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Far out, man - Neptune

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#1 Orion92

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Posted 13 October 2020 - 06:53 PM

       Yesterday evening I was planning my observing session for that night, focusing on some double stars that I have been working through in the Astronomical League’s Double Star program. A couple of the doubles I had picked were in Aquarius. Opening up my beloved Sky and Telescope’s Pocket Sky Atlas, I was drawn to some of my previous notes on the page that showed Neptune’s position in previous years since 2014. Each of these dates, I remember what telescope I was using and where I was, fond memories of hunting each night for this distant, icy planet. I have tried to visit Neptune at least once a year, but in ‘17 and ‘18 I moved from rural Southeast Arkansas to Northeast Florida from work and shortly after moving here I picked up a couple more hobbies, saltwater fishing and scuba diving. My eyepiece time definitely took a hit those two years while I got used to my new life here and developed in to a scuba nut 😂 One of the wonderful things about the hobby of astronomy is that when other things in life get in the way, the stars will always be there waiting for your return.

 

      Now, I’m back in the saddle and lately have been enjoying my first refractor, a Skywatcher 100ED. With a little work last night using the 100ED, I found Neptune at 128X clearly non-stellar greyish-white with a hint of blue. The planet was quite tiny, about the size of a period in a sentence! It will be more difficult, but also more rewarding, but my next visit to Neptune will be with my 12” Dob to attempt to observe its’ moon Triton. 
 

Have you observed Neptune? I would enjoy hearing about your experiences with our outermost planet (poor Pluto). 
 

Clear skies,

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • 75109AD3-5203-4840-A294-B9C6ED898DF2.jpeg

Edited by Orion92, 13 October 2020 - 06:55 PM.

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#2 SkyHunter1

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Posted 13 October 2020 - 07:34 PM

I've seen Neptune thru a 8" cassegrain. It was a small but well defined blue green sphere. Uranus and Netpune looked essentially the same to me except that Uranus was a larger blue green Sphere. I felt privileged to observe it and easily see the color. 

 

I will be attempting to image it tomorrow :) Wish me luck!!!

 

 

Regards,

Skyhunter1


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#3 csphere.d

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Posted 13 October 2020 - 07:55 PM

I remember viewing Neptune for the first time around this time last year in my 102mm f/7 SV Access refractor.  I used a finder chart from Sky & Telescope and I was able to star hop my way there in my light polluted sky.  It was indeed quite a treat!  Much as you described, I remember Neptune as a very faint pale blue dot, a disk like smudge among the stars.  If I recall correctly, I was using my 5 XW which would be 143x.  Neptune was one of the first targets for my new SV Access.

 

Thanks for your report and the topic!  I think I might hunt for it again tonight while I wait for Mars to rise to viewing altitude! 

 

Scott 



#4 ProfConrad87

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Posted 13 October 2020 - 09:11 PM

       Yesterday evening I was planning my observing session for that night, focusing on some double stars that I have been working through in the Astronomical League’s Double Star program. A couple of the doubles I had picked were in Aquarius. Opening up my beloved Sky and Telescope’s Pocket Sky Atlas, I was drawn to some of my previous notes on the page that showed Neptune’s position in previous years since 2014. Each of these dates, I remember what telescope I was using and where I was, fond memories of hunting each night for this distant, icy planet. I have tried to visit Neptune at least once a year, but in ‘17 and ‘18 I moved from rural Southeast Arkansas to Northeast Florida from work and shortly after moving here I picked up a couple more hobbies, saltwater fishing and scuba diving. My eyepiece time definitely took a hit those two years while I got used to my new life here and developed in to a scuba nut One of the wonderful things about the hobby of astronomy is that when other things in life get in the way, the stars will always be there waiting for your return.

 

      Now, I’m back in the saddle and lately have been enjoying my first refractor, a Skywatcher 100ED. With a little work last night using the 100ED, I found Neptune at 128X clearly non-stellar greyish-white with a hint of blue. The planet was quite tiny, about the size of a period in a sentence! It will be more difficult, but also more rewarding, but my next visit to Neptune will be with my 12” Dob to attempt to observe its’ moon Triton. 
 

Have you observed Neptune? I would enjoy hearing about your experiences with our outermost planet (poor Pluto). 
 

