Friday, October 11, 2019

planned 2020 DDO events

Met with Richmond Hill staff and some of the programme partners to plan out the 2020 events at the David Dunlap Observatory.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

doubles for Oct 2019

Sent out my double star "bulletin" for October 2019. It is a short list of suggested targets. I shared this on the RASC Toronto Centre forums. And I post here for all.



Here is your friendly reminder to observe double and multi-star systems. They are resistant to light pollution and Moon light. Below are listed some best viewed in October.

staralso known asalternate catalogue(s)
41 AqrH N 56SAO 190986, HIP 109786
κ (kappa) CepStruve 2675SAO 9665, HIP 99255
HD 213224 CepH 4 31HIP 110925
Σ2902 (STF) LacHD 212468HIP 110539
ε (epsilon) PegEnifSAO 127029, HIP 107315

Note: HD 213224 Cep is not to be confused with delta…

Double stars are fun, easy, sometimes challenging, interesting, colourful, and dynamic!

Be seeing you.

Blake Nancarrow
astronomy at computer-ease dot com

Sunday, October 06, 2019

quiet time at CAO

Supervised at the Carr Astronomical Observatory this weekend. Quiet.

A family due on Friday cancelled. Dave tried for clear skies on Friday but the lingering clouds sent him home. Doug, in the 'hood, popped by.

Rhonda and I had a fantastic time with our Elaine and Tony.

It was a mini work-party for me.

I ran the dehumidifier in the library during the whole weekend. Then programmed it to cycle on in the evenings. Programmed the baseboard heaters. Fixed an issue with one of the security DVRs. I winterised two ride-on mowers and one walk-behind self-propelled mower. I topped up the SLA batteries for the winter storage. I worked on the backup power supply. I replaced a bad plug on an ethernet line. I secured a telescope in a dovetail plate. I reconnected the SQM to our LAN, the last device to reconfigure to our new subnet. For the new router, I made a simple reflector so to easily check the top-mounted LED indicators. I deployed a new flashlight for the downstairs fire station.

A zone of the LAN is still behaving badly and I could not determine the root cause.

Of course, the skies cleared up nicely, and the air warmed as we were leaving. Too bad we couldn't phone in sick.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

bad seeing viewing (Blue Mountains)

From the back deck, the sky look good, at last. Too bad David had left.
Instruments: GSO 16-inch RC, Tele Vue 101 refractor
Mount: Paramount ME
Method: Go To
Clear everywhere, clear of clouds. But then I noticed the twinkling. Everything was flickering badly below 45 degrees. Really bad seeing! Even without my eyeglasses, I could see everything was madly twinkling. Bad for stars and planets...

Rhonda spotted the Pleiades. Then a meteor heading west. A Draconid? She wondered where the Big Dipper was. I spotted it, scooping up water from the bay, low in the north. We had to shift east into the parking lot to see it. With Elaine and Rhonda from the driveway, we noted the Milky Way aligned east-to-west. A very unusual orientation. Completely different direction. Elaine spotted the Andromeda galaxy nearly straight up. We enjoyed Orion rising. Betelgeuse over the hill. The other shoulder star [ed: Bellatrix.] I could see the bow of the Hunter. Two of the belt stars [ed: Mintaka and Alnilam], then Rigel, as we took in the eastern sky. I could see Meissa [ed: Correction: Collinder 69]. Winter is coming. A bright point to the south-south-west. Fomalhaut? [ed: Yes.] Thrown off by the late time. I noticed Aquila diving in the west horizon, Lyra low in the north-west.

I spotted θ (theta) 1 and 2 in Taurus with my prescription specs.

Rhonda returned to the warm house. Elaine, shivering, said she'd come back out shortly to use the SLO. I headed to the Geoff Brown Observatory.

I had my long johns on, several layers on the torso, and the winter coat. Toque on.

Forgot to connect the old netbook to the large external monitor. Too tired to bother.

Humidity was high.

Last weekend, Steve had quickly fixed the Tele Vue refractor slippage issue and he cautioned me about co-axial alignment. It was OK, useable.

12:59 AM. Viewed S Cephei in the big 'scope with the 27mm ocular. A star of "unusual colour." It sure is! A deep orange. Wow! There were some faint field stars. Returned to the observatory floor to view at low power. Astonishing the poor seeing. Made it hard to focus.

I viewed with the red star with the 10mm in the little OTA. Nice. Unfortunately no bright field stars at 54x. Could drop the power lower... Super colour!

