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Messier 97 Owl Nebula

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#1 Asbytec

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Posted 22 February 2020 - 10:21 PM

Well, another unplanned excursion with my dog in the wee hours, this time at 0200 hours. I gotta start getting up early, but with work it's kind of hard to do. So, what to look at? I had no plan. So, again, I decided just to revisit some Messier objects I was familiar with but had not seen in a few years. I always wanted to sketch Messier 108, so I decided to go look at it. But, I was not really dark adapted just yet, so I hopped up to the Owl for a quick look. I put in the Orion Ultrablock and it just jumped out at me.

 

So, before moving back to M108, I decided to see if I could detect the eyes. Always an elusive target. So, I stayed with it until I could determine where they are. Turns out, 67x was not enough, so I risked 100x and 120x and began to see some "sparkles" embedded in the nebula and I thought one of them was the central star, which I have not seen before. Still having some difficulty, I hit it with 150x trying to tease out those sparkles. Anyway, this was getting interesting, so I stayed with it as my dark adaption set in under the hood. 

 

Turns out 150x was right at the edge where the nebula begin to loose too much surface brightness, and I would not risk any higher magnification. I know some folks have reported one eye is easier to see than the other. I guess this was true for me, too, as the smaller and higher contrast southern eye was more readily seen. But, I could make out the northern eye. Neither eye was held for long periods, just enough to determine they were oriented basically north and south with the more prominent eye to the south. The northern eye was more elusive and it turns out a little larger with less contrast. So, to me, the smaller southern eye was a bit easier. 

 

All the while, though, I kept spotting the central star as it winked in and out of view. It did seem to be surrounded by a small dark area. I also caught one sparkle toward the western edge of the nebula, maybe another faint one just south, and a scattering of pretty faint stars just outside the nebula. It turns out, there are three stars, including the central star embedded, so I was reasonably sure I had caught two of them and maybe the third. They were visible, I dunno, maybe 30% of the time, along with the other brighter one, and the dimmer one less often seen. (The term "sparkle" is best because that was the thought that came to mind when I saw them). 

 

Now, it also turns out there is what looks to be a very faint star trailing on the eastern edge of the nebula. I did catch an unmistakable sparkle there, too, a couple of times. But, that star (seen in images) appears to be much fainter than the already fleeting central star, so I don't think I saw it. Now, in some images (upon verification) there does seem to be a bright knot in the nebula also near the eastern limb. I do not know which detail I saw, it was a tiny and very fleeting sparkle. But I like to think I may have seen that nebulous knot, I've seen them before in other planetary nebulae like NGC 2022. So, maybe. 

 

All the while observing the nebula for nearly an hour, I could not escape the impression or appearance the nebula was slightly brighter in the central regions. Some views with extreme averted vision showed the nebula to be very large with a well defined edge. But, normal observing it did appear slightly brighter toward the center. Not all the time, but sometimes the bright areas would "swirl" around the center then fade. 

 

Now, make no mistake, the nebula is pretty bright itself, but the detail embedded within it is fairly tough with low contrast. It did not jump out at you like the a static sketch with somewhat embellished contrast to make it easier to see. But, when I put it all together in the sketch, it almost looks like an image. I was shocked. So much so, I almost did not Post it without toning it down a little. But, I felt that would be an injustice and you only live once. So, here it is all caution to the wind...this may be one of my better DSO sketches.

 

I hope the faint "sparkles" show well on your monitor, especially the strange one near the east edge of the nebula. Thanks for sharing. 

 

Edit: Oh, by the way, I never did hit M108, but I did try Messier 51 for a while with no intent to sketch it. I mention it only because I used the Orion SkyGlow broad band filter on it. You know, I think it helped noticeably. Not significantly, but noticeably. The companion was pretty broad with a bright core, and the spiral structure was becoming evident with the filter. I could see the bridge between them at times and some dark and light interplay that were trying to show me the spiral arms. With more time on it, I am sure I would have seen them...with the filter! 

 

Messier 97.png


Edited by Asbytec, 22 February 2020 - 10:35 PM.

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#2 Tyson M

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Posted 22 February 2020 - 10:26 PM

Looks like what I saw with a 250S mewlon with OIII filter I think. 

 

Great sketch, you caught lobed areas inside it I don't believe I picked up.


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#3 Knasal

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Posted 22 February 2020 - 10:29 PM

Nice work! I like your story of how it happened and the sketch! Good recollection of the event and working through power to get the end result. Nice documentation.

 

Kevin


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#4 Asbytec

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Posted 22 February 2020 - 10:44 PM

Looks like what I saw with a 250S mewlon with OIII filter I think. 

 

Great sketch, you caught lobed areas inside it I don't believe I picked up.

"Lobed" areas might be unintentional, just tried to show the central brightening while keeping the eyes visible. What magnification were you using? I need to check the spectrum, I know the Ultrablock made it pop nicely, I am sure the OIII did the same. 

 

Nice work! I like your story of how it happened and the sketch! Good recollection of the event and working through power to get the end result. Nice documentation.

