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Galaxy Filters for the Backyard

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#1 brentknight

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 10:48 AM

I observe from my driveway right in front of a fence that blocks direct light from my backdoor neighbors downlights.  These lights are old-school (not LEDs) but they end up reflecting up into the trees and the southern horizon.  There's not much else I can do about this for picking out constellations and star-hopping guideposts, but I have started using my Baader UHC-S on the galaxies in and around Virgo/Coma.  I don't see a tremendous improvement in details, but I see a significant improvement in the sky background and contrast differences between the objects and the sky.  I've gotten to the point that I just leave the filter in the Paracorr all the time now.

 

My question for you people who have more experience with these filters is, are there better filters than the Baader UHC-S for this?  I realize the Gas Filter is the best option, and I hope to utilize that more this year.  But most of my observing is from right here in my driveway...


Edited by brentknight, 06 April 2021 - 11:11 AM.


#2 jimandlaura26

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 11:16 AM

In my experience the Baader neodymium based filters are a good choice. They are high quality, don’t excessively dim the DSO, or degrade the image and minimize general color shift. I own and use your filter, but my choice for permanent installation on my refractors is their Moon & Skyglow filter to cut down man-made and lunar light pollution. I have other broad and narrow band filters, but they are not effective for galaxies.


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#3 brentknight

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 11:37 AM

What differences do you see between the UHC-S and the Moon/Skyglow filters? The one thing I don't like so much is my filter seems to mess with the brighter star colors a bit.

#4 Supernova74

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 11:40 AM

The baader moon and sky glow filter!? acts in no way shape of form as an effective light pollution filter its to narrow.i also use this filter and has no effect in reducing moon image intensity!?also on reducing artificial light pollution if it does we are looking at the absolute bare minimum that is hardly makes any difference if it was screwed to the end of the eyepiece barrel or not,confusing yes it is even as it’s marked on the tin so to speak in being a light pollution filter,when the filter does come into its own is a contrast filter for the planets and even then it’s only truly effective at the ideal exit pupil to be noticeable.

UHC filters on the other hand will not improve galaxies either and your best remedy there would be darker sky conditions which thay demand regardless the aperture of your scope.


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#5 Miranda2525

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 11:49 AM

I observe from my driveway right in front of a fence that blocks direct light from my backdoor neighbors downlights.  These lights are old-school (not LEDs) but they end up reflecting up into the trees and the southern horizon.  There's not much else I can do about this for picking out constellations and star-hopping guideposts, but I have started using my Baader UHC-S on the galaxies in and around Virgo/Coma.  I don't see a tremendous improvement in details, but I see a significant improvement in the sky background and contrast differences between the objects and the sky.  I've gotten to the point that I just leave the filter in the Paracorr all the time now.

 

My question for you people who have more experience with these filters is, are there better filters than the Baader UHC-S for this?  I realize the Gas Filter is the best option, and I hope to utilize that more this year.  But most of my observing is from right here in my driveway...

Nothing beats getting away from city lights. Galaxies suffer the most from city lights. No filter is going to help you. You need to drive away. I gave up on galaxies from the city years ago.


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#6 rkelley8493

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 11:50 AM

I think the Lumicon Deep Sky filter is in the same class [functionality wise] as the Baader UHC-S. Not sure what effect it has on star colors. I know the Baader gave stars a green-magenta tint that wasn't aesthetically pleasing.

 

Here's another topic you may find useful regarding filters for observing galaxies:

 

https://www.cloudyni...k-for-galaxies/


Edited by rkelley8493, 06 April 2021 - 11:52 AM.

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#7 SeattleScott

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 11:59 AM

What differences do you see between the UHC-S and the Moon/Skyglow filters? The one thing I don't like so much is my filter seems to mess with the brighter star colors a bit.

This is a natural byproduct of cutting out a segment of the spectrum. If a light pollution filter doesn’t tweak the color of brighter stars, then it isn’t doing anything. You just have to decide if the color shift is worth the slightly enhanced detail. Sort of like using a MV filter on an achro. The image gets sharper but everything is yellow. You just have to decide whether or not that is a value add.

