Friday, August 16, 2019

looked for gamma Her D

Did a deep dive into gamma Her. Strangeness ensues...

My BGO image, annotated. SkyTools 3 Professional says that GSC 01513-0543 is a magnitude 13.5 star (but notes the data quality is poor). Similarly, GSC 0513-0424 is 10.7 with suspect data. ST3P agree on the B star, around magnitude 10. Everything else just seems so much dimmer. The planning tool says C is mag 12.2 but the WDS says 13.3. It seems all the faint stars are in the 13 range...

From Aladin, the DDS2 colour image. B and D are completed washed out. C is there though, just above the diffraction spike.

From Aladin again, the 2MASS colour image. Watch out for artefacts. The "stars" going up, vertical, above the primary, are false stars. B is obvious. C, super dim.

The "allWISE" infrared image. B is obvious. C, super dim.

The scaled representation from the Excel spreadsheet plotter tool, using the WDS data, directly and indirectly.

I checked the SDSS2 image in Aladin as well.

I just don't see D in any of the images. While WDS quotes it at 8.1 brightness, it looks to be lost in the overwhelming glare of A.

returned to gamma Her (Halifax)

The Burke-Gaffney Observatory robot imaged the multi-star system γ (gamma) Herculis in the constellation Ursa Major. aka SHJ 227. I aimed the system at nearby GSC 01513-0543.

multi-star system gamma Her in luminance

Luminance only, 0.1 second subexposures, 12 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

First viewed this target on 1 Aug '19.

Primary is bright at magnitude 3.8! The second to the bottom-right or south-west is much dimmer. Mag 9.9.

I spotted the C companion visually in the 16-inch reflector two weeks ago.

At the time I wasn't clear about the position of the D element as noted in the Washington Double Star database.

During the observing sesssion at the Carr Astronomical Observatory, I thought I saw another star... To the north-west.

So, I wanted to dig out the C and D stars with an image.

C is there but extremely faint, to the west, about two or three times the AB separation.

I don't see a D star. It should be very close to A, to the south...


Wikipedia link: gamma Herculis.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

tested adapter (Bradford)

After the garbage run, I tested the recently printed adapter. The 3D hard plastic piece works fantastic. Perfectly circular view through the finder scope and right-angle viewer. Extremely stable. Which made the right-angle viewer very positive to use. The finder proper is another matter. Very difficult to get co-axial. But I finally got it. Used Jupiter as my target (with the Celestron 26mm). Three moons, the planet, and one more. Bad seeing.

Monday, August 12, 2019

will be at DDO on Aug 17

We're back at the David Dunlap Observatory again this Saturday. This time it is a family night with a Stellarium show in the SkyLab, fun craft activities for the whole family in the lecture hall guided by Rhonda, and dome tours. Weather should be OK so we'll be flying the big 74-inch 'scope along with amateur telescopes on the lawn. I've offered to operate the dome but if we have additional resources I might work somewhere else.

If you're interested in attending a RASC event, see our DDO event calendar and book ahead. The shows continue to sell out rapidly.

If you're a RASC member and you're interested in volunteering, let me know.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

the shifted Moon (Bradford)

Couldn't help but notice the bulging Moon as we walked toward downtown. While enjoying our ice cream cones from the alley off Barrie Street, I asked Rhonda if she could see Jupiter. Easy. I was looking too close to the Moon; it was much further to the right. Then I asked if Hawkeye if she could see Saturn. Immediately, yes. It took me 15 more minutes to tag it (without my corrective lenses).

Saturday, August 10, 2019

helped at DDO lecture night (Richmond Hill)

Went to the David Dunlap Observatory really early. I wanted some quiet time...

Hopped off the bus once again at Weldrick and Essex. This time, after starting up the DDO driveway, I cut through the woods so to shorten my walk. That worked out great following the obvious path. Gave me a chance to inspect the north side of the dome. I think I arrived around 3:45 PM.

There was a wedding party wrapping up as I walked up to the admin building. Introduced myself to the Richmond Hill afternoon staffer.

In the RASC office, I signed in, connected to the wifi, checked text messages, dropped off the name tags sheet, dropped off my (keyed) cable lock, pocketed a radio, left a note for Celia, grabbed a member's forgotten USB key, noted the left-behind BBQ tools and lawn chair, tidied up the SkyNews magazines, grabbed an extra clipboard, verified the A/C was on in the lecture hall, visited the "cloak room," filled up my water bottle, loaded up the "DDO bin" (along with cooling fan), and head to the dome.

