and-seek behind a 10 mag star. I had seen NGC6380 17 years earlier with a 45cm telescope.  Even then, I ranked this object as difficult.  I regard this and NGC6749 in Aquila as the two most difficult globular clusters in the entire NGC/IC-catalog.

 

Less than one degree from NGC6380 is a real challenge.  Just 6 arc-minutes NW of a mag 4.3 star is another tougher target.  Here is the globular Tonantzintla 2 hiding (cool name, hay?).  Using just the Uranometria charts, I saw a faint, consistent glow in the same spot.  I had to make sketch in order to verify the observation and my observation of Ton 2 was dead-on according to DSS!  Has anyone seen Ton 2 with a 10-inch or smaller telescopes?  This was the coolest observation of the night.

 

During the night, I consume energy drinks (lots of coffein) in order to be in a good shape and alert during the entire night.  I had placed the tin on the ground and while taking a sip of it, I feel something walking on my tongue.  Ants!  I happened to place the tin near an ant nest so the insects felt the sugary smell of my liquid.  :crazy:

 

[Star drop:  I dont really stand these temperatures, but I have to.  :grin:   It was almost 70 degrees C cooler in Sweden (-23 C) when I left home in the middle of January!]

 

When arriving at home, the temperature had dropped to the more pleasent +27 C.  When I am writing this, the official temperature was +44 C (+43.5 C acording to my thermometer) at noon. They forecast even hotter tomorrow, my gosh!

 

By the way, during this week, I had accumulated about as much observations as I normally do in a whole year in Sweden!

 

My tally so far: 52 hours of effective observation time (no 40-hours weeks here!), 170 (approx.) new DS-objects, 1 large black spider, 1 wild canin, 2 foxes, 0 kangoroos.

 

/Timo Karhula


Edited by timokarhula, 08 February 2016 - 03:50 AM.

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#12 timokarhula

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Posted 08 February 2016 - 06:50 AM

At 1:47 am local time (5 February, 17:47 UT) i gazed up and noticed that Omega Centauri was far larger than the Full Moon.  Strange?!  I had to take a peek in the telescope and found two nebulae next to each other!  The other was something else and shone 2nd magnitude (like Epsilon Centauri).  I had never in my almost 40 years of observing seen anything like this!  It was a green cloud, about one degree in diameter and from it protruded a pointed, cone-formed beam of light towards south.  It looked like a miniature comet just outside the earth's atmosphere.  The head of the "comet" moved slowly eastward among the stars.  I remembered comet Iras-Araki-Alcock in May 1983 which passed close to Earth.  Was this a yet smaller mini-comet even closer to our planet?  I could follow the "comet" about half an hour before it dissipated and disappeared from sight.  I believe this was some kind of fuel emission (barium) from a rocket.  Can someone verify this?

 

 

/Timo Karhula

 

Thanx to a Swedish satellite observation expert, Björn Gimle, I got an explanation what the "UFO" I saw the other night really was.

 

It was a fuel dump from the GPS 2F satellite. To make its orbit circular around the Earth, the satellite had to make a manoeuver and then dump the rest of the fuel at 20,000 km altitude.  My miniature comet was indeed an expanding fuel cloud.  O´boy, how an interesting and mysterious sight that was!

 

http://satobs.org/se...-2016/0002.html

/Timo Karhula



#13 timokarhula

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 01:51 AM

After the hottest day on my journey with +44 C at noon, it got cooler in the evening.  It was just +30 at my site at 10 pm.  I can drive here with closed eyes by now.  It is a 110 km/h road here and my observing spot is behind a small, anonymous dirt lane on the left side.  I start to reduce my speed when nearing it instead of breaking suddenly as I did the first nights.

 

I admit that.  I´m almost "blind".  By that, I mean I can only see sharp at 40-70 cm distance from my eyes. I could not read the smallest text and symbols in my star-charts anymore under my faint, red, diffuse torch-light.  I went to the pharmacy and bought a pair of reading glasses! I get older as anyone else. This is the true fact of entropy.

 

What a difference it made when looking at my charts!  I could readily see all the small stuff in the most congested areas in LMC.  I continued to star cluster hop (NB! not starhopping) in the Cloud.  There are a few NGC-objects that I have not been able to view but I think they are cataloged mistakes and too faint to bee discovered by John Herschel.  Maybe "non-existent" star clusters and that I will look up back home in Sweden.

 

I tried to find the closest star, Proxima Centauri, of 11th magnitude. Forget it!  Using just Uranometria with LM of just 9.5 is not good enough.  In the 90-ths, I succesfully hunted down Proxima a few times when using detailed charts.  Think about it, the sun´s closest neighbour is an unassuming red dwarf among "thousand" of similar stars in that direction.

 

Another object amongst the Milky Way myriad is the Circinus-galaxy, discovered by Gösta Lyngå from Mount Stromlo in 1972.  The galaxy can be more massive than ours but is deeply veiled behind dust and gas.  With my 10-inch Dob, I saw the galaxy´s core as not too faint.  It had stars on both ends of the oval core.

 

NGC5189 (IC4274) is a planetary nebula in Musca that looks like a spiral galaxy more than M51 in small apertures!  In my opinion, NGC5189 was reminiscent of a smaller, sharper variant of M83 in Hydra. A fascinating object.

 

Cederblad 122 is a very large emission nebula on the border between Centaurus and Musca, near the Coal Sack (two different personalities close to each other). I was hooked when I easily saw a distinct border between Ced 122 and the rest of the sky with my seeker 8x50.  The thing does not get worse when within (behind?) the nebula lies the star clouds NGC5045 and NGC5155.

 

I finished this night by noting the teeny-wheeny disc (5 seconds of arc) of the planetary nebula IC4191 in Musca.

 

/Timo Karhula


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#14 IVM

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 01:23 PM

Fine report as always. To observe Proxima Cen, I used Uranometria and a photo of the small region; it is straightforward that way. The first sketch in the scan below is of NGC 5189 at 300x in my travel Mak-Cass with 140 mm of working aperture. Two comma-like arcs were observed.

 

Dunlop+100+part+2+scan+1+processed.jpg



#15 timokarhula

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 12:35 AM

Now, I have observed nine whole nights in a row from the bush.  So many consecutive nights have I never before been observing with a telescope!

 

Brian Skiff at Lowell-observatory kindly provided me yesterday with magnitudes and coordinates of the brightest planetary nebulae in the Large Magellanic Cloud.  I Identifed them in the Digitized Sky Survey and made detailed, hand-drawn search charts for them.

 

The brightest planetary in LMC seems to be LMC SMP 62 of visual magnitude 14.4. Already with 50x magnification, my 10-inch showed a star here.  With 250x another fainter star was close to SE.  This was the first time I saw a planetary nebula outside our own galaxy!  The object was stellar and the "star" was not difficult to view.  I saw three other planetary nebulae here.  LMC SMP 78 lies only about 15 minutes of arc NW of the Tarantula and the 14.8 mag planetary was quite easy.  My fourth nebula was of magnitude 14.9.  I have to go deeper next night.

 

Bug-nebula NGC6302 in Scorpion had I not viewed in 21 years, so this was an old goodie.  In the telescope, the Bug looked like the Andromeda galaxy naked eye, but with a brighter central area.  The W extension was longer and it made a curve towards NW.  10 arc-minutes to the S of NGC6302, I saw a conspicious gathering of stars, not catalogued.  Another Karhula asterism?  :)

 

Yesterday, I read about the new supernova in Centaurus A, NGC5128.  It lies only 4" from the 12 mag field-star within the charasteristic dark band.  Not even with 250x could I discern the supernova close to it.

 

Between Centaurus A and Omega Centauri, there is a galaxy called Fourcade-Figueroa (ESO 270-17).  Are these the discoverer´s names? I had no clue about how the galaxy would look like, except that it was large and elongated in the Uranometria-atlas.  First, I saw nothing, but after a while I could see a glow next to about a 11 mag star.  It was the core of the galaxy when consulting the DSS today.  This anonymous galaxy is 16 arc-minuted long but only 1.4 arc-minutes wide.  A very interesting surprise!

 

I had to take in all the "millions" of stars in the colossal Omega Centauri with 250x.  The whole field of view was packed of stars.  Near the centre, there is a dark "foot-print".

 

From one extreme to the next.  The globular cluster Haute-Provence 1 in Sagittarius, close to Scorpion was still low to the horizon.  I had to wait until 2:45 am in order to try to see this phantom.  After a close scrutiny and with the help of a photo of the area, I could discern the light from H-P 1 shining through all the dust in the Milky Way!  It was the first time I saw a Haute-Provence cluster.  It was not particularly difficult with my 10-inch Dob.

