Tuesday, July 05, 2011

small objects (Blue Mountains)

9:50 PM, 4 July 2011. I was back in the Warm Room of the Geoff Brown Observatory. I was planning to use the Celestron 14" and Tele Vue 101mm telescopes again. Fired up SkyTools3 for help selecting targets. Once loaded, it displayed the Turn Left At Orion list for summer objects.
Instruments: Celestron 14-inch SCT, Tele Vue 101 refractor
Mount: Paramount ME
Method: Go To
I tried, once again, splitting tau Boötis. I went up to the 10mm eyepiece in the C14, to an insane 391 times. No luck. The seeing was quite bad at times.

10:11 PM. I had suggested that leaving my Celestron SP-C8 in the observatory would mean we could be closer. And, at the end of the evening, shutdown would be quick and easy. Kiron agreed.

He said he wanted to learn it properly, tonight. Groovy. All the more reason for being proximal.

I helped him set up my C8 in GBO. He suggested the south-east corner. A little crowded near the big 'scope but it would allow views of the northern sky.

Offered the battery tank for power but he declined.

I took a peek at the TLAO - spring list in the astronomy planning software. Hey. There were a few unfinished items here.

10:19. Viewed HD 112733 in Canes Venatici. Ooh, a faint double. Wide. I changed to use the lowest power eyepiece in the C14, the 55mm. They were still widely split. I thought the colours were orange and blue. Switched to 10mm in TV101, which yield 54x. Ha. And there's Cor Caroli! Nice. Just under half the field in the TV 'scope. Not noted in double stars for small telescopes.

10:31. Helped Kiron with Stellarium. We added the angular separation measurement tool and the compass marks. Once restarted, we measured distance between Cor Caroli and HD 112733: approx. 29 arc-minutes.

10:40. Viewed κ1 (kappa) Boo. Lovely! A tight double in TV101 at 10mm. The main and secondary stars are white or pale yellow. [It turns out that I had already viewed this but, for reason unknown to me, I had not noted it in ST3.]

Once again, I caught sight of something else in the field. A yellow-orange pair, wider. I looked again, more carefully. Changed my mind about the colours. The primary is cream and the partner is white. Ah ha! This pair is ι (iota) Boo. [Again, I've already viewed this.]

10:52. Martin came into the observatory. Remarked the bugs were bad. Indeed. He reported his Celestron hand controller was not working. What? Oh no. I asked what the issue was but I was a little confused by his response. I couldn't tell what sort of analyses he had done. Then he said, "It could be the batteries..." I said that we had lots of batteries. What kind did it take? I was thinking AAs or AAAs. After a moment, from his description, I realised he was talking about his 12 volt power packs. Oh. That's a bit of a bigger problem. He was a little frustrated. I was feeling frustrated for him. Having come all this way... Poor guy. Then he said, "Yeah, I had trouble with these batteries the last time." I'm kinda glad he could not see me raise my eyebrows in the dark. OK then.

To change the subject, I asked if he had a request for me and the C14. "Saturn!" he quickly replied. Coming right up!

10:58. We enjoyed views of the ringed planet. With the 27mm in the C14, I saw Dione faintly above. It would disappear in bad seeing though. Rhea and Titan were below. Iapetus was visible beyond Rhea. It was pretty low. We were punching through a lot of air.

I checked the local conditions on the Davis weather station:

temperature: 17.9°C
humidity: 60%
wind: 0 km/h
mozzies: bad

11:08. Kiron tagged Messier 51 (M51) and companion (NGC 5195) in my 'scope. Nice. He was viewing at low power, with the 36mm eyepiece. Wow. They are big objects!

It was funny timing, I realised. I had just been looking the TLAO spring list in ST3 and it includes 5195 and I was just blindly going to select it with the Paramount. I forgot that it was part of M51. OK, done then.

[I forgot to look for the supernova in my 'scope!]

11:15. I had kept the doors to the warm room closed for most of the night to help deal with the infuriating bugs. It made the room warmer than the ambient air but it was worth it!

I went to Alkalurops aka μ1 (mu) Boo aka 51. I viewed it in the TV with the 10mm. I observed a wide pair. The primary is pale yellow. The companion is quite dim. I found it hard to tell the colour. Was it white? Let's increase power...

Looked in the C14 with the 27mm. Ha ha. Forget the colour! It's the companion that is the double! I was expecting the primary to split... A cool triple star, at high power.

The primary looks whiter now; the companion B and C stars still look white.

I noticed that the position angle of BC is almost the same as A-BC, i.e. they are in-line. OK, maybe off by 10 degrees.

11:33. Hey, hey, except for the revisit to φ2 (phi) Cnc, the spring list is done! w00t!
[OK, there's a bit more.]

Tried tau Boo again. I think I could see the split... During fractions of seconds of steady seeing. Otherwise it was wobbling around.

I parked on Messier 13 (M13). It was nearly at zenith. It is pretty amazing in the C14. You can see individual stars.

