An 11x80 Chinon, 20x100 Apogee and Tasco 60mm/700mm Observing Report From
Version 1.2.2 of 22/4/2010-4:15 p.m.
After the author with his Equipment came back from the
Greek island of Antiparos which lies in the middle of the Aegean. After 1-2 hours of night adaptation:
Date: Friday 6 August, 2004. Skies: 5+
- Preparations: On Friday, the author did a bit of surgery on the Tasco's objective
hoping to improve on the image's quality a bit, but it turned out to be unsuccessful.
He spaced out the two elements using paper clips at 120 degree angles but the image
showed several distortions and annoying ghosts at the places where the clips were
placed and tried a star test which failed miserably, as it showed double stars,
similar to that when a close binary barely resolves. He then removed the clips
returning the objective to its original state and a new star test showed again traces
- Turns out the objective was slightly pinched. The author rotated it and loosened
the retainer a bit and after a bit of tinkering it returned to its initial
semi-acceptable state. The 45 degree Apogee diagonal was of course a disaster, as it
is meant for terrestrial viewing and the author didn't know this when he ordered it.
Stars with this diagonal, simply fail to show decent diffraction rings. The
two elements of the diagonal somehow distort the image exactly in the middle, showing
intense flares exactly aligned with the diagonal's horizontal axis cut. So much for
star image quality.
- First day on Friday, the author aligned the 20x100/Tasco pair using a distant
sailboat and carried the 25 lbs tripod out at around 22:00. He checked out a couple
of objects before the moon came out. First, his favorite obligatory ones, so he could
quickly compare the two binocular pairs.
- M22: One can't even begin to describe how this
monster looks with the 20x100 pair. It's so huge and of the same order of
brightness as the core of M31. It might even be brighter. Uniform spherical glow,
with several cutoff areas around the left and bottom sides, but it did not resolve.
The author kept returning to it again and again, simply because it is so mesmerizing
and scary. Looking at it with the Tasco on the side at 35x, only a fraction of its
glory was visible but it did not resolve with the Tasco either. On Saturday it was
even brighter than on Friday. A totally fascinating object. For this author, it is
much more impressive than M13. This object still gives the author the creeps. He
cannot even start to imagine what lurks in there.
- M8: (Lagoon). From dark skies, the author was
able to clearly and with direct vision make out the shape of the entire nebula. The
20x100 pair shows it as a black and white reproduction of the more famous H-alpha
photos, that show so many details. The dark lane that separates M8 from NGC 6530 was
easily visible and the boundaries of the entire object were distinct, sharp and
visible with direct vision. The sketch from "Turn Left at Orion" is almost a joke
compared to what the author could see with the binoculars. He'd say the sketch
probably resembles more of what the Tasco telescope is able to show on M8. With the
Tasco at 35x, all the nebulae stars except the 3-4 big ones require averted vision.
With the 20x100 pair, around 2 dozen are visible directly. The nebulosity is
extensive and covers around 10% of the Apogee pair's field.
- Moving a bit north, the author tried to locate M20 (Trifid nebula), which gave
him lots of trouble two years ago with the 11x80 pair. With the later pair, two years
ago, he had trouble locating it, but he suspects that this trouble came predominantly
because he had never seen it before and because it was relatively low on the horizon.
On Saturday the author waited until it reached all the way above the sea to its
highest location (which was roughly 30-40 degrees above the horizon) and he moved
about a field north of the Lagoon nebula with the 20x100 pair and there it was:
Obviously discernible, with direct vision and quite bright. Two distinct nebulous
patches, of almost equal intensity. The southern (pink) part showed traces of dark
lanes with averted vision and the central star was easily visible. The northern
(blue) part (which the author hears is independent of the Trifid part) was almost as
thick as the Trifid. CD22 and CD23 were clearly visible and almost of the same
magnitude. Using the aligned Tasco telescope on it at 35x, the author was baffled
even more, as it was visible on the telescope as well! The Tasco showed the two stars
(CD22/23) well, but the nebulosity around both required some averted vision. It's
definitely within the capabilities of a 60mm lens if one knows where to look. Then
the author aimed the 11x80 pair at it and his suspicions were vindicated: It is
visible alright, but the blue part hinges on the verge of visibility of the later
pair, whereas with the 20x100 pair it is visible using direct vision. That's why the
author had trouble seeing it two years ago. On the same field of view M21 is also
visible, and very bright with the 20x100 pair.
