Observing Session : Friday 23rd January 2010

As the clouds were promising to stay away from Sydney on Friday night, I headed out with 3 telescopes to join an observing session in Turramurra with 12 other members of the Northern Sydney Astronomical Society . When we got there we could see clouds to the north, south and west of Sydney but these managed to stay away from us and eventually disappeared altogether.

So the night was promising to be very promising.

Orion Nebula (Click to Enlarge)

It actually turned out to be a milestone for me . While still getting used to my Celestron 130 SLT telescope, I had still not yet being able to push my scope to it’s limits and see objects like galaxies and nebula. With the lack of observing nights last year due to bad weather, I was pretty much content with looking at the Moon and planets predominantly when the skies were clear and then tried to look much further afield later in the year to try and spot galaxies and nebula.

January this year was sort of a turning point and I had my telescope fine tuned to look at distant objects. As this month is a great month to look at Mars, I turned my attention to the red planet and managed to get my best view of Mars  so far. I also had a great view of the Pleiades, other wise known as the Seven Sisters, and was determinied to push my scope further.

So far at that stage I had not been able to see a nebula, but that was about to change.

On friday night , at around 10:00pm, I finally managed to see my first nebula through my primary telescope…… the Celstron 130 SLT. Of course once I saw the nebula in the scope’s field of view , I was awe struck and had to spend some time observing this nebula.

Then it dawned on me to try out the CLS light pollution filter I had purchased late last year which would effectively bring out more detail in the nebula.

I was not able to take a picture of what I saw with the Orion Nebula on Friday, but I have recreated the picture above which closely resembles my experience. In the picture, the image on the left is the view without the filter while the image on the right is the view with the CLS filter. As you can see the filter adds a greenish tinge to the view and does bring out more of the nebula. This was great.

Despite the clouds staying away from Sydney , the atmospheric transparency and seeing conditions were average…… I calculated seeing conditions to be about 60%. Transparency was not that much better. This of course limited the quality of viewing for the night but I think everyone that attended on friday still managed a great night.

Mars rose just before 9pm so the group had a look at the red planet using the various scopes we had there.

Saturn rose above the horizon just after 11pm and we had a quick observation of Saturn somewhere near midnight. The ringed planet was still fairly low to the horizon so our view of it was not that great as objects are always better to see the higher in the sky they are.

This was the first time I saw Saturn for 2010 and it was clear that the rings are not side-on as they were in the latter part of last year. If we get a closeup view of Saturn, we should be able to see more of the rings now and that will be my target over the next few months.

I have recreated the view of Saturn we saw in the picture below. This was using a wide view lense but clearly showed the rings of the planet.


~ by sydneystargazers on January 24, 2010.

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