Friday, August 26, 2016

captured IC 289 (Halifax)

The BGO robot imaged IC 289 for me. A small, faint planetary nebula in Cassiopeia. Curiously, it is one of the RASC Finest NGCs.

RASC Finest planetary nebula IC 289 luminance

Luminance only, 15 seconds subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; left is east.

shot 42 Psc (Halifax)

I requested imagery of 42 Piscium from the BGO robot. Top-left. ROE 83 is to the right.

double stars 42 Psc and ROE 83 in luminance

Luminance only, 5 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; left is east.

imaged NGC 246 (Halifax)

The BGO robot imaged NGC 246 for me. A large but very faint planetary nebula in Cetus. One of the RASC Finest NGCs.

RASC Finest NGC 246 - a planetary nebula - luminance

Luminance only, 15 seconds subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; left is east.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

captured HD 196411 (Halifax)

I asked the BGO robot to shoot the multi-star system HD 196411 in Delphinus.

multi-star system HD 196411 in luminance

Luminance only, 5 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; left is east.

imaged theta Lyrae (Halifax)

The BGO robot imaged the multi-star system θ (theta) Lyrae for me.

multi-star system theta Lyr in luminance

Luminance only, 3 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; left is east.

ST4 announced

It's official. Greg Crinklaw informed us on the Yahoo!Group that SkyTools 4 will be released soon, hopefully around the new year. He shared a link that mentions some key features and shows some screen snapshots. Can't wait!

photographed NGC 884 (Halifax)

The BGO robot imaged χ Persei or NGC 884 for me. The other half of the Double Cluster between Cassiopeia and Perseus. One of the RASC Finest NGCs.

RASC Finest open cluster NGC 884 luminance

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

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Very near the centre of the open cluster, SkyTools notes a double: SAO 23245 aka WFC 8. The software says the partner star is V619 Per, a variable. The positions of the stars in the software closely match my image. But there's something odd. In the Object Information box, A is noted with a magnitude of 9.4 while B is 9.5. The chart however makes B appear brighter. And when I hover over the stars, A shows as 9.4 and B as 6.6! When I specifically double-click on B and examine the Object Information, V619 is listed as a variable star ranging from V 6.59 to V 6.63. And in my image, the "B" star appears dimmer by a magnitude or two from A... That's confusing.

Near the top-left of the image, north-east from the centre of the cluster is a faint double, STI 1857. The dimmer companion is toward the cluster. Curiously, opposite B, is a star of similar brightness, similar separation, making a pleasing visible triple. But it is an unrelated star.

shot NGC 869 again (Halifax)

I asked the BGO robot to shoot NGC 869 for me again (after the partial run on 21 August). Better quality, in general.

RASC Finest open cluster NGC 869 luminance

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

captured NGC 1501 (Halifax)

The BGO robot imaged NGC 1501 for me. A neat planetary nebula in Camelopardalis. One of the RASC Finest NGCs. The slight registration problem is affecting the central star.

RASC Finest NGC 1501 planetary nebula luminance

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

images HD 186224 (Halifax)

I asked the BGO robot to image the double star HD 186224 (by centering on SAO 105169) in Sagitta. There's the diamond kite with short tail.

multi-star system HD 186224 in luminance

Luminance only, 5 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; left is east.

I wanted to revisit this target as I had trouble spotting the D star in the quad. The image shows a star in the same location as SkyTools 3 Pro says the D should be. Pretty easy.

imaged 70 Ophiuchi (Halifax)

I asked the BGO robot to image the fast-moving double star 70 Ophiuchi (by centering on GSC 00434 02340).

multi-star system 70 Ophiuchi luminance

Luminance only, 5 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; left is east.

70 Oph aka Σ2272 (Struve) is a multi-star system. Part of the reason I was interested in imaging it was to identify some of the other members.

Also, the AB pair is a binary system with a 88 year period. If I image the pair periodically, I might see the motion.

Curiously, SkyTools 3 Pro shows pairs such as VX and AY but in the end there seem to be 11 or so pairs. From the image, I'm having no trouble seeing P, Q, R, S, T, U, W, and Y. V and X are interesting. I think I can identify V without difficult but it looks like the X star has moved dramatically—it is heading to the south-east. Anyway, it's very neat seeing all the elements!

There looks to be a double well away to the north-north-west in the image. Not identified in ST3P.

The 5 second exposure time is blowing out the A and B stars. If, in fact, I want to record the binary motion, I'll have to use a faster exposure time. Maybe I'll try around 2 or 3 seconds...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

on deck for TSTM

Mr Markov asked me if I'd deliver The Sky This Month for October 12. Checked the sked. I'm good to go.

all MODLs leased

The last My Own Dome Lot at the CAO was leased! We will be at full capacity. w00t!

Monday, August 22, 2016

downgraded BOINC

Hacked the Android to get BOINC working again. Downloaded the boinc_7.4.43.apk and installed it from the PC drive. Good.

view the Palomar globs

That's interesting that an article at Sky & Telescope should appear about the Palomar globular clusters. I became aware of them back in July and built a list in SkyTools. And have considered imaging them with the Burke-Gaffney.

IDA installed

Read about, on the SpaceFlightNow.com web site, the installation of the new International Docking Adapter (IDA) on the International Space Station (ISS), completed by the spacewalkers Williams and Rubins on the 19th.

over 800

Broke 800 multiple stars with the open cluster images from the weekend.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

spotted planets (Bradford)

Spotted Mars and Saturn in the south-west as I headed toward the highway.

And Antares.

Did I say stupidly busy highway?!

work party prep

Did some fall work party prep at the Carr Astronomical Observatory. Examined, photographed, and measured the deck under MODL 3 in preparation for building a new deck for MODL 5. Checked the electrical and ethernet hardware in MODL 2 and then located many of the parts required in the work room. Also did some recon in the kitchen. More photos and notes.

received some 869 data (Halifax)

I noticed that BGO was running so I quickly sent in some requests. The 'bot was able to partly image NGC 869 aka h Persei for me. One half of the Double Cluster which is one of the RASC Finest NGCs. The imaging run stopped short of collecting blue data so I'll have to have another go.

part of RASC Finest the Double Cluster - NGC 869 luminance

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

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SkyTools says there are a few doubles included... ;-)

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The bright star dead centre is V520 Per. It is a simple pair, also known as HJ 1114. The dimmer B star is easily spotted up and right or to the north-west. ST3 says it is 20" away. My image shows is closer. The Washington Double Star Catalog says, as of 2013, the separation is 16.4". This matches more closely my photo.

The bright star up and left of centre or to the north-east is HD 14143, aka Burnham 1370, a simple double. SkyTools 3 Professional shows the B star well away and almost north. My photo does not show a star in this location. I noted ST3P says the data is from 1902! Old data. My photos does show a faint star, around magnitude 13, at the 2 o'clock position, attractively close. Is this it? Has the B star moved dramatically in 100 years? Or has it wandered further north?! Up into the triangle above?! The WDS is interesting. It says the mag 12.0 B star is in basically the same position as ST3. I dunno...

Perhaps the gravitational effects in open clusters are significant and the members get pushed and pulled in all different ways.

Near the top of the image, slightly left, is the triple system WZ 4. The B star is visible as a bump on the west edge of A, touching. ST3P states the separation is 3.6". C is away, to the north.

At the 1 o'clock position from centre, not quite as far away, is SAO 23172 aka TDS 81. ST3P says the separation is 1.2". But I see a pattern like WZ 4. The WDS shows two pairs actually! The AB sep is 1.2". But the AC pair aka BKO 168 (not listed in ST3) shows a sep of 4.3 as of 2015. Ah ha! I've caught the C star.

The bright star with close partner to the bottom right is HD 14053. South-west of centre. Three or so magnitudes different.

The wide dim pair south of HD is STI 1842. Curiously, the A star is the dimmer one.

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Imaged again on 25 August.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

thanked Dr Seager

Hand-delivered a 2017 RASC Observer's Calendar to Dr Sara Seager and thanked her for everything she's done for the Toronto Centre.

received NGC 891 data (Halifax)

Wow. Cool galaxy. BGO captured NGC 891 for me. This edge-on galaxy is in Andromeda. It is one of the RASC Finest NGCs. There's a bit of a gradient; not surprising given the moonlight.

RASC Finest galaxy NGC 891 luminance

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

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On the east edge of the galaxy, slight above the bulge, there is something going on. An oval and a wisp. I suspect the oval is a background galaxy. Possibly it is a small satellite! But the wisp?! Dunno!

On the west edge of the bulge there is a bright round fuzzy. I wonder if this a large globular cluster or a large satellite galaxy to 891. Very neat.

At the bottom edge of the frame, to the south-south-east of the galaxy, is a distant oval galaxy. This  is PGC 9042.

Due south of the galaxy is a small round lint ball. This is LEDA 2194478.

In the image, I see another fuzzy near the aforementioned, below and right, or south-west. Slightly fainter. It is not identified by SkyTools.

The bright star is the bottom left is double ES 1501. I cannot split the A and B stars.

North-east of ES 1501 is a small round fuzz ball. Again, not identified in my software.

captured NGC 663 (Halifax)

The BGO 'bot imaged open cluster NGC 663 on my behalf. Located in Cassiopeia, it is one of the RASC Finest NGCs. There is an interesting line or band of stars, a rift, along the east edge, nearly vertical. Neat.

RASC Finest open cluster NGC 663 luminance

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

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There are a bunch of double stars in here too!

Pretty dead centre in the image is a tight double. Barely a black hairline between the two stars. SAO 11968 aka Σ152. About two magnitudes different.

South-west of Struve 152 is another tight pair, touching stars, equal brightnesses. That's Σ151.

South of 152 is a quad system. STI 288. A is fairly bright. South-east and close is faint B. North-east is C then D. Both C and D, in the image, seem the same brightness.

Beyond 151 from 152, about the same distance, further to the south-west, is equal pair STI 285.

The angled triple to the south-east is STI 298. B and C are equal and very slightly dimmer than A.

East-south-east of centre is an interesting system. In the image, it looks Saturn like. Vertically oriented, there's a dim, bright, then dim star, all touching. This appears to be STI 295. SkyTools lists the C star but does not show it in the chart.

STI 291 is slightly east of centre. It appears in a box or square of stars. The positions are different than in SkyTools. Proper motion? Gravitational forces?

Due east of centre is the tight, touching slightly different pair STI 297.

An obvious double, touching stars, slightly different intensities, up and left or north-east from centre is SAO 11974.

Amazing. Why would some of these be tagged as doubles and not others? It's a mystery to me.

imaged NGC 457 (Halifax)

BGO imaged NGC 457 for me. Also know as the ET Cluster. An open cluster in Cassiopeia. One of the RASC Finest NGCs.

RASC Finest NGC aka The ET Cluster luminance

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

SkyTools shows it is full of double stars...

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The bright star is, in fact, φ (phi) Cassiopeiae. aka 34 Cas and H III 23 (William Herschel's group 3). A quintuple system! The second brightest star is HD 7902 or the C star of phi. Between A and C, equally spaced, nearly the same magnitudes, are two faint stars. The one closest to A, or to the north-east, is B. You'd think the other star would be part of the system. Nope. Just some random star. SkyTools 3 Pro says it is GSC 03681-1653. Beyond C, opposite A, is E. Not quite inline. And much brighter than B. D, curiously, is well away, to the WNW of A. It looks to be about the same magnitude as E. [ed: Found it in my View Again list in ST3P—removed it.]

Beyond φ D is a tight group of bright stars, some brighter than D. This is ES 408. This is an 8-star system. I cannot split A and B in the image but A is not completely round. C, oddly, is way off to the north-west. C looks to be a similar brightness to A. D is to the east of C, merged, but dimmer, so making a dog-toy shape. E is to the north-east of A, close, and also about the same magnitude. F is a dimmer star to the south-east of E. Compared to ST3P, it appears to be moving, to the south-west. G is east of A. Dimmer. It also appears to be moving, north, this time. H is beyond F, opposite E. Same brightness as G. [ed: I think there's a glitch in ST3P as I cannot select the A star directly.]

STI 1564 is a touching pair of nearly equal stars to the east of ES 408 C. Perhaps A or B or both have moved a lot...

Finally, STI 1560 is a wide pair of equal stars north-west of ES 408 C.

re-framed Pac-Man (Halifax)

BGO shot a field centred on star TYC 3663 00635 1. This is near the middle of the Pac-Man Nebula and open cluster NGC 281. I wanted to reframe the shot from the first run on 8 August. It worked. Unfortunately, it looks like there's a bit of a gradient on the bottom edge.

RASC Finest NGC Pac-Man Nebula and open cluster luminance

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

tested USB 2 adapter

Tested the new USB ethernet extender. It worked! In the Geoff Brown Observatory, we have a kit but it only operates at USB 1.0. The new IOGEAR USB 2.0 ethernet extender is, obviously, 2.0 compatible.


I did a quick test with the Canon 40D, Backyard EOS, John Repeat Dance, a short ethernet patch cord, and the new doodads, and everything seemed to work fine, no protesting, no low-speed warnings.

Clay asked about speeds so I looked them up.
  1. 1.5 to 12 Mbps
  2. 480 Mbps
  3. 5000 Mbps
Explained I could not seem to find a USB 3 option but the 2 would be much better than the current! And maybe that's moot anyway since the ethernet will top out at 100 or 1000 Mbps.

and then the rain

The rain started shortly after Clay arrived.

Friday, August 19, 2016

shot The Veil again (Halifax)

All right. Clear in Halifax! The Burke Gaffney telescope started imaging for me. First up was a re-shoot of the lower portion of the Eastern Veil Nebula.

This time I used the star TYC 2687 02620 1 as the centre point target. Unfortunately, a satellite wandered through the luminance data. The O-III still does not appear positioned where I want... Seems to be the same 7 August. I think I'll not fight this any more.

RASC Finest NGC portion East Veil O-III filter

Oxygen-III only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GiMP. North is up; left is east.

ahead of the rain (Blue Mountains)

Did more testing of Sound Recorder.

Spotted Mars and Antares.

Saw a glow in the eastern clouds. Impending Moon. Light bouncing around.

I was anxious about possible rain. Closed the roof of the Geoff Brown Observatory.

Noticed the lightning in the south-west was continuous. Decided to disconnect the Paramount for protection.

I considered trying my new USB-ethernet adapter. But then I didn't feel like hanging out in the GBO further. Packed up gear for the house. Exited the observatory.

9:41. Opened the blinds and dimmed the lights so to watch the storm roll in.

Reviewed audio recording technique.

wishful thinking (Blue Mountains)

Started recording with the Windows XP Sound Recorder (having left my Sony unit in the other vehicle).

9:14 PM. Settled into the Warm Room. And it was very warm. Was hoping to do a bit of observing after the tour for the Mr Store.

Saw lightning in the clouds to the south-west. That was not looking good. Clouds coming in from the west.

Now I could not see Mars, Antares, or Saturn together. Earlier, that was no trouble. One or two, through the clouds. I did see σ (sigma) Scorpii briefly.

Checked the weather forecast. Rain tomorrow. The Clear Sky Chart was very spotty.

did a quick tour (Blue Mountains)

Provided a quick site tour of the Carr Astronomical Observatory to one of our neighbours. A retired teacher, he's interested in sorting out his telescope, which is collecting dust. Pointed out some stars and planets.

delivery service

Delivered a bunch of stuff to the Carr Astronomical Observatory including a ride-on mower, new iOptron smartphone telescope adapter, a replacement Manfrotto dovetail plate, RASC licence plate holders, big cooler I had borrowed, new medical supplies, and RASC 2017 Observer's Calendars.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

quick peek (Bradford)

Took a look from the backyard. Surprisingly clear. A bit lost for a moment. Ah, Lyra, straight up. What was that to the right/west? Looked for Cygnus—found it. Swept right again. It must be Hercules. Ah yes, found the keystone. Then Aquila. With Altair. Tarazed looked red! Weird. And I can never remember the name of the other... [ed: Alshain.] No obvious Milky Way. The long grass was soaking wet.

2017 calendars available

The 2017 RASC Observer's Calendars are out!

saw the Moon (Toronto)

Saw the full Moon rise over Toronto. Eww.

Some stars...

Back to work.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

meteor seasons

It occurred to me that I have never seen a graphical display of meteor showers on a time axis. So I made one.


Note, the curve profile was automatically generated by Excel and does not (likely does not) reflect the actually activity of a shower. The point is to show when the "big" showers happen in a year.

You can see that July and August is a busy time.

There's a 30 to 40 day quiet spell.

But if one were looking for the high-water marker, the big meteor season, as it were, it would be in the winter.

Data from my meteor table.