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March 25 Observation Session - Galaxy Season w/ NV!

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#1 Lukes1040

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 02:39 PM

Galaxy season is finally here! This was my first chance to give galaxies a go with NV and it did not disappoint. This was my first clear moonless night in weeks, maybe months. I made sure I was going to be able to take full advantage of it. Luckily I am working from home now with the virus spreading, so I was not worried about staying up too late for work the next day. Small victories....

 

All of my observations we with my 12" F4.9 dob with a 56mm plossl attached to my Micro NV. I live in a bortle 5/6 zone and have light domes to my NE and SE, which delayed my main galaxy region (coma region) from being visible until about 10:30. The night was pretty transparent, but the seeing started from average at best and slowly degraded as the night went on. 

 

I started out as I usually do by visiting some HA favorites to let the sky get as dark as possible before hunting galaxies. I think this is my best hand held horsehead shot to date. Shot with an iPhone 11 Pro. Single exposure.

 

Horsehead and flame nebula

 

IMG_3874.jpg

 

I took some other quick snapshots that came out well also. The lighter ones were taken with a 3 second exposure, the darker ones with 1 or 2 second exposures. 

 

Rosette nebula

 

IMG_3870.jpg

 

Monkey head nebula

 

IMG_3877.jpg

 

IC 443

 

IMG_3876.jpg

 

Flaming star nebula

 

IMG_3875.jpg

 

 

Finally it was dark enough to start checking out some galaxies. I started with the Whirlpool and Sunflower galaxies. I was immediately surprised to see just how much detail I could make out in M51. I could see the swirling arms and even make out the bridge between M51 and NGC 5195. I have seen the arms of M51 before, but only from a Bortle 4 zone with no light dome in that direction. Unfortunately, my home site has a light dome close the M51 almost all the time.  The Sunflower galaxy showed a nice disc with a bright core.

 

While in the neighborhood, I checked out M101 as well, but it just showed as a large diffuse cloud with a little brighter core. 

 

Trying to get away from the light dome, I moved over to M94 and NGC 4625,4618. I was just able to make out the 13th mag NGC 4625. I believe this is my limiting magnitude at my site, as was confirmed by several other observations of 13th magnitude galaxies, but I was unable to go any dimmer. Nearby, the Coccoon was a nice sight to see. I could make out the two arms extending from the core and NGC 4485 nearby. 

 

At around 11pm, Leo was high enough to be completely out of the light dome to my SE, so I figured I may as well check out the triplet. What a sight! NGC 3628 was especially interesting being a nice edge on galaxy. I have seen the triplet before, even from a bortle 4, but this was by far the best observation I have made of them. I think I went back to them about 4-5 times more throughout the night to have another look. I was able to make out both NGC 3593 and NGC 3596 nearby as well. Next I headed over to the other triplet (quintuplet?) of M105, NGC 3384, 3389, M96, and M95. It was surreal to see all of these easily and in the same FOV.  Confirming my 13th magnitude limit, I was able to make out NGC 3367, 3377 and 3412, but not 3391 nearby. 

 

Next I moved over towards the tail of the Lion, and glimpsed NGC 3686, 3684, 3681 and 3691. A nice view, but nothing to write home about. Nearby was NGC 3607, 3605, 3599, and 3632. All easily seen, but again, nothing to write home about.

 

Finally around 11:30, the Coma region was making its way out of the light dome. I have looked at this region from my home site before with glass eyepieces and this same scope, and I was able to make out quite a few galaxies, but man did the NV blow those observations out of the water! No matter where I pointed the scope galaxies littered the FOV. I don't think I found a region in the area that had less then 4 galaxies in my FOV at a time. Most of the time there were many more! I just panned the area for a while before actually trying to identify what I was seeing. Even once I started to try, it took at least 10 minutes to finally get a grasp of which galaxies I was seeing. M86 and 84 along with the "eyes" galaxies pointed the way for me. I eventually made my way to every M object in the area. M99 was especially memorable. A beautiful little pinwheel. 

 

I decided to scroll around skysafari to try to locate some interesting areas, and came upon Zwicky's Triplet. With all of the galaxies being 13.7 mag or less, I thought it would be a nice little challenge. I was able to locate NGC 4503 nearby, but failed to glimpse any of the 3. I guess there has to be some failure during the night. 

 

Another area that caught my eye on skysafari was the Siamese Twins (or Butterfly galaxies) (NGC 4568, 4567). This was the highlight of the night! Such a beautiful interacting pair of galaxies. I don't know how much time I spent looking at them, but I could not take my eye off the eyepiece. They both had distinct cores with spiral arms faded out around them. Certainly a showpiece pair. I hope to spend more time on them in the future with a little more magnification. 

 

All in all it was certainly my best night for hunting down galaxies by a long shot, thanks to NV. Unfortunately, the forecast looks poor for at least another week.... Looking forward to a nice long summer full of galaxies! 


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#2 Lukes1040

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 02:40 PM

I even got some halfway decent shots of the Leo Triplet and the Whirlpool.

 

IMG_3886.jpg

 

 

IMG_3891.jpg


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#3 slavicek

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 03:19 PM

Thank you for Interesting report. Have you used any filters on the galaxies?

I am itching to do the same kind of observing but weather/life/virus all works against me.


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#4 Lukes1040

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 03:20 PM

Thank you for Interesting report. Have you used any filters on the galaxies?
I am itching to do the same kind of observing but weather/life/virus all works against me.


