Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Binary Universe: checking sidereal time

The December 2018 edition of the RASC Journal celebrates our 150 years looking back to its early days and origins to current activities today. I look forward to reading every piece within.

cover of the Dec 2018 edition of the Journal
Whoa! A greeting from the only governor general who has flown in space, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette! Very cool!

The article by Mr Rosenfeld on art inspired by astronomical things looks fascinating.

Mr MacDonald has returned to masks in photographic image manipulation. I still struggle with this.

In my Binary Universe column, I discuss time, specifically determining sidereal time (as I need to do now when calibrating the DDO's 74-inch mount). I talk about Stellarium, SkySafari, Polar Finder, MySiderealTime, SkyTime, Astro Clock Widget, and Emerald.

found the December Journal

Wait a second. If Jeff was thanking me for referring him to the Astro Clock Widget, then that meant he had read the RASC Journal December edition! Oh. It's been released. I hadn't seen a notice anywhere... I surfed into the national web site, logged in, and spotted the latest. OK.

Jeff thanked me re. ACW

Jeff pinged me via email. Thanked me for the tip on the Astro Clock Widget. No worries.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

a moon, a planet, a star (Bradford)

Spotted the young Moon as I walked from the train station.

Quite far to the left I tagged a tiny but intense orange point. Ah. Mars.

I briefly considered setting up. But it was late. I hadn't had dinner. My stomach was growling. It wasn't perfectly clear...

And then, while northbound on Toronto Street, shimmering Capella.

Bad seeing.

Monday, November 12, 2018

received OH 2019

Woo hoo! Found the RASC Observer's Handbook 2019 in the mailbox!

Observer's Handbook 2019 edition

Rhonda asked what was on the cover. The Flying Bat and the Squid apparently.

imaged Palomar 1 (Halifax)

I continue to try to "see" the Palomar globular clusters. This is Palomar 1 in Cepheus.

Centering on the star GSC 04517 01909, I commanded the Burke-Gaffney Observatory to gather some photons. Can you see it?

faint Palomar 1 cluster in luminance

Luminance frame, 10 seconds, 10 subexposures. Apogee camera.

The globular is the small, faint, gathering of dim stars slightly below and right of centre.

These objects are extremely challenging. So I don't know what I was thinking exactly with respect to the exposure settings. 10 seconds?! Will try again with a much longer exposure time.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

more operator training

We did more training on the 74-inch telescope. There were about a dozen in the session. We spent some time working on our presentation, conveying science information and some history of the David Dunlap Observatory facility. Chilly in the dome!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

helped at musical astronomical evening

Helped at the RASC Toronto Centre special event Beyond the Skies held at the David Dunlap Observatory.

This was an unique evening with jazz music by The Calderons, regular alcoholic beverages along with themed cocktails, and some astronomy. Amazingly, we had clear skies. I wore a few hats. I helped with audio-visual setup and teardown for the band and the speakers Ian W and Bhairavi. With my new Smart Serve certification, I assisted Reanu at the bar. And I helped with general tasks too.

I was surprised to get asked to debug an issue for Denise and Chris with the 74-inch telescope. Busy night, long, but lots of fun.

Peter V shot photos and loaded them up to a Facebook album.

interesting astro-beers served at special event

We offered a couple of science-themed beers. In addition to Space Invader and Cosmic and Corona, we had a couple I hadn't heard of: Thrust! An IPA and Lost In Orbit. Thrust! is by Great Lakes Brewery while Lost in Orbit, an IPA session beer, is by Nickel Brook Brewing.

Monday, November 05, 2018

shot Spirograph in narrowband (Halifax)

Along with the LRGB information, I retrieved narrowband data on the Spirograph planetary in the constellation Lepus.

Spirograph planetary nebula with H-alpha filter

Hydrogen-alpha, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots.

Spirograph planetary nebula with O-III filter

Ionised oxygen, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots.

For both, FITS Liberator and Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

shot Spirograph in colour (Halifax)

Sort of. I wanted to image the Spirograph Nebula, IC 418, again. I overexposed the small planetary nebula in my first attempt in January 2017. So, shot 4 times faster this time.

Spirograph planetary nebula in luminance

Luminance only, 15 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

I also wanted to get narrowband data.

Won't see this in full colour of course until I do some work in a photo editor...

Sunday, November 04, 2018

tried NGC 281 again (Halifax)

Shot the Pac-Man Nebula (NGC 281) again, aimed at TYC 36630 06351. I was hoping to avoid gradient and satellites in the colour data...

