M82 Supernova!

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Credit: E. Guido, N. Howes, M. Nicolini

This has just happened today! Me and my Dad had set up out 14 inch Dob and observed the galaxy on Monday, and there  was certainly no star there.  The supernova is 12th magnitude and brightening.  This means it’s well within the range of amateur telescopes, a 4 inch should have no problem seeing it, weather permitting of course.

Looking at supernovas is looking into the past, and this particular star exploded about 11.5 million years ago.  That’s how it is when you look at any distant object in the night sky.  For example, whenever you look up at the moon, your actually seeing how it appeared just over a second ago.  That supernova is 11,420,000 light years away, so it had to travel that distance.  The light traveled all that way and took so long to get here.  That star is long gone and likely has formed a planetary nebula of some sort.

The galaxy M82 itself is an interesting object.  It is an edge on spiral galaxy, often called the Cigar Galaxy because of its appearance.  It is also designated as NGC 3034.  Through most telescopes it looks like a pale elongated smudge, and light and dark areas and rifts can be seen throughout, as seem in photographs.  M82 is a very active galaxy, with a bright “starburst” region, further information here

I’m setting up the RV-6 this evening to take a peek at it, should provide a great view of it, I’ll most likely make a sketch of it now, and maybe later too and compare the brightness of it.  Go on out and take a look!

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Some New Eyepieces!

I’ve recently upgraded my collection of eyepieces having some of the finest eyepiece  brand names make their way into my case, Tele Vue, and Explore Scientific.  I’ve been using them extensively for a month now.  They have proven to be extraordinary pieces of glass, and have definitely earned a permanent spot in my collection.

On December 20th, a package arrived at the door.



And inside…


Tele Vue Nagler 16mm Type 2.  This is my first and only Tele Vue eyepiece.  It is the Type 2 so it’s not the most current model but that doesn’t make others better.  This eyepiece has  an 82 degree apparent field of view.  What’s nice is that it is dual barreled, so it can be accepted with both types of focusers.  Build quality is top notch,  as well as optical quality.  The main scope it is used in is the Meade 12.5″.  It performs well as a mid power eyepiece providing 119x and a 0.68 degree true field.  It’s great for zooming in on objects found with lower power eyepieces.  The eyepiece has shorter eye relief than is tolerable for some, but if you don’t wear glasses its very easy to look through for anyone.

There really is something special about the Type 2 Naglers.  Here is a great article regarding the history about Nagler Eyepieces. Link here. The other Type 2’s were 20mm and 12mm. The best of the type 2’s were the 20mm, but also the heaviest eyepiece Tele Vue has ever made, but all three of these are hard working eyepieces.  Credit is due to someone who gave me this eyepiece, as I would not have been able to afford this, as I won it in a contest.  Thanks Randy!

Here’s the other eyepiece, big in every way:

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That’s an Explore Scientific 30mm 82 degree. Doesn’t look like other ES 30mm’s you’ve seen? It’s the older non water proof version, but optical quality is the same.  This beast is 3 inches wide at the top and weighs in at a whopping 3.06 pounds! That caused some serious balance problems, more on that later.  Why would I buy this eyepiece when I just wrote a great review for the Owl 30mm? The price one was available at was extremely low for how good this eyepiece is.  After reading review after review on ES 30mm, I just had to get it.  So how does it do? It’s like the 31mm Nagler, there have been many reviews directly comparing the 2, as the Nagler is the top of the line.  That being said, this eyepiece is outstanding in terms of the image it puts out.  That huge, expansive eyepiece is great and essential for low power viewing.

However, I have heard that the Nagler just barely edges out in terms of edge correction.  The edge correction in the ES is great, the last 15% or so the stars start to slightly soften.  This is in the 12.5″, at F/6.  It provides very sharp views throughout and high contrast images essential for finding and observing objects.  This eyepiece gave my scope several balance issues that are still being sorted out.  When I put it in the focuser, the scope just dropped at every position.  I had to completely change the balance and lower the counterweights, and add some ankle weights to the back of the tube. There already is a counterweight on a bar back there but it needed more.  I still think I could use one more on it.  The difficulty using this is that when I change eyepieces I have to remove on of the weights in the back.  This is tricky because sometimes I do that, and the scope starts to move.  By removing the eyepiece first seems to fix this for the most part, but at some positions it still moves around.

As nice as the Owl 30mm is the Explore Scientific really is on the next level.  But, it is still a nice eyepiece and very usable.  The views in the Explore Scientific are so nice that the balance issues still make it worth it for me.  One thing I’ve noticed is that the Owl is not truly an 80 degree field.  It’s more like 77 degrees.  If you ever get the chance to pick up an ES 82, do it, you won’t be disappointed.