Stargazing & Bikepacking

Not-so expensive astronomy and some bikepacking stories

Secret location, May 14

Libra on the Southern horizon

Another clear night near new moon? It can’t be. But it is! Skies cleared up nicely for tonight. The night before was a cold night with -4 Celcius in the East of the country and tonight wouldn’t be different. So I brought the snow boots, woollen socks and down jacket and pants.

The goal was mainly to check a new location somewhere North of where I live. It should have a maximum SQM of 20.98 according to the sites. So very promising as Uddel ‘only’ is 20.75 according to those same sites. 0.2 SQM doesn’t sound like much but as the SQM scale is logarithmic it does actually help. More important in The Netherlands however is if there are any larger towns or cities on the southern horizon. Apeldoorn is from this spot but in the end it wasn’t as bad a disturbance as a thought it would be, even with al the moisture in the air.

With me was a friend of mine who is a woodward and recently moved to this fabulous location. After setting up the scope I had a good look at M13 and neighbouring galaxies NGC 6207 and IC 4617. The latter one is a dim magnitude 16 but tiny galaxy. In the end I did see it albeit very faint, with AV and only some of the time.

Then my mate came out. He had never looked through a telescope (I think) so I showed him M13 as an example of a globular, M57 (Ring Nebula) as an example of a PN, the Veil Nebula as an example of a SRN and the Leo Triplet for galaxies. He went to bed after this, I continued. Or rather I only got started 😀

In no particular order I had a look at:

  • M107, glob
  • M80 also a glob. Never seen it (107 either) because it is so low South in Libra.
  • M5 is also a glob and a pretty one it is! It has a dense core and some short tendrils
  • M3, need I say more?
  • Next to M3 is another rather big globular, NGC5466. That one is a rather loose, open globular.
  • The Crescent Nebula was a difficult catch in the 8″ F6 but not so in this 14″ F4.3! I could easily spot it with the 20mm S5000 eyepiece and it had this E-shape to it where one half is bright, the other less so. There are an insane amount of background stars visible in this area as it is right in the Milky Way. Colours varied from white to yellow or orange even. Never noticed that before. Also the entire background had a mottled look to it because of even more stars in the background
  • M51 was fantastic tonight: the spiral arms were easily seen. What a showcase object this is.
  • M101 I only managed to see the bright core of, no arms. I think by now the transparency was bad or something as it was dark enough

On this particular spot there’s loads to be heard during the night. Some wild boars were messing about in the forest (there’s a fence to stop them from getting to the agricultural area where I was in), there are large deer rummaging about (you will hear their sounds but won’t see them) and if you are lucky (or unlucky, depending on what your view on them is) you can encounter wolves. There’s a small number of them in The Netherlands since 2018 and the expectation is there will be about 10 in this area next year when the new litter is born. The chance of them running into you are small, and you running into them even smaller. But it does give being alone in the dark an extra dimension.

By now it was 02:20 and time to go. I packed up and left. A kilometer down the road I saw two bright ‘things’ in front of me in the distance, crossing the road. When I was at the spot I looked left to where they went and saw a pack of large deer standing some 10 meters next to the road in a field. Apparently they just crossed the road. One of them had huge antlers, a couple of others less huge ones. I was back home at about 03:30.

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  1. frans van schaik 21 June 2020

    je hebt een mooie kijkavond gehad,Maurits!
    Die Crescent he!
    Heel fraai. Gebruikte je geen filter?

    • theritz 4 July 2020 — Post author

      Lees het nu pas 🙂 Maar ik had er een NBP filter in

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