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NGC1514 from urban skies December 20, 2006

Posted by dorigo in astronomy, personal, science.

After washing the mirror, later today I made some fine adjustments to the collimating screws of my telescope, which had a problem connected to a poor design. I fixed it with the addition of washers. Then I removed a counterweight in lead that is utterly unnecessary – a rubber band properly anchored does the same thing and weighs a hundredth.

Tonight the sky was clear, and I was able to set the telescope up on my terrace and properly collimate it. After playing around for a while with the rubber band, I started looking at a few familiar objects of the autumn sky. Of course, I did not expect much – from my terrace, which is surrounded by all sorts of lights and immersed in the damp city center of Venice, I can hardly see Mv=5 stars. And still…

Still, with a light pollution filter (the IDAS LPS) I found out I could still see the shape and size of M1 easily, and even a couple of faint stars inside it.

M77, the giant galaxy I mentioned in another post today, was still discernible and although no spiral arms were even guessable, there was a distinct decrease in luminosity from the nucleus to the halo.

M42 was glorious as ever, and I had no trouble seeing the fifth and sixth components of the trapezium, as well as the usual incredible details of the nebulosity. Of course, seeing it from the dolomites two moons ago was another matter…

But I was very happy when I decided I would give a look at a planetary nebula I had never tried observing, NGC1514 (see picture on the left), which lies only a few degrees north of the Pleiades. It took me two or three minutes to star-hop to the place where it was supposed to be, and I was happy to see I could make out the size and shape of that fuzzball, lying around a ninth magnitude star. The nebula is not a hard object at Mv=10 or so, but having seen it tonight from Venice means something to me… It means I can still have fun from my terrace, even in the absence of the gas giants – Jupiter and Saturn will become easy targets only in the winter and spring.



1. Darmok - December 21, 2006

Wow, what an incredible picture—you must have some very clear skies where you live!

2. dorigo - December 21, 2006

Hi Darmok,

I wish…

That pic was taken by an amateur with some 30′ exposure from certainly much better skies than mine, with a 10″ instrument.

I do not do astro-imaging, I am just a visual observer… And I guarantee you that what I saw at the eyepiece yesterday was worse than the picture. I did get the right size and shape of the nebula, but I did not see it so well, nor did I see so many surrounding stars.


3. Darmok - December 22, 2006

Well, that’s still far better than anything I’ve seen, though I’m a very amateurish amateur…I’ve spotted the occasional beauty through my small telescope, but usually limit myself to living vicariously through images on the Internet.

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