Fielded a query from the Carr Astronomical Observatory. Helped a volunteer with a technical issue there.

Opened the windows on the observatory floor again. Elected to not activate the fan as the air was already cool. This time I explored the north window. That allowed cool air into the Warm Room.

Installed the LED red light bulb in the eyepiece cabinet.

Brought out the big whiteboard, my markers and brush (but never ended up using it).

Deployed some plugs and caps for our eyepieces and the mirror diagonal.

Briefly tried connecting to the hard line ethernet devices in the Warm Room. No joy.

Found my missing favourite eyepiece strap! It had been missing for a long time. I must have dropped it at a past DDO event. Ha. Weird.

Configured the MallinCam. This time for semi-permanent installation. So, I attached the camera (once again with the loaner 2-inch long extension tube), fired up the Warm Room old CRT monitor and video signal amp, along with the CRT TV on the observing floor. All good. Connected the remote control and reviewed settings. Left it connected for further adjustments as the sky darkened.

Centred the tangent arm.

Enjoyed a light dinner in the Warm Room. Kinda neat. Felt nostalgic.

Changed into "the uniform." RASC volunteer shirt, RASC name tag, RH volunteer tag, red LED name badge. Made sure I had my whistle, (finicky) green laser pointer, telescopic pointer, RASC business cards.

Set the sidereal time well in advance.

Fired up Stellarium on the west computer and viewed it on the monitor atop the console. It proved very convenient when looking up the RA and dec numbers.

After Celia arrived, I slewed to Arcturus. No issues with the Right Ascension clamp. Nothing in the finder scope and, of course, nothing in the big 'scope. Made me wonder if my numbers were screwed up, Had I done my math wrong? Swapped out Chris's reticule eyepiece for the 30mm Plössl. Ah ha! I was a little off. Slewed closer to centre. Reinserted the (higher power) Meade reticule and centred again. Found it in the visitor ocular. Adjusted the movable cross-hairs. Happily, I quickly reached focus on the MallinCam. Locked the focuser down. That was easy!

Erased the first marked position on the CRT monitor and put on the new one. Adding markings to the TV.

We found an AED and first aid kit in the Warm Room. We talked about home to inspect a fire bottle.

Phil arrived. We went to Jupiter, double-checking each other's steps. Got it on the MallinCam. Yes!

Frank arrived. We completed the dome preparations: log book, projector, construction movies, table talkers, downstairs lighting and backroom barriers.

The wind was gone. We enjoyed the view from the outer catwalk. I picked up Saturn, over the north dome of the admin building. The lads spotted it later with some hints from me.

Bumped into John B setting up his Dob on the lawn. Handed off the BBQ items to him.

Met everyone at the team meeting. Good to see all the helpers.

Walking back to the dome, we hammered out who would do what. Showed the lads my script.

Celia pinged us as the welcome meeting let out and a few minutes later we received our first tour. Phil did the downstairs preamble. Then I lead the group upstairs and we viewed Jupiter through the big 'scope. Good crowd, good questions, met some new RASCals.

It was neat seeing two moons flanked Jupiter in the big 'scope.

I did not have time to dig deep for Amalthea.

I was really happy to see my Saturn rubber stamp used for one of the groups!

At around 10:15 o'clock, during the second group tour, I noticed the spectrograph starting to touch the north pier. Ah ha! I knew it. As predicted. This was satisfying as I had correctly interpreted the old instrumentation Hour Angle chart.

I apologised to the visitors but quickly moved the OTA north. The team considered the next option and decided on the Moon. I relayed the RA and dec numbers to Phil. We missed a bit but when I put the 30mm in the finder scope, I could see our target. Slewed (slowly) the last bit and centred on a nice crater. The Moon looked pretty neat on the MallinCam display.

[ed: I think we landed on Sinus Iridum...]

We sent the second tour group on their way at 10:45. Everybody seemed pretty happy.

Invited members to the dome after the customers left. Adiv, our evening speaker, also wanted to visit. Fun. We aimed the big OTA to Saturn. Easy peasy to bull's eye with the MallinCam again. When Phil dialed in the RA and dec (after a little correction from me), I could see the planet on the TV screen. Once centred on the cross-hairs I had marked on the screen, Phil said the planet was in the visitor eyepiece. Nice.