Date: Saturday 7 August. Skies: 5.4+
- Saturday the author fired up Cartes du Ciel on the porch and he looked around M8
to see if he could locate any of the closer objects. He spotted M28 relatively easily
with the Apogee pair, but although clearly visible, it was much less impressive than
M22. The Apogee pair did not resolve this either. The author also spotted NGC6544
easily. This one was not an easy target for the 11x80 pair. The 20x100 pair showed a
distinct nebulosity there, albeit small. The 11x80 pair showed something there, but
the author couldn't tell what he was seeing.
- Next the author moved to M17 (Swan nebula) and his jaw almost dropped on the
porch. The famous "check-mark" was extremely bright and the rest of the nebula was
also visible with direct vision. Several distinct absorption regions were visible,
with the one defining the back of the swan's "neck" being the most prominent. The
sketch on "Turn Left at Orion" is only a joke compared to what the Apogee pair shows.
Around two dozen stars were visible interspersed in the nebula. Of course, at the
time of observation, the entire Sagittarius region was as high as it could be above
- Next the author momentarily used Antares to re-align the Tasco/Apogee pair and
looked at M4. Beautiful, just beautiful. Although not as bright as M22, this one
definitely shows several (he'd say around a dozen) stars resolved, with the 20x100
pair. There are continuous sparkling stars blinking on and off everywhere inside the
cluster! Both near the center and near the edges. The Tasco telescope played dumb on
it. Although easily visible, no traces of resolving individual stars inside it. The
resolving limit of M4 appears to be somewhere between 80mm and 100mm. With the 11x80
pair there's only a vague hint of resolving. The author couldn't tell for sure, but
he did detect what seemed to be momentary starlike bursts inside the cluster with the
- Next the author moved on the back side of the house and located M31 which was just rising against the northern mountain of
Antiparos. Needless to say the Andromeda galaxy is probably one of the best sights
with giant binoculars. The Tasco simply doesn't do this galaxy justice. Although two
years ago the author was able to see traces of the main dark lane with the Tasco
telescope, on Friday he could not detect any such thing, even with the new Apogee
eye-piece at 35x. The author pointed both the 11x80 and the 20x100 pairs against it
as he was determined to nail the two companions M32 and
M110. Two years ago with the 11x80 the author kept looking and looking until his
eyes popped out, but could not find them. So Saturday he zoomed in with Cartes du
Ciel (CDC) and recorded their locations against M31's main figure. As soon as he
mentally recorded their locations, he immediately spotted them. With the 20x100 pair,
M110 shows as a relatively bright elliptical
nebulosity above M31's main body, quite far off, but inside the same field of view
when the author positioned M31 on the bottom of the field. M32 still has a starlike appearance, but it's obvious that
whatever this object is, it's not just a star. The author would say that M32 is on
the very edge of M31, almost inside M31's haze. Curious about how fast he located
them, he checked them with the 11x80 pair. The Chinon pair shows them as well.
M110 is probably a little faint, but it shows
clearly with averted vision. Having the Apogee/Tasco pair aligned, the author also
saw M32 with the Tasco. It clearly shows a starlike object, nowhere as bright as with
the Apogee, but definitely inside the same field of view that includes the galaxy
core, at 35x. It shows how important having a good astronomy program is. The author
would never have located the companions if it wasn't for CDC. As far as M31 is
concerned: The object is simply glorious with the Apogee pair: On Saturday the author
could not see any dark lanes, because the coming moon's haze obstructed part of it,
as it was close to rising behind the mountain. The core is so bright that the
author's impression is that it becomes distinctly point-like. The haze from the
galaxy edges fills half the field of the Apogee pair. Seeing this object is almost
worth the money paid for the Apogee pair.
