Saturday, March 25, 2023

re-examined photos


Had a look at the other not-so-great shots from Thursday night. On boosting the saturation and dropping the shadows and highlights, the aurora pops.

Again, it still kinda amazes me that the aurora borealis was visible to the naked eye in my terribly light-polluted neighbourhood.

Shot between 11:12 and 11:16 PM.


aurora at 11:12


aurora at 11:14


aurora at 11:16

Dancing around in 4 short minutes.

Most intriguing? Red! Red aurora is visible! Wow.

Processed in DPP 4.

animated Ceres and M100

Sunday night, asteroid Ceres, aka minor planet (1) Ceres, will fly past the galaxy Messier 100 (M100). 

Peter J asked me to arrange a run at the BGO but Halifax will likely be clouded out. Actually... snowed out!

I made an animation...

Start the viddie then zoom in.

It'd be neat to see live, alas.

Friday, March 24, 2023

learned about the Bz tipping south

Visited the Space Weather web site.

Some nice aurora shots, as expected.

Also a STEVE image! Wow.

The text was interesting.

This remarkable and surprising storm began on March 23rd when magnetic fields in the space around Earth suddenly shifted.  In the jargon of space weather forecasting "BsubZ tipped south."  South-pointing magnetic fields can open a crack in Earth's magnetosphere and, indeed, that's what happened.  Earth's "shields were down" for almost 24 hours, allowing solar wind to penetrate and the storm to build to category G4. 

We got lucky.

detected green (St Thomas)

Winding down. Tired. Was reading in bed the last few pages of No Country for Old Men.

Another notification from SPWC!

What the hey?!

ALERT:  Geomagnetic K-index of 8 (G4)
Date    2023-03-24 00:18
ALERT:  Geomagnetic K-index of 8, 9-
Threshold Reached: 2023 Mar 24 0404 UTC

Active Warning:  Yes

NOAA Scale:  G4 - Severe

Potential Impacts:  Area of impact primarily poleward of 45 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.

Aurora may be seen as low as Alabama and northern California.

Put some pants on.

Had a look.

I thought I could detect green with just my Mark I eyeballs.

I've never seen kp index 8 before!

Wow. We're gettin' a heck of a show.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

high kp values again

A roller coaster!

The NOAA alerts continued to roll in.

The latest: "ALERT: Geomagnetic K-index of 7 (G3)."

aurora from the city! (St Thomas)

I was too tired and/or lackadaisical to coordinate a trip to a dark site.

Peeked north from the deck a couple of times.

Not perfectly clear but overall fair. Not completed clouded out, for a change!

Shot a couple of blurry photos around 9:30 PM.

Switched the Globe LED RGB bulbs to red mode.

Went back out a couple of hours later, as the NOAA alerts continued.

I thought I could see something with the unaided eye! Spires. A glow from low, near the horizon, behind a low band of cloud, and climbing into the sky.

Captured a few photos, atop the tripod this time. Looking north-north-east.

aurora from The Elevator

Canon 40D, 18-55 lens at 55, ISO 1000, f/5.6, 30 seconds, manually focused, tripod. DDP 4: cropped, saturated, shadows and highlights dropped, white balance to auto.

What a surprise.

notification out of the blue

Received a text about the aurora. From a number I didn't recognise. But they clearly knew me.


OK then!


Oh! Learned later it was Denise.

sighting in Ontario

Chris V texted me that Denise C was seeing aurora.

Not surprised.

She enjoys darker skies in the Clarington region.

dropped then rose

The kp index values dropped mid-day but started climbing again.

They just hit 7 (G3) again!

I decided to have a look.

monitored the mailbox

I monitored the training inbox as Ian B began his delivery of the Stellarium level 2 intermediate session.

No one was needing a Zoom code. Good.

But one participant mis-read the start time and wondered if they could redo. No problem.

a good weather prospect

Chatter started on RASC forums.

The weather forecast was optimistic...

But I had to get back to work.

With my intense group...

predictions for level 7

In fairly rapid succession, more SPWC notifications peppered my inbox.

With a kp index value of 7.

Caught up on events during my lunch break.

ALERT: Geomagnetic K-index of 7 (G3)
Date    2023-03-23 11:33
Issue Time: 2023 Mar 23 1531 UTC

Active Warning: Yes

NOAA Scale: G3 - StrongAurora may be seen as low as Pennsylvania to Iowa to Oregon.

OK. Now I'm paying attention.

received another alert

Another NOAA SPWC alert came in.

"ALERT: Geomagnetic K-index of 5 (G1)."

Climbing... Uh huh. 

Still, kp 5 usually doesn't mean we'll see anything down here.

received aurora alert

An aurora notification, from the NOAA Space Weather service, arrived.

Received very early in the morning. I found it in the inbox during breakfast before "heading to work."

ALERT:  Geomagnetic K-index of 4
From    SWPC Product Subscription Service
Date    2023-03-23 04:37

Space Weather Message Code: ALTK04
Serial Number:  2353
Issue Time:  2023 Mar 23 0836 UTC

ALERT:  Geomagnetic K-index of 4
Threshold Reached:  2023 Mar 23 0836 UTC

Active Warning:  Yes

I usually don't get riled up with level 4.


