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Your greatest WOW moment while observing?

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#51 REC

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 07:53 AM

 

 

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.

Ya know, I have some memory of that comet, was it in the winter that year, what, 95-96ish? It was over a weekend I think and I was going to have some friends over to see it. Either the night before or two nights before, I woke up around 3am I think and took a quick look outside and looked. Now either it was the comet of high clouds that looked like the comet and I couldn't believe how long the tail was! It looked like it covered maybe 20-30 degrees.....was that possible and did it ever appear high in the sky as most of the comets that I have seen hung in the west sky, like Hale Bopp?

 

I made a sketch centered around 10:35 UT on 25 March 1996.  The comet's head was in Draco.  The end of the tail was in Virgo.  The tail was perhaps 3 to 4 degrees wide.  The body of the comet passed through my zenith.  I faced north to look toward Hyakutake's head.  I faced south to see the farthest extent of its tail.  I faced west and looked straight up in an attempt to take in the entire comet in a single view.

 

I took out a pair of 8x42 binoculars with me, but after one quick look with them I realized that *any* optical aid detracted from the viewing spectacle. -- Only the naked-eye could reveal the entire, huge expanse of the comet. The forward portion was *bright* --  bright enough to *easily* see color - a strong, vivid, memorable green-yellow glow.

 

In comparison, Hale-Bopp was a *tiny* but bright little 'flashlight' in the night sky.  Glance a little in either direction and it was gone.  I could turn my back to Hyakutake's head and still see a huge expanse of tail!  To the naked eye there was no comparison.  OTOH, I could have (should have) listed Hale-Bopp as another "wow" experience.  With a telescope, I enjoyed making sketches of the intricate structures visible in Hale-Bopp's inner coma.  But the naked-eye impact that Hyakutake had was truly indescribable.  Nothing else I've seen (and I've seen *a lot*) comes close to the visual impact that Comet Hyakutake had on that night.  I felt like I was some prehistoric early ancestor looking up at an unreal and threatening scene -- a massive sword in the night sky preparing to strike.  It was an emotional experience.

 

So it was overhead, thought so, thanks. Like I said, never saw a comet that high in the sky. One more comment about Hale-Bobb. I was flying from LA to Boston just after sunset one night and as we climbed over the clouds, you could see the comet hanging above them. It was an awesome sight, had the captain dim the cabin lights and make the announcement to look at it. I put a blanket over my head to block out the remaining lights. No camera with me though:(


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#52 CounterWeight

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 09:02 AM

Comparing Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake in my memory very apple to orange comparison in ways.  The views I had of Hyakutake were pretty anemic, not so with Hale Bopp and it's double tail.  Glad you had such a memorable view of Hyakutake !

 

 

Hale-Bopp ... from Wikipedia citation  "Hale–Bopp was a record-breaking comet—the farthest comet from the Sun discovered by amateurs,[19] with the largest well-measured cometary nucleus known after 95P/Chiron,[14] and it was visible to the naked eye for twice as long as the previous record-holder.[15] It was also brighter than magnitude 0 for eight weeks, longer than any other recorded comet.[19]"

 

 

Hyakutake ... from Wikipedia citation "Because Hyakutake was at its brightest for only a few days, it did not have time to permeate the public imagination in the way that Comet Hale–Bopp did the following year. Many European observers in particular did not see the comet at its peak because of unfavourable weather conditions.[5]"

 

 

Between the two my vote will always go to Hale-Bopp. 


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#53 GregBed

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 10:36 AM

Total Solar Eclipse at Gordonsville, TN. Nothing has compared to this. Maybe it's the rarity of it that contributes to the Wow.
Nighttime: First time I saw M42 and M13. Obviously on different nights. I don't stay out that long. There is something special about Saturn, especially now with its rings at full tilt.

 

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#54 Starkid2u

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 10:40 AM

Believe it or not, the Moon. It was the first object I viewed in my LX200 and it was spectacular! In higher powers, it was incredible! Like I was an Apollo in orbit around it. Never forget it!