- Last year the author had trouble with M51 as
well, so he tried this one with the new pair. The 11x80 pair just barely shows the
second nucleus and the author needed lots of averted vision for the core of the main
galaxy. This one is on the limits of the Chinon pair, but with the Apogee pair he got
a huge bang! Both cores are visible with direct vision, the main core slightly
brighter than that of the companion. The full extent of both galaxies is clearly
visible, and although no details are discernible, the overall nebulosity is quite
large and bright with hints of its shape. Glimpsing it with the Tasco, only a hint of
haze from the main galaxy is visible, requiring averted vision at 35x. The Tasco does
this (but not the companion), but one would have to be a masochist trying to locate
it with a small scope without a good finder.
- Next the author picked M81 and M82 in Ursa
Major. The difference here between the Chinon and the Apogee pairs is quite
noticeable: With the 11x80, M81 is an easy target, but M82 (the irregular cigar
shaped one) is a challenge, and the shape is not evident, except on exceptional
nights and with averted vision. Contrast this with the Apogee pair, where not only
the shape of M82 is visible with direct vision, but also around 3-4 stars on, or
around the galaxy itself. It was the author's impression that there were contrast and
luminosity differences within the shape itself, probably towards the center where
there is this unexplained bulge, but it might have been his imagination. However, the
image of M82 is definitely not uniform in terms of brightness. M81 is superb on both
pairs. The Chinon pair show hints of dark lanes and an elliptical patch, but with the
Apogee the elliptical patch becomes much more pronounced, fading non uniformly around
the spiral edges. On Saturday, the upper and lower arms were visible with the 20x100
pair. At 20x this one was quite a impressive sight. The Tasco showed M81 if the
author covered all traces of incoming light from the edges of the eye-piece and M82
was at the Tasco's limits. It shows something there, but nothing more. Occasionally,
with averted vision the author glimpsed a hint of a stick-like shape, but that was
- At around 23:30 for a change the author thought it would be nice to chase a bit
after Uranus, to see what the Tasco could do with it. He first had to identify the
Capricorn and Aquarius constellations which were a first for him, since he wasn't
familiar with either constellation. With his Presario and CDC on the porch, after
about 10 minutes he managed to locate both constellations. Drawing a line between
lambda Aquarii and delta Capricorni, he was able to locate sigma Aquarii, above which
sits Uranus. Both binocular pairs showed the newly seen (for him) planet easily. The
disappointment came when the author tried to discern a disk with the Tasco. A
disaster. Uranus' color can be easily seen, as blue green, but otherwise no disk. The
author upped the magnification to 60x and then to 90x, but no disk, just a very faint
blue blur. Checking with CDC, he read a 3.6" diameter, too close for comfort for the
junky Tasco. The author would say that on the best nights the Tasco won't separate
much lower than 4.5". To conclude, the author was happy that he saw Uranus for the
first time, but no disk was visible.
Date: Sunday 8 August. Skies: 6.0+
- On Sunday the author tried hunting down M33. He
targeted Andromeda for one quick look and swept south a distance equal to that
between Mirach and M31. Bang, there it was: The Chinons showed a quite obvious oval
nebulosity with a tendency to be brighter towards the center. Clearly visible on a
dark sky and quite large. Only the Apogee pair did this object justice, however. The
shape became evident, there were hints of dark lanes and the core of the galaxy
became more pronounced and visible with direct vision. It did resemble an oval
S-curled snake, with hints of some of the spiral arms. Very large and extended. The
core was not visible with the 11x80 pair, except via averted vision. With the Apogee
pair, the object filled roughly 40% of the binocular field of view and the core was
visible with direct vision. The author's impression is that this was the second
largest object (after M31) he's ever seen with binoculars. The Tasco only showed the
core with averted vision and with great difficulty. The arms were not visible.
Fascinating object. The author would say that this is probably one of the best sights
on dark nights with giant binoculars. He will return again and check it out.
- Being in the area, the author also bagged M34. This one was exceedingly pretty,
resembling another little jewel box of the north. With the 11x80 pair all the
individual stars required some peripheral vision. With the 20x100 pair all were
visible directly and made a beautiful collection of jewels.