 

After midnight, I noticed a change in the air.  I felt the smell of the salty Ocean even when I was 50 kms from the coast.  The wind had changed and the humidity increased heavily.  For the first time in my life, I experienced dew here in the summer.  The tube was wet but the optics were stil OK.  On my way home, I had to use the windshield wiper due to the humid air!

 

/Timo Karhula


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#16 nytecam

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 06:03 AM

Great and enjoyable read Timo - glad you're enjoying another trip east of Geraldton - much envy from the forum members I note.

 

Some neighbours here in SW London moved there many decades ago.  Would I see more stars out there than here??

Nytecam


Edited by nytecam, 10 February 2016 - 06:14 AM.

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#17 timokarhula

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 12:49 AM

Nope, I envy your dark London location.

 

/Timo Karhula



#18 timokarhula

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 12:51 AM

The other day, I got co-ordinates for some brighter planetary nebulae in the Magellanic Clouds from both Brian Skiff and Kent Wallace.  Kent is an authority of visual observations of planetaries.  I had the privilege to meet Kent at the solar eclipse here in February 1999 at Akira Fujii´s private observatory.  After just a minute we started discussing about Deep-Sky as if we had known each other for years!

 

Now, I could positively identify planetary nebulae also in the Small Cloud!  The brightest of them were SMC SMP 17 of magnitude 15.2 and SMC MA 54 of magnitude 15.3.  These are close to V-magnitudes and it seemed to be correct.

 

In the LMC, I saw the faintest PN which I got information of the other day, the 15.4 mag SMP LMC 50 and the 15.5 mag SMP LMC 74.  I used my 10-inch Dobson and 250x magnification (using Baader Hyperion 5mm ocular).  SMP LMC 74 was brighter than it looks like in the Digitized Sky Survey image.  Even if the nebulae does not look any "beatiful", completely stellar objects, it is the knowledge of their real physical nature of 200,000 light-years distance that make them interesting!  They were so faint so I could not have been able to blink them with filters.  My detailed hand-drawn search charts made positive identifications possible.  Since I could even glimpse still fainter stars than the planetaries, my limiting magnitude was about 16.0, even when the galaxies were quite low and far from upper culmination.  I can check this out back home in Sweden.

 

I observed my first comet during my Down Under trip.  81P/Wild was in Taurus but it was a little bit difficult to view, being so northern object.  Just kidding. :)   I estimated the comet as magnitude 13.1 (according to APASS), coma diameter 0´.8 and DC=2/ (diffuse). I had observed 81P/Wild on two earlier apparitions, during January 1997 and March 2010.  By the way, this was my 183th observed comet (apparition).

 

Lambda Orionis nebula (Sharpless 264) is a giant red bubble of gas which surrounds the star Meissa.  I had never seen the nebula before.  When Orion was close to zenith, I looked up with my naked eyes and compared the skies around Meissa and that around Betelgeuze.  Betelgeuze´s immediate surrounding was black when it was rather dull grey around Lambda Orionis and its neighbor stars.  The general larger environment around Lambda had a different sky quality than the sky between Betelgeuze and the Belt stars.  I then used UHC-filter and it boosted the view.  Even H-Beta gave a difference of the sky texture!  I therefore consider Lambda Orionis nebula (Sharpless 264) as finally observed.  It was a subtle sight indeed with the naked eye.  I could, on the other hand, not really view Barnard´s Loop naked eye and H-Beta, but the Loop is obvious even with unfiltered binoculars.

 

Centaurus A (NGC5128) has now a supernova, but I failed to see it very close to the star in the dark equatorial band.  ON THE OTHER HAND, I could discern Centaurus A with unaided eyes!!! I had not made whole-hearted attempts to observe it before but the galaxy was a small star-like object within a curved string of stars.  Since the total visual magnitude of NGC5128 is 6.8, it is not the dimmest nor the most remote galaxy I have seen naked eye.  M81 in Ursa Major still holds the title.

 

It got unusully dewy again after 2 am so it was no use for trying some challenging observing with the telescope anymore.  When the secondary mirror is dewed up, you can as well end the session and go to sleep.  On my way home, I encountered fog clouds above the road (my observing site is 200-300 meter above the sea level).  It was still +23 C but the humidity was unprecedented (being summer time).

 

/Timo Karhula


Edited by timokarhula, 11 February 2016 - 01:39 AM.

