Observing Log 15/12/2017 @ 22:36 – 16/12/2017 @ 02:04, LRO, Andy and Damian – first ever views of some faint nebulae

Observing Log 15/12/2017 @ 22:36 – 16/12/2017 @ 02:04.

Andy & Damian


What a night! Incredible views from the centre of Lichfield – we can only imagine what the views must have been like from a dark sky sight. Tonight, we saw things we have never seen before – at least by eye – and only ever expected to see on photograhpic images. Wow! Just goes to show – it is worth going outside in the freezing cold.

  • 10” Orion Dobsonian Telescope with Explore Scientific (ES) 20mm, 14mm, 9mm 100 degree apparent field of view (APOV) eyepieces and Telrad finder.
  • 80mm Sky Watcher Equinox Pro telescope on William Optics EzTouch Alt-Az mount with 31mm Nagler and 6mm Televue eyepieces and 8x50mm finder.
  • Sky Safari Pro 5 planetarium software on iPad

Photos through image intensified eyepiece (IS):

Orion Nebula (M42):

M81 and M82 Galaxies in Ursa Major (below) – note that the Image Intensified eyepiece has significant field curvature and coma towards the edges of the field so the thin smudge of the top left of this image is not another galaxy but a spread-out star:

Double Cluster in Perseus (below):


Orion Nebula – Messier 42, Bright Nebula in Orion,15 Dec 2017, 22:36:35, Using my ten-inch Orion Dob in my back garden, standing in the snow, after tripping over the remains of the snowman built by Rhys and Hannah, and survived the treacherous and very slippery icy steps (and having put salt on them to keep myself alive), my first target was Orion’s nebula. Magnificent and stretching over half the field of view in my 14mm Explore Scientific (ES) 100-degree AFOV eyepiece. My eyes are poorly dark adapted, but the nebula looks green rather than grey tonight, suggesting the sky is very clear after the snow falls.

NGC 1975, Bright Nebula in Orion, 15 Dec 2017, 22:42:48, Visible other side of the fish-mouth, little detail visible.

Flame Nebula – NGC 2024, Bright Nebula in Orion,15 Dec 2017, 23:00:41, Definite observation of the Flame Nebula nebulosity. Once our eyes were relaxed, we could see filaments and tendrils over 1+ fields of view growing in brightness towards the main part of the Flame Nebula. Realised again it is a question of learning to observe this very faint object.

Messier 78, Bright Nebula in Orion,15 Dec 2017, 23:04:08, First ever observation of M78. Two stars with definite nebulosity. I thought it was an open cluster at first, but Damian realised what it was, and we star hopped around the area to confirm it.

Orion Nebula – Messier 42, Bright Nebula in Orion,15 Dec 2017, 23:05:20, Image intensified eyepiece – we could see tendrils curling around in circle behind M42 from tips of the wings of the nebula, these were not obviously visible in ES eyepiece. M43 also showed more detail in image intensified eyepiece BUT we could not see the Flame nebula in the image intensified eyepiece.

Messier 78, Bright Nebula in Orion,15 Dec 2017, 23:07:31, Seen in image intensified eyepiece (IS) but nebulosity less obvious (although still visible) than in ES.

Barnard’s Loop – Sharpless 2-276, Bright Nebula in Orion,15 Dec 2017, 23:25:05, I thought I could follow part of this – a C-shaped lightening as a strip at centre field of view – which I followed upwards and then right on to right in next field of view. Damian was not convinced so we will call this a possible observation only……

NGC 2244, Open Cluster in Monoceros, 15 Dec 2017, 23:29:33, First seen as definite smudge in Vixen 2.1x binoculars by myself! I am doing well tonight, as I have seen first most observations above. Damian mentioned NGC 2244 in his talk at RAG end last month. These Vixen binoculars are really growing on me as they do such a good job of identifying such objects. In ten-inch with 14mm ES, we saw definite structure in the Rosette Nebula itself and not just the star cluster. Wow! What a night! And from the centre of Lichfield. But it does require one of the clearest skies we have ever seen. In the IS only the stars of the cluster could be seen and not the nebulosity. This appears to show that the IS responds very poorly to very faint diffuse objects.