- For a break the author checked Almack with the Tasco and it resolved nicely at
around 10", showing the beautiful contrast between reddish and blue even at 35x.
Upping the magnification to 90x, the Tasco performed surprisingly well and the pair
showed perfect Airy disks with a couple of rings around them. That's the first
indication the author had that the Tasco was somehow ok after the surgery he
performed on its objective.
- Then M. wanted to see C4/2003 K4 LINEAR, so the author turned the Apogee towards
Arcturus. It formed an upside down isosceles triangle with Arcrurus and eta Bootes,
and he spotted it easily. With the Chinon pair it looked roughly as bright as M13.
There was a hint of tail, pointing at 11 o'clock, but this became obvious only once
the author turned the Apogee pair on it. It looked like M13 but the core was much
brighter. Then he tried to hunt C/2001 Q4 NEAT in Ursa Major, but he could not locate
anything, after looking for about 10 minutes.
- Being in Ursa Major, the author thought he would also bag a couple of Messier
objects that he had never seen, so he looked around CDC and mentally checked M97(Owl
nebula), M108 and M109. He didn't even bother with the 11x80 pair, as he knew these
were hard. They were indeed. They were all marginal even on the 20x100 pair. The
easiest was the Owl nebula, which was somehow circular with averted vision, but both
M108 and M109 were on the verge of peripheral vision even for the giant pair. After
holding his breath and performing various vision tricks, he saw both, but he'd say
that these would have to be real challenges for anything smaller than 100mm. M108 was
almost impossible. The author thinks he saw it, but it might have been his
imagination. No wonder they are not so famous in small scopes.
- Then M. wanted to see C4 K4 LINEAR again, so the author returned to Arcturus. He
grabbed the chance to show her M5, which was in the vicinity. What a nice surprise!
This is definitely nice in all three scopes, the Tasco showing even glimpses of
resolving some individuals at 50x. There's definitely resolution with the Apogee pair
and this cluster competes favorably with M3 and M13.
- On Sunday M51 was even brighter, because there was a North breeze in the morning
which seems to have cleared the atmosphere more. This time the author clearly saw the
overall shape of the main component with the 20x100 pair, which extended all the way
to the companion. The two cores were quite bright.
Date: Monday 9 August. Skies: 6.2+
- On Monday the author decided to bag some objects in Ophiuchus. He familiarized
himself with the constellation as it was the first time he had seen it in detail and
moved to lambda Ophiuchi, thinking of turning left to spot M12 and M10. These two
were absolutely stunning. Both were very bright. M12 resolved in the 20x100 pair and
the author saw about a dozen individuals blinking on and off inside. On the Tasco at
35x, there were still sparks flying on and off inside the cluster, but it required
averted vision for more to be seen. From all the globular clusters the author has
seen, this has got to be the most easily resolvable. The Chinon pair showed some
hints of resolution as well, but the best view was with the Apogee pair. The author
spent half an hour on M12 and it went into his list of favorites. M10 was also quite
bright, with a hint of some darkness in the middle of it, but he just was not
absolutely sure his eyes were not playing tricks. He easily spot M14 as well and
quickly located IC 4665 and Cr 350, using CDC. He then headed for NGC 6366, which was
just above HR 6493. The only scope that showed this was the Apogee pair. This object
was on the limits of visibility of the 20x100 pair. There was something there, but he
couldn't tell that it was a globular cluster. No way. Too faint. Moving south of zeta
Ophiuchi, he located M107 relatively easily as well. This one was small, but
definitely within the light grasp of the Apogee pair. It was barely visible with the
- Taking a small break, the author fired up Bach's Chaconne on the laptop and
waited some because the neighbor turned on the garage lights. Oh, the horror of it.
