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A hypothetical question regarding what would be visible under perfect skies and perfect vision from Bortle 1 skies

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#1 Rocklobster

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 11:56 PM

Walking home this evening and looking at Orion, got me thinking.

A lot of the major DSOs are pretty big. Take the Rosette Nebula for example, I know it's there but can't see it, even though it's bigger than a full moon.

So, I wonder, what DSOs would be visible assuming one is young enough to have perfect, optimal eyesight and the skies are as good as they get with regards to clarity and stillness (let's say Dome C, in Antarctica) and of course a moonless night.

Basically, assuming everything is optimal..what are we seeing up there with our eyes?

In a previous thread I started, I was assured the Rosette is visible to the naked eye through a telescope in very dark skies.
Ok, but it is visible without one with my ideal conditions and eyesight?

Other than the usual suspects (M31, M33, M42 etc..).

I know this is a silly question, just a bit of hypothetical fun.

Cheers

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#2 TOMDEY

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 12:40 AM

Very young eyes can be astonishingly perceptive. I introduced my son to telescopes around age five or six... I guess it was. We slapped together a fast six-inch Dobsonian Light Bucket that was for his personal use. We were out under the summer country stars (SQM around 21.5) brilliant Milky Way etc. He already knew the constellations pretty well and how to use the finder and aim and address the eyepiece, and the concept of magnification. So he asks, "What should I look at?" And the only consul I gave was, "Well, just look around the sky and aim at anything that looks kinda small and fuzzy... and aim at those, and I'll check to see what you've found." I didn't want to over-instruct, over-steer, over-dote. Let him explore and discover on his own. So he's doing his things with his scope, and I'm doing my things with my scope... and he calls me over and introduces me to the Lagoon Nebula, various open clusters in the same rich region, and then swings over more to the east high and says... "This little star looked fuzzy to me and look in here; it's a ball!" He had M13 right in center field. Thing is, he hadn't yet memorized any of those and was just doing as Messier would have done so long ago. This convinced me that we geriatrics used to have great eyesight --- now long forgotten. I can barely see M13 naked eye, knowing exactly where to look, and can't imagine just "discovering" it scanning around naked-eye for ~little fuzzy things~.  Tom


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#3 Quopaz

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 01:15 AM

I'm Bortle 2 sky and I've found a few things without knowing what they were. Just looking at an interesting patch of stars, then centering with the finderscope and taking a picture. Not looking through the telescope. First thing I "found" was Orion nebula, was a bit disappointed to find out it was so well known, but not surprised. Also Carina nebula, Tarantula nebula, what I think is the butterfly cluster, and a globular cluster way South that at first I thought might be a nebula.
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#4 Tony Flanders

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 06:02 AM

A lot of the major DSOs are pretty big. Take the Rosette Nebula for example, I know it's there but can't see it, even though it's bigger than a full moon.


Oh, you don't need very dark skies nor a big scope to see the Rosette; it's a relatively bright nebula. Quite obvious through my 80-mm refractor from my Bortle-4 backyard, even without a filter.

And there was also a thread about the Rosette's naked-eye visibility somewhere recently. Under Bortle-4 skies with 67-year-old eyes I can easily see the central cluster without optical aid, but not the nebulosity. But I'm sure the nebulosity would be obvious to a keen-eyed observer under dark skies.
 

So, I wonder, what DSOs would be visible assuming one is young enough to have perfect, optimal eyesight and the skies are as good as they get with regards to clarity and stillness (let's say Dome C, in Antarctica) and of course a moonless night.


There's a well-known list of naked-eye objects compiled by Brian Skiff; one copy is at this address.

M33, though well known, is not among the easier objects in the list, by the way. Counting just Messier objects alone, I'd say that M6, M7, M8, M13, M23, M24, M25, M31, M34, M35, M41, M44, M45, and M47 are all much easier to spot than M33. And there's another dozen or so that are probably more obvious than M33 if you're operating from reasonably southerly latitudes and/or have good acuity (so that you can separate faint fuzzies from nearby bright stars). Examples would be M4, M5, M16, M17, M22, and M42.

