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late Season Horsehead and 1 Billion Light Years. Observing Report

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#1 Alex Swartzinski

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Posted 20 March 2023 - 06:55 PM

It was a last-second decision. Winds were forecast to be 15mph plus, but I just couldn't help myself. I was on the road to northeast Michigan. 

 

Having purchased a 10mm and 6mm Delos last week, I wanted to break them in for the galaxy season. I also bought an H-beta from Cner BrentKnight, and I really wanted to see the horsehead and Barnard's loop after years of fascination with them. This new moon is the last chance to see these objects before they sink into twilight. 

 

The weather was pretty great. My lakeside location protected me from all but a few gusts of the westerly wind. There was no moisture in the air, and transparency allowed for a confirmed magnitude 6.4 star. 

 

During twilight, the ISS passed by in the north. I was setting up the Telrad and quickly pointed the scope with a 14mm eyepiece at the station. It was incredible. I've seen truss structures and solar panels before, but the detail at 147x was unreal. 

 

I dark adapted as the night got started. Looking to the south, I popped in the filter to see Barnard's loop above M78. It was immediately obvious as a bright and narrow band. I traced this nebulosity down the constellation. It has uneven brightness and wasn't too hard to follow until the area near Orion's belt. Very cool. I wish I would have held the filter up to the 9x50 or even my eye to see it all at once, but my next target distracted me for too long and Orion was in the trees by the time I was ready to observe it again.

 

Now it was time. My first Horsehead attempt. I was surprised by how easily IC 435 came into view. IC 435 was a thin and faint band of light, brighter towards HD 37805. The Horsehead's neck was a pitch-black indentation into the nebula, and careful concentration revealed the head shape's bend. It was unreal to finally see this famous object. The Horsehead and Barnard's loop were seen using a 6mm exit pupil with a 1-degree fov. I used my 27 Panoptic without the Paracorr to get the brightest view possible for the dim H-beta filter.

 

Before the winter circle sank in the west, I took a shot at the crab nebula. There were three dark indentations making their way into the center of this beautiful Messier. I enjoyed the presentation at 200x, where the nebulosity and crab legs stood out with dark contrast.

 

Hopping down, I decided to look at the open cluster pair NGC 1817-1807. This pair is incredible. 17 is much denser than 07,  and the pair looked best at low power. 

 

Now it was time to face east, and I remained here for the entire night. I'm too tired to write all of the galaxies I saw, but I'll share some highlights. 

 

Leo 1 from the notes: "Faint and diffuse, brightest in the center, tappers rapidly. When Regulus is out of the fov, 73x shows it best. 147x looked better since it was easier to frame."

 

Arp 94: "NGC 3227 has a stellar core that is elongated. There is a fainter outer halo that runs down into NGC 3226. 3226's stellar core is much smaller than 3227's. Nearby, NGC 3222 has a bright core that tappers rapidly. It's elongated slightly and quite bright. The PCG pair 1605532 and 30397 pop in and out with averted vision as two puffy balls that are connected".

 

I had my best views ever of the triplet. 

 

NGC 3628: "Bright thin core, tappers quickly. Tails extend out of 10mm and 14mm eyepiece fovs. There is a faint but wide dust lane cutting next to the core. It's quite clear."

 

M65: "Round stellar core appears in the center of a halo sphere. There is a thin and uneven line of brightness extending in two directions. Hints of mottling can be seen".

 

M66: "There is an arm extending away from the stellar-like core. The tip of this arm is brighter than the base. The galaxy has irregular, brightness, and its shape is very uneven. Hints of a fainter arm."

 

NGC 4725: "Very nice first observation. Stellar core, narrow and dim bar on both sides connects to bright and vertical ends that bend up and down." 

 

NGC 4565: "The famous needle. Dust lane cuts across an uneven brightness core, tappers rapidly, and thins out. NGC 4562 is nearby and is faint, round, and diffuse. Magnitude 16.0 IC 3533 lies between two 14.5 stars and is a fuzzy point that's extended."

 

M64: "Steller core tappers gradually. Irregular mottling in the core region, the eye is obvious."

 

M95: "The bar is clearly seen on both sides of the stellar core. There is an upper and lower halo that connects to this bar. averted vision makes it strong."

 

IC 1101: This is another famous object I've been meaning to sweep up for a long time. From the notes "Stands out more than the two magnitudes 14 stars nearby, elongated and brightness tappers rapidly. Best with 10mm." 

 

What an amazing night. My new gear is wonderful and the 10mm is now my favorite eyepiece.

