Observing Log 28/1/2019. Visual observing the Heart Nebula from Lichfield. Andy and Damian.

Observing Log 28/1/2019.
Visual observing the Heart Nebula from Lichfield.
Andy and Damian.

Can you observe the Heart Nebula with a 10” scope from the centre of Lichfield, about 600 metres from Tesco Extra? Yes, we can – but it requires an UHC filter to do so……

I am very excited about tonight’s observations – Damian and I have never observed this much detail in the Heart Nebula before!

Damian came around to my house this evening and after a meal together we took the 10 Orion Dobsonian Telescope out for a spin. We used my Explore Scientific 100-degree field of view eyepieces. After initial cloud with poor forecast, the sky cleared at 9pm and we went outside. We also used Tele Vue Paracorr coma corrector tonight and 2 UHC (Ultra High Contrast) filter.
The Milky Way was visible high in sky going through Cassiopeia, Auriga and Gemini.

Orion Nebula,M 42,NGC 1976,LBN 974, I wanted to show Damian the difference between the view without and with the UHC filter. Without the filter, the nebula was small, without significant wings in this relatively poor sky, but with the filter it showed far more detail and the wings of the nebula extended from edge to edge of the field of view of the 14mm ES eyepiece,

Double Cluster,Chi Persei,NGC 884,C 14,We are using the Paracorr as well tonight. The Double Cluster is bright and beautiful with the UHC filter stretching across the field of view of the 14mm eyepiece. We used this cluster as starting point to jump to the Heart and Soul Nebula and a small Hockey Stick asterism (Mk 6) to tell us when we reached that nebula.

Star-hopping to the Heart Nebula from the Double Cluster:

Detail of observations in the Heart Nebula:

Heart Nebula, IC 1805, LBN 654. Amazingly, Damian and I found this tonight with a definite visual observation of the central star cluster with its surrounding nebulosity. This is the brightest part of the nebula and required an UHC filter to observe. The central bright portion was a definite observation using 20mm ES eyepiece. We THINK we observed less bright surrounding area to southwest of this bright central area but were less confident in this part of the observation. Still, to have seen visually with confidence any part of the Heart and Soul Nebula is quite an achievement, so we are very pleased with ourselves!

Mk 6,This little cluster showed the little hockey stick asterism that we used to demonstrate that we had reached the edge of the Heart Nebula in our star hopping, as it is located on its edge.

Mk 6 (The Hockey Stick Asterism mentioned above):


Heart Nebula, IC 1805, LBN 654, The central brighter part of the Heart Nebula is located in the circle defining this region on Sky Safari, and we observed a cluster of stars in this central region together with brighter nebulosity. Still needed an UHC filter to observe it though (although cluster visible without filter):

The Heart Nebula and the dotted circle in the middle surrounds the brighter central area:

Identifying the brighter central area:

Area around Star HD 15250,SAO 12309,BD +60 490,HIP 11618,TYC 4046-1262-1,We are working our way around the Heart Nebula. At this point nebulosity was visible by direct vision in an area almost devoid of stars with its brightness different from the rest of the field of view. We are continuing to use the 20mm eyepiece and UHC filter,

NGC 896, IC 1795, LBN 645, Star hopping from the hockey stick asterism brought me to this nebula. Now that our eyes are accustomed to looking for these faint nebulae tonight, we could now see the nebulosity between the stars. Damian nudged the scope to confirm and noted that the more he looked the more obvious the nebulous patch.

Star-hopping around the Heart Nebula – the pictures below show some of the areas we were able to identify with certainty tonight – note they are all the brighter areas on the chart:

Soul Nebula, Soul Nebula, IC 1848, LBN 667, Ahhh! Before we got to the Soul Nebula, the cloud came in. It was only thin and stars still visible but enough to wipe out faint nebulosity and lead us to call this search for faint nebulosity with an UHC filter. We finished and packed away at 22:15.

Tonight, we have amazed ourselves – not only managing to visually observe the Heart Nebula (nebulosity as well as stars) – but also being able to hop around the different brighter parts of the nebula – all confirmed by observing the varying brightness of the regions as we panned the eyepiece across the sky. I think I will always carry an UHC filter with me whenever I observe from now onwards!


5 Responses

    1. We have tried Horse Head nebula several times in past without success and I tried for the nebulosity around the belt star close to the Horse head over the weekend = on all occasions no success.

  1. Wow ! That’s a great sighting from Lichfield. Never seen much nebulosity in Cassiopeia from home, always worth a shot ! NGC 281 ( Pacman) is quite accessible.From very dark sites , a uhc or Oiii filter transforms some areas of the sky. Nick.

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