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 Messier Night

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Posts : 75
Join date : 2011-04-04

PostSubject: Messier Night   Sun Feb 26, 2012 4:17 pm

Anyone up for a Messier hunt sometime in March?

Regards Duane.
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Posts : 16
Join date : 2011-04-02
Age : 55
Location : Aycliffe

PostSubject: Re: Messier Night   Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:55 pm

Well - Duane and myself finally got round to a dark-site observing session last night.
And WHAT A NIGHT it was.

We met up at the site, at 7.30, just as the Sun had dropped behind the hills to the west - a lovely Sun-pillar was extended upwards marking the point where the Sun had just disappeared, and we had a half-hour or so to get our gear set up.
Both of us using Celestron C8 SCTs - Duane with his modern CPC goto version, and myself with my old 1977 OTA mounted on a GEM - and we also had a pair of 15x70s on a tripod.

Both of us had a peek at half-phase venus, then centred on Jupiter - still daylight, but we could see the more prominent cloud bands at first, if a little washed out - but as it got darker, contrast improved, more cloud banding was evident, and the Galilean moons started to become visible.
The last one to appear being Io, tucked in very close, less than one Jupiter diameter.
Left to right they were: Europa and Io to the left, ganymede to the right, with Callisto further out.

The Moon, through 15x70 binoculars was absolutely beautiful - as nice as I've seen a thin crescent - Nice sharp detail along the terminator, and a lot of detail seen on the 'darkside' due to earthshine - with the eastern mountain wall of the Sea of Crises extending well over the termnator, almost completeing the ring.
Next up Mars, as it was getting close to being dark enough for some deep-sky observing - but first Mars. Northern Polar cap very prominent - we were also seeing a dark patch at upper left, and what looked like a dark horizontal smear across the middle - I've just looked them up, the 'patch was the 'Acidalia Planitia', and the 'smear' was the 'Terra Meridiani'.

Duane set-up his goto, now that it was getting reasonably dark, while I polar-aligned my GEM - then first deep sky target was the obvious, m42.
Oodles of detail - wispy pale blue and faintly green-ish tendrils spreading out like wings, beyond the field limits of my 50x, 67ยบ eyepiece - almost like an astrophoto, without the reds and purples.
A beautifully clear night was developing - and our new site, about 5 miles from Middleton-in-Teesdale was turning out to be a cracker.
M43 also quite prominet around nu Orionis, and even hints of the Running Man were visible - and it wasn't quite fully dark yet.

One DSO after another followed - we tended to concentrate on the 'showpiece' targets, making the most of our first time here - m35, m36, m37, m38, m3, m97, m1, m76 - m44 and the Perseus Double-cluster were easy naked-eye visible.
Then on to some dimmer stuff, such as ngc1907, ngc2169 ('37' cluster), ngc1514, the PN near Perseus' foot, m51 showing a definite 'bridge' between the two brighter centres, and a hint of spiral structure.
I checked out ngc7789 in Cassiopeia, to see if Herschel's 'spiral' structure was visible - but it's dark enough here that 8" was too much - too many stars resolved, and the spiral illusion was lost - maybe 5" or 6" would be optimum t se the spiral from this site.
Duane and myself were pointed at m3 at the same time, at different magnifications, so a direct side-by-side comparison could be made. At 50x (40mm plossl) was like a fuzzy cotton-wool ball - at 154x (13mm Hyperion) stars resolving around the outskirts, and even a handful of the brighter ones near the core.

Just before we packed up - Duane noticed a fuzzy patch just behind the Hyades - and when I took a look, sure enough, there it was - ngc1647, by naked-eye (just) - a 6th mag open cluster - which illustrates just how good a site this was.

Unfortunately, Saturn was low behind the trees to our Southeast - but on the drive home (10:45-ish) Saturn and Spica were hanging side-by-side out to the front/right of me.

All-in-all - a fantastic night - and we'll be doing it again soon, assuming this clear weather stays around as predicted.

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Posts : 75
Join date : 2011-04-04

PostSubject: Re: Messier Night   Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:12 pm

Hi Karl,
congratulations mate that is one cracking report.We got through quite alot of work(pleasurable work)last night Karl.Your right we have an excellant darksite there mate.Hopefully tomorrow night will be a repeat.It took me an hour to write up my notes tonight.This will be a good topic for the next meeting as well.
Should be able to start honing my sketching skills now.If that is what the sky is like late March think what it will be like Oct,Nov,and Dec mate.Ican't wait.Anyway see you there tomorrow night 7.30.

Regards Duane. Very Happy
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