Scott
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#8 Raul Leon

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 12:28 PM

Hi, I use the GCE filter from Omega optical at my dark site, and it has given me a bit more contrast on the background, making a galaxy more visible. Just last night I used it on Coddington's nebula ( which is Ic 2574 a galaxy), that I have tried for in the past and could never quite see. Well last night with the GCE filter in place,  it was right there. Now let me just say that this filter is by no means a miracle worker, but it did help me to see this elusive galaxy.  On the downside it does give stars a peculiar pinkish hue, but if it helps me see a galaxy better I'm going to be ok with pinkish stars.


Edited by Raul Leon, 06 April 2021 - 12:30 PM.

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#9 brentknight

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 12:41 PM

The baader moon and sky glow filter!? acts in no way shape of form as an effective light pollution filter its to narrow.i also use this filter and has no effect in reducing moon image intensity!?also on reducing artificial light pollution if it does we are looking at the absolute bare minimum that is hardly makes any difference if it was screwed to the end of the eyepiece barrel or not,confusing yes it is even as it’s marked on the tin so to speak in being a light pollution filter,when the filter does come into its own is a contrast filter for the planets and even then it’s only truly effective at the ideal exit pupil to be noticeable.

UHC filters on the other hand will not improve galaxies either and your best remedy there would be darker sky conditions which thay demand regardless the aperture of your scope.

The Baader UHC-S is actually closer to the old Deep-Sky type of filter.  It's relatively mild as I can usually see just as many stars with or without it (especially where the sky is bright).

 

What I have noticed though is that it darkens the sky background just that much that it makes many galaxies stand out just a bit better.  I would agree with you that there's not much you can do for most spiral galaxies (although I have seen improvement on M33), but elliptical and edge on ones normally don't show much detail anyway so just picking them out is an achievement.

 

I have no problem observing galaxies from my driveway though.  I'm limited to about 12m with my 14", but that still leaves thousands of them that I can see...


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#10 brentknight

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 12:45 PM

Nothing beats getting away from city lights. Galaxies suffer the most from city lights. No filter is going to help you. You need to drive away. I gave up on galaxies from the city years ago.

I observe whenever I get the chance, and that chance happens mostly in my driveway.  I'm at Bortle 5 on the better nights, so I still enjoy a bit of galaxy hunting.


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#11 brentknight

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 12:52 PM

Hi, I use the GCE filter from Omega optical at my dark site, and it has given me a bit more contrast on the background, making a galaxy more visible. Just last night I used it on Coddington's nebula ( which is Ic 2574 a galaxy), that I have tried for in the past and could never quite see. Well last night with the GCE filter in place,  it was right there. Now let me just say that this filter is by no means a miracle worker, but it did help me to see this elusive galaxy.  On the downside it does give stars a peculiar pinkish hue, but if it helps me see a galaxy better I'm going to be ok with pinkish stars.

I agree with you on that.  On the brighter stars I see a bit of red/pink hues, but I'm not using this filter for viewing double stars, so it's not a big deal.

 

I was most interested in hearing how the Moon/Skyglow worked in this situation.  It sounds like that filter is seriously misnamed and is really just a planetary filter...

 

I would assume it's not recommended to stack the UHC-S with say a true UHC or O-III though.  For straight up emission nebula just one would be best...



#12 Supernova74

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 12:53 PM

I think the Lumicon Deep Sky filter is in the same class [functionality wise] as the Baader UHC-S. Not sure what effect it has on star colors. I know the Baader gave stars a green-magenta tint that wasn't aesthetically pleasing.

 

Here's another topic you may find useful regarding filters for observing galaxies:

 

https://www.cloudyni...k-for-galaxies/

Lol the mistake i made when a reputable well known dealer here in the uk recommend an CLS filter for star clusters and galaxies wish i didn’t take there advice as the filter proved to be about of much use as a chocolate kettle the worse ever filter I used for visual if you want to see your natural stars turn into all the colours of the spectrum puchase one of thease 

(not) that also goes to galaxies also if anything made the views worse,so used it once and sold it on.as my knowledge has grown over the last couple of years I’ve found out thay only any good on imaging,even then thay don,t seem to be mentioned that much since the duration I’ve been on CN.

baader are ok thay are really not bad however I feel thay just cannot compete against the likes of 

Lumicon,Astronomic,and some televe equivalents.


