Friday, August 14, 2009

one more night (Blue Mountains)

Last night, Wednesday night, was a good night. Clear skies, not too hot, not too many bugs, Tony's big group from the Thornbury Library, lots of Galileo Moments, and then, later, when the visitors had gone home, snug in their beds, we counted Perseid meteors. A career high point for me.

Thursday morning, as some headed back to the city, those remaining considered the sky prospects. The Clear Sky Charts and regional weather reports were looking really good. It seemed a shame to travel back to Toronto when the evening sky promised so much.

I was not bookended. I could stay on one more night. Beyond that though, I was "on duty." Malcolm was heading out of town with the kids and I was his designated cat sitter. Speaking of cats, Nancy was running out of food too. I asked Ed what his plans were. He too did not have any immediate work commitments. Stu said he was going to stay on. I checked my email, I checked my voice-mail. No one needed me. I finally decided: one more night!

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I napped in the early evening. I thought I'd snooze on the living room couch. That's not a great idea. People coming and going. People clacking away at the Hercules computer. Oh well. I think I did occasionally sleep. Briefly. I was a bit disoriented when I finally rose.

I didn't have much of a plan going into the evening. I had noodled a little bit on it through the day. The big thing I considered was viewing some DSOs in the Scorpius and Sagittarius regions, before the Moon bleached everything. After that I could go back to some tricky double stars.

We talked about Geoff G's notes on Antares: we could assess its brightness. Stu was keen to observe the shadow transit and occultation of Io and Europa. We were all interested in re-examining Uranus and Neptune and their tantalising moons. At various points through the day I kept thinking it would be fun to try the Bushnell 4.5" Family "ball" telescope (it would be Tony who finally remembered it).

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[ed: Never finished updating these notes. They are presented here in their very raw form. Minor edits and formatting applied.]

Mercury. Saturn, no rings.

10:01 PM, Thursday, August 13, 2009. Just checked weather local. It's working! Hurrah.

wind speed 3.2
wind dir east
humidity 62
barometer 1019.5
temp 18.8
dew point 11.3

δ (delta) Cygni in Stuart's refractor. Very tight. Diffraction rings.

11:41 PM. Messier 70 (M70). Small bright glob. Quite small. Faint stars running across the Messier. Doesn't seem quite round. Hard to spot in the TV101 with 27mm. Obvious in C14 with 55mm. But averted vision.

12:05 AM, Friday, August 14, 2009. Neptune and Triton! 10mm is awesome. Very steady. Widely separated. Could see it in the 27. Neptune was pale blue; the moon was white.

12:50 AM. τ (tau) Oph. Very tight double. Almost equally bright. Same colour. Pale yellow white. 27mm - good view, very tight; 13mm - shimmering; 10mm - not good.

70 Oph. Bright stars. Main is light gold; companion is fainter and slightly darker colour. Stuart took a look. Very pretty in the 27mm.

1:10. Trev and Tony just left. Ed is turning in. They did a donut run earlier!

1:16. ρ (rho) Her. Nice double. 27mm. Same colour? White with hint of blue. Slightly different mag. I guessed 1 mag diff. Correct!

2:03. ρ Cap again. A is bright yellow white. Might be a double... Poss. a very tight companion at PA 190. B is orange star at PA 160. Its 4' (min) away. Blue star near B, PA 150 compared to A. Tried 5mm in TV, then 3mm. A is split! Very, very tight. Stuart came by. He's not sure that he can see it. We were both guessing at the PA.

2:25. I put the small portaball 'scope on the Moon and the Pleiades.

2:37. Split 72 Peg in brief moments of clear seeing. 13mm. Stars form oblong shape. Every once in a while I got a black line. Same colour, same brightness. Very tight.

78 Pegasi. Couldn't convincingly split. Were the conditions getting worse?

2:57. 12 Aqr. Returned to re-assess colour. Through C14, I thought pale yellow and dark yellow; through the TV101, yellow and white.

3:23. NGC 6910. Open cluster. About 40 to 50 stars. Most are faint small blue. 3 or 4 yellow stars in midst. Loose, open. An open V shape.

Jupiter's moons.

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