 

I'm quite sure that most people who report seeing M42 naked-eye are mistaken, by the way. What they're actually seeing is a blur composed of the five or six naked-eye stars that are all clustered inside the nebula. On the other hand, I'm also quite sure that some people can indeed see the nebulosity naked-eye.



#5 Starman1

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 11:26 AM

Walking home this evening and looking at Orion, got me thinking.

A lot of the major DSOs are pretty big. Take the Rosette Nebula for example, I know it's there but can't see it, even though it's bigger than a full moon.

So, I wonder, what DSOs would be visible assuming one is young enough to have perfect, optimal eyesight and the skies are as good as they get with regards to clarity and stillness (let's say Dome C, in Antarctica) and of course a moonless night.

Basically, assuming everything is optimal..what are we seeing up there with our eyes?

In a previous thread I started, I was assured the Rosette is visible to the naked eye through a telescope in very dark skies.
Ok, but it is visible without one with my ideal conditions and eyesight?

Other than the usual suspects (M31, M33, M42 etc..).

I know this is a silly question, just a bit of hypothetical fun.

Cheers

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I think around 44 Messier objects and hordes of NGC objects.

Add a filter to the naked eye and the sky changes dramatically, with things like Barnard's Loop in Orion, the Lambda Orionis Complex and even the Veil Nebula visible.


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#6 VariableBob

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 03:39 PM

When I lived in Vermont I was blessed with very dark skies and I observed a number of objects under those sky conditions even with my 0+ year old sky conditions.  Among them were the double cluster, M-44, and M-31.  How about M-33?  It was a very easy target in my binoculars and under ideal conditions I have observed what I think was some of the brighter portions.  Of course the milky way in Sagittarius has many excellent naked eye objects.  Oh to have my 18 year old eyes again.



#7 Nightfly

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 07:04 PM

I live under Bortle ~2 skies.  About 10 years ago I challenged myself to see as deep as I could on a early May morning using a limiting magnitude chart.  In a sparsely populated area of Bootes I confirmed magnitude 7.85.  I was about 40 then. My acuity was good then, spitting epsilon Lyrae naked eye.  Not so now at 53....

 

Routine objects off the front porch are M-33, M-92, M-3, M-5, and others.  Dark nebulae are ridiculous! The Prancing Horse even in deep twilight.....  Normal Milky Way boundaries are extended beyond with the pale glow of numerous very faint stars.

 

Any optical aid opens up much further.  Binoculars reveal the Milky Way tapestry with subtle details escaping astrophotographs. The visual sky in these conditions is addictive. 


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#8 MEE

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 09:16 PM

There are certain things in the sky that require very dark skies, and very few people have seen with the naked eye:

M81
M83
NGC 253
The light bridge running from Triangulum Australe to the Milky Way
Individual stars in M44
Helix Nebula
M27

But they HAVE been seen by the naked eye

What about things that are (potentially) at or just below the limit of naked eye vison? For example:

Neptune
M101
M51
M94
and perhaps more.

Depending on the source, the magnitudes for each of those galaxies are in the high 7s or low 8s. (Yes, I know that the light is spread out so they are not as “bright” as what the magnitude would indicate.)

I’ve been part of astronomy discussion groups since the early 90s, and I’ve not seen verified naked eye reports of any of the above.

But COULD any of them be visible with the naked eye?

The only way we’d know is if multiple very experienced observers were out on nights that were actually pristine in darkness and clarity (as is possible on Earth) and used all the techniques possible (averted vison, searching for a sufficient amount of time, etc) to search for these and other objects that might be at the limit of human vision
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#9 Redbetter

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 12:31 AM

Neptune might be possible under the right conditions (e.g. around opposition and when it is not near other stars) from some pristine sky.  I reached into the 8 mag range on Mauna Kea back when I was around 30, but I don't think I can go that deep naked eye anymore, even with myopia "flippers" that actually slightly reduce the 1x magnification of the eye.  I can pull in some 7.1 to 7.2 mag stars based on recent nights, checking what stars I could see in Leo and Ursa Major after the observation.  I doubt even pristine sky would allow me much past 7.5 now.