Edited by Supernova74, 06 April 2021 - 12:55 PM.


#13 Starman1

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 06:30 PM

Here is an actual scan of the GCE and UHC-S filters compared.

Notice the GCE has a narrower cutout in the spectrum and more red and violet transmission.

GCE=violet line

UHC-S = brown line.

If the purpose of the filter is to remove unwanted LP wavelengths without dimming the object, both are a dismal failure.

Nonetheless, the gentler GCE even works in a dark sky for a very tiny bit of contrast enhancement.

But the UHC-S will provide higher contrast.  Both filters sacrifice the brightness of galaxies, though, which are pretty much full-spectrum objects.

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#14 sevenofnine

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 08:50 PM

Besides the gas filter, I've gotten my best DSO views when the object is near zenith and after midnight. Cheap too! waytogo.gif


Edited by sevenofnine, 06 April 2021 - 08:51 PM.

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#15 PJBilotta

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 10:01 PM

Yeah, this is a tough one. The gas filter and band pass stats are nice and all, but the fact remains that many of us are stuck with our driveway or backyard most nights - particularly when one wants to grab-and-go for an hour or two before having to work the next day.

 

I am in a brutal red zone with Bortle 6-7 skies most nights. Yet, I've been able to capture most of the mag 10.5 and brighter Messiers and NCGs. Some filters I have found work rather well in an urban/suburban environment:

 

1. The Elevation Filter - Higher is better, and the closer to zenith, the more you'll see. Aim high - ideally above 45 degrees for best results. M51 is invisible from my skies, but when it is straight overhead, it's obvious.

 

2. The Transparency Filter - A seemingly clear night clear night isn't necessarily a clear night - particularly for galaxies. Real transparency is vital, as slight haze, dust, or humidity all reflect urban light and can drown out faint fuzzies on otherwise clear nights. Couldn't see a darn thing last night, even though it seemed to be clear as a bell!

 

3. The Take-a-nap-and-go-out-later Filter - I can always see more galaxies viewing from 1-4 am, after more city lights are turned off after midnight. One night last week from 10-11:30pm, it was hopeless. Got up later and from 3-5 am, and bagged more than 30 spring Messier and NCG galaxies in a single session. Take a nap, set your alarm, and go out later.

 

4. The Magnification Filter - Find it (or where you know it is), and then crank up the power to 150x or 200x. It might peek out a bit due to the darker sky background and smaller exit pupil.

 

5. The Old Fashioned Skinny Eyepiece Filter - Sometimes, a narrower FOV eyepiece is better once you find the galaxy. A 45-55-degree field focuses your eye and perception a bit more when you are trying to tease a smudge out of urban gray.

 

4. The "Gentle" Filter - Yes, some filters do help a TINY bit, despite the naysayers. Moon & Skyglows (particularly the Baader) and more gentle broadbands like the Lumicon Deep Sky don't have much effect and they do darken the galaxy as well. However sometimes, as you have experienced, they darken the background enough that your eye can sense the object a bit more. If it works for you, do it.

 

Don't expect what you can see from dark skies, but keep at it. You'll find that over time, you can tease out most of the mid-to-bright ones visible with diligence and practice. It's all the more rewarding when you actually see them, despite the urban fog.


Edited by PJBilotta, 06 April 2021 - 10:04 PM.

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#16 LDW47

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 10:23 PM

I observe from my driveway right in front of a fence that blocks direct light from my backdoor neighbors downlights.  These lights are old-school (not LEDs) but they end up reflecting up into the trees and the southern horizon.  There's not much else I can do about this for picking out constellations and star-hopping guideposts, but I have started using my Baader UHC-S on the galaxies in and around Virgo/Coma.  I don't see a tremendous improvement in details, but I see a significant improvement in the sky background and contrast differences between the objects and the sky.  I've gotten to the point that I just leave the filter in the Paracorr all the time now.

