Deep Sky Winter Observations Mid-January - March 2018

Conditions | Observation Overview | Remarks | References

From mid-January 2018 until March 2018, I did simple "deep-sky winter observations", often with binoculars, which might be of interest to other beginners and are therefore described here.

List of observed deep sky objects (the links lead to pages describing the DSOs):

I selected the observation objects primarily on the basis of my literature (see references).

 

Conditions

Sky Region and Objects

My observations ranged between the Orion in the East to Andromeda, Cassiopeia, and Hercules in the West. I mostly "hunted" for objects that can be observed with binoculars.

Overview Map

The following map (January 2018) shows approximately the sky area that I primarily browsed during my observations:

Click the map for a larger version - it opens in a new window

And here an inverted map for February 2018 with marked possible targets:

Click the map for a larger version - it opens in a new window

Observation Time

Observations started early, often briefly after sunset. In March, this was, of course, a little bit later than in January...

Observation Location

Most of the observations were conducted in Mühlhausen/Kraichgau (Germany):

A few observations were conducted in Kellinghusen and Erkerode (both located in Germany).

Devices Used

General Conditions

In general, the sky above Mühlhausen/Kraichgau is "light-polluted" and does not invite you to search for deep sky objects. This is certainly one of the reasons why I found some of the deep sky objects that I wanted to observe only sometimes or not at all.

The sky above Kellinghusen is considerably darker, and the one above Erkerode is in any case better than the one above Mühlhausen.

 

Observation Overview

Observation Dates

Date Observed Objects Further Observations and Remarks Devices Used Eyepieces Used General Remarks
Jan 14, 2018 GE: M42/43 (Orion Nebula)
OS: M 35, M 45 (Pleiades), Mel 25 (Hyades), Mel 20 (Mirfak Cluster), NGC 884/869 (Perseus Double Cluster)
  TS binoculars, Skymax-102/127 not documented Skymax-127/102 used with different magnifications: M 42/43 was nice, especially in the 127 for the pointed wings; both telescopes showed the Trapezium well, no really big differences between the two telescopes....
TS-Binoculars: M 35 was beautiful as never before, M 42/3, M 45, Hyades, Alpha Persei Cluster, Perseus Double Cluster
Feb 4, 2018 GE: M 31 (Andromeda Galaxy)
OS: M 35, M 45, Mel 25, Mel 20,
NGC 884/869
  TS binoculars, Skymax-102/127 not documented Skymax-102 and 127 on M 31: no major differences detectable, focusing worked better on the 127; M 31 was similarly bright but smaller in the TS binoculars
TS-Binoculars: M 31, Mirfak Cluster, Perseus Double Cluster, Pleiades, Hyades, M 35 (faint, more a guess...)
Eye: Betelgeuze for the first time consciously seen "yellow-red"...
Feb 5, 2018 G: M 31
GE: M42/43
OS: M 35, M 45, Mel 25, Mel 20, NGC 884/869
  TS binoculars, Skymax-102/127 used different eypieces Skymax-102 and 127 compared using M 42/43 and M 35:
M 42/43: Different eyepieces tried, Trapezium tested, actually no differences on the trapezoid in contrast to what Mr. Kloß wrote.... Most likely differences in the nebula structure and contrast...
M 35: appears with more contrast in the 127, otherwise hardly any differences...
TS Binoculars: Viewed again all "standards", at the end also found M 31. M 35 better recognizable as a "nebula" than the day before.
Feb 12, 2018 G: M 31
GE: M 42/3
OS: M 35, M 36, M 37, M 38, M 45, NGC 884/869
Using the StarSense module was successful in my 2nd attempt (after problems on Feb, 8), the camera also worked well. Explorer 150PDS GT with StarSense module (also with AI) not documented

All objects seen well in the telescope.
Afterwards, some were photographed with Atik Infinity: M 35, M 36, M 37, M 38, M 42/43 (see special page)

Feb 13, 2018 G: M 31
GE: M 42/3
OS: M 35, M 36, M 37, M 38, M 45, Mel 25, Mel 20, NGC 884/869
  TS binoculars   All 10 objects seen well in binoculars
Feb 21, 2018 GE: M 42/43
OS: M 35, M 37
  Explorer 150PDS GT (also with AI) not documented Everything seen well.
Afterwards, some were photographed with Atik Infinity: M 35, M 42/43, Half Moon (see special page)
Feb 22, 2018 GE: M 42/43
OS: M 45, Mel 25
  Skymax-102/127 not documented Infinity 76: M 42/43, M 45, Mel 25
Skymax-102/127: M 42/43
Mar 14, 2018 GE: M 42/43,
OS: M 41, M 93, M 50, M 45
  TS and LT binoculars;
Explorer 150PDS (also with AI)
24 mm Explorer 150PDS: M 42/43, M 41, M 93, M 50
Ditto with Atik Infinity: M 42/43, M 41, M 93, M 50, M 45 (see special page)
Binoculars: M 42/43
Mar 18, 2018 GE: M 42/43
OS: M 35, M 36, M 37, M 38, M 45, Mel 25, Mel 20, NGC 884/869
Kellinghusen TS and LT binoculars;
Skymax-102
24 mm Skymax-102 (24 mm): M 42/43 (super, extended), M 45 (sparkling)
Binoculars: M 42/43, M 45, Mel 25, Mel 20, NGC 884/869, M 35, M 36-38 (the center cluster was the smallest and somewhat lower, the right one the largest, the left one in between); all OCs seen very well
Mar 19, 2018 GE: M 42/43
OS: M 41, M 35, M 36, M 37, M 38, M 45, Mel 25, Mel 20, NGC 884/869
Erkerode TS and LT binoculars;
Skymax-102
24 mm Skymax-102 (24 mm): M 42/43 (super, extended), M 41 (nice, large)
Binoculars: M 42/43, M 41, M 45, Mel 25; M 35, M 36-38 - everything as nice as the day before; M 41 added; Christmas Tree cluster NGC 2264 not found…
Mar 20, 2018 OS: M 44, M 67 Erkerode TS and LT binoculars   Cancer: M 44 (nice, many stars), M 67 (faint)
Mar 24, 2018 GE: M 42/43
OS: M 41, M 44, M 47, M 48, M 50, M 93
Not seen/found: M 67, M 46, M 93 (partly), NGC 2360, NGC 2362 Explorer 150PDS GT with StarSense module 24 mm All in all, not very good conditions because of the Half Moon; M 41 worked best, M 47, 48, and 50 were OK; M 44 quite nice; M 93 partly not found

Bold: First observation during this observation period; all observations done in Mühlhausen/Kraichgau, except for where noted otherwise
G = galaxy, OC = open star cluster, GC = globular star cluster, GE = galactic emission nebula

Observed Sky Objects (Mostly Objects Found)

DSO Details
Name Constellation Type Bino* 150PDS GT/S SM-102 SM-127 Remarks**
M 31 Andromeda Galaxy Andromeda G yes yes yes yes a glow in binoculars, not much better in the telescope...
NGC 884/869 Perseus Double Cluster Perseus OC yes yes     seen well in binoculars, with "oval" of stars
Mel 20 Alpha Persei Cluster (Mirfak) Perseus OC yes       seen well in binoculars, very extended
Mel 25 Hyades Taurus OC yes       seen well in binoculars, very extended
M 45 Pleiades Taurus OC yes yes     seen well in binoculars
M 42/43 Orion Nebula Orion GE yes yes yes+ yes M 42/43 seen well in binoculars; seen very nicely in the telescope when the sky was dark
M 35   Gemini G yes yes     M 35 seen well as a glow in binoculars under a dark sky; seen well in the telescope
M 36   Auriga OC yes yes     M 36 seen well as a glow in binoculars under a dark sky; seen well in the telescope
M 37   Auriga OC yes yes     M 37 seen well as a glow in binoculars under a dark sky; seen well in the telescope
M 38   Auriga OC yes yes     M 38 seen well as a glow in binoculars under a dark sky; seen well in the telescope
M 44 Praesepe Cancer OC yes yes     M 44 seen well in binoculars, ditto in the telescope
M 67   Cancer OC yes yes     M 67 seen as a glow in binoculars; also seen in the telescope; later not seen because the moon was too bright
M 41   Canis Major OC yes yes     M 41 seen as a glow in binoculars; seen well in the telescope
M 46   Puppis OC   yes???     M 46 probably not seen/found
M 47   Puppis OC   yes     M 47 seen in the telescope
M 93   Puppis OC   yes     M 93 seen in the telescope
M 48   Hydra OC   yes     M 48 seen in the telescope
M 50   Moneceros OC   yes     M 50 seen in the telescope

G = galaxy, OC = open star cluster, GC = globular star cluster, GE = galactic emission nebula
*) TS binoculars, sometimes also LT binoculars; **) the remarks do not refer to photos taken with the Atik Infinity; +) also in Kellinghusen and Erkerode

 

Remarks

Preparation

When looking for deep sky objects, a good preparation is mandatory - you can read this, and I can confirm it. "Good preparation" basically means that you compile a list of the objects that you would like to observe, and to find out where and how the objects can be found.

Is it it or not?

If you point your telescope with the help of the red dot finder approximately to the desired sky object, look into the eyepiece and see nothing or only "nebulous clouds," but not something that resembles the object in question, the question arises: Is the sky too light-polluted that I can recognize the object or does the telescope point in the wrong direction? Admittedly, I was - even after repeated attempts - not able to clarify this question for some of the objects that I tried to observe manually.

 

References

All the star maps were created with SkySafari Plus/Pro for Apple Macintosh.

Books

On this Website

 

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gerd (at) waloszek (dot) de

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29.10.2018