The Painted Sky - Volume 8 - All The Colors of Heaven

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As seen through binoculars, the entire Milky Way was marbled, that is, all the fields were peppered with small, black spots between the stars. They looked like tiny dark nebulae in the midst of brighter nebulae. The light did not hinder me to see comet Howell well. With my 25x binoculars on a Saxon tripod, I estimated the comet as magnitude 9. The darkness fell swiftly upon us and my guests saw the grandest starry skies that they had ever experienced!

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Iiro had observed from metres altitude in Tenerife on the Canary Islands but these skies were more overwhelming. It took about ten seconds for the apparatuses to collect enough light since our SQM-meters showed up to It does not get substantially darker than this anywere on Earth, not even at the professional observatories in Chile, Hawaii, Canary Islands etc. We performed naked eye limiting magnitude tests. Iiro was able to glimpse stars of magnitude 7.

I concentrated instead my vision towards the relatively star poor region in Fornax which was nearly overhead. I used my For solely this purpose had I printed out charts but with the magnitudes omitted. I marked those stars I could detect on the map, going progressively fainter. Stars of magnitude 7. It broke my previous personal record from the Peruvian Andes at metres of altitude in June which was magnitude 7.

Nangerwalla is only at metres altitude but the extinction difference at zenith between sea-level and metres is only about 0. With my 25xbinoculars I took the opportunity to observe two dwarf spheroids and an irregular galaxy in our Local Group of galaxies. They were discovered on photographs exposed for almost 24 hours in the beginning of the last century and were initially regarded as plate faults. Sculptor Dwarf has the incredibly low surface brightness of The third galaxy was IC in Cetus.

All these three galaxies appeared as very large, ghostly, diffuse glows without brighter central parts and they were best noticed when I swept the fields back and forth with the binocular. Fornax Dwarf harbours a number of globular clusters orbiting it.

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The brightest of these, NGC of magnitude I do not know of anyone else who has reported this light years distant globular with binoculars. Up to now, I had logged 16 galaxies in our Local Group. I had failed to see it from Sweden with my Celestron-8 telescope earlier in the autumn but from here it was even evident with binoculars. A curious detail I accidentally happened to notice were stars reflected on the rental car's plate. I recognized the constellation Orion's mirrored reflexion and even the Orion nebula could clearly be seen on the paintwork!

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After you have gone through the entire Messier catalog, which I have done with, for example 50 mm binoculars, the next natural step is the Herschel list. It is a selection of DS-objects which William Herschel discovered at the end of the 18th century.

It was plainly visible from here with 25x binoculars. The galaxy reminded me of M in Ursa Major which is also cigar shaped and has several Milky Way stars superposed or close nearby. We observed all night long in these fantastic conditions. Just before sunrise we tested for how long we could hold Sirius in vison naked eye. It got dimmer and dimmer when the Sun crept nearer the horizon.

One careless blink with the eye and the star could be lost. I did that in fact once, but luckily I could find Sirius again against the blue sky. At the same time when the sun's first rays illuminated the landscape, I lost Sirius from sight for good this morning. By the way, the SQM-meter showed the value 7. We tried to get some sleep in the middle of the morning but the growing heat made it impossible.

A flock of parrots had gathered around a large water tank just outside the slide-door and their cackle sounded like they were indoors. We even got some visitors who were prospective buyers of the farm Some of them warned us for snakes which could easily wind in through the door openings. We actually saw curling marks of snakes outside the house.

The evening before, I took out a chair from the corner of the room and happened to bump against a spider web beneath the table-top. Today we found out whose net it was. The owner was a Redback spider which is a cousin to the American black widow. The Redback is about as poisonous as a Swedish black adder snake and the spider usually bites when it gets provoked and when its net is touched, like I did! A much larger spider's dry remnants were hanging there. My father got bitten by a Redback a number of years ago in his backyard and his foot swelled up and he had to be hospitalized a few weeks.

In the afternoon, an irritating blowfly flew around our room and we got to witness when it finally ended up in another spider's net, the Daddy longleg spider. We studied closely how the arachnid very rapidly spinned the fly in a cocoon and bit it several times. The blowfly tried in vain to get loose, buzzed maybe a minute before it went silent.

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It was fascinating to study nature in action from extremely close range. Next night looked even more promising because the sun was dazzlingly bright at sunset. Even prior to sunset, I managed to find Jupiter naked eye quite easily. The sky towards WSW, above the sun, was purple colored before the end of civil twilight and this feature has its own name, the so called Purple light.

The crescent was particularly difficult to view since it was in apogeum a few days earlier and it had not receded so far away from the sun during this time. Crickets nocturnal grasshoppers commenced their chirping and the atmosphere was like in the wild west, and it certainly was, the wild Western Australia!

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A bat had gone astray into our house but we managed to shoot it out again. We brought out our instruments behind the same bushes where we observed the night before.

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The irritating swarms of small flies which plagued us in daytime were gone like magic in the darkness. Esko had with his 10x50 Bresser binocular puchased from Lidl department store found a funny asterism somewhere in the Milky Way in Puppis or Vela. The interesting detail with it was the fact that the stars made up a raging caveman figure brandishing his club with his hand.

An orange star was the troglodyte's navel. Under his feet was a nebula or a starcluster with very faint members. I forgot to look up their more exact positions but I suspect they were the open starcluster NGC and the nebula Sharpless in Puppis. It felt marvellous to be able to observe in short sleeves all night long. Actually, I got thirsty in this dry air, so I had to wet my whistle with water regularly.

The dry semidesert air is of course a contributory factor for the exceptionally good transparency. Tonight was even slightly darker than the night before. We measured the sky brightness as SQM According to the Bortle scale, a Bortle class 9 sky is a metropolitan night sky while Bortle 1 is a site completely devoid of artificial light pollution and where no trace or just minor light domes can be glimpsed somewhere at the horizon. Nangerwalla had naturally a clear Bortle class 1 sky.

He describes that under these conditions, it is so dark that you have problems to discern the surroundings, the telescope etc. This is utter nonsense! When your eyes have been fully dark adapted, all people, instruments, white charts, eyepieces etc are seen with the aid of starlight only.

We were observing quite close to each other and walking around the place and not a single time in two nights did we bump into each other or other instruments since they were all visible, at least with averted vison! Our eyes were not exposed to white light during the entire night so we were dark adapted for some 10 hours.