 

My question for you people who have more experience with these filters is, are there better filters than the Baader UHC-S for this?  I realize the Gas Filter is the best option, and I hope to utilize that more this year.  But most of my observing is from right here in my driveway...

Last nite I had a look at M81-82 from my back yard which is Bortle 5, last nite it was probably Bortle 6 although skies were supposed to be average but they sure weren’t the best like some nites. They was getting up pretty close to zenith and I picked them up quite easily with my 80mm, f11.4 refractor with a 2” 40mm ep, attached to it was a Burgess Optical CX-4 Contrast Booster filter which I may have been using for the first time and believe me it did boost the contrast noticeably ! It is an excellent asset for about $50 direct from Burgess Optical. Now that the weather is getting warmer and more settled I will put it through its paces under my backyard, here in the city suburbs skize ! I would definitely check them out or bookmark them for future considerations at least ! Good Luck !  PS: The Beehive looked great as well !


Edited by LDW47, 06 April 2021 - 10:25 PM.

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#17 SeattleScott

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 10:45 PM

Last nite I had a look at M81-82 from my back yard which is Bortle 5, last nite it was probably Bortle 6 although skies were supposed to be average but they sure weren’t the best like some nites. They was getting up pretty close to zenith and I picked them up quite easily with my 80mm, f11.4 refractor with a 2” 40mm ep, attached to it was a Burgess Optical CX-4 Contrast Booster filter which I may have been using for the first time and believe me it did boost the contrast noticeably ! It is an excellent asset for about $50 direct from Burgess Optical. Now that the weather is getting warmer and more settled I will put it through its paces under my backyard, here in the city suburbs skize ! I would definitely check them out or bookmark them for future considerations at least ! Good Luck ! PS: The Beehive looked great as well !

What I like to do when experimenting with a filter that makes a subtle difference like a sky glow filter is hold it in front of the eyepiece rather than screwing it on the back. Then I can quickly and easily compare the view with and without.

I will have to look up that Burgess filter.

Scott
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#18 russell23

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 06:20 AM

I’ve experimented with the Baader 495 Longpass filter and the Astronomik B-band deep sky imaging filter as visual filters for galaxies.  IIRC, the 495 LP does a decent job of enhancing contrast.  It removes the light pollution bands at 405nm and 436nm so there is some benefit there.  But a lot of galaxies are strong emitters in the B-band so the Astronomik filter might help with those.  I‘ll check them out the next clear night.  I think possibly tonight or tomorrow.


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#19 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 06:39 AM

Yeah, this is a tough one. The gas filter and band pass stats are nice and all, but the fact remains that many of us are stuck with our driveway or backyard most nights - particularly when one wants to grab-and-go for an hour or two before having to work the next day.

 

I am in a brutal red zone with Bortle 6-7 skies most nights. Yet, I've been able to capture most of the mag 10.5 and brighter Messiers and NCGs. Some filters I have found work rather well in an urban/suburban environment:

 

1. The Elevation Filter - Higher is better, and the closer to zenith, the more you'll see. Aim high - ideally above 45 degrees for best results. M51 is invisible from my skies, but when it is straight overhead, it's obvious.

 

2. The Transparency Filter - A seemingly clear night clear night isn't necessarily a clear night - particularly for galaxies. Real transparency is vital, as slight haze, dust, or humidity all reflect urban light and can drown out faint fuzzies on otherwise clear nights. Couldn't see a darn thing last night, even though it seemed to be clear as a bell!

 

3. The Take-a-nap-and-go-out-later Filter - I can always see more galaxies viewing from 1-4 am, after more city lights are turned off after midnight. One night last week from 10-11:30pm, it was hopeless. Got up later and from 3-5 am, and bagged more than 30 spring Messier and NCG galaxies in a single session. Take a nap, set your alarm, and go out later.

 

4. The Magnification Filter - Find it (or where you know it is), and then crank up the power to 150x or 200x. It might peek out a bit due to the darker sky background and smaller exit pupil.

 

5. The Old Fashioned Skinny Eyepiece Filter - Sometimes, a narrower FOV eyepiece is better once you find the galaxy. A 45-55-degree field focuses your eye and perception a bit more when you are trying to tease a smudge out of urban gray.

