Sunday, January 25, 2015

too long

Was hoping to finish the barn door tracker today. But the hinge screws are too long! Man... Another delay.

fixed power cord

Fixed Tony's power cord for his Sky-Watcher EQ3 mount. The wires had frayed and shorted right near the strain relief of the CLA plug. I took it apart to figure out the polarity. Printing on the shell; bumpy wire to the centre.

The 7-ampere fuse was blown. Put a 5A in from my parts bin. Tested on my power tank. Red LED. Good to go.

checked group settings

Fixed Yahoo!Group some strange issues for the Operations and CAO supers groups.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

cut wood

Mr dos Santos let me use his jig saw. I quickly cut the Baltic birch plywood as per Gary Seronik's diagram. I decided to keep the bottom plate simple—I don't think I'll bother with the circular element.

Huh. Seem small, the plates. That's a good thing, I suppose.

Let the assembly begin!

Jovian exhibition (Mississauga)

Very fun evening.

4:30 PM, Fri 23 Jan 2015. Cut out of work. The lads wanted me to join them for a end-of-week debrief. Just one drink. Nope! I'm on a mission. Sorry. Have fun!

5:52 PM. I was very surprised to secure a local AutoShare ride. Not the closest, but still.

7:18. Arrived the dos Santos kitchen.

Almost immediately, I fired up SkyTools and started configuring telescopes. I added Tony's SCT, Elaine's big refractor, and finally the little refractor. Add camera details, finally, after scouring the web, and Yahoo!Groups, for specs.

Phoned the CAO. Gave a number where I could be reached, if they had any trouble.

Elaine reviewed the webcam operation and quickly demo'ed the software installed on Tony's laptop.

After a fantastic dinner by Tony and wonderful dessert by Elaine, we headed out back. He let me loose.

First order of business was dew preventing. I pointed out all the frost to Tony. He fetched the DSLR lens cap while I installed the dew cap on the SCT.

I aligned the Celestron CGEM 11's finderscope and Telrad, using the Moon. Used an eyepiece to centre on targets. Tony and I connected the Chameleon colour camera and started to play with the capture software. First exposure to this app. Adjusted the brightness and related settings. Set up a new folder. Verified there was lots of hard disk space.

The software was displaying the recording dialog but after setting it the first time, it was not letting me change it. After rebooting the Dell, I got the recording to work and played back the video test files to verify. 1200 frames per run. AVI video format. Mild drifting but it was OK. Seeing looked really good.

Tony spotted my 2" mirror diagonal and asked if he could use it. He put it on the TEC 150.

The seeing was quite good. The cloud bands were mottled with ragged edges.

9:44. Took a break. I participated in an e-vote, followed-up with new president (who seems unwilling to drive south), agreed to a new (sorta) committee member to the CAO, and asked a question about a CAO group event.

10:35. We spotted Callisto's shadow. Very nice. Down the middle, very nearly on the equator.

11:39. I spotted, in the wonderful TEC view, the little bite of Io's shadow appearing. It took a moment for Tony to see it.

Io's shadow also near the equator.

11:56. Watched Io merge into the planet's disc, then become a tiny bump, then disappear. Very good seeing.

12:11 AM, Sat 24 Jan 2015. During a warm-up break, messaged Katrina. Told her I too wanted to get to the CAO. Craving dark skies.

12:45 AM. It was super-cool watching Io's small fast-moving shadow merge into Callisto's. That was a first!

1:26 AM. The main event was coming up. Callisto merged into the planet. Clouds were holding off.

1:31 AM. Europa's shadow appeared. Woo hoo! Three shadows. Another first!

Europa's shadow was not in-line with the others. It was touching or very near the south equatorial belt.

It was fascinating seeing Callisto "parallel" to the shadow, looking like another shadow itself. It was in the north equatorial belt. Yet another first.

And then the clouds rolled in. What incredible luck. What incredible timing. We packed up, covered the gear.