I heard Kiron struggling with the finder scope and finding objects with my C8. Certainly it is a challenge with respect to the views. The Orion finder is corrected and the Celestron SCT is reversed. But, I explained, things get complicated when you have a mirror diagonal and you turn it at different angles.

That said, he acknowledged he was chasing some faint targets, down in the muck. Perhaps going for M65 and M66 was a bit futile. Using his Stellarium and the finder, I starhopped from Denebola, Chertan, and continued down. I found the target area pretty quickly. That might have done more damage though... I think it irked him that I could do it and he couldn't. I couldn't tell if he wanted me to explain what I was doing. I felt however that he wanted to master it himself. That he was personally frustrated.

11:51. While taking in the whole sky from the observing room floor, I looked to the north. It seemed to me that something was going in the north-west. Were there bands or streaks? I pointed it out to Kiron. It was hard to say. Were there bands of faint aurora? Or was it cloud? Whatever it was, it was not bright. Wishful thinking on my part? Averted imagination?

Back in the very warm room, I switched to the summer TLAO list.

11:57. Viewed Rasalgethi aka α (alpha) Herculis. Wow. Cool. I could split the pair in TV with the 10mm. At 54x, they were tight stars. At higher power, they were absolutely lovely, in C14. The primary is golden while the companion is yellow. I kept looking. Sometimes the secondary looked green. So did that mean it was blue? Haas says, "Perhaps the loveliest. A brilliant orange-red and a vivid bluish turquoise."

He was still acclimating. I helped Kiron relate to field in finder scope. But I pointed out Stellarium does not support field rotation. If looking at planets, that was a big deal. But with DSOs, not an issue. Advanced or reversing time, when not in equatorial mode, would let you rotate the whole sky! Tricky.

Martin left. Curious...

12:18 AM, 5 July 2011. I viewed Jabbah aka ν (nu) Scorpii. In the refractor with the 10mm, i.e. low power, I found a wide yellow and blue pair of equal brightness.

Kiron's frustration was increasing.

12:25 AM. I re-examined ν Sco. Now in the C14. Holy cow! I was reminded of η (eta) Lyrae. I saw a quadruple. The two stars each broke into two more stars. I saw that the tighter pairs are right angles. The yellow pair are very tight and and often I could not split them with the poor seeing. The blue pair is wider. But the companion is super faint, making it a challenge to see.

Haas describes this target as the "southerly 'double-double.'" Right on.

12:31. I view RR Sco aka HD152783. It was not very colourful, a pale orange. I thought the magnitude was similar to HR 6273, which is v6.3.

The warm room was getting hot. I was overdressed for it. But I didn't want to expose any skin to our touchy-feely bugs out on the floor. The floor fan offered some relief.

12:42. I viewed 36 Ophiuchi. Oh. Interesting. It appeared a very tight double in the TV. I loaded up the 27mm in the C14 and saw two identical bright yellow stars. I noted there are a couple of other bright stars nearby. Need a record of this, I thought...

12:58. Completed a sketch of 36 Oph.

Checked conditions again:
temp: 17.3
hum: 58
wind: 0
mozzies: easing off

[ed: Some additional remarks on the sketch. West should actually be a bit counter-clockwise or toward the 2 o'clock position. North is down near the date stamp. The A and B stars are the tantalisingly close pair up and right of centre. The somewhat bright star three away, to the north, inline, is 36 Oph D! SkyTools 3 Pro reports that this is a 5-star system. Astonishingly, the bright star at the 7 or 8 o'clock position, i.e. east, is the C companion! It's fantastically wide at 733 arc-seconds. The other member is P and it would be near D. My sketch shows some faint stars there but it is not clear if I saw this mag 14 point. I did not know, at the time, it was a multi-star system! So the wonderful thing here is that to my life list I can add to more doubles split!]

1:03. Viewed Messier 19 (M19), a glob. In the TV101 with a 10mm it was a compact small fuzzy. In the C14, I didn't think it looked round... Is that possible? There were three bright stars in background but not a lot of field stars.

1:20. Viewed Pluto. I think I saw it directly, beside the little L of three stars, TYC 06274-0375 1, TYC 06274-0922 1, and GSC 06274-0514.

My palmtop alarm went off. Time to get ready...

2:30. I experienced no joy on the Tampere occultation.

I discovered, during the setup, that I couldn't find video cable! The A/V cable to go from the kit to the Canon camcorder. Crap. It was probably back in Toronto! I could have sworn I brought it. For the future occultations, if I intend to capture them, I'll have to buy a cable... It wasn't practical to get one sent up. Or have Kiron pick it up.

I was frustrated. Even though I didn't expect a hit on Tampere...

3:05. Received an aurora alert email for the CAO location. Maybe we'd get lucky.

I needed to walk it off. I took a jelly bean break.

3:31. I spotted Vesta. It was super bright (it's mag 6 according to sources, so yeah). I found it next to HR 8222.

I remembered to take a SQM reading. After several readings, all around 21.00, I checked the air temp: 18 deg.

Davis says:
temp: 16.6
hum: 61

3:37. I was tired. My back was sore. I was done. Kiron was ready to quit as well.

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