Messier 35, Open Cluster in Gemini,16 Dec 2017, 00:39:12, Damian tried out my Skywatcher Equinox Pro on his William Optics EzTouch alt-az mount. He found M35 with his Nagler 31mm, one of the most famous eyepieces of all time.

Pleiades – Messier 45, Open Cluster in Taurus,16 Dec 2017, 00:41:34, In 80mm with 31mm Nagler, masses space around stars just like binocular view. Never seen like this in telescope. Like binocular view -magnification 500mm/31mm = 16x magnification with excellent field of view much better than most binoculars.

Double Cluster – NGC 869, Open Cluster in Perseus,16 Dec 2017, 00:44:33, Likewise with 80mm Equinox and 31mm Nagler this gives excellent binocular view without aberration unlike most binoculars. Obvious uni-ocular view.

Stock 2, Open Cluster in Cassiopeia,16 Dec 2017, 00:49:03,80mm Equinox plus 31mm Nagler best view to view this. Looks like a man with Double Cluster at edge of field of view.

Double Cluster – NGC 869, Open Cluster in Perseus,16 Dec 2017, 00:50:17, Every bit of kit has its place. That includes a ten inch Dob with 20mm ES -spectacular!

Pinwheel Cluster – Messier 36, Open Cluster in Auriga,16 Dec 2017, 00:53:12, What a way to pan M36/37/38 in Auriga – the 80mm Equnix+31mm Nagler. Wow! Wow! Wow!

Pinwheel Cluster – Messier 36, Open Cluster in Auriga,16 Dec 2017, 00:54:39, Throw away the 80mm binoculars!

Double Cluster – NGC 884, Open Cluster in Perseus,16 Dec 2017, 00:55:41, Lovely view through 80mm Equinox with 14mm ES. More magnified at 37.5x although of course will not match light gathering and therefore brilliant diamond like quality of ten inch Dob. But 80mm is a lot more grab and go. Damian thinking of something similar for American trip in 2019.

IC 1805, Open Cluster in Cassiopeia,16 Dec 2017, 01:04:47, Started by identifying the cluster and checking it was correct by panning around and checking location. Once this was certain started looking for Heart Nebula.

Heart Nebula – IC 1805, Bright Nebula in Cassiopeia,16 Dec 2017, 01:05:59, Once we identified cluster we could then identify nebulosity. This is certain observation with tendrils of nebulosity evident. However, one criticism is applicable. If we did not know from or planetarium maps that this was the correct location could we be sure this nebulosity was not background star fields, too faint to resolve individual stars? Answer is we couldn’t as brightness only slightly different from elsewhere but once location established fact is we could see the nebulosity with certainty. Is this only going to be tonight when sky so clear? Possibly but in fact it is starting to mist up now so perhaps this is part of the skill-set l-learning to recognize things for what they are in the sky. Note all our observations so far have been by direct vision. Averted vision has not been required so far tonight.

Soul Nebula – IC 1848, Bright Nebula in Cassiopeia,16 Dec 2017, 01:13:01, Adjacent to Heart Nebula, also seen initially via cluster stars. Again, once identified, we could then start to see the nebulosity – becoming more obvious as we spent more time observing it – particularly one bright patch. Both Heart and Soul Nebula seen with ten inch and 20mm ES.

Messier 65, Spiral Galaxy in Leo,16 Dec 2017, 01:22:28, Failed to find these,

Bode’s Nebulae – Messier 81, Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major,16 Dec 2017, 01:23:00, Neat little objects in centre of field inn 80mm – of M81/82 and M42 – with 31mm Nagler.

