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A fools errand.

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#1 GUS.K

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Posted 18 October 2020 - 07:15 AM

Last Thursday night had great seeing so I decided to try and bag a Quasar in the far southern constellation Indus. My lowest magnitude so far seen with the 18 inch has been around mid 16 and that's stood for a while. The attraction in seeing this quasar is the immense distance scale involved, 11.3 billion years ( I've seen a few quasars since 2017, this would be the most distant if successful). The only catch is that it has a visual magnitude of 17.4, hence the title. I have seen claims of reaching 17th magnitude with smaller scopes but knowing the difficulty in reaching mid 16 with the 18 inch, I was sceptical. So armed with a finder chart I made, I took a stab at finding the quasar, If I didn't succeed at least I'll know the limits of my scope. 

The quasar is located close to Epsilon Indi and a 10th magnitude galaxy (NGC 7205), so finding the field and orientating the chart to match the view was easy. I started with a 9mm eyepiece to familiarize myself with the field and to judge the seeing. I then moved to a 4.5mm eyepiece which gave me a magnification of 511x with a TV coma corrector  It didn't take long to best my previous magnitude record with the sighting of two 16.75 mag stars held constantly with averted vision and occasionally with direct vision. Recognising that the quasar marked the apex of an equilateral triangle, I concentrated my gaze using averted vision on this spot and sure enough after a few minutes I had my first sighting of the quasar, a distinct but very faint light point source which I could hold for periods of a few seconds. I viewed for another half hour or so and spotted the quasar another half dozen or so times. Occasionally I would see a flickering haze of light, which would then turn into a point source. I visited the sight again a couple of hours later just to confirm what I had seen and spotted it again a few times over a twenty minute period. I usually view from two sights in my local area, both are a bortle 3/4 transition, the southern portion being darker. Going to a Bortle 1 or 2 site would probably make it easier to reach lower magnitudes, but not sure what magnitude limit is possible through an 18 inch scope. Some might think that to go to all this effort to see a speck of barely visible light is a waste of time, but I enjoy it. To know that the light that I spotted on that evening had been travelling for 11.3 billion years ( for more than half that time our solar system didn't even exist) is very humbling.

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#2 Voyager 3

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Posted 18 October 2020 - 07:58 AM

I dream of bagging quasars but I'm restricted by LP and 8" . I can drive to a dark site but it is not possible now ... Looks like I have to wait till next march for 3C 273.
That's quite a hunt 😀.

Edited by Voyager 3, 18 October 2020 - 07:59 AM.

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#3 Keith Rivich

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Posted 18 October 2020 - 10:10 PM

Last Thursday night had great seeing so I decided to try and bag a Quasar in the far southern constellation Indus. My lowest magnitude so far seen with the 18 inch has been around mid 16 and that's stood for a while. The attraction in seeing this quasar is the immense distance scale involved, 11.3 billion years ( I've seen a few quasars since 2017, this would be the most distant if successful). The only catch is that it has a visual magnitude of 17.4, hence the title. I have seen claims of reaching 17th magnitude with smaller scopes but knowing the difficulty in reaching mid 16 with the 18 inch, I was sceptical. So armed with a finder chart I made, I took a stab at finding the quasar, If I didn't succeed at least I'll know the limits of my scope. 

The quasar is located close to Epsilon Indi and a 10th magnitude galaxy (NGC 7205), so finding the field and orientating the chart to match the view was easy. I started with a 9mm eyepiece to familiarize myself with the field and to judge the seeing. I then moved to a 4.5mm eyepiece which gave me a magnification of 511x with a TV coma corrector  It didn't take long to best my previous magnitude record with the sighting of two 16.75 mag stars held constantly with averted vision and occasionally with direct vision. Recognising that the quasar marked the apex of an equilateral triangle, I concentrated my gaze using averted vision on this spot and sure enough after a few minutes I had my first sighting of the quasar, a distinct but very faint light point source which I could hold for periods of a few seconds. I viewed for another half hour or so and spotted the quasar another half dozen or so times. Occasionally I would see a flickering haze of light, which would then turn into a point source. I visited the sight again a couple of hours later just to confirm what I had seen and spotted it again a few times over a twenty minute period. I usually view from two sights in my local area, both are a bortle 3/4 transition, the southern portion being darker. Going to a Bortle 1 or 2 site would probably make it easier to reach lower magnitudes, but not sure what magnitude limit is possible through an 18 inch scope. Some might think that to go to all this effort to see a speck of barely visible light is a waste of time, but I enjoy it. To know that the light that I spotted on that evening had been travelling for 11.3 billion years ( for more than half that time our solar system didn't even exist) is very humbling.