Clear skies,

Thanks so much for sharing your notes. I was out tonight looking at the Mars opposition when I decided to try to look for Neptune. I was in the general area but couldn't find it. However, I'm going to use your chart tomorrow night to see if I can find it, now that I know where to look!



#5 Orion92

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Posted 13 October 2020 - 11:14 PM

I've seen Neptune thru a 8" cassegrain. It was a small but well defined blue green sphere. Uranus and Netpune looked essentially the same to me except that Uranus was a larger blue green Sphere. I felt privileged to observe it and easily see the color. 

 

I will be attempting to image it tomorrow smile.gif Wish me luck!!!

 

 

Regards,

Skyhunter1

Good luck and share your photos here!



#6 RNSpeed

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Posted 14 October 2020 - 12:00 AM

Tonight after finished capturing Mars with my Celestron C8 SCT, removed the ASI224MC camera and installed the diagonal and a 9mm Baader Morpheus eyepiece. Quick look at Mars then moved to Uranus, Wow I liked how it looked. Small but Blue-Green sphere, beautiful sighting. Then used the GoTo on the Sirius EQ-G mount to move to Neptune, tiny pale blue color sphere barely distinguishable.

Uranus was the kind tonight.


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#7 KBHornblower

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Posted 14 October 2020 - 12:13 AM

I star-hopped to Neptune with my 6" reflector on a Dob mount tonight, despite the severe light pollution over greater Washington and the sparse part of the sky in eastern Aquarius.  I got close with the Telrad and then swept up a distinctive asterism of 4th and 5th magnitude stars with the 9x50 finder.  From there it was straightforward.  Transparency was excellent, and I could see 4th magnitude stars with the naked eye and Neptune in the finder.  Seeing was rather poor at the time and I could not tell with certainty that Neptune was non-stellar.


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#8 Allan Wade

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Posted 14 October 2020 - 12:42 AM

I was looking at Neptune last night in the 32”. At 516x it’s quite a large disc, with a beautiful blue colour. Later on looking at Uranus it certainly appears much greener in the 32” to my eyes.

 

I had friends over who have never looked through a telescope before. I explained to them that Neptune was the only planet that needs a telescope to see, so they were in a select group now who have seen it. Triton was also very easy for them to see, so I said that put them into an even smaller group of people who have seen Neptune’s moon.


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#9 Orion92

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Posted 14 October 2020 - 08:03 AM

Tonight after finished capturing Mars with my Celestron C8 SCT, removed the ASI224MC camera and installed the diagonal and a 9mm Baader Morpheus eyepiece. Quick look at Mars then moved to Uranus, Wow I liked how it looked. Small but Blue-Green sphere, beautiful sighting. Then used the GoTo on the Sirius EQ-G mount to move to Neptune, tiny pale blue color sphere barely distinguishable.

Uranus was the kind tonight.

Great find! I have yet to observe Uranus this Fall, I think you have inspired me to take a look soon..

 

I star-hopped to Neptune with my 6" reflector on a Dob mount tonight, despite the severe light pollution over greater Washington and the sparse part of the sky in eastern Aquarius.  I got close with the Telrad and then swept up a distinctive asterism of 4th and 5th magnitude stars with the 9x50 finder.  From there it was straightforward.  Transparency was excellent, and I could see 4th magnitude stars with the naked eye and Neptune in the finder.  Seeing was rather poor at the time and I could not tell with certainty that Neptune was non-stellar.

Nice job, Neptune can be a little tricky for sure especially with Aquarius being a rather dim constellation. I am lucky to be South enough to be able to see the bright star Fomalhaut and I use this star for beginning my hop to Neptune. 

 

I was looking at Neptune last night in the 32”. At 516x it’s quite a large disc, with a beautiful blue colour. Later on looking at Uranus it certainly appears much greener in the 32” to my eyes.

 

I had friends over who have never looked through a telescope before. I explained to them that Neptune was the only planet that needs a telescope to see, so they were in a select group now who have seen it. Triton was also very easy for them to see, so I said that put them into an even smaller group of people who have seen Neptune’s moon.

Allan, no doubt Neptune was beautiful in your 32! With my smaller instruments, I usually save Neptune for those friends who have looked through either mine or telescopes before. If you are not accustomed to what Neptune looks like, it can be fairly easy to think it is just a star to the untrained eye. 