Seeing was poor but Saturn was big and bright. We could see Titan on the monitor.

As our members had a look I began the dome shutdown procedures.

Quick debrief in the admin building with Alex and Celia. Sounded like everything went well. We talked about an interactive workstation for fun quizzies and perhaps a quick and easy survey. Alex wanted the new volunteer form—I promised to send.

A volunteer was kind enough to give me a lift to Yonge St. With the construction, the street was a mess. I did not see any nearby bus stops so walked all the way to Harding. Happily a bus arrived seconds later so by midnight I was on my way home. A chance to sit! I was tired.

Friday, August 09, 2019

doubles for August 2019

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


The Moon’s getting bright again. Don’t despair; do doubles.

For August 2019, here’s a short selection of double and multi-star systems from my life list for your observing campaign. They are all pretty easy.

staralso known asalternate catalogue(s)
θ (theta) LyrSh 292 and 21 LyrSAO 68065, HIP 94713
OΣ525 LyrSTT 525 (Otto Struve) or SHJ 282SAO 67566, HIP 92833
Σ2470 LyrSTF 2470 or HD 178849SAO 67870, HIP 94043
54 SgrHJ 599 SAO 162883, HIP 96808
HD 174005 SctSTF 2391 SAO 142640, HIP 92296

An interesting quality of double stars is their resistance to the ever encroaching infiltration of light pollution. So, have a go. See if you can split them and detect colour. How different are they in brightness? Please share your discoveries.

Be seeing you.

Blake Nancarrow
astronomy at computer-ease dot com

time to get hazed

beer by Muskoka
Received a little treat from Grace via Bri for helping out with Ben. Some Hazed & Confused beer from Muskoka Brewery. One of their products from their Moonlight Kettle series.

It is a Vermont-style IPA with aromas of fruit and hints of citrus. Sounds good.

Ewww. There's a Moon on the can! I'll have to close my eyes.

Perhaps that will enhance the nose...

Thursday, August 08, 2019

paint a nebula

[ed: Update. On 13 Aug '19, the event was cancelled.]

With brush in hand, watercolours at your disposal, and visual artist to guide you, you can paint a nebula from outer space!

DDO Paint Night poster

RASC Toronto Centre is running a Paint Night at the David Dunlap Observatory on Tuesday 20 August. See our information page for more data; book on Richmond Hill's web site.

helped at star party (Toronto)

Attended the RASC Toronto Centre city star party. Been a while. Caught up with Adrian. Spent most of my time helping Tess with her ETX 90 with AutoStar. Overall, we made good progress but were scuppered by battery issues. Not enough power!

The sidewalk had been rebuilt which blocked our access to the parking lot, unfortunately. So we had to get a bit creative...

Met new member Sal and gave him a few tips. There's was a full-circle moment to that. Bayview Village Park was the site of my first RASC star party as a green-horn. Wow, that was 20 Mar 2007.

made adapter for finder scope

Made an adapter for the Meade ETX 90. Designed the part, er, parts, with 123D. Produced with a Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer at the Toronto Public Library.

2 piece adapter for ETX 90 finder scope

It will firmly hold a right-angle finder to the small spotting scope atop the ETX main optical tube assembly which in turn will afford more comfortable viewing.


I did not accommodate for the dimples in the right-angle finder plate but those were easily dealt with using the high-speed rotary tool... Otherwise, perfect! It works. Very nice fitment. Wow. Can't wait to try it.

spotted old papers

Exiting the Toronto Reference Library, I spotted the display case.

display by the Toronto Public Library

Featured newspapers from 50 years ago... The Toronto Star and the Belleville Intelligencer.

There was a claim that the Moon landing was shown on the world's biggest TV at Nathan Philips Square.

There was a reference to a past exhibit called Retro Futures by TD Gallery (link).

Sunday, August 04, 2019

over quota on 15 minutes

Rhonda messaged me. Sent some photos from her mobile phone. My mug showed up in the latest SkyNews magazine, I gather. More correctly, the RASC newsletter inside SN.

many DDO events in August

There are a bunch of events coming up at the David Dunlap Observatory...

Western's Space Camp for kids continues.