Out in the dark for 3 hours and suddenly 3x100 Watt light-bulbs being turned on. So
the author gave Ras Algheti a try with the Tasco, only to be disappointed by this
darn 45 degree diagonal he ordered from Apogee. Horrible. He could not even focus
exactly. This kind of diagonal is meant for terrestrial viewing, but the author had
no idea it would be so useless for star splitting. He kept getting two images which
would not merge. He moved the objective, thinking it might be pinched, he unscrewed
the retainer some, and the image got fixed some. Then, after 10 minutes Ras Algheti
doubled again. The author didn't know exactly what was the deal here, but he suspects
that the air played tricks on him and somehow the atmospheric turbulence affected the
focus. After an hour of tinkering, he was able to bring the star into perfect focus
and saw the blue companion at 90x. So much for 45degree diagonals.
- The author took a quick look at M13 and examined it carefully with the 20x100
pair. This thing definitely has at least 3 different brightness layers and is huge.
Then he moved onto
M92 and his jaw dropped again. Not as large as M13, but its core is the densest
and brightest he's seen. Even the Tasco showed the bright core with direct vision and
it resembled a very bright hazy star. The core was so bright with either equipment,
that the author's brain was looking for an excuse to resolve it. Definitely one of
the best to look at with small equipment.
- The author then tried to split Izar, but no matter what kind of trick he used,
the Tasco couldn't do it. Makes sense, since the Tasco won't even show Uranus' disk,
so he quickly abandoned it.
- Then the author momentarily moved back to Sagittarius and took another look at
the Swan nebula. Fantastic. Monday was clearer than Sunday (he'd say around 6.5+) and
the entire swan body was visible upside down. By that time the author laptop's
batteries were close to 15%, so he bagged everything and went inside.
Date: Tuesday 10 August. Skies: 5.5+
- On Tuesday we went for a drink downtown and returned around 1:30am. The author
was quite buzzed from the drinks, but he still felt like bagging a couple of objects.
M. went to sleep, so he took the laptop and the equipment out. This time he checked
M55 and M75 in Sagittarius and M72, M73 and M30 in Capricorn. The former were easy
and bright targets, but M72 and M73 were somewhat faint. It took the author a while
to spot, using the little star triangle formed by SD-14 5908, SD-13 5813 and SD-13
5807 as a guide. Once he located the little triangle, he saw two tiny nebulous
congregations to its right, which he immediately recognized. He did not view these
with the 11x80 pair, because they were quite faint. On the Tasco they weren't
visible, or perhaps they were so faint that the alcohol in the author's system did
not allow him to see them at 35x.
- Being in Capricorn and scanning left with CDC, the author saw NGC 7293 on the chart in Aquarius, so he thought he'd
try that one as well. CDC lists this as "Helical Nebula", but his mind did not go to
"Helix". He thought it was just another "helical" nebula. Targeting upsilon Aquarii,
he saw a huge patch of light to the right. Wow! It must have been almost twice as
large as the full moon! What a wonderful surprise! It indeed has quite a low surface
brightness, but the shape was obviously visible. There were at least 7-9 individual
stars on it blinking on and off, but at the time the author was not aware that he was
looking at the Helix nebula, so he did not try to discern details. He'd say that with
the 20x100 pair it is just a tad brighter than M33.
It was so beautiful, the author spent around half an hour on it, without knowing what
it was. The Tasco barely showed some very dim nebulosity there, but otherwise quite
dim for a 60mm lens. Will return someday and examine it in detail.
- By then it was 1:50, so the author moved the equipment to the back of the house
to take a look at the Pleiades. Here, a strange thing happened: The Pleiades, is of
course THE object to view with large binoculars. There was a thread in
sci.astro.amateur, some time ago, asking whether nebulosity is visible around the
group. The strange thing is that the nebulosity was visible, but with the Tasco,
instead of the 20x100 pair! The Tasco definitely showed haze around the brightest
members, but with the Apogee pair, it wasn't as prominent as with the 60mm scope.
There was some haze in the field of view, but not as pronounced as with the Tasco at
35x. The author really bugged his eyes trying to see it with the Apogee, but he is
not sure he saw it.
- Then the author briefly went over the double Perseus cluster. With the 20x100
pair it is simply stunning. There is definitely some nebulosity around there, visible
with the giant pair. The two components barely fit inside the same field. This is
also on the author's list of favorites.
- Then he also took a close look at Polaris with the Tasco and the new eye-piece.
