“Electronic eyepiece” Visual experience – – – more

I have now mounted the screen (with Velcro) on the scope mount, which seems the best place for it. Last night’s almost full moon was on display, so here are some photos of the screen, Obviously nothing like as good as proper imaging, but it IS a computer-free visual experience!

The first one is with a focal reducer, the second straight into the camera, and the last two with a X2 barlow.


Window-sill astronomy

To all you doubters out there, there is an article on this subject in April’s Sky at Night magazine – – -!

The article says “Observing through a closed window is not recommended due to reflections and distortions”


A closed window prevents air currents and that is much better than an open window. If you are in a dark room and the telescope objective is close to the window the “reflections and distortions” are minimised.

Take a look at some of my window-sill images if you don’t believe that!

Video electronic eyepiece/image intensifier

Imaging is imaging, usually with a computer to process said images later.

Visual observing is when you look through an eyepiece and get an “instant” view.

As soon as you start to use electronic assistance such as an image intensifier the distinction between these two gets a bit blurred.

The PD camera produces a video output that you can feed directly into a video monitor and get an “instant” or “near instant” view, depending on what integration time you use. No computer is needed.

So here is a slant on that theme. I purchased a 5″ video monitor for the princely sum of £16.99. It runs off 5V, so I also purchased a 12V-5V converter for another couple of pounds. I then coupled it to the PD camera like this:


Here are a couple of snapshots of the “instant” result of the Orion nebula using the window-sill 80mm refractor. The first one is as it comes, the second with a UHC filter.


Not a patch on proper imaging, of course, but interesting!

I could easily see the Flame nebula like this, and I fancied I could (maybe) also see the Horsehead – – -! (From the window-sill, of course!)

Before the “Snow Moon” got going.

21/2/19 Swadlincote C6r on Neq6 mount.

A short session before the Moon glow got going. This time it was the “snow Moon”, big bright and silvery as SWMBO pointed out .

Very surprised to get a lovely unfiltered view of NGC 2440, a bright +9.3 planetary Nebula in Puppis. Discovered by Herschel , it bears the hottest central white dwarf. Continuing with obscure a lucky view pulled out by averted vision of 15 Hydrae . The B companion giving a 1.2″ split with two further faint companions. Staying in Hydra and a great view of M48.
Two further challenges in Gemini , Σ1037 and Σ1081. Looking at the Trapezium , the E star was quite obvious , but no sign of the F . Probably as Orion rested on the town lights. We’ve got led streetlights, the glow is pretty fierce , but doesn’t give that horrible orange glow. Just a few clusters worth observing ,M46, M47 , M50 and the compact NGC 2420.

From here a six inch aperture (f8)gives equivalent views to my 8″ Newtonian (f6) , but with increased contrast and more defined diffraction discs on bright stars and planetary views. The seeing and transparency of the atmosphere dominate , but it is possible to get down to below one arc second separation. It’s quite surprising to get so much detail from simple equipment . The Eq6 holds the 11.5kg ota weight of the six inch refractor, with a carrying capacity of 25kgs , there’s room for more !

Lovely early session under ,
Clear skies ! Nick.

Observing Log 21-22/2/2019; Lichfield; Andrew & Rhys Thornett, Sue & Chris

Observing Log 21-22/2/2019


Andrew & Rhys Thornett, Sue & Chris

See also photos of the Moon taken during this session:

Photographs of Moon 22/2/2019 – Meade Lightbridge 16″ Dobsonian Telescope, Samsung S7 Phone hand held, Lichfield

Orion Nebula, M 42, NGC 1976, LBN 974, Meade Lightbridge 16 inch with 20mm ES and UHC. Filter helps to improve view significantly. Tonight with Sue and Chris, new comers to astronomy, and my son Rhys Looks green in UHC, reflecting oxygen content.

Moon,301, A great chance to describe the formation. Craters on moon, impact vs. volcanic features, ghost craters, formation of mares.

M 35, NGC 2168, Next stop to show Sue and Chris an open cluster and explain this is what would have happened to our sun before it separated from its siblings.

Pinwheel Cluster, M 36, NGC 1960,Another open cluster for the duo to observe and admire. Lots of oos and arrs.

Bode’s Nebulae, Cigar Galaxy, Ursa Major A,M 82,NGC 3034,UGC 5322,PGC 28655,MCG 12-10-11,CGCG 333-8,Arp 337,IRAS 09517+6954, Chris managed to see this – well done to him he got averted vision the first time I told him how to use this technique.

