Date: Wednesday 4th September. 2230-0400am
Scope: 20” f3.6 Lukehurst Dob with Paracorr (fl = 2089mm & f4.1).
Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS.
Eyepieces: Plossl 55mm (f2 x38).
Filters: Chroma 5nm Ha filter.
Looking back at my notes I see that I managed five nights outside during August but they feel like a distant memory as we seem to have had nothing but wet weather in recent weeks.
Last night was forecast as potentially clear and when I looked outside at 10pm it was mostly clear so I got myself prepared and then headed out to the shed for definitely the best nights viewing I have had in several months.
I managed 5.5 hours outside and after initially choosing targets in clear parts of the sky, it did eventually become clear and I was able to travel slowly along the Milky Way being amazed by the wonderful nebula on offer within the spiral arms.
As shown at the top of this post, I was using my PVS-14 Night Vision device attached to a TeleVue 55mm Plossl via the TNVC a-focal adapter. I had a Chroma 5nm Ha filter attached to the Paracorr2 for the whole time, except whilst viewing NGC6946 Fireworks Galaxy when I was unfiltered.
My 20” dobsonian has a Nexus push-to system that I run connected to Sky Safari 5 on my iPad. It is housed in a 9’x9’ shed with a roll off roof.
Observing Report – The Nebula trail from Cygnus to Cassiopeia!
NGC7380 Wizard – I completed the 2-star alignment for my Nexus push-to and headed to the first target (which was decided by where the clearest patch of sky was to be found). The Wizard was not best placed from the shed with the roof apex partially in view but when I looked into the eyepiece I could see a bright nebula patch filling the fov within which could be made out the separate black shapes that make up the “flying horse”. I was expecting a few brighter patches but these were not seen probably due to the darkness level at 2230hrs.
Sh2-132 Lion – I moved over to the large sh2-132 nebula and was surprised by the brightness of the “mane” section of the Lion (which appeared upside down), I could make our 4 brighter sections within the mane (2 wiggly lanes in the lower mane and 2 further forward). Knowing that this was the Lions Mane I nudged around and was able to trace the much fainter “back” and “tail” sections easily. The “legs” were the faintest but once you know they are there then you can nudge around them with success. I would say that this was the “most” that I have eeked out of the Lion (so maybe my larger secondary mirror – recently fitted – is paying some dividend?).
Cygnus, Sadr region – A now clearer sky, sent me back to Cygnus. This area is one of the highlights of the year for anyone with Night Vision and a decent Ha filter. The area covered is huge and nebula just keeps coming and coming. There are the obvious brightest bits as marked in Sky Safari (which are wonderful, I especially like the black hydrogen regions interspersed in brightest nebula that really catch the eye) but there is so much more around this whole area. I spent probably half an hour on this area and pondered making some notes on specific star locations for the best bits but convinced myself that there were just too many best bits and this would become a large task eating into my dark sky time (it’s so limited in the UK that I wanted to just look and keep on looking!).
Sh2-104 – I happen upon a small bright patch. I glance at Sky Safari reveals it is sh2-104. I see a bright patch with brighter lane details within. It seems to be shimmering at the eyepiece.
Crescent – Nudging a little further and here come the unmistakeable Crescent nebula. It looks glorious and bright. The edge on one side is thick and bright with intricate details that look like knife blades. The other end is fainter with a shimmering Question Mark detail. The Crescent is surrounded by faint nebula patches below and to the LHS (left hand side) billowy lanes. This whole region is littered with nebulosity!
Sh2-106 – I nudge over to sh2-106 which I think looks like a tiny “Christmas cracker”. Its small and bright, appearing in 3 parts – patch, gap, patch, circle. Nice.
Sh2-107 – I managed to get myself confused in the search for sh2-107. It could be at SAO 070603 where a patch with a central star and faint thick line within OR it could be at sh2-107 as marked in Sky Safari where a faint zig zag patch is seen next to a bright star. Checking the internet, it looks like Sky Safari is correct although I noted that many images on the internet and incorrect and look more like the first patch I came upon mentioned above (smiles).
Sh2-110 – Large and faint. Vertical lanes with brighter patches. Appears to have a flat top.
Sh2-111 – Very large and faint. Nebula lanes/edges can be traced. Occasional glimpses of patchy faint nebula inside. I had this one in my “best of” list but now I am not sure why? (grin). There are many uncatalogued sections in Cygnus that are far superior.
Sh2-114 – A faint oblong patch over several stars. Bright stars LHS. This is the “flying dragon” and the size given 20x55 suggests that I was able to see the brighter central section only.
Sh2-113 – Central star within a black patch then outer faint nebula around that. Overall the stars in this area make a triangular formation.
Sh2-119 – Great. Large, bright thick lanes of horizontal nebula. Some small black hydrogen patches within. Several brighter areas.
Sh2-116 – Small circular patch with a star inside. It sits within a vast area of nebula – great.
Sh2-115 – Large and bright nebula region. Lush nebula surrounds black circular hollows. Nice.
V1584 Cyg – This star locates one of the stand out nebula routes. It takes you along some long lanes of nebula that end in the “Propeller” – Wonderful. As I follow these nebula lanes, I think about magnetism and the iron filings experiments at school, wondering if the magnetism in the spiral arms is creating these numerous lanes that seem to trace through this region of the night sky? Then there are the round bits of nebula, are these caused by rotational effects – lots to keep the mind alive even late at night!
Sh2-112 – Mid size, bright, easily seen. Bright “C” shape “on top of a stick”. There is a thick black hydrogen lane running through or in front of this nebula blocking out light from a central chunk. Nice.