 

STARKID2U


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#55 bumm

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 10:44 AM

Comparing Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake in my memory very apple to orange comparison in ways.  The views I had of Hyakutake were pretty anemic, not so with Hale Bopp and it's double tail.  Glad you had such a memorable view of Hyakutake !

 

 

Hale-Bopp ... from Wikipedia citation  "Hale–Bopp was a record-breaking comet—the farthest comet from the Sun discovered by amateurs,[19] with the largest well-measured cometary nucleus known after 95P/Chiron,[14] and it was visible to the naked eye for twice as long as the previous record-holder.[15] It was also brighter than magnitude 0 for eight weeks, longer than any other recorded comet.[19]"

 

 

Hyakutake ... from Wikipedia citation "Because Hyakutake was at its brightest for only a few days, it did not have time to permeate the public imagination in the way that Comet Hale–Bopp did the following year. Many European observers in particular did not see the comet at its peak because of unfavourable weather conditions.[5]"

 

 

Between the two my vote will always go to Hale-Bopp. 

My personal impression was that Hale-Bopp was around for a long time, and it had a greater surface brightness.  It also had more to show in a telescopic view.  On the other hand, Hyakutake was shockingly HUGE.  The biggest single astronomical object I've ever seen in the sky.

                                                                                                                               Marty


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#56 CrazyPanda

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 01:58 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

You should check out Almach if you haven't already. It's just like Albeiro, but closer. Such a beautiful double.


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#57 JMKarian

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 02:29 PM

Hauntingly intense views of M13 and M31 through a 30” DOB / Ethos 21 Eyepiece  on a clear night - just a week ago -when our club received its new StarStructure scope.  


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#58 Tony Flanders

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 03:17 PM

Believe it or not, the Moon.

I don't find that hard to believe at all. I continue to be wowed by the Moon every time I view it through a telescope.
 
I would have to say that of all the many wonders in the sky, the two most spectacular sights through a telescope are the Moon and Saturn, without a doubt. Always the best choices to show beginners. And never to be scorned by anyone, no matter how expert.


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#59 Tony Flanders

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 03:25 PM

This is a really hard question to answer. There are so many different ways to be wowed!

 

The very first thing that popped into my mind were two objects that I "discovered." The first happened long before I was a "serious" observer. I was lying on my back in a suburban park viewing the Leonids, with binoculars at my side. Right overhead, between Leo and Gemini (yes, I knew that much, even then) was a bright fuzzy spot. Said I to myself, "I bet that's SOMETHING." Turned my binocular to it, and it was indeed something very spectacular indeed. As I now know, M44, the Beehive Cluster.

 

The second happened just a couple of years ago. I was star-hopping my way to M50, and discovered to my shock and chagrin that there was a 7th-magnitude star en route that wasn't on my charts. Looked, checked, looked, checked -- yes indeed, it was real. Later that night, with access to my computer, I discovered that it was asteroid 4 Vesta.

 

The next thing that popped into my mind was my first night observing in the Southern Hemisphere. Seeing M7 blazing overhead, seeing the Milky Way tapering off on both sides of the central bulge, and above all, seeing the Large Magellanic Cloud slowly emerge from behind a mountain.

 

And finally, three naked-eye sights that have been mentioned by several other people:

 

* Two total solar eclipses

* The 2001 Leonid sub-storm

* One particularly magnificent aurora


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#60 kfiscus

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 03:26 PM

Comet Hyakutake.

3 Total Solar Eclipses (about 13.5 minutes in umbra)

Grazing occultation of Saturn.  Planet & rings playing peek-a-boo behind unlit lunar mountains- stunning.