Damian then changed to 6mm Ethos for M42 inn 80mm. Masses of detail. Quite bright. The combination of Equinox and WO mount seems to work well.

Orion Nebula – Messier 42, Bright Nebula in Orion,16 Dec 2017, 01:37:54,80mm through IS M42 bright but M43 not visible. Smaller image means less affected by field curvature and coma inherent in the IS.

Finished observing @ 02:04 – sky too misty and its too cold and my secondary has fogged up!

RAG Christmas Quiz 8/12/2017

If you missed it, then you missed a real treat! In spite of the ice and snow on the roads, a virtually full house turned out to experience Damian’s fantastic creation of a world where astrology and astronomy were both equally valid, and where fun and frolics were the order of the day!….But we couldn’t get away with it that easily. It was also his most difficult, and most astronomically-related quiz to date. However, don’t be fooled – as always, knowing your astronomy only got you so far – general knowledge around history, geography, archeology, popular music and culture were at least if not more important – and such knowledge led the (self-admitted non-astronomy experts) Jonathon and Dominic’s team to victory! It was a brilliant evening and we all really enjoyed ourselves. Thanks again, Damian!


The Joys of RAW…

Never got time this year to build my RAG Aurora talk… it’s nearly a year since we were preparing to head to Alta, Norway….

But work is nearly finished and so I decided to have another play.

This is the jpeg off the camera – way too dark and the aurora far too green – this was a very fast moving teal green, multi-band wave that stretched across the sky. It was far more vibrant and illuminated the scenery…. which is much bigger than it looks here – width wise, this combination captures 114 degrees (84 high, so with the camera angled, the top of the pic is around the Zenith) !

22nd Dec around 6.30pm – I only managed another 10 shots of this outbreak before the battery finally died (that was after eeking out some last shots by warming it up under my armpit!) Thankfully I’d captured the majority of this performance and it was fading out. It was then back to the lodge for dinner, a fast battery re-charge and then headed back out for our final evening….

Tripod mounted, (old) full frame D3 (only 12Mp) and the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens. Cable release and using mirror lock-up to reduce internal shaking.

800 ISO, 14mm,  f2/8 at only 6 seconds – shows how bright and fast it was moving when you consider what the camera recorded (and the blurring of the bands….) Keeping to 800 ISO keeps dynamic range at the expense of shutter speed. I could have pushed to around 1200-1600 ISO as the cold would have kept the noise down, but that’s how it goes…

6th Dec 2017: NEF RAW file processed in Adobe LightRoom Classic CC (2018) and finished in PS CC 2018. I’ve cropped it down to a more pleasing composition and tried to depict what we saw (although this is more saturated).

The moral of the story is… always shoot RAW!


For orientation – the diamond of ‘Delphinus’ can be seen to the lower left just past the tree. Coming out of the top of the same tree is the (Summer) Milky Way, that bright white star just clearing the branches being Deneb in the tail of Cygnus. The bright orange star in the upper left of the photograph is Scheat – if you examine your star atlas, you’ll find it as the top right star in the ‘Square of Pegasus’ !

Plus a short movie, made from 13 files (pre Photoshop) put together in iMovie (the shot above was the third in the sequence)…


Damian processes Stowe Pool microscope slides for observing under Zeiss IM microscope with Andy

Damian came around this afternoon and took to the microscope like a pro!

He processed slides from a sample of pond water I collected yesterday and kept in my mini-aquarium (square glass vase of Ean Ean’s) overnight – producing live, heat fixed, heat fixed and H&E stained slides, which were then observed with x4, x10, x20, x32 and x40 objectives and photographs and video taken using the Mikrocam 9.0 camera on my Dell E4800 laptop.