1:03. Back in the Warm Room. I felt creaky.

Looked in my bag of carrying portable computer bits. Ugh, the old black mouse. With low batteries too boot. Watch out for random double clicks.

Checked the altitude for S Cep. It was at 51 degrees. Considered a bright star or double high up on the same side of the meridian, over 80°, to gauge seeing. Stuff in Pegasus? TW Peg was only 55 up. Used the keyword "zenith" to search in TSX.

Remembered I had added to my list a globular cluster from the distant galaxy.

Found WDS CHR 123 aka θ (theta) And in TheSkyX. Around 80 degrees in altitude. Slewed.

1:15. It was hot in the Warm Room. Opened the window. Removed my hat.

Ah, geez. Noted that SkyTools reported this double had a separation of 0.10"! No. No way I would be able to split. But it worked for gauging the seeing. It was not great even at this elevation but it was workable.

Returned to S Cep for another look. GCV S Cep in TSX. Grabbed the 18mm for the TV101 to draw in even more stars.

Wow. It really was an amazing colour. Very deep orange. Nice.

Selected V380 Cep from my View Again list. A double, not split. Not recognised in TheSky. Looked up the alternate in ST3P: SAO 19158. It was a short slew.

I didn't see anything per se with the star. Could not see the mag 13 companion. Fuzziness. Was that fog on the eyepiece or diffuse nebula? Simulated the view in SkyTools. NGC 7023. A nebula surrounding the star. That sounded familiar. Was that the Iris? Yes!

1:24. Thought about giving Elaine a bit more time. She must have gone to bed.

Reviewed by imaging target ideas. The comet. Right, the two-in-the-view thing... Checked Evernote for my weekend plan notes. Returned to ST3P. Uh huh, NGC 672 with IC 1727 in Tri. I thought about everything I'd need to do... That it'd take me 30 to 60 minutes of prep. Closed my eyes to visualise. Dangerous, that, even though I had tried to sleep shift. I was feeling a little slow and a little tired. Yawned. Nope. Not into it. And I had a lot to do tomorrow...

Returned to the ocular to dig out the faint star. Flipped the eyepieces. Nope.

1:38. Next?

Doubles were off the table.

The comet C/2018 W2. I tried searching for it in the Software Bisque app: not listed. I did not recall how to add comets. Made a note to review the process for TSX [ed: And I should add it to the online TSX software resources page]. Looked for a nearby star, common between the two applications: 83 Aquarii. Issued the Slew command.

Got it! Didn't see anything obvious is the 101mm refractor; very apparent in the 16-inch Ritchey-Chrétien. To my 10 or 11 o'clock PPM 709596 (mag 10.8). 3 o'clock, fainter star GSC 05820-0607 (12.2). Below (south-west), GSC 05820-0606 (13.8). Equal brightness to 607, I saw BD -09 06103 (11.4). Did pick up the coma and the bright nucleus. Wondered if I saw two things, as I used averted vision. Kinda cool!

Heard a funny note from the drive. Repeating, cycling. [ed: Was the drive at a different tracking rate?]

Pretty low. Late to be looking at the comet.

1:53. Orion was fully visible.

The comet was very near Tycho 5821:451 according to TheSky. Neat.

Decided to go for Neptune. It was starting to descend. For my Ariel target... The slew was extremely short. Ha. The comet was beside the 8th planet!

Bad seeing hampered this. Triton was not visible. Meant this was futile. Neat stars to the east (with TYC 05249-0401 1) and the south (with PPM 207251), almost in the exact some pattern. Checked the field in SkyTools.

Chose galaxy NGC 7325 in Pegasus. One of the fleas.... A pretty nice view!

Look at that canted big galaxy! Dark lane visible. Great view with the 27mm. That was 7331. Saw a small fuzzy nearby (to the east): NGC 7335. Saw a flattened triangle of stars to the north-east.

2:03. Confirmed there were many little galaxies nearby. Rotated the field in the SkyTools Context Viewer. 7325 was to the north-west, should have been left, of the big spiral.
Noted the three bright stars with SAO 72522 to my left, the north-west.

Looked again. Panned. Noted the line of three stars with the descender, the J-shape. But no fuzziness around the middle star... It looked stellar. Left on View Again. Too tired to chase after. It was a nice view, overall. Worth returning too.

So the transparency was fair.

Thought about what I had to do before sleep. I had to put the GBO to bed. I had to put the SLO to bed. Then, in the house, I had to make my bed. Ugh.

