Monday, September 28, 2020

quickly processed Mars

Captured Mars through the David Dunlap Observatory telescope with Andrew's video camera.

Mars captured through 74

South is up, east is left.

74-inch telescope-Cassegrain mode, f/17.3, MallinCam Universe, MCU software 5.0, 200 milliseconds, AutoStakkert 3.1, GIMP.

The southern polar cap is at the top-left, reddened by the smoke in our atmosphere. Sinus Meridiani is the dark region right of centre while Aurorae Sinus is left of centre. Eden is the large light region at the 3 through 5 o'clock position. The prime meridian of Mars is nearly straight on...

Sunday, September 20, 2020

EM spectrum

Hey, humans. Your skin detects infrared radiation. Not your eyes. Think about it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

continued collecting SNR data

With BGO, I continued to collect data on the West Veil, so to build up the supernova remnant mosaic. One of the hydrogen-alpha images however was damaged.

helped with RAN

Assisted the A/V team with the RASC Recreational Astronomy Night meeting. I was in charge of questions. Ran long but the talks were great. The rough cut is available for viewing on the RASC YouTube channel...

looking for BAL 1588

I found a "neglected" double star in the Washington Double Star database with only one observation from 1909. BAL 1588 in Aquarius. It is marked with "X" in the notes, the symbol for a "dubious double."

On checking SkyTools 3 Pro, I did not find a corresponding entry. But, using the location data (212509.61+015616.6), I identified GSC 00533-0360 at the same spot.

So I sent BGO Robotic Telescope on a mission.

area near double star BAL 1588

Luminance filter, 2 second subexposures, 12 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; left is east.

A good image despite sketchy conditions (some cloud, below average transparency, poor seeing).

GSC0053300360 is the medium-bright star up and left of centre. 

I do not see an obvious double near the centre of the image.

The WDS record says the position angle is 134 and the separation is 17.2. The star magnitudes are listed as 11.1 and 12.8.

ST3P reports GSC 00533-0360 as mag 11.8 (though poor quality).

The bright star to the right or west is HD 203873. To the right of that, nearly due west, in the dimmer star GSC 00533-0394, which is mag 12.8. That's way too far away...

The dim star to the south-east of GSC 00533-0360, a good distance away, is GSC 00533-0799. It's suspect datum for the magnitude is 13.3. It's nearly on the position angle. But again, not applicable by brightness and distance. 

So, this one remains a mystery...

It's fun that double star HD 203993 aka A 2289 is in the frame, to the north-east. ST3P says, in fact, it is a triple with AB separated by 0.2 seconds of arc. No. So we're seeing the C companion, around 225°. The planning app says they are magnitiudes 7.5 and 11.3 and 15.4" apart. Nice appearance. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

tried to spot stars (Bradford)

Brought the laundry in. A little late, I know. No stars... No planets. Smoke.

smoky out east

Spotted the tweet from the Burke-Gaffney Observatory, @smubgobs, Observations are disabled tonight due to SMOKE IN THE SKY from US Forest Fires!

printed the OTA

The printing in 3D of my model went very well! The optical tube assembly of the David Dunlap Observatory looks great! Ward did some maintenance work on his Ender, overcoming issues. The OTA on the right is the result. My redesign from 20 Aug, using subtraction, prints well. I've very happy.

DDO 74-inch scale model of the OTA

That's the hard part (I think). Now we'll try printing all the other bits. The next key milestone is getting the articulation to work so that the OTA can be moved into different positions.

Monday, September 14, 2020

watched RAS news conference

Watched the RAS online news conference via the Astronomy Now web site.

Using Zoom, Philip Diamond, the director of the Royal Astronomical Society, introduced the speakers. They included Professor Jane Greaves, Dr William Bains, and Prof Sara Seager. Dr Anita Richards was also on hand from Atacama. They held a media news conference to share their findings on Venus.

A high amount of phosphine was detected in the atmosphere of Venus by radio astronomy measurements. The compound is produced on Earth primarily by living organisms and industrial processes. This signature may indicate the presence of microbes in the temperate layer of the atmosphere of the second planet in our solar system. See the paper at Nature Astronomy.

learned CSC goes 84 hours

Ah ha. Not my imagination! Not a glitch either. The Clear Sky Charts are wider.

I found this piece on the News page.

2020 September 11: More forecasts

CMC is now forecasting 84 hours into the future. Formerly it forecast only 48 hours into the future. From 3 to 48 hours, there is forecast data every hour (except for seeing). From 51 to 48 hours into the future, there is data every three hours.

There is currently no information as to how accurate the forecasts are for hours over 48. CMC belives their long range forecast is very good compared to other models. However, one should still assume the astronomy forecasts are most accurate for the first 12 hours.