Damian processing slides in my kitchen sink:

The slides Damian produced:

Micrometer eyepiece and calibration slide:

Microcamlab7 software screen photo grab with calibration slide with 20x objective:

The following photo was taken at the eyepiece using Samsung S7 through the LOMO micrometer eyepiece and with calibration slide in field of view:

Video from microscopy session, by Damian and Andy. Most of the video covers views of live slides, in direct and phase contrast transmitted light, using 30W www.retrodiode.com LED illuminator for Zeiss IM microscope. There is a clip at the end of the video which explores an H&E stained heat-fixed slide that Damian prepared (https://youtu.be/dySnojsTteM). In the first video look out for the vortices the organism (I think it is probably Vorticella but needs to be confirmed – see this video for comparison (not ours) https://youtu.be/193EpXPU6QM) is producing either side of its mouth-parts:

x20 objective, live view:

x20 objective, phase contrast Ph1 annulus, live views:

I suspect that the following is a photo of the dead carcass of one of the feeding organisms in the following photos:

x32 objective, live specimen, series of photos of organism feeding – notice how mouth-parts are closed in some photos and open in others. This organism is also seen at the beginning of the video above. In this video you can see the vortices at sides of mouth-parts – especially in phase contrast. I think it is probably Vorticella but needs to be confirmed – see this video for comparison (not ours) https://youtu.be/193EpXPU6QM).

x32 objective, live specimen, phase contrast Ph1 annulus:

x20 objective, H&E stained heat-fixed:

x40 objective, H&E stained, heat fixed:

Microscopy S annectans Finis Shale Texas x4 objective Zeiss IM microscope 26/11/2017

Damian popped around and together we looked at a slide of fossilised coral from the USA.

Stereocorypha is a form of extinct coral. The slide here is from Jack County, Texas. Photographs were taken on my Zeiss IM microscope with x4 objective, using the Bresser Mikrocam 9.0 camera and Diagnostic Instruments adapter and ZU clamp, with Zeiss 910137 dual observation adapter (originally designed for a teaching microscope but bought into use here to allow both the binocular head and ZU clamp to be simultaneously used on the IM microscope).

The following slides show:

  • Three images of the same field of view to demonstrate the (limited) effect on this slide of using a single polarization filter. The filter used is one made by Zeiss.
  • A composite of 49 pictures combined using Microsoft’s Image Composite Editor.

Andy & Damian

Bresser Mikrocam 9.0 installed on Zeiss IM microscope:

The photos in the composite were taken using a blue filter. The set of three were the only ones using polarising filter – in this case one made by Zeiss. This is single linear polarisation NOT cross-polarisation:


A set of three images to demonstrate effect of polarisation on the same field of view:

Without polarising filter:

Polarising filter position I:

Polarising filter position II:

Composite of 49 images taken using blue filter (non-polarised):

This file is so large I have had to ZIP file into a compressed folder. The picture within it is a 70% quality JPEG version of the composite – the only way I could get such a large photo onto WordPress!

S annectans Finis Shale Texas x4 obj Zeiss IM 261117 (stitched x49 photos)JPEG-70percent-cropped



Image intensifier photographs from observing session 17-18/11/2017 (home-made image intensified eyepiece, Samsung S7 phone, Orion UK 10″ Dobsonian, Lichfield)

The following photographs were taken during the observing session at LRO, Lichfield, UK, by Andrew and Damian 17-18/11/2017. Photographs were taken from views through our two 10″ Orion Dobsonian Telescopes, using our home-made (ATM) image intensified eyepieces and my Samsung S7 smart phone hand held at the eyepiece end of the image intensified eyepiece.

The home made image intensified eyepieces were made using old 2nd world war image intensifier tubes purchased from ebay for £50 each a few years ago. They give good views although suffer from significant image distortion towards the edge. However, they represent excellent value for money and provide a quite different way of observing the night sky. Although technically what you see through these image intensified eyepieces is not a direct view of the night sky but instead an electronic image, they give an excellent “through the eyepiece” experience because of where they are located (in the focuser) and the intimate experience of observer and telescope is therefore retained, albeit with a green view!

Andy & Damian

Andromeda-Galaxy-Satellite-M31 & M32-Image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Christmas-Tree-Open-Cluster-NGC2264-Image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Crab-Nebula-M1-Image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Eskimo-Plantary-Nebula-NGC2392-Image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-181117.jpg (below):

Galaxies-M81-M82-image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Hubble-variable-nebula-NGC2261-Image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-181117.jpg (below):

Open-clusters-M35-NGC2158-image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Orion-Nebula-M42-image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Pleiades-Open-Cluster-M45-image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Observing Log 17/11/17 @ 21:30 – 18/11/17 @ 03:00, LRO, Lichfield, Andy, Damian & Rhys

Observing Log 17/11/17 @ 21:30 – 18/11/17 @ 03:00

LRO, Lichfield

Andy, Damian & Rhys


Damian came around to my house in Lichfield for a great observing session. We both used our Orion ten-inch Dobsonian telescopes. Rhys joined us for an hour and then we continued for another 4 and a half hours.

We must really enjoy this astronomy lark! 5 and a half hours shot past as though only minutes – and this was after a long day at work and school for all of us.

Tonight’s session rates in amongst one of our best – with a number of unusual targets and the very successful use of our home-made image-intensified eyepieces – we made these years ago and had moved away from using them in favour of more “modern” equipment (video cameras) but tonight, on the Dobsonian telescopes, in a head-to-head with my Watec video camera the image-intensified eyepieces won for shear ease of use, fun and “at the eyepiece” experience – and boy were they good at helping us to observe galaxies!

I will add a post in a few minutes after this one with photographs taken through the image intensified eyepiece.


Photos below of Damian and Andy and telescopes tonight – Andy looks like he is falling asleep!





  • Orion Dobsonian 10 Telescopes x2
  • Vixen SG 2.1×42 Widefield Binoculars (Damian and I both made use of a discount at the International Astronomy Show this year to buy ourselves a pair of these amazing devices)
  • Explore Scientific and Televue Ethos eyepieces & Televue Paracorr coma correctors on both scopes.
  • Homemade image intensified eyepieces.
  • Watec 120N video camera




All objects tonight found by star-hopping, with the help of Sky Safari Pro 5 on my iPad and Damian’s Sky & Telescope Pocket Sky Atlas.


Pleiades – Messier 45, Open Cluster in Taurus,17 Nov 2017, 21:30:12, Whilst Damian aligned his laser pointer to his red dot finder on Capella in Auriga, I took the opportunity to use my new Vixen SG binoculars to observe the Pleiades – with my slight short sightedness I only see a blur with the naked eye but with these binoculars I was able to see 15 stars. Wonderful! My slight short sightedness (only about 0.75 dioptres) means I am usually reluctant to wear glasses (especially outside where I would be taking them on and off to look through an eyepiece) but it is sufficient to blur detail during naked eye observing. The Vixen SG binoculars give me back the ability to see the sky in focus and their individually focusable eyepieces allow me to compensate for the slight difference between my eyes.

Messier 37, Open Cluster in Auriga,17 Nov 2017, 21:33:28, Visible with Vixen SG binoculars with averted vision – I hope that will improve as I dark adapt. 21:36:14, Update to previous comment – I have just been able to observe M37 with direct vision through Vixen binoculars. Damian took a look himself and saw a meteor go through the field of view of the binoculars – always a spectacular sight in the Vixen SG. We then used 21mm Ethos with Paracorr to observe M37. Beautiful!


Pinwheel Cluster – Messier 36, Open Cluster in Auriga,17 Nov 2017, 21:43:27, Comparing the view in my Explore Scientific 20mm vs Damian’s Ethos 21mm the view is very similar.


Starfish Cluster – Messier 38, Open Cluster in Auriga,17 Nov 2017, 21:45:25, Another nice view of an easily seen open cluster in the Orion Dobsonian telescopes.


