Observing report for 1,2 October 1997




Veil Nebula, M33, Jupiter, Gegenschein


Subject: Veil Nebula in 7x50's?

The answer is a qualified yes, but let me set this up first. I'm working as a TA for the introductory Astronomy class this semester and we had our observing lab this week. This involved having the students note the colors of several stars with the unaided eye, observe the Cygnus region and M31 with binoculars, and M13, M57, Albireo, Jupiter, and Saturn with an 8" DobNewt. This all from the roof of our building with a naked-eye limiting magnitude of about 5.0 or slightly better. Since I'm the experienced amateur of the trio of TAs, I ran the telescope. This was quite fun, and the scope delivered a nice view of M13 and one night we were able to see the four brightest moons of Saturn.

Naturally, this whetted my appetite for some dark-sky observing. Unfortunately, I can't just take the department's scope out for my own observing, but on Tuesday and Wednesday nights after the lab ended I packed up my camera equipment and my inexpensive 7x50 binoculars and headed for the mountains. The site is at about 10,500ft and 30 miles from Laramie. I did a little bit of wide-field astrophotography and a lot of observing. I need new glasses and I was only able to see stars down to +6.7 (I reached +7.1 last October under similar conditions). However, I was able to detect M33 naked-eye as well as the Gegenschein, and I think with sharper vision the sky would have supported a fainter NLM.

Anyway, what I really want to talk about is the Veil Nebula. I'm not sure that I've ever tried seeing this with my 7x50 binoculars. I knew vaguely where it was and decided to scan through that area during a star trail photo, starting from Eps Cyg. I quickly detected a faint arc of light. I scanned around a little more to try to see other parts of the nebula but didn't see anything. I had Uranometria 2000 with me, and discovered that I was seeing the NGC 6992/5 (eastern) part of the nebulosity. Armed with a priori knowledge of the other pieces of the supernova remnant, I went back to observing, but still couldn't see anything more than NGC 6992/5.

Oh well; I had no idea that *any* part of the Veil was visible in 7x50s, especially without filters. Has anyone seen more than the eastern part in 7x50s with or without filters? Anybody want to loan me a pair of O III filters? ;)

Oh yeah, one other thing. On this trip I realized just how easy it is to see at least the three outer Galilean satellites with 7x50s, but only with my elbows leaning against something! I think this falls under the heading "things I knew 10 years ago but forgot".

Contact me

Back to observing report index