Archive for June, 2011

finding a tough note with the Harp

Blog June 27th 2011

          Carrying on working through nebulae in Lyra following Owen Brazell’s lead in the Webb Society journal the DSO I caught up with Abell 46, PK 55+16.1.

This was a tough one! Using the 20” and Watec 120N+ Camera it appeared as nothing more than a smudge on the monitor, it was small but obvious enough, rather unremarkable and yielding no detail or structure.

I made a sketch and then viewed the Palomar survey image the next day (yesterday) for comparison and found that had shown very little either! Detecting this visually with a 20” under dark skies would be very tough, catching any detail such as that shown in the Capella observatory image that Owen used would require long exposure CCD imaging. I’m glad I got anything. 

I will return to Lyra for the others on the list at the next opportunity.

Regards to all, Dale

Playing the Harp again!

Blog 25th/26th June 2011

A mixed day of weather that gratefully closed clear and as night fell around 10pm local time I was looking forward to some observing. My primary desire was to get a detailed sketch of IC1296 a lovely little spiral galaxy close to the Ring Nebula that conditions had prevented me from sketching a few days prior.

As the sky darkened to a working consistency, I spent some time aligning the 6” F9 triplet apochromat refractor precisely with the 20” and getting the best images on separate monitors via a pair of Watec video cameras running through both scopes of beautiful, dazzling Altair. By 11.30 I considered it dark enough to get to work in earnest.

Firstly I went to M57, it was stunning through both telescopes. The 20” was giving a large image, filling over half of the monitor screen with a fov of around 12’x 12’, the detail displayed was the best I had ever seen outside of photographs.

 I had fitted a focal reducer to the older Watec that I was using on the 6” refractor making the fov  33’x33’.  Not having taken the time to set a camera up on the refractor for a while, the view on the monitor quickly reminded me of just how delightful the delivery of this set up is, the sky back ground is black the stars bright and sharp and deep sky objects contrasty, it would be nice to have a 20” OG J

I could see the central star readily with the smaller scope in the ring of the nebula despite its rather diminutive size on the monitor and it was really quite piercing.

I spent quite some time sketching M57 from the 20” monitor view; I wanted to capture the subtle detail in the ring, especially the brighter regions and their sharp cut off points. I was pleased to see some additional what I assume to be foreground stars that I have not captured before. Overall I was pleased and excited with the observation especially considering the poor sky. The sketch I consider my best M57 yet.

IC1296 once again wasn’t well presented so I didn’t dwell, to get a good view & sketch of this I obviously require a transparent night.

Next I was off to another planetary nebula, a smaller fainter one, still in Lyra. NGC 6765 isn’t too well known; it had been featured in a recent Webb Society article by Owen Brazell and had come to my attention as a result. It turned out to be a very interesting object, mag 12.9, small at 40.0” overall elongated with a bright again elongated central region with a very obvious dark lane running across it, one end od the central elongation, the northern end flared out to resemble a club or perhaps a toadstool I remember thinking, there were extensions projecting out either side, 2 stars very close to the base of the central bar were noted in my flipped view with what looked like a little additional nebulosity, it had me in mind of those magnificent Saguaro cacti that I had seen in such profusion recently in Arizona. I took my time to capture with pencil and crushed graphite what I saw on the monitor both in as a scientific way as possible, but also in a way that reflects the essence of the nebula. When I compared it with the Palomar image on Monday I was pretty pleased at the match.

Well that was pretty much it, by the time I had powered down, closed up it was heading for 2.30am local time and as is usual practice in my house, I wouldn’t be allowed a lay in!

Pax Stellarum

Playing the Harp in the Cloud!

Blog 22-June-2011

Got out last night despite it being just about the shortest of the year, I like to do that if just to show it can be done and fly in the face of those who call it the close season, a time of year when observation astronomy closes down, can’t be done.

Well I got out and did a little Watec observing although I didn’t come away with any sketches as the sky was poor changing to very poor whilst I was out there.

I was intending to go for a detailed view and drawing of spiral galaxy IC1296, a faint object very close to the famous Ring Nebula M57 in Lyra. I have caught this before with the old 350mm Newt & Watec standard camera see here but wanted to try again with the 20” & the later 120N+ camera with the intention of pushing up the image scale with a x2 barlow.

 I was spurred into this by the excellent cover shot of the latest Webb Society magazine, The Deep Sky Observer, shot by the Capella observatory.

The sky was striated with bars of hazy cloud like a Zebra running roughly E-W. I could see the Ring Nebula very clearly on the monitor, the central star showing now & then and the location of IC1296 was easy to work out and I could just get a whiff, a hint of it now and again. The sky was a bit of a joke by now with only Vega visible outdoors through the cloud, it was around 12 midnight local time.

I moved onto another challenge issued I think by Owen Brazell? This is another object in Lyra this time a small and fairly faint planetary nebula with an interesting and unusual visual appearance.

Well I got to see it, albeit pretty faintly as a short streak of light in a busy star field with a hint of goings on to each side, in short pretty much how Owen described it from his visual observation with a 20” F5. I know that I can delivery on this when it isn’t cloudy ;¬))

To bed at 1am, not too disappoint, Dale

P.S…..Still not written up the HST story to date, fantastic observations in Arizona & the Webb Society meeting at Cambridge. Lots to come when I pull my finger out!!

Supernova SN2011dh in M51

After failing on 3 consecutive nights the week before last to spot the M51 SN visually in a 10″ under good Arizonan skies whilst observing with Frank, I finally caught it last night in a light sky with rising moon using the 20″ and Watec camera. Sharing the sketch earlier today with Andrew Robertson he noted that it looked as if the SN had continued to brighten!
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