Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Your greatest WOW moment while observing?

  • Please log in to reply
181 replies to this topic

#1 Lyuda

Lyuda

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 186
  • Joined: 10 Apr 2017

Posted 23 September 2017 - 09:21 AM

What's the one moment while observing that you'll always cherish? Give me the whole story, I'd love to hear it!

Mine would have to be seeing Saturn for the first time or seeing the veil nebula.

Saturn: when I first got my little 4" refractor this summer (currently my first and only telescope), I never thought Saturn would be anything special through it. Sure it was big and bright in the southern sky, but no one ever mentioned anything about it. But after an hour or so of observing I finally decided to give it a go.
I pointed the lens towards the bright blue dot and looked through my 12mm eyepiece. A big blob. Telescope was out of focus.
As I turned that knob slowly, the image grew sharper and sharper until I was greeted by the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. There was Saturn, a perfect little circle surrounded by very distinct rings. I went crazy over how amazing it was.

Veil: long story short I had no intentions of being able to see the veil nebula, even with my newly purchased UHC filter. I thought it would be too faint and I'd need an Oiii to ever be able to get a glimpse of it. But as always it was at least worth a try. Sure enough there it was right below Gienah. Very faint, anyone could have easily passed it by if they weren't looking for it, but there it was. An amazing moment indeed.

I'm sure there have probably been similar posts about this before but I wanted my own to read what people say. Full story, I want to hear them!

Edited by Lyuda, 23 September 2017 - 09:28 AM.

  • Joe Bergeron, izar187, Asbytec and 11 others like this

#2 jjt312b

jjt312b

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2668
  • Joined: 04 May 2016

Posted 23 September 2017 - 09:46 AM

Seeing Albeireo for the first time stunned me. I was just starting out and randomly scanning when this beautiful object suddenly appeared in my field of view. That's when I decided that yes, this hobby is for me.

Ever since then, it's always been my first target if in view. Puts me in a good mood for the rest of the night! 

 

Albeiro.jpg


Edited by jjt312b, 23 September 2017 - 11:14 AM.

  • Phil Cowell, Jersey Star Man, REC and 11 others like this

#3 cosmo823

cosmo823

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 101
  • Joined: 08 Jan 2017

Posted 23 September 2017 - 09:51 AM

So many great "wow" moments for me, but then again, I'm pretty easily wowed, lol. 

 

But two stand out the most. Mars and the Andromeda Galaxy.

 

I'd always had an interest in the sky but never got around to actually getting a scope until I stumbled into one in 2003. Long story short, I bought a 150mm Celestron refractor on a whim. Went home, set it up in the backyard and found Mars. I saw the freaking polar cap and two distinctly different colored regions and I was a schoolboy again. Awed and amazed. I went and got my neighbor and showed him and we both just had a great night looking at Mars and talking about Mars and science fiction.

 

The second was M31 through binoculars from a friend's place in rural Michigan. It was a smudge with a bright center, but the fact that it was a galaxy, an actual galaxy 2.3 million light years away, just sent my imagination racing. I scanned the sky for a good hour plus that night, saw beautiful things, but kept coming back to that galaxy imagining someone/something looking back towards me.


  • paul hart, gitane71, Lyuda and 1 other like this

#4 caveman_astronomer

caveman_astronomer

    Gemini

  • -----
  • Posts: 3018
  • Joined: 18 Mar 2016

Posted 23 September 2017 - 09:53 AM

Total Solar Eclipses.

 

Running distant second, Great Comets.

 

Then, close approaching asteroids.

 

Fourth, Everything Else.


  • woodscavenger and Lyuda like this

#5 CounterWeight

CounterWeight

    Star walker

  • *****
  • Posts: 10791
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2008
  • Loc: PDX, OR.

Posted 23 September 2017 - 10:05 AM

No greatest for me.  I've had several this observing season, it's what keeps me both feet in the hobby.