I do have a DGM NPB filter that I try off and on, but I actually prefer to view galaxies unfiltered. It seems to show me the most detail that way.

#5 Eddgie

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 03:29 PM

A truly fun report!  And some great pictures too. Loved that you captured the dust lanes in Rosette. 

 

Happy that you got out and while you may not have another chance in a while, now that you kind of have a baseline, it can help you with future planning.

 

It is amazing to see so many people starting to use image intensifiers. Sometimes I think I over-sell the benefit, but when I read reports like this, it makes me feel good about urging people to abandon what I see as less conducive upgrades and instead put all efforts into converting to NV, even if they have to sell off a bunch of stuff.  A lot of CN members have a room full of stuff and eyepieces and almost no upgrade I see people contemplating would do as much for them as an image intensifier.  The whole "purist" attitude is totally lost on me.  I like seeing stuff, not buying ever larger telescopes to try to see stuff..

 

Hopefully you will get some more clear skies soon.  If it is taking time for rich part of the sky to get overhead, that means you will get other opposites.

 

I really enjoyed reading about your observations though. I mean I like to see the pictures, but I really enjoy it when people tell me about the experience.  I can see pictures all over the place, but what I enjoy is hearing the excitement of suddenly having the ability to see things that in the past were unseen.

 

Have fun.  Enjoy the night.  


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#6 Lukes1040

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 03:32 PM

I can’t stop myself from taking pictures, especially the Rosette. It’s amazing how easy it is to capture all the detail in the dust lanes. One of my favorite NV objects to take a pic of.

#7 Eddgie

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 08:46 PM

I do have a DGM NPB filter that I try off and on, but I actually prefer to view galaxies unfiltered. It seems to show me the most detail that way.

I kind of share that opinion though I on the brighter nights I usually run a filter.  But I run a 640 even in the city.  I think 690nm is just a bit too aggressive for me personally. When I get to the suburbs though, I usually run unfiltered.

 

Same with gain.  A lot of people seem to want to dial down scintillation and noise, but gain is gain, and I think I get the best detail and most extension when I run 100%.

 

It is pretty amazing though.  

 

I can't wait for your first report on viewing the Milky Way.  That 200mm f/2.8 lens is heavy, but it is perfect for scanning the dense star clouds and various dark lanes along the boundaries of the great rift.  But at 1x, the MW is freaking glorious.  

 

Hopefully you will get some more clear nights again soon though and have more Galaxy reports to share with us.


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#8 Eddgie

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 08:49 PM

And yeah, that shot of the Rosette is amazing for someone that really never did pictures before.  That F9800VG is a great tube!  I have never managed to get that kind of detail in my own pictures of Rosette. (That being said, I have almost a hatred for imaging.  It seems to distract me for looking.  As simple as it is, it still seems fussy to me! But I love seeing pictures others take!).



#9 Lukes1040

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 01:21 PM

And yeah, that shot of the Rosette is amazing for someone that really never did pictures before.  That F9800VG is a great tube!  I have never managed to get that kind of detail in my own pictures of Rosette. (That being said, I have almost a hatred for imaging.  It seems to distract me for looking.  As simple as it is, it still seems fussy to me! But I love seeing pictures others take!).

I have a lot of family that likes to see my pictures. They always ask if I have any new ones. So mostly they are to show off to them, but I also like a picture reminder of the night. Great to jog the memory. As in this session, I spent about 30 minutes looking at HA objects and taking pics out of the 3.5-4 hour viewing session.

 

I do love to scan the sky with the 200mm lens. So much to see and it frames a lot of large objects very nicely!


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#10 Eddgie

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 02:28 PM

Yeah, I think others do the same (take pictures to share). 

 

The 200 f/2.8 is a nice lens.  It was a little heavy for me, but very effective, You will get some great views of mid size nabula like North American. I replaced it with a fixed focus 180mm f/2.8.  I miss the zoom, but not the weight.

 

The Tamron will be a great lens for summer Milky Way.  Lots of dark nebula.

 

Most people using NV look for galaxies, nebula, and clusters but last year I spent a lot of time on dark nebula.  It is kind of the marbling in the Milky Way. I recommend making a list of these for summer.


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#11 bobhen

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 02:48 PM

 

 

Most people using NV look for galaxies, nebula, and clusters but last year I spent a lot of time on dark nebula.  It is kind of the marbling in the Milky Way. I recommend making a list of these for summer.

Dark nebula were one of the great surprises with NV, especially from my location. 

 

Bob



#12 Lukes1040

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 02:51 PM

I like to use the 200mm while laying back in my zero gravity chair. It takes some of the weight off my shoulders. 

 

I will certainly be on the lookout this summer for dark nebula. Have any lists that you recommend?



#13 GeezerGazer

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 03:39 PM

Very nice report and images!  Adding a filter depends almost entirely on the amount of light pollution I am trying to overcome.   When I know that galaxies are on my list, I choose to drive 40 miles from my red zone home to my green zone observing sight... rather than add a filter.  A darker site is always the best solution... when or if it is an available option. 


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#14 bobhen

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 05:08 PM

I like to use the 200mm while laying back in my zero gravity chair. It takes some of the weight off my shoulders. 

 

I will certainly be on the lookout this summer for dark nebula. Have any lists that you recommend?

HERE is an image that will help. Notice the position and size of the Lagoon Nebula.

 

The Dark Horse Nebula area is really cool. But from Sagittarius to Aquila through Cygnus you can sweep up a lot of large and mid size dark nebulas

 

Use your lens or a scope with a wide field.

 

Bob


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