Thursday, December 29, 2011

Looking back at 2011

My last good observation year was in 2009. 2010 represented almost nothing on the astronomical front.  But since 2011 I'm slowly but surely revigorating the hobby.

Ultimately 2011 was actually still quite OK. I could observe a few times under dark skies (in France) and I have made new friends, as well in Belgium as in the Netherlands.

Here's a list of "achievements"

* Presentation at Urania public observatory: "I have completed the Messier list, now what?"
* Observation supernova SN 2011B in NGC 2655 in Cameleopardalis
* Purchase filter slider (what a comfort!)  and an eyepiece ES 82° 6.7mm
* Successful deepsky week in Varages, Provence, with Belgian friends. Could observe during 5 nights.
* My first deespky sketches (thanks to Tomc). 5 drawings so far. 2 are published in this blog
* Observation Supernova in NGC 3972
* HII regions in M101
* A great observation of M20, the Trifid Nebula, with magnificent dark lanes
* Central star in M57
* 40 galaxies observed in AGC 1367 (Leo)
* Copeland Septet
* 3 new Palomar globular clusters observed (and also some unable to spot)
* M51 Supernova (SN 2011DH)
* For the first time I missed Starnights (!!!) because of an early flight the next day for work.
* Deepsky weekend in Grandpre with Dutch and Belgian friends
* 4 new Abell planetaries observed
* Two times observed at home with Jan Vana ..
* Comet Garradd C/2009 P1
* 2 attempt to observe in Sourbrodt, but failed due to bad weather conditions
* Mini-Presentation on NGC 604 druing deepskydag in Nijmegen

* A total of 205 observations logged in, still in the top 12 as 2011 is concerned.
* My 399ste object of Herschel II list logged. One more to go.

I hope to observe much more during 2012. The top priority is to finalize the HII list. I think I will be the first Benelux observer to complete this list. If not please let me know.

I hope you had a great year too. I whish you all the best and a lot of clear skies for 2012.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

An ultrathin galaxy in Coma - UGC 7321

UGC 7321 is an ultrathin galaxy of 5' x 0,5' in Coma. A beautifull view in an 18". Observed in Varages (Provence) on May 5, 2011. A very faint and thin galaxy with a slightly brighter core. Recommended!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Jones-Emberson 1

Observation in Varages (Provence) - Sqm 21,19 - Obsession 18"<br />
Jones-Emberson 1 is a large planetary planetary in Lyn. It must be very faint as I cannot see it when I do not use filters. An UHC works OK but the best view is obtained with an OIII filter. The typical shape of the headphone is visible. These are 2 lobs connected by a ring. The other side of the ring has not been observed. The eastern lob is the brightest area of this object. The bridge and western lob remains faint. At the western lob there is a star just at the inner edge. There is another star, but fainter, just at the outside of the edge. Observation at 88x and 124x.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Again supernova SN 2011B

Estimated magnitude: 12.6 (FWIW ...)

Jan 29, 2011 - around 22:00 UT
Sky conditions not very good, limiting magnitude below 5.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I want to see Supernova SN 2011B in Cameleopardalis – 28 Jan 2011

It’s cold tonight, but I haven’t been observing a lot lately, so here we go, together with Jan, observing in Boutersem. The sqm shows 20,03 at the start of the session, gradually improving to 20,12 at the end of the night.

I have a twofold objective for this night, first it’s to catch the supernova in Cameleopardalis, and then the last 2 Herschel II galaxies in Eridanus.

Location: Boutersem
Equipment: Obsession 18”
Eyepieces: 31mm Nagler, 13mm, 7mm and 5mm Nagler (all from Jan)
Nelm: above 5,0
Seeing: good

SN 2011B in NGC 2655 – galaxy in Cameleopardalis
An easy one. Immediately visible at 123x, even with direct vision, just outside the halo of NGC 2655. NGC 2655 has a bright core and a quite large halo. At 211x the galaxy shows also a stellar core. The supernova is still located just outside the halo. According to what I read on fora the magnitude is 12.5.

This is my 3rd supernova. Here is a summary of the ones I have seen:

•SN 2008Q NGC 524 Psc Feb 2008 observed with 8" Newton
•SN 2009dd NGC4088 Uma Apr 2009 observed with 18" Obsession
•SN 2011B NGC 2655 Cam Jan 2011 observed with 18" Obsession

The first objective is accomplished. But not the 2nd one ! The objects (NGC 1187 and NGC 1325) were already to low at the horizon, I’m too late !!! Culmination is at 7pm, and it’s now close to 10 pm. Bad planning … But there is hope, tomorrow the weather forecast looks good so I’ll try it again.

NGC 2359 - Thor’s Helmet – nebula in CMa
I’m always surprised how faint this object is. You need to take your time to see all kind of details. The first horn is easy to see. Jan saw the 2nd horn first and after some attempts I could see it too.