 

When trying to detect M81, part of the challenge is picking it up and not getting drawn to the 7.1 mag star to the east, roughly midway between M81 to the west and a 6 mag star further east.  

 

At opposition Neptune might get a brightness boost sufficient to make it visible to some.  Unfortunately, it is tucked in a triangle of 6 to 7 mag stars near opposition this year, close enough that I doubt I could see it even if it was near 7.0 mag.  Resolving such things at the limit of averted vision is more challenging to me.


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#10 Sheol

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 06:13 PM

                    Nah, Tony, that little blur is M.42 in Orion's Sword. Confirmed from the 2010 TSP. LOL. OK, those are exceptional dark skies, but if you look at the sword with ANY degree of magnification the Nebula is pretty darn large & totally swallows those stars. Completely.

 

                       Clear Skies,

                          Matt.



#11 Keith Rivich

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 08:20 PM

Years ago a bunch of did a "sketch the stars inside the bowl of the big dipper" at TSP. The night was nearly perfect. One of the girls in our group saw down to 8.2   I reached 7.8  We were all around 30 at the time. 


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#12 Rocklobster

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 11:39 PM

Very young eyes can be astonishingly perceptive. I introduced my son to telescopes around age five or six... I guess it was. We slapped together a fast six-inch Dobsonian Light Bucket that was for his personal use. We were out under the summer country stars (SQM around 21.5) brilliant Milky Way etc. He already knew the constellations pretty well and how to use the finder and aim and address the eyepiece, and the concept of magnification. So he asks, "What should I look at?" And the only consul I gave was, "Well, just look around the sky and aim at anything that looks kinda small and fuzzy... and aim at those, and I'll check to see what you've found." I didn't want to over-instruct, over-steer, over-dote. Let him explore and discover on his own. So he's doing his things with his scope, and I'm doing my things with my scope... and he calls me over and introduces me to the Lagoon Nebula, various open clusters in the same rich region, and then swings over more to the east high and says... "This little star looked fuzzy to me and look in here; it's a ball!" He had M13 right in center field. Thing is, he hadn't yet memorized any of those and was just doing as Messier would have done so long ago. This convinced me that we geriatrics used to have great eyesight --- now long forgotten. I can barely see M13 naked eye, knowing exactly where to look, and can't imagine just "discovering" it scanning around naked-eye for ~little fuzzy things~. Tom

Very interesting. I'm 45 with perfect eyesight and assumed I would be able to see what I used to be able to in my teens/twenties..wrong!

Too bad I only got my first telescope 2 years ago after finally moving out of Central London.

Cheers

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#13 Rocklobster

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 11:41 PM

I'm Bortle 2 sky and I've found a few things without knowing what they were. Just looking at an interesting patch of stars, then centering with the finderscope and taking a picture. Not looking through the telescope. First thing I "found" was Orion nebula, was a bit disappointed to find out it was so well known, but not surprised. Also Carina nebula, Tarantula nebula, what I think is the butterfly cluster, and a globular cluster way South that at first I thought might be a nebula.

Sadly, I can't relate much to your experience as I never observed the sky in the southern hemisphere properly. I had a brief glance from Sydney on the ONE night I was there for work.

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#14 Rocklobster

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 11:45 PM

Years ago a bunch of did a "sketch the stars inside the bowl of the big dipper" at TSP. The night was nearly perfect. One of the girls in our group saw down to 8.2 I reached 7.8 We were all around 30 at the time.

Wow. Now that is impressive. Do you recall seeing any DSOs with the naked eye? Other than M31?

Cheers

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#15 Rocklobster

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 11:49 PM

Neptune might be possible under the right conditions (e.g. around opposition and when it is not near other stars) from some pristine sky. I reached into the 8 mag range on Mauna Kea back when I was around 30, but I don't think I can go that deep naked eye anymore, even with myopia "flippers" that actually slightly reduce the 1x magnification of the eye. I can pull in some 7.1 to 7.2 mag stars based on recent nights, checking what stars I could see in Leo and Ursa Major after the observation. I doubt even pristine sky would allow me much past 7.5 now.

When trying to detect M81, part of the challenge is picking it up and not getting drawn to the 7.1 mag star to the east, roughly midway between M81 to the west and a 6 mag star further east.

At opposition Neptune might get a brightness boost sufficient to make it visible to some. Unfortunately, it is tucked in a triangle of 6 to 7 mag stars near opposition this year, close enough that I doubt I could see it even if it was near 7.0 mag. Resolving such things at the limit of averted vision is more challenging to me.

The skies from Mauna Kea must have been incredible. I can't even imagine trying to see Neptune with the naked eye, let alone actually doing so.

Honestly, the main reason I started this thread is because I stayed at a B2 location last autumn, and the skies were totally clear and the moon was below the horizon..yet, I could just BARELY make out M31 which was pretty much right above me..
I was initially disappointed, but then realized that I could be my age..I'm 45 and much as I like to think otherwise, my eyes are way past their prime I think.

Cheers

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#16 Rocklobster

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 11:54 PM

There are certain things in the sky that require very dark skies, and very few people have seen with the naked eye:

M81
M83
NGC 253
The light bridge running from Triangulum Australe to the Milky Way
Individual stars in M44
Helix Nebula
M27

But they HAVE been seen by the naked eye

What about things that are (potentially) at or just below the limit of naked eye vison? For example:

Neptune
M101
M51
M94
and perhaps more.

Depending on the source, the magnitudes for each of those galaxies are in the high 7s or low 8s. (Yes, I know that the light is spread out so they are not as “bright” as what the magnitude would indicate.)

I’ve been part of astronomy discussion groups since the early 90s, and I’ve not seen verified naked eye reports of any of the above.

But COULD any of them be visible with the naked eye?

The only way we’d know is if multiple very experienced observers were out on nights that were actually pristine in darkness and clarity (as is possible on Earth) and used all the techniques possible (averted vison, searching for a sufficient amount of time, etc) to search for these and other objects that might be at the limit of human vision

Wow..that's exactly the kind of info I was after. All those are beyond my eyes, even from dark sites I think as I'm in my mid forties. But the fact that some people CAN see them is incredible..

I often wonder how stunning the night sky would look if our eyes were as sensitive as a 120s DSLR exposure.

Imagine seeing the Rosette Nebula, Barnard's Loop, the Veil, the Heart and Soul etc...by eye easily..

Cheers

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#17 Redbetter

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 07:41 AM

Tonight I had some thin cloud move in just as I set up at the dark site, along with some truly awful seeing.  So instead of using the scope to look at disco ball stars and washed out galaxies, I did some naked eye observing between cirrus and through reduced transparency, along with some 2.3x Galilean binoc observing.  I have to revise my prior estimation of what my eyes might still be capable of, as I nabbed a 7.5 mag star in Coma, despite less than ideal conditions.  The sky did reach 21.7 MPSAS overhead, but the transparency was off throughout.

 

While looking at stars in the Coma Star Cluster (Melotte 111) I found something relevant to seeing Neptune this year:  I could not see a 6.7 mag star tucked equidistant between three somewhat brighter stars.  It is very difficult for me to distinguish dimmer stars near threshold when so close to brighter ones.  In some cases, such as when there are two of very similar near-threshold magnitude, I see something with blurring in a specific orientation--like an extended object.  Averted vision at threshold produces only an approximate position and when paired with other objects at threshold, it can be very difficult to discern the specific/relative positions and count.