RASC is hosting regular programme nights again, on August 10 and 17. And, once again, these events are sold out. If you want to attend a lecture or enjoy a night with the family, you need to book well in advance. That said, Richmond Hill has not yet listed the September and October dates...

[ed: On 13 Aug '19, the Paint Night event was cancelled.] We're planning a Paint Night on August 20. Render a nebula in watercolour with tips and assistance from an artist.

Finally, on the 23rd, Richmond Hill is running a big event with 1500 visitors expected. We're assisting with tours and lawn 'scopes.

See our web site calendar for specific dates. And check out the web page for more info on Paint Night.

Visit the Richmond Hill DDO web page for more info or to register.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

a smack of doubles (Blue Mountains)

Prepared the Geoff Brown Observatory for viewing. Readied power. Cooled the big telescope. Dropped the south walls, for low targets in the south. Started TheSkyX.

8:29. The humidity was 76%, from the Davis weather station.

8:49 PM, Wednesday 31 July 2019. Went to Jupiter with the GSO RC 16-inch with the Tele Vue 27mm. Colourful. I could see two moons already.

Back to the 'scope.

Then three moons.

Realised SkyTools was not showing the current time. East was more or less up for me. Ganymede was about a half-planet-diameter away, to the east. ST3P said Callisto was the same side as Gany. Io was 3 or 4 times the distance, opposite. Europa beyond, almost double the distance.

I headed out to the Observing Pad to see how everyone was doing. Ian had his 20" Dob going. Jupiter was pretty fantastic. Cloud tops were amazing. We thought we saw a shadow transit. But my software wasn't showing it. Verified I had it set to real time...

[ed: Must have been a barge!]

Put on bug stuff.

9:06 PM. Shared the view with Wayne. We enjoyed the Jovian view.

Needed help to spot it naked eye. Encouraged Millie to stand behind Ian's Dob, like I did, to find it. Later, tagged Saturn in the south-east.

Considered μ (mu) Scorpii. Ha! SHT 72. I wondered who the discoverer was... [ed: Shatsky, N.I.]. Slewed to HD 151890.

At some point, I had added this object to my double star candidate list. Too low and too wide... It was on Lodriguss's naked eye list.

The telescope was nearly horizontal. The star's elevation was 6 degrees!

9:29. Noted a very wide pair. Oh, μ1 and μ2. Equal stars. Bright.

Extremely wide. Over 5 arc-minutes apart. Almost 6. With a PA of 72°. μ1 was to the right (or west) with μ2 to the left (east).

An interesting pattern of stars to the north.

There was strange stuff going on in SkyTools. The Object Information box indicated it was a triple. There were AB and AC buttons. The drop-down menu for the companions however only included A and C. When I clicked the AC button, it said the stars were 80.5" apart, at a position angle of 257°, and the magnitudes of the primary and tertiary stars were 3.0 and 9.6 respectively. When I clicked the AB button, no magnitude was listed. Sep 9.2", PA 210°. B was not shown in the chart.

C was supposed to be opposite μ2...

9:34. Tagged it. About 1/5th the sep. of μ1 and μ2. Yep. That was the C companion. Extremely faint. Mind you the sky was blue.

Alarm went off for the ISS pass... Did some prep for that.

9:54. Returned to the Warm Room after the camera-mount setup. Looked up the particulars of mu Sco. Checked the recent numbers from the official source, the Washington Double Star database:

SHT  72AB    2000    210   9.2  3.70  8.91 B1.5+B6.5
WFC 181AC    2016    257  80.6  2.97  9.41 B1.5+B6.5


B was brighter than C. But rather close to A. Should have been possible, I thought. [ed: Not like it is neglected...] Looked again. Nothing.

Steve came through briefly. Terse. Oh oh.

10:09. Ed was surprised how low the subject was. He said he saw something at the 2 o'clock position, very close but with a black gap. Oh. Maybe he saw it...

I headed outside for the ISS, to observe, to start the camera.

After the flyover, I returned to the GBO. Slewed to next target. HD 112733. Struve 1702. In Canes Venatici.

Risa popped in. She shared the lights were off in the SLO. Steve reported Risa could start her imaging.

10:31. Orange and blue stars. Subtle colours. Dim. Previously logged. Widely separated in the big 'scope; easily split in the small 'scope. Nearly equal brightness. Beside another bright pair: ah, Cor Caroli.