Inside, I tried to figure out the AVI files. I could not seem to figure out what was going on. Registax 6 would not open, or at least display the frames, in some of the AVI files (the big ones, unfortunately, with most of the frames). That was a little disappointing. Tony really wanted to post something...

When said it was 4 AM, I almost jumped. No wonder I was having so much trouble. Crashed.

spotted three shadows (Mississauga)

We got them! The three shadows on Jupiter. Tony and I were very happy. Cheers!

The faint dot top-left of the planet is the moon Europa. The shadows, left to right, are Europa's, Callisto's, and Io's. Also, Io is just barely visible to the right of Callisto's shadow!

Point Grey Chameleon colour camera, Celestron CGEM 11, manually focused, FlyCap software. Image produced from AVI clip with only 34 frames. Stacked in Registax 6. Final processing in Ps CC 2014.

Friday, January 23, 2015

equally apart (Etobicoke)

Walking west, I took in the dark blue sky. The crescent Moon, tiny Mars, and brilliant Venus were nearly equidistant. Lovely.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

sent map

Redirected Ian to the official winter parking spot.

case pranged

Metal case recently arrived from Amazon. Not in good shape.

Scuffs at various places, some through the paint down to the metal. Paint chips near the front corner. Deformation in the metal at the side near the back.

It works. I won't send it back. It works. It will surely get abused more as I use it.

Monday, January 19, 2015

second council meeting

Attended the second RASC Toronto Centre council meeting. Once again at the DDO. We approved the budget.

received plywood

Bumped into Ian in the DDO parking lot. He had forgotten his coffee in the truck.

He grabbed the Baltic birch plywood for me. Oh. Big piece! Lots of extra if I goof up.

I decided to take it inside to have a good look. Beautiful.

Friday, January 16, 2015

zoomed in (Mississauga)


Canon 40D, 18-55mm lens at 50, UV filter, 15 seconds, f/5.6, ISO 1000, daylight white balance, manually focused, piggybacked on Tony's CGEM 11.

Processed in DPP. Contrast, highlight, shadow, custom tungsten, brightness, sharpness.

catching a ride (Mississauga)

Heard it. Then saw it. Plane headed into my frame. Doh!

Canon 40D, 18-55mm lens at 25, UV filter, 30 seconds, f/4, ISO 1000, daylight white balance, piggybacked on Tony's CGEM 11.

Processed in DPP. Contrast, highlight, shadow, custom tungsten, brightness, sharpness.

comet by Tony (Toronto)

Mr Horvatin sent over a photo from our comet imaging run. Good stuff! From our January 10 get-together.

Copyright © 2015 Tony Horvatin.

Canon T5i, kit lens at 21mm, ISO 800, 12.5 seconds, f/5. Tripod mounted.

aimed blindly (Mississauga)

Did a test shot. Out of focus. Tried again. It worked. From atop the hot tub cover, I caught comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy). Fuzzy green dot almost directly below the Pleiades.

Canon 40D, 18-55 kit lens at 24mm, UV filter, 20 seconds, f/4, ISO 1600, daylight white balance. Manually focused. Elaine's Gorillapod. No processing.

a comet with friends

Elaine and Tony invited me over for comet fun. Woo hoo! Very much looking forward to it.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

third time

Received another notice from the national office to renew. Huh. I think that's the third one.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

investigated M40

Did some research for Sue. She asked, "Is there a reasonably accurate measurement of the distance in light years between the 'double stars' in M40?"

I found notes at wikipedia on Messier 40: In 1991 the separation between the components was measured at 51.7", an increase since Messier's time. Data gathered by astronomers Brian Skiff (2001) and Richard Nugent (2002) strongly suggested that M40 is merely an optical double star rather than a physically connected system.

I found other interesting details on SEDS: The position angle has also changed since first report in 1863.

The Lick Observatory Index Catalog lists the spectrum of the primary as G0, while SIMBAD lists them as A (HD 238107), spectrum G0 and B (HD 238108), spectrum F8. Skiff gives their spectra as K0III and G0V (Skiff 2001).

