Saturday, December 29, 2001

Shannon's refractor (Union)

Helped Mom's neighbour's daughter Shannon understand and better use her telescope (a smallish refractor with altazimuth mount). I think she enjoyed it. We observed the moon, Jupiter (plus 3 moons), and Saturn.

More than anything else, it proved to her that the telescope worked...

But it also showed that astronomy is not trivial. You need charts, some sense of math, some reasonable expectations, patience.


type: refractor
make: Meade
model: TeleStar DS-60 [Digital Electronic Telescope Series (DS)]
sighting finder scope: 5x24
viewing equipment: 1" shaft, three eyepieces

mount type: non-equatorial

technical info:
objective: 60mm
focal length: 700mm
focal ratio: f/11.7

3x barlow

Saturday, December 22, 2001

what is frost?

Read on the web about managing frost on the telescope.

It's dew, frozen. Of course!

So, once again, the Kendrick dew heater proves invaluable. This has got to be the most underrated accessory for amateur astronomers.


I recently purchased an additional, smaller dew heater (from Kendrick). So now I have the big one for the front of the SCT 'scope; and the small one for the eyepiece. The small one will also fit my camera lenses.

Friday, December 21, 2001

transits and constellation photos (Union)

Very clear night! No clouds at 7pm, as Orion rose, despite clouds during sunset. Some gentle clouds rolled in from the north at 10pm. First quarter moon, setting. Jupiter ablaze. Temp falling, around -4°C.

Had left telescope at Mom's (Union, Ontario), in living room. I moved it outside to chill.

Peeked at Mars, as it set. Mild colour.

Went straight to Jupiter. Decided to chase Red Spot. It was to transit at 8:32pm. I had a hard time seeing it. Tried filter. It helped. Did not try doubler. This represents the first time I've seen the Red Spot transit across the surface of Jupiter! A very cool 2 hour show.

Telescope frosted over!


Tried a constellation photo (my first attempt). Centred on Orion with Jupiter in Gemini.

Used Takumar 28mm lens on my Pentax SP II camera. Book (Splendors of the Universe by Dickinson and Newton) recommended aperture f2 or f2.8 but mine only goes up to f3.5. Book recommended 400ASA or higher. I have 400. I bracketed 8, 15, 20, 25, and 30 seconds. The 8 sec. shot was a fluke while using the pneumatic release—it prematurely lost pressure. Switched to cable release.

First quarter moon lit foreground trees. The orange colours of Jupiter and Betelgeuse are impressive.

This is a scan of an 8x10" colour print. I forgot which exposure time this photo is for but you can see the stars and Jupiter are trailing a little bit. I can see down to magnitude 6.1 stars in the physical print.


I practiced the proper pronounciations of star and constellation names.


Wikipedia link: Orion constellation.

sketched Jupiter (Union)

I sketched Jupiter. Noted the bands, some details. Also noted the position of the moons (Io, Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto, from left to right)...

The image is laterally inverted.

Saturday, November 17, 2001

meteor watch (Kleinburg)

Alan and I got up before the crack of dawn on the hunt for Leonids (during a New Moon). We went to the Kortright Centre of Conservation to get out of the city lights (the Boyd was a backup). There were scattered clouds with only small fragments of the sky showing. It was a little frustrating.

Alan was a little disappointed that I did not have my telescope. I had decided early in the year to leave it at my Mom's.

Saturday, September 01, 2001

current camera film

Reading some old magazines... In the September/October 2000 issue, SkyNews editor Terence Dickinson tested every colour film available (27 varieties) from Kodak, Fuji, Konica, and Agfa, plus house brands.

"Of these, two stood out as the best for night-sky shooting:Konica Centuria 800 and Kodak Supra 400. In exposures over 20 seconds, these films have the best colour balance and more quickly record the faintest stars. Unfortunately, these two films are not widely available. Your local one-hour photo store probably does not stock either of them. For that reason, SkyNews is now stocking them as a convenience to our readers. Konica Centuria 800 is $12 per roll of 24 exposures, and Kodak Supra 400 is $15 per roll of 36 exposures (taxes, handling and shipping included). Minimum order: 4 rolls (OK to mix the two types). Send payment by cheque or money order (payable to SkyNewsInc.) or include credit-card number (with expiry date) to: SkyNews, Box 29, Camden East, ON K0K 1J0. No phone orders please."

Monday, July 02, 2001

star trails (Kawarthas)

These represent my first attempt at star trails photos.

You might think these bad day-time shots. But look closely. You can see some circumpolar star trails, particular near the top-right of the frame.
  • location: Curve Lake, Selwyn, Ontario (*)
  • equipment: Pentax SP II with a Takumar 28mm lens
  • filter: Skylight (1B)
  • exposure: f3.5 at 1 hour
  • film: Fuji Superia 400
Still, I goofed! I forgot that the Moon, full, was up during the time lapse! So it flooded the scene with reflected sunlight!

Lessons learned:
  • focus on infinity
  • only attempt this when there's a New Moon
I look forward to another attempt!

It was good to finally get up to Dace's cottage with the gang and with my telescope. We enjoyed viewing Mars on the Saturday night.


Dace sent me an email about the location, as incorrectly noted above (*).
"It's not Curve Lake;  but Chemong Lake."
Thanks for the correction!

Saturday, June 30, 2001

Mars viewing (Kawarthas)

Checked out Mars with my telescope from about 10:00pm for an hour.

Was at Dace's cottage. Scott, Elviga, Miranda, and Guntars were there.

The cottage property has excellent north and north-west exposure. The tree line to south is fairly high.

Thursday, May 24, 2001

get stuff from Grace

I had loaned a number of astronomy books to Grace some time back. I got them back. I think I retrieved all of them. But this is the last time I remember seeing my Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Observer's Handbooks...

Tuesday, February 13, 2001

binos screwy

Frustrated with my Bushnell Ensign binoculars. Sure, they're cheap. But I feel like I'm going cross-eyed using them. I'm getting double images. I need to research if I can align them.