On February 22, 2020 at 21:30 EST I sat down to sketch NGC 2261. This was my first time ever viewing this object. I attempted once in the past with my 6" Newtonian, but it just didn't have the magnification power needed to get a view of this object. I set my sights on it with my 8" SCT, and my 8-24mm Vixen zoom eyepiece. I centered it in my view at 24mm, and examined the surrounding area, and spotted this nebula in my light polluted skies. Slowly increasing the magnification of the eyepiece I noticed the background getting darker, and fainter stars popping out brighter, and so was the nebula. I zoomed all the way in to the 8mm setting on the eyepiece, adjusted focus, and just gazed at this object for a few minutes to try and tease out some of the faint details.
I noticed there were quite a few extremely faint stars that I could have easily missed. I'm sure that even with taking care of not missing any I missed some. There were a few stars that I thought were there that may not have been there, so I refrained from marking them on the paper. I was trying really hard to pull out any contrast within the nebula, but it was relatively difficult with the light pollution. Not sure if my new Orion Ultrablock filter would help at that magnification, but I might give it a go next time I’m out.
There is still some time in this year, but I might hold off until next season to see if I can get a sketch of this object on each clear night to put together a compilation of it and its varying looks. That also depends on how much detail I can really pull out on each night. I was motivated to point my telescope at this object after reading the February edition of Sky and Telescope.
Also, as usual, I put together a video that features a time-lapse of my sketch, so if you’d like to see it, or if you think it might come in handy at your astronomy club or wherever please feel free to share it: https://youtu.be/vw4UDOW_Dxc