[They are] migrating the clear sky charts to use the new data from 51 hours to 84 hours. It will take a few days. Expect not all charts to show the new data, and a few bugs until then.

Very good. It'll be nice to see a bit further out. Yes, the more we go into the future, the less reliable the data becomes. Still, I'm happy about this.

Having said that, it has mucked up a few of my weather resource pages, as the graphical elements are wider. And I imagine that will be happening to others too.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

completed plate solving

With, I plate-solved all the Vulpecula double star images from the evening sessions on Thu 18 Jun and Fri 19 Jun. Consistent pixel scale numbers. But, as I suspected, the camera moved on Friday night, 2 degrees near the beginning, and 1 more degree half-way. Dang. I am still planning to analyse the drift images I took but I think I won't be able to use them.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

quickly proofed

Received a late request to proof my Journal column.

Friday, September 11, 2020

mostly clear (Bradford)

Some wispy clouds but fairly clear. Jupiter, Saturn, Summer Triangle, Arcturus. Visited some friends in town. They gave me some hockey pucks for my telescope project. We talked about comet 2020 F3 (NEOWISE). I answered some astronomy questions and, with my phone app, showed where Venus would be in the morning.

kp flat-lined

Don't recall ever seeing the kp-index so low and so flat. Nearly no activity. And here I thought we were coming out of the solar minimum.

found NAN

While looking up the discoverer code for "SEI" double stars, I found an entry for "NAN." That means I'm in the WDS! Wow. That's crazy.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

split T Cyg (Halifax)

On the evening of 13 Jun '20, from the backyard, with the C8, I tried to split T Cygni (BU 677). I did not successful see the allies of the triple. This seemed odd as they were not overly tight to the primary nor were they terribly dim. Used every ocular in the arsenal.

Sounds like a job for BGO!

Centring on TYC 02695-3170 1, I collected photons of T Cyg. And there they are...

double star T Cygni in luminance

Luminance filter, 1 second subexposures, 12 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; left is east.

The B star is close in, at the 8 o'clock position, or south-east.

The C star, slightly dimmer, is at 5 o'clock. That's south-west.

Pretty easy... I wonder why I wasn't able to tag them with my rig? Was I tired? Bad seeing? Cloud? Too much contrast? Was I on the right star?!

Huh. There's another star! About the same separation as C, but on the diffraction spike to the west, so with a position angle of 270. It's really dim though.

Left of centre, to the east, there is the obvious, tight, faint pair, oriented nearly north-south. I had identified that before with the WDS as ES 249.

Once again, there are a ton of doubles and triples in the area...

caught up with Phil

Caught up with my buddy Phil. It's been a while. We chatted about various astronomy matters and had a good laugh of the salacious SkyNews. I miss camping together. Miss chillin' at the CAO.

corrected direction errors

Melody, while observing HR 8281, found some confusing notes in the double star supplemental table I had built. Indeed. Due to an error in my original observation. I corrected that mistake. I proof-read the entire table. And I added more helpful direction indicators, for the multi-star systems.

received LON acknowledgement

Oh. Surprised by an email from Potsdam. An acknowledgement of my "recent observation" with the Loss of the Night app.

That was not exactly recent: August 11.

Must be a bit of a backlog.

Or the team output is impacted by a crazy global pandemic.

Regardless, they talked about the purpose of the email, encouraged the use of the mailing list for the most active updates, described how to see my measurements, recommended submitting often, and (again) reminded me to be safe while observing.

I was pleased, in the end. It's good to know something happened.

That said, I still do not see my measurements shown on the public map site...

Monday, September 07, 2020

looked for Moon and Mars (Bradford)

Grabbed my specs and headed to the backyard, avoiding the light sensor. Ooh. Clouds as I turned the corner, looking south. Right, I had seen rain forecast in the evening. Windy too. In the yard, on the shoofing grass, bunnies watching me no doubt, I did not see the Moon or Mars. Oop. There they are. Over the east hedge. Moved a best west. Wow. Clear patch of sky. The Moon is waning. Mars was bright. Seemed to have some dimension. Is that possible? Measured the separation of the two celestial bodies: one fist. Ten degrees.

returned to SEI 1371 (Halifax)

Asked BGO to image SEI 1371 (centred on SAO 70802). I first imaged this "neglected double" on 22 Sep '19. I did not receive a great image so I decided to redo.

neglected double SEI 1371

Luminance filter, 2 seconds subexposures, 12 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; left is east.

Looks a bit better... the image.

But there's no tight slightly dimmer B companion to the south-east...

tried for SEI 1197 (Halifax)

I suspected some space would be available in the queue with the... Moon. So I looked up some "old" double stars, previously known as "neglected doubles."