  • Cpk133 and Lyuda like this

#6 Lyuda

Lyuda

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 186
  • Joined: 10 Apr 2017

Posted 23 September 2017 - 10:22 AM

Total Solar Eclipses.

Running distant second, Great Comets.

Then, close approaching asteroids.

Fourth, Everything Else.


Ah, yes, the great solar eclipse! That's definitely my favorite as well but other than that Saturn remains as my love (until I get my h-alpha filter!)

I have yet to see a comet or asteroid, hopefully I'll get to in the future.

#7 bobzeq25

bobzeq25

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Posts: 16459
  • Joined: 27 Oct 2014

Posted 23 September 2017 - 10:31 AM

I was 14 years old, the scope was a Unitron 60mm.  Using a sky atlas I starhopped to the Ring Nebula.  There it was, using my highest power eyepiece, I could clearly see it as a ring.

 

Didn't match that until started imaging, saw things I'd never seen in many years of visual astronomy.  It was more of a process, one wow chronicled here.

 

https://www.cloudyni...ngs-get-better/


Edited by bobzeq25, 23 September 2017 - 10:55 AM.

  • gitane71, happylimpet, jjt312b and 1 other like this

#8 Scott in NC

Scott in NC

    Refractor Fanatic

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 31336
  • Joined: 05 Mar 2005
  • Loc: NC

Posted 23 September 2017 - 10:33 AM

approximately 1979 or 1980: first view of Saturn through a 60mm dept store refractor

approximately 2002: first view of Saturn through my first "real" scope, an 8" SCT

1997: Comet Hale-Bopp

June 5, 2012: Venus solar transit

October 23,2014: partial solar eclipse

August 21, 2017: total solar eclipse

 

It's interesting that even though I've bought and sold quite a bit of medium-to-high-end astro gear over the years, some of the greatest sights took very little in the way of equipment to fully appreciate.


  • izar187, mountain monk, mdowns and 5 others like this

#9 csrlice12

csrlice12

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 24429
  • Joined: 22 May 2012
  • Loc: Denver, CO

Posted 23 September 2017 - 10:37 AM

Just looking up when stationed with the military near the North Pole,... the first time I saw the Andromeda Galaxy, ...the first, second third, sixteenth time I saw M8...ditto for M42....the time I was doing terrestrial viewing at the base and watched an A7 take off, bank, pilot eject, and the plane hit the ground.


  • jjt312b, cosmo823 and Lyuda like this

#10 StarWolf57

StarWolf57

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 937
  • Joined: 22 Jan 2014
  • Loc: Granada Hills (Los Angeles), CA

Posted 23 September 2017 - 10:38 AM

Probably seeing Saturn for the first time with my 50mm as a kid. It looked like a yellowish star and didn't know what it was until I looked at it through my little scope. I was pretty amazed.


  • mdowns, tchandler, SeaBee1 and 3 others like this

#11 REC

REC

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11344
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2010
  • Loc: NC

Posted 23 September 2017 - 10:41 AM

Ah, some topic you ask! This post will be a dusey!


  • Lyuda likes this

#12 wrnchhead

wrnchhead

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 888
  • Joined: 28 Aug 2017
  • Loc: NE Kansas

Posted 23 September 2017 - 10:48 AM

Easily my best wow moments so far happened last night. It's hard to type this without using all caps! First light for my 8" dob at a pretty dark Bortle 3. Reading other posts about what you wished you'd have known etc, I didn't go in expecting amazing things. I am still learning the geography of the sky, had never used a dob before. Looked at some stars, and after a while saw my first DSO ever, the Ring Nebula! AWESOME! At first I thought I had bungled something up and it was an out of focus star, but then while playing with the focuser, I realized the surrounding stars were logically going in and out of focus, and that smudge was actually it! Then I managed to find Andromeda, equally awesome!! 


