Friday, August 11, 2017

studied HD 38

Probed HD 38 aka STT 547 a bit deeper.

Pulled data from the Washington Double Star database for 00057+4549STT 547. Very interesting. Way beyond what is shown in my favourite software.

discoverer first obs last obs P.A. sep mag pri mag sec spectral
STT 547AB 1876 2016 189 6 8.98 9.15 K6+M0
STT 547AC 1911 2015 263 116.2 8.98 13.71 K6
STT 547AD 1911 2015 230 110.3 8.98 12.51 K6
STT 547AE 1911 2015 344 58.4 8.98 11.75 K6
STT 547AF 1897 2007 254 327.9 8.98 10.19 K6V+M2e
POP 217AP 1994 2015 320 15.4 8.98 13.4 K6
POP 217AQ 1998 2006 130 20 8.98 16 K6
POP 217AX 2004 2006 222 12 8.98 K6
POP 217AY 1998 2005 79 199 8.98 14.8 K6
STT 547BC 1925 2015 266 114.8 9.15 13.71 M0
STT 547BD 1921 2015 232 105.9 9.15 12.51 M0
STT 547BE 1991 2015 346 64 9.15 11.75 M0
STT 547BF 1961 2002 255 326.4 9.15 10.19 M0
STT 547BP 1989 2015 333 19.8 9.15 13.1 M0
POP 217YG 1998 2005 189 10 14.8 15.8

I transcribed the data from SkyTools 3 Professional.

AB 190 5.89
AC 356 54.5
AD 188 82.2
AF 268 84.52

Now, ST3P shows binary data information... The calculated values as of June 2017. AB has a 1551 year period. AF has a 83000 year period! Wow.

I flipped, zoomed, and cropped the image.

cropped flipped image of HD 38

North is up; east is right (opposite the full image).

I plotted in my custom Excel workbook the A through F stars using the WDS data. There is good correspondence to my BGO image.

plot of HD 38 A or STT 547

North is up; east is right.

I noted that the labelling between the WDS and ST3P was different. What ST3P called the C star, WDS said was E. What ST3P called star GSC 03246-1561 is C according to the WDS. From the BGO photo, I knew there was an issue with F. The WDS refers to a bright star which ST3P says is J000511.7+454706.

This means that for my log notes, I can claim to have spotted B, C, D, E, and F, according to the WDS. I have to adjust some notes from the initial observations. C is nearly due west of AB. It is extremely faint. It appears to me to be beside another star making it a pair (opposed or at a 90° angle to AB) with nearly the same separation as AB. E is to the north, about half the separation has C. F is far afield to the west.

plot of POP 217 stars

The WDS shows observations from POP. I plotted the stars POP 217 P, Q, X, and Y. I added the STT 547 F star to maintain the scale in the graph.

P corresponds to the image quite well. It is the medium-bright nearby star to the north-north-west. ST3P calls this GSC 03246-0320. I don't see anything at the Q location. Nor the X spot. Q is listed as mag 16; X has no value. The Y star however lines up with my image with a faint star. In fact, it too seems to be part of a faint double. Their alignment is almost identical to AB, roughly north-south. It is to the east, well away. In ST3P, this is shown as J000600.2+454920 at mag 14.8.

So I think I can safely add the P and Y stars to my life list log.

plot HD 38 B proper

The WDS catalogue lists C, D, E, F, and P associated with B. I plotted this system. Again I see a very good correlation to my image.

There's another POP 217 entry, this time for the G partner to Y. It is at position angle 189 and is 10 arc-seconds away. I see this in my image. This star is south of Y and fainter. And ST3P shows this too: GSC 03246-1853. I think I can add the G star to my log.

For clarity, I annotated the photograph.

photo of HD 38 with annotations


finished with HD 38 (Halifax)

BGO photographed HD 38 (aka STT 547). A neat multi-star system in the Andromeda constellation.

multi-star system HD 38 in luminance

Luminance only, 4 seconds subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

B is the equally bright partner to A, touching A, almost perfectly south.

C is the fainter start to the north-north-north-west, a good distance away (not to be confused with the very close dimmer uncategorised star GSC 03246-0320).

To the south-west, almost double the AC split, is D. It is the same brightness as C. SkyTools 3 Pro says C and D are in the 11 to 12 magnitude range.

ST3P does not list an E star.

