GRAB YOUR COFFEE!
6/27/17 Observating Report
Site: Suburban park (red zone)
Conditions: Clear 10/10, Transparency 5/10, Seeing 3/5. Temps Upper to mid 50s, little to no wind
Equipment: STS 11, 0.5x reducer
EP’s: Mod 3 C; filters: 685 Lp, 7nm h-a, TV 2x, ES 2x
Time: 11:45pm – 1:30am
SQM (1:30am): 19.08, 19.14, 19.26 (lower towards the E, higher towards the W) – Below average for this site
With the new Moon period slipping away, I had to pounce upon any opportunity to observe or else have to wait nearly another month for favorable conditions. I was definitely motivated, especially after the previous nights highlights with the Mod 3 at 6x and 1x.
The south wasn’t looking particularly good and it took a while before Sagittarius’ teapot stars were easily seen. Nonetheless, I made the southern sky my entire focus and that was helped by the decently low horizon (~4.5-7˚). I did not even take one look at the h-alpha goodies in Cygnus! Thankfully, I had a very productive session and since it was the first time I was doing h-alpha observing with the STS 11, so there were A LOT of best ever views! It seems like NV keeps breaking its own records time-after-time!
Observing with the STS 11 with the Mod 3 in SQM ~19.15 red zone skies was akin to observing in something like SQM ~21.5 skies, at least. Basically, making this red zone into a dark green zone!!
Objects observed (*denotes first time observation):
Started with the 685 LP to align the finder then just saw so many stars I had to pan around before switching to h-alpha. The sheer amount of stars and faint fuzzies in the Summer MW was very impressive!
All observations at f/2.56 (0.5x reducer installed), yielding 1.5˚ TFOV and 46x magnification.
M4 (GC) – Observed this glob while aligning the finder and saw that it was very decently resolved for 46x and made for a nice view. Right then I knew that observing globs would be on the menu for tonight.
M9 (GC, mag 7.7)*- Came upon this bright glob while panning around.
NGC 6356 (GC, mag 8.25)*, NGC 6342 (GC, mag 9.65)* - A couple slightly fainter but easy to see globs. There were a lot of these random run-ins as the SAG/SCO area is chock full of globs.
It was time to hit the southern sky nebulae objects and really take time observing them. Every single nebula listed below was a ‘best ever’ observation!
All observations at f/2.56 (0.5x reducer installed), yielding 1.5˚ TFOV and 26x magnification.
NGC 6334 Cat’s Paw Nebula – Clearly saw all 5 major portions of the nebula and also prominent dark lane detail that divides the northern and eastern lobes, however, the large area of faint nebulosity in the NW portion was not observed. The 7nm h-alpha wasn’t too strong and allowed mag ~10 stars to shine through.
NGC 6357 War and Peace/Lobster Nebula – The brightest part of the nebula is quite easy and the others are quite tenuous, but the more I stared, the more I saw and after comparing on-the-spot with the view in SS, I realized I was seeing basically all the nebulosity that it shows in the image of this nebula minus perhaps the faintest of the faint extensions.
M8 Lagoon Nebula – I didn’t target this specifically the moment when I observed it but I actually just came upon it and it was awe-inspiring! Right away this HUGE, detail-filled nebula filled the entire FOV, it was just amazing and kind of alarming nearly! There were billowing puffs of nebulosity with so much varied brightness, words really fail me. So I had to take a picture with my cell phone, and of couse that doesn’t do it justice. I could have observed this for an hour!
IC 4685/Sh 2-29 – I saw actual detail in this nebula that neighbors the Lagoon, three areas of concentrated nebulosity.
M20 Trifid Nebula – The Trifid was very bright and the dark dust lane was inky black and very well-defined. The northern reflection portion of the nebula was conspicuously absent.
IC 1284 (nebula)* - This was a powder-puff of nebulosity, circular with jagged-edges. The 7nm h-alpha only allowed for the bright central star (mag 7.6) to shine through.
M24 Sagittarius Star Cloud – Even with the 7nm filter, a ton of stars shone through and the faint nebulosity permeated the entire area.
M17 Swan Nebula – A breath-taking view of this showpiece! The nebulosity was nearly photographic; observing every part of it was effortless. I think one look at this through the scope tonight would convert A LOT of naysayers.
Nebulosity NW of Swan around HD 168416* - I had seen this nebulosity faintly before but now it was very apparent, direct vision around the star HD 168416, about 14’ NW of the body of the Swan. A quick check in SS (DSS image) shows the nebulosity very clearly. It is disconnected from the Swan but I guess this is considered part of the Swan?
M16 Eagle Nebula/Pillars of creation* - I had read of other NV observers observing the ‘Pillars of Creation’ so I made sure to carefully observe this nebula and I was rewarded with my first-ever observation of the PoC. I do think that a little more image scale would have helped make them out clearer as the feature did not jump out at the observer. The rest of the nebula was extensive.