Pac-Man in luminance

Luminance frame at 30 seconds and 10 subexposures. FITS Liberator and Paint.NET. North is up and left is right.

Finally got some good LUM data! No nasty gradient at the bottom. No airplanes. No satellites. No tumblers. Pretty good registration. I'll take it.

I had last worked on this object in August 2016.

captured tangled galaxies (Halifax)

For fun, I asked the Burke-Gaffney Observatory to image the two entangled galaxies in Arp 278.

interacting galaxies in Arp 287 in luminance

Luminance frame at 60 seconds, 10 subexposures, FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up and east is left.

These are interacting galaxies NGC 7253A and NGC 7253B.


I tried to visually observe this pair on 24 Sep '17.

real not real

As the crew departed the International Space Station in early October, they did a fly-around, something not done since the shuttle missions. They acquired some amazing imagery. But one really struck me, reminding me of one of the iconic images from 2001: A Space Odyssey.


orbital station from 2001: A Space Odyssey


orbital station by international partners

Now, admittedly, it's not an apples to apples comparison on a number of levels.

It's the imagery that impressed me, the composition, the similarities in the framing.

Copyrights and credits by the respective parties.

See the whole set at SpaceflightNow.


NASA made their own comparison a few years back...


Proof read my next Journal article.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

fuzzy Moon (Bradford)

Spotted a fuzzy old crescent Moon in the sky while walking to the train station. Surprisingly high up. Couldn't see anything else. No bright points of light could punch through the cloud.


Stellarium said it was about 56° in altitude.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

the first astrokitty

Everyone knows about the first barker in orbit, Laika. But did you know about the first kitty?

1963 rocket launch with cat Félicette

Félicette was the first cat in space launched on 18 October 1963. Just over 55 years ago.

Sheesh. Can you imagine?! Every kitty I've had hated, I mean H-A-T-E-D, car travel. Can you imagine the howling inside the space capsule?!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

reviewed CTC suggestion

I heard back from Canadian Tire Customer Relations yesterday. I had resubmitted my query (from May) about a replacement battery for the Sealake FM12330 inside the Nautilus power tank.

Their direct remark:
Thank you for your further correspondence on your battery inquiry.

We reviewed the response sent to you on May 9, 2018.  We had forwarded our buyer's response to your exact inquiry.  He detailed what battery we stock could work but suggested you bring your old battery and power pack to the store to insure an exact fit.  It was also suggested that if the battery did not fit that the next best option was to search online.

The buying [SIC] further indicated that they are considering adding replacement batteries to our assortment and future models for this product line to be more accessible for replacement.

We thank you for providing us with the opportunity to respond.
The buyer response:
Our 010-2051 battery may fit as a replacement.  I say may because, sometimes, even the slightest variance between batteries (1-2 mm L or W or H, or slightly different position of terminals, or some other obstruction like a vent cap, etc.) can make all the difference.  I suggest the customer take his old battery AND power pack with him to the store to ensure the 010-2051 will fit perfectly before he buys it.

If our 010-2051 battery does not work, the customer may search online of other options – essentially he's looking for a Group Size U1 SLA battery.  They go for around $100-130 (which is why most people don't bother repairing when you can buy an entirely new power pack for about $150-200 on sale).  I have included specs of the original battery in the Nautilus power pack for his reference.

We are considering adding replacement batteries to our assortment.  In our future models, we are looking at making the batteries more user-accessible for easier replacement.
I reviewed the CTC 010-2051 battery details. I note differences and particular items here...
  • it is an AGM sealed lead acid battery but I don't think it is specifically a deep cycle so, even if it fits, I'm not sure it will work per se
  • it is rated at 32 Ah vs 33
  • its size 184 x 130 x 152 mm thus smaller in width and height but... I do not yet know if the measures include height of posts/terminals
  • the terminal posts are different, thicker than the thin ones on the Sealake
  • it is heavier by 1.5 kilos than the Sealake (maybe it is a deep discharge...)
  • I do not know the terminal orientation...
I'll take the old Sealake into my local to do a head-to-head comparison of size and terminal orientation.


Forgot to provide a link to the battery product page at CTC...


Looks like someone from Canadian Tire responded (on 9 Nov) to my question! The height of the battery INCLUDES the height of the terminals. This again suggests this battery would fit inside the case... I still plan to do a visual comparison though.