Stargazing & Bikepacking

Not-so expensive astronomy and some bikepacking stories

Not so transparent Uddel August 26th

After a rather unsuccessful hour yesterday I went to Uddel again. This time I had an observing list with me.  Bart and Joost also went and so we had three DIY telescopes out in the field. Theirs were a 12″ F5 (Joost) and a 12″ F4 (Bart), mine is the 8″ F6.

After a quick look at the Veil Nebula and Messier 13 I started with some objects in Aquila. NGC 6781, the Snowball Nebula, was the first catch. I expected not to find this one but it turned out easily visible with the much used NBP filter using only the Meade 20mm S5000 SWA eyepiece which gives a ~62x magnification and ~1 degree field.  Next up was NGC 6804 but I couldn’t find it. Later in the evening Bart did manage to bag this one and after having a look at the starfield I could also see it as a small, faint roundish smudge. One side of it had a fainter part in it. At only mag 13.38 I was suprised I could see this one using the NPB filter and direct vision.

Cosmic bubble NGC 6781 (Credit: ESO)

During all of this a bright fireball caught my eye that originated roughly below Hercules and went a full 20 degrees through the Northwestern sky. Orange coloured with yellow splashes and a nice ionisation trail to boot. Great! The others did not see it at all. Which makes it even more special 🙂

Transparency turned out to be even worse than on the 25th and the days before. So I did not even try Barnard’s E in Aquila and went up higher to Cygnus. There, I tried NGC 7048 but again without any luck. I revisited the Veil Nebula at around 23:00 and for the first time since re-coating the mirror I could see the effect: easily visible with the NBP filter. In the Eastern part I could manage to see the intricate shape. In the Western part the tendrils proved too much for the eight inches. Bart kindly let me look through his 12″ and I was again convinced a 12″ is the best small large telescope you can buy or make. A plan was born to recreate two of his 12″ F4 design together with a handy mate of mine…

NGC 6910, the Rocking Horse Cluster, was a nice change of scenery after the faint fuzzies. A horse-shaped cluster with some lovely bright and sparkly stars. As far as OC’s go this is a nice one and very easy to find. I decided to not even try the Crescent Nebula, vdB 128 and all the Barnard dark nebula’s on the list due to the crap transparency. NGC 7027 and 7008 I already had a look at yesterday so those were skipped too. An easy one then, Cygni Omicron which is a lovely triple star pair with a white, blue and yellowish star.

Rocking Horse Cluster (Albireo Observatory I – Korinthos, Greece)

By now I had already seen all the objects on my list including  the ones I couldn’t see. Bart pointed out there was “a cluster with some nebulosity I saw a couple of days ago”. That turned out to be SH 2-135 “The Wizard”, a famous photographic object in the shape of .. a wizard. I did in fact see some nebulosity there but not at all like the photos oc course. Still, nice to know what it is you are looking at!

The Wizard Nebula (Creative Commons license)

The Dumbell Nebula was a nice sight to look at. The apple shape was visible with direct vision. The oval shape needed some averted vision. In the 12″ F4 it was bright and huge and all of that. Maybe the 100 degree Ethos also helped 🙂 No sign of the central star though, even in that larger telescope. One dim star was visible on top of the nebula, I think it was Gaia DR2 1827256766256673280. The view brought back memories of the view I had a couple of years ago through the 27″ F3.2 in Hohen Woos. That was insane.

It was now almost 01:00 and time to go home. The sky was lit up quite a bit by flashes from thunder somewhere up North in Friesland which is easily a 100 kilometers away! I revisited M 13 which looked nice even in comparison to the view to Bart’s 12″ and Ethos. The scope is doing fine and the S5000 20mm is a great eyepiece for the money. The 9mm “Celestron” I bought on Aliexpress also isn’t bad at all. Transparency of the eyepiece is good enough and so is the field of view. I had a 40mm super plössl with me to try out but I had it in literally for 2 seconds before taking it out again. Horrible field of view, like looking through a tube!

We ended the night by looking at M 31. I was able to make out the largest dustlane. M 110 was looked at under high magnification in both my own telescope (no details) and the 12″ (no details). In retrospect I should have looked harder through the 12″ because in it we might have made out a tiny dust lane in M110. Let’s try that again next time then.

All in all a nice observing night with decent seeing (the site said 1.3 arcsec) and crappy transparency but with a nice 22 degrees at midnight and wearing shorts… I can’t complain and I won’t ^_^


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