Great post...

 

I would enjoy observing with you!


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#4 Keith Rivich

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Posted 18 October 2020 - 10:12 PM

I dream of bagging quasars but I'm restricted by LP and 8" . I can drive to a dark site but it is not possible now ... Looks like I have to wait till next march for 3C 273.
That's quite a hunt .

Take Ivan's post to heart...push your limits. Don't settle on 3c273 as your limit. Hunt down faint stars to see just how deep you can get!

 

Good hunting...


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#5 Voyager 3

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Posted 19 October 2020 - 09:36 AM

Take Ivan's post to heart...push your limits. Don't settle on 3c273 as your limit. Hunt down faint stars to see just how deep you can get!

 

Good hunting...

Thanks a lot , now I could see stars upto mag 12-13 with my 8" . So with these , what would you recommend which is at the sky now and reasonable for these conditions ? 


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#6 GUS.K

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Posted 19 October 2020 - 04:03 PM

I dream of bagging quasars but I'm restricted by LP and 8" . I can drive to a dark site but it is not possible now ... Looks like I have to wait till next march for 3C 273.
That's quite a hunt .

Thanks, I spotted CTA 102 in Pegasus with my GSO 8 inch F5 at 8billion light years in 2017. It is normally around magnitude 17 but occasionally brightens to mid 11th magnitude. Being a stellar point source 3c 273 should be visible through your 8 inch in light polluted skies, I've spotted it in 4 inch binoculars and a 6 inch reflector. Let us know when you spot it.

 

Great post...

 

I would enjoy observing with you!

Thanks Keith. I noticed your post regarding HE 0435-1223 a little while back. I will give it a go next opportunity, I scoped out the field last week but it was still too low to use any useful magnification. This one might be out of my league but I'll give it a shot.


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#7 quazy4quasars

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Posted 19 October 2020 - 05:02 PM

Last Thursday night had great seeing so I decided to try and bag a Quasar in the far southern constellation Indus. My lowest magnitude so far seen with the 18 inch has been around mid 16 and that's stood for a while. The attraction in seeing this quasar is the immense distance scale involved, 11.3 billion years ( I've seen a few quasars since 2017, this would be the most distant if successful). The only catch is that it has a visual magnitude of 17.4, hence the title. I have seen claims of reaching 17th magnitude with smaller scopes but knowing the difficulty in reaching mid 16 with the 18 inch, I was sceptical. So armed with a finder chart I made, I took a stab at finding the quasar, If I didn't succeed at least I'll know the limits of my scope. 

The quasar is located close to Epsilon Indi and a 10th magnitude galaxy (NGC 7205), so finding the field and orientating the chart to match the view was easy. I started with a 9mm eyepiece to familiarize myself with the field and to judge the seeing. I then moved to a 4.5mm eyepiece which gave me a magnification of 511x with a TV coma corrector  It didn't take long to best my previous magnitude record with the sighting of two 16.75 mag stars held constantly with averted vision and occasionally with direct vision. Recognising that the quasar marked the apex of an equilateral triangle, I concentrated my gaze using averted vision on this spot and sure enough after a few minutes I had my first sighting of the quasar, a distinct but very faint light point source which I could hold for periods of a few seconds. I viewed for another half hour or so and spotted the quasar another half dozen or so times. Occasionally I would see a flickering haze of light, which would then turn into a point source. I visited the sight again a couple of hours later just to confirm what I had seen and spotted it again a few times over a twenty minute period. I usually view from two sights in my local area, both are a bortle 3/4 transition, the southern portion being darker. Going to a Bortle 1 or 2 site would probably make it easier to reach lower magnitudes, but not sure what magnitude limit is possible through an 18 inch scope. Some might think that to go to all this effort to see a speck of barely visible light is a waste of time, but I enjoy it. To know that the light that I spotted on that evening had been travelling for 11.3 billion years ( for more than half that time our solar system didn't even exist) is very humbling.

Nice work, Gus!  That is a success worthy of a laurel or even two laurels!  It sounds like you had phenomenal clarity and seeing helping you on this foolish errand!    I went back to visit S5 0014+813; z=3.35; -last night with 25". it was easy for me at V~16.5, being directly visible,  but I had no star chart that showed it and had to rummage my memory of my first visit, a year ago, for the final crucial Starhopping step.  Once I remembered that, the Blazar clicked right in and my buddy saw it too, which made for a yet more pleasantly memorable second visit.  The lensed QSO in Andromeda was split as well -not only split but (relatively-) rather bright!  Good stuff!


Edited by quazy4quasars, 19 October 2020 - 05:59 PM.

