Greetings from Down Under! This is Timo Karhula from Sweden. I am making my 18th trip to the southern hemisphere. I´m staying at my house in Geraldton, Western Australia, by the Indian Ocean. The weather has so far not really cooperated with me. There were three nights in a row with clear night-skies last Wednesday-Friday when I drove out to the bush with my rental car 45 km due east of the city and observed the Deep-Sky with my 10-inch SkyWatcher Dobsonian telescope.
One of my goals was to finish the Herschel 400-II list, which I in fact did the very first clear night here in the city. I had finished the Herschel 400 list in 2009 and on the evening of the 9th October I logged my last H400 II-object, NGC7218 in Aquarius. The most southern of these objects can not be seen from Sweden. NGC7218 was pretty faint and pretty small as seen from my back-yard. The darkness of the sky was only SQM-L 19.81 beeing just a few kms from the centre of the city of about 27,000 people.
Last Wednesday I drove to my favourite spot in Wicherina 45 kms due east. It was very windy weather (windspeed 45 kms/h) and only +5.5 C in the morning. I was freezing despite wearing 4 layers of shirts, a summer-jacket and my Peruvian cap. It was dark here but not as dark as I am used to, SQM.L 21.82. I observed 10.5 hours with my Dob until the morning twilight.
Next night was darker and warmer. +38 C during the day and a pleasant +26 C at night. It was like paradise. This time, I measured SQM-L 22.00 when not pointing the device towards the Milky Way! I could easily see the entire zodiacal band, including the Gegenschein and "my" scientifically unexplored "light-bridge" between the Large Magellanic Cloud and our Milky Way in Triangulum Australe. Our galaxy was fantastically detailed and marbled. Air-glow was obvious near the horizon.
I observed Barnard´s Galaxy NGC6822 and saw the H-II regions IC1308 and Hubble V which were quite obvious. The newly discovered object SC7 (a globular cluster?) and the false galaxy MCG-2-50-3 (a H-II knot in fact) was tougher with only 10-inch of aperture. The globular NG6397 in Ara was beautiful with its star chains and visible naked eye. I estimated the Mira variable Chi Cygni as magnitude 4.8 on October 18.57 (UT).
The globulars Terzan 7 and Terzan 8 in Sagittarius were quite easy to see. Both possessed some visible individual stars over their glow. The globular E 3 in Chamaeleon was tougher. I saw a few stars here but I´m not sure if they belong to the globular or not. The Local group member Indus Dwarf, IC5152, was obvious behind the glaring 7.8 mag star. I had observed my 43rd supernova, SN2017gmr, on September 16 from Sweden. I had then even trouble to see its host-galaxy, NGC988, but from here it was easy to discern and it also lied behind a troubling 7.1 mag star (79 Ceti).
I continued to locate planetary nebulae in the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. I had prepared finder charts from the Digitized Sky Survey to find these 15th magnitude stellar objects some 200,000 light-years away.
The third night was also dark with SQM-L reading of 21.94. Tonight, I made two other personal milestones. I had now located all the about 370 NGC/IC-objects in the Magellanic Clouds! It took me 29 years and 18 trips Down Under to see all of them. Many of the objects have uncertain identifications, so to be sure to have seen all of them, I had to see all the candidates. My last NGC-object became NGC2171 in the SE part of the LMC. I had to locate all the clusters Kontizas 1573, Shapley-Lindsay (S-L) 809, S-L 691 and S-L 692. I have so far also observed twice as many non-NGC/IC in the Clouds, some 620 of them! How many people have seen all the NGC/IC-objects in the Magellanic Clouds?
I noticed that the Gegenschein had moved slightly to the east during the two last nights. To define the centre of the counter-glow is not so easy but its movement was still definite.
My third "mile-stone" was seeing the Silver Dollar Galaxy, NGC253, in Sculptor naked-eye (magnitude 7.2). I had memorized its location south of Deneb Kaitos and after some minutes of concentration in zenith, I got several sightings of this elusive galaxy. I could also see the LMC, SMC, M31, M33, NGC253 and the Milky Way. That makes six galaxies naked eye at the same time! I should also spot Centaurus A (NGC5128), which I did on my last trip here, but I think M31 and M33 would be very low on the horizon and not visible then. The galaxy M81 in Ursa Major have I logged several times naked eye from Sweden but it does never rise as seen from here. So 8 galaxies naked eye in the same night from here is not possible.
I have only one week left of my vacation so let´s hope for some cloud-free nights ahead!