  • SeaBee1, jjt312b, cosmo823 and 1 other like this

#13 SeaBee1

SeaBee1

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3776
  • Joined: 19 Mar 2015
  • Loc: Under the DFW light barrier

Posted 23 September 2017 - 10:53 AM

There are a few WOW! moments that will never be forgotten. The first was my first view of Saturn through the first scope my family owned. It was a Christmas gift for my oldest son, a typical hobby killer toy store scope. The view was horrible, but it was Saturn! The scope went to the closet not long after that.

 

The next WOW! moment was my first view of the Orion Nebula, M42, with my new to me at that point 4 inch Celestron refractor. I could also see 4 stars of the Trap... I will never forget it.

 

The next WOW! moment was when I finished my 10 inch reflector build, first light. The viewing conditions were darn near perfect, though I didn't know it when I set the scope out to cool. My first target that night was... Saturn! And O. M. G.! I have not had a view like that since, though close. The Cassini Division was the inkiest black I have ever seen, and the pastel colors on the planet were clearly defined. Titan was visible, along with a couple other of the dimmer moons. Unforgettable.

 

Those are the three that stand out. My hope is to have more!

 

Keep looking up!

 

CB


  • REC, tchandler, ghostboo and 4 others like this

#14 paspat

paspat

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 123
  • Joined: 07 Jul 2015

Posted 23 September 2017 - 11:09 AM

I was at a dark site I use often, 2 yard lights in a square mile. Nearest community 6 miles away and a population of 80.   It was a moonless dark night and sky was clear and black.  I was working through some Galaxies in Comma Berenices and I came to the Needle Gal.  Wow what night and sight, dust lanes popped out with clarity and I stared at the sight for quite a time.  I still remember the emotion of that unexpected sight.  Visited it many times sense but nothing has matched the seeing on that night.


  • paul hart, izar187, SeaBee1 and 3 others like this

#15 johnoelliott

johnoelliott

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 81
  • Joined: 14 Nov 2015
  • Loc: Toronto Ontario

Posted 23 September 2017 - 11:31 AM

My first real WOW moment came when I put my 17mm Ethos in my scope and pointed it at M42. I still remember the goosebumps!

Now I get close to that whenever I see one of the faint fuzzies that I've either never looked or never been able to see before.

Last night was like that as I was galaxy hopping around the north west sky.

Then seeing the North American, the flame, the running man and even the faintest glimpse of the horsehead nebulas for the first time before ending the night with M42 filling the field of my 21mmwhee.gif 


  • jjt312b, Lyuda and rocdoc like this

#16 HarryRik9

HarryRik9

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 722
  • Joined: 02 Oct 2013
  • Loc: Virginia

Posted 23 September 2017 - 11:32 AM

Looks like viewing Saturn through a cheap beginner refractor is getting the most votes. I agree with that as my first wow. But the biggest wow was comet West 1976. There hasn't been a really good comet since that one. Hoping for something as good soon.https://www.space.co...eat-comets.html


Edited by HarryRik9, 23 September 2017 - 11:32 AM.

  • SpaceConqueror3, jjt312b, rehling and 1 other like this

#17 caveman_astronomer

caveman_astronomer

    Gemini

  • -----
  • Posts: 3018
  • Joined: 18 Mar 2016

Posted 23 September 2017 - 11:39 AM

Looks like viewing Saturn through a cheap beginner refractor is getting the most votes. I agree with that as my first wow. But the biggest wow was comet West 1976. There hasn't been a really good comet since that one. Hoping for something as good soon.https://www.space.co...eat-comets.html

waytogo.gif for Comet West!  

 

It suffered from Post-Kohoutek Syndrome in the media. 

 

TSEs are still in the lead for me.  They might be impossible to top.    Maybe if some planets collide while I watch....


  • Lyuda likes this

#18 EricTheCat

EricTheCat

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1115
  • Joined: 31 Jul 2011
  • Loc: Faribault, MN

Posted 23 September 2017 - 11:46 AM

Seeing totality from Casper, Wyoming is probably my biggest WOW moment.  Not only because of how it looked but the entire experience including the changes in temperature, the change in light, the way the entire horizon looked like a nice sunset and especially the reactions from the people around as everyone gasped and cheered in amazement.  Hard to beat that.