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#8 GUS.K

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Posted 19 October 2020 - 09:36 PM

Thanks Q4Q, Z=3.35 and only 16.5 mag V! That must be around12 GLYs. Regarding my seeing, it must have been decent to allow 511x mag, I got up to 657x with a 3.5mm EP and still a decent view,( my usual higher mag limit is around the 350x mark)  but I wouldn't call it phenomenal. It was a tough spot, but the QSO was a definite ID. What is the visual magnitude of HE 0435-1223, I'm thinking of giving it a shot but going by other posts I've seen regarding this quasar, it might be in the high 17 mag ( maybe this is a fools errand). Have you seen this one?


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#9 havasman

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Posted 19 October 2020 - 10:39 PM

Wonderful report of a fine session. You characterize the process of these observations that re-establish the threshold for the observer/site/gear very well. Spending half an hour concentrating on a few moments of increasing certainty that a point has appeared is how it happens and you relate the experience as well as it can be put. Congratulations on setting your new record and here's hoping you are able to best it again some better night!


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#10 quazy4quasars

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Posted 19 October 2020 - 11:42 PM

Thanks Q4Q, Z=3.35 and only 16.5 mag V! That must be around12 GLYs. Regarding my seeing, it must have been decent to allow 511x mag, I got up to 657x with a 3.5mm EP and still a decent view,( my usual higher mag limit is around the 350x mark)  but I wouldn't call it phenomenal. It was a tough spot, but the QSO was a definite ID. What is the visual magnitude of HE 0435-1223, I'm thinking of giving it a shot but going by other posts I've seen regarding this quasar, it might be in the high 17 mag ( maybe this is a fools errand). Have you seen this one?

HE 0435-1223  is given V=17.15  (Simbad)  with Z ~1.6.   Happy hunting! 


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#11 GUS.K

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 03:55 PM

Wonderful report of a fine session. You characterize the process of these observations that re-establish the threshold for the observer/site/gear very well. Spending half an hour concentrating on a few moments of increasing certainty that a point has appeared is how it happens and you relate the experience as well as it can be put. Congratulations on setting your new record and here's hoping you are able to best it again some better night!

Thanks Havasman, knowing the mag limit will allow me to try for objects I thought were out of my league.


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#12 GUS.K

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 03:57 PM

HE 0435-1223  is given V=17.15  (Simbad)  with Z ~1.6.   Happy hunting! 

Will give it a go


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#13 quazy4quasars

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 10:43 PM

Will give it a go

Hey Gus, You'll have to wait a few months to catch it before dawn- but this may be well worth waiting for:  

 

Recently discovered Lensed QSO  "The Diamond";   RA 11 34 40.58  DEC -21 03 23.2   at z~2.77

 

Looks like a very tough nut to resolve in 18" but the total mag is a bit brighter than 16.0 in the g band.   

 

http://cdsportal.u-s....05622222222222

 

-Q4Q


Edited by quazy4quasars, 22 October 2020 - 12:41 AM.

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#14 Arcticpaddler

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Posted 22 October 2020 - 02:06 PM

Nice catch! From the calculator I use, you should be able to reach mag 16.7 or so in Bortle 3 skies if you have good, clean optics and are an experienced observer.

 

The nice thing about quasars is that their light is highly concentrated, like stars, and with that 18 inch you should be able to nab quite a few.

 

That is a cool finder that you made, by the way.  How did you do it, and where did you find the stellar magnitudes?


Edited by Arcticpaddler, 22 October 2020 - 02:07 PM.

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#15 GUS.K

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 12:54 AM

Thanks Q4Q, that's in Crater so rides almost overhead, will definitely give it a go along with Q B1104-1805. I tried for Q B1104-1805 a couple of times back in March and April and had a dubious confirmed sighting, it was tough due to poor seeing on the two occasions I tried even though it's around 16 magnitude (variable).



#16 GUS.K

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 01:06 AM

Hi Gordon, I use Wikisky for the maps and magnitudes and Simbad Astronomy database to confirm the objects location, and Paint and Paint 3D(Windows) to invert the map colouring and to add lines and magnitudes to the finished image. I also use Windows Photo to adjust the image brightness, contrast, etc.  


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#17 Philler

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 07:45 PM

Years ago, I think I tried for BL Lacerae once or maybe twice...no luck. I think I will try for it at a gray or black site next month.  I still have my AAVSO charts of BL Lac.  The only ones I remember ever seeing are 3C273 in Vir, Markarian 421 in UMa, and OJ-287 in Cnc. I'm not sure which of these are now considered quasars and which are blazars.

 

Well done Gus!


Edited by Philler, 23 October 2020 - 08:05 PM.

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