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#19 stevecoe

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 03:21 PM

Timo;

 

I am happy to hear that you are getting good viewing and enjoying the southern skies so much.  Lots to see.  I also love NGC 5128, that dark lane is fabulous.  I just posted a drawing I made in the sketching forum.  The Spiral Planetary in Musca is also fascinating.  I was using a 12 inch Cassegrain in my Aussie friend's backyard, about 60 miles from Brisbane.  The structure is unique among nebulae.

 

Enjoy;

Steve Coe



#20 timokarhula

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 11:58 PM

On the eleventh night in the "Outback", I started by scanning some Shapley-Lindsay (SL) clusters and Henize (Hen) nebulae in the LMC.  Tonight, I got Hen 74, ESO86 SC27, SL 824, SL 586, SL 592 (=NGC2027?), KMHK 1076, SL 498, Hen 50 and SL 497 in the N part of the Big Cloud.  Soon, I have logged each one of the nebulae in the Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas.

 

I had not paid too much attention to deep-sky objects in the northern hemisphere, despite most of them are better seen from here than from my dark observing site in Sweden!  I pointed my 10-inch tube towards NGC2244 and the Rosetta nebula. Already in the 8x50 seeker the large gas cloud around the cluster was obvious.  Rosetta did not fit in the 50x field of view but I could pan the fields in order to see the extents of Rosetta.  The cluster NGC2244 lies in an empty, gas free region in the centre.  The stellar winds have apparently blown out the material during millions of years.

 

The Christmas Tree Cluster, NGC2264, does really look like its name-sake.  Immediately, I saw bright nebulosity around the "root" (in N) and at the top (in S).  This is the nebula Sharpless 273.  I had not with certainty been able to positively see it from Sweden.  When seeing fog around the stars, it is not guaranteed it is true nebulosity but when you notice structure in it, you can be sure.

 

N of the top of the Xmas Tree lies the Conus- or the Cone-nebula which make a deep indentation in Sharpless 273 from the S side.  The dark nebula is considered as a very difficult target and I had not ever seen it before.  I was able to see a protruding thing with an unfiltered view at 50x magnification!  This is said to be one of the few objects that benefits of H-Beta ("The Horse-Head filter").  With H-Beta, the dark Cone was seen slightly easier.  In my opinion, the Cone was easier than the Horse-Head tonight.  The Cone nebula was one of the trophies that I did not forget to observe this night.

 

One degree to the W lies a very rich open cluster but with extremely faint stars, Trumpler 5. I had during several winters tried to spot Tr 5 with my 17.5-inch from Virsbo, Sweden.  From here, I saw almost immediately (again) an area with a faint glow.  There is a star rich region directly connected to the E but the true Trumpler 5 showed a nice glittering of unresolved stars in the right place according to Digitized Sky Survey.  Now, I had finally logged all the objects in the Trumpler catalog.

 

Instead of the supernova in Centaurus A (too close to the dark band star), I hoped for SN2016X (ASASSN-16at) in the galaxy UGC8014 in Virgo.  It is a low surface brightness object but yet easy to find being close to a relatively bright star.  The supernova was SE of the galaxy.  I estimated SN2016X as magnitud 13.9 on February 11.67 (UT).  This was my 37th observed supernova.

 

For the first time since January, I happened to see clouds in the night sky (except the Magellanic Clouds!).  Of course the clouds are black towards the sky and not light as in light polluted skies.  The sky deteriorated so I decided to finish early at 2 am and drive the 50 km back home to my (summer) apartment in Geraldton.  Eleven cloud-free nights in a row so far under dark skies is not too bad, after all :)

 

By the way, here is a video of the "UFO" I observed on Feb 5-6 close to Omega Centauri.  It was actually a rocket fuel dump from the GPS-satellite NAVSTAR 76 at 20,471 kms altitude over 47.4S, 148.3E.

 

https://vimeo.com/154398108

 

/Timo Karhula


Edited by timokarhula, 12 February 2016 - 12:04 AM.

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#21 Astrojensen

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 05:43 AM

 

Since the total visual magnitude of NGC5128 is 6.8, it is not the dimmest nor the most remote galaxy I have seen naked eye.  M81 in Ursa Major still holds the title.

Isn't NGC 5128 farther away than M81? According to Wikipedia, this is the case. ~13 Mly, vs. ~11 Mly. Estimates probably vary considerably depending on the source. M81 is slightly dimmer, though. 

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark



#22 timokarhula

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 11:33 PM

A little brief (I´m in a hurry).  Continued this twelfth night in a row, as usual, by star cluster hopping in the LMC. I logged 7 new SL-clusters, 1 Henize, 1 BSDL and 6 anonymous objects not plotted on my charts.  I have to identify them later on.