The main difficulty with Polaris B is that it is magnitude 9.0, and the author is not
even sure the 60mm lens of the Tasco has enough light gathering power to even show
it, particularly against the blaze of the primary. Two years ago the author easily
saw the bluish companion in a neighbor's Meade ETX 125, at 40x. So the author
carefully positioned the Tasco against it and waited, watching intermittently for
about half an hour. The atmosphere was decent. He was seing a single Airy disk at
70x, surrounded by one ring, which at times momentarily flared up. He played with the
zoom magnification, going all the way to 92x and at certain moments of extreme air
stillness, he did detect a very faint blink southwest of the main star, but only for
a fraction of a second. He'd say this binary needs at least 100mm's for comfort.
Trying to see the companion with a 60mm scope is like driving a VW beetle at
- Although the moon was about to rise, Lyra was now in the West, so the author
thought he'd give M57 a try with the new
binoculars. The sheer weight of the entire system of the Tasco and the Apogee,
prevented him from viewing at angles greater than about 60 degrees, so he had to wait
until Vega came down a bit. Pointing between Sheliak and Sulafat, bang, it's exactly
in the middle. The Apogee 20x100 pair shows it easily, as a bright non-stellar
object. As with the 11x80 pair, the shape is not visible, but it definitely looks
like a little hazy button, distinctly different from the surrounding stars. Very
bright, but again, 20x is not enough to give away essential details about its ring
shape, nor make the darker central part visible against the ring itself. Looking
through the Tasco at 35x, there was a hint of ovalness, which became more pronounced
as the author was using peripheral vision. Looking at it as such, it resembles a
smokey oval, but no dark central part. Upping the magnification to 60x, he could
still see the smokey oval shape using peripheral vision, but otherwise no difference
in its central part. Of course, the author couldn't be asking more from the Tasco,
even with the new zoom eye-piece. The important thing here is that M57 is NOT visible using direct vision on the Tasco, even
at 35x. The 60mm simply does not collect enough light to allow a direct view. With
the Apogee pair, it is visible directly, but no details are visible, because of the
- By then, the crescent moon was out, so the author packed everything and went
Date: Tuesday 10 August. Skies: 6.7+
- Thursday was one of those rare days when the sky was extremely luminous and
clear. The author figured that it would be a great day since the morning hours,
because there was a strong Northern breeze, which lasted all the way into the
afternoon. Three of the neighboring islands to Antiparos were visible clearly in the
horizon at distances of over 35, 40 and 60 km's respectively. Normally these islands
are not visible, except on very cool winter days after a rainfall.
- The author's suspicions were vindicated around 22:00p.m. when the Milky Way came
out in Sagittarius. The author doesn't know if you can believe this, but the Milky
Way's reflection was visible against the sea.
- The author understood this to be a day to look for some new faint objects and to
check some of the known ones, to make out additional details. He went over to
M81 and M82, only to not believe his own eyes.
The Apogee pair showed the nucleus of M81 clearly, with direct vision, having a point
like appearance. Averted vision revealed the galaxy's exact shape, with the
pronounced ellipse and with the northern and southern arms readily visible. M82's
curved cigar shape was easily visible and 5 stars were blinking in its vicinity. The
author called M. out and showed her M81 and she remarked that this was the brightest
she'd seen this galaxy during our stay here.
- C4 K4 LINEAR was extremely bright. Probably as bright as M13. M. saw it and
remarked that she could not see a tail Thursday, which she saw on Tuesday. Truth is,
the author could not discern a tail either.
- Then the author quickly went over to M51 and
again, and he was pleasantly surprised by the clarity of the night: The cores were
visible using direct vision and the shape of the main component was easily
discernible. Averted vision provided for incredible views of the overall nebulous
shape of both members, with the connection between the two components visible as a
very thin vaporous streamer. The two components on Thursday were visible with the
Tasco as well!
- Aiming at Alkaid and Mizar, the author moved north trying to spot M101. Easy,
extended target. He'd say its luminosity was a tad lower than that of M33. The 20x100 pair immediately spotted it. With averted
vision hints of the shape were there, but the author did not spend too much time on
it. The Tasco showed the core with averted vision.