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#61 rockethead26

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 03:53 PM

In no particular order

 

1) The first time I saw colors in the Orion Nebula back in 1992ish

 

2) All three total solar eclipses

 

3) Comet Hale-Bopp


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#62 Lyuda

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 09:00 AM

Total Solar Eclipse at Gordonsville, TN. Nothing has compared to this. Maybe it's the rarity of it that contributes to the Wow.
Nighttime: First time I saw M42 and M13. Obviously on different nights. I don't stay out that long. There is something special about Saturn, especially now with its rings at full tilt.

Greg

The solar eclipse would be my favorite as well but I discount those because, as other members have noted, they're objects of their own.

Edited by Lyuda, 26 September 2017 - 09:00 AM.


#63 Lyuda

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 09:01 AM

In no particular order

1) The first time I saw colors in the Orion Nebula back in 1992ish

2) All three total solar eclipses

3) Comet Hale-Bopp


Colors of m42??? How did you manage that? I just purchased a 10" Dob and was hoping it would reveal some color but I haven't been able to use it yet.

#64 rockethead26

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 09:51 AM

 

In no particular order

1) The first time I saw colors in the Orion Nebula back in 1992ish

2) All three total solar eclipses

3) Comet Hale-Bopp


Colors of m42??? How did you manage that? I just purchased a 10" Dob and was hoping it would reveal some color but I haven't been able to use it yet.

 

With my newish 14.5" telescope from a dark sky site in Florida on a night of literally perfect transparency and seeing. I was with about 3 or 4 observing buddies who also saw what I did.



#65 Lyuda

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 11:53 AM


In no particular order

1) The first time I saw colors in the Orion Nebula back in 1992ish

2) All three total solar eclipses

3) Comet Hale-Bopp

Colors of m42??? How did you manage that? I just purchased a 10" Dob and was hoping it would reveal some color but I haven't been able to use it yet.
With my newish 14.5" telescope from a dark sky site in Florida on a night of literally perfect transparency and seeing. I was with about 3 or 4 observing buddies who also saw what I did.
Ah, so my 10" is still probably too small to see color?

Even if I can't, the Orion Nebula is an outstanding view! Can't wait to get a glimpse through the Dob :D
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#66 airbleeder

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 01:48 PM

   I guess my greatest wow moment would have to be my first view through a telescope about 5 years ago. I tried out a 5" reflector which I had bought as a Christmas gift for a lady friend's son. I went out in low 20* weather, set it up and went to Jupiter which I could easily recognize. Wow! I don't remember much about the detail, but I do remember four of it's moons lined up to one side of the planet. I then moved the scope to M42. I bought myself an 8" reflector within the next week. Wowed and hooked on a cold winter night.


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#67 sg6

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 01:51 PM

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.

Your UHC could easily have been either a straight OIII filter (some are) or equally simialr result in that it could have operated as an OIII filter.

 

If it was passing OIII and Ha then your night vision cuts off slightly above Ha, so in effect you do not register it. Whereas you would still register the OIII component. So it acts effectively like an OIII.

 

Whatever the route you would still have received OIII at the eye and so "seen" that component as you appear to have done.

 

Filters can be a bit "strange" and when you add in the operation of the eye they can get very strange.


Edited by sg6, 26 September 2017 - 01:53 PM.


#68 Lyuda

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 01:41 AM

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.

Your UHC could easily have been either a straight OIII filter (some are) or equally simialr result in that it could have operated as an OIII filter.

If it was passing OIII and Ha then your night vision cuts off slightly above Ha, so in effect you do not register it. Whereas you would still register the OIII component. So it acts effectively like an OIII.

Whatever the route you would still have received OIII at the eye and so "seen" that component as you appear to have done.

Filters can be a bit "strange" and when you add in the operation of the eye they can get very strange.
The real uhc's (Astronomik and Lumicon) have a mostly Oiii bandpass.
The only difference is that the Astronomik UHC adds H-beta as well as H-alpha (I'm not sure about lumicon because I don't own one).

As for your statement about the h-alpha being irrelevant at the time, I could definitely see that as a possibility. The uhc's are mostly just Oiii anyway, and I only had a 4" refractor. It seems likely that you're correct.