Sh 2-54 + Simeis 2-132 – At this image scale, Sh 2-54 was more spread-out and fainter than in shorter f/l length scopes, however, the Nested Egg nebula Simeis 2-132 was still relatively bright. No real detail observed in the Nested Egg though.
IC 4628 Prawn Nebula* - I was very happy to be able to get low enough in the south to observe this object. As shown in SS, I could see all the 3 bright sections of this nebula without any difficulty, though of course it was faint overall.
Once I successfully observed the Prawn Nebula, I put the 685 LP back on to bag the Northern Jewel Box, which is bright enough that it was easily observed even with the 7nm h-alpha. After that, it was just too much fun panning around, seeing what I could find. I planned to get back to h-alpha viewing but spent A LOT of time on the objects below, then had to call it a night.
All observations unless noted were at f/4.4, 0.86˚ TFOV and magnification of 46x.
NGC 6231 Northern Jewel Box* - Visible even with the 7nm h-alpha, it was simply stunning with the 685 LP. At about 6˚ high, it was plunging into the treeline but all the brighter members (mag 11 and brighter) were easily seen.
NGC 6374 (OC, mag 5.5)* - Concentrated small bright core and a loose structure for the rest of the members
M6 (OC) – An old favorite. A stunner usually with NV or not, but being this low and the skies lacking transparency it probably needed NV to please and it delivered.
M7 (OC) – So big and bright that it was easily visible even with the 7nm while cruising past it but with the 685 LP it was like bright neon lights.
NGC 6453 (GC, mag 10.1)* - Quite surprised to see this mag 10 glob as easy as I did on the periphery of M7. I love seeing groupings of DSOs together in the same FOV, it really brings to life what we see in SS/star maps in general.
NGC 6569, NGC 6558 (GCs, mag 8.6, 9.3)* - Another ‘two in the view’ observation with two globs in the Teapot. The fainter NGC 6558 was much grainier and looser than the brighter NGC 6569.
NGC 6522 + 6528 (GCs, mag 8.3 and 9.6) – Yet another 2-for-1, the relatively bigger/brighter NGC 6522 and its little brother NGC 6528 in the FOV near Alnasl.
NGC 6520 (OC) + Barnard 86 (DN) – The OC and DN were observed but not as strikingly as I remember observing it from PCSP (SQM 21.43) back in 2014 in the STS 11 with a 13 Ethos (108x). Nearby glob Djorg 2 (mag 9.9) was not seen.
NGC 6544 (GC, mag 7.8)*, NGC 6554 (GC, mag 8.1)* – Yet another pairing of globs observed while cruising below the Lagoon.
M21 (OC) – This bright OC was a quick hit, just a signpost on the Summer MW highway.
M28 (GC, mag 6.8) – I almost always come upon M28 while scanning SAG for M22 and it is the warm-up for that showpiece. M28 is quite bright itself at mag 6.8 and would have been a nice glob to study, especially at higher power.
M22 (GC) – This showpiece glob was one of my longest observed objects of the night. It was amazing, even at 46x and awe-inspiring at 92x. I could have pushed the mag more but I was fully satisfied with the view at 92x, there was no need. Yes, just 92x with a TV 2x barlow and it was framed perfectly (~0.43˚ TFOV) since the glob is so large. Later on in the night I observed M13 (it was ~70˚ high up in the sky) but it could not compare. M22 is now clearly my favorite glob and no longer #2!
GSCII 23627 (mag 14.0 star)* – At 92x, this was roughly the faintest star I could see without too much effort. It is definitely not a true limiting magnitude for this setup on this night as the magnification could have been taken higher and this star was only about 22˚ high at the time.
NGC 6712 (GC, mag 8.1) – I came upon this brighter glob while scanning the skies looking for M11 The Wild Duck Cluster. At first glance I thought that it WAS M11, since it didn resemble the view of the M11 at lower power, but then remembered I was observing at 92x and it should have been much bigger. I suspected it was ‘that nearbly glob to M11’ that I have seen in the past with conventional eyepieces and confirmed the star field in SS and was right. This glob lies in a very rich field of the MW and is a beauty.
M11 Wild Duck Cluster (OC) – The WDC is a stunner in conventional eyepieces but on a low transparency night like tonight would have made for a somewhat lackluster observation but NV really elevated it to making it seem like I was observing it in dark skies. At 40˚ high, it was the highest I ventured other than the quick and final observation of the night of M13.
M13 (GC) – The last object of the night was the venerable M13. After giving M22 so much eyepiece time, I thought it unfair to not give M13 a fair shake, especially with its better position in the sky. The view at 92x was very good indeed, better with the 685 LP than without. At 92x it looks as well-resolved at 200x in darker skies, just smaller. I will try with the 3x to get 138x on it next time.