Stargazing & Bikepacking

Not-so expensive astronomy and some bikepacking stories

Comfortably observing in October. Nice!

Thanks to hurrican Ophelia, now heading for Ireland, we are currently treated on extremely nice weather for the time of year. Or, just plain nice for any Dutch season. The minimum temperatures we have now are usually the maximum temperatures. And to add to the fun last night was clear, quite transparent and the seeing was great at 1.15 arcseconds. So out to Uddel I went at 21:00 to see some deepsky objects.

Upon arrival is was again surprised by the visibility of the Milky Way over my favourite observing spot. Even without adapting my eyes to the darkness it was easy to see including the dark and light areas in Cygnus. I quickly set up the telescope. An easy job with a ‘volltubus’ or tube OTA and I doubt if I will ever go back to a truss dobsionian anytime soon…

I did not have a proper observing list ready so I knew it was going to be a sloppy night out in the field and I decided to use only the Pocket Sky Atlas in which I did have pointed out some objects in Pegasus for an earlier observing session in Gelselaar.

I started off with the Veil Nebula. Without a filter nothing was visible but with the el cheapo china filter (essentially a very wide band LPF) I managed to see it. Not very bright though and a far cry from the views through my 12″ and 10″ I once had.

Then I moved over to bright M31, the famous and easy Andromeda Nebula. Only a hint of the darker band of dust was visible but all in all a view as was to be expected with an 8 inch telescope. (my mirror is actually an 8.5″ F6 mirror by David Hinds I recently discovered)

Then, in no particular order, I tried and sometimes failed on these objects:

  • NGC7331 is tiny! But bright so easily spotted.
  • Next to it is the Deer Lick Group out of which I could see NGC7335. It did actually see it at times which was surprising as it’s a mere magnitude 15 object! I then figured I should also be able to see the other brighter Deer Lick Group member NGC7340 because it is mag 14.7. But that one remained unseen. I don’t know why that was but I am convinced I did see 7335 although very, very faint.
  • Then on to galaxy NGC7217, also in Pegasus and on a very easy location. Nothing to be seen… hmmm. Fumbling in the dark, frustrated. I moved on to several other objects also not to be seen and after a while I slowly deduced my Telrad was off #noob
  • So, after aligning the Telrad I did find NGC7217 which was now very easy, as expected. It is a quite bright and round galaxy. There was some structure to be seen in the disc.
  • In between objects I had a look at the Veil Nebula through the 80 mm F5 Kson refractor also on site. With a proper filter and low magnification 2″ MaxxVision eyepiece I could see the entire Veil Nebula in one overview. Cool!
  • In the same telescope we had a couple of looks at M33, under differing magnifications. It’s a hard object to get a proper view at from our rather lightpolluted country
  • I then had a look at M33 through my dobsonian telescope but it did not show more than it’s core and a faint halo where the arms are. I have seen M33 in France once through my 12″ Lightbridge and back then I could see several brighter knots in the arms. I’ve yet to better that view.
  • NGC7429 is a beatiful S-shaped galaxy which I have never been able to see and tonight was no exception. This galaxy is now my new Nemesis. I really do not understand why I have been unable to bag this object until now.
  • M15 was easy enough and bright. I could resolve quite a bunch of stars in this globular cluster and with averted vision this globular doubled in size and irregular in size.
  • NGC7006 in Delphinus is hard, I already knew that. But tonight it proved illusive and was not to be seen. I have seen this globular only once or twice now.
  • The star Enif is bright and of a beatiful color.
  • I finished off with a look at the cores of each of the members of the Double Cluster. The 9mm eyepiece proved itself as a pretty good eyepiece on this exercise. Lots of stars in the background became visible with the 9 mil.

Oh, and Albireo was fuzzy at ~110 times. Which was not what I hoped for. I am guessing it’s the coating on the primary mirror. And I am hoping it’s not an actual issue with the surface of the mirror itself due to the bird poop that was on there for years when this scope was in a shed in France. If it is, the mirror is ruined, economically. But it’s most likely just the coating and I am essentially looking through a 11 or maybe 15 cm newtonian 🙂

For this session I replaced the 4 cm secondairy mirror with a 5 cm one. I also re-installed the dew-buster on the back of it and placed the hole thing 1 cm lower in the tube. Now it lines up more nicely with the eyepiece.

Next up: making a 7 to 12 Ah powertank with a couple of 3V outlets and 12V outlets for dew-busting needs and a fan on the primary mirror. The coating will probably have to wait yet another few months because the cyclocross and winter MTB season is starting and I need some gear for that first. Priorities.


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