Operation EWS
Edelweißspitze (8435 ft) - October 2013
last update 17.10.2013

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Operation EWS - Two outstanding nights on the Edelweißspitze in Austria - between 10.2. and 10.4.2013
        Edelweißspitze (8435 ft), Großglockner-High-Alpine-Road Austria, 12 Inch Dobson (Hofheim Instruments) & Fujinon 10x58 binoculars
        SQML up to 21,54 mag/sas, Temp. between 23degF
and 32degF, relative air humidity 25% - 85% (at the end of the second night), seeing II-III (Antonadi-Skala), Transp. very good
        Cameras: Canon 6D  -  Lenses: Canon EF 24-105mm f/4,0 L IS USM and Walimex pro 14mm f2,8 
        First Night:    Relative air humidity 25%-45%, seeing II-III, Temp: 23degF - 32gegF , SQML up to 21,54 mag/arc sec2, transparency very good
                               Observers: Uwe G., Friedl L., Frank R., Jimi L. (Texas, USA), Christian R.
        Sec. Night:   
Relative air humidity 35%-85%, seeing II-III, Temp: 32degF - 41degF , SQML up to 21,4 mag/arc sec2, transparency decreasing over night
                               Observers: as above

        Selection of observed objects:
                               Ison, NGC3865 - Lemon Slice Nebula, NGC188 - Proxima Cluster, Kemble 2 (Little Kassiopeia),  M33 (mit NGC605, NGC588, NGC592, NGC595,
                               IC142, IC143, IC135, IC136), H&Chi Persei, NGC7023 and Irisnebula, NGC2276 (Arp25), NGC2300 (together Arp 114),  IC469, NGC2268, PV Cephei,
                               NGC383 Group - Pisces Chain (mit NGC382, NGC384, NGC385, NGC375, NGC380, NGC379), NGC507 Group (mit 508, 499, 495, 483, 499)
                               NGC7331 group (NGC7335, NGC7336, NGC7337, NGC73340), NGC2024 - Flame Nebula,  Diamond Ring,  Abell 12, NGC1999 - Keyhole Nebula,
                               M42 Orion Nebula (incl. e and f components), M35&NGC2158,M37, Mel31, Do16, NGC1893, M36 , M38, Hickson 99, UGC813&UGC816 (Taffy 2) using Frank's
                               20" scope, M42, NGC1999 und M74 using Uwe's  27" dobson

        Fail to see:
                               Abell 39, Abell 70, IC139, A110, A112

As far as the weather is concerned, the safe option for the October new moon would have been the Bavarian Forest. An interim high pressure area in Central Europe should provide at least two cloudless nights there.

The risky business would be the Edelweißspitze on the Grossglockner High Alpine Road.

How the decision where to go looks like with the above mentioned astro folks should be obvious, right?

In addition there is the visit of Jimi L., one of the known visual observers of the U.S. scene. Mark, Frank and Uwe have met him on the Texas Star Party last spring.
And Jimi
wants to see the Edelweißspitze, even if it is raining cats and dogs.

The goal for the coming days is therefore fixed.

Day One

The car is already pre-packed the evening before, I'm going straight from the office to the highway on Wednesday afternoon. The closer I get to the Alps, the worse the weather becomes....

Was the
Edelweißspitze the right decision?

From Saalfelden am Steinernen Meer onwards, the sun finally breaks through. Shortly after 6pm I reach the Edelweißspitze.
I use the 
last sunrays to take some photographs.

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Zell am See Glockner Hochalpenstraße
View northwards to Zell am See  Grossglockner High Alpine Road and dissolving clouds

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Lichtspiele Edelweißspitze
Last Sunlight in the evening trough clouds View southwards

I meet Uwe who arrived already in the afternoon with Jimi and his wife Connie. A little later Frank is also arriving - Mark, unfortunately, has to cancel.

Before the night a common dinner takes place at which I get to know Jimi and his wife Connie. Very nice and open people, we talk well and have lots of fun in our squad.

We set up our equipment still in the twilight , there is no wind and the sky is clear! As it turned out, the first night will be the better one; very good transparency, useful seeing, no wind and a relative humidity of less than 30% are the main "milestones".

Let's go with the diamond ring, an obvious first object since the telescope usually points to the Polaris anyway to check the collimation. I've only to change the eyepiece and the "Operation Edelweiss 2013runs off ..

