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A trip to Tenerife with a Tak FSQ-85 and Night Vision

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#1 Gavster

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 11:44 PM

My family enjoy summer holidays in the Canary Islands, great food, sun and lots of swimming. I add to that fantastic skies for astronomy and on our most recent trip, I was able to stay two nights in the Teide national park hotel, Parador de las Cañadas del Teide. This hotel is situated at about 2100m Hugh and is the only place to stay in the national park itself so has very good dark skies.

Attached is a daytime photo I took of my observing location.

 

Given luggage constraints, I decided to take my recently acquired Tak FSQ-85 together with my night vision monoculars and various eyepieces for afocal use. Also attached is a photo of my setup in use at Teide. Apart from a quick test session at home, this was my first chance to try the Tak and I was eager to see what the fast side flat field views would be like with Night Vision under a dark sky. I wasn’t disappointed:)

 

The Tak worked brilliantly with my skywatcher az gti and once I’d done the initial alignment I didn’t have to update it for the rest of the session.

 

Night 1

Lovely clear skies on arrival at the hotel at about 8pm. I had a beer in the hotel for refreshment after a day in the sun and then headed out once it got dark at about 10pm. I took a number of sqm measurements through the night and the best was 21.58. First up I decided to just have a scan of the Milky Way with my night vision monoculars. The centre of the Milky Way was pretty high (certainly compared to the UK!) and the dark rifts were as clear as I’ve seen.

I took a short phone video of the views which gives some indication of what was visible.

https://youtu.be/tShWZ5GgTCI

 

Then the Tak was setup. I did a star test and this showed the optics were top notch.

First up with the Tak was some planetary viewing (not with nv!) of Jupiter and Saturn which are much better placed in Tenerife than the UK. I was using my 3.5mm Pentax Xw giving around 130x. The GRS really popped out and around 6 cloud bands were visible. The seeing was very good and I got very sharp views. Saturn showed the Cassini division very clearly plus some cloud handing on the actual planet. A great start!

 

Next up I used my night vision in afocal mode to get my first proper view of m22. I used an 18mm delite to get 25x mag and got nice mass of stars resolved in the centre. Here is an 8 second exposure phone image.

 

To be continued...(due to image space constraints, this report will be over a few posts)

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#2 Gavster

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Posted 03 September 2019 - 12:00 AM

I was keen to see what the Tak could deliver for widefield vision views so changed to my 55mm plossl in afocal mode (with ha filter for viewing emission nebulae) which would give an effective speed of f2.5 and a field of view of nearly 5 degrees.

 

With Cygnus high overhead, I couldn’t resist looking at some old favourites. The fast effective speed and dark sky combination really showed since emission nebulae just was everywhere. With the fast speed of the Tak the plossl did show some astigmatism at the edge of the fov but the very minimal field curvature controlled this well and the widefield views were excellent. 5 degrees is larger than I normally observe with and I found that I enjoyed the additional framing of the larger objects.

 

For example, here is the Veil, North America/Pelican and Crescent nebulae with a 25 second exposure phone images. The background emission nebulae is very apparent in the Crescent image and gives an indication of how the skies looked as I was just panning up from Sagittarius to Cygnus.

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#3 Gavster

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Posted 03 September 2019 - 12:09 AM

Next up was a look at the nebulae in Sagittarius (which in the UK are very low, but significantly higher in Tenerife). The large fov and low mag meant that the detail in these smaller objects was limited but again the background nebulosity again came out well. Due to the brightness of these objects I reduced the exposure times to 20 seconds.

 

Here you see the Swan and Eagle and the Trifid and Lagoon.

 

Given the dark skies, I then moved on to some less well known objects. Here is CED 214 (25 second exposure).

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#4 Gavster

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Posted 03 September 2019 - 12:23 AM

I’d noticed recently a large object near the bubble which I wanted to explore more. From research afterwards I discovered this was sharpless 157 or tv lobster claw. Here is a 25 second image of it.

 

And I often find the widefield views of the nebula containing the elephant’s trunk a bit indistinct and disappointing but not tonight - the dark nebula was clearly visible.

 

More to follow

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Edited by Gavster, 03 September 2019 - 04:37 AM.

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#5 bobhen

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Posted 03 September 2019 - 06:55 AM

Excellent images!

 

Wonderful location!

 

Great scope!

 

I feel very lucky to see everything in these images in real-time and from just outside Philadelphia, PA with NV.

 

It’s also really surprising just how close the real-time views are to these images. For example: using my 102mm F5 refractor at F3.5 the real-time view shows everything that is in your M8/M20 wide field image (including parts of the faint nebula bridge between M8 and M20) except for the “very faintest” background glow. But, as you mentioned, the real-time view delivers more and sharper detail “within” M8 and M20 that is usually blown out in most images in order to capture that very faint background nebula glow. I find the same is true when comparing real-time NV views to most images of the Orion Nebula. In these particular cases, I actually like the real-time NV views better than most images.

 

Bob



#6 descott12

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Posted 03 September 2019 - 07:38 AM

amazing! looks like a great trip!

#7 Gavster

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Posted 04 September 2019 - 04:40 PM

It was approaching 2am now and a couple of old friends had now arrived reasonably high in the sky. The heartbabs the soul nebulae, which were again framed really nicely by the Tak/55mm plossl combo. Images below are 25 seconds exposure.

It had now been a long day, so I decided to pack up and get some sleep ready for day 2...

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Edited by Gavster, 04 September 2019 - 04:41 PM.