Bode’s Nebulae, M 81,NGC 3031,UGC 5318,PGC 28630,MCG 12-10-10,CGCG 333-7,IRAS 09514+6918,2MASS 09553318+6903549, Sue had difficulty with the previous galaxy but was able to see this one. Well done to her – many folks can’t see galaxies first time they look through a telescope. Sue and Chris were awed by the idea that these galaxies were 12 million light years away and so the light we see left them 12 million years ago. The two galaxies were both nearly in Dobson’s hole – right nuisance for trying to get them in centre of eyepiece!

It is now 22:57 and my guests and Rhys have gone leaving me alone with the sixteen inch beastie and a rising virtually full Moon.

Whirlpool Galaxy, Lord Rosse’s Nebula, Question Mark, M 51,NGC 5194,UGC 8493,PGC 47404,MCG 8-25-12,CGCG 246-8,Arp 85,VV 403, Not much more than the condescend central nuclei of the two cores and very faint surrounding haze to see tonight.

M 108,NGC 3556,UGC 6225,PGC 34030,MCG 9-18-98,CGCG 267-48,CGCG 268-1,IRAS 11085+5556,Just seen VERY faint.

Owl Nebula, M 97,NGC 3587,ARO 25,PK 148+57.1,PN G148.4+57.0,VV 59,Not able to observe even after I added in UHC filter. However very humid tonight, with condensation over all equipment and sky not particularly clear plus bright Moon.

M 109,NGC 3992,UGC 6937,PGC 37617,MCG 9-20-44,CGCG 269-23,IRAS 11550+5339,IRAS 11549+5339,Failed to observe this.

Double Cluster, h Persei, NGC 869,C 14,The view with 20mm ES through the 16” not as awe inspiring as in the 10” Dobsonian in the past due to lack of contrast between object and background – the 16 inch has collected more of the background goo which is a shame – still the Double Cluster is a pretty sight.

Although background sky glow is amplified by large mirror, so is detail in objects and I can clearly see difference between denser Milky Way star clouds in this region and less dense areas reflecting what is seem on Sky Safari.

IC 1805, The Heart Nebula is in a less dense area of the Milky Way and this leads to a darker background and I found that I dropped quickly onto the central brightest knot in this brighter core of the Heart Nebula.

NGC 896,IC 1795,LBN 645,I also could find without difficulty the brightest part of this area of the Heart Nebula as well. Note only the brightest bit of each of these two regions was visible and other parts of the Heart and Soul Nebula were not visible tonight.

M 103, NGC 581, A smudge in the 20mm eyepiece.

Tr 1, Could not find/see this.

NGC 663, C 10, Several bright stars in easily identifiable pattern within cluster made this easy to spot tonight.

NGC 659, Got it eventually due to the brighter identifiable stars but for a usually easily found cluster it was more than usually difficult to observe tonight – not sure if this was due to light pollution or from bright Moonlight.

NGC 654, Faint smudge around bright ster – seen.

IC 1747, ARO 91,PK 130+01.1,PN G130.2+01.3,VV 7,I am very pleased with my observation of this magnitude 13 planetary nebula. It just goes to show that highly condensed objects can show through light pollution even if relatively dim. This one was just seen as a mildly out of focus star with 14 mm explore scientific eyepiece. When I increased the magnification using my 6 mm ethos eyepiece, the out of focus star became an obvious planetary nebula, although relatively faint. I could see it by direct vision. No filter was used for this observation. Another first tonight is that this is now the first note that I have written using the dictation feature in iPad/Sky Safari. It works well!

NGC 609,Could not see this….not surprising…11tn magnitude and no bright stars.

NGC 559, C 8, I thought I had found this but – no – on checking it with higher magnification eyepieces it turned out only to be some stars but no cluster. I’ve never seen this object before so I don’t exactly know what it looks like. I only have the picture that was shown on Sky Safari. That’s the thing with this Star hopping – I find that I don’t always find the objects that I’m looking for but I guess that’s part of the fun – it’s like fishing really.

Owl Cluster, Dragonfly Cluster, Kachina Doll Cluster, ET Cluster, NGC 457,C 13,Really not impressive tonight perhaps due humidity/big scope/observation really near top trees/moonlight?.

Moon, 301, I finished off by going back to the Moon and admiring the detail of craters using the 6mm Ethos. I was able to see vertical grooves in the central peak of one particular crater. In another crater, the detail in the peripheral walls was amazing but the centre of the crater was totally flat suggesting that was previously filled by a lava flow. Both of these and others were visible along the edge of the moon. I took some photographs of some of these craters using my Samsung S7 smart phone, hand held at the eyepiece. Not the best photographs in the world but good memories of tonight. I’ve enjoyed the evening even though the quality of the sky is poor. Even now, I can count only around 20 or so bright stars with my naked eye in the sky and I’m not able to see any faint stars without optical aid. However, there is something amazing about getting outside with my telescope. I find it peaceful, although I wish the noise of cars would go away in the middle of the night! It is also wonderful to have had a chance to introduce some new people to our hobby and to the wonders of the night sky. I’m sure that John Dobson would’ve been proud of me tonight!

