Thursday, August 30, 2007

Jupiter and Vesta (Toronto)

Suddenly felt compelled to get outside and try to catch Jupiter and Vesta together. It was about 7:30PM and I had just finished dinner. It would also be a chance to try the motor and controller "in the field."

Loaded up the wagon and trundled across the street. Set the telescope up in the tennis court of the high school. From there I knew I would have a good sight line to the south.

The Galilean moons were in a nice configuration at 8:20PM. I sketched their positions. I fired up Procyon to confirm names but misread the screen, flipping Io and Ganymede. (Got it straightened out after reviewing Cartes du Ciel and Stellarium.)

The air was not super steady but I could still see numerous cloud bands on the Jovian world. I did a zoomed-in sketch...

Some young basketball players dropped by after their game, curious. They had tons of questions. I gather "Sick!" means they enjoyed the views. My token edutainment for the evening. Not strictly "sidewalk astronomy" but rather "tennis court astronomy!"

At 8:50PM (57% humidity, 19.5°C), I noticed Callisto through the finder scope. I could see a bright point for Io and Ganymede but could not split them. I could not discern Europa over the glare of the planet.

Also in the finder scope, I saw a very bright star in-line with Jupiter and the moons. It looked like a blue-white star through the main 'scope. Is this ω (omega) Ophiuchus again?

The weird thing is that I did not notice any other bright points very near Jupiter... I wondered what Vesta's magnitude was now... (From Sky and Telescope: "At magnitude 7.2, Vesta is significantly dimmer than Jupiter's moons.")

At 8:55PM (58%, 20.1°), I did a large-scale sketch of a Jupiter, the moons, and a nearby bright point. It is approximately the same magnitude as, maybe slightly less than, G or E.

Also did the transparency magnitude test: I could see δ (delta) and ε (epsilon) Ursa Minor with averted vision.

(Later reviewed Vesta's position compared to Jupiter and its moons with Cartes du Ciel. The Cartes image is mirror-reversed to match the 'scope. It is also rotated slightly.)

I was getting a little chilled with the occasional light gusts. So I zipped back to the house for a sweater. Grabbed a cola, wishing I had some beer in the fridge.

Tried for some Messiers but everything was washed out.


At 9:55PM (66%, 17.6°), I switched to double-stars.

57 Aquila is a nice pair, off the beaten track. They are almost equal in magnitude. The brighter one is pale lilac (I may have been biased but that was a strong impression when I defocused); the other is pale yellow.

16 Cygnus is a wide pair. The equally bright stars are about 1/3rd of the field apart (at 77x).

It was 10:25PM (70%, 16.3°). I went for ο (omicron) Cygnus. Wow! The central star is bright. It is yellow fringed with orange. There is a pale blue star nearby. Another more distant star (30?) is white, brighter than the blue, but lower in magnitude than the yellow. There are many other faint stars in the field. Neat. A very interesting combination of stars. (This is the first combination star pattern I've not found listed in Haas's book...)

61 Cygnus is a close pair. I think the colours are yellow and pale green? They are almost equal brightness. Again, there are lots of faint stars. Any advantage of double stars within a dense part of the Milky Way, I gather.

What the hell? There's the Moon. At 10:37 (71%, 16.6°) it has cleared the trees.

Ha ha. I had confused myself earlier thinking it was near a new Moon. Even when I saw a bright object through the trees, I had discounted it (as a street light).

That was a surprisingly good night.


I think I have discovered a scratch in the left lens of my eyeglasses. Smack dab in the centre!


The motor drive, via the new DC adapter, off the portable car battery, worked great! And the wagon / garden cart worked great—it made this whole event easy, doable. Hmmm. Maybe next time, I'll hit the sports field at the other end of the school...

1 comment:

Tayoob said...

Hi Blake,
maybe...just maybe, a motorised waggon with a remote control to carry your telescope stuff....hmmmmmm. :))