Now things get interesting. ST3P shows a very bright star around magnitude 10 due west of AB slightly less than the AD separation. There's no bright star here. If you zoom the image, there is something: an extremely dim point! Is this it? Is it a variable? Or an old nova? Weird.

[ed: The SkyTools information is quite different that what's in the WDS. I analysed it.]

Near the top-right of the image, north-west of HD 38, is the faint pair VYS 1. While the telescope collimation is degrading the view, there are clearly two stars. They seem equally bright to me. They are oriented roughly north-north-east to south-south-west.

At the bottom-right of the image, south-west of HD 38, there's a bright double. This is HD 225291. The mag 7 and 9 stars are merged. ST3P says they are 4.1" apart. The brighter element is to the south. They are roughly oriented south-south-east to north-north-west.

imaged NGC 6946 again (Halifax)

It's been a while. I continue to collect data with BGO on the SN2017eaw within the Fireworks galaxy. It's hangin' in there, still bright.

galaxy NGC 6946 with SN2017eaw in luminance

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

Last imaged on 20 Jul '17.

acquired 14 Ari (Halifax)

The robotic telescope at St Mary's University imaged 14 Arietis (centred on GSC 01761-2074). A multi-star system. This target has been on my View Again list for some time so to spot the B companion.

multi-star 14 Ari in luminance

Luminance only, 4 seconds subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

I viewed and measured 14 Ari back in Feb 2010 concentrating on the bright wide companion to the west. That's the C star. I did not know at the time it was a triple. B is the much dimmer attendant to the north-north east, slightly less than the AC separation. Very few field stars...

captured 30 Peg (Halifax)

Back in October I first queued the BGO robot to image 30 Pegasi (centred on GSC 00566-0058). A wonderful, compact triple-star system also known as HJ 962.

triple-star 30 Peg in luminance

Luminance only, 3 seconds subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

It is listed in the RASC Observer's Handbook but only the A and B stars are noted. B is the tight dim star to the north-north-east. C is to the south-west. It is equally bright to and almost opposite from B.

Found it in my View Again list in SkyTools, with high priority no less, even though I don't think I ever attempted it.

It was good to knock this one off the list.

started with 57 Aql (Halifax)

I wasn't expecting anything this evening; whereas, the last night I was. The Burke-Gaffney Observatory began a long campaign for me. I had many double star targets in the queue.

BGO first imaged 57 Aquilae (centred on GSC 05725-1337). Also known as Struve 2594, this popular and colourful double-star is in the Sky & Telescope magazine summer list and the RASC Observer's Handbook.

double-star 57 Aql in luminance

Luminance only, 2 seconds subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

I wanted to look again to check the colours. My log notes (from 30 Aug '07) show, "The brighter one is a pale lilac; the fainter star is pale yellow." The RASC list says yellow and green. Huh. Will need to do colour processing to complete my study...

Monday, August 07, 2017


Read Nicole's CBC article on viewing the upcoming solar eclipse. She emphasised sites coast to coast, many of which are hosted by RASC.

captured M18 (Halifax)

BGO also imaged Messier 18. A Messier catalogue object I wished to revisit. An open cluster in Sagittarius.

open cluster Messier 18 in luminance

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

An interesting compact cluster of stars in a Milky Way rich field. Top-left of centre makes me think of a flint arrowhead. Or an acorn shape.

I'm also intrigued by the somewhat darker patch at the bottom-right of the image.

Looks like there's lots of doubles in the area... I'll have to see what the WDS says. Nothing is noted in SkyTools.

I was expecting more of a gradient from the full Moon. It's pretty flat...

imaged M25 (Halifax)

The Burke-Gaffney Observatory, after its vacation, imaged Messier 25 for me. Another Messier catalogue object I had viewed once or briefly or both. It is a loose open cluster in Sagittarius.

open cluster Messier 25 in luminance

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

A mixtured of bright and dim stars. There seems to be two streams, an upper with the bright stars, and the lower, with a lane between void of points. I like the little lines of 3 stars sprinkled about. There are many faint, fine stars in the background as we're in a dense part of the Milky Way, not far from Galactic Centre. I look forward to seeing this in colour as I expect there to be lots of colour.

There's a bit of a gradient on the left edge of the image: the Moon was not far away. Still, I'm pleased with the result.

U Sgr is the brightest star left or east of centre. SkyTools 3 Professional shows that this is a multi-star system with around 20 elements! U is in this upper channel of stars.

B is the closest bright star to the west-west-south. ST3P shows another star is here too, U, but B and U points are merged in the image.

C is to the south-west in the lower channel. C looks by itself like a classic double star with the nearby bright neighbour. ST3 however does not note the star south of C. Strange.

There is no D consort according to the software.

E is to the west of A, up or north very slightly. It is in the middle of the nearly perfectly straight line of 3 rather bright stars.

The right-most or west-most star of this line is F.

G is far-flung. It is in the lower thread, to the far west, the brightest star on the west edge of the cluster. It is west-south-west from A.

H however is very close to A, to the west-north-west. It is slight further than B. It is due north of B. It is slightly dimmer than B.

ST3P does not show an I sidekick.

J is north-west of H at less than the AB separation. J is equally bright as H.

K is close to J and almost due west. It is a touch brighter. It is almost due north of E and almost the same split as K and J.

Back to the line of 3 bright stars with E in the centre: L is the east-most star, opposite F, dimmer, slightly closer.

M is quite far north, above J and K, and very slightly dimmer.

There is no N or O stars.

P is almost due south of A and almost due east of C. It is about the same magnitude as C.

Q is between P and C but to the north, forming an isosceles triangle. It is dimmer than all.

R is due east of A. It is somewhat dim. Slightly greater separation than AH. Interestingly, there's a very faint star really close to R.

S is a bright star to the west-north-west of A, well away, beyond J and K. It is the same mag as G, possibly a touch brighter. S is due west of M.

Speaking of G, the T star is near G, to the east-north-east. T and B appear the same brightness.

Cool. I spotted all the elements excepting B and U which appear as one.

North-west of the centre of the cluster is a faint and tight pair. SkyTools labels both of the stars GSC 06274-1098. Odd.

SkyTools shows a designated pair nearly due south of the GSC 06274-1098 thing and due west of U Sgr S: ARA 753. It shows the B star due south of A with a separation of about 5 arc-seconds. The image shows a faint star west of A, with a position angle around 275° and what appears to be a wider angular separation. Will need to check the Washington Double Star database for that one.

There's something odd to the south-east as well. The image shows what might be a tight pair. Curiously, the orientation that ST3P shows for ARA 753! What's going on?!

Neat cluster.

shared article

The software owner of Solar Eclipse Timer posted the RASC Journal article on his web site.

snapshot of the Solar Eclipse Timer web site with JRASC article

Thank you.

if in Glendo

Frank shared a link on the RASCals list. It is from the town of Glendo, Wyoming. Good reminders for anyone travelling in the area.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

avoiding smoke

Forest fires and the related smoke may be a factor for some trying to see the solar eclipse... The Eclipsophile web site specifically has a Forest Fires and Smoke page.

be careful

Dr Ralph Chou, a leading expert on eye safety, has a video on using solar eclipse glasses or viewers correctly and safely.

Hey. Be careful out there.

Reference: YouTube link.

Friday, August 04, 2017

provided meteor information

RASC Toronto Centre member Raymond asked, on the forum, about viewing the Perseid meteors. He specifically remarked about not seeing a GTA event listed on the web site. He wanted to know if anything was planned.

One member (who didn't sign their message) said there was a planned event on the 9th "at the OSC." That wasn't right. Not the right date for certain. And they used an acronym (instead of Ontario Science Centre) which the original poster (OP) might not know. [ed: Turned out they were referring to a meeting! So, a completely misleading reply.]

Joel jumped in. He said he thought the OP was asking about events on the evening of the 12th. He thought the Moon phase did not look promising on that night but asked if others, with more experience, could comment on this.

Ed added to the discussion. He suggesting going out at 10 PM when it was getting dark and continuing until 11 PM when the Moon would come up. I thought this a bit unhelpful as meteors are best viewed later in the evening. Still, one might get lucky. And then he said that viewing on any night but the peak "isn’t going to be useful." I thought that remark rather discouraging. Yes, the peak is best but showers run for days or weeks.

Tony chimed in noting the group event at the Carr Astronomical Observatory. He stated the location. Said they needed a couple more volunteers. And that volunteers could stay for free. He argued it was likely the darkest north-west skies in a two-hour driving range.

I was wondering what the OP thought of all this so far as no one had really directly answered his question. And there seemed to be a lot of misleading or obtuse statements. And no one from the observing team had joined in. I felt compelled. I wrote a long post to address his first query.
  • Suggested viewing meteors inside a city light dome reduces visibility.
  • Dark skies are best.
  • Suggested specific frequently-used dark sites.
    • Carr Astronomical Observatory
    • Long Sault
    • Forks of the Credit
    • Glen Major
  • Encouraged him to rally the troops if keen.
  • If one wanted really dark, Manitoulan island.
  • Briefly explained meteors are best viewed after midnight.
  • Noted Moon rise times with distance from the centre of Perseus.
    • Aug 11, 22:40, 60°
    • Aug 12, 23:11, 50°
  • Reminded that the Moon would be near third quarter phase.
  • Acknowledged peak date/time was very best.
  • But leading up to and after the peak dates was still viable.
  • Shared my recent meteor sightings (despite a poor sky and first quarter Moon).
  • Provided a link to the American Meteor Society site for general information.
I shared my belief that given the city light pollution combined with the Moon phase was why the RASC Toronto Centre has not planned any specific event inside the GTA limits.

Finally, I noted that next year, 2018, would be perfect! The 11/12th would be on the weekend. The Moon would be in the new phase. I expected we'd have a big party planned at the CAO on the Blue Mountains!

I wanted to provide facts. I wanted to be hopeful but realistic. And it needed to be said that no inner city event was planned.


At last, Allard noted the ParkBus Perseid event. Detailed were being finalised.

Raymond thanked all for the information. Hinted at staying in and around the GTA.

Joel noted the Perseid web page on our site was not updated. [ed: Still not.]

Katrina shared a link to the Lennox-Addington site.

I added a forgotten item. Referred to my Journal article from May where I reviewed the Meteor Shower Calendar app.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

spotted Saturn (Bradford)

The Moon was dodging clouds. I tried to see Saturn through the window, without luck. Diffraction cross from the screen.

Headed to deck. Tagged a faint point, to the west, down slightly, about 10 degrees from Luna. Dim.

she tagged Jupiter (Bradford)

After Music in the Park, with a distracting gibbous Moon in the south, we headed downtown. Exciting downtown Bradford! Rhonda spotted Jupiter in the west while eating ice cream. Later another star. Looked orange to me.

tested filter adapter (Bradford)

Tested my custom solar filter adapter outside. Before the tornadoes arrive.

Ran into an interference issue but I was using the tripod wrong: using the tilt axis for elevation. When I remounted the hex plate, I was able to mount the filter.

custom solar filter box on camera, from side

Aimed at the Sun and turned on Live View. Ahoy!

custom solar filter box on camera, from rear

Focusing will be a challenge, I realised. But I was intrigued to see the autofocus turn the whole adapter box! Wow. Wondered if the converse would work!? Turned off the AF mode and then rotated the box. The focus changed. Ha ha! I was not expecting that.

partly cloudy Sun through custom filter box

Canon 40D, 18-55 lens at 55, manually focused, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO 100, daylight WB, RAW, DPP.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

made filter adapter

Made a solar filter adapter for the DSLR camera. Having not planned ahead to arrange to purchase a sheet of baader solar film, I decided to build it around my existing solar filter. A somewhat large filter...

sketch of adapter box with output tube

To repurpose my Kendrick visual solar filter, which is for an 8" SCT, I needed a large box to serve as the frame. Ideally, I wanted something like a shoebox. Relatively thin or shallow with a removeable top. Tried a shallow square box from digi-key. Not big enough. A box for a dozen wine bottles was too big and bulky and awkward.

I stumbled across a "tray," a corrugated cardboard tray for soda cans (or bottled water). The depth was perfect; the width was perfect; I could cut down the length. But did I have another? Amazingly, I found another tray in my packing materials supplies.

front element, solar filter held in place with tabs

For the front piece, I squared it, and glued the tabs. Could not find my container of white glue so I hope the Elmer's glue stick adhesive will work. I figured out the locations for the three tabs and glued them in place. I cut a large circle, centred, slightly larger than the filter's clear opening. Shimmed one of the tabs after a test fit (should have done the big circle before setting the tabs). Marked and drilled holes for two of the tabs...

Looks like it will be pretty light proof.

back element with output tube to fit camera lens

For the back piece, I sized it to fit over the front box, squared it, glued it. I cut a centred circle for the clear opening of the 18-55 lens hood. I shortened a bread crumbs tube for the camera lens in its retracted state and cut tabs. Centred and glued it to the back plate.

Let everything dry...

front and back elements mated, Kendrick filter installed

Will test for vignetting and weight issues...

Also wondering if I should paint it...


It works! Tested by shooting my Tizio lamp with halogen bulb on the II (high) setting.

halogen bulb filament

Canon 40D, 18-55 lens at 31, auto-focused, 1/15, f/4.5, ISO 1000, incandescent (tungsten) WB, RAW, DPP.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

received SN Sep/Oct 2017

cover of the Sep/Oct '17 SkyNews magazine
Yeh! A new SkyNews magazine appeared. Rhonda brought it in for me.

The September/October issue features astrophotographic contributions from the winners of the Photo of the Week competition. Lovely work, many very inspiring.

There's an article on wifi photography addressing the increasing number of cameras offering remote wireless control. I look forward to reading Mr Park's review of PoleMaster.

Looks like another good issue.

beware of fakes

Read a good but disturbing article from Quartz about counterfeit solar eclipse glasses being sold on Amazon. I truly hope the general public are careful.

view meteor streams

Learned of an interactive visual product for meteor showers. It lets you pick a particular meteor shower (from a list with about a dozen), zoom in and out, move above or below the ecliptic, and control a few other settings.

snapshot from meteor shower visualisation

Very nice.

It also highlighted another aspect of meteors I had not considered before. In the dynamical system, the old cometary material is still moving.

When considering meteor showers of late, I've wondered how they change from year to year. A factor would be that the Earth punches a hole through the old comet stream. I also imagined that many particles would get caught in gravitational wake and would follow along forever behind us.

Monday, July 31, 2017

that Moon (Bradford)

Spotted the Moon high up in the south while at the barbecue.

That Moon is going to block the Sun in about 20 days...

bright light (Bradford)

Couldn't fall asleep. Looked out the east window as the sky brightened? Venus or a street light? Too high for a LED lamp.

finished with ISS (Bradford)

Enjoyed Sagitta, Cygnus, Lyra, Delphinus, and Ophiuchus. It was good to see Aquila in full view. Now all of Cassiopeia was visible.

Viewed alpha 1 and 2 Capricornus in the binoculars. Pointed out the naked eye double (alpha 1 and 2 merge with brighter beta below) to Rhonda. That's where our first meteor came from.

The Milky Way was washed out by the Moon. We never saw our own galaxy.

Finished with watching the International Space Station pass just under the Big Dipper. Further from Merak than I expected but still bright. Three new crew had just arrived. It faded into sunset.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

odd one (Bradford)

Another meteor. Short and fast, throught Cygnus, brightening at the end. Odd one, going south-east.

Earlier I spotted a bright satellite in the east moving north. As I called it out to rho, it started fading. Might have been an Iridium. It went through a little triangle of stars. Later I realised this was part of Pegasus. It went near Scheat.


Rhonda spotted an alert on her iPad from Meteor Shower Calendar. She investigated. From the table, she noted the alpha Capricornids and Aquarid showers were active. We had seen a meteor from Cap based on the angle at the time.

But she also saw an entry for the beta Cassiopeids: 10 per hour, 52 km/s, and mag 2.0. Peaking July 30. Nicely matched the odd meteor we had seen at 11:24. I did not know about them! Huh!

I found some more info at Universe Guide.

a good meteor (Bradford)

While IDing constellations overhead, we saw a long meteor! Heading north-north-west, it started near Lyra and slipped into Draco. Best one I've seen in a long time.

Rhonda asked earlier about the equilateral triangle overhead. I misidentified it as part of Bo├Âtes; it was the chest of Hercules.

Found the Coathanger with the Bushnell binoculars. Also checked the Double Double. No sign of The Ring at 7x. Viewed omicron 1 and 2, splitting 2 and 30 Cygni.

The Moon had dipped below the trees. Just past First Quarter.

Antares was shimmering.

Spotted Saturn through the tree, south-south-west. It was not round in the bins but I could not see Titan.

The mozzies were bad.

The fire was nice.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Moon over Jupiter (Bradford)

From the fairgrounds, after some tasty ribs, Rhonda spotted the fuzzy Moon. A crescent. I asked if she also saw the planet below. Yep.

I hoped they were enjoying clear skies up north. Wisps all around us near The Marsh.

be safe

Found a helpful infographic on the correct and incorrect ways to view or photograph a solar eclipse. It was made by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (link) and American Astronomical Society.

infographic on safe solar eclipse viewing techniques

They show what's safe and not safe. I also like the little timeline during an eclipse showing the only safe time to remove filters.