I had put in my candidate list. From the TLAO book. A keeper.

I heard exclamations from outside. Ian D saw a fireball.

Ed visited returned to the Warm Room. He had been staring at the head of Draco trying to pick of dim stars. According to Stellarium, he had reached 5.7. Shared my life list numbers, in particular, that Steve and I got to 6.4 at the CAO using stars in Ursa Minor. Coincidentally Steve wandered through.

Steve shared that the OBS software had crashed when they were almost done.

Went to next. Mused on sketching the scene. 25 CVn aka STF 1768. Yellow and orange.

Spotted the A and B stars with a separation of 1.8" despite bad seeing. Wow. Different magnitudes and close. Correction: SkyTools said they were 1.7" apart as of June 2019. A binary system drawing together.

10:44. Noted the mags of 4.8 and 7.1. This was on my candidate list but I wondered if it was too hard. Too tight and too different, needing a powerful large 'scope to get the A and B. A "box" of stars. The C, D, E, and F were doable in a big instrument. Some not visible in the TV 101. And still too wide.

Next. ξ (xi) Bootis. Nice. Orange. Triangle. Awesome. Fantastic colours. On a bunch of coloured lists. Steve had a look. He thought orange or yellow and white. Different magnitudes A and B: 4.5 and 7.1.

On my View Again list. A 150 year binary.

Tried to dig out the D partner. Got it. I could see mag 13 and 14 stars but not the C.

10:55 PM. Confirmed I got it. Checked the magnitude limit of the RC 16 telescope: 16.3. I estimated the star was in the 15 or 16 brightness range.

Checked my image of ξ Boo. Yep. C was very faint. Fainter than D.

Popped outside to inspect my camera. Dewed out. Chatted with Wayne briefly. He was noting the crazy humidity. Millie came round. Asked me where Dietmar was. Ian W and Steve chatted.

11:02. Should have brought the dew heaters... And I hadn't felt like bugging anyone.

Encouraged Ian to have a look at ξ Boo. He doesn't get jazzed by doubles...

I complained about TheSkyX. Issues with searching. Steve suggested in work in the Find tab as opposed to the Telescope tab. Finding it cold, Steve closed the outside observatory door. I complained about the focuser. Steve described it as being made of rubber bands. Risa said she was imaging.

Went to HR 5831 or STT 300 in Serpens Caput. Ah. Never viewed. Sep 15". Got tripped up in the software. Came from a colourful list. It was quite beautiful. Orange and aqua-green. Dim though. Steve thought one of the star's was purple. Big difference in magnitudes. Yes, 6.2 and 9.5.

11:17. It reminded him of a pair in Canes Venatici. [ed: He was thinking of Cor Caroli.]

We checked the weather conditions. Compared results. I refreshed the Davis weather page. Was 76% at 8:09. Now it was 83%. Dew point was 13.3°C. Air temperature was 16.3. Steve's on-board sensors said, 92%, dew point 10.7, air ambient 12°. I noted that the Davis sensor is in a different location now... Maybe there's a radiant heat factor? Pulled up the weather page for Clear Outside: 17°, dew 13°, 76%. Checked Astrospheric: 16° air and 11° dew. Good to Stargaze echoed the numbers. Environment Canada from the airport: 15.6°, 12.7°, 83%. We concurred, not as good as last night.

Steve dimmed the red lights. We talked about the pointing model for the Paramount ME. Working very well.

Tried the searching in TheSkyX on the Find tab. Better response.

11:31. Wondered why I put γ (gamma) Ser on my list. Very wide stars. Not terribly interesting in a telescope... Maybe best with binos.

Moved the 'scope. HD 144564 aka STF 2007. A triple.

11:33. We wondered at the colours. Smalt? White Atlantic blue perhaps?

Readied for HR 4917 or Struve 1695 in Ursa Major. Very nice. Need a bit of aperture to get the AB, at 3.8 arc-seconds. C was a mile away, at the 8 o'clock position. In a little football below (east). Yellow and orange in the big 'scope. I like it. It could be in my candidate list. Primary was K class.

Millie saw a meteor, her first one.

11:49. Turned on the baseboard heater.