This turned out to be the first in the day.

Many more would follow...

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

captured Wolf 359 for 2023 (Halifax)

Surprised (like last year) to discovered a message from the BGO robot while bedding down.

Good weather on the east coast, it seemed.

So, while aiming at field star GSC 00261 00377, I captured Wolf 359 again, the rapidly moving star in Leo. 

fast-moving star Wolf 359 in luminance

Luminance only, 8 second subexposures, 12 stacked shots. FITS Liberator 3, GIMP. North is up; east is left.


22 Mar 2023
4 Mar 2022
18 Feb 2021
12 Mar 2020
22 May 2019

I keep saying I'll make a little movie...

Wednesday, March 15, 2023


We scrubbed.

Cancelled the weekend astronomy adventure...

The weather in Kansas wasn't looking great.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

SkyNews is closed

End of an era.

The end of a magazine.

The only Canadian magazine on astronomy.

A legacy created by Terry Dickinson.

Taken over, for a short time, by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

But it was a sinking ship for a long time. COVID hit. Paper costs have skyrocketed (no pun intended). Shipping costs rose. RASC could not rescue it. They didn't have the acumen to do it.

SkyNews closed piece

I'm sad for a few reasons.

Yes, I was getting paid for my writing. But to me, that was a perk.

I really enjoyed reaching Canadians from coast to coast to coast, sharing my discoveries in 3D printing, on planning software, on imaging.

I enjoyed just reading the magazine. It was one of my primary sources for planning, knowing what was happening in the sky for the next two months.

And it's all gone.

It's a sad day.

Sunday, February 05, 2023

downloaded Feb issue

I do not recall a notification for the February Journal of the RASC.

I downloaded it directly.

cover of the Feb '23 Journal
Skimmed quickly.

Noted the president's remarks on preparing well for your presentation. Good overall advice though I don't think he suggested mastering one's software tools...

Learned of Carl Jorgensen's death. That saddened me. The loss of a double star afficiando. He was in my Stellarium class, 15 days before his passing on 18 October 2022.

A number of other RASC members were lost...

This edition included my usual Binary Universe column. I wrote about Hello Aurora, an Android application for predicting aurora borealis with sharing options.

I plan to read the issue more thoroughly.

submitted article

Finally submitted by Binary Universe column for April.

Couple of days late...

install GraXpert on Linux

After reaching out and receiving some help on the Discord channel for GraXpert, I was able to install the application on the Ubuntu computer, the Surface gen 1.

Looks and works 'zactly the same.

received a brief meeting update

I learned that the RASC national council, open only to the executive, board, and NC representatives, was complete.

Purportedly it was a "heavy" one.

I look forward to hearing from the rep as to what happened.

Nothing, it seems, urgently affects the national Observing Committee. I suppose that's good news.

Also, I learned that many matters were deferred. The matter of the Far East group was not dealt with.

where are the headlines?

Nobody's talkin' about the Moon today.

So strange. So odd. 

Why not? 


Stoopid media...

Lame, ignorant, money-grubbing media.

Today's full Moon is the smallest of the year.

Small doesn't sell newspapers, I guess.

You freaks!

Saturday, February 04, 2023

made almanac for Feb

With COELIX APEX, I made the almanac chart and list for February.

In a first, I added the comet.

The graph for February.

astronomy almanac chart

The list for the month.

almanac list

Once again, I did not make a visual legend.

The planets:

  • grey - Mercury
  • white - Venus
  • orange - Mars
  • yellow - Jupiter
  • green - Saturn
  • aquamarine - Uranus
  • dark blue - Neptune


  • light blue - midnight


Friday, February 03, 2023

awfully cold (St Thomas)

Surprisingly clear as my sis and I did some errands after work. There had been white-outs during the afternoon.

Spotted burly clouds over Lake Erie.

We noted a big round Moon up high. We both thought it looked nearly full.

Donna asked about the bright points to the west: Venus low; Jupiter high.

Awfully cold. 

The stoopid bright orb and the chilly conditions were putting me off...

Didn't think I'd chase the comet tonight...

Thursday, February 02, 2023

spoke on doubles

Delivered my talk for the North York Astronomical Association on visually observing double stars.

Felt like it went well.

Lots of good questions after.

Good to see some familiar faces.

I sent over a PDF version of my slide deck at the end.


Received a nice note from Malcolm P:

I enjoyed your talk also.  You might be surprised to hear this, but I have been observing double stars!  The optics on my Edge HD 9.25" are very good and it helps to have good optics.  I started doing this at star parties.

He helped distribute my PDF file.


Some nice words from Frank, the prez:

It was a great presentation, Blake, and resonated with many people already familiar with the topic, and generated positive comments about the presentation.  As expected, it 'focussed' attention on double star observing and I thought that you did a good job pointing out why observers should observe them.  Also I appreciate your assistance in providing a pdf version of your presentation.  Thanks again!

I sent him links to my double stars measuring video and supplemental notes.