Stargazing & Bikepacking

Not-so expensive astronomy and some bikepacking stories

Vossen, Agustus 19

A clear night and of I went. This time to the new observing spot near Gortel, under SQM 21.3 skies. On the site I was not feeling comfortable at all… I heard grazing deer too close for comfort. Or maybe it were other animals. Anyway, I didn’t feel like standing there all by my lonesome and went to the other new spot near the Wisselseveen. I was expecting fog and unfortunately I was right…fog. Again. This spot is not very good due to the moor being close to it. I don’t think it has much potential because of the moisture here…

So, back to Uddel then. Nice spot, high corn at one side of the road and some other plant on the other. There used to be large grass lawns here as the previous owner grew the grass mat for Ajax, the soccer team from Amsterdam. Holy grass that was.

Setup with the scope was easy as ever. Collimation is an issue, so I had it so-so. Need to check it during daytime as the focuser seems to introduce a wiggle.

Anyway, on to the observed objects in a bit of chronological order.

  • Jupiter never looked worse 🙂 Lots of turbulence because the mirror was too warm still. Also Jupiter was low in the sky already;
  • Same for Saturnus. But Saturn has a ring which always looks smart;
  • Albireo was lovely, stars not all too sharp because of the crappy collimation and turbulence
  • The Crescent in Cygnus was easily found. With all my previous scopes I needed to do a proper star hop to find it but with this one I can see it with direct vision (NPB filter used)
  • I then realised I had never seen M31 in this scope. Also M32 and M110 were seen as you get those for free. The dust lane was very clearly visible. And it looked bigger of course than it does in my previous 8″ telescope. With this 14″ it reminded me of my best observation of M31 ever which was through an 18″ in Kollase in 2011 or 2012;
  • For a couple of years now I tried to bag G1 Mayall II, the famous globular cluster belonging to M31. Years ago, from Hohen Woos under SQM 21.85, with the 12″ I failed to bag it. I simply didn’t have the time as it was cloudy every evening. But more importantly my star hop skills were lacking. This time though I found it easily! Using a 36mm finder eyepiece I could identity the ‘claw’ and ‘Neptune’s fork’ asterisms that show the way to this glob. It’s a rather large fuzzball close to two stars. Amazing object! Twice as bright as our Milky Way’s brightest globular which is of course Omega Centauri. I found this site very helpful to find it;
  • At 00:42 a dim object flew in between the glob and the two stars close to it. I have yet to identify it;
  • On to the Blue Snowball, the quite blue planetary nebula in Andromeda. No detail visible. No filter used as I did not want to loose the colour;
  • A quick stop at the Ring Nebula and Dumbell Nebula. Both never disappoint. The ring again as not a ring really but more oval-shaped;
  • Globular NGC 7006 in Delphinus is a hard catch. Or so I thought because in the 14″ I could see it with direct vision in the 20mm eyepiece. It’s a small globular at 135,000 lightyears distance. That’s a long way as globulars go and having 250,000 stars in it doesn’t make it brighter either;
  • … I spy in the corner of my eye… the Pleiades! Autumn is coming (no surprise there);
  • M33 I could hardly see in the 12″ Lightbridge and I could forget about it in the 8″. The 14″ showed it to me no problem. I could make out the irregular shape (it’s not quite round) but the arms remained unseen. As expected. A meteor veered through it and I could see the ionisation trail in detail through the eyepiece albeit very briefly;
  • Mars popped over the corn so I had a look at it. I could make out the polar ice cap and albedo but nothing much else. Oh, it was reddish that I could see ^_^ ;
  • A quick look at the Double Cluster. Bright stars and I noticed I could not see the orange stars in it which was weird. But whatever 🙂 ;
  • On to M52. But not because I like that thing, I wanted to try to see the Bubble close to it. Which I did. But that is a really dim object! I know this and only the bright part of the bubble was visible. But it was visible with direct vision (NPB filter in place). Nice! Going to try this one from really dark skies when I get the chance;
  • In Cas also is the Pac-Man Nebula or NGC 281. I could make out the ‘mouth’ but the roundish shape was not seen. Just an irregular shape of the brighter nebulous area.

After this I went home. Or so I thought. The car lights gave out and I didn’t have any support on the car apparently. So I slept in the car and watched the sun set, and see Venus and Mars move through the early morning sky. Not too bad really!

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