Slewed to γ Her aka SHJ 227. Never observed. Holy cow! Millie and Ed had a look. "Orange and whitish? Orange and blue?" Millie said. Ed didn't think it was pure white. Worked in the TV101 although very dim. Millie helped Ed.

From a "most beautiful" list. Oh ho. Neat. Widely separated. Magnitudes were 3.8 and 9.8. A triple. Lots of field stars at high power. Interesting field, at high power. A and B were 43" apart. Millie said that B was "to the left?" Yes. "The main star was very bright." Yes.

I went back to find the third star. C was 3 times the distance. "Oh, that one!"

I spotted a star not in the software, at a right angle to the A and the B.

Noted a C-shape of stars below and right (east).

Millie retired.

I saw a star not in the software... Above A (north-west). At a right angle to A and B. About the same brightness as C. Er, dimmer. About the 12 o'clock position. ST3P said C was mag was 12.2.

Ed said he was seeing something but I couldn't understand his directions. Opposite B but closer. He went to have another look. Wondered if he was imaging it? "A beam of light?" Maybe a diffraction spike?

Distracted, I didn't think to sketch it...

12:00 AM, Thursday 1 August 2019. Tried looking it up in Aladin (in my custom quick look-up tool). Didn't work as the primary was too bright.

[ed: From the WDS...]

SHJ 227AB    2013   226  43.3  3.76 10.05 A9III   
DRS  58AD    2010    176   8.3  2.94  8.08 A9III   
SHJ 227BC    2015    298  82.1 10.05 13.31     

Unclear to me... Oh well...

Moved on to a non-double star. A small planetary nebula, NGC 6445, one of the Finest. On my View Again list. I changed eyepieces, increasing the power. Rectangular shape?

We have lots of LPR filters... Looked for the ionised oxygen filter. 2". It would not fit in the Tele Vue 27mm being out of round.

Asked Steve if I could borrow an eyepiece.

Found the 20mm ocular in our cabinet. The O-III dimmed the stars. Better contrast.

I pulled up some images from the interwebs. A little box. Wispy stuff around it. I found it in the TAC Eye Candy list. Also on my View Again list.

Fell into a different SkyTools list.

Jeff popped in, from the THO. Where's Waldo. He was doing some wide-field. Talked about his new Y-mask. He uses a jeweller's loupe on the back of his camera.

Steve checked the transparency. Jeff thought it could be better. Maybe smoke was a factor. Weather check: Davis, on the roof: no wind, 85% humidity, 16.5°C air. Steve's: 93%, 12° ambient, 11.1 dew.

Turned off room heater.

Slewed. A couple of doubles, but not the Double Double. HD 154510 aka STF 2120. Neat-o in the little 'scope. Ooh. With a little surprise! A keeper, a good one. In Hercules. Faint pair below (do the south) beyond the C star. Not an official pair according to ST3P. With GSC 02068-0695.

Ed asked which of the ice planets was up. Neptune was first, currently at 22° elevation; Uranus was behind and only 5°. Both in the muck, Toronto and Collingwood light domes.

12:45 AM. Sent the Paramount to Neptune. Noted the right-angle triangle of stars to the left or north. We could not see Triton. Set the time to now in SkyTools. Accommodated for the mirror diagonal. I simulated the view. Triton should have been below for us. 10" separation. Ed asked how big the planet was: 2". Oh. Mag 13.5. The software did not show the moon until a 5mm eyepiece was active! Weird. I saw stars in the field that were magnitude 13+. Verified sighting a 13.6 star.

Ed called it a night.

12:57. Decided to go after 56 Her. aka STF 2110. Not viewed. On the Coldfield list. Slewed. "Summer wheat and campfire ember!" Steve said he could visualise those colours. He hustled to the eyepiece. Ah, a G0 star. We talked about G2V stars. Easy split but very different magnitudes. I estimated 4. SkyTools said more than 4. Wow.

Next up: 21 Sgr. I could not split. Too close, too different. Also below the 2x. Should not be on my candidate list...

1:13. Viewed Arrakis, mu Draconis, was splittable in the small 'scope. Up and down. In-line, I had never seen the C star. A binary. Should be easier now. Grabbed a higher power eyepiece. North was straight up. C should have been at the 5 o'clock position. 6 times the separation. 2.5 vs 13.0". Back to the ocular.

I needed hot chocolate... In my mug.

Visited our member on the Pad. Imager.

