Stargazing & Bikepacking

Not-so expensive astronomy and some bikepacking stories

SAC weekend Gelselaar August 29 & 30

After a long time, finally a Sterrenknoeiers Astronomical Society starparty at Chris’ place. Nice and dark, observing in his garden so house and its amenities nearby…great! During the day: talking, watching sci-fi movies, building a Lego model of the Saturn V launchpad and loads of good laughs.

On the 29th I had a 2 hour session together with Chris who wasn’t up for setting up his telescope. So he just tagged along. Some of the things I saw were:

  • NGC6781 showed its round shape with the Northern edge scraped off looks like. It’s pretty bright and easy to find;
  • NGC 6804 was not found;
  • Veil Nebula: the Western part was beautiful and shows more detail in my 8″ than the Eastern part that’s  a bit harder to discern;
  • Dumbell Nebula because I wanted an easy find and it’s a nice object to check the circumstances;
  • Cyg Omicron is one of my favourite doublestars (is it even a double star, or triple star to be more precise?);
  • Barnard’s E is hard to see in 65x but strolling the area did give an idea of the E-shape devoid of stars;
  • Then, to my suprise, I managed to bag the Crescent Nebula! In an eight incher! The brightest Southern part of the E-shape was visible. It looked like a C with a bit attached to the North. I was not expecting to be able to find this one at all but I did!;
  • M56 is a small and dim globular, especially in comparison to M13 I also had a look at earlier this evening;
  • A quick view at the Ring Nebula. Tiny, bright thing that is!:
  • I managed to easily find M52 but the Bubble Nebula I did not see at all. I think I’ll need a bigger scope for that. I have seen it once through my 12″ Lightbridge.
  • M31 & M110 to wrap up.

The next day GJ and Roland were there as well. Roland has a C8 on HEQ5, GJ had a Nikon with 50mm on a Skytracker mount. He would be imaging the Andromeda area and Roland would be using my observing list and just ‘browse’ what the heavens had on offer tonight. I had a list.

I started with M13 as that one would disappear behind the trees soon I expected. (it didn’t). In order of constellation, not of viewing the list was the following and I jotted down some notes in it too.

The horizon at Gelselaar

Andromeda

  • I managed to find the Blue Snowball planetary nebula. First in Roland’s SCT and then my 8″ dobson. It was blueish.

Aquila

  • Barnard’s E again but to be honest I didn’t put much effort in at as I saw it yesterday;
  • Palomar 11 would be totally impossible as everything South and below 45 degrees altitude was in some light- and moisture soup;
  • The same was true for Aql 57 dubbelster and the entire constellations of Sagittarius and Ophucius for that matter. So I skipped everything in those constellation too, unfortunately;
  • NGC 6804 en 6803 weren’t found yet again. I know these are quite find but again not finding 6804 was disappointing;
  • Finding doublestar STF 2404 was impossible due to lack of stars there (soup…);
  • I revisited planetary nebula NGC 6781, the Snowglobe Nebula. Beautiful object for smaller apertures. It cannot take 135x with the NPB filter very well. So I looked at it at 65x which I generally like better than close-up anyway.
  • NGC 6778 Mini Dumbell Nebula skipped due to already mentioned soup as was NGC 6751, the Dandelion Puff Ball;
  • Aql V carbon star is tiny, very tiny at 135x.

Cygnus

Cygnus was in zenith and my neck was killing me so I did not plan to look at many objects in it. In the end I didn’t expect for the gorgeous Veil Nebula. I wanted to see NGC 7022 and 2707, both PN’s. Didn’t bother. I did see NGC 7048, the Carpet Nebula though albeit through Roland’s SCT and not my own scope.

Delphinus

  • NGC 6934 is a globular cluster with a bright unresolved core and 3’ halo with three dozen discernible stars. I wasn’t able to resolve any stars. Finding this glob was hard. The starhop failed miserably but later on I winged it and pointed it at the general direction.. and found it in one go;
  • NGC 7006 shows a faint, small and unresolved disk. Looks more like a PN than a globular they say. I could not find it and I remember vaguely it was very faint even in my 12″.

Halfway through the night a pretty bright fireball caught my eye roughly from eastern Pegasus into Aquila. This one was fast, and white-blue with a green hue. And a long ionisation trail to boot! Again I was the only one that saw it 🙂

Scutum

  • The Wild Duck Cluster (also known as Messier 11) is a beautiful open cluster made up of about 2900 stars.I don’t like open clusters but I do really like this one! The V that gives this cluster it’s name was easily visible;
  • Above M11 are some dark nebulas like Barnard 111, 110 and 114. It touches the Scutum Starcloud, Messier 24. This dark nebula is huge and you can clearly see there is something in the way of the stars of the Milky Way there!;
  • In the dark nebula should be NGC 6704 / Cr 390, another open cluster 2’ NNW of fine reddish star. Didn’t see anything that looked like an open cluster though… weird;
  • Barnard 104 should be a defined dark nebula but due to the bad skies below 45 degrees I didn’t even try this one.

Pegasus

  • In Pegasus is the famous NGC 7331 galaxy. Also known as the one missed by Messier. It’s bright and easily found once you identify the proper stars and not two several degrees to the South ^_^ ;
  • M15 is a very bright globular with in it Pease 1, a PN. The planetary nebula is not for small apertures so I obviously did not see that one;
  • Could not see anything of NGC 7094, a galaxy. I think I need at least a 12″ for this one?;
  • NGC 7814 (edge-on galaxy, small version of the Sombrero Galaxy) was not visible because Chris’ house was in the way;
  • But galaxy NGC 7217 was easily found as a very faint galaxy. I probably only saw the core of the galaxy.

Astronom…err… nerd laptops

Also seen were Neptune and Uranus because Roland has goto which is awesome for quickies like this.

All in all I have seen quite a bit. I like the 8″ telescope. It’s not big and I still select objects that are too hard to see under our lightpolluted skies. But I will get the hang of it soon enough. Oh, and also I ordered a 5,5mm 62 degree Explore Scientific eyepiece to be able to see those PN’s a bit better. Turns out an 8″ is a nice scope for PN’s… who would have thought.

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