Thursday, July 07, 2011

you're soaking in it (Blue Mountains)

8:23 PM, 6 July 2011. I made two attempts to view and record an ISS flyover. Upon Kiron's suggestion, I had put the MallinCam in the C14 telescope.

No joy. Both times the tracking seemed to be off. Way off. I could not even see the target in the Tele Vue, which we had configured for visual use. Should have been able to see something in the wide field!

8:49 PM. I put the big 'scope on the inner planet. Mercury was showing gibbous with the 18mm in the C14. I tried to spot naked eye without success.

9:36. I imaged Saturn through the C14 with the MallinCam. It took me a moment to find it, given that it was off-centre.

I struggled a bit with view in the video. It didn't seem right. But when I started playing with the vertical and horizontal flipping controls in the camera, it became obvious. The MallinCam Control software can be mis-leading... The software does not necessarily reflect the settings of the camera when it boots up. One should probably use the Read function, so to be sure.

It was damp already. Dew heaters would be needed tonight. I realised it was because of the rain last night. All that water was reappearing.

I checked the Davis weather station:

no wind
humidity: 88%
barometric pressure: 1011.6 mbar
temperature: 18.3°C
dew point: 16.3°C

I reminded Kiron to not leave eyepieces out in the open on a humid night.

10:07. We both spotted a moon in the direction of Titan but very close to the rings: was it Tethys or Dione?

I dug out the 20mm monster eyepiece. And was able to split Tethys AND Dione! Sweet!

10:27. I turned to ξ (xi) UMa. Yeah, finally split! Could see it was not round in the 55mm. Put in the 27mm and found it was cleanly split. Two equally bright stars. White-yellow colour. Equal colours, I thought. Tried the 18mm but it was wet! Moved it to the warm room to dry out. Went to the 10mm and say some some chromatic distortion but I still felt the stars were equal.

11:01. Viewed ξ Lup. A nice double. When I first put my eye to the ocular, I thought they were yellow and blue. But when I looked again, it did not seem so stark... And then, in the higher power 20mm (vs 55mm), I thought them the same! Kiron had a hard time with the colours too. They are very similar in brightness too...

11:06. Observed α (alpha) Lib. Oh, super wide! Even in the 55mm in the C14. Perhaps it is a bino target. I put the 10mm in the TV. The stars are yellow-white and white. The primary is super bright in the C14; the companion is much fainter. [For some reason, I did not have this as previously viewed in ST3.]

Sheesh. Everything's wet!

11:25. After a quick peek at The Black Eye and a popcorn run, I viewed 24 Com. Huh, thought I had viewed it before... Another nice wide double. There was colour definitely this time. And Kiron concurred. A yellow primary and a white-blue secondary.

11:34. Examined ρ (rho) Oph. Tight double! Equal stars. One was slightly brighter and also slightly whiter. Ah, 