Sunday, October 18, 2009

Iridium, Triton, and a Snowball (Richmond Hill)

Paul arranged for a RASC members star party at the DDO. A "wrap party" as it were, after the last public event (planned so far anyway) for the year.

A small group assembled under stunningly clear skies. Some brave souls set up on the lawn. The temperature was going to drop to zero! Brenda tried some CCD imaging. Guy and Scott compared iOptron notes. I stole views of Jupiter, Neptune, Albireo. Van had his refractor. Steve, new guy, was there with his C8. Chris, another new guy, was present. We talked dew and batteries.

Scott spotted a dark shape on Jupiter, near the equator. He wondered if it was a shadow transit. We asked Paul to put the big gun on it...

There was definitely a dark mark. But it was large and oval shaped. Not a shadow. Close the GRS. And it was following the GRS. Very strange. A random feature? Or another collision site?

After these stunning, colourful views of Jupiter at 300x, Paul asked for a target. I suggested Neptune, in hopes of spotting Triton. He liked the idea. He coaxed the old girl over. The disk of the planet was large; the colour pale blue. Pshaw! Easy spotting the large moon! Although Sue needed some convincing. There was no doubt at 600x.

Discussed eyepiece cleaning with Gilles. I recommended first getting isopropanol...

Later, we viewed the Blue Snowball planetary nebula (NGC 7662 or Caldwell 22). Absolutely incredible. You could see structure! And the central star! Wow. Like a photo. Ah, the advantages of a largish light bucket.

Earlier, at 8:25, we watched an Iridium flare. My first sighting! It was a good one.

Phil picked me up from the Sheppard subway at Fairview Mall; Ralph dropped me off. That helped me out a lot.

It was a fun evening.

I felt mildly guilty for not being able to help out more this season. Well, at least on the lawn. Paul is very pleased with the laptop I prepared for the DDO. That it has Office 2007 installed. In fact, it was a lifesaver last night as the presenter's laptop didn't work with our projector...

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