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Fornax Cluster

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#1 Eddgie

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 08:23 AM

Went out to Mansfield last night.  I brought only one scope.  Most of the time, I bring too much stuff.  Telescopes, SLR Lenses, stuff that distracts me because I wind up jumping around.   This trip was to be mostly eyepiece time at the single scope.

 

But wait..  When setting up, I realized that I had forgotten my filter case, so in addition to being a single telescope night, it was to be a night totally without filter changes!  Stupid me.  But that is OK.  it was actually for the better.

 

12" f/4.9 Dob was the scope.  Sky conditions were quite good because the day had been quite clear, but that does not mean skies were great.   SQM during the time I spent on the subject line observations was between 18.99 and 19.3 so this is really bottom Bortle 6.

 

I spent about 25 minutes with a family that happened by.  They liked looking at the sky in general and have been out to some dark skies and looked though some telescopes, but they were staggered by Orion Nebula, and I did not even have a filter on!   I let them look around with the Mod 3 Binocular and they spent 20 minutes just passing the binocular around looking at Hyades, M45, Auriga, Cassiopeia, and all the bright stuff.   People love 1x with NV.   

 

Ok, on to the subject of the report.    I have been to Mansifled with larger scopes in darker times (development near the lake now is almost total with suburbs litterally carpeting the hill country) using larger scopes, but this was the very best I have ever seen Fornax Cluster.  In the past, making out even the brightest members was something of a challenge, and the fainter ones have been out of reach.  Fornax sits high enough in the sky to be above the most severe atmospheric extension, but it is still not up into the darker skies, but I SQM-L the area and it was 19.2-3 in this region.  To take the reading, I lay the SQM-L meter on the top of my Telrad so that it is imaging pretty much exactly where the telescope is looking. 

 

Slewed the scope to NGC 1407, looked in, and much to my delight, galaxies.  The slew was a bit off so 1407 was half way to the left and slightly below the centerline of the FOV so I was not sure which galaxies where which, so I had to ID them using Star Safari.   NGC 1407 was very bright but at 54x, it is small and while you can clearly see a nucleus and some extension, it did not appear to extend as far as Sky Safari suggest.   In the field though were NGC 1400, IC 343 (faint) NGC -1402 (faint) NGC1393, NGC 1391 (faint) and NGC 1394.   This is a lot of galaxies.  Again, at 54x, the apparent angular size of these is quite small, but because they do seem to stand out well next to the background, it was very easy to identify all of them by their position to one another and by the very easily resolved orientation of the structure of each of them.   

 

I have to confess though that I failed to ID a great number of galaxies, though I observed a great many past this initial group.  I galaxy hopped over to NGC 1332 and NGC 1325 and there are many galaxies in this area and in between.

 

Fornax A was of course bright and easy and showed even at 54x, it was large enough to see some structure.   

 

NGC 1365 was a treat, showing a bit of the spiral arms.  I should have Barlowed this one, but I was to busy browsing the internet of the universe.

 

I went for a quick peek at Globular NGC 1581.   Intensely bright core but very compact with little extension.  

 

More galaxies up around 5 an 6 Eri.

 

NGC 1354.  Quite the surprise because Sky Safari lists it at only 13.28, and while very dim, the shape was quite elongated.  Pictures show a very bright even oval with a faint extension, around it, but my guess is what I saw was just the brighter oval core.  It was very faint and I had my doubt that I was seeing it, but panning back and forth and galaxy hopping to nearby galaxies left no doubt.  I think it was my favorite of the night simply because it had such a great shape. 

 

More galaxies.   Too many more.  I just stopped going back and forth to my phone and panned around, and it was hard to move very far in any direction without seeing a galaxy.

 

Except for M42/43, which is bright and easy and shows a lot of detail even without H-a filter, I spent the vast majority of my night in this treasure trove area. This was the absolute best galaxy night I have ever had from this location.   I have just never spent any time in this part of the sky because before NV, it was mostly frustrating to find things and even if located, they tended to be averted vision objects.  Last night there were so many to see that I literally lost track.  

 

Fantastic area.   Highly recommend that you leave your H-a filters at home one night and hit the Fornax region in your 10" or larger scope (you need the scale here more than the speed).

 

Have a great day!


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#2 GeezerGazer

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 02:35 PM

 

People love 1x with NV.      

 

I have to confess though that I failed to ID a great number of galaxies, though I observed a great many past this initial group.  

 

More galaxies.   Too many more.  I just stopped going back and forth to my phone and panned around, and it was hard to move very far in any direction without seeing a galaxy.

 

Fantastic area.   Highly recommend that you leave your H-a filters at home one night and hit the Fornax region in your 10" or larger scope (you need the scale here more than the speed).

Nice report Ed.  It has been my experience too that people, especially seasoned observers, love NV at 1x or 2x.  It's a completely different observing experience for them.

 

Not long ago, Nov 5th, using my 120 achro w/NV, I was looking at Abell 194 galaxy cluster and made out a few (4-5) identifiable individuals.  Then I applied my phone and took a snapshot which I later studied on the computer, counting 39 galaxies.   There's no substitute for aperture when it comes to the visual observation of galaxies, but the light gathering ability of the camera, even 1/2s phone exposures, sure does help for those of us who do not have regular access to a 12" scope.  I'm going to try this again using an 8" at f:8 whenever our skies clear... looks like we have clouds & storms for the next 2 weeks.  Based on your report, I think I'll head to Fornax, although from N. Calif., it transits just barely above the hills in the southern horizon at my observing site.

 

And, I agree, no filters needed for galaxies... everything is so much brighter without filters!  



#3 DMala

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 10:07 AM

(...)

 

And, I agree, no filters needed for galaxies... everything is so much brighter without filters!  

Would this also apply to suburban, light-polluted skies? From my suburban backyard 20 miles West of Manhattan, without filters I can not see much with my PVS-7 in terms of DSOs towards the East, but this is based on a very small number of observations and limited NV experience. Thx



#4 Eddgie

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 10:41 PM

I think you need to be in maybe Bortle 6 or darker before running without a filter is better than running with a filter, but that is just my opinion. I know that in my home skies (Red zone) a filter is always used (though most would run a 680nm and I tend to run 650nm.  I think under White zone, the 680nm might be better).


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#5 GeezerGazer

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 01:30 AM

And, I agree, no filters needed for galaxies... everything is so much brighter without filters!  

I should have qualified that statement, adding... from my green zone observing site.  From home (bright red zone) I don't even bother trying to find galaxies with my modest aperture scopes, but if I did, the effort would require an IR filter.  Sorry for any confusion. 


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#6 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 02:37 AM

Nice report Ed.  It has been my experience too that people, especially seasoned observers, love NV at 1x or 2x.  It's a completely different observing experience for them.

 

 

After nearly 50 years of astronomy ... NV has made viewing below 5x absolutely astounding.



#7 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 02:42 AM

I think you need to be in maybe Bortle 6 or darker before running without a filter is better than running with a filter, but that is just my opinion. I know that in my home skies (Red zone) a filter is always used (though most would run a 680nm and I tend to run 650nm.  I think under White zone, the 680nm might be better).

 

I'm borderline Bortle 5 and 6 (unfortunately, trending the wrong way).

 

If I am looking towards my local light dome, long-pass filters make sense.

 

When I look away (or towards the zenith), I prefer no filters.

 

When I go to a dark site its h-alpha on nebula, unfiltered for everything else.

 

Of course YMMV and experimentation is the key. The aperture and speed of your optics are wildcards only you can solve.


Edited by Jeff Morgan, 11 January 2019 - 02:46 AM.



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