- Backing up against Ophiuchus, the author rechecked NGC 6366, which was picked up
by the Apogee pair relatively easily, next to HR 6493. CDC lists this as magnitude 10
and of dimensions 5.8" x 5.8". Would not be picked up if he didn't know where to look
exactly. This was just too faint for the Tasco. The author reviewed M10 and M12 which
under those skies were fabulous: M12 was resolvable and both cores were very
- Turning over to Sagittarius, the author viewed M8, M20, M28 and M22
again, as the night demanded it. Yes, Thursday, M22
partially resolved. The damn bugger resolved with the Apogee pair, so you can expect
the object to resolve only under 6+ skies and greater than 4" lenses. It was just
fascinating and huge. M8 was blindingly bright. The
author counted 17 stars inside it, using direct vision. M. could not believe her
eyes. She remarked that this has got to be the most fascinating object after the
Andromeda galaxy and the Orion nebula.
- Checking the Andromeda galaxy under 6.7+ skies, is probably very close to a
mystical experience: The main dark lane was visible, and the entire object was two
entire full binocular fields in width. The dark lane was visible with the Tasco as
- Then the author went over and familiarized himself with the Cetus constellation.
After he located most of the constellation stars, he pointed the Tasco against Mira
and upped the magnification to 60x. This was the first time he saw the little red
star. Been hunting it down since age 23. Southeast of delta Ceti, there was M77 which
was an easy target at magnitude 8.9. Inside the same field of view the author located
stars BD-00 410 and BD-00 411, south of which was NGC 1055 an edge on spiral. At
magnitude 10.6, this required averted vision, but the author saw it. No details, just
a very faint buzz, too faint to be picked up with either the 11x80 pair or the
- Then the author reworked M92 a bit. The core
was so bright Thursday, that it was able to withstand 92x on the Tasco. Absolutely
stunning and quite resolvable. On the Tasco the author clearly saw around 4-5 sparks
inside the core at 60x.
- By 3:30a.m. Aquila had turned down a bit, so the author hunted down M27. In passing, he quickly glimpsed M71 in the Sagitta
constellation, which was absolutely obvious and quite bright and finally landed on
the Dumbbell nebula after sweeping the area. M27
was so bright that the bow-tie shape almost gave way to an almost circular
nebulosity, with extra bright "wings" on either side. The sketch in "Turn Left at
Orion", denotes almost half the glory of this object in 6.5+ skies and with 20x100
binoculars. The author kept staring at it for over 20 minutes, using both direct and
peripheral vision trying to make out details. Very impressive. Admittedly one of the
most beautiful objects the author has ever seen.
- Went back to M57 after that, and tried to
discern more details. The author doesn't know why this object fascinates him so much.
So he aimed the 20x100 pair against it: Very bright and distinctly non-stellar. He
tried upping the magnification on the Tasco, to see how much it could take. Yesterday
it could stand up to 92x, easily. However, after around 50x, it required averted
vision. This was the first time the author was able to detect a "smoke ring", at
around 60x, after about 4 years of looking at it. At 92x it was almost obvious, but
only using averted viewing. The "smoke ring" in this case, is a misnomer for the fact
that the central part basically faded faster than the boundary when one ups the
magnification. The author spent 45 minutes on it, trying to convince himself that he
was seeing a "ring".
- The conclusion is that for non-stellar or extended objects, the Apogee 20x100
pair will easily pick up anything brighter than magnitude ~10.6. It can pick up even fainter objects as
well, but with averted vision and if one knows where to look exactly.
- At around 3:30, the author's waist could not stand it anymore, so he moved
inside. What an incredible gift to be able to watch the skies from such a
- For comparisons, the author used the book Turn Left at Orion, by Guy Consolmagno, ISBN 0-521-34090-X.
- For digital sketches, consult this page.
- Saved transcript of usenet discussion on apparent brightness between
different fields, by Brian Tung and Kurt (Canopus).
- For limiting stellar magnitude Cruxis reports 12.9 for the 20x100, 11.8 for the 11x80 and
12.6 for the Tasco 35x60.