Tuesday, July 01, 2008

couple of Scorpio finds (Blue Mountains)

From the observing pad of the CAO, amidst the fireflies, I found a couple of new objects.
Intrument: Celestron 8-inch SCT
Mount: Vixen Super Polaris
Method: star hopping
Katrina spoke highly of Messier 4 (M4) so I tracked it down. A lovely little globular cluster. Tiny blue stars, a few bright white ones. Somewhat of an irregular shape.

Katrina also spoke of a triple star "in the neighbourhood." I tried a few subjects but it was not what she was thinking of. I checked the Sissy Haas's book. At one point we viewed β (beta) Scorpius which was a pretty gold-blue double. And at some point we viewed a very attractive double, light gold and pale blue-white. But now I don't know which star this was; I did not make notes for some reason. Oh well... I'll have to find it again!


Earlier in the evening, as I walked toward the telescope, I spotted Jupiter rising over the horizon. By the time I reached the pad, it was behind distant clouds. So I took a look at Saturn. It was murky, yellowed, through the low elevation. The rings are getting thinner. Bright field star far to the right (mirror-reversed), and above; a bright moon or two here and there.

It was good to see Jupiter again. All four moons greeted us. Richard, from the London Centre, knew the order of the moons from innermost orbit to outer: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and then Callisto. I tried reading the Observer's Handbook for the moon positions, accommodating for Universal Time, but I flubbed it. Three moons to the left (Callisto furthest out, then Io, and finally Europa) and one to the right (Ganymede, mirror-reversed). I could see the north and south dark bands.

Looked briefly at Albireo. Wow. Good to see it again! Bull's eyed ε (epsilon) Lyra. The 'scope would settle between gusts of wind but it was often out of synch with the seeing. DOH!

All this between 10 and 11 PM...

As Katrina and I faced Scorpius, an incredibly bright flash caught our eyes. It was a satellite. At first I thought it was an Iridium given the tremendous brightness, but it was not an isolated flash; it kept moving. The flash started about 5° north of Scorpius and Sagittarius and continued through The Keystone. I'm no good at magnitude estimates but, briefly, it was brighter than anything in the sky. And then some. So, -5? I still don't know what this object was.

At the same time, we spotted another satellite, going the other way. No, actually, it was coming slightly from the west and travelling to SSE. It went through Ophiuchus. It did not flash. It was a bit fainter. Possibly this second one was the Cosmos 1076 Rocket.

Then, at 11:02 (humidity 48%, temperature 16.9°C), a bright, long meteor, emanating from Lyra, went through. It left a brief but long orange train. "It's gonna be a busy night," I said.

After starhopping from Dubhe, I used the baader eyepiece to view M81 and M82. They fit beautifully in the field. Very, very nice.

Richard wanted a closer look. So I went up to 110 power. The cool thing was that I used the 56x eyepiece as the "finder" for each galaxy. I could see mottling in M82.

The skies late in the evening were quite good. It was really good to see the Milky Way again.

My (new) allergies were really acting up and it was upsetting me. Around 12:30, I finally called it quits, crudely packed up, and took a last look from the observatory.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Blake,

I think the triple star was actually Rho Ophiuchus.