NGC 1907, Open Cluster in Auriga,17 Nov 2017, 21:46:02, However we preferred of this cluster to that of M38 close by. Faint but we readily saw it. Not really challenging…now this would be a good one to spot in the Vixen binoculars! Not that we saw it with these binoculars tonight!


North America Nebula – NGC 7000, Bright Nebula in Cygnus,17 Nov 2017, 21:53:03, I read the other day that nothing is brighter than the naked eye view and that magnification does not increase contrast contrary to the popular view – instead it increases the number of retinal sensory cells covered by the image and hence increases visibility. Therefore, for extended large faint objects, they are easier to observe at low magnification, as long as sufficient retinal receptors are covered. Therefore, there is an optimal magnification for each object which is the best compromise between the benefits and negative effects of magnification. For many larger objects, this optimal magnification is a lot less than many of us usually think.

I decided to put this information to the test tonight by trying to observe my nemesis – NGC 7000 – I can never see it in Lichfield. I used the Vixen SG binoculars on NGC 7000 to see if they would break my run of bad luck with this object….


22:04:47…..Success with the Vixen binoculars! NGC 7000 was elusive but definitely visible with averted vision. It popped in and out of view – lasting only a moment each time but then my eye would automatically wonder towards it and it disappeared immediately. Another wow for tonight!


IC 2149, Planetary Nebula in Auriga,17 Nov 2017, 22:06:28, Well done to Damian for finding this! Drop down from Capella to Menkalinan – slightly NE from there. Clearly blurred with 8mm Ethos, but must have been a nightmare for him to find by star-hopping tonight with his lower power eyepieces. UHC filter made it slightly clearer. We did not have access to an OIII filter tonight to compare, which is supposed to work better.


NGC 7814, Spiral Galaxy in Pegasus,17 Nov 2017, 22:20:24, Found by myself and successfully observed – a great success! Wow! Very faint in these Lichfield skies. Slight darkening. I think this is the brighter of the Pegasus cluster galaxies. I have been reading about observing this Sky and Telescope. Perhaps something really for darker skies than ours but nice to have made a foray into this group.


Crab Nebula – Messier 1, Bright Nebula in Taurus,17 Nov 2017, 22:27:27, Big! Even in 17mm Ethos.


The ‘Leaping Minnow’ asterism and the ‘Cheshire Cat’ Asterism in Auriga,17 Nov 2017, 22:40:34. Damian showed me the Leaping Minnow asterism and the Cheshire Cat Asterism in Auriga, both of which are in his presentation for RAG next week after he found references to them in previous magazine articles I’d sent him. Both of these required considerable imagination on my part to see the things they are meant to look like(!) It’ll be interesting to see what other RAG members think come the November RAG meeting!


Andromeda Galaxy – Messier 31, Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda,17 Nov 2017, 23:16:39, I tried observing this galaxy with my Watec 120 video camera and seven-inch screen. This was a failure in the Dob. I had to ask Damian for his help to track the scope on Capella whilst we tried to attain focus. Too much magnification and not enough in-focus when I tried to make use a focal reducer. Stars were shooting past the screen. Not practical.


However, the image intensified eyepieces we made years ago did well. M31 was crisp and bright (but perhaps not as impressive as we’d expected considering it relative ‘brightness’…? In fairness though, Damian pointed out the dust lanes in the ‘green’ image we were viewing which was not something easily seen through our eyepieces.


‘Mirach’s ghost’ NGC 404 a Mag 10.2 elliptical galaxy showed up better in the image intensified eyepiece than in the normal eyepiece! Damian found this fairly easily in this 17mm Ethos, even with the star in the same field of view, thankfully it was just out of the range of secondary mirror’s diffraction spikes.


NGC 752 in Triangulum – this is a big open cluster found easily with whatever we used. Damian tells me he often heads to this after all the unsuccessful attempts he has had to view M33 !