Parked the 'scope. Closed the roof. Shut stuff down. Started the dehumidifier. Turned off the Warm Room heaters. Shut down apps. Put John Repeat Dance to sleep.

Grabbed a flashlight. Buttoned up the SLO.

2:20. Exited the GBO.

Inside, on the Linux box, I noted the local conditions from the Davis weather station. As of 2:24 AM. 10 minute average wind speed was 9.7 km/h, wind direction SSE, high wind speed 11.3, outside humidity was 93%, barometer read 103.1, outside temperature was 3.1°, with the wind chill 0.4!

Friday, October 04, 2019


Cold weather is coming. While at the grocery store, I looked for hard candies. For chilly evenings at the telescope. Didn't find any in the junk food aisle but I did spot some near the checkout. Classics, about the diameter of a loonie, white with red stripes. Ho ho. Look at that. They are called "starlight" mints. They are also known as "pinwheel" mints. Astro-content!

received a thin SkyNews

Received the new SkyNews magazine for November/December 2019.


Missing the RASC newsletter.

I don't understand where they are going with this...

Sunday, September 29, 2019

captured the comet

Captured comet Africano aka C/2018 W2 with the BGO. Fast! Zipping through Pisces.

Luminance only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

enjoyed another cookie

Bought another space cookie today at the Farmers's Market thanks to Nicolle's Cakes.

I took care with this one so it wouldn't break. It survived the journey home, unlike the last time back in July.

rocket ship ready to be painted

Gently removed it from the shopping bag. Then removed the plastic cover. Ready to go.

rocket ship and stars painted

Got some water in a small dish. Painted my rocket ship.

cookie with a bite taken

Then I ate it! Yum!

monitored both

I was wondering if I might image a dual flyover, with the JAXA HTV heading toward the International Space Station. It would be really helpful to know where both orbiting objects were at the same time. Lots of options for the ISS. But what about the H-II Transfer Vehicle 8?

I pinged Chris for ideas. He suggested the web site. That sounded very familiar. I must have encountered it before. Almost 20 000 objects are tracked in the web site.

While it was easy to show the ISS, I could not find anything on the latest Japanese vehicle. I filled out the response form and in short order Ciprian replied. He provided a link with the new object ID. Woo hoo! He had added the new TLE data. The HTV showed.

When I added or combined the two objects, both showed on the map! Cool!

HTV trailing far behind the ISS

As of 26 Sep, 13:46 EDT. A couple thousand kilometres apart.

When I checked the URL, I noticed both the identifiers.|44546

When I activated the "footprint" option (the red circle), it was obvious they weren't close enough to visually see at the same time.

I checked the next morning.

HTV very near the ISS

As of 27 Sep, 11:31 EDT. Ooh. Much closer now!

The HTV was grappled by the Canadarm early this morning. So no more chances.

Sadly, in the end, the timing didn't work. The weather didn't exactly cooperate. Maybe when the HTV undocks...

I tip my beanie to Chris and Chip.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

imaged low ISS (Bradford)

I tried imaging the International Space Station tonight. There was a single, low pass over Ontario.

On time, around 8:48 PM. From WNW to NNE. It was supposed to go to magnitude -1.9. Didn't seem that bright to me. But later, I saw clouds.

It is barely visible in the photo, just over the roof line.

Canon 40D, battery grip, Rokinon 8mm fisheye, manually focused, f/8.0, ISO 125, 480 seconds, daylight white balance, RAW, tripod mounted, Canon EOS Utility, no tracking, Digital Photo Professional 4.6, slight tuning.

I was hoping for a dual streak. Looking for the JAXA HTV 8 vehicle. Nothing obvious...

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

cool stuff

Scored some cool loot.

Funny musical card with some astronomical content. With blinkie lights too!

Funny key tag... Just might have to go on the keys for the somewhat large telescope.

Ursa Major t-shirt by Life Is Good

Very cool tee. By the Life Is Good people. I like the orientation of the great bear. I told rho about H.A. Rey's depiction, in contrast to the Western world standard.

mug of aurora

Finally, a stunning handcrafted ceramic mug from a local artisan, Place of Grace Pottery, with a glaze evocative of aurora.

Thanks, Rhonda! Very generous.

Monday, September 23, 2019

received good advice

Received a funny card from Ben, Bri, and Trev. With good advice from the solar system...

card with good advice



Card by Your True Nature.