If the primary is a main sequence star, then Skiff said the distance was approx. 300 light years.

In 1998, Feltz evaluated the Hipparcos data to yield a distance of 510 light years.

Nugent in 2002 reevaluated the spectral types provided by Skiff to derive spectroscopic distances of 1900 +/- 750 and 550 +/- 230 light-years, respectively.

He published this, in fact, Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 96, p.63, in 04/2002. Huh!

checked Diadem

Tried to answer Sally-Anne's questions in her comment on my alpha Com article.

Q: Is it possible that the exact dates of periastron can be known?

A: Yes, I believe so. SkyTools 3 Professional shows that the orbit is "definitive." This suggests the orbital data is known with some confidence. I'm not an expert on these matters but I think there are 6 (?) parameters used to calculate an orbit, like eccentricity, argument of pericentre, etc.

Q: [Can periastron be determined] by counting forward from previous PA and comparing?

A: Yes, that should be quick and give a crude answer. But, again, if the orbit data are known, it should be possible to compute with some accuracy. According to the SkyTools Stellar Orbital Companion motion trails plot, the next periastron should occur late 2025 or early 2026.

Q: Do [you] have an idea when in spring '15 it will occur?

A: I did a plot and it actually looks like the close approach happened in November or December of 2014. And now, the B star, is moving to the north.
Q: "U said but rt now AB are separate... i guess that is to be expected since it's winter, or shd they not need to have so far to travel?"

A: I'm not sure I fully understand the question. In my 19 Jan 2014 post, I shared that the software predicted the stars to be 0.21 seconds-of-arc apart. This seems to correspond to the plot, i.e. about 1/3 of the maximum elongation. But they were moving closer. Now, a year later, they should be virtually on top of one another, so difficult or impossible to split. That is supported by the current report from SkyTools: "not splittable currently." In the summer of 2017, for two years, the stars should be far apart, almost at their maximum.

See the Journal of Double Star Observations for more information.

clear again (Etobicoke)

Another clear night. And I've no options. Considered, briefly, with the "dry" roads sparking up the car and heading north. But, I was too tired. And I needed to research the Carmanere region... Mars was easy to see. Too late for the inner planets. Orion rising, belt nearly vertical.

headed home

Chose not to go to the meeting tonight. I just can't deal with some of the personalities. I don't need anger nor hostility. I'd much rather relax and have some quiet time. Could slow catch up on other overdue items.

Stu liked it

Saw this before leaving work.
Wow, what an issue. Beautiful images by Steve McKinney and Stuart Heggie, and great articles by Blake Nancarrow and John Percy.

What a great publication.
Stu McNair was referring to the February issue of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Journal.

The first software review in my Binary Universe column is out!

clear morning (Etobicoke)

As predicted by the weather peeps, it was clear. I could see a star above Regulus, after spotting Jupiter. {ed: That'd be Algieba at magnitude 2.2.} Turned around briefly. The Moon was now a proper crescent, well away to the east.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

seems OK

Checked the weather page for the observatory. Seemed OK to me... Current and historical information was showing.

Monday, January 12, 2015

4 by 8

Tried to find some nice plywood from the local hardware store. They had a some grades. But they didn't cut at their location. They recommended visiting the Stockyards. Huh. Might have scraps.

got 'em! (Etobicoke)

Can't believe it. Captured Mercury in the point-n-shoot camera! Oddly, I could not see it naked eye (forgot my corrective lenses this morning).

When I stepped off the bus and saw the rather clear skies, I immediately remembered. I shot photos and then zoomed the display to see Mercury. Ah ha! To the right, almost horizontal.

fujifilm FinePix J20, manual mode, 1/40 second, f/5.6, ISO 1600, daylight white balance, hydro tower as a stabiliser.

Irony: I was at the corner of Islington and Titan.

helped Savi

Answered Savi's questions about the loaner Dobsonian. Size. How to load it in the car. Turn around time to get it, after booking online.

for the web site

Relayed Delaney's message to Schipper. New speaker for Wednesday's meeting.