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What are your most unforgettable telescopic sights

Started by jacobson, 02/17/2012 06:50AM
Posted 02/17/2012 06:50AM Opening Post
What telescopic (or binocular) views have been most unforgettable for you? I'll start off as follows.

The first time I saw a globular cluster resolved into stars.

My first view of the Orion Nebula through a big (10") scope.

M11, every time I look at it.

The Andromeda Galaxy through 100mm binoculars from a really dark site.

A glimpse of the jet emerging from M87.

Comet Holmes shortly after it erupted.

Comet Garradd and M71 in the same field in a 100-degree eyepiece.
Posted 02/17/2012 07:29AM | Edited 02/17/2012 07:30AM #1
Comet Hyakutake; close to 70 degrees of tail from a dark site (OK, this was actually a naked eye observation)

M1, the first DSO I ever found with a telescope (6" Edmunds)

Mars during the 2003 opposition using an 11" Starmaster with Zambuto/binoviewer combo

M37, every time I look at it

Any globular cluster

M57 through a 36" dob

My first ever shadow transit on Jupiter, only superceded by my first double shadow transit on Jupiter.

Midway, FL
Posted 02/17/2012 10:47AM #2
With a scope:
-- Triple shadow transit on Jupiter in the spring of 2004 with my 5" SCT. This followed a double shadow transit a week or two before.
-- Omega Centauri with a 16" SCT at the Onizuka Visitor Center on Mauna Kea.
-- Omega Centauri from 37°07'21"N through Fresno's light dome with my 5" SCT (I've done this multiple times and also with 10x50 and larger binos and my 8" SCT). One of the reasons I first tried for OC, despite the bad conditions, was that all the old-timers in my club said it couldn't be done.
-- Two satellites crossing at right angles just off the center of M13 in my 5" SCT.
-- Comet Garrard and M71 in the same field of view in my 8" SCT + 13mm Ethos last summer.
-- Pluto in my 8" SCT (several times).
-- Mars when it hit 25" in 2003.
-- The Veil Nebula through a 24" newtonian.
-- Stephen's Quintet through the same 24"
-- And that's just for starters....

Naked eye *and* with binos:
-- A satellite burning up on re-etry over the central Sierra Nevada in 2000 or 2001 while our club entertained about 50 junior college astronomy students. The solar panels were obvious in binos. A club member got on the internet the next day and found out it was a Russian satellite that missed the Pacific Ocean.
-- Several bright comets, dating back to Ikeya-Seki in 1965 and Comet West in 1976.

Naked eye:
-- The 2001 Leonids from a dark site.
-- Seeing the Andromeda Galaxy cresting the horizon from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park.
-- A fireball so bright it cast shadows at our high-elevation observing site at Courtright Reservoir. Meteorite hunters concentrated their search around Florence and Edison Lakes, but I don't know if they found anything.

Anytime with any means:
-- Our own moon.
Posted 02/17/2012 11:39AM #3
Like most there is a list.....but at the top of that list is one spectacular view that I will carry with me the rest of my life. It was the catalyst that led me down the astronomer's road by the nose.

I went to a public outreach night at Prarie Grass Observatory dark site just outside Lafayette Indiana. They had a 28" Dob, a 16" SCT and a pair of 100mm Oberwerk 40x binos on a parallelagram mount.

I was of course impressed with both the Dob and the SCT and was appropriately wowed....BUT when I looked through the binos I was hooked....The immersive feeling, the expansive view, it was a pivotal moment for me. Today, with 10's of thousands of $$ invested in this hobby I can still say without a shadow of doubt, not before or since that evening has anything had a more profound impact on me.

Within a couple days I had found and purchased my 1st real telescope an 8" cardboard tube Dob and within a couple months had a pair of APM 100mm binos AND an identical mount to the one I used that night....Its been 8 years now and I can still close my eyes and feel it....I will never forget it.