Packed away now at 00:45. For the first time tonight, I’m going to leave my telescope outside until the morning. I’ll pack the rest of the stuff away but I think it will be safer to put the 16 inch way in the morning when the Sun is up and I can see what I’m doing. It rolls on casters but it does weigh 100 kg so if it were to fall over there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

It is also possible that the forecast for tomorrow might change in which case we could end up with another clear evening. Having the telescope already set up outside would then be helpful.


Observing Log 17/2/19

Observing Log 17/2/2019 @ 19:00-22:30.

Andrew Thornett



·       Orion 10 Dobsonian Telescope

·       Celestron NexYZ camera/telescope adapter

·       Explore Scientific 14mm eyepiece

·       Ethos 6mm eyepiece

·       Tele Vue Radian 12mm eyepiece

·       Tele Vue Nagler 7mm eyepiece

·       Samsung S7 phone

·       Tele Vue Paracorr coma corrector.

·       Tele Vue 2x Big Barlow


The great thing about ten-inch dob is it is easy to move around garden so I can avoid trees ton see different objects.

Today I have been sorting out my shed and thrown away a load of stuff to create space – mainly old radio gear (homemade antennae, old satellite dish, poles from trampolines, and the ilk) and it is amazing how much space I have created!

However, my back aches especially as I have also been swimming. Nevertheless, I must take the chances to observe, don’t I? In the UK, the sky does not clear on demand!

Tonight, I have also tried out my new USA Orion two-inch filter slide on the UK Orion 14-inch Dobsonian telescope. Unfortunately, I found that I could not get enough in-focus alone with the ES eyepieces but there was plenty of in-focus with the Tele Vue Big Barlow added in as well. However, that resulted in the 20mm ES effectively becoming a 10mm eyepiece, removing my finder eyepiece. I do have a 40mm eyepiece in the box and a 35mm one in another box, so I think those two need to be bought into action. The Paracorr gives a 15% Barlow effect but that did not give enough back focus for the filter slide.

Moon, Current Location 52º 41′ N 001º 49′ W,52.68523374, -1.810645505, Bright nearly full.

Excellent chance to try out new phone adapter. Better than hand-holding!

But would not fit around large ES and Ethos eyepieces so needed to change to Radian and Nagler eyepieces – I need to look at this in daylight to see if can open the jaws further and overcome the inward slope at the top of the bigger eyepieces which makes it difficult for the adapter to grip.

Still, I got some fine photos of the moon.

Orion Nebula, M 42, NGC 1976, LBN 974, Current Location 52º 41′ N 001º 49′ W,52.68523374, -1.810645505, Nice view although smaller as moon close by and wiped out some of fainter nebulosity. Unable to get photo with adapter as having to use eyepieces with too high a magnification so difficult to keep objects in view long enough to have time to centralise phone to centralise on Celestron NexYZ adapter. The adapter was too sloppy, and I need to look at it in the daylight to find out how to tighten it.

Owl Nebula, M 97, NGC 3587, ARO 25, PK 148+57.1, PN G148.4+57.0, VV 59, Current Location 52º 41′ N 001º 49′ W,52.68523374, -1.810645505, Despite a very bright moon which wiped out any view of the M108 galaxy, I was able to get a definite view of the Owl Nebula nearby to it. Boy was it faint with this bright moon nearby. I needed to use averted vision, nudging the eyepiece (where I touch the eyepiece to make it vibrate and this makes it easier to observe faint objects as they move in the field of view) and OIII filter to see it but see it I did – quite large once I found it.

Orion Nebula, M 42, NGC 1976, LBN 974, Current Location 52º 41′ N 001º 49′ W,52.68523374, -1.810645505, Back to M42 this time with OIII and UHC filters and 14mm ES. The difference between no filter and OIII is profound with much more nebulosity evident in the OIII than without a filter. I think the OIII does better than UHC filter bringing out more of wings of nebula but both clearly excellent filters on this object.

NGC 1975, Current Location 52º 41′ N 001º 49′ W,52.68523374, -1.810645505, These reflection nebulae just above the fish mouth of M42 were visible tonight using my OIII filter and slightly visible with UHC filter although the difference between the views in the two filters was quite significant. Not visible without filter with this bright moonlight.

IC 1805 (bright central region of the Heart Nebula), Current Location 52º 41′ N 001º 49′ W,52.68523374, -1.810645505, I thought I would have a go tonight at seeing if I could observe the Heart Nebula despite the bright moonlight. I was trying to find the Double Cluster in Perseus as a starting point for a star hop to the Heart Nebula. I had left the UHC filter screwed on to the end of the 14mm ES eyepiece. To my surprise I came across a definite patch of nebulosity. Looking at Sky Safari, I realised that I had wondered off my line to the Double Cluster accidently hit the Heart Nebula (its central bit at least)! I was able to confirm the find from the sky location and star pattern in the area compared to what Sky Safari said I would find there. I never did find the Double Cluster tonight…. The reason I have used the designation of the central patch of the nebula for this find tonight is that this central patch is particularly bright and is what I found. There did appear to be other nebulous patches nearby but those were far less bright, and I did not take time to try and identify them.

Bode’s Nebulae, M 81, NGC 3031, UGC 5318, PGC 28630, MCG 12-10-10, CGCG 333-7, IRAS 09514+6918, 2MASS 09553318+6903549, Current Location 52º 41′ N 001º 49′ W, 52.68523374, -1.810645505, My last two observations are M81 and M82. Both seen with this bright moon about 90 degrees to southeast high in sky. M81 much more visible than M82, with its bright core & clearly oval rather than circular with fainter periphery compared to the core. UHC and OIII filters gave a much worse view of this galaxy than without any filter. Visible with these filters by direct vision but quite faint compared to unfiltered view.

Bode’s Nebulae, Cigar Galaxy, Ursa Major A, M 82, NGC 3034, UGC 5322, PGC 28655, MCG 12-10-11, CGCG 333-8, Arp 337, IRAS 09517+6954, Current Location 52º 41′ N 001º 49′ W, 52.68523374, -1.810645505, M82 was much fainter than M81 tonight. I don’t normally seem to notice such a difference when I am observing M81 & M82, but the moon seems to emphasise it. I think it is the bright core of M81 that really stands out. Although filters did not help with the view tonight of M81 and M82, changing the eyepiece from the 14mm ES to the 6mm Ethos really helped. In the books, it says that increasing magnification can help boost contrast and that certainly worked tonight on these two objects. In fact, I found M82 tonight using the higher magnification eyepiece having had difficulty with the 14mm. I found M81 relatively easily with the 14mm.

22:30 – Closed up for the evening.


Observing session 11th-12th February 2019.

Swadlincote C6r refractor , Neq6, 13mm Nagler ,5.5mm Meade UWA.

All my apps and net forecasts  gave massive cloud cover. Listening to radio 4 , I heard “clear breaks” and a touch of frost. Heading out at 10 gave three lovely clear hours . The opposite situation from the night before , when setting up in clear sky to find it clouded over completely , a few minutes later.

Transparency wasn’t up to much , I usually don’t look south west , but Gemini looked great and I had one of the best views of NGC 2392 , the “Eskimo Nebula”. X216 really brought out the central white dwarf star ,the bright core and the dimmer halo.

Not much luck with the Coma Berenices galaxies , M64 (“black eye”), M85 with a star like centre, the faint M88,M91 ,M99 and M100 by averted vision, no great things there ! NGC 4725 at +9.4 did look bright as did the “needle galaxy”, NGC 4565. M53 did show as a globular , but not much contrast. Better luck with binaries, very surprised to see the secondary of 35 Comae Berenices at low power, it opens out into a stunning triple. What secrets these low power views hold !

Cold hovered around zero degrees , no breeze and still clear.
Porrima ( gamma Virginie ) showed as very open at 2.8″, a stunning sight.Not so long  ago , it was a struggle to get even a glimpse of a split. Adds some interest finding binaries opening and closing as they move.

Up to Canes Venatici and a lovely view of “La Superba” one of the brightest red stars , on its way to becoming a planetary Nebula. 25 CNv gave a wide 1.7″, a bit wider for Σ 261 . Followed this with a view of the colourful “Cor Caroli” . There’s only two visible stars in Canes Venatici , with M94 being between them . Come off that line and there’s a plethora of galaxies .

Just a few years ago and with less light pollution , I’d scan the remarkable CNv galaxies. Nowadays they are hardly a streak ( “whale galaxy”) , but there are plenty of accessible targets , under ,

Clear skies ! Nick.

Stunning February views.

There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting at the eyepiece with a red headlamp and some simple drawing equipment .

Not only does it relax the eye , but enables more detail to be observed. Monoceros has been well placed, with “Hubbles variable Nebula” NGC 2261 providing superb views, well worth finding. Here are some show case targets, some spectacular binaries including 15 Monocerotis, the brightest star of the Christmas tree cluster , NGC 2264.

The winter Albireos provide a lot of colour as does ” Hind’s crimson star” SAO 150058 , a glowing deep red coal in Lepus.

Temperatures have dipped before midnight and just a few hours has been adequate. My sky has not been bright enough to catch much galaxy action just yet. Here’s to clear skies ! Nick.