 

4. The "Gentle" Filter - Yes, some filters do help a TINY bit, despite the naysayers. Moon & Skyglows (particularly the Baader) and more gentle broadbands like the Lumicon Deep Sky don't have much effect and they do darken the galaxy as well. However sometimes, as you have experienced, they darken the background enough that your eye can sense the object a bit more. If it works for you, do it.

 

Don't expect what you can see from dark skies, but keep at it. You'll find that over time, you can tease out most of the mid-to-bright ones visible with diligence and practice. It's all the more rewarding when you actually see them, despite the urban fog.

 

:waytogo:

 

To this, I would add:

 

- The baffling and dark interior filter.  If the sky is bright, then making sure the OTA controls the stray light is worth doing.

 

This can include a "dew shield" shield like a refractor, attention to interior surfaces with paint and/or flocking. Truss poles can be covered to reduce reflection.  The shroud of a truss Dob should be inspected to be sure it's not somewhat transparent.

 

A baffle placed between the secondary and the focuser, (and near the focuser) can eliminate stray light that is not reflected off both mirrors.

 

Look through the focuser and see if you can see any stray light.

 

And then there's minimizing the light that gets to your eye from outside the telescope.. an observing hood of some sort..

 

Jon


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#20 brentknight

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 10:13 AM

Here is an actual scan of the GCE and UHC-S filters compared.

Notice the GCE has a narrower cutout in the spectrum and more red and violet transmission.

GCE=violet line

UHC-S = brown line.

If the purpose of the filter is to remove unwanted LP wavelengths without dimming the object, both are a dismal failure.

Nonetheless, the gentler GCE even works in a dark sky for a very tiny bit of contrast enhancement.

But the UHC-S will provide higher contrast.  Both filters sacrifice the brightness of galaxies, though, which are pretty much full-spectrum objects.

Don,

 

I sat on my back porch last evening staring at the **** lights from my neighbors.  They are clearly in the yellow/orange range (560 - 620).  I realize that any filter will dim the galaxies, but it does appear that I'm getting improvement on sky dimming and it does help with overall contrast (if not increased detail).  The UHC-S may work better for me on these lights than the GCE - not sure it's worth the effort though to get the GCE to compare them though.

 

Especially on the featureless galaxies like ellipticals, I'm willing to give up a little brightness if it means the difference between seeing them or not seeing them.


Edited by brentknight, 07 April 2021 - 10:33 AM.


#21 brentknight

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 10:29 AM

Yeah, this is a tough one. The gas filter and band pass stats are nice and all, but the fact remains that many of us are stuck with our driveway or backyard most nights - particularly when one wants to grab-and-go for an hour or two before having to work the next day.

 

I am in a brutal red zone with Bortle 6-7 skies most nights. Yet, I've been able to capture most of the mag 10.5 and brighter Messiers and NCGs. Some filters I have found work rather well in an urban/suburban environment:

 

::  SNIP  ::

 

5. The Old Fashioned Skinny Eyepiece Filter - Sometimes, a narrower FOV eyepiece is better once you find the galaxy. A 45-55-degree field focuses your eye and perception a bit more when you are trying to tease a smudge out of urban gray.

 

 

::  SNIP  ::

 

Don't expect what you can see from dark skies, but keep at it. You'll find that over time, you can tease out most of the mid-to-bright ones visible with diligence and practice. It's all the more rewarding when you actually see them, despite the urban fog.

Those are all excellent suggestions - thanks!  I never really considered The Skinny Filter before, but that sounds like a great idea.  The problem there is those narrow fields require you to constantly move the telescope to keep in-field.  That concentration on movement can often be a distraction that ruins your ability to concentrate though.

 

 

waytogo.gif

 

To this, I would add:

 

- The baffling and dark interior filter.  If the sky is bright, then making sure the OTA controls the stray light is worth doing.

 

This can include a "dew shield" shield like a refractor, attention to interior surfaces with paint and/or flocking. Truss poles can be covered to reduce reflection.  The shroud of a truss Dob should be inspected to be sure it's not somewhat transparent.

 

A baffle placed between the secondary and the focuser, (and near the focuser) can eliminate stray light that is not reflected off both mirrors.