 

I've also been noticing improvements in my detection of low-contrast features and objects. The more you push yourself, the better your observing eye gets. My star-hopping skills have also improved and I now prefer to hop using a medium or high-power eyepiece since the contrast is better. Sure the fov is narrower, but a well-lined-up finder makes it perfectly doable. 

 

I'm leaving out many faint galaxies and other objects, but I hope you enjoyed these highlights!

 

Time for bed soon. I came in at 2:45 and got up at 8:30. 

 

Clear skies,

 

Alex 


Edited by Alex Swartzinski, 20 March 2023 - 08:00 PM.

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#2 lwbehney

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Posted 21 March 2023 - 06:42 PM

Alex,

Thanks for this detailed report. I was especially interested and pleased to read in your notes that IC 1101 was brighter than the 14th magnitude stars near it. This is certainly a target I want to see very very much this year. If IC 1101 is brighter than a 14 magnitude star, I believe my 210 mm DK reflector has a chance at it under a dark sky.

What exit pupil size was the 10 mm Delos giving you?

 

Clear skies,

 

Larry



#3 Alex Swartzinski

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Posted 21 March 2023 - 08:25 PM

Alex,

Thanks for this detailed report. I was especially interested and pleased to read in your notes that IC 1101 was brighter than the 14th magnitude stars near it. This is certainly a target I want to see very very much this year. If IC 1101 is brighter than a 14 magnitude star, I believe my 210 mm DK reflector has a chance at it under a dark sky.

What exit pupil size was the 10 mm Delos giving you?

 

Clear skies,

 

Larry

Hello Larry, the 10mm is a 1.9mm exit pupil. The view was also good with the 14mm which has a 2.7mm exit pupil. 

 

The two mid-14 magnitude stars were very apparent, but IC 1101 stood out as a clear halo between them at medium powers. Upping the exit pupil to 1.2 made this diffuse object disappear though.

 

In dark skies, you should get this one. 

 

Seeing a galaxy this massive and far is quite amazing. Good luck!


Edited by Alex Swartzinski, 21 March 2023 - 08:26 PM.


#4 andreww71

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Posted 22 March 2023 - 07:53 PM

I was out at a dark sky site in WV Sunday night and also checked out the Horsehead shortly before the end of twilight. I could see it without the HB filter but with the filter in it was a whole different object. IC 434 was incredibly bright and the Horsehead looked incredible. I knew I was in for a good night.

 

Andrew

 

 

Now it was time. My first Horsehead attempt. I was surprised by how easily IC 435 came into view. IC 435 was a thin and faint band of light, brighter towards HD 37805. The Horsehead's neck was a pitch-black indentation into the nebula, and careful concentration revealed the head shape's bend. It was unreal to finally see this famous object. The Horsehead and Barnard's loop were seen using a 6mm exit pupil with a 1-degree fov. I used my 27 Panoptic without the Paracorr to get the brightest view possible for the dim H-beta filter.

 

 


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#5 SNH

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Posted 22 April 2023 - 03:01 PM

Hello Larry, the 10mm is a 1.9mm exit pupil. The view was also good with the 14mm which has a 2.7mm exit pupil. 

 

The two mid-14 magnitude stars were very apparent, but IC 1101 stood out as a clear halo between them at medium powers. Upping the exit pupil to 1.2 made this diffuse object disappear though.

 

In dark skies, you should get this one. 

 

Seeing a galaxy this massive and far is quite amazing. Good luck!

After seeing IC 1101 a few years back with my 10-inch, I commented to myself that the smallest aperture it might be visible in would be 6-inches. Well, I put my money where my mouth is this morning and attempted to see it with my 6-inch f/5 reflector. At 164x (0.6* TFoV and 0.7mm exit pupil), I was surprised at how it wasn't quite as hard as I had guessed it would be. I mean, I saw it at 112x also, just couldn't hold it with averted vision the way I could at 164x. It was even elongated looking for me!

 

Now I'm going to have to try for it in my 5.1-inch reflector. In theory, it should be visible. Would take a good night and some precious time I'm not sure I want to give up at this moment. So many other things to look at right now in the predawn sky!

 

But log that down, people. A ONE BILLION LIGHT-TRAVEL TIME galaxy is visible in a reflecting telescope with only 150mm of aperture. Not bad at all!

 

Scott H.


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#6 Alex Swartzinski

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Posted 23 April 2023 - 04:46 PM

After seeing IC 1101 a few years back with my 10-inch, I commented to myself that the smallest aperture it might be visible in would be 6-inches. Well, I put my money where my mouth is this morning and attempted to see it with my 6-inch f/5 reflector. At 164x (0.6* TFoV and 0.7mm exit pupil), I was surprised at how it wasn't quite as hard as I had guessed it would be. I mean, I saw it at 112x also, just couldn't hold it with averted vision the way I could at 164x. It was even elongated looking for me!

