Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Abell 12 (PK 198-6.1)

Cold: -2°C, no breeze, icy (treacherous underfoot).

Seeing Ant I (excellent seeing), transparency around II-III (mediocre). 
NELM 6.0 to 6.2, waxing crescent Moon (33% of full) just setting

Scope: 12 inch Dobsonian.

As it was a clear evening, I decided to take the scope out in slightly unfavourable conditions (ice underfoot, freezing fog forming) to have another go at Abell 12 (PK 198-6.1). While I saw it briefly the other evening, I didn't get a good enough view and I used a lower power. This evening I wanted to use a high power on it.

I eventually saw it after a LOT of averted vision staring (I think it would be easier on a better night) at 304x, located just west of Mu Orionis. It is almost right next to the star so a filter is needed to cut down the glare, I used my usual filter for PNs, an OIII. It is round, even, largish and faint. It is utterly invisible without the OIII filter. 304x + OIII

After coming back in I checked it out on the net, via Google, and people talk of it popping into view with an OIII, in various scopes, from 8 inch upwards. This was not my experience. I had to use a hood, high power and an OIII filter plus a fair bit of averted vision looking to see this, and I think the conditions were the reason I didn't get a good view - this is not a hard object, by all accounts. I definitely want to return to this on a better night.
I also had a crack at the planetary nebula Jonckheere 320, also in Orion, but no joy there. With the icing up of my Telrad and finder, things 'out in the boondocks' were not going to be easy to locate!

I did, however, take a high powered trip into the heart of M42, with my 5mm Radian (304x) and OIII filter. To say that this is an awesome sight is not doing it enough justice. It is bright and incredibly detailed, with mottling, dark areas, bright areas, the Trapezium all hitting the back of the eyes in spectacular fashion. I will do a sketch of this before the spring comes. I suppose one could ask 'why aren't all deep sky objects as easy to see as this' - but then, what would be the fun in that, if all DSOs were a piece of cake to find and see?

Now the infernal Moon - as a deep sky observer, it is hard not to loathe and detest the bloody thing - is on the way back up again (currently 33% of Full), there'll be no more deep sky observing until next month - weather permitting, of course.

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