 

I also must mention Saturn, as it planted the seed that turned this hobby/obsession into what it is for me.  When I was a kid there was a total lunar eclipse.  My dad set up his old 3" Edmund Scientific's cardboard tubed reflector.  All the neighborhood kids came over and my dad showed us the moon.  Then later he pointed the telescope at Saturn and I was amazed that you could see the rings.  Later after he passed away a friend and I dug that old reflector out of the basement to look at something bright in the sky and as soon as we looked we knew right away it was Jupiter.  I still have that old reflector.  

 

Seeing my first comet, Ikeya-Zhang, through 11x70 binoculars was a pretty big WOW moment as well.

 

Also seeing the veil through the club's 24" reflector was a pretty big WOW.

 

This is a hobby of WOWs, I look forward to the next one and wish everyone luck on their's. :)


  • paul hart, Tyson M, SeaBee1 and 2 others like this

#19 Jon Isaacs

Jon Isaacs

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 77861
  • Joined: 16 Jun 2004
  • Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA

Posted 23 September 2017 - 11:50 AM

My most memorable view:

 

The place and time: The Arizona desert about this time of the year about 3am

 

The Scope: a 60 mm refractor I'd bought at a garage sale for $5. Worn out and caked withbdirt, I cleaned and its one eyepiece as best I could.. the mount was beyond repair so I strapped the scope to a worn-out photo tripod..

 

- Moment: Stumbling across M-42. I didn't know what I'd found but I knew there was something special there that I couldn't get enough of..

 

I still can't. Now it might be a 16th magnitude galaxy that's enticing me but I just can't get enough.

 

Jon


  • Phil Cowell, Cpk133, SeaBee1 and 2 others like this

#20 Sketcher

Sketcher

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1070
  • Joined: 29 Jun 2017
  • Loc: Under Earth's Sky

Posted 23 September 2017 - 12:02 PM

I've probably had more than my fair share of "wow" moments.  More or less in order from least to greatest "wow-factor" the following come to mind.

 

A Leonid "fireball shower".

 

Two total solar eclipses.

 

Observing (in real time) the impact scars on Jupiter from Comet Shoemaker-Levy-9 as they rotated onto the Earth-facing hemisphere of the planet.

 

The March 1989 all-sky auroral borealis . . . bright! . . . multiple colors! . . . multiple structures . . . moving shapes . . . extending from my north horizon to within just a few degrees of my south horizon! . . . observed from a pristine location.

 

And the winner (for myself as well as for my wife) was Comet Hyakutake at 3am, on its best night, from a pristine location (moon below the horizon).  The temperature was minus 17 degrees F. -- but neither my wife, nor our son, nor myself were bothered the least bit by the temperature.  We took the precaution of dressing to go out utilizing only the light from the comet and stars streaming through the windows.  OK, so I may have helped out a little with my red, astronomer's light; but you get the idea . . .

 

Below is one verse from a poem my wife wrote on comets.  Other verses were specific to Halley and Hale-Bopp -- but Hyalutake (hyah . koo . tah . kay) came away with the honors:

 

Hyakutake,
You took my breath away,
And used it for a veil that stretched
Behind you and burned the
Starry sky with its cold grandeur.
Breathless then, I stood and stared
Finally, I understood
The awe the ancients felt
When they beheld a comet.


Edited by Sketcher, 23 September 2017 - 12:03 PM.

  • izar187, KidOrion, S1mas and 7 others like this

#21 treadmarks

treadmarks

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 926
  • Joined: 27 Jan 2016
  • Loc: Boston MA

Posted 23 September 2017 - 12:11 PM

I've been doing this for two years, and there have been many of those moments in that time, probably more than I can count on two hands. I'm going to disqualify the total solar eclipse I saw in Oregon because the Sun and Moon are in a league of their own, it wouldn't be fair.

