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Nov 17th, The Night of the Long Achros


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Sorry bout the pun but its nowt to do with operation hummingbird in 1934 but an account of my session last night with 6" F8 and 5" F9.3 achromatic telescopes

So a clear night with a low crescent moon that soon set and was out of the way. I set up the 6" F8 Helios in the observatory and the recently restored Meade AR5 outside on my alt az giro 2 mount.

6" F8

The 1st thing I looked at was Jupiter and although the collimation was spot on the image was slightly soft, some of this was down to the atmospherics but most was down to the lower than normal focal lenght that Im used to, normally F15 achros.

Besides this there was plenty to see and the apeture enabled me to use high magnification with filters without losing brightness. There were no transits or occulotations of the moons or GRS on show but the view was still worth it.

I did try for a laugh a little imaging of Jupiter but the views were not really sharp enough to do the planet justice.

Some DSOs next which this scope excells at-

M1 still a little low at 20.00 hours but bright enough in the Vixen 30mm 2" ep. The slightly canted trapezoid shape was clearly evident but no structure could be seen just a slight brightening off centre. I tried the O111 filter but this didnt help, in fact the object almost dissapeared showing that OIII is not prominent in this nebula, unusual for a planetary.

M31, 32 and 110

Big and bright as ever in this scope, the central core was bright and I slewed along the galaxy body and noticed some denser areas and mottling.

M33 with 30mm ep. Big bright taking up most of the central area of the fov with a slightly tilted oval shape. The core was brighter with signs of structure and further out there were mottled ares indicating the nebulous starbirth areas in the arms.

M35 /IC2158

Still low so contrast not great but in the 30mm the cluster showed great structure with dark lanes between the groups of stars. The smaller dimmer cluster IC2158 was easily seen but was too small to resolve with the 30mm. I slotted in a 13mm and the outer stars of the smaller cluster started to resolve.


I decided to take a quick look at this cluster as it was nearby and I dont recollect ever having seen it before. A small sparse cluster of not much more than a dozen stars could be seen with only 2 bright stars and the rest much fainter forming a kite shape with the 2 brighter stars.


I can never resist this cluster big and full of stars with the 30mm ep, dark lanes give the cluster an eerie shape and 2 bright stars gave the impression of eyes to a strange flying creature formed from the cluster body.

M15 - A nice globular cluster resolving in the outer regions with the 13mm ep.

M81/82 - Both in the FOV of the 30mm with structure showing in the starburst region of 82 and a faint hint of outer structure in 81 only seen with averted vision.

Double cluster - this was stunning with the 30mm, the colours were so easily seen with gold, white and even some red stars in each half. I spent a long time just drinking in the views on this object.

M42 - By 22:00 Orion had cleared the trees in th south west enough for me to play with M42 even though it was still in the Burton On Trent haze and light. The 30mm ep showed lots of detail around the trapezium and fishes mouth, mottling was easily seen in the central area of the nebula. I swapped to the 13mm ep and fitted the H beta filter which transformed the view and brought out far more mottling in the nebula. The filter reduces the stars but enhances the nebula giving a very strange appearance but one which enables you to concentrate on the nebulosity. The central area around the fishes mouth and trapezium showed considerable structure with knots of denser brighter nebulosity clearly seen. Altogether I think I spent 30 minutes just observing this object and I can guarantee I will do the same again in another session, there is just so much to see.

Part 2

5" Meade LXD55 AR5 resurrected from an ebay spares or repair. Mounted on altaz giro

Jupiter, with plenty of cooling time on the scope, not that it required it, I fitted the Vixen 13mm lanthanum ep onto the generic 2" diagonal I had fitted to the scope and was rewarded with an extremely creditable view of the giant planet. Still slightly soft compared to my F15 achro and 5" apo but far superior to what the 6" F8 was giving. The belts were sharp and were showing good colour. North and south equatorial belts were easily seen with the equatorial band in between shown as a thin straggely line. A barge could be seen just below the SEB and the polar regions gave a good 3d view.

I swapped the 2" diagonal for a standard 1 1/4 and fitted my binoviewers with a pair of TMB 9mm planetary eyepieces. Viewing planets with binoviewers gives a completely new dimension and this scope was showing itself to be a belter in that department. Detail that was hinted at in the single eyepiece was easily picked out with both eyes and I dont usually see a great deal of colour on this planet just browns in the larger belts but I was seeing yellows and dark reds as well as the browns... and this from an achro!!!!

Open clusters are something special with binoviewers so I slotted 2 off 25mm Antares Plossl eyepieces into the viewers and went on a tour of the usual suspects. M35, 36, 37, 38, 45 but the best of the lot had to be the double. The colour was there easily discerned as in the 6" but there was a 3D effect seen with the brighter stars appearing to be in front of the fainter stars, an unusual view which I havent seen before in a scope only in big binos.

I then went over to Lyra and found M57 nice and bright but the star of the show was epsilon Lyra. I love using binoviewers to spilt doubles so with the 9mm TMBs in place both components of Epsilon Lyra split easily with dark sky between each component of each pair.

By midnight my bones were starting to feel the cold despite my insultaed rompa suit so I reluctantly called it a night well pleased with a good variety of objects in the viewing bag.

Conclusions on the scopes -

The 6" F8 Helios is a top DSO scope but its faster F ratio lets a little more colour in than its longer counterparts that reduces the sharpness on planetary views but it still manages to please on planets.

The 5" AR5, well I was pleasantly surprised at this scopes performance, the optics are good and the longer focal length gives sharper views on planets but with binoviewers in it the scope is transformed a good lightweight general purpose scope I reckon.



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Good report Phil, sounds like an excellent night, I have never tried binoviewers, must see if I can have a look through some at a meeting next time! :)

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What a great read phil. Sounds like a great session. Thanks for sharing. It really helps imagining your session having seen the two monster scopes yesterday :)

I managed only 30 minutes on a few of the usual suspect objects with the big bins before they dewed up. Didn't help that's next doors bathroom window was open and pouring steam out which annoyed me. Having said that, what an amazing 30 minutes it was! Truly fantastic bins :D

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Really enjoyed that report, thanks Phil.

I'm feeling rough with a cold and was disappointed that I missed out on last nights clear sky.

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