2012 09 21 – M1/NGC 1952

2012 09 21, 0630 UT – 0750 UT NGC1952/M1

16” Zhumell reflector f/4.5 on a non-tracking Dobsonian mount
Baader Planetarium Hyperion 8-24mm Mark III
(observation at 75-225x magnification – sketch at 120x), OIII filter
73F, 57% H, 6 mph winds SSE, clear, Pickering 6, T 4/6
Alt 16deg 07´, Az 73deg 41´ – Alt 32deg 41´, Az 82deg 22´

Supernova Remnant in the constellation Taurus, 05h 34.5m, +22deg 01´, 06´x4´, distance 6500 ly. Apparent magnitude 9.

Before inverting

The Crab Nebula gets a bad rap as having disappointing views with little structural detail. It leaves me scratching my head. Sure, it’s not the spectacular view of M13 or M42, but it’s pretty special in its own right as a remnant of a supernova event witnessed and recorded in 1054 A.D. that was visible for many months. It continues to expand at a rate of 600-1000 miles per second (depending on which source you read). A pulsar was detected within it in 1968 and has been used to study a number of celestial bodies that transited it.

It can be difficult to pull detail out M1 when lower on the horizon or at lower aperture. Even with it higher in the sky, you might only see an oblong haze with a brightened center using a smaller scope, as is the case when I use a 6” RC. Under decent skies with a larger telescope, the filamentary detail begins to appear. In this observation using a 16” reflector, it helped to use an OIII filter for contrast. I started the observation when the target was only 16deg in altitude. I worked on plotting my anchor stars so that when it rose higher in the sky, the FOV structure would already be in place so that I could just concentrate on M1 itself with the faintest stars as the finishing touch.

I spent a great deal of time with my red sketching light turned off to maximize dark adaption. As filamentary structure became apparent, I found myself thinking this supernova remnant was one of the most beautiful objects I’ve observed. Perhaps it’s because I’ve scratched the surface of its history. Perhaps it was the thrill of a successful hunt for details. In the end, it’s all about appreciating the moment.

Eyepiece sketch on white photocopy paper with black felt tipped pen for brightest stars, #2 pencil for medium-magnitude stars, and a 0.5mm mechanical pencil for the faintest stars, blending stump for the nebulosity. Template is from the Astronomical League.


Other related posts regarding supernovae can be found here:

2011 03 03, M1/NGC 1952
2011 06 27 – M51/NGC 5194, NGC 5195/H 1.186, Supernova 2011dh

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~ by Erika Rix on October 4, 2012.

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