Over the last year, my observations and experiences whilst using my telescopes have fundamentally changed forever (since purchasing a Night Vision Device).
After many years of observing, the NVD allowed me to see the Milky Way as never seen before.
As I sit now and remember the many nights that I have spent over the years trying to see the low down (from the UK) summer nebula trail from the Swan to the Eagle then onto the Triffid and Lagoon then last summer was a revelation.
For these low down nebula, I only have access to them with my 4” refractor (The Dob is housed in a roll-off shed and I cannot get down that low to the Southern horizon). Using my NVD with the 55mm Plossl (offering the greatest exit pupil and fastest effective focal ratio) these bright summer nebula were no longer any challenge!
M17 Swan - The familiar bright shape of the swan is lost in a whole new complex of swirling nebula and jet black patches of hydrogen are revealed within the structure.
M16 Eagle - The Eagle appears in the full shape of “An Eagle” (I never saw that before) with head, wings & body. I remember thinking “it IS an eagle”. The “Pillars of creation” stand out and are easily seen with direct vision within the heart of this nebula with only a 4” scope!
M20 Triffid – A tiny but beautiful Triffid with inner black lane details is easily seen in the fov. I found that I needed to increase the magnification to that provided by my 35mm Panoptic to increase the scale and detail seen even further.
M8 Lagoon – Is unbelievable! So big, so bright. I think of the huge number of attempts that I have made to follow the star chain to find this nebula over the years, and be rewarded with a single dark channel between two small nebula lanes. Now, it leaps out at you, showing bellows of bright circular nebula and filling the field of view, you can’t help but shout aloud “Wow!”
The Messier nebulas are no longer any challenge at all for a small telescope.
Once you have got used to seeing them in all their glory you start to notice “other” patches of nebula at the edges of the fov… and begin to wonder if they too have a name or a designation?
My Sharpless journey began on 24th May 2018, when after observing M16 Eagle Nebula, I nudged up and discovered “a large nebula patch near NGC6604”...
With a little research, I found that this other patch was a Sharpless nebula (the patch near NGC6604 was sh2-54. I used my next few sessions to nudge around looking and counting the numerous nebula patches located around the main Sagittarius attractions. Eventually, I decided that there were too many and I needed a more organized approach to finding and recording my observations of the Sharpless nebula.
It was at this point that I decided to embark on my own personal “journey through the Sharpless nebula”…
My Bumpy Ride Through the Sharpless Objects.
Observing time is unfortunately limited by the weather. Observing quality is limited by the darkness and transparency of the night sky. But these two factors were not the only thing limiting my progress through the catalog…
My Dob has encoders fitted to a Nexus push-to system which I drive using Sky Safari 5 Pro and an Ipad. Unfortunately, the Sharpless catalog has many missing entries in Sky Safari and there are many errors in the objects that are listed which led me on many “wild goose chases” last summer!
I use a Skywatcher AZ GTi mount with my Borg 107FL refractor and for this I need GOTO references that can be entered into a SynScan handset…
At this point I have to mention the book “The Astrophotography Sky Atlas” by Bracken, which has been a life saver in my quest to find and observe the Sharpless Objects. It has complete tables of the Sharpless catalog and shows them all on maps of the night sky. These maps show the shape and size of the objects which is really useful. (Although, it should be noted that I have come across a couple of errors in these tables too!)
It did not take long for me to start making a spreadsheet to capture all the information that I was writing on paper such as GOTO references and accurate nearby Star references for the missing/incorrect objects in Sky Safari.
The Milky Way is Rising Once Again.
After a great night earlier this week where I was able to add twelve new Sharpless Objects to my success list (bringing me to 230 of 313), I decided to share my data on this forum in the hope that it is (a) useful to other observers but also (b) to encourage you all to try to see these fantastic objects if you can.
I am attaching an Excel Spreadsheet that has the following columns:
- Sh2-Ref – The Sharpless Object Name,
- Size – The Size of the Sharpless Object on the night Sky,
- In Sky Safari? – Was the object already listed in Sky Safari,
- Nearby Star ref – For missing/incorrect objects this is the nearest Star (in Sky Safari),
- Ref confirmed? – I have successfully used the Nearby Star ref,
- Nearby Goto Ref – A nearby object that can be located in the SynScan handset,
- Catalog Name – Any other name for the same Sharpless Object.
I still have 83 objects to go, so some of the references listed may be untested at this point. I did spend one rainy morning sitting with the SynScan handset and Sky Safari making sure that all the Goto references are in the handset!
Sharpless Objects Tables spreadsheet:
Sharpless Objects Tables.xlsx 28.55KB 62 downloads
Sky Safari Observing List.
This list currently has 322 objects (which is more than the catalogs 313) as this is still a work in progress. With the Milky Way on the rise, I decided that it was more useful to others if I publish it now
If you cross reference the Star Names from the observing list with the Excel sheet then you can find the name of the related Sharpless object.
I had to append “.txt” onto the end of the filename so that cloudynights would upload it. Remove the “.txt” then email it to yourself. If you open the email on a device (that has Sky Safari installed) then once you click on the attachment you should be asked if you want to “open with Sky Safari?”.
Sharpless Objects .skylist.txt 47.02KB 72 downloads
I hope this is useful to you and if it is then I look forward to reading your Sharpless object observing reports!
Edited by alanjgreen, 01 May 2019 - 07:33 AM.