 

Look through the focuser and see if you can see any stray light.

 

And then there's minimizing the light that gets to your eye from outside the telescope.. an observing hood of some sort..

 

Jon

I've done most of this Jon, but I'm not certain where internal flocking would give the best benefit.  My shroud is pretty dark, and I put up light shields to block any direct lights into my eye or the tube.  Where do you suggest additional darkening inside the tube?

 

I'm not quite sure how your secondary baffle works...



#22 brentknight

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 10:31 AM

What I like to do when experimenting with a filter that makes a subtle difference like a sky glow filter is hold it in front of the eyepiece rather than screwing it on the back. Then I can quickly and easily compare the view with and without.

I will have to look up that Burgess filter.

Scott

Scott,

 

I have tried doing this, but all I ever seem to see is my big eye staring right back at me...



#23 jimandlaura26

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 11:10 AM

What differences do you see between the UHC-S and the Moon/Skyglow filters? The one thing I don't like so much is my filter seems to mess with the brighter star colors a bit.

The Moon and Sky Glow does not impact colors for visual observing.


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#24 jimandlaura26

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 11:22 AM

The baader moon and sky glow filter!? acts in no way shape of form as an effective light pollution filter its to narrow.i also use this filter and has no effect in reducing moon image intensity!?also on reducing artificial light pollution if it does we are looking at the absolute bare minimum that is hardly makes any difference if it was screwed to the end of the eyepiece barrel or not,confusing yes it is even as it’s marked on the tin so to speak in being a light pollution filter,when the filter does come into its own is a contrast filter for the planets and even then it’s only truly effective at the ideal exit pupil to be noticeable.

UHC filters on the other hand will not improve galaxies either and your best remedy there would be darker sky conditions which thay demand regardless the aperture of your scope.

Agree that use of filters to pull out galaxies is a tough challenge. And that Moon and Sky Glow filter makes subtle adjusments. It is not however advertised to reduce “moon image intensity” but rather the light pollution caused by the moon. It is in fact a poor Moon filter, as opposed to neutral density or polarizing filters. As usual, many other factors are at play here, in particular those that affect sky transparency and contrast between DSO and sky; such as humidity and man-made light pollution source type. A tall order no matter what tool you are using to assist.


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#25 faackanders2

faackanders2

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 05:19 PM

I observe from my driveway right in front of a fence that blocks direct light from my backdoor neighbors downlights.  These lights are old-school (not LEDs) but they end up reflecting up into the trees and the southern horizon.  There's not much else I can do about this for picking out constellations and star-hopping guideposts, but I have started using my Baader UHC-S on the galaxies in and around Virgo/Coma.  I don't see a tremendous improvement in details, but I see a significant improvement in the sky background and contrast differences between the objects and the sky.  I've gotten to the point that I just leave the filter in the Paracorr all the time now.

 

My question for you people who have more experience with these filters is, are there better filters than the Baader UHC-S for this?  I realize the Gas Filter is the best option, and I hope to utilize that more this year.  But most of my observing is from right here in my driveway...

Unfortunately there are no Galaxy filters, except the DGM GCE (Galaxy Contrast enhancement) filter.  I do have that and on M31 from a dark sky site I could not tell a difference, but two other amature astronomers said the 2" DGM GCE made an improvement.

 

My preferred filter for Emmission Nebulaes and Planetary Nebulaes is Orion 2" Ultrablock (narrowband), and second best is Orion 2" OIII (line filter).

 

For multiple objects with one being a emmision nebulae or planetary nebulae, I sometimes like Orion Skyglow (wideband).  I also sometimes use one or two (both eyes) with 2.3x42mm Blue Planet Optics 28TFOV galilean binos.

 

I also have 2" H-Beta and 2" Comet filters which I rarely use.

 

I have two 3x 2" Astrocrumb/Denkmeier filter slides plus open open space which I keep perminently on my scope for 1.25"/2" mono eyepiece

and/or 2" OCS Binoviewing with Denk II binoviewing.

 

I do have many 1.25" planetary filters on a Orion filter slide which I often use on Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn.  I have many 1.25" colored filters which I rarely use.


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