 

I had brought with me naked eye limiting magnitude charts to magnitude 8.0 for some RA-areas around declination -30, which passes overhead here.  One of the charts shows only the stars and the other one shows the stars together with their magnitude labels.  I chose the area in Columba near the Alpha star (Phakt) at 45 degrees elevation.  Higher up and I have to crane my neck. I started ringing in all the stars seen on the anonymous chart and going progressively fainter.  After about 45 minutes of star gazing I checked the result.  My naked eye limiting magnitude was V=7.8!!  The two faintest stars were of V=7.68 and V=7.79.  I failed to record two mag 7.9 stars.  I will try for them the next night a little bit earlier when the region is higher up.  Magnitude 7.8 is my record from this particular site.  :)  My SQM-L showed 21.71, a little bit brighter sky than normally.

 

Tried to see comet 116P/Wild in Libra but I had plotted it in for the incorrect time so I´ll try again next night.

 

The globular NGC5897 in Libra is nice.  The W part seemed to lack brighter stars compared to the E side and was more diffuse on the W part.  M4 showed the conspicious line of stars near the centre.

 

NGC6221 and NGC6215 are two bright galaxies near the mag 3.8 Eta Arae.  NGC6221 is of V=10.0 and was probably the brightest galaxy that I had not viewed yet!  Lyngå 3 was a small open cluster with haze.

 

I had tried for the globular Terzan 2 last week.  Now, I saw haziness here but not at its exact geometric centre.  It was probably caused by stars just N of Terzan 2 and I don´t know if they belong to the cluster.

 

My last object for the night at half past three became the globular cluster Palomar 6 on the border between Scorpion and Sagittarius.  The area was still low over the horizon, but I tried as well as I could.  Sure, I could glimpse an intermittent glow here with averted vision.  Without a photographic chart, Palomar 6 would not have been visible in my 10-inch Dob (on this low elevation).

 

It was very windy, So I had to wear my old Peru-cap from the Andes.  :)

 

/Timo Karhula


Edited by timokarhula, 12 February 2016 - 11:39 PM.

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#23 timokarhula

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 01:40 AM

I´m going to arrive a little bit later each night to my observing site due to the waxing moon.  I commenced the observing session by (re-)observing a few IC reflexion nebulae in Orion.  I remember that some of them had I not been able to positively view back home in Sweden.  I verified IC423 and IC429/430 to be sure.

 

I surfed around in Canis Major by observing the lesser known clusters Haffner 7, Ruprecht 12, Ru 149, Ru 13 and the nebula vdB 96.  The elongated galaxy NGC2325 in the richly star populated region was fine.  The discoverer of Pluto, Clyde Tombaugh, also found new clusters.  Tombaugh 1 was completely resolved but Tombaugh 2 was only partially resolved and had a background glow.  I like hazy star clusters with faint stars.

 

Tau Canis Majoris cluster (NGC2362, Jumping Bean cluster) was extra-ordinarily beatiful with the dominating Tau in the centre, surrounded by a "bee-swarm" of small stars.

 

At 2 am, I found the periodical comet 116P/Wild 4 close to Mars in Libra.  I had followed this comet on earlier apparitions, during February 1996 (Hyakutake time!) and April 2009.  I reported 116P/Wild as magnitude 13.2, coma-diameter 1´.0 and DC=2/ to COBS, http://www.cobs.si/ .

 

The planetary nebula NGC2792 in Vela had I only seen in low magnification earlier.  Now, I could admire its 24" wide, round disc.

 

Herschel´s Pencil-nebula, NGC2736, is a part of the gigantic Gum-nebula, an ancient supernova remnant. The Pencil was not so well seen unfiltered but with a UHC the nebula made a metamorphosis and was very clearly seen.  As the name implies, the Pencil is a very elongated nebula.

 

I happened, in fact, to catch the Big Dipper in upper culmination over the N horizon, including the naked eye double star Mizar and Alcor at 4º.6 elevation.  Only Dubhe was below horizon.

 

The 14 magnitude globular cluster Terzan 5 in Sagittarius was my next target.  I could glimpse a very faint glow intermittently with 250x power with my 10-inch but it was on the border of what I could manage to (at 24º altitude).