NGC 1999 – emission and reflection nebula in Ori
This is an overlooked object for obvious reasons (close to Orion nebula). Nevertheless it’s a nice object. It looks like a planetary nebula with a central star but It’s not. The very nice aspect of this nebula is the a black area, like a bite in a cookie, very similar to a partial sun eclipse.

Rosette nebula in Monoceros
Beautiful. The FOV of 31mm Nagler is almost completely filled by nebulosity, except the centre which is darker. The nebula is visible over the entire 360° with some area’s brighter than others.

NGC 2261 - Hubble Variable Nebula in Monoceros
Again an impressive site. The typical shape of this nebula is clearly visible. The brightest part is around the star, and then it fades slightly. Next time I’ll spend more time to look for more details.

M42 – Orion Nebula
Great, for the first time I could see a greenish color at the nebula just south of the trapezium (without using a filter). Observed at 155x (7mm Nagler).

NGC 2683 , galaxy in Lynx.
This is an fairly large galaxy in Lynx. Probably 8’ long. The surface is mottled. And a short dark lane at East side is pretty well suspected.

We have also seen
M46 and the planetary nebula, which reacts very well with an UHC filter.
Eskimo nebula,
NGC 2371/72,
M82 (Wow!!), M81 (but we could not see the spiral arms).

We ended a bit before midnight, more due to the cold than anything else. The sad thing about this place is that light pollution is getting worse, especially at the east side which is Tienen. This was not like that 2 years ago. I suspect it's primarily coming from the chemical industry there. Something to study more in detail and evaluate if actions can be taken. To be continued!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Slowly but surely I’m getting out of my observation burn out. I’m starting to read again about astronomy, spending time of forums. I’m even going to give a presentation to Urania: “Ik heb het Messier certifiicaat, wat nu?” And after so many grey days and night we have finally a clear sky – let’s go for it!

Location: Boutersem
Equipment: Obsession 18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: above 5,0 but certainly not 5,5
Seeing: good

The idea of the evening is to finish the Hershel II objects in Eridanus. But first some easy things to start with:

M36, M37, M38
M1 – at 211x quite some stars to see close to the edges.
NGC 40: central star, bright edges, star close one of the edges. One of my favorites.
The messiers in Orion: M42, M43, M78

Following objects are from Herschel II catalogue.

NGC 1187 – galaxy in Eridanus
Could not see it !! Also not after 2nd attempt!

NGC 1325 – galaxy in Eridanus
Could not see it !! Also not after 2nd attempt!

I already know I will not meet my objective.

NGC 1332 – galaxy in Eridanus
124x - elongated galaxy of 2' with a bright large core. Not an easy object due to low position.

NGC 1353 – galaxy in Eridanus
124x - elongated galaxy of 2' x 1' -difficult to seen, I can's see it continuously. A star visible south of the elongation direction.

NGC 1400 and NGC 1407 – galaxies in Eridanus
124x - round spot of 1' with a bright stellar core. NGC 1407 is larger and brighter than NGC 1400. It's 2' long and contains also a stellar core. Could not see IC 343 and NGC 1402, even at 211x

NGC 1507 – galaxy in Eridanus
124x probably seen as an elongated smudge of 3'
21x It remains diffuclt but I can confirm it as an object of 3' x 1'. It has a uniform visibility. There is a faint star located 2' from its west side. Observation becomes a bit easier while using a dark cloth as I can see it now during half of the time. A superimposed star is suspected.

Next one is not Herschel II, but nice little planetary in Orion

NGC 2022 – planetary nebula in Orion
211x - planetary nebula in Orion - at this power I the disc is elongated and I can see a slightly darker centre (as a ring). No central star but I suspect a faint star on its northern edge. I googled some images of NGC 2022 and indeed, there is a star there. Also Tom Polakis is mentionning this star.

Ended the night with planetaries such as M76, NGC 1514 (Taurus), NGC 1501 (Cameleopardalis), NGC 2392 (Eskimo), NGC 2371/72 (also in Gemini).

Have seen now 390/400 Herschel II objects.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Found Pease 1! And tested some nice eyepieces (16 August 2009)

Again a nice & clear sky, the 3rd in a row. I don’t need to work tomorrow so no worrying about staying late.

I have tonight also the opportunity to test some eyepieces (thanks to Hubert). I have an Astrolan ultrawide 30mm (80°) which provides me with a FOV of 1,2°, as well as a 9mm Nagler T6 and 4.8mm Nagler (the discontinued version) 

It’s not totally dark when I’m starting to test them. But that’s ok as I’m doing some side by side comparison. 