1:30. For the Don't-Even-Bother Category. Could not find the C element. Next...

Risa dropped in with a couple of SLO questions. I asked her to fire up the dehumidifier. And to not install the telescope caps.

1:38. Orange and green. HD 169392 or STF 2313.


Went to M69, Messier 69. An object only viewed once before. Very faint. A smooth concentration of stars, this globular. Reasonably large. With a bright star nearby. The OTA was nearly horizontal... Wow. It dimmed the object. Shame. I guessed 7 atmospheres. [ed: SkyTools says 8.1.]

You know it is silly when the 'scope is pointed below horizontal. It was perfectly "cromulent," Steve suggested.

I took in HD 178211 or Struve 2455 in Vulpecula. I returned from telescope. White satin and crimson. "I gotta see this," Steve said.

He reported his on-board computer was reading 97% humidity.

Now yellow and blue with the 18mm. The bright star above or south-west HD 343742 was not related. No problem spotted faint C in the large OTA. Dimmer one was above, to the north-east. Noted a J-pattern. Checked for the C star in the small 'scope--nope, not possible.

2:00. Decided to look at Saturn. Nice view. Many moons visible. Some colour. Cassini Division easy. Different colours in the cloud bands, equatorial belt bright, lighter than the others. I wondered if I could see the C ring. Too bad Risa missed it... Dione and Titan visible to the east. Rhea opposite, in a curving arc. Nice.

Next: HR 7412 or SAO 124698. STF 2532 in the middle of Aquila. A quadruple from a "most beautiful" list. Very interesting. Lots of stars. I didn't see anything at first in the 101. Briefly visible with averted. In the 16-inch with the 18mm, obvious, gold and deep blue dim star. Widely separated. D was visible, 3 or 4 times the distance, opposite B. C formed an equilateral triangle with A and B, extremely dim. ST3P said it was mag 13.9. Noted high-13 stars to the south. Fantastic colours. Needs big aperture and/or high power.

It was late. Considered one more target...

Selected HD 200256 or HIP 103813 or Σ 2742. Dim. In Equuleus. Nearly equal, bottom one was slightly dimmer. Same colours. Easily split in the 18mm.

2:16. Parked the 'scope. Packed up, as much as possible.

Steve's rig was still running. Found him in the house.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

nationally recognised

The David Dunlap Observatory is now considered a national historic site, one of eight new national historic sites across Canada, as announced by Environment Minister Catherine McKenna.

tried for the ISS (Blue Mountains)

Wanted to try a tracked long-exposure of the International Space Station. Multi-tasking...

Prepared the Star Adventurer. Checked all the bits and bobs. Reviewed my notes.

9:35 PM. My reminder alarm went off for the ISS flyover. I headed outside to prepare the Canon camera and Star Adventurer.

Made sure the tripod was level.

Dismounted the ball head from the SA and uncovered the polar 'scope.

Grabbed the illuminator (with fresh CR 2032 battery) from the Warm Room. Installed in the little red mount.

Grabbed my phone and launched PolarFinder Android app. Waited for the GPS signals to kick in. Aligned on Polaris. Reinstalled (gently) the ball head.

9:43. Did test shots, 5, 10, and 20 seconds.

9:47. Jeff looked for us.

Relayed the flyover times. 10:13 it would start, run for 7 minutes. Mag -3. It occurred to me it would be in the northern sky, not the southern, going through the Big Dipper and heading into Cygnus. I was not aimed that way... I wanted to get Scorpius, Jupiter, Saturn, etc. I hoped the 180 degree field would include the trace.

Ed, hovering, asked about using the Star Adventurer. Yes, it was a small equatorial mount. For me, it was no more difficult than using my old Vixen Super Polaris equatorial mount.

9:52. Reframed and shot for 30 seconds.

Double-checked the ISO, f-stop, and intervalometer. Delatched the petals. Double-checked my checklist.

Everything was ready.

10:04. Ian D asked about the ISS. I relayed the numbers again. Showed him the diagram.

10:09. Paused double star hunting. Headed outside.

10:10. Started a 10 minute exposure.

southern sky over GBO and SLO

Canon 40D, Rokinon 8mm, manually focused to infinity mark, f/22, ISO 800, daylight white balance, intervalometer, 720 seconds, Star Adventurer, tripod.

Steve and Dietmar were filming in the Sue-Lora Observatory hence the stray light...

[ed: Didn't know until later. Dang! Missed it. I was aimed too far down... Should have aimed north!]

Risa and I watched the station. I picked it up low, about 10° up, in the north-east, near an airplane. Watched it climb and brighten. It split 31 and 32 Cygni!

We were scolded by the film crew team in the SLO for being too loud! Oops.

Let the camera continue shooting. So to stack some shots for the Milky Way... Considered 12 by 12. Put an entry in my calendar.

When I saw how wet everything was, I suspected the camera lens was dew-covered.

10:58 PM. Waited for a gap to check it. Yep. Soaked!

Shut down and brought the camera into the Warm Room.

11:02. Should have brought the dew heaters... I hadn't felt like bugging anyone.

12:26. Checked the camera shots. Missed the ISS. First shot was OK but second was completely fogged... Diffraction spikes.

[ed: Maybe I should keep a couple of hand warmers in astronomy case alpha primus.]

solved the image

Ran the galaxy cluster through

annotated image of Abell 2151 shot

Over 20 identified objects... link: Abell 2151.

Centre (RA, hms): 16h 05m 37.559s
Centre (Dec, dms): +17° 46' 21.243"
Size: 47.8 x 31.8 arcmin
Pixel scale: 0.737 arcsec/pixel

From the plate solving and SkyTools 3 Pro (and some help from Aladin), I have identified the following objects:

IC 1188 / PGC 57127 and LEDA 1533342
IC 1173
MCG 3-41-80
IC 1181
IC 1178 / Arp 178
IC 1193
IC 1185
IC 1194
LEDA 84742
IC 1192
IC 1184 (Aladin says this is a star)
NGC 6054 or IC 1183
MCG 3-41-99
IC unknown / LEDA 1541356
IC 1182
IC 1179
NGC 6050 / Arp 272
NGC 6047
NGC 6039 (ST3) or 6042 (Aladin)
NGC 6041
IC 1170
NGC 6043
NGC 6044
IC ????
NGC 6045 / Arp 71
PGC 57131
NGC 6056
IC ????
MCG 3-41-112
NGC 6057
IC 1171 / LEDA 1546800
NGC 6055
IC 1180 / PGC 57057
IC 1175


And here's the snapshot from SkyTools.

screen snap centred on Abell 2151

There are quasars within the frame but I can't identify them in the digital frame given the noise.

collected flats

Shot flats. First time ever, I think. Weird results.

gathered more darks

Programmed a darks run.


The humidity levels were high. Discovered the finder was completely coated with dew as I shut down. Oooh. That's what PHD2 was struggling...

fogged finder objective

Fired up the dehumidifier in the little observatory.

tried another galaxy (Blue Mountains)

Tried for M33 (Messier 33), a rising galaxy this time. Continued to receive guiding errors so I gave up.

galaxy M33 in Triangulum

Canon 40D (not modified), GSO RC 8, f/8. Guided. 600 seconds, daylight, ISO 1600, RAW. Manually focused, Bahitov mask, Backyard EOS. Image shown is a single frame, no stacking, no significant processing.

tried for Splinter

Tried to get the Splinter. Guiding errors. Also I had forgotten the mask was in place. It was getting low so I decided to try something different...

shot darks

Shot darks after galaxy cluster run, with the camera body on the floor, using the intervalometer as the trigger, from 1:13 to 1:55, while Risa ramped up to use her camera.

aimed at Abell 2151 (Blue Mountains)

Wanted to try the SLO system. Risa and I worked through the steps together. I considered a unique target and selected ACO or Abell 2151, a super-cluster in Hercules.

super cluster Abell 2151

Canon 40D (not modified), GSO RC 8, f/8. Guided. 600 seconds, daylight, ISO 1600, RAW. Manually focused, Bahitov mask, Backyard EOS. Image shown is a single frame, no stacking, no significant processing. North is right, east is up.

Stoopid plane.

This is just a portion of the galaxy cluster in Hercules, with NGC 6047 near the centre of the frame.


Was almost scuppered. I dug through my camera bag but could not find my Canon-computer USB cable. I suddenly envisioned it back home, plugged into my office computer. Carp! Amazingly, I found a suitable cable in the SLO desk. Saved my bacon...


Plate-solved the image. Identified the members.