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Autumn Darkness

Nov 1st 01:00 – 05:00 UT

Cambrian Mountains, Elan Valley, Rhayader

NELM 6.5+

Instruments: naked-eye, Borg 101mm refractor and 18” f4.5 Obsession.

The best transparency and darkest conditions I’ve experienced in the UK. The zodiacal band, gegenschein and pre-dawn zodiacal light were visible. All views of objects this night were the best experienced from the UK, and using the 18” often the best from anywhere.

First off, Comet 4P Faye very comet-like at magnitude 9.5 in Pisces. A showpiece view of NGC 891 followed. Normally a rather low surface brightness edge-on galaxy with knotted central dust lane. This became bright and detailed across the field of view. M33 was picture-like. The Perseus galaxy group overflowed the eyepiece. Galaxies were everywhere.

The California Nebula was nice in the wide field of the Borg using a 24mm Panoptic and H beta filter. It was also visible to the naked-eye using the filter. M45 was swathed in nebulosity. NGC 1514 (the prototype planetary) was great in an OIII wide field. Semeis 147, a large, tangled and very, very faint supernova remnant could be traced in Taurus.

The Horsehead nebula was obvious and detailed with the H beta filter and an ominous dark presence without the filter. M78 and associated nebulae were detailed and intricate with dark lanes. The Borg coupled with 31mm Nagler produced a first UK-based view of the Witch Head reflection nebula near Rigel.

IC443, a supernova remnant in Gemini was picked up while scanning around with the 18” and OIII filter. As was the usually faint Medusa nebula. The Rosette displayed intricate detail. Further down the other Eagle nebula was seen in Monoceros as well as the Thor’s Helmet planetary. NGC 2392 is still a great ring planetary in the lovely open cluster that is M46. M81, 82 and NGC2403 all became very detailed galaxies.

Many other objects were viewed and tiredness and twilight took me 10 minutes down the road to the B&B. A full English breakfast preceded a drive through wonderful sunlit countryside…


by Paul

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