Ive heard the UHC causes a difference in performance compared to an Oiii but most everyone recommends a UHC before an Oiii because of that H-beta line. I've really enjoyed having the UHC and won't buy an Oiii unless I end up absolutely needing it, but I can already see veil so I don't see why I would :D

I'm young so I don't make that much money. If something isnt necessary then it's better if I don't spend the money on it. Definitely happy with my UHC, it has performed well!

Edited by Lyuda, 27 September 2017 - 01:51 AM.

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#69 edwincjones

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 06:33 AM

every session is a potential WOW

and you cannot predict when it is coming.

 

edj


Edited by edwincjones, 27 September 2017 - 06:34 AM.


#70 Lyuda

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 07:55 AM

every session is a potential WOW
and you cannot predict when it is coming.

edj


This is true, I don't think I've ever gone out and not been amazed

#71 csrlice12

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 08:09 AM

Wow its cold out here

Wow these mosquitos are numerous and hungry.

Wow I forgot to bring the (insert item here)

Wow, my car won't start

Wow, my spouse has other plans for my time

Wow, the crushed box just arrived on my porch(Wow, nothing damaged/Wow, its a crushed mess)

But that first trip to a dark site when everything comes together....Wow doesn't begin to describe it.


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#72 TheDeuce

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 12:05 PM

First 'wow' was finding M13 with my Bausch & Lomb Criterion 4000 my dad bought for me.  (Thanks again dad!).  It was the first DSO I'd ever found.

 

My most recent 'wows' were connected - we went to Endicott Nebraska to see the eclipse.  The eclipse itself was in a class by itself but I had another 'wow' moment the night before.  The night skies were ideal so I set up my Skywatcher 120ED to to some telescoping.  Seeing was great, LP minimal, Milky Way was a 3D spectacle overhead.  That was the setting for the other 'wow'.

 

You see, I invited the lady in the next campsite to come check out the Andromeda Galaxy.  She had never looked at anything astronomical through a telescope before.  Her immediate response was a loud, very audible gasp.

 

Hearing that reaction was a different kind of wow moment but it was a wow moment for me none the less.

 

 

 

m.


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#73 Soarrunwalk

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 12:59 PM

Seeing Saturn hang in dark sky and the indescribably textured surface of the moon are amoung my top standout moments.

The number one currently is when I first saw 3C 273 after much hunting. It is perhaps a bit counterintuitive that what appears almost invisible in my 5" scope has made such an impression on me. It felt like I was looking at the beginning of time when that faint quasar revealed itself to me.

I've been amazed at carbon stars, galaxies and the like. But it was this tenuous glimpse into the distant past that has filled me with the most wonder.
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#74 desertlens

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 02:26 PM

Like so many others, I've had many wow moments but one that comes to mind was delayed until I discovered in a news item the following day that the "foreground star" I saw over M82 was in fact a new supernova. As I observed, I remember thinking that I hadn't noticed it before. I was able to see it diminish in the following weeks. Very cool.


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#75 Jason Martin

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 08:42 PM

Easy call. In the mid-late 90's I was living on Oahu and was a fledgling member of the Hawaiian Astronomical Society. I had just purchased my first "real" telescope, a Celestron SP-C6, from a fellow club member I met at one of the first meetings I attended. At a subsequent club observing night at Dillingham field on the North Shore I was happily jumping from object to object when another of the club members (and frequent poster on these boards, Peter Besenbruch) called me over to his 10" F7 newt and told me to take a look. I don't recall what eyepiece he was using, but I do recall he was using a nebula filter of some sort, possibly an ultrablock. He had the scope trained on M42, and I was absolutely dumbstruck. The view was filled with dense pink and grey clouds and filaments, with brilliant stars embedded throughout. The nebulosity was so vivid I think I could have felt the texture if I would have reached my hand out and touched it. I will remember that sight for the rest of my life.

 

Clear Skies,

 

Jay


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