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More observations with 120ST and "Contellation View"

April 3, 2008 - 3:15 am - 5:30 am - T4-5, S3

This was a wonderful, refreshing session, though cold got to my hands once ina while. What I did most of the time was play with the Orion 120ST and compare it, once in a while, with the 100ED. No shocks. Bottom line is this: The 120ST is a nice scope and lots of fun to use on galaxies, nebulae, open clusters and the like. It starts to break down when it comes to challenging doubles, and there's no doubt it puts a purple halo around bright stars and the so-called "fringe killer" can maybe cut this in half, but won't eliminate it. The 100 ED excels, as expected, on double stars, planets, and the moon. Hardly a hint of a purple halo on Vega.

I also did some more testing of the "Constellation View " binoculars. Conclusions: They do, indeed, show me how others see the Milky Way under clear skies with no light pollution. They also help put things into perspective. For example, they capture the entire region from Albireo to Altair, so you can see the relationships among these two stars, Saggita, the Coathanger, and M27 - though I could not detect M27. In a funny way, it makes that whole area seem smaller!

BUT. . . the 5X25 Xtra wides from Bushnell do almost as well. They capture the area from Albireo to Saggita and DO show the Coathanger easily - had to work to see it in 2.3X40s - and I felt I could see - detect - M27. Bottom line - the 2.3X40s are fun, but I would most likely reach for the 5X25 when on a "scouting mission" to, for example, get clearly in mind the location of M11.

More specifics:

M84-86 - When I started this session the Virgo Cluster was still reasonably high in the west. I could find M84 easily, but had trouble when I changed eyepieces. Took me a while to figure out that the balance was off and the scope on the Voyager count was front heavy so that when I removed an eyepiece, the objective end fell slowly, changing the pointing. Put in another eyepiece and I was completely lost.

Balancing corrected I found it wasy to locate M84/86, the eyes (NGC4435 and NGC 4438), and two more galaxies in Markarian's Chain. I suspect these last two were NGC 4473 and 4477, judging from positon and brightness. Not bad for a 120mm operating at 25X and 46X - especiallys ince at thi spoint they were only about 37 degrees high. (If I had caught them near midnight they would have beenc lose to 61 degrees high, a significant difference.

Posted by Greg Stone at April 3, 2008 04:42 AM Comments? Please email me: gstone@umassd.edu

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