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#8 Gavster

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Posted 04 September 2019 - 04:58 PM

Day 2

 

I spent the day at the beach with my family and then did the drive up the mountain at about 8pm. When I left the coast it was sunny but it gradually got cloudier and cloudier as I went higher. By the time I arrived at the Teide hotel it was completely clouded over frown.gif.

Checking the internet satellite pics things looked much more hopeful with skies looking clear by around 10.30pm. I went out around 10pm and by the time I had setup the skies were once again dark (sqm 21.48 max) and clear with the Milky Way sweeping overhead as before.

This time I focused mostly on real-time nv visual observing, moving from Sagittarius upwards towards Cygnus following the swathes of nebulosity visible through my Tak. A breathtaking view of the night sky.

After a couple of hours of just scanning the general emission nebulae in the Milky Way, I took a few phone images of some lesser known dsos.

A couple of examples were sharpless 119 and sharpless 86 (25 second exposures).

 

 

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#9 Gavster

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Posted 04 September 2019 - 05:01 PM

To end day 2 I finished with another couple of favourites. First up the 5 degree fov of the setuo gave a great framing of the gamma cygni nebula (which seems a bit underrated compared to the North American etc) but I really like it. And the the California nebula, again the large fov captured this large nebulae well. Both images 25 second exposure.

 

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Edited by Gavster, 05 September 2019 - 02:37 AM.

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#10 Gavster

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Posted 04 September 2019 - 05:09 PM

The next morning as I was driving down the mountain back to the coast (listening to Suede, Oasis, Radiohead and Duran Duran(!)), I reflected on the 2 nights observing. My new scope worked faultlessly with the az gti and the skies were the best I’ve observed under. I realised that I get so much more enjoyment observing with nv under dark 21+ skies rather than the 18.4ish I get at home in SW London. Even though the nebulae are visible in London, the sky background is much brighter unlike the dark skies where the sky background is inky black and the nebulae just seem to pop out of the sky. My feeling at the moment is that I’m going to do less observing from lp sites and take advantage of dark sky trips more in the future. 


Edited by Gavster, 04 September 2019 - 05:16 PM.

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#11 FracTak

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Posted 04 September 2019 - 05:33 PM

Fantastic reports and images Gavin, sounds and looks to have been an excellent trip. Glad the new Tak performed well.
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#12 AllanDystrup

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Posted 05 September 2019 - 01:13 PM

I love the 5dg wide field of this setup, Gavin!

Really great for framing objects like the Veil, NAN-Pelican, Sadr complex and the IC1396/Elephant trunk.

Very good SA field correction and contrast too.

 

PS: Which Ha filter did you use for these observations?

     — Allan


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#13 Gavster

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Posted 05 September 2019 - 01:51 PM

I love the 5dg wide field of this setup, Gavin!

Really great for framing objects like the Veil, NAN-Pelican, Sadr complex and the IC1396/Elephant trunk.

Very good SA field correction and contrast too.

 

PS: Which Ha filter did you use for these observations?

     — Allan

Thanks Allan. Yes I think the 5 degree fov is a real sweet spot for those larger objects you mention - best views I’ve had of gamma cygni and nan. I used a 3nm ha filter for the nebulae observing.


Edited by Gavster, 05 September 2019 - 01:52 PM.

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#14 PEterW

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Posted 05 September 2019 - 01:53 PM

Smokin report. After my holiday I would have to agree with your conclusion about observing from good skies... happy to come along if there’s room!

Peter
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#15 GeezerGazer

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 02:07 AM

Great report AND photos.  Thanks for sharing Gavster.  You are now officially spoiled by dark sky envy!  And I understand your predicament completely.  It is why I drive to various sites in the western US to observe and photograph and it is why I almost never observe from home, preferring to drive 40 minutes to a green zone.  I am willing to test my equipment from home, but to observe, there just is no substitute for a dark sky... with or without NV!  

 

Glad to see the baby FSQ performed so brilliantly!  Wonderful, compact scope.  Congratulations.  

Ray


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#16 Gavster

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 02:40 AM

Great report AND photos.  Thanks for sharing Gavster.  You are now officially spoiled by dark sky envy!  And I understand your predicament completely.  It is why I drive to various sites in the western US to observe and photograph and it is why I almost never observe from home, preferring to drive 40 minutes to a green zone.  I am willing to test my equipment from home, but to observe, there just is no substitute for a dark sky... with or without NV!  

 

Glad to see the baby FSQ performed so brilliantly!  Wonderful, compact scope.  Congratulations.  

Ray

Thanks Ray. I know there are many benefits of reflectors for nv but for widefield nv observing I prefer my refractors - the views of  the stars and nebulae just seem more attractive to me. 



#17 GOLGO13

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 09:20 AM

awesome report and images. Sounds like a magical experience.



#18 Noah4x4

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 01:17 AM

I too have enjoyed the experience of the caldera of Mt Tiede. It is true one can stay at its single hotel. But one can also drive up from a beach hotel too. There are plenty of empty parking lots suitable for observing. But be warned. At midnight, expect the roar of motor cycles and a panic to pack your kit to escape Hells Angels or Mad Max. Scary first time, but hilarious when you realise it's a simply a party of sober holiday-makers on the nightly organised Quad Bike Safari that briefly stop to enjoy the unique clear night sky and comfortable year round night temperatures. Very friendly folk, well supervised. I have enjoyed many sessions showing them proper astronomy. 


Edited by Noah4x4, 07 September 2019 - 01:20 AM.

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