20" MidnighTelescopes f/5
8" f/16 Muffoletto Achro
Meade 6" AR6 f/8.0 Achro
Celestron C11
Parallax PI250 10" F/5 Newt
Vixen FL102S,NA140SS,R200SS
80mm Stellarvue Nighthawk with WO APOupgrade lens, 90mm f/16.67 Parallax Achro
LXD75/LX200, Mini-tower, GP-DX, CG5 ASGT, LXD650, GM-8, G11, GM-100, GM-150EX, GM-200 and a Gemini G40
4" portable AP convertable 44" or 70" pier
Stellarvue M7 Alt-Az, TSL7 Pier/Tripod
12.5" f/5 MidnighTelescopes DOB Swayze optics
Monroe GA
Posted 02/17/2012 03:40PM #4
I was using a wedged 12" lx200 one night near Idylwild,CA. It was late and Seeing was awesome. I remembered Omega Centari should be slightly above the horizon. I couldn't get the scope to view that far south on the wedge, so I had to swing the tripod out of polar alignment so the tube could swing that low. I scanned with the finder and found the huge globular cluster for the first time ever. It was absolutely spectacular in the 12". One of my best observing memories!

¡ʎɐqǝ uo pɹɐoqʎǝʞ ɐ ʎnq ı ǝɯıʇ ʇsɐן ǝɥʇ sı sıɥʇ
Posted 02/17/2012 04:01PM #5
Most memorable:

Spider web-like nebulosity and blue color in M45 directly visible from N. Calif 16" SCT observatory scope at an outreach night. Maybe once in a lifetime night? I was a beginner and thought it was just the large (to me) 16" scope doing that.

Another near perfect night at Grandview campground in N. Calif, saw low surface brightness IC 1613 galaxy in Cetus easily. In my 16" dob but also glimpsed in the 60mm finder!

Veil nebula for the first time in 16" scope with O-III filter at dark site, wonderful.

M51 on exceptional night in S. Cal. in 16" scope. Fog over LA. The main arms seemed lit up like the Vegas strip. Not seen that well since.

Being able to follow northern half of Barnard's Loop with H-beta filter in the finder scope.

Dark band in NGC 891 through another's 25" dob. Seeing swirls in the band, not just the band. I wasn't expecting that.

M42 first time in 16" at dark site.

Finally saw the snout outline (barely) in Horsehead nebula a few weeks ago, 16" and 20" dobs H-beta near Desert Center S. Cal.

Seeing M31 and M110 together for first light in my 6" scope, N. Cal dark sky.

Thanks for starting this thread.


Posted 02/17/2012 04:37PM #6
In 1963 when "I discovered" NGC 884 and 869 (Double Cluster of Perseus). I was taking an Earth Science class while a freshman in high school. At one of our evening sessions the upperclassmen were clustered around the Edmund 6 inch reflector and I found the diminutive Questar 3.5 appealing and unused. I scanned the northern sky and found the cluster. When my instructor, Mr. Rousseau asked me what I was looking at, I told him I didn't know what it was but it was certainly interesting. After he looked in the eyepiece for a moment he said, "I think you've discovered the Double Cluster of Perseus". I think of that moment every time I look at it now.
Posted 02/17/2012 09:08PM #7
Dick Jacobson said:

What telescopic (or binocular) views have been most unforgettable for you?

I've only been doing this for about a year. So everything is still pretty amazing to me.

Perhaps my best moment was my first glimpse at Omega Centauri thru the 4" refractor I had cobbled together. I just stumbled across this bright, big "thing", having no idea what I was looking at.

After that, I keep wondering, "Why are all the other clusters so small?"

And you, know, the funny thing is that I've never gone back to look at Omega Cen again, even though now I have a 10" dob.

One night I will.


In lumine tuo videbimus lumen.

8O Home-made 10” Dob / Home-made 4” refractor

EPs: Konig 32mm (1.25") / Zhumell WF 30mm (2") / Nagler 13mm T1 / Orion Sirius Plossls 25 & 10mm / Zhumell Plossl 9 mm / Meade MA 9mm
Posted 02/19/2012 06:02AM #8
M42/43 w/ any telescope but especially in my 16" home built Dob.

M13 w/ 12.5" or 16" Dob and 14 mm Ultrawide eyepiece.

M31/32/110 w/ 31 mm Nagler.
Posted 02/19/2012 05:03PM #9
Great thread!
Naked eye--m33 From rural WVa
Working through the Markarian chain for the first time with my dob.
M15 through a twin tube 6 inch f 15 bino-telescope (to view you needed to be, humbly, on your knees!!)
watching the face of a good friend view Saturn for the first time, ever.
thank you