Monday, June 18, 2007

second COS (Toronto)

Attended my second City Observing Session (COS) as organised by the RASC Toronto Centre.

location: Bayview Village Park
humidity: 69% at 10:36pm; 71% at 11:02pm
temperature: 18.7°C at 10:36pm; 18.3°C at 11:02pm

I considered not bringing my gear, just helping. Felt tired I guess. But I did in the end pack my catadioptric telescope.

Arrived around 9:00pm. David Z was already there. In fact, he was helping Heather and Russell, rookies, with their first telescope. Heather explained it was an item won at a silent auction. They got the small refractor, altazimuth tripod, and accessories for a smokin' good deal. I looked through it later on the Moon with the 25mm eyepiece and it was wonderful, very crisp and clear, a strong visual sense of an orb floating in space.

Later I re-aligned the small finder scope to help them bull's-eye targets. And then, into the den of the lions I threw them—I made them try it! I noticed them observing Jupiter and three of its moons a short time afterwards. They were pleased with the view. Crisp and clear again.

I was setting it up slowly when a young inquisitive couple wandered through the park. I explained who we were and why we were here. I asked, "Would you like to look at the Moon?" They were very interested.

We also viewed Venus. It was pleasing in the low contrast and at 110 power was very clear. It looked just under half illumination.

We were all waiting for Jupiter to come out. At one point, I noticed a few people facing south. There it was! The largest planet was quite high, 15° or so up. When I viewed it, I was pleased to see Io was still visible. I had remembered on this occasion to print charts for Saturn and Jupiter from Cartes du Ciel before leaving home. I had noticed initially in the software that Io was just moving behind the planet but I backed up the configuration about 1 hour before printing. We watched it through the evening, Io creeping closer and closer, until we lost the dark division, and it became a small bright bump on the disc of Jupiter. I lost sight of Io in the glare of the planet at approx. 10:30pm. One person with a 4" or 6" reflector running at 140x was able to see it the longest. But finally it disappeared.

After another group of young people arrived, and after viewing the Moon and Venus, I trained on Saturn. It was rather murky, I could not see any moons, but still it was fun. They were impressed.

It was rather soupy as the evening wore on. I could not see Regulus. Tried later, in vain, to locate Albireo. I could not split the Lyra double-double. Star hopping was impossible. I gave up trying to find any Messier objects. That was a little disappointing.

Still, we enjoyed a spectacular, long, overhead fly-by of the International Space Station. The 10:14pm pass was particularly bright, in part, because of the docked space shuttle Atlantis.

Gave David Z a ride home.


Here's Anthony's summary:
  • We had about 5 'scopes setup and they were setup quite early.
  • The usual suspects:
    Guy, Tim, Anthony, Blake, David, and Ken.
  • A few newbie's:
    Heather, Russell, Adolpho, Carina, and I know I'm missing a few others.
  • Early in the night, we had a group of 5 walk by and they were quite interested in seeing the 3 planets that were being showcased and of course the moon.
  • Guy and myself attempted to setup/align a Celestron Nexstar using a 1 star and 2 star align method to no avail. A no brainer would have been the 3 star alignment. Maybe next time.
  • Jupiter to my eye seemed hazy at best, however others had varying opinions.
  • We watched the ISS pass by at 10:14, however we did miss the iridium flare just before that.
  • A combination of bad transparency and light pollution made things a little difficult for us.
  • Overall another successful night at Bayview Village Park...
Guy's remarks:

Twelve people, six 'scopes, a few binocs, three planets, one crescent Moon and one fantastic ISS passage! That all adds up to one very good City Observing Session. A good time was had by all, despite the hazy sky. Seeing was very good, though. Dave Z had no trouble splitting the Double-Double at 160x with his 76mm (?) Tele Vue thingee. Still, the "star" of the show was the ISS/Shuttle combo. Those new solar panels are really bright! As for the Iridium flare, we were all so wrapped up in our pursuits that the time came and went and no one noticed. A big thanks to Anthony P who kept a clock on the ISS passage. Without him, we would have missed that, too.

Carpe noctem!

No comments: