Tuesday, June 12, 2018

juggled sked

One of the presenters cancelled for Wednesday 20 June so Paul Markov asked if I could step up. I have three slide decks in the can. So we settled on my barn door tracker topic. At the Ontario Science Centre of course. And streaming live. See you there.

That jostling means that my double star presentation, part 2, will go on 15 August...

Friday, June 08, 2018

found 'em!

Found my glow-in-the-dark stars! Yeh. Small things, eh?

updated Fun Facts

First time in years I updated the Fun Facts astronomy presentation for RASC Toronto Centre. Ian W had a look and enjoyed the updates, changes, and additions. We plan to run this automatic slide deck at the big DDO event.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

final demo online

The edited final version of my SkyTools software demonstration at the RASC Toronto Centre Recreational Astronomy Night meeting on May 23 was uploaded to our YouTube channel. I added corrections and additional notes in the comments area.

who's in?

Mr Chapman put out the call to see who intends to continue on the RASC national observing committee. Lots of hands going up.

see you at the DDO opening

The official grand re-opening of the David Dunlap Observatory is this Saturday afternoon, 9 June 2018.

a Grand Opening banner

RASC Toronto Centre and the Town of Richmond Hill's other partners will be there. Rhonda and I will be there volunteering. She's on the photography-media team and I'll be at the Ask The Astronomer booth. I hope it won't turn into the Stump The Astronomer booth... ;-)

Visit the town's web page for more info.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

resumed reading Doings

Resumed reading DDO Doings. I had started reading the volume 1 issues some time ago but only got as far as number 6, from 1968.

made part 2

Built the next slide deck for my double star series. This time on measuring doubles with emphasis on using an astrometric ocular.

reviewed CMG use

Tidied up my notes and spreadsheet on measuring double stars with the Celestron Micro Guide. Partly so to quickly demonstrate the use of the CMG.

today's quick Mars facts

Need Mars info?

The Earth-Mars distance is 0.6 AU right now. That's approximately 90 000 000 kilometres. This will decrease toward opposition.

The phase is 0.92 or 92%. That's very gibbous. It will increase.

The magnitude is -1.38. Getting brighter. So the mag value will become a higher negative value.

Current apparent visible size is 16" or 16 arc-seconds. This will increase too.

Mars in a telescope

Simulated view (from Stellarium) in a 14" SCT telescope with a 26mm eyepiece and a 3x magnifier.

Remember Mars reaches opposition mid-July.

Monday, June 04, 2018

use SkySafari for free

Pedro sent out a note on the Starry Night Yahoo!Group.
We recently made our SkySafari astronomy app a free download.  You can grab a copy for iOS or Android.
He shared links into the Apple App store (iOS) and the Google Play (Android) stores.

He encouraged us to tell our friends that the powerful, easy-to-use planetarium SkySafari (basic edition) is now a free download.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

completed my article

Rhonda proofread my Journal article. I applied changes and uploaded the materials for Nikki.

learned about Crowe

Rhonda and I watched a video (on YouTube) of astronomer Dr Richard Crowe.

planning talks

Mr Markov and I discussed future presentations I could deliver at RASC Toronto Centre meetings. We penciled in 15 August for my barn door talk, "a barn door tracker with alt-az base;" and 10 October for a presentation on BGO, called "using the robotic Burke-Gaffney Observatory."

DDO photos up

Peter V shared on Facebook the photos he shot at the DDO last night.

DDO parking lot signage

Copyright © 2018 Peter Visima.

sent my notes

Sent Bhairavi my follow-up from last night. Overall, things went very well at the DDO, so it's just little stuff.

sent rise and set times

Sent Grace some evening details for the Saturday 7 July 2018 members Open House and Awards Picnic at the CAO. Used SkyTools of course.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

returned to the DDO (Richmond Hill)

Rhonda and I arrived the David Dunlap Observatory around 7:15 PM. We were to volunteer with RASC Toronto Centre in partnership with the Town of Richmond Hill.

Noticed the development at Bayview, rerouting of the drive at Hillsview, the disappearance of the gate and gatehouse, the new tarmac up the lane, the new asphalt in the driveway, the painted lines. The excellent landscaping work! The place looked really good. Everything was clean and tidy.

A handful of volunteers were already present. Bhairavi led us to our office space in the administration building where we assisted the volunteers. I unpacked the new t-shirts. They looked good. She distributed my prepared targets list to the amateurs on the lawn. Bhairavi was thrilled that I had brought my FRS/GMRS radios so I distributed 5 of them to the team. It was good to meet Peter V at last. Really good to see Kirsten after such a long time.

We had enough people flying telescopes on the lawn so I was assigned to hall monitor duties and I guided visitors, answered questions, and kept an eye on the library. Tidied the office. Rhonda received guests at the parking. I helped Louis and Professor Delaney with some A/V set-up in the lecture hall. Started up a log note for evening issues.

Venus was easily spotted over the trees to the west during sunset. Astronomers reported the phase was visible.

We looked at Jupiter in Dan's apo. All four moons were visible. Cloud bands were obvious. Rhonda looked too. The seeing was not great unfortunately. Another operator was looking for Deneb but it was too low at the time. I pointed out Vega to help in their alignment.

I thought the signage, posters, and banners by the town's media team were excellent.

Professor Delaney's talk on "The Search for Planet Nine" was well received.

report on a double star conference

Later, Rhonda asked to visit the library. We noted many books going back to the 1800s. Then she spotted a booklet and called me over. A report by Sarah Lee Lippincott on double stars. Neat!

Then I guided Rhonda to the dome and we caught the tail end of Eric Brigg's talk.

second ISS flyover

As I exited the dome, I readied for the final flyover of the International Space Station. I spotted the ISS behind the trees to the north-west and called out for all. As predicted, it rose up high in the sky and then faded into the Earth's shadow. I was with Rhonda, Paul, Eric, and Matt. Eric pointed out that Drew Feustel has dual citizenship.

Everyone enjoyed my programmed scrolling LED badges. Rhonda's read, "Pleiades rocks! Rhonda. RASC TO." Of course, I configured mine to say "Double stars rock!"

Perfect weather. Amazing conditions. We left the grounds around 11:30.

Poorly designed street lights in the new development area. Passed "Telescope Gate" on the way out. Is that the new official street name?

It was so amazing to be back at the DDO! A breath of fresh air. Everyone was so happy. It was an awesome evening and things went very smoothly.

A new era. I am so excited to be a part of it.

Friday, June 01, 2018

join us at the DDO

Rhonda and I are volunteering for the astronomy night at the David Dunlap Observatory tomorrow night (Saturday 2 June). It's going to be so much fun to be back there!

imaged HD 177783 only (Halifax)

I had hoped to image the multi-star system HD 177648, one of the attractive suggestions from Coldfield list. I programmed the BGO robot with the target which it accepted.

But then I noticed there was another system nearby. For the second time, I tried employing the OFFSET option with the imaging request.

I shifted too far! It pushed my main target out of the view. Oops. You can just barely see it the bright wide AB pair at the bottom-right corner of the photograph!

I was only left with HD 177783 in the field. This is a triple in Vulpecula. Below and right of centre.

multi-star system HD 177783 in luminance

Luminance only, 1 second subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

The B star, somewhat dimmer, is almost due east of the primary. A titch to the north. Very close. Almost touching. The C element is further along, about 7 or 8 times the distance, canted a bit to the south.

This system is also known as BU 359.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

visit the DDO this summer

Check out the web site for the David Dunlap Observatory (owned and managed by Richmond Hill). You can quickly access the web site by typing RichmondHill.ca/DDO into your favourite browser.

the new DDO web site

Lots of information from the town on summer astronomy and science programmes as well as long range future plans.

the DDO reopens

The town of Richmond Hill shared a news piece on their web site about the reopening of the DDO. They wish that the "David Dunlap Observatory will become a regional centre for education and public outreach related to astronomy with its upcoming programming." RASC Toronto Centre will help them achieve this goal.

watched DDO highlights

I watched the highlights captured from the live CTV broadcast with Anwar Knight at the David Dunlap Observatory. Anwar acknowledges the opening date anniversary and the verification of the first black hole. There's some words from our RASC Toronto Centre DDO chair Dr Bhairavi Shankar and a quick tour inside the dome with Archie Deridder. Getting real!

an interesting accolade

Shared with the Skyhound developer a link to the rough cut of the RASC meeting video from May 23. I wanted him to see my SkyTools 3 demo (starting at the 36 minute mark).

I was astonished by his reply.
Hey Blake!  That was the best SkyTools demo I have ever seen.  Hit all the right spots with only a few little nits to pick.  What an awesome job!  It so nice to see someone get it.  Greg
Wow. High praise.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

wrote next column article

Drafted my next Journal article. Need to test an app on iOS and then I can put it in the can.

returned to 70 Oph (Halifax)

Charged the BGO robot with imaging the binary system 70 Ophiuchi (aiming at GSC 00434 02340). I intend to return to this target every year, so to watch it move...

binary system 70 Oph in luminance

Luminance only, ½ second subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

24 Aug '16 (with a reprocessed detailed image)
19 Jul '17


Wikipedia link: 70 Ophiuchi.

revisited NGC 7027 (Halifax)

In July 2016 (5 and 17) I collected data on planetary nebula NGC 7027 with the help of the Burke-Gaffney Observatory. I returned to this target to retrieve more data, this time with the SBIG camera. I also wanted ionised oxygen information.

For all images. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

planetary nebula NGC 7027 in luminance

Luminance only, 15 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots.

planetary nebula NGC 7027 in hydrogen

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

planetary nebula NGC 7027 in oxygen

Oxygen-III filter only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots.

This thing is small but bright!