Celestron C11 EQ6 using Sky Safari

20mm APM eyepiece (x140, 0.7deg FOV) unless noted

Clear skies after work.  Beautiful evening!  I watched the crescent moon descending into the treeline before dinner.

After dinner, I rolled back the observatory roof and fired up the C11 using Sky Safari.  It gives me such joy to have a quality telescope, controlled from my iPad, ready to go at a moment’s notice.  Conditions were good.  Not too cold, only 5degC but no wind.  Transparency was good – milky way clearly visible through Auriga and Gemini before it entered the treeline near Sirius.

As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I started off with two planetary nebula in Gemini: the Eskimo Nebula NGC 2392 and the double lobed NGC2731-2.

NGC 2392 PN Gem           2140 – 2150 Bright, stellar core with outer halo that responds well to averted vision.  Hinted at but never revealed “parka” features as shown in sketch.

With my eyes now pretty much dark adapted, I moved to Leo for more H400 galaxies.  Aligned on Algieba, gamma Leonis in the sickle of Leo which to my surprise is an attractive double star.

NGC 3193, 3196 G Leo   tiny smudges as shown in sketch – pretty much set the standard for tonight!

NGC 3226, 3227 G Leo   tiny smudges in same field of view

Very pleasant galaxy hop from NGC 3377 – 3412 – M105 – NGC3884 – M96 – M95.  All appearing as circular fuzz balls.

Then moved to the tail of Leo and observed the following, broadly similar faint galaxies.

  • NGC 3489
  • NGC 3607 & 3608             in same field of view
  • NGC 3665                           faint
  • NGC 3632
  • NGC 3686                          really faint, no red torch or iPad
  • NGC 3593
  • NGC 3628                          faint- needed movement to pick it out
  • NGC 3810
  • NGC 3489                          bright after all the faint galaxies!
  • NGC 2964

Finished on NGC 2903. What a galaxy to finish on! Finally, a bright galaxy that shows something of interest.

I finished the night piggybacking the Canon 77 DSLR on the C11, using my homemade camera mount, to see what I could achieve with a series of 30 second exposures, ISO 400, f2.2.  From memory, this is a stack of 5 exposures and 10 darks put together in Sequator and no post-processing.

The stars in the Beehive, M44, and the open cluster M67 are nice and sharp but, unfortunately, the stars in the outer field are clearly distorted.  Reading online, this little lens fairs better if it is stopped down a few more stops to f2.8.

Secondly, I need to find a way to orientate the camera. As I order parts for the barn door tracker, I will work out how to mount the ball head to the C11.

Great fun and nice to have a play at the end of the night.