Diamond Ring:
Ring of stars, appr. 1 degree in diameter, the Polaris represents the diamond.
Best view using the Baader Orthoskopic 31mm eyepice (V=49x).

NGC2276 (Arp25) & NGC2300(together Arp 114) & IC455:
Beautiful collection of galaxies in Cepheus near Polaris; NGC2276 is a spiral galaxy near a bright star, NGC2300 (elliptical, with no apparent internal structure) constitute Arp114, near IC455 is much smaller (slightly elongated) ,evident using direct vision

Approx. 1.5 degrees apart from NGC2276, bright, oval 

IC3568 - Lemon Slice Nebula:
Planetary nebula
 in Camelopardalis, very small, round, inner bright area without any recognizable structure, no central star is visible, the inner bright region is surrounded by a round halo, easy with averted vision, the transition between the inner and outer structure bounded relatively sharp outer halo runs out softly
A star
at the edge of the object.
Magnification: 375x & 500x / no filter

IC3568 - Lemmon Slice Nebula

PV Cephei:
Gyulbudaghian's nebula around the young star PV Cephei. The star is of type FU Ori, short Fuor, which can have extreme outbursts. Currently, the object is in a phase of greater brightness and can be seen with a smaller instrument (10 "-12").
Easy to see in averted vision; difficult to determine the shape, most likely a triangle that "runs out" to the north. The southern corner seems slightly better defined. The star itself Iis not visible, neither any stellar brightening.

We continue with a prime object of the northern sky, the double cluster
H&Chi Persei
using Frank's 130mm F6 twin-refractor
. Simply amazing, the fine needle stars of different brightness and color seem to literally float in the field.

On the Edelweißhut the landlord is set to amateur astronomers, there is no disturbing light at all.
Only if you
go to the very north end of the observation place (the telescopes are set up usually on the south end), you see artificial light.

The lights of Zell am See in the north - right of it on the horizon, the sky glow of Salzburg (50 miles away)

M33 - Triangle Galaxy:

Messier 33 (also known as NGC598 ) is a spiral galaxy with dimensions of 70 '× 40' in the constellation Triangulum . M33 is the second brightest galaxiy in the night sky (after Andromeda)  and the most distant object visible to the naked eye. The distance is about 3 million light years. Due to the low surface brightness (about 14mag ), a dark sky is the prerequisite for a successful observation .

Two years ago I started to identify internal structures of M33. Up to know I was able to see the spiral structure , NGC604 (direct vision), NGC588 , NGC592 , NGC595 (averted) , IC142 , IC143, IC135 and IC136 (flashes up in averted vision) .
M33 - Triangle Galaxy

NCG7331 Group:
Spiral galaxy with companions in Pegasus, easy with direct vision, core not stellar but elongated. I'm able to identify four companions, NGC7340, NGC7336 in direct vision, NGC7337 in averted vision (easy to hold), NGC7336 dificult in averted vision
NGC73131 Gruppe

Orion, Gemini and Jove raising behind the tower on the summit

The comet is currently in the constellation Leo and easy to be found since in the proximity of Mars.
Averted vision necessary, an "elongated something", no structure visible

There is still some way to go for Ison.....

NGC383 Group (Pisces Chain):
Very nice group of galaxies, beside NGC383 the members NGC382, NGC384, NGC385, NGC375, NGC380 and NGC379 are easy to be seen

NGC253 (Sculptor Galaxy):
The silverdollar, rarely seen as good as this night, bright; using the 20mm Nagler, the galaxy fills almost the field (1 degree)

Meanwhile zodiacal light is visible in the east. The slightly greenish shimmer on the pic is airglow.
The photos
of the night sky are best in a darkened room in full screen mode (without bright rims). 
Lions head, Cancer and Gemini within zodiacal light

It dawns, Big Dipper in the sky ....


Schmale Mondsichel am 3. Oktober

Narrow crescent  moon in the morning of October 3

Meanwhile, the temperature has dropped to 23 degreeF and the tiredness is noticeable. On the other hand the spectacle of the dawn, the impressions can not be transmitted photographically...

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View to north Dawn - view to the west

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Hohe Tauern Alps Großes Wießbachhorn (11692 ft)

Edelweißhütte (8435 ft) the morning, fog down in the valley 

Day two

Two images taken from the Edelweiß Webcam. The cam makes a 360 degree panorama every 15 minutes and runs throughout the year.