 

I was also thinking of you and your post about Phobos and Deimos. You inspired me to take a run at these two moons in my 12" Obsession. Deimos was easily visible with averted vision at 317X at times with Mars and its' glare in full view. The easiest way I found to view Diemos was placing Mars at the lower edge of the field stop and letting it drift out of view, along with the glare, and Deimos would be visible even with direct vision then. Phobos wasn't too cooperative last night for me. I waited until about 11:30 PM which was when Stellarium showed that Phobos would be about 10 arc seconds away from Mars. I tried at various magnifications from 225X to 435X and I think if Phobos was in a more favorable position earlier in the night I may have seen it since the seeing as the night went on continued to fall off. There were times around 10:00 PM that Mars was tack sharp at 435X and was just incredible. I will continue trying Phobos! If you have any tips, would be much appreciated.



#10 Orion92

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Posted 14 October 2020 - 08:08 AM

Attached is a nice finder chart from Sky and Telescope that includes a bonus chart for Uranus.. I marked with a little red X where Neptune's approximate position is. You can see it is about halfway between the two mag 6 stars and an 8th mag star right at the tip of the arrow. 

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  • Nep and Uranus finder chart.JPG

Edited by Orion92, 14 October 2020 - 08:50 AM.

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#11 TiSaph

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Posted 14 October 2020 - 09:03 AM

I found Neptune for the first time last night, in my 8".  I had friends over to do a tour of the planets.  (FIVE in one evening!  Very lucky!).  We are in Bortle Red directly under a white LED streetlight, so it's a bit of a challenging star hop, but it was a nice way to spend twenty minutes before Mars rose enough.

 

At moderate magnification (85X) it looked like a medium star.  Unfortunately I did not perceive any color.  I didn't push the mag any higher because my friends were not able to track objects by hand.  I'll have to return another night.

 

I did pull up Uranus at the end of the night.  It was a nice sized gray disk - it always blows me away to be looking at it directly and have it look like a planet.  I never get any color on Uranus at all either, and neither did my friends.

 

Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars were nice, though it wasn't as sharp as I had last week.  Cassini gap was visible but not steady and razor sharp like I like to have.  Mars's albedo features were visible but hard to pin down.

 

If we had a good horizon and started earlier we could have had Mercury as well.  It's crazy to see so many planets in one night.  My five year old daughter drug me out to the lawn this morning to see a razor sharp crescent moon and Venus in the lavender sky.



#12 E_Look

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Posted 18 October 2020 - 05:45 PM

I first observed Neptune years back with my 8" Newtonian reflector.

It's a treat to see!

First, its distinctive color is not found anywhere else in the night sky.  And the extra fun of observing Neptune is looking for Triton.  It's doable even from the light polluted fairly unsteady skies of New York.  I was going to go for it last night (Jupiter-Saturn-Mars-Neptune), but it was my first observation session in over a couple of years, so I called it quits after the brightness (!!) of Mars tired me out.



#13 E_Look

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Posted 09 November 2020 - 01:27 AM

I have been able to catch Neptune the last few nights.  There has been a seeming clarity in the skies around sunset, which were all beautiful, incidentally.

 

But the seeing, while much better tonight, was pretty bad in general, and my skies appear to be brighter than they were just a couple of years ago.  I couldn't see Triton for nothin' these last few nights.

I fear I may need darker skies, even if the turbulence calms down.  I hope it's just the recent seeing and transparency, that some real clarity, even with so so seeing can allow Triton to pop out one of these nights soon.

 

But Neptune is still there and still enticingly and mysteriously blue.



#14 E_Look

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Posted 10 November 2020 - 12:21 AM

I saw Neptune again tonight, I even went up to 575x with it.  I love just to see its color... and look for Triton.

Again, I can't claim I saw it, because when it's there, with averted vision, it's kind of obvious.  Tonight all I can say is that at 575x, and to a much lesser degree at 460x, there was kind of a "disturbance" or "impression" from time to time, not too often, sort of about where charts predict where it would be, but it did not look like the wraithlike speck it should look like.  The seeing was bad, but not awful, though the transparency seemed to be awful.




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