1 May 2013

Blog the previous nights viewing. Link to images on the gallery or simply describe what you observed the night before. Leave the technical and howto in another forum.
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1 May 2013

#1 Post by cstone » Thu May 02, 2013 10:59 am

1st May 2013 - Myself, Bill, Callum and Ross

Bill had brought his new Skywatcher 80mm APO over to my place which was soon quickly mounted onto my EQ5 mount. And while using a x2 Barlow we were viewing Jupiter and its cloud bands along with its moons.

Meanwhile the roof on the observatory was opened to allow the heat to dissipate. I’d decided for the evening we’d visually observe with the 11”, which I had not done in a long time, rather than image.

The 11” was slewed on a bright star to get focus and make sure the alignment points where okay and the command was sent to slew onto M3, a Globular Cluster located near Arcturus. While standing on the step ladder Ross looked down a 32mm 1.25” eyepiece as I made the final slewing adjustments, low and behold M3 was there, but it soon became apparent that viewing conditions were not what it seemed.

However the challenge was set. Find comet Panstarrs :!: which over the next few days will be racing through Cassiopeia. The command was sent to the EQ6.

Meanwhile outside while using the APO Bill had turned his attention to Saturn. There the rings could clearly be seen along with some colour BUT within a few minutes I'd found Panstarrs and everyone was back up the step ladder. Ross was even surprised how quick I’d found the object :o . We all came to the same conclusion get some images of Panstarrs.

With the LPR, FR and DSLR camera remounted and refocused and with Callum stood over my shoulder, standing still I grabbed my first image of Panstarrs. Then the timer was set in the EOS utility, 30 x 1min exposures.

At this point Callum and I retreated to the house to make a cup of tea but also watch the images download from the camera. There was a slight technical glitch. The Camera lost connection to the PC and I had to go back out to switch the camera off and back on and re-start the run. Since it was insignificant in the grand scheme of the setup, I shrugged this off.

But back to visual observing. While we was making the cups of tea Ross and Bill had found M51a (The Whirlpool Galaxy) and even pointing straight up it was difficult to see, as viewing conditions were not ideal. By the time Callum and I stepped back outside (with mugs of tea in hand) Bill and Ross where observing the Double Cluster with the 80mm APO. This is where the APO holds its own. With an easy focal length and good optics the stars where crisp. You could see both clusters. In the meantime Lyra had moved far enough above the house for Ross had to find M57 (The Ring Nebula) and magnified using a x2 Barlow you could perhaps see one of Messier best discoveries.

Another quick look at the M51a confirmed what Ross and Bill had encountered and come midnight with the image run of Panstarrs finished it was time to pack up, park the mount and close the roof.

We concluded that with a slight haze in the sky viewing conditions could of been better and a quick look at the images of Panstarrs confirmed that I’d got some good images to play with and should keep me busy over the next few days

Still it was certainly an enjoyable evening one for the memories. :D
Celestron 11" Telescope
Eq6 Pro Mount
Eq5 Mount
EQ Mod
QHY5 Guide camera
Cannon 1000D SLR Camera

I choose to image with an 11" SCT Celestron in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard......

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Re: 1 May 2013

#2 Post by rwilkinson » Thu May 02, 2013 12:49 pm

Yes, a big thanks to Carl for hosting us, and especially for providing the "executive biscuits" :D

The only other times I've looked through that 11" SCT it was on a low tripod at Kelling Heath, so it was a completely different experience to observe from up the step-ladder beside the massive pier! But I was surprised to see comet PanSTARRS so easily in the eyepiece (albeit a 40mm 2" ocular on the back of an 11" SCT), particularly as it's still quite low in the sky. I'm looking forward to seeing the resulting image.

And I was impressed with Bill's new SkyWatcher 80mm APO - although it's not as big and heavy as our StarWave, it still yields crisp images. We set it up on Carl's famous "bargain" (£80) EQ5 mount, albeit on the sturdy HEQ6 tripod. Observing Jupiter and Saturn, we ended up with a 15mm eyepiece and a 3x Barlow-lens on the back of the 'scope (120x magnification) which was about the limit with the seeing last night.
Even at Carl's remote site up in the hills above Bury, the sky didn't seem quite dark - despite the lack of Moonlight, and after the start of "Astronomical Twilight" the sky contrast still wasn't good. But after really struggling to find the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51), the brighter Ring Nebula (M57) was much easier.

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Re: 1 May 2013

#3 Post by bbones » Thu May 02, 2013 7:51 pm

Agree, and a big thanks to Carl. It was a great and nice to see how it's really done.

The evening looked very promissing however the seeing was not as good as first expected, one of the highlights was seeing the comet through Carl's scope and also seeing the image before processing, looking foward to seeing the results.

My little 80ED worked well and if we have extended the legs on the EQ5 finding the objects around the plough would have been a lot easier to find in the spotter scope.

Fingers crossed for a better night tonight


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