 

Now I'm going to have to try for it in my 5.1-inch reflector. In theory, it should be visible. Would take a good night and some precious time I'm not sure I want to give up at this moment. So many other things to look at right now in the predawn sky!

 

But log that down, people. A ONE BILLION LIGHT-TRAVEL TIME galaxy is visible in a reflecting telescope with only 150mm of aperture. Not bad at all!

 

Scott H.

Amazing work as always Scott! You show what's possible with these scopes. 

 

Your exit pupil of under 1mm is slightly surprising to me. I liked the view with over 2mm of exit pupil, but this difference is probably explained by aperture and sky position.

 

I believe that aperture can affect which exit pupil works best on a given DSO. Darkening the background with a smaller scope might have improved the contrast of this galaxy with a smaller scope. 

 

IC 1101 was pretty low when I observed it around midnight in mid-March. Maybe this limited the contrast by dimming the galaxy more than it would have appeared higher up.

 

Let us know what happens with the 5.1" if you give it a shot! 



#7 SNH

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Posted 25 April 2023 - 02:56 PM

Personally, I've yet to fully understand what the big deal is about exit pupil. I work off of magnification, but have been told that since it goes hand in hand with exit pupil, it's important. Okay. Maybe when I'm older I'll understand...

 

But you are right when you say you "liked the view with over 2mm of exit pupil". I, too, have a magnification level in each telescope where I "like the view". What I've learned though is how I can see more when I push the magnification past that point. Sure, stars may look more bloated, but I can usually see more fainter stars at 450x than I can at 300x.

 

Here is something. I noticed that IC 1101 is NOT plotted on the Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas. So I've kindly informed Ronald Stoyan of this and included my recent observation.

 

Scott H.


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#8 Alex Swartzinski

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Posted 25 April 2023 - 03:35 PM

Personally, I've yet to fully understand what the big deal is about exit pupil. I work off of magnification, but have been told that since it goes hand in hand with exit pupil, it's important. Okay. Maybe when I'm older I'll understand...

 

But you are right when you say you "liked the view with over 2mm of exit pupil". I, too, have a magnification level in each telescope where I "like the view". What I've learned though is how I can see more when I push the magnification past that point. Sure, stars may look more bloated, but I can usually see more fainter stars at 450x than I can at 300x.

 

Here is something. I noticed that IC 1101 is NOT plotted on the Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas. So I've kindly informed Ronald Stoyan of this and included my recent observation.

 

Scott H.

Exit pupil and magnification often get grouped into separate camps, but they are very closely related with my strategy. I tend to use exit pupil measurement over power because it seems more intuitive to me. I think having a small exit pupil correlate to a dimmer view sticks better in my mind. 

 

For galaxies, I tend to start in the middle and go up or down in pupil/power depending on the object. 

 

It's important not to overthink exit pupil target selection, but it can be a helpful tool to understand what an object will generally be best at. Experimentation with different powers can either confirm or deny this. 

 

Saying an object will look good with a 10-14mm eyepiece is the same as saying that it looks good with a 2-3mm exit pupil in a dob! 


Edited by Alex Swartzinski, 25 April 2023 - 03:37 PM.


#9 payner

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Posted 25 April 2023 - 04:41 PM

 

Personally, I've yet to fully understand what the big deal is about exit pupil.

I think for many, certainly for me, it depends on what objects one concentrates most on in their observing program. For me, planetary/solar system, exit pupil is what I pay attention to first. The reason is for planetary detail, and especially low contrast features one is teasing detail from, exit pupil plays the role in dimming the object, and at a certain threshold, rather than magnification, in a given aperture objective one can no longer use decreasing eyepiece focal length productively.


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#10 Keith Rivich

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Posted 30 April 2023 - 08:45 PM

Personally, I've yet to fully understand what the big deal is about exit pupil. I work off of magnification, but have been told that since it goes hand in hand with exit pupil, it's important. Okay. Maybe when I'm older I'll understand...

 

But you are right when you say you "liked the view with over 2mm of exit pupil". I, too, have a magnification level in each telescope where I "like the view". What I've learned though is how I can see more when I push the magnification past that point. Sure, stars may look more bloated, but I can usually see more fainter stars at 450x than I can at 300x.

 

Here is something. I noticed that IC 1101 is NOT plotted on the Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas. So I've kindly informed Ronald Stoyan of this and included my recent observation.