 

So if I had to pick one, it would be my first view of the Pleiades through 7x50 binoculars from my light polluted home city. I had never seen such a collection of bright stars all together before. That, and the bluish glow they gave off, was an incredible sight. I didn't know how beautiful they could be when all clustered together like that. I must have been very lucky that night because since then I've only been able to duplicate that view from a dark site.

 

This was the view that sold my first telescope and committed me to the hobby. It's my greatest because it caused all the moments that came after it.


  • jjt312b and Lyuda like this

#22 aeajr

aeajr

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 12375
  • Joined: 26 Jun 2015
  • Loc: Long Island, New York, USA

Posted 23 September 2017 - 12:29 PM

When I look back at the ones that really have stuck with me:

 

Tasco 3" refractor - Saturn at 112X in a .965 eyepiece.  First time I saw Saturn in a telescope of my own.

 

Alberio in my ETX 80 - Split to two beautiful doubles.   I didn't even know such things existed.

 

The following is an excerpt from  Club Observation Night - Aug 3, 2016

My home site is VERY light polluted both on the ground and in the sky.  The club site is not a dark site but it is better than my home site.   It was M92 that blew me away:

 

Vanderbilt Museum grounds  9 pm to 11 pm - Centerport NY.
Dark red zone on http://darksitefinde...maps/world.html
Approx. 8 scopes, a lot of people had gone to Stellafane
Around 73 degrees, light breeze, Transparency 5/5  Seeing 4/5
Orion XT8i with Intelliscope enabled and aligned
2" 38 & 25 mm 70 degree,   2" 2X barlow,  1.25" 8-24 zoom, 6.7 mm 82 degree, DGM Nebula filter

snip...

M13 - The Hercules Globular Cluster - Almost directly overhead - This was spectacular!   For some reason I have not been able to find this one from home but I nailed it tonight. Centered it in the 38 mm then walked up the magnification.   Best view was in the 6.7 mm 82 degree at 180X.   The cluster was clearly observed and I could resolved individual stars throughout the cluster.   The effect was kind of like a whitish puff ball with twinkle lights arrayed along the edges and crossing it.   I stayed on this one a while.

M92 - Another globular cluster in Hercules - This one was even more spectacular.   Similar to M13 but I got a sort of a rose petal impression as the individual stars that I could resolve seemed to create waving streaks across the cluster at 180X.  Imagine a white rose, fully opened.  Now imagine spots of dew lining the edges of the petals, lit from behind so they seem to glow.    That is what it looked like to me.   They say the mind seeks patterns and sometimes we see patterns that really aren't there but this rose petal appearance really impressed me.  I actually dreamed about this one last night.   I must go back to this one again but I don't think it will look like this from home.  I was on this one a while too.

snip...

 

 

Postscript - I looked at M92 from home last night.  I got none of these impressions from my home site. 


Edited by aeajr, 23 September 2017 - 01:01 PM.

  • Don H, jjt312b and Lyuda like this

#23 cookjaiii

cookjaiii

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 530
  • Joined: 23 Nov 2015
  • Loc: Southeast PA

Posted 23 September 2017 - 12:29 PM

Oct 2015. 5AM.  Convergence of Jupiter, Mars, and Venus.  Maneuvered a spindly 60mm "LL Bean" brand refractor down from the attic where it had resided since its purchase at a yard sale ten years prior.  Finally found Jupiter with the shaky rig using a cloudy 20mm Huygens lens.  I was surprised and excited to see the planet as a disk rather than a point of light.  Then I noticed a string of tiny stars lined up next to Jove's featureless disc and it struck me like a thunderbolt that I was seeing the moons of Jupiter.  I shouted out loud and had the strongest urge to wake my family to share the sight (I didn't).  I have been hooked ever since.


