Sunday, July 12, 2020

check out the Skylights

Check out my buddy Chris's Skylights for this week. In addition to all his general what's up astronomy info, he has lots of info on the comet... Of course, Jupiter and Saturn are pretty amazing right now.

reviewed article, late

Proofread my Journal article... Down to the wire.

created a new plot

Comet C/2020 F3 is transitioning to the evening sky... soon. It is officially in Lynx now.

comet path for the next few days

You can see it's climbing. Normally a celestial object higher is easier to see.

And the comet is drawing closer to the Earth. Perihelion was on 3 July. Perigee is coming up soon. Wikipedia says, the "closest approach to Earth will occur July 23, 2020, at a distance of 0.69 AU (103 million km)."

But the comet is moving away from the Sun. So, it will be fading.

Hopefully, we'll experience a nice balancing effect...

good sources

Need more information on comets with visibility assessments? I regularly use Yoshida's aerith site and Crinklaw's comet chasing page.


Want to submit your observations, head over to COBS. This one is new to me.


Also, aerith and COBS have magnitude charts... Happy hunting!

where is C/2020 F3 now?

If you want official and detailed information for the C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) comet, check out the SSD page by NASA. This is the Solar System Dynamics web site by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

C/2020 F3 path through inner solar system

A great feature of this site is the ability to show a 3D orbit diagram that you can pan and tilt.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

made a comet video

Andrew thought we should help people with their comet questions so suggested Chris and I make a video. We quickly discussed what we should cover, while trying to keep it short and zippy, and put together a script. Watch it here. About 35 minutes.



Video produced by Betty and Andrew on the RASC Toronto YouTube channel. Hopefully the first of a series...

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

enjoyed the morning show (Bradford)

We headed to the water reservoir for 4:00 AM, taking in a bunch of planets to the south, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, with the Moon in between.

Venus was rising, orange-tinted. There were low clouds in the north-east and we wondered if they would scuttle our efforts. I blindly shot and found the comet, C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) just above the cloud band. Yes!

Viewed it in the binoculars (cheapo Bushnells) and we were able to tag it naked eye (when blocking the silly bright, badly aimed street lights). Star-like core. Tail fanning upward, nearly vertical. Rhonda's first.

Canon 40D, tripod-mounted, RAW mode. Shot in tungsten white balance; corrected to daylight. Pre-processing in DPP.

comet C/2020 F3 over Bradford

4:18. Wide-field, 18-55 Canon kit lens at 18, ISO 1000, f/8, 30 seconds, auto-focused (then set to manual), 10 second timer. Dark-subtracted with GIMP.

Auriga, the comet, Venus. [ed: I was thrilled to discover the Pleiades in the shot! Did not know at the time it was included.]

Stoopid light pollution!

4:28. Rhonda saw it directly, I caught it out of the corner of my eye, and flicked over to see the end. A bright, fast, short meteor burnt up north-bound (an Aquarid). It left a smoke trail that persisted for many seconds. Freebie!

comet C/2020 F3 in the dawn sky

4:51. Long lens, Vivitar Series 1 zoom at about 100mm, f/16, 2 seconds, manually focused, 2 second timer.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

found the triangle (Bradford)

It occurred to me that the Moon would be between Jupiter and Saturn tonight. The planetarium app confirmed that. Oh. A near triangle, with the Moon below the ecliptic.

Jupiter and the Moon started poking through the big tree in the south-east corner of the yard but the ringed planet we could not tagged.

Out on the street, we were able to take in all three. A nearly perfect isosceles triangle.

All were very orange.

lights in the sky (Bradford)

From the porch we watched the sky darken, saw the bat start its orbits, warded off persistent mosquitoes, and watched the stars slowly appear.

Rhonda noted a bright star, high up, in the east. Vega, no doubt.

Took me a while to clue in that I was seeing the pincer stars of Scorpius, Graffias and Dschubba. Later, squinting, I think I tagged the third member, below. Antares bobbed and weaved behind the nut tree.

Once I figured out the scorpion constellation, I realised the two obvious stars to the right were of my constellation, Libra. The phone app reminded me that Zubenelgenubi is not the lucida; that trait applies to Zubenelschemali, the upper star.

Later, I could see the bottom stars of Ophiuchus.

And we were visited by an inquisitive firefly! Yeh, apropos on International Firefly Day weekend!

Saturn, Jupiter, and Moon (Bradford)

Popped outside to close up things, batten down for the night, tidy, drop the umbrella... Spotted the bright Moon. Ugh. Oh. And two planets. Jupiter and Saturn. Moon was 150% of the J-S separation, the Moon was to the west of Jupiter. It'd be really something if the Moon was actually the J-S split but I don't think that will work, this time, in the northern hemisphere.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

posted July 2020 doubles

Sent out my double star "bulletin" for July 2020. It is a short list of suggested targets. I shared this on the RASC Toronto Centre forums. And I post here for everyone.

§

I hope you enjoy my periodic posts with interesting and fun double stars. I think they are impressive, colourful, and beautiful. I particularly like how they punch through light pollution.

Here's a short selection from my life list. I did not include terribly tight or faint targets.

staralso known asalternate catalogue(s)
HD 106799 CamΣ1625 (Struve)SAO 2009, HIP 59836
HD 150340 HerSTF 2079 (Struve)SAO 84521, HIP 81575
1 BooSTF 1772SAO 82942, HIP 66727
HR 5568 LibH N 28 and 33 LibSAO 183040, HIP 73184
HR 6681 Ser (Cauda)HJ 2814 or HD 163336SAO 160915, HIP 87813

Please consider adding doubles to your observing list. Often they are easy. Occasionally they present some challenges and might require repeat viewing.

I look forward to hearing how you did. Holler if you have any questions.

Blake Nancarrow
astronomy at computer-ease dot com

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

cut and sanded

Once again, with Rhonda's awesome 20-inch double parallel-link arm scroll saw, I did more cuttting for the Dobsonian base project. Printed my Visio diagram for notes.

Cut the semi-circles in the box side panels. Cut the handle in the box back panel. Cut the pieces away from the ground plate to form the legs. Cut the azimuth bearing in half. Cut the various reinforcement pieces for the box and cradle.

Used the surform to do a bit of shaping.

Fired up the new random orbit sander with 80 grit and had a go at most of the cut surfaces. Spent a bunch of time on the bearings to get rid of irregularities and make them uniform.

Dob base bits

Not shown: counter-top material from Clay. Neither did I grab the wood glue bottle.

A good Canada Day project, on a lovely day.

Wow. I think I'm ready to assemble...

§

Hockey pucks! Still need 3 of those!

It did occur to me that i'm not sure I picked up enough furniture glides. I bought a 4-pack and that will serve the altitude bearings. But I need three more for the base-ground plate.

And I also need to figure out the box-ground plate bearing.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

spotted Canadian content

A Google alert directed me to an article at Vice magazine entitled How to Take Stunning Pictures of Space at Home. Apropos given the new normal. Certainly I've been enjoying some more astronomy from the backyard. As I read the article, I noted some people I know and have actually met, including Dr Parshati Patel. She actually took some lovely photos from my old stompin' grounds near and around St Thomas. Cool!

Monday, June 29, 2020

noted Stellarium 0.20.2 shortcuts

Performed testing with Stellarium 0.20.2 on Windows 10.


This is an update of my keyboard and mouse shortcuts listing. This reference is for Windows and Macintosh computers.


The "notes" column to the far right with numbers are keyed to the footnotes. For example, 1 is used to indicate newly added or recently changed items.


controlling the surroundings



*

show Location window


F6


Fn F6

4

toggle cardinal compass points

 

q

q

toggle ground and buildings


g


g

toggle ground fog


f


f

toggle atmosphere or air


a


a

toggle sky glow/building lights


Shift g


Shift g

ground (mountain) labels


Ctrl Shift g


⌘ Shift g

return to "home" (start-up) view


Ctrl h


(none)

2






controlling the sky - deep sky



toggle stars


s


s

toggle star labels


Alt s


Option s

toggle constellation lines


c


c

toggle constellation boundaries


b


b

toggle constellation labels


v


v

toggle constellation artwork


r


r

toggle asterism lines


Alt a


Option a

toggle asterism labels


Alt v


Option v

toggle ray helpers


Alt r


Option r

toggle DSO/nebula labels

n or d


n or d

nebula background images


i


i

toggle quasars


Ctrl Alt q


⌘ Option q

3, 5

toggle zodiacal light


Ctrl Shift z


⌘ Shift z

toggle Milky Way


m


m

toggle digital sky survey


Ctrl Alt d


⌘ Option d

6

exoplanet labels, indicators


Ctrl Alt e


⌘ Option e

5

show Sky and Viewing Options


F4


Fn F4






single constellation mode



remove previous constellations


w


w

7

show all constellations


Alt w


Option w

1






the sky - solar system



toggle planets and Moon


p


p

toggle planet and Moon labels


Alt p


Option p

toggle planet markers


Ctrl p


⌘ p

toggle planet orbits


o


o

toggle star-lore planet names


Ctrl Shift n


⌘ Shift n

toggle planet trails


Shift t


Shift t

toggle planet surface labels


Alt n


Option n

9

toggle meteor radiants


Ctrl Shift m


⌘ Shift m

toggle meteor radiant labels


Shift m


Shift m






controlling lines



toggle altitude/azimuth grid


z


z

toggle equatorial grid


e


e

toggle ecliptic line


, (comma)


,

toggle celestial equator


. (period)


.

toggle meridian line


;


;

toggle horizon line


h


h






changing image presentation



flip horizontally


Ctrl Shift h


⌘ Shift h

flip vertically


Ctrl Shift v


⌘ Shift v

equatorial or azimuthal mode


Ctrl m


⌘ m

look to east (or n, w, s)


Shift e


Shift e

look up to zenith


Shift z


Shift z

look to NCP


Alt Shift n


Option Shift n

look to SCP


Alt Shift s


Option Shift s






zooming



zoom in


PgUp or

Ctrl Up Arrow


Fn Up Arrow

zoom out


PgDn or

Ctrl Dn Arrow


Fn Down Arrow

zoom in or out slowly


Shift with keys


Shift with keys


quickly zoom in/out


mouse wheel


mouse wheel

zoom close to selected object


/ (slash)


/

zoom out fully


\ (backslash)


\

zoom very close to planet


/ twice


/ twice

set field of view (FOV) to 180°


Ctrl Alt 1


(none)


set FOV to 90°


Ctrl Alt 2


(none)

... through ...


...


...

set FOV to 2°


Ctrl Alt 8


(none)

set to 1°


Ctrl Alt 9


(none)

to ½°


Ctrl Alt 0


(none)






panning



quickly pan celestial sphere


left-drag


drag

pan right


Right Arrow


Right Arrow

pan left


Left Arrow


Left Arrow

pan up


Up Arrow


Up Arrow

pan down


Down Arrow


Down Arrow

pan a small amount


Shift Arrow-key 


Shift Arrow-key






controlling time flow



set date/time to now


8


8

set time rate to zero


7


7

increase time flow


l (lower case L)


l

decrease time flow


j


j

run time at normal rate


k


k

increase time flow a little


Shift l (that's L)


Shift l

decrease time flow a little


Shift j


Shift j

drag for time


Ctrl drag


Control drag

10

flip time direction


0 (zero)


0 (zero)

1






time with mouse wheel



increase/decrease by minutes


Ctrl



increase/decrease by hours


Ctrl Shift


⌘ Shift


increase/decrease by days


Ctrl Alt


⌘ Option


increase/decrease by years


Ctrl Alt Shift


(none)






controlling "regular" time



show date/time window


F5


Fn F5

forward 1 hour solar


Ctrl = (equal)


⌘ =

backward 1 hour


Ctrl - (hyphen)


⌘ -

forward 1 day solar


= (equal)


=

backward 1 day


- (hyphen)


-

forward 1 week solar


]


]

backward 1 week


[


[






controlling sidereal time



forward 1 day sidereal


Alt = (equal)


Option =

backward 1 day


Alt - (hyphen)


Option -

forward 1 year sidereal


Ctrl Alt Shift ]


⌘ Option Shift ]

backward 1 year


Ctrl Alt Shift [


⌘ Option Shift [






working with objects



select an object


left-click


click

centre on selected object


spacebar


spacebar

toggle tracking of object


t


t

deselect object


right-click or
Ctrl Spacebar


⌘-click or 
⌘ Spacebar

1

display search dialogue box


Ctrl f or F3


⌘ f or Fn F3

go, i.e. travel, to a planet


Ctrl g


⌘ g

toggle angular measurement


Ctrl a


⌘ a

5

copy object info to clipboard


Ctrl Shift c


⌘ Shift c

1

add custom marker


Shift click


Shift click

remove custom marker


Shift right-click


Control Shift click

remove all custom markers


Alt Shift right-click


Opt. Ctrl. Sh. click






working with satellites



5

configure artificial satellites


Alt z


Option z

toggle satellite display or "hints"


Ctrl z


⌘ z

toggle satellite labels


Alt Shift z


Alt Shift z






controlling the screen



toggle night (red light) mode


Ctrl n


⌘ n

toggle full-screen mode


F11


F11

8

toggle toolbars/menus, i.e. GUI


Ctrl t


⌘ t

save screenshot to disk


Ctrl s


⌘ s

toggle planet selection marker


Ctrl Shift p


⌘ Shift p


close a window/dialogue box


Esc


Esc






controlling the application



show configuration window


F2


Fn F2

show help/about window


F1


Fn F1

show script console window


F12


(none)

keyboard shortcuts window


F7


Fn F7

show Astro. Calc. window


F10


Fn F10

show Bookmarks window


Alt b


Option b

show Exoplanets config window


Alt e


Option e

5

show meteor settings window


Ctrl Alt Shift m


⌘ Option Shift m

5

show meteor search window


Ctrl Alt m


⌘ Option m

5

quit from Stellarium


Ctrl q


⌘ q


Notes:

  1. Recently added or changed shortcuts.
  2. On the Mac, the shortcut ⌘ h hides the app. This is an operating system shortcut.
  3. On the Mac, the shortcut ⌘ Shift q causes Stellarium to quit. 
  4. The operation of function keys on both Windows and Mac computers may require the use of a function or Fn key.
  5. Keyboard shortcuts associated with a plug-in. They may not function if the plug-in is not active.
  6. The digital sky survey layering feature refers to the display as a "hierarchical progressive" sky survey.
  7. The "remove" constellation shortcut applies when "single constellation mode" is active, as triggered in Configuration, Tools.
  8. The F11 does not work on iMac 21.5 and 2011 wireless keyboard.
  9. Referred to as surface "nomenclature" labels. This marks detailed surface features on planets, for example, Olympus Mons on Mars.
  10. On the Mac, only works when mouse is dragged horizontally. Only changes seconds.

Some shortcuts were omitted. Notably those for the oculars plug-in. And those to do with scripting.


Finally, of course, Mac documentation and keyboard labelling is inconsistent. We note the symbols below:


⌘ (cloverleaf) is the Command key,

      with the apple symbol on very old systems

⌃ (carat) is the Control key

⌥ is the Option (alt) or alternate key

⇧ (up arrow) is the Shift key

⇪ (up arrow with segments) indicates that the Caps Lock is used

fn or Fn is the Function key


Please report errors in the comments below...


§


See my "top" list for a very short collection of most frequently used, most helpful, techniques. Handy if heading into a presentation.

tried Stellarium 0.20.2

Downloaded and installed Stellarium 0.20.2, the latest version, 64-bit, to the Windows laptop.

255 MB. It's not a small app anymore.

I like the camera sensor option in oculars. In particular, I like that you can see the sky surrounding the rectangle. They still mask the sky when using an ocular proper. Never liked that. The icons in the toolbar were refreshed. More consistent with the rest of the interface controls.

Had to change the celestial object information. Sometimes there's enough rows so to fill the display vertically. That's too much. Quickly set to "short" which shows but two lines. I'll need to spend some time customising 'cause something in between is practical.

Searching is enhanced. I like the Lists tab.

Sounds like they updated the user manual. Wow.

read Rod's shocking findings

I read Unk Rod (Mollise's) blog post (in June batch) about the major problem he had with his new-ish SCT telescope. Thinking grease was coming off the central shaft, he opened it up. The strange colour and pattern on the inside of the OTA was in fact the paint coming off! Wow. And apparently other users are experiencing this. A surprising mistake, which it seems the manufacturer is not owning up to. The other bizarre thing he discovered is that the applied glue to the corrector plate complicating removal. I immediately thought conspiratorial thoughts... He hammered things out (do not take that literally) thank the Universe but it is just another disappointment from Celestron.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

finished FNGC gallery

Woo! I suddenly remembered I had an image to add to my Finest NGC gallery! After adjusting for image scale, I updated the online image gallery. With my new image of the open cluster NGC 6520, I have captured every item! Very satisfying to see every RASC Finest object there.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

broke 1600

My double star count passed 1600, including the objects seen and imaged last week. That's kinda wild. The doubles attempted count now is over 1720.