 

Scott H.

My brain works better thinking "magnification". Exit pupil just doesn't come naturally. Like speaking Spanish. I can muddle through but I have to work at it. 



#11 GrassLakeRon

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Posted 01 May 2023 - 05:49 AM

It was a last-second decision. Winds were forecast to be 15mph plus, but I just couldn't help myself. I was on the road to northeast Michigan. 

 

Having purchased a 10mm and 6mm Delos last week, I wanted to break them in for the galaxy season. I also bought an H-beta from Cner BrentKnight, and I really wanted to see the horsehead and Barnard's loop after years of fascination with them. This new moon is the last chance to see these objects before they sink into twilight. 

 

The weather was pretty great. My lakeside location protected me from all but a few gusts of the westerly wind. There was no moisture in the air, and transparency allowed for a confirmed magnitude 6.4 star. 

 

During twilight, the ISS passed by in the north. I was setting up the Telrad and quickly pointed the scope with a 14mm eyepiece at the station. It was incredible. I've seen truss structures and solar panels before, but the detail at 147x was unreal. 

 

I dark adapted as the night got started. Looking to the south, I popped in the filter to see Barnard's loop above M78. It was immediately obvious as a bright and narrow band. I traced this nebulosity down the constellation. It has uneven brightness and wasn't too hard to follow until the area near Orion's belt. Very cool. I wish I would have held the filter up to the 9x50 or even my eye to see it all at once, but my next target distracted me for too long and Orion was in the trees by the time I was ready to observe it again.

 

Now it was time. My first Horsehead attempt. I was surprised by how easily IC 435 came into view. IC 435 was a thin and faint band of light, brighter towards HD 37805. The Horsehead's neck was a pitch-black indentation into the nebula, and careful concentration revealed the head shape's bend. It was unreal to finally see this famous object. The Horsehead and Barnard's loop were seen using a 6mm exit pupil with a 1-degree fov. I used my 27 Panoptic without the Paracorr to get the brightest view possible for the dim H-beta filter.

 

Before the winter circle sank in the west, I took a shot at the crab nebula. There were three dark indentations making their way into the center of this beautiful Messier. I enjoyed the presentation at 200x, where the nebulosity and crab legs stood out with dark contrast.

 

Hopping down, I decided to look at the open cluster pair NGC 1817-1807. This pair is incredible. 17 is much denser than 07,  and the pair looked best at low power. 

 

Now it was time to face east, and I remained here for the entire night. I'm too tired to write all of the galaxies I saw, but I'll share some highlights. 

 

Leo 1 from the notes: "Faint and diffuse, brightest in the center, tappers rapidly. When Regulus is out of the fov, 73x shows it best. 147x looked better since it was easier to frame."

 

Arp 94: "NGC 3227 has a stellar core that is elongated. There is a fainter outer halo that runs down into NGC 3226. 3226's stellar core is much smaller than 3227's. Nearby, NGC 3222 has a bright core that tappers rapidly. It's elongated slightly and quite bright. The PCG pair 1605532 and 30397 pop in and out with averted vision as two puffy balls that are connected".

 

I had my best views ever of the triplet. 

 

NGC 3628: "Bright thin core, tappers quickly. Tails extend out of 10mm and 14mm eyepiece fovs. There is a faint but wide dust lane cutting next to the core. It's quite clear."

 

M65: "Round stellar core appears in the center of a halo sphere. There is a thin and uneven line of brightness extending in two directions. Hints of mottling can be seen".

 

M66: "There is an arm extending away from the stellar-like core. The tip of this arm is brighter than the base. The galaxy has irregular, brightness, and its shape is very uneven. Hints of a fainter arm."

 

NGC 4725: "Very nice first observation. Stellar core, narrow and dim bar on both sides connects to bright and vertical ends that bend up and down." 

 

NGC 4565: "The famous needle. Dust lane cuts across an uneven brightness core, tappers rapidly, and thins out. NGC 4562 is nearby and is faint, round, and diffuse. Magnitude 16.0 IC 3533 lies between two 14.5 stars and is a fuzzy point that's extended."

 

M64: "Steller core tappers gradually. Irregular mottling in the core region, the eye is obvious."

 

M95: "The bar is clearly seen on both sides of the stellar core. There is an upper and lower halo that connects to this bar. averted vision makes it strong."

 

IC 1101: This is another famous object I've been meaning to sweep up for a long time. From the notes "Stands out more than the two magnitudes 14 stars nearby, elongated and brightness tappers rapidly. Best with 10mm." 

