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Another wonderful observing session December 24, 2006

Posted by dorigo in astronomy, personal, science, travel.

The best occasions are those that are the least planned…

I went to the Cansiglio with my two usual pals yesterday night, equipped with a 12″ Meade Lightbridge dobsonian and Mauro’s 16″ Ariete dobsonian. The sky was very clear and transparent, visual mag above 6, and no wind. Good seeing, although not perfect.

We were able to look at a very nice series of planetary nebulas, seeing detail I had never been able to glimpse. Some views were distinctly photographic, as the Owl nebula, which did show the two “eyes”, darker regions within the nebulosity, and the central star, which is typically hard to see. Excellent views also of the Eskimo nebula, of M1, NGC1514, the planetary in M46, and several other faint fuzzies.

A deep satisfaction followed our being able to spot for the first time (me) the horsehead dark nebula in Orion, a tough target even for large apertures if the sky is not completely dark. Indeed, one usually needs a H-beta filter to enhance contrast, but we just had a UHC (which is more or less the same thing but has other few bands of transmission). It took a while, but we did see it!

M82 was remarkable, a perfect photographic view too. I remember seeing ALL of the detail that you can see in the picture on the left, excluding  the two faintest stars on the lower left. The three main dark bands were all observable, the “s”-shaped central one quite clearly, and the galaxy cut in two the view through a 5mm Burgess eyepiece. A real treat!

I look forward to the next trip to the Cansiglio… Next time, I want to wait for the Leo galaxies to come up.

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