 

Kevin

Kevin, thank you for taking the time to read it. My wife is bugging me to go eat lunch, but I had to take a minute to say thanks. :) 


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#5 Tyson M

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Posted 22 February 2020 - 10:45 PM

"Lobed" areas might be unintentional, just tried to show the central brightening while keeping the eyes visible. What magnification were you using? I need to check the spectrum, I know the Ultrablock made it pop nicely, I am sure the OIII did the same. 

 

Kevin, thank you for taking the time to read it. My wife is bugging me to go eat lunch, but I had to take a minute to say thanks. smile.gif

I believe a 48 brandon, edit or a 32 brandon


Edited by Tyson M, 22 February 2020 - 10:46 PM.

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#6 Raul Leon

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 12:12 AM

Another great observation and sketch Norme!


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#7 Asbytec

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 01:11 AM

I believe a 48 brandon, edit or a 32 brandon

Tyson, okay. So, at f/12(?) you were closer to 94x. We're supposed to use lower magnification and larger exit pupils with LP filters. Sometimes I forget that, I certainly did last night at around 150x and 1.3mm exit pupil. Maybe more so and a larger exit pupil is needed with a more narrow band OIII. But, I just cranked it up until I felt like it was dimming too much. It was pretty dim, already, without the UHC Ultrablock filter, but it popped pretty well. So, I cranked it up until I dare not to go any higher. Kicking around on Google I found this processed image in OIII. The brighter lobes begin to show with processing, mine looks like the top image here

 

One night I was looking at a small bright planetary, can't remember which one, and I was all the way up to 300x at around 0.7mm exit pupil where, as I recall, the sky was almost as dark as the field stop. But, the small bright planetary was still visible. Anyway, when I found the Owl at 67x, even with a filter, it was hard to observe. Even at 100x and 120x (where it started to give up it's secrets), I felt it needed more being bright but still on the small side. Anyway, going above the rule of thumb for narrow band filters seemed to work in these cases. Glad I forgot about the rule of thumb. smile.gif

 

Another great observation and sketch Norme!

Raul, thank you. Yea, I kind of like this one, maybe too much. Again, when I finished putting in all the detail, I was shocked at how it almost looked like an image. I was hesitant to post it. smile.gif


Edited by Asbytec, 23 February 2020 - 01:18 AM.


#8 Aquarellia

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 06:32 AM

Well done, you have a good scope and eye !

 

Also if you can do it again with a larger field, in the night of Feb. 24/25 this nebula and the comet ATLAS (C/2019 Y4) will be about 1 degree apart, with similar color and angular diameter, nice images to come!

 

Michel


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#9 Asbytec

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 06:58 AM

Michel, if it's clear...we'll see. Thanks for the heads up. 

 

Yea, it's a good scope. I keep it tuned for planetary observing, being well collimated and cooled helps to see fainter stars I think. Good focus, too. The night was nice enough, seeing was not a problem. Headed out right now, maybe again in the morning. 

 

Wanna chase down some Palomar globulars, but these Messiers are kind of fun. :) 



#10 mikeDnight

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 08:07 AM

Well, another unplanned excursion with my dog in the wee hours, this time at 0200 hours. I gotta start getting up early, but with work it's kind of hard to do. So, what to look at? I had no plan. So, again, I decided just to revisit some Messier objects I was familiar with but had not seen in a few years. I always wanted to sketch Messier 108, so I decided to go look at it. But, I was not really dark adapted just yet, so I hopped up to the Owl for a quick look. I put in the Orion Ultrablock and it just jumped out at me.

 

So, before moving back to M108, I decided to see if I could detect the eyes. Always an elusive target. So, I stayed with it until I could determine where they are. Turns out, 67x was not enough, so I risked 100x and 120x and began to see some "sparkles" embedded in the nebula and I thought one of them was the central star, which I have not seen before. Still having some difficulty, I hit it with 150x trying to tease out those sparkles. Anyway, this was getting interesting, so I stayed with it as my dark adaption set in under the hood. 

 

Turns out 150x was right at the edge where the nebula begin to loose too much surface brightness, and I would not risk any higher magnification. I know some folks have reported one eye is easier to see than the other. I guess this was true for me, too, as the smaller and higher contrast southern eye was more readily seen. But, I could make out the northern eye. Neither eye was held for long periods, just enough to determine they were oriented basically north and south with the more prominent eye to the south. The northern eye was more elusive and it turns out a little larger with less contrast. So, to me, the smaller southern eye was a bit easier. 

 

All the while, though, I kept spotting the central star as it winked in and out of view. It did seem to be surrounded by a small dark area. I also caught one sparkle toward the western edge of the nebula, maybe another faint one just south, and a scattering of pretty faint stars just outside the nebula. It turns out, there are three stars, including the central star embedded, so I was reasonably sure I had caught two of them and maybe the third. They were visible, I dunno, maybe 30% of the time, along with the other brighter one, and the dimmer one less often seen. (The term "sparkle" is best because that was the thought that came to mind when I saw them). 

