Viewing Report 12th June 2020 โ€“ IMT3

22:09 – 02:02


It was unexpectedly clear this evening so I opened the dome late, so no cooling down.

Focus 60,279 Lum filter at 19.93โ„ƒ

Autofocus run

Slewed to Arp 286 as I had seen on Flickr and wanted to see what it looked like in 12″. I noted I needed a new set of Darks for the Lodestar off axis guider after we had changed the driver recently, so I set about taking those with PHD2.

autoguider darks

The problem I then saw was no guide star in the FoV! I really need a rotator!!!!!

So I will image without the guider. The first image jumped as I realised the auto-guider was still on and trying to track nothing sending the mount this way and that. So I disabled and set about running 3 x LRGB for 300 seconds a piece

The first image was Luminance and looked ok, although bright due to high level cloud and no astronomical darkness this time of year. I also noted the mark on the filter caused by the LensPen! I won’t use that again. However I do expect that to come out with the flat so not too bothered. Also I could go clean it I just don’t want more dust on the filter so will leave until I have a reason to take the camera off again.

Arp 285 Luminance 300 seconds

For reference here is the luminance flat.

Luminance Flat showing Lenspen mark

Next up was Red filter for 300 seconds

Arp 286 Red 300 seconds

Then Green filter

Arp 286 Green 300 seconds

Then finally Blue filter.

Arp 286 Blue 300 seconds

So I left it to run for 3 x 300 seconds each filter. Meanwhile Mil Dave came online and opened his dome and we decided to go for a joint target to see how they compare. Given Arp 286 was below Dave’s hedge I mentioned the Coddington Nebula IC2574 which is actually a galaxy, being the object in my latest image from the travel rig with the Esprit120 and the comet passing. It has some interesting star clusters in it. We agreed on luminance and 300 seconds. Here is Dave’s result ….

Coddington Nebula by Mil Dave

Meanwhile the humidity kept rising

IMT3 environment gauges

At just gone midnight I finished the short run on Arp 286 and slewed to Coddington to catch up with Mil Dave. First I did a quick refocus as the temperature had dropped about 2โ„ƒ since I started.

refocus but note the point at 62,056

The refocus put me near but not near enough so I changed to 62,056 for a better HFR which worked. Then I went on to do Coddington and here is my result.

Coddington behind the tree from 12″

I had problems with unguided exposure, then had a problem finding a guide star, then the object was behind a tree!

So next I slewed to Mil Dave’s choice of object, here is Mil Dave’s image

Arp 214

I managed to find a guide star straight away and grabbed this

Arp 214

Notice my screen stretch is different hence the bright background. It is just a quick screen grab off the NUC. My turn to pick now, so went for several objects but all behind offending hedges at Mil Dave’s house. So I sent Dave off to choose one. He came back shortly with Arp 278. So off we set. Here is mine.

Arp 278

and of course Mil Daves….but no, he forgot to save it ๐Ÿ™

So my object next, I selected one nearby to save the rather long dome rotation I just did, and the resulting loud noise when it jammed! I need to look at that. Meanwhile Mil Dave trundled his round manually. So I choose NGC 7331, also known as C30 and Herschel H53-1, so also on my list for the Herschel 400. This is what I got.

NGC 7331 12″

Meanwhile the cloud from the South East started to creep in and my daughter, who just came in even at this hour of 1:36 said it was foggy outside.

ASC Cloud coming

Dave’s grabbed the NGC 7331 below.

NGC 7331 Mil Dave

I was about to suggest a Sharpless object when the clouds rolled in enough for me to shut the dome. It was reading -4.8โ„ƒ sky temperature and the limit was less than 30 for overcast, so I manual overrode.

ASC Clouds

Just before it shut this is the image I got of SH2-126 which is impossible to see since it probably needs the Ha filter rather than luminance.

SH2-126 300s 12″ Luminance

Well a good night all round, given we thought it was going to be cloudy it was nice to come out and play with Mil Dave and go hunting faint fuzzies, so a goodnight from me and a goodnight from him ?

Viewing Report 25th May 2020 โ€“ Travel Setup

19:00 – 05:00

Alan and I

So back off to Combe Gibbet again tonight for hopefully a full night until dawn and with a coat. I met with my friend Alan for once again some social distancing astronomy. Again Alan had a much better 4×4 car to get up to the gibbet than my little electric Nissan Leaf, however once again I managed to make it there.

Sunsetting with Esprit 120 and Alan in his chair

After setting up, it quickly became apparent that I forgot the guide camera as it was still attached to the Mak180 that I thought I would leave at home tonight ?

Quick look and focus on the Moon

So despite the slight setback I polar aligned on the uneven ground and managed to get the scope pointing in the right direction. It took me a while to work out why it was not pointing at the objects when slewing with a perfect alignment, then I realised I had the location set incorrectly. A quick look at my GPS on my phone and I input the coordinates into The SkyX and the target was nearly spot on. I adjusted, performed a sync and then was able to slew continuously thought the night with the object in the FoV.

As I was challenged with no guider I could only take 2 minute images and if in the West low down then 1min. So I stetted for those 2 exposures along with 30 seconds for one particular object.

Below are the lost of targets I went after and imaged. I tried to get 15-20 minutes in total for each. We had some early night high cloud, the wind had again dyed down after sunset and although cold, we were both wrapped up warm, although later in the night Alan became cold so wrapped himself up in the dog blanket from the car ?

First up was M44 Beehive Open Cluster, which filled the view nicely so I took 20 x 60 seconds, careful not to saturate the stars. The QHY168C camera was set to Gain 7 and Offset 30 with a temperature of -20โ„ƒ.

M44 60s

I then tried SH2-129 emission nebula but no luck, it was not registering at all at such short an exposure. I had a similar issue with SH2-155 Cave nebula. Both of these I will try again when I have my guider.

I then slewed to NGC 6888 Crescent nebulaย and took 20 subs of 120 seconds.

NGC 6888 Crescent 120s

Next tried to image Trio in Leo M65, M66 and the NGC but I realised I had already imaged, although not processed and the image trailed at 1 minute due to its westerly location. So instead I headed for NGC 7243, a lovely Open Cluster in Lacerta and part of the Herschel 400 at 60 second exposure.

NGC 7243

Next I looked at the double cluster in Perseus and decided to quickly take a few images with the Esprit 120 ED even though it was not on my original target list. Due to its bright stars I took 40 x 30 seconds.

Doublers Cluster in Perseus

Now it was time to grab an image of Comet c/2017 T2 PANSTARRS which was located near a galaxy called the Coddington Nebula. I purposely got the comet at the very edge of the frame to get the galaxy in, although I noticed the tail was pointing in the opposite direction than shown on Sky Safari.

Comet C/2017 T2 PANSTARRS and Coddington Nebula

The night wass really dark, even though it is not true astronomical darkness, the location really helps. The image quality is also much better. I slewed to NGC 7000 the North American nebula that Alan was also imaging. Again 60 seconds was probably not long enough so I need to come back to this object when I get my guide camera fitted.

NGC 7000 North American Nebula 60s

Finally just as dawn was approaching and the light was clearly increasing, I took a few images of Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN to see if I could see it. Was was apparent was it was super faint even at 60 seconds !

Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN

So as dawn approached, Alan and I took flats, darks and flat darks.

During the night we viewed through the 4″ binoculars the Moon, Venus, Mercury, Double cluster, M39 Open cluster, M57 Ring Nebula, Alberio, M56 Globular Cluster, Saturn and Jupiter. Unfortunately I packed up the binoculars before I remembered Mars was up ! So packed up the car, ands drove very tired 50 minutes home.