 

What an amazing night. My new gear is wonderful and the 10mm is now my favorite eyepiece.

 

I've also been noticing improvements in my detection of low-contrast features and objects. The more you push yourself, the better your observing eye gets. My star-hopping skills have also improved and I now prefer to hop using a medium or high-power eyepiece since the contrast is better. Sure the fov is narrower, but a well-lined-up finder makes it perfectly doable. 

 

I'm leaving out many faint galaxies and other objects, but I hope you enjoyed these highlights!

 

Time for bed soon. I came in at 2:45 and got up at 8:30. 

 

Clear skies,

 

Alex 

Alex,

 

     Where do you view in Michigan?  North of Alpena?  I'm am trying to get the DNR to set aside some area in the Mio, Atlanta, and Black Lake (The last Bortle 2 skies south of the bridge). 

 

Ron


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#12 Alex Swartzinski

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Posted 01 May 2023 - 06:15 PM

Alex,

 

     Where do you view in Michigan?  North of Alpena?  I'm am trying to get the DNR to set aside some area in the Mio, Atlanta, and Black Lake (The last Bortle 2 skies south of the bridge). 

 

Ron

Hello Ron,

 

This observation report was done on the shores of a frozen Hubbard Lake which is about 30 miles south of Alpena. My grandparents live here under class 2/3 skies. It's my winter site since there aren't any interfering lights along the lake during the off-season, and it's way easier to get set up in the snow at this location. Having a warm house up the hill is also nice! 

 

My usual site for most of the year is a private piece of land about 7 miles to the north of Hubbard Lake. It's a little brighter since it's around 20-25 minutes to Alpena, but has nearly perfect horizons in all directions. On a good night, it's a solid bortle 3. Clouds remain pitch black unless they are low and directly above the city. I use the "hunting camp" trailer to sleep in so that I can avoid driving after a marathon observing season and I don't have to worry about being quiet when I come in (except during hunting season!).

 

The lake and field:

 

post-373950-0-33685400-1676426469 (1).jpg

 

post-373950-0-93543800-1659574742 (2).png

 

I think it's great that you are trying to get land set aside. As I drive up M-65 and M-72, the only clearings I pass are private land that I would love to set up on. If you need signatures showing interest, let me know! I'm lucky to have access to some great sites already, but there should be public areas available to everyone. 


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#13 Alex Swartzinski

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Posted 01 May 2023 - 06:26 PM

My brain works better thinking "magnification". Exit pupil just doesn't come naturally. Like speaking Spanish. I can muddle through but I have to work at it. 

For a long time, exit pupil confused me way more than it should have, but one day the concept just clicked and I've been using it ever since.

 

It seems to be a personal preference, but magnification and exit pupil describe the same thing. 



#14 GrassLakeRon

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Posted 01 May 2023 - 08:17 PM

Alex,

Thanks for the offer. I'm in the early discussion stage with the DNR. They are looking into several sites for viewing. The interesting thing is the DNR doesn't follow the science but rather what is easy. I show them bortle 2 skies but they want us in bortle 3 state areas. I will get them to see the light....phun intended.

#15 Alex Swartzinski

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Posted 01 May 2023 - 08:36 PM

Alex,

Thanks for the offer. I'm in the early discussion stage with the DNR. They are looking into several sites for viewing. The interesting thing is the DNR doesn't follow the science but rather what is easy. I show them bortle 2 skies but they want us in bortle 3 state areas. I will get them to see the light....phun intended.

The darkest spots seem to be heavily forested. Do you have a clearing in mind or would it have to be created during a controlled burn or something? 



#16 GrassLakeRon

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Posted 01 May 2023 - 08:53 PM

The darkest spots seem to be heavily forested. Do you have a clearing in mind or would it have to be created during a controlled burn or something?


In the Atlanta state Forrest there is a field, in the Huron national Forrest there is a state field and in the black lake area there is a field as well. The state would like to put us in an area south of onaway in an abandoned oil well site. It's dark but not as what it could be. Now I'm looking into a concrete pad to be poured. Nothing fancy. I have all the paper work, just need them to ok a spot.
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#17 Alex Swartzinski

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Posted 01 May 2023 - 09:02 PM

In the Atlanta state Forrest there is a field, in the Huron national Forrest there is a state field and in the black lake area there is a field as well. The state would like to put us in an area south of onaway in an abandoned oil well site. It's dark but not as what it could be. Now I'm looking into a concrete pad to be poured. Nothing fancy. I have all the paper work, just need them to ok a spot.

Sweet! Nice work. 




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