Damian found M33 using the image intensified eyepiece after trying with his 21mm Ethos and heated laser pointer. Then, averted vision with 17mm Ethos allowed us to identify its enormous size and Damian claimed he could see a part-spiral structure – he did not require Lord Rosse’s enormous scope to see it! (William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse (17 June 1800 – 31 October 1867) was an Anglo-Irish astronomer who had several telescopes built. His 72-inch telescope, built in 1845 and colloquially known as the “Leviathan of Parsonstown” was famously used to observe spiral structure in M51. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Parsons,_3rd_Earl_of_Rosse)


Almach – Gamma1 Andromedae, Double Star in Andromeda,17 Nov 2017, 23:43:32, Beautiful open pairing – a main yellow/orange with a smaller sapphire blue – Nick will be proud of us looking at double stars!


NGC 2158, Open Cluster in Gemini,17 Nov 2017, 23:46:15, ‘the more difficult ‘companion’ to M35 easily seen in both scopes. I used a little higher mag than Damian, preferring 14mm Explore Scientific to his 21mm Ethos.


IC 443, Bright Nebula in Gemini,17 Nov 2017, 23:48:10, Had a look – couldn’t see – ridiculous attempt really at mag 12 – far too faint an object for these skies. I always live in hope though that we can push the boundaries!


Orion Nebula – Messier 42, Bright Nebula in Orion,17 Nov 2017, 23:49:55, First view through branches of tree. Poor view will be better later but worth recording – at 23.45.


Little Dumbbell Nebula – Messier 76, Planetary Nebula in Perseus,18 Nov 2017, 00:00:50, Damian also found this. Really does look like a miniature version of the Dumbbell nebula M27. Bright in eyepiece. Also shows up with structure in the image intensified eyepiece.


BREAK TIME – Seasonal mulled wine (Nick would not be impressed with our consumption of alcohol… perhaps less so with the warm muffin!) After Damian had warmed his toes on the kitchen radiator, we headed back out…


Little Dumbbell Nebula – Messier 76, Planetary Nebula in Perseus,18 Nov 2017, 00:35:10, Appearing larger in the 8mm Ethos, significant structure visible.


Back to the Orion Nebula – Messier 42, Bright Nebula in Orion,18 Nov 2017, 00:36:13 how sitting between an opening in the garden trees, Very long ‘wings’ in 14mm Explore Scientific 100 degree eyepiece. Unfortunately, collimation problems showed up in my scope when I used 6mm Explore Scientific – I could only see four stars. Too much of a seagull of the stars from coma. Damian could still only see four stars with 10mm Ethos in his better collimated scope, so sky conditions had part to play here. Plenty of detail though to be had including M43 brighter region around the ‘fish mouth’.


Double Cluster – NGC 869, Open Cluster in Perseus,18 Nov 2017, 01:05:46, Do you prefer the view of the Double Cluster in 17mm Ethos or 9mm Explore Scientific? Tonight, we could see that the former resulted in a view showing more of the context of the surrounding stars, the latter left a view of spectacular diamonds (the stars) on velvet (black background). Tonight, I preferred the latter but accept it is a matter of taste. Damian went to hunt for the ‘Muscle Man Cluster’ (also in the November talk), but had forgotten just how big this asterism is so couldn’t identify him – basically the majority of Stock 2 Open Cluster!


Uranus, Planet in Pisces,18 Nov 2017, 01:16:24, Too late! By time we thought of looking at this it was behind the house.

Messier 81 & Messier 82, Galaxies in Ursa Major,18 Nov 2017, 01:21:22, Excellent view with 17mm Ethos and amazing view with image intensified eyepiece, showing detail and dust lanes in the Cigar Galaxy. Incredible!



We also had a go at the RAG November ‘Christmas Night Sky Challenge’ (regurgitated Damian tells me from his 2015 talk!)….