 

The interesting part was when I used the 2.3x Galilean binocs to look for M51, M101, and M81.   Keep in mind that the binocs provide much better scale for these objects, in addition to allowing 1.8 mag dimmer objects to be seen vs. naked eye.  Unfortunately, they can't fix the lower surface brightness inherent to galaxies in general.

  • While I wasn't seeing M81 naked eye tonight (as I have in the past), it wasn't hard to see M81 with the 2.3x binocs, along with various 8 mag stars in the vicinity.   This one has both scale and central brightness.
  • M51 was seen in the binocs, but it is noticeably smaller and fainter, near marginal in the conditions I had despite its good surface brightness.  The 7.1 mag star just east of it provided the reference point for identifying the galaxy.    I don't see how anyone would be able to detect M51 naked eye, because that star is close enough and bright enough to interfere with a naked eye observation if one could go to 8.3+ mag or so for the galaxy.
  • M101 was detected, tough for the conditions, but identifiable as the faintest blur south of an 8 mag field star.  Low surface brightness is an issue, and for the sky I had it was subtle.

A number of objects on MEE's list will be problematic for most northern hemisphere observers.  NGC 253, M83, and the Helix are simply too far south for most to see decently.  Extended/contrast objects are much more difficult through extra atmospheres of extinction and sky glow--good southern hemisphere targets though.  Centaurus A is bright if one is far enough south.  

 

I regularly see individual stars in M44, I actually use the stars seen as part of the initial hop before going to the finder and narrowing the field, before going to the main scope to look for galaxies.  I don't think seeing stars in M44 is unusual.  It is drifting into the brighter/obscured portion of my darker sky site now with the moon coming on in the next few nights, so it might be 6+ months before I can observe it decently again.


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#18 timokarhula

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 08:16 AM

I made a limiting naked eye test in the bush of Western Australia back in February 2016.  The faintest star that I could discern in Columba was the V=7.79 mag star HD38567.  I could not really convince myself seeing the 7.85 mag HD39123 or the 7.90 mag HD39706.  So magnitude 7.8 was my naked eye limit.  Not too bad for 52 year old eyes then.  The sky darkness can reach SQM-L 22.1 during their spring (Sept-Nov) and once I saw 6 galaxies naked eye from there, the Milky Way, LMC, SMC, M31, M33 and NGC253.  Centaurus A is visible in the summer.

 

M44 is always at least granular to me as seen from my home in Sweden when the transparency is decent.

 

/Timo Karhula


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#19 BillP

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 03:28 PM

One thing is for sure, your first night in a Bortle 1 will be completely disorienting for you as unlikely you will easily find any familiar constellation as the number of stars is just overwhelming!



#20 Starman1

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 04:19 PM

One thing is for sure, your first night in a Bortle 1 will be completely disorienting for you as unlikely you will easily find any familiar constellation as the number of stars is just overwhelming!

Perhaps for someone who has only ever observed from bright skies, but not for anyone used to a 21.0 sky or darker.

I've been to pristine sites and never had any problem picking out the constellations, because what makes the fainter stars visible makes the bright ones brighter.

Would seeing 20 faint stars inside the bowl of the Big Dipper make it harder to identify the Big Dipper?  I think not.  You'd just remark, "Look at all the stars in the Big Dipper!"

People often make the comment you just made, but I have never understood it.  Moderate light pollution or no light pollution, the constellation shapes are the same.

I've been at a site where >500 stars were visible in Orion, but the figure of Orion wasn't any harder to see.


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#21 Starman1

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 04:25 PM

 

I regularly see individual stars in M44, I actually use the stars seen as part of the initial hop before going to the finder and narrowing the field, before going to the main scope to look for galaxies.  I don't think seeing stars in M44 is unusual.  It is drifting into the brighter/obscured portion of my darker sky site now with the moon coming on in the next few nights, so it might be 6+ months before I can observe it decently again.