Found SEI 1197 from 1895 near GSC 03153-0148. A pair of mag 11 stars with a PA of 174 and sep of 14.7 with precise coordinate value of 203755.47+380520.1.

neglected double SEI 1197

Luminance filter, 2 seconds subexposures, 12 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; left is east.

With a position angle of 174, that would be nearly vertical in the image.

GSC 03153-0148, at the centre of the image, is mag 11.8, according to SkyTools.

The J2000 coordinates of the GSC star are 20h37m59.2s and +38°05'20". The Washington Double Star database coordinate would be very slightly right of the GSC star. Where there's nothing...

Those two equal horizontally oriented stars at 32 arc-seconds apart. So, looking for something about half that...

TYC 03153-0574 1 is intriguing. It's the medium bright star to the the south-east, 7 o'clock, with the fainter companion directly above. Magnitudes are wrong, position is wrong, but the separation looks right.

I do not see a pair of tight vertically arranged mag 11 stars anywhere...

I should pull up a proper motion chart...


Hold the phone! When I zoom into the image, I see a star below and left of GSC 03153-0148! Is that it?!

It's 15" away.

The position angle is 151°.

But it's MUCH dimmer.

SkyTools shows J203759.8+380506 at this location at magnitide 16.3.

Which corresponds to other mag 16 stars in the area...

Is that it?

Begs the question, how low does SEI go?

Could it be that Scheiner, J. saw the mag 16 star but accidentally marked it with the mag value of the primary?


OK. Ran a query on the 18-24 segment of the WDS and searched for the "max" mag on the secondary: 15.3! So he does go pretty low.

imaged 19 Cyg (Halifax)

Here we go. First of a few double star images courtesy the Burke-Gaffney Observatory.

Centred on TYC 3137-0475-1. I wanted to visit 19 Cygni (aka HJ 603), to get C and E stars. I attempted this target in my Ontario backyard on 16 Jun '20 with my C8 and picked off the B and D sparklers.

19 Cyg A is the obvious bright star.

double star 19 Cygni and friends

Luminance filter, 2 seconds subexposures, 12 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; left is east.

Well, C and E are certainly visible, according to SkyTools 3 Professional. But it begs the question: how would one distinguish these from the many field stars?!

B is the brightest nearby star at the 8 o'clock position, a modest distance from the primary. If I had to guess the position angle, maybe 110 to 115°? Easily spotted in the small rendition of the image, zoomed out. ST3P says: PA 112°, separation 56.0", magnitudes 5.2 and 10.4.

The C (natch, see below) companion is north of B, almost perfectly due north. Much fainter. Barely visible zoomed out. Almost on the east diffraction spike. The AB pair PA and sep guesses: 91° and 51". ST3P says the pair information as BC: PA 13°, sep 21.0", mag 10.4 and 11.1. Gonna have to do my SAS triangle calculations for the AB numbers. I think it is much dimmer than 11. It seems closer to mag 13 or 14.

Attendant D is well away, opposite B. It is slightly dimmer than B at 3 to 4 times the distances. ST3P: 312°, 168.6", 5.2, 11.8. Indeed, if D is close to mag 12, C is below that...

The E (blurg, see below) star is the dimmest of all. I have to squint to see it in the zoomed out image. It's obvious zoomed in, between A and D, almost perfectly in-line, but is dimmer than C. The planning software says this about AE: 322°, 102.8", 5.2, 12.6.

Some of those numbers in SkyTools are wonky.

From Stella Doppie. All data no older than 2014.

AB: 115, 56.8, 5.38, 10.54
AC: 318, 96.6, 5.38, 12.60
AD: 309, 163.8, 5.38, 11.90
BC: 309, 150.5, 10.54, 12.60 (a curious cross-check)
BE: 11, 20.8, 10.54, 13.50

Oh, oh. The labels are different. SD says B and E are to the south-east and C and D are NW. That's a flip of C and E...

Weird. They say E is the dimmest. Nope.

stars around 19 Cyg plotted

The E star (new) is nearly 90°. I had guessed 91. My SAS calculation says 93° with a derived separation of 55.6".

So this was a good imaging task. It plucked out the C and E stars, revealing they are very faint. Near the magnitude limit of the 8" Schmidt. I don't recall the conditions but they'd need to be pretty good to get these comrades. But, again, it might prove challenging, without the aid of good software, to know the associates from surrounding field stars.

The "undesignated" pair I noted 3 months ago is obvious, to the north-east, oriented north-south, same separation as BE. In fact, the same position angle as BE.

One could easily argue there are many double stars here.