Messier 108, Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major,18 Nov 2017, 01:23:00, Also showed up nicely in image intensified eyepiece. In the Ethos eyepiece, it was a much fainter slash – significantly more difficult to find using normal eyepiece than with the image intensified eyepiece. Conversely, the close-by Owl Nebula M97) was much more obvious with the Ethos eyepiece and significantly fainter in the image intensified eyepiece – interesting how different objects respond differently to different modalities of observation.


Eskimo Nebula – NGC 2392, Planetary Nebula in Gemini,18 Nov 2017, 01:38:38, Suddenly expanded in size when we looked away from it (averted vision) then shrank down again when we looked directly at it (direct vision) in 17mm Ethos – this was quite a profound effect. With the 8mm Ethos, it was very fuzzy and Damian noted two shells around this planetary nebula, and some hints of detail within these shells. The 10mm Ethos showed a slightly different appearance emphasising the two layers at the expense of loss other detail. I am quite excited that I found this object first – although the truth is that I was helped by having seen it in the past with Nick using GOTO scopes, so I was aware of what it looked like and recognised it as I panned past it with a lower power finder eyepiece. This was perhaps the biggest and brightest of the ‘fuzzy stellar-like planetary nebulae’ that we observed this session.


The festive… Christmas Tree Cluster – NGC 2264, Open Cluster in Monoceros,18 Nov 2017, 01:53:41, First time seen this upright just like its name! Seeing this tonight makes me feel that Christmas is coming soon. Big object, fills a good portion of a 17mm Ethos.


Damian informed me of another addition to his November presentation build, Hubble’s Variable Nebula – NGC 2261, Bright Nebula in Monoceros,18 Nov 2017, 01:59:13, I am proud! I found this using the 17mm Ethos when Damian had more difficulty! It is usually the other way around (Damian is significantly better at star-hopping that I am) so hence my excitement. I did use his scope though, after I had tripped over his power pack and injured my shin – Damian would say, “Only you, Andrew!” (it looked pretty bad to be honest after we had finished for the night – taken a lump of skin off, ouch! – Damian).


Damian notes here: he was in the correct vicinity and just needed the more detailed SkySafari map to find the nebula (which was also his suggestion!). He’s also ‘not great’ at star hopping, but a nice low magnification/wide-field eyepiece, sky map/red head lamp  and heated laser pointer all flatter his supposed ‘skills’!


We also looked at Hubble’s Variable Nebula in the image intensified eyepiece and found that it was visible there but the view was better in the Ethos eyepiece. With the 10mm Ethos, the nebula is clearly triangular. Similarly, in 17mm, the triangular shape is obvious – like a fat tailed comet.


Beehive Cluster – Messier 44, Open Cluster in Cancer, 18 Nov 2017, 02:31:50, Vixen SG binoculars made it a breeze to find this. Large ‘smudge’ in Cancer.


Messier 101, Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major,18 Nov 2017, 02:36:26, Amazingly I think I could just see this with Vixen 2.1x binoculars by averted vision – although very faint and the view in this direction was where light pollution was maximal, so I am not 100% sure of this observation.


NGC 2903, Spiral Galaxy in Leo,18 Nov 2017, 02:37:26, Just to the SW of the

inverted questionmark that forms the head of Leo . Good view in eyepiece and image intensified eyepiece. Lesson from tonight: image intensifiers work well on galaxies, and provide an alternative to filters which do not work well on galaxies but better on nebulae.


Whirlpool Galaxy – Messier 51, Spiral Galaxy in Canes Venatici,18 Nov 2017, 02:40:54,

02:46. Damian asked me to find it then in the scope, still fitted with the image intensified eyepiece. For the first time I used this device to actually locate and then view the galaxy – just two faint cores, no ‘bridge’ visible linking them.


I saw a fantastic bright meteor coming out of Gemini with a persistent trail.


03:00. Called the session to a halt as a large bank of cloud rolled in and covered the sky.