Last night I was at a relatively high altitude site (5400', 1650m) and M44 looked like a telescopic cluster to the naked eye, with many stars across the face of the cluster, with the rest grainy.

The SQM-L indicated 21.5 in the vicinity, so that was far from pristine.

And to see that many stars says the limit was very low.  Perhaps exceptionally good seeing and ultra-dry air helped?

I can't say I've seen that before.



#22 MEE

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 05:43 PM

More naked eye Integrated Flux Nebulae: If I recall correctly, the “light bridge” that runs from Triangulum Australe to the Milky Way in the Southern Hemisphere (seen by Timo Karhula and others) was found to be an IFN.

 

Mel Bartels has seen one IFN with the naked eye; several more with binoculars. See the thread titled “Is the Virgo Cluster a naked eye object”, especially Mel’s post #27 in that discussion


Edited by MEE, 14 April 2021 - 05:43 PM.


#23 timokarhula

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 06:43 PM

The LMC "light bridge", where I was a kind of a co-discoverer, should be called the "Magellanic Ghost" (or Magellan's Ghost) ever since Dana de Zoysa made a thorough investigation of its true nature.

 

https://www.cloudyni...ature-near-lmc/

 

This is indeed an IFN that runs from the LMC to Triangulum Australe, but it has nothing to do with our satellite galaxy.  The filament just happens go in that direction, some 40 degrees long!

 

It took me 13 trips to the southern hemisphere before I finally nailed the Magellanic Ghost.  Nowadays (whenever that can be!), have I been able to spot it almost every night from the bush in W.A. when I know what to look for.

 

/Timo Karhula


Edited by timokarhula, 14 April 2021 - 07:21 PM.

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#24 Rocklobster

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 10:35 PM

One thing is for sure, your first night in a Bortle 1 will be completely disorienting for you as unlikely you will easily find any familiar constellation as the number of stars is just overwhelming!

Well, you say that, but I did stay at a B2 site last autumn and as I mentioned above, although the Cygnus milky way area was jaw dropping and yes, took a few seconds to make out certain constellations, I was disappointed at barely being able to make out M31 by eye and not seeing M33 at all...

That being said, I'm fairly certain I could make out the North America Nebula right above me...could have been my brain playing tricks on me.

We also drove out to the west coast of Scotland, near where we were staying, Skye being in front of us..that's a B1 ish site and yes...it's absolutely mind blowing.

But my conclusion from that and from this thread is it would have been much more mind blowing at age 20 instep of my current 45.

Oh well

Cheers for the reply

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#25 Rocklobster

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 10:41 PM

The LMC "light bridge", where I was a kind of a co-discoverer, should be called the "Magellanic Ghost" (or Magellan's Ghost) ever since Dana de Zoysa made a thorough investigation of its true nature.

https://www.cloudyni...ature-near-lmc/

This is indeed an IFN that runs from the LMC to Triangulum Australe, but it has nothing to do with our satellite galaxy. The filament just happens go in that direction, some 40 degrees long!

It took me 13 trips to the southern hemisphere before I finally nailed the Magellanic Ghost. Nowadays (whenever that can be!), have I been able to spot it almost every night from the bush in W.A. when I know what to look for.

/Timo Karhula

The sights in the Southern hemisphere must be so gorgeous. Here in the UK, Sagittarius just barely peaks above the horizon. I can't imagine how stunning it must be to have it high up.

I've only been down south once for 2 days of work on a commercial and on the flight over to Sydney, i peaked out the plane window at night to see if I could see any stars and there was Crux and the MW in all their beautiful glory. I was almost reduced to tears as it was so beautiful and Ive had a inexplicable fascination with that constellation all my life...not for any religious reasons, it just always seemed so inaccessible to me.

Seeing it from the plane is something I will never ever forget.

Next in my astro bucket list are the LMC and SMC. Again, another obsession since SN1987

Sorry for rambling

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