Re: The Spaghetti Nebula - Tuckahoe Stargaze

George Reynolds

Great observing report, Roy.  


George Reynolds

"Solar System Ambassador" for South Hampton Roads, Virginia
Back Bay Amateur Astronomers (BBAA)


From: Roy Diffrient
To: backbayastro@...
Cc: Kent Blackwell ; moodya@...; hotmid6@...
Sent: Sunday, April 14, 2013 10:46 PM
Subject: [backbayastro] The Spaghetti Nebula - Tuckahoe Stargaze

After two stormy nights, featuring about 2” of rain, we were ready for clear skies at the Delmarva Stargazer’s Stargaze Star Party at Tuckahoe State Park in Maryland this weekend.  And we got it.  We had a beautiful clear day and evening on Saturday, April 13.  Amazingly, the night proved to be dry – I never turned on my dew heaters!  That’s rare for Tuckahoe, which sometimes has dew as heavy as rain, and standard procedure is to turn the heat on full burn very early.  And at midnight the SQM was showing about 21.0 – Not quite as dark skies as Coinjock, but not bad!  Combine that with cool, not cold, temps with little wind, decent seeing and transparency, and we had a beautiful night going.
At the top of my search objects list was Sh 2-240, also known as Simeis 147 and the Spaghetti Nebula.  This object is a very large (3 degrees) supernova remnant composed of wispy strands of star-stuff in the constellations Taurus and Auriga, just a few degrees from the Crab Nebula, M1.  And who knows how bright those wisps are going to be?  Early in the evening, with the crescent moon and Jupiter in the west, I didn’t think I had any chance at a Sharpless object – They are usually extremely faint and difficult to detect.  One good point: with a three-degree wide object, not much searching is required to find the field.
Despite the moon, I started without a filter at 114X (21 mm Ethos and Paracorr).  I suspected some nebulosity, but nothing was really apparent.  A UHC filter blocked the moonlight somewhat which made the nebula’s edges detectable, and this was confirmed by my intrepid observing companions at Tuckahoe, Kent Blackwell, Ray Moody and C. J. Wood.  I tried lower and higher powers, but I think the best view was with the OIII filter and the 21 mm.  With the OIII, the edges of the nebula wisps showed visible contrast against the black sky background.  Only a small part of the nebula was visible in any one view of course, but I was also surprised that I could detect several of the nebulous strands around this large object, not just one brightest part.  Given good conditions, smaller apertures should certainly be useful on this one.  Here’s more on Sh 2-240:
Our campsite at the Tuckahoe Equestrian Center had nice, low horizons to the south and west, so the setting crescent moon turned orange and was quite beautiful.
Roy Diffrient

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