Me (Wednesday evening)
Uwe and me at breakfest on Thursday morning; the others are to come

The day goes by very fast with many nice conversations, coffee, cakes and relaxing...

According to weather forecast, the emerging cirrus clouds should disappear for a few hours at night

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EWS Edelweißspitze
Zell am See and the "Steinernes Meer" behind The tower on the Edelweißspitze

The left image shows the "Watzmann", a famous mountain (right side of the picture)
The sight of the mountains siluette remembers Jimi to "batman" (the two "ears"). The association is even more obvious at night.
"Batman" behind Zell am See...

After dinner we set up our scopes. First object this night is ...

NGC188 - Proxima Cluster:
Open Cluster in Cepheus near the north celestial pole, with about 5 billion years one of the oldest open clusters.
Clearly recognizable, diameter about 1/4 - 1/3 degrees, some bright star chains
Nagler 20mm, V = 75x

Kemble 2 - Little Cassiopeia:
Asterism in the constellation Draco, several bright stars in an arrangement reminiscent of the Cassiopeia, diameter about 0.75 degrees
Orthoskopic Baader 31mm, V = 49x

H&Chi Persei
simply phantastic, also in the 12" f5 dobson!

Abell 39:
not found without a detailed star map

It is much warmer than the night before, the temperature is still above freezing. In the south, high clouds are slowly spreading throughout the north
Milky Way

M74  (in Uwe's 27"):
Beautiful spiral galaxy (top view) in constellation pisces. What a sight! The spiral arms with innumerable knots are simply marvellous. The link to Uwe's drawing: M74 

An other amazing sketch Uwe made this night is the Stephan's Quintett
See also his homepage for more sketches taken in these nights deepsky-visuell.

Who we surely didn't known is the "Edelweiss Fox".
There is a rather cheeky fox up there hanging around between the telescopes at night. The animal even touched Jimi's leg! As an observer in west Texas, the man is used to rattlesnakes and scorpions, but the fox has scared him... We  recommended Jimi a "Gamsbart" (what the hell is it?) out of fox hair, at the sight of it the fox will disapear for sure.

Jimi and the fox are of course the issue of the next few hours ....

Back to bussines:
Jimi's suggestion, we observe the interacting galaxy pair UGC813 and UGC816 (called Taffy2) in Frank's 20" dobson. Both galaxies are visible, even the "bridge" in between using averted vision. An impressive sight.

Further information you'll find here:

UGC813 & UGC816:
Interacting pair of galaxies, both visible directly (20"), the bridge in between is visible with averted vision.

Now, comming from south, high clouds are appearing​​.

Uwe at his  27" dobson - more and more clouds are comming in

Jove and the constellations Gemini and Orion

NGC1999 - Keyhole Nebula:
shape of the dark cloud easily recognizable
Magnification: 375x (4mm Nagler Zoom)
no filters used
NGC1999 - Keyhole Nebula

Abell 12:
Planetary nebula near the 4mag bright star μ Orionis; averted vision  (the britght star disturbs), visible as a round slice without any internal structure
Magnification: 167x (Nagler 9mm), OIII filter
Abell 12
Abell 12

Two time-lapse video recorded in the second night. The incoming clouds in the south (second half of the night) and the deteriorating conditions are visible.
Timelapse Video 1
Milky Way
Timelapse Video 2
Orion and Jove

We finally break down and store the equipment in our cars. Jimi conjures a sixpack a dark beer, we set ourselves at one of the two tables on the observation area and lead, in the truest sense of the word, an American-German-Tyrolean-Deep-Sky-Summit-Meeting.

The observation area at Friday noon before Friedl and myself leave - shortly after it starts to rain....

Uwe, Frank and Jimi still stay and hope for a predicted, short good weather window in the night to Saturday. After a very rainy day, it finally becomes clear at Friday night. The remaining folks use the last clear hours, too. Spending the second part of the night a little deeper at "Fuscher Törl", since on the top upcomming strong wind makes the observing impossible.

Team Edelweiß
Team Edelweiß: Frank R., Connie L., Friedl L., Christian R. (rear from the left)   -   Uwe G., Jimi L. (front from the left)

Operation Edelweiß 2013 - The Summary:
It was simply great, everything was perfect, the people, the weather, the conditions, the atmosphere - it can not be better ..
2.) The slogan of the week:
     "28 inch is a lovely aperture for a travelscope"    -    
Jimi L.
For sure my observing highlight in 2013

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