  • Joe Bergeron, Jon Isaacs, jjt312b and 2 others like this

#24 NiteGuy

NiteGuy

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1239
  • Joined: 27 May 2013
  • Loc: Northern Arizona

Posted 23 September 2017 - 12:54 PM

Thanks for the fun topic! The very first "WOW", and the one that really cemented my early interest in this hobby was a binocular view of the Arend-Roland great comet. My sixth grade teacher came back to the school after sunset and brought his binoculars to show several of us the comet. This comet was easily naked eye and was notable for it's bright, sharply distinct anti-tail (at the time, no one knew why this comet had an anti-tail or what it was).

 

Back in the days when I only had a poor quality, home-built 6" scope, a hugely significant WOW for me was getting to use John Dobson's 18-inch scope all by myself for the last 3 hours before dawn.

 

Not too long after that, I built a 17.5" Dob that, to this day, continues to bring one WOW after another.....

 

--- Seeing the blue and rose colors in M20, the Trifid Nebula for the first time

 

--- At 555x, easily seeing the ansae with their little knobs on the ends poking out from the sides of NGC7009, the Saturn Nebula

 

--- Faint challenge objects can be WOWs too...like seeing my first globular cluster within M31, the Andromeda Galaxy (I've since observed well over 60 additional globulars within M31)

 

--- My first time ever (after many tries in various scopes) seeing the Horsehead Nebula. Using an H-Beta filter and 222x, I could actually see the indentation in the bridge of the horse's nose

 

--- Vega at 150x or 222x, a blue-white diamond in the sky, simply stunning!

 

--- Can't forget to include the globular cluster M13 in this list, awesome at 222x in the 17.5"

 

--- Likewise, can't forget to include M42, the Orion Nebula, words simply aren't enough

 

--- Lunar grazes of Regulus and Aldebaran and occultations of Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and the Pleiades

 

--- Barnard 86, the "hole in the sky". Stunning in large scopes, this dark nebula sits right next to a nice tight open cluster just a few degrees south of the Lagoon Nebula

 

--- Seeing what I thought at the time were bow shock waves in front of comet Hale-Bopp's nucleus (turns out it was a spiral of dust coming out of the nucleus!)

 

--- All the amazing detail visible in M17, the Swan Nebula, with a UHC filter at 222x

 

--- Viewing the globular cluster M22 at high magnification in exceptional seeing conditions and actually resolving the Milky Way background around M22...the entire field of view was stars and more stars

 

--- The first time I ever saw the very hard-to-see pulsar in the heart of M1, the Crab Nebula

 

--- Seeing the spike portion of the Veil Nebula look 3-dimensionally tubular with an O-III filter at 222x

 

--- My first time seeing filaments in M1, the Crab Nebula using extreme magnification and (I think) an O-III filter

 

--- Clearly seeing Enke's Division in Saturn's rings (not to be confused with Cassini's Division)

 

--- Omega Centauri, whether you're viewing with a 4" APO or a large Dob, this globular cluster resolves easily and is beyond amazing, even when viewed at only 5 to 8-degrees elevation

 

--- And galaxies, like gorgeous edge-on NGC4565 with its dust lane, the spirals of The Whirlpool M51, The Blackeye M64, the HII regions of M33, and so many more

 

--- Jupiter, Jupiter, Jupiter, amazing planet, like a mini-solar-system, always something happening


  • aeajr, jjt312b, Solorich and 2 others like this

#25 EricTheCat

EricTheCat

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1115
  • Joined: 31 Jul 2011
  • Loc: Faribault, MN

Posted 23 September 2017 - 03:59 PM

Seeing Albeireo for the first time stunned me. I was just starting out and randomly scanning when this beautiful object suddenly appeared in my field of view. That's when I decided that yes, this hobby is for me.

Ever since then, it's always been my first target if in view. Puts me in a good mood for the rest of the night! 

 

attachicon.gifAlbeiro.jpg

I stumbled across albireo myself when I was new to the hobby and was amazed at the color contrast.  Then I looked it up in my dad's old star atlas to find it circled in pencil.  Some night when I am feeling nostalgic I might just have to go through that atlas and observe other items he circled.

 

albireo.jpg


  • KidOrion, Jersey Star Man, mdowns and 7 others like this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics