Thursday, 15 July 2010

From the notebooks 2 - Obscure Planetaries from Australia

Here are some more sketches from that 1997 trip Down Under. These are some of the more obscure planetary nebulae I observed on that trip. All of these sketches were made at the 1997 Queensland Astrofest at Lions Camp Duckadang, Linville, Queensland on 25/26th and 26/27th August 1997. The scope I used was a 20 inch Dobsonian.

Henize 2-111, Centaurus

Henize 2-141, Norma

Henize 2-207, Ara

Longmore 16, Scorpius

Menzel 1 (PK 322-2.1), Norma
Shapley 1 (PK 329+02.1), Norma

PK 322-5.1, Triangulum Australe

The observatory is still not up yet. That is because our weather has gone completely to pot and is now more like that of October than it is of mid-July. There are gale-force winds, low temperatures (17C/63F) and rain. Plenty of rain. This will please the miserable buggers who have moaned about the heat and lack of rain and who have now got their own way but I hate this crap and want summer back as soon as possible. Apart from anything else, there's no observing to be had but even before the weather completely broke up we'd been stuck in a cycle of clear afternoons and cloudy nights for a couple of weeks.

I might have to rethink getting a big scope. I have not yet been able to find a permanent full-time job and the agency work has completely dried up, although I have some part-time seasonal work delivering tourist guides. I have an interview in two weeks' time for a part-time data-entry job which offers just over £6000 ($9000) and if I get that, which won't be enough on its own, I could at least combine it with the seasonal work. Unfortunately this seasonal job only lasts for the duration of the holiday season before dropping back to a few hours a week.
A 16" Meade Lightbridge, at +/- £1800 is not beyond my financial reach on part-time/low wages but a custom-built scope at just over £3100 is, as things stand. Maybe I should just get a LB and then go for a custom-built David Lukehurst Dob when/if my work and financial situation improves? LB's aren't bad scopes with a bit of tweaking, although their mirror boxes are incredibly heavy for the size of the scope. Hopefully, though, by the time I have managed to put away £1.8K things might have improved.


  1. Hello there! I myself own a 12" Meade LB. I strongly recommend you purchase a 16" Meade LB, keep the mirror + cell, focuser and spider/secondary mirror, and rebuild the OTA and mount. It's easier than most people think, and you'll come out with a winner for an unbeatable price. Cheers!

  2. Hi Julien, thanks for your message. If I can't afford a premium dob then this is what I'll do. I have seen a 16" in the flesh, although not looked through it and quite liked it. I have heard good things about the optics, you get a surprisingly good mirror for the low price. My 12" GSO mirror is a good one.

  3. Faith,

    I would stick to your plan. No rush and plan for the 18 to 20 inch and then when your ready see where you are financially. I did, and ended up with the XX14i to serve as my main scope and then a 20 inch Obsession for an observatory at a cabin I have in southern Utah where an observatory will be/is being built. Since I have summer's off I know where I'll be! Anyway, the 16 inch LB is an excellent scope with a very good mirror so if you end that route you'll be fine (I've looked through several). Bottom line, the 12 works for now so be patient, things can change over a 12 to 24 month period. Good luck with the job stuff.

  4. Oh, one other thing, great PN sketches, that is what I wanted to say and then got caught up in the scope thing. My favorite objects to hunt and view. Like your Helix as I saw that this week for the first time. Shapley 1 is interesting, reminds me of another PN we see up here in the north. Longmore 16 also looks interesting.

  5. Thanks Jay. Hopefully, by the time I have saved the money needed to get a 16" LB, my work situation will have improved and then I can carry on saving for a better scope. If that happens I'll be in a 'win win' scenario!
    A 20" Obsession is an excellent scope, I have looked through several both here in the UK and over in the US. You are very lucky!

    Thanks for your comments re the pn sketches. I was pleased with the Helix sketch particularly. My favourites from that trip were the Helix and Longmore 16. We can see the Helix from the UK, it's only -20, although I have not tried from here.

    How do the sketches look? I have had to resort to using an old monitor as my new 20" widescreen one went bang yesterday and I have had to return it for repair. Things don't look as good on this old square matte screen as they do on my better one...

  6. Did you get your monitor back? The sketches look really good on my MacBook Pro. Love the larger version, and your shades come through quite well on the sketches. I can never get my actual sketches to scan well (and I'm not that good in the regular sketch realm) so I process them digitally. Yours don't need that.

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  8. It'll be a few days before I get it back, or a replacement. It's good to know that the sketches look good on other screens - it was a bit of a shock to see them on this old screen! Thanks Jay.
    I like your sketches very much, I think you're very good in the regular sketch realm. :)
    I bought a new scanner the other day, an all-in-one Epson, so I am hoping it's an improvement on the dodgy cheap HP thing I had.


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