 

Now, it also turns out there is what looks to be a very faint star trailing on the eastern edge of the nebula. I did catch an unmistakable sparkle there, too, a couple of times. But, that star (seen in images) appears to be much fainter than the already fleeting central star, so I don't think I saw it. Now, in some images (upon verification) there does seem to be a bright knot in the nebula also near the eastern limb. I do not know which detail I saw, it was a tiny and very fleeting sparkle. But I like to think I may have seen that nebulous knot, I've seen them before in other planetary nebulae like NGC 2022. So, maybe. 

 

All the while observing the nebula for nearly an hour, I could not escape the impression or appearance the nebula was slightly brighter in the central regions. Some views with extreme averted vision showed the nebula to be very large with a well defined edge. But, normal observing it did appear slightly brighter toward the center. Not all the time, but sometimes the bright areas would "swirl" around the center then fade. 

 

Now, make no mistake, the nebula is pretty bright itself, but the detail embedded within it is fairly tough with low contrast. It did not jump out at you like the a static sketch with somewhat embellished contrast to make it easier to see. But, when I put it all together in the sketch, it almost looks like an image. I was shocked. So much so, I almost did not Post it without toning it down a little. But, I felt that would be an injustice and you only live once. So, here it is all caution to the wind...this may be one of my better DSO sketches.

 

I hope the faint "sparkles" show well on your monitor, especially the strange one near the east edge of the nebula. Thanks for sharing. 

 

Edit: Oh, by the way, I never did hit M108, but I did try Messier 51 for a while with no intent to sketch it. I mention it only because I used the Orion SkyGlow broad band filter on it. You know, I think it helped noticeably. Not significantly, but noticeably. The companion was pretty broad with a bright core, and the spiral structure was becoming evident with the filter. I could see the bridge between them at times and some dark and light interplay that were trying to show me the spiral arms. With more time on it, I am sure I would have seen them...with the filter! 

 

attachicon.gifMessier 97.png

That is such a beautiful rendition of the Owl. It's a testament to your observing skill and an inspiration to us all.

Thanks for posting. waytogo.gif



#11 Asbytec

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 08:19 AM

That is such a beautiful rendition of the Owl. It's a testament to your observing skill and an inspiration to us all.
Thanks for posting. waytogo.gif

Mike, thank you for your powerful words. I have to reitterate I was shocked when the sketch came together. Usually I cringe a little, anyway, hoping to get it right. This time I cringed because it looked more like an image.

As for skill, I have worked on observing technique and knowledge, but it really boils down to time and patience. IME, we're just not gonna see everything in 10 minutes. Skies here are descent, and with some confidence and experience, we can learn to flirt with dim things with reasonable certainty.

The sketch makes it look easy, but it really was not all that easy. Few things worth doing are, I guess. Observing is a hobby, but it does require something from us. Simply that is the biggest lesson I've learned.

Edited by Asbytec, 23 February 2020 - 08:40 AM.

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#12 cloudbuster

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 10:36 AM

That is a beautiful and natural sketch Norme, bravo! It's not easy at all to see those two eyes and I wonder how many of us would truly see them, not knowing they were there...

 

Regards, Martijn


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#13 Asbytec

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 11:43 AM

That is a beautiful and natural sketch Norme, bravo! It's not easy at all to see those two eyes and I wonder how many of us would truly see them, not knowing they were there...

 

Regards, Martijn

Totally agree, Martijn. It took me a while to figure out where they were. I just knew there were two eyes, not whether I could see one or both nor how they were oriented. I mean, I knew I could figure it out, but it was not as easy as the sketch suggests. It's embellished so the onlooker does not have to work as hard as we do. Thank you for commenting. 



#14 frank5817

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 12:05 PM

Norme,

 

Beautiful sketch of the Owl nebula. You got both 'eyes'. Sometimes I see only one.

Well done.

 

Frank :)



#15 Asbytec

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 12:35 PM

Norme,

 

Beautiful sketch of the Owl nebula. You got both 'eyes'. Sometimes I see only one.

Well done.

 

Frank smile.gif

Thank you, Frank. I was not sure, either, how many would be visible. It's been years since I looked at it through my 6". I read some folks see one, or at least one better than the other. I had no idea what to expect, but I kind of thought they should be doable.  

 

I just heard, but haven't checked, the central star is 15th magnitude? I did not think I was going that deep. 

 

Yea, this sketch came together nicely, really happy with it. Maybe my best DSO sketch. Thanks for commenting. 


Edited by Asbytec, 23 February 2020 - 12:37 PM.


#16 niteskystargazer

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Posted 24 February 2020 - 04:19 PM

Norme,

 

Fine sketch of Messier 97 Owl Nebula smile.gif ,

 

CS,KLU,

 

thanx.gif ,

 

Tom


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#17 Asbytec

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 07:48 AM

Does anyone know a credible magnitude of the central star? I've seen figures between 14 and 16 visual magnitude. To me, mag 14 seems more accurate. I think mag 16 is simply too dim to be seen.

#18 Raul Leon

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 09:44 AM

Hi Norme , my sky safari app lists The central star as 16th magnitude, I agree I don’t think it’s that faint
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