Stargazing & Bikepacking

Not-so expensive astronomy and some bikepacking stories

Uddel, April 26.

One of those evenings I watched the sky more with my Mk1 eyeballs than through the telescope. It has been a loooong time I had such a relaxed night behind and next to the eyepiece. Just like the old days. ATM’ing the 8″ telescope was good fun, and looking at the brighter objects was okay for a couple of years. But lately I began to miss the hunting for faint fuzzies or obscure objects a lot. Things like galaxies in the M13 area, or trying to observe details in already faint and small objects are impossible in a small aperture scope.

The past three days have been the first I have been totally paperless in the field thanks to SkySafari Pro on an old iPad 4 (the first with retina screen). Setting SkySafari in informational way is a big help for navigation but also for getting some background info on what you are looking at. The audio tours are nice, you can add observing lists and the objects are easily visible and also I have added the AFOV of my eyepieces so I have a preview of how the field will look through the telescope. You can add multiple eyepieces for multiple telescopes. Even the Telrad circle is visible so I can also match that with the maps. Great feature!

Now, the list of things that captured my eye. Or rather, photons my eye captured:

  • M51 got another visit. It was better looking than yesterday but worse than Thursday. So I could make out a hint of the spiral structure but it wasn’t amazing.
  • M101 found and @ 150x a hint of structure could be seen but I wouldn’t say I could see the spiral arms 
  • Hickson 44 finally showed the fourth, small and faint member!! I have been trying to see it for almost 7 years now!
  • I revisited the Needle Galaxy in Coma again. Because…wow!
  • Then in to Virgo, the over-crowded galaxy cluster. Found M60 easy enough, This time I also noticed NGC 4647 stuck to it
  • On to M59 and in the same FOV I noticed the sigar that is NGC 4607
  • Next up, a bit more West, is of course M58. In my 20mm eyepiece @77x I get a AFOV of a bit under 1 degree. The Telrad finder also has degrees and that improved greatly my ability to see which is what. 
  • South from M58 I stumbled upon NGC 4565 on my way to NGC 4567 and 4568 also known as the Siamese Twins. My heart, wat a lovely pair these form. I never observed these by the way.
  • A bit more west I noticed another bright galaxy which I expect to have been NGC 4528.
  • I left Virgo and went up to the hockey stick and the whale or NGC 4656 and 4631. Especially the Whale is a beautiful object. This time I could see NGC 4627 a.k.a. ‘the pup’ as well. Another first for me.
  • At M13 I had a go at the galaxies that surround it but could only find NGC 6207 (again) but also faint IC 4617. I think the latter one was my first galaxy from the IC catalog.
  • To add to the ‘first timer’ atmosphere of it all I finally bagged NGC 5053 close to globular M53! Number 5053 is really faint but I recognised the star field which helped. Frans caught it the day before in a 22″ telescope and after telling him he was quite surprised it could be seen in a 14″.

At the end of the session (it was about 01:15) Oph was rising well above the horizon. One or two stars showed itself only 10 degrees above the SSW horizon which is over the 50km of foresty Veluwe area. The Swan is flying again, Vega is rising higher… summer is coming!

SkySafari Virgo area

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