 

I ended my telescope session by taking a look at Saturn at 4 am.  The rings were inclined much towards Earth and six moons were visible. Before bedtime at 5 am, I saw Mercury 4º below Venus. The whole Sagittarius "tea-pot" was now quite high up in the sky.

 

/Timo Karhula


Edited by timokarhula, 14 February 2016 - 01:49 AM.

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#24 HellsKitchen

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 07:15 AM

Wow that's a marathon haul, nearly 2 weeks of allnighters, you've got some serious endurance! 50km inland from Geraldton would be a pretty exceptional location to observe from. You should post a couple pics. Well done on seeing the Cone Nebula, I tried the other night and didn't succeed.  This was a night when I saw the Horsehead unfiltered. However, the second night I went out, the transparency was noticeably better but didn't attempt the Cone. 



#25 WeltevredenKaroo

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 06:56 PM

Hi Timo, Dana here. It's good to see your handle in the observing reports of what sounds like a fab time in Geraldton. I've been following your LMS planetary posts on amastro. I just now got back from my own 10-night dark site visit testing a brand-new Matthias Wirth/Intes 8-inch Mak-Newt & will have a nifty observing report myself in a few days.

 

Re the Magellanic "streak", I'm working on a paper re. this feature for the S Africa ASSA. I think I've traced it down to the glow from the trailing arm of the LMC bow shock as the duo exit their fly-by of the MW 300 myr ago. I've found several IIS astro-images showing the trailing shock wave, which corresponds to the sky positions you and I have observed. The images I found are much more well defined than the Hino image. They show a definite trailing stream from a bow shock, a sort of galactic version of the bow shocks from runaway O stars ejected from a cluster by either a triple binary encounter or as the companion of a core-collapse SN suddenly let free when there's no companion to orbit any more. There's 46 O star runaways known, and all exhibit the bow shock effect.

 

The Magellanics / MW story has become much clearer following a paper by Gurtina Besla & Nitya Kallivayalil in MNRAS Volume 421, Issue 3, pp. 2109-2138. You can get past the MNRAS paywall by going to the ADS version  <http://adsabs.harvar...MNRAS.421.2109B>. The computer sims in this paper shed a lot of light (so to speak) on the complex aetiology of Magellanic streaming. You might also want to check Besla's proposal for HST time <http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2011hst..prop12632B>, which report his proposed data analysis methods. Knowing what he intended to do compared with what he actually found is an interesting read in itself.

 

Also check out Mary Putman's long string of Magellanics papers starting in 2003, especially this one <http://adsabs.harvar...ApJ...586..170P> which she did with Ken Freeman and CSIRO. (She Australian, by the way.)

 

Back to the feature you and I have observed, I saw it every clear night on the dark cycle just now ending. I was at my high desert site in our Karoo uplands region. The streak we see is definitely not related to the Leading Arm feature. The feature we see emits mainly in the IR bands of excited molecular hydrogen. It doesn't register as strongly in the atomic hydrogen 21cm emission radio band. A molecular H2 signature fits the morphology of shocked gas in the 3,000 to 4,000 K range of singly ionised molecular H, while atomic H indicates excitation levels of 8,000 K. 

 

There's a complicating factor here in the presence of HVACs (high-velocity intergalactic HI gas clouds) of density in the 3 to 10 atoms /cc but huge 100 ly dimensions and very cold excitation levels of c. 4 to 10 K. When the Magellanics flew by the MW, they did not puncture the outer disc but rather swept a parabolic arc through the MW halo. In the sweep they also penetrated at least one of these HVACs, which may have initiated the bow wake structure. By the time the HVAC encounter occurred the LMC and SMC had already had their own near-colliding interaction. The gas streamer emanating from their own interaction created its own bow shock as the pair orbited through the MW halo. It is the remnant of that encounter with the HVAC which seems to be the source of the emission we have observed.

 

Since you've posted a lot about your current observations on amastro, you might just post an entry about the emission we see, and ask Brian Skiff directly if he can confirm our observations from his Cerro Tololo days, and if he's given any thought to the aetiology.

 

Keep your eye out for the posts I'm working up for CN and IIS right now, as I have a wonderful bunch of dwarf galaxy and Palomar glob sightings in it.

 

If you;re still down there in Oz, take a half hour to chase after the Carina Dwarf and Sextans Dwarf (not to be confused with Sext A or B). They are fabulously ephemeral and if you catch them in a 10-inch it's a real coup. Then go look them up in the literature and find out what unusual critters they are.

 

Cheers, Dana


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