1. The first object was M13:

Astrolan 30mm (68x) vs. Pan 24mm (84x)
- A great FOV with this Astrolan (1,2°), much larger than the Pan (46’). But of course at the expense of a smaller magnification
- I have astigmatism with the Pan, but even more with the Astrolan. However, it disappears completely when I’m putting my glasses on.
- A bit of (vignetting). Don’t know how to translate in English 
- Good eyepiece for starhopping (see later in this report)

9mm Nagler vs. 9mm Celestron Plossl (225x)
- Nagler is providing sharper stars than the Plossl
- But the Plossl  goes slightly fainter!
- The FOV of 35' is just great

9mm Nagler vs. 9mm Celestron Plossl combined with Powermate 2,5 (563x)
The Nagler provides again sharper stars, but also here the Plossl goes fainter.

4,8mm Nagler (422x) (not compared with another eyepiece)
Sharp images, even at this power! Comfortable FOV of 20'. This is a great eyepiece!

Note 1: while testing I did not know this was a discontinued version and that the 5mm Nagler T5 provided a twice as large FOV. In fact, it's good I did not know, because it provides an unbiased opinion on this 4.8mm eyepiece. 

Note 2: I found on Cloudy Nights quite some remarks on the short eye relieve of this eyepiece. I don't recall having been confronted with this issue during my testing. It's true however it's impossible to observe through this eyepiece with glasses.

4,8mm Nagler with Powermate 2,5x (1055x)
Stars are small discs.

2. Next test was to find Pease 1 in M15
I have found Pease 1 (with Blinking Technique!) with the following eyepieces:

Celestron 9mm + Powermate 2,5x: blinking worked well because I do not have reflections on the filter as I can bring it real close to the eyepiece.

Nagler 9mm + Powermate 2,5: blinking more difficult as with this eyepiece I cannot bring the filter close to its edge, due to the firm eyecaps. I have reflections on the filter which makes it difficult to blink. I had only success when putting a dark cloth over my head.

Nagler 4,8mm: “easy” (everything is relative, so I mean in fact easier than with the 9mm and Powermate) 

3. Ringnebula (M57):
Nice image at 422x (4,8mm Nagler). Still able to observe it at 1055x but it becomes more difficult due to inaccurate tracking. Stars are little discs. Could see a star of mag 15.6 close to the edge (not visible at 422x) and maybe the central star. 

4. Little Dumbell (M76)
Here the 9mm Nagler gives a better view than the 9mm Celestron Plossl. I can see a bit more details on the nebula, and this time I see also a fainter star, which is not viewed with the Plossl. The 9mm Nagler (225x) gives a better view than the 16mm with Powermate (316x). 

5. Starhopping with Telrad and Astrolan 30mm 82°
I’m not used to starhop, so I admit I’m not good at it. However, I also know it’s always a little moment of joy when you found a DSO by your own means. I decided to give it a try by using the Telrad and the Astrolan with it’s 1,2° FOV. Without finder it’s of course a bit harder, reason why I limit myself to the obvious Messiers.  

I did not use starhop charts or an Atlas, only the constellation charts in the “Nigh sky observers guide” have been used. 

I have been able to find M13 (that’s really not difficult), M92, M56, M57, M29, and M15. I had to cheat a bit with M92 and M15: I did not found it immediately, so I used the ArgoNavis to locate, and then looked at the Telrad to find its position (aha, it's there!). Then I tried again only with the Telrad, and it worked. I repeated it a few times to save it well in my memory. I intend to try it during my next observation session.

So here is my eyepiece conclusion: 
- Astrolan 30mm (82°): fine eyepiece if you don' suffer from astigmatism. Otherwise it's OK when wearing glasses (which is not always possible when there is a lot of humidity in the air). It’s also a great eyepiece to starhop. 
- the cheap Celestron 9mm eyepiece is not bad compared to the Nagler 9mm. The Nagler is a bit sharper and provide some more details on a nebula. But the real “plus” of the Nagler is the field of view of 35'. Replacing the Celestron Plossl just for the quality of the image is maybe not worthwhile, unless you’re aim is to get the larger FOV or when you are obsessed by pinpoint stars.
- The 4,8mm Nagler is a great eyepiece. Unfortunately I have not been able to benchmark it with another one so I cannot judge if the premium price is justified. But I can imagine that at that power a larger FOV of 20' is real advantage and worthwhile over a traditional eyepiece. As stated previously I did not had an issue with the short eye relieve. If I have the opportunity I should compare this 4.8mm Nagler with the still active 5mm Nagler T5.  But honnestly, not knowing this 4.8mm was an discontinued version I was pleased with the view it gave me.

Great evening, and I can add Pease 1 to my observation list!

Addendum: observed the folllowing night once more with the 4.8mm Nagler, and indeed, it's a short eyerelief. Not really an issue when there is no condensation, which is  quite rare in our regions.