SAO 049550 – Star marks another fabulous large detailed section of Cygnus nebula. Bright lanes and curves abound (a bit like the “Rosette”).
NGC6946 Fireworks Galaxy – I notice that the fireworks galaxy is close by so nudge over. I can see and centre the galaxy even with the 5nm Ha filter fitted. I remove the filter to try to see the arms. After playing with the “gain” on the PVS-14 I find a dimmer view showing two finger like arms moving down from the galaxy (lower LHS). The central core is surrounded by a clear circular arm. I fight to see the third arm (upper RHS) and can make out bits of it but it is much less clear than the lower two. However, a small patch in the upper RHS does stand out and keeps catching my eye together with some other fainter haze.
Sh2-130 – Faint. Central star with a black surround then a faint outer patch around that. The patch is mostly on top.
Sh2-123 – Very faint nebula within an “M34 style” star cluster.
Sh2-118 – large and very faint. Nebula can be detected via outlines/edges. Occasional nebula sections can be seen standing out when next to black hydrogen edges. Difficult as its so large.
Cocoon – Bright, thick nebula ring with a central star. Nebula extends back in a line then over. It appears like a “3D can”.
Sh2-126 – Large plain nebula patch. Brighter thick leading edge LHS. Slight curve bottom LHS. Nebula denser at the top side.
Sh2-120 – Tiny faint nebula next to a star.
Sh2-121 – Tiny nebula patch (bigger than sh2-120) just above.
Sh2-124 – Bright nebula patch with 2 star like eyes (making a “head”), there is a larger “body” patch underneath and there is a “wing” like curve on the LHS.
Sh2-127 – Double layered tiny bright patch next to a star.
Sh2-128 – Tiny patch, easily seen. Shimmering. Central star.
IC1396 Elephant Trunk – Wonderful. Very large and bright nebula. The best bits are the numerous black hydrogen patches dotted around. The inner trunk section has a bright leading edge and stands out sharply. The outer trunk section has indistinct edges and is harder to see.
Sh2-129 – Thick bright curve of nebula. There are two sections that almost meet up in the middle but don’t! There is a small rift in-between them (like the two spiral arms in Cygnus).
Sh2-133 – Large faintish nebula. Two lanes running horizontally are seen.
Sh2-136 Ghost – Found at HD 202986. A faint nebula line runs between two stars. More patch is seen with time at the eyepiece. I can make out areas of a black shape. A bright double star sits within fov.
It’s Getting Late – Let’s try some bright easier stuff!
NGC7380 Wizard – Back to the Wizard! Now it’s both wider and brighter, much brighter in fact but now it’s upside down! It does look more like a Wizard this way around. Many brighter edges within can be seen but it’s the increased width that catches the eye.
Cave – Large with a bright leading edge. There is a gap like a “Daleks ear” . Both sides extend out with fainter nebula lanes.
IC1470 – Tiny, very bright ball. Black line detail running through it. Some faint fuzziness seen outside the ball shape too.
Bubble – Fantastic, a whole new view! The nebula extends way out beyond just the bubble. In the eyepiece I see a head and upper torso. The beautiful bubble makes the "eye socket" in a "head" like shape (with a few other small bright patches above/below making the head profile). The large, wide nebula expanse below is like “shoulders” or “upper torso”. I have never seen it like this before and I spend plenty of time taking it all in. The stars in the bubble even seem to make the eye pupil! It was a sight to savor and really the highlight of the night.
Sh2-158 Brain – Like a mini-Cocoon. Very bright. 2 stars visible inside.
Sh2-157 – One of my favourite objects and it’s nice to be back again in 2019! I call it the “Callipers” and it more than fills the fov. The head of the object is sharp and bright (with a bright blob visible), the callipers extend in two curves upwards. There is a shadow partial calliper to the LHS.
Pacman – Wow. Very bright and filling the fov. It reminds me of the lower part of a face (below the nose). The black hydrogen lane makes up the “mouth”. I see a bright nebula outline down one side of the “chin”. There is a single black “nostril” over the mouth. There is a thick wide black lane running down the LHS of the Pacman. There are many different shades of brightness and it really is breathtakingly beautiful.
IC59/IC63 – This is a nemesis object of mine, I always get poor conditions when targeting it but not tonight. The “Teat” of IC59 is bright and clear once I get the nearby bright star out of the fov. It’s really clear and probably the best I have seen it. IC63 runs diagonally along the back and there is plenty of it on view - it looks like I slayed my nemesis at last!
Sh2-143 – Just time to head back to the Wizard and confirm that sh2-143 is just next to it, I picked it up with my Borg last month but wanted to confirm – yes it is there. (smile)
Sh2-144 – Just time to confirm another nearby. A faint oblong patch above 5 stars.
Well, this was one of those nights that makes the hobby worthwhile. My trek from Cygnus to Cassiopeia must have taken me through 30+ nebula objects and that’s not making any effort to measure/count the uncharted off-piste nebula that I saw and surely needs charting sometime soon...
The highlight was the bubble, or rather the Vista that surrounds the bubble. Most images on the internet are just too magnified and I cannot find a wide enough field to show what I saw but it was awesome!
Sh2-136 (Ghost) was the only new to me object tonight. I did pick it up with the Borg last month but needed to confirm and see it with more magnification.
Finally having slayed the nemesis IC59/IC63 meant that I went to bed happy.
I hope you get some clear nights soon to tackle some of your own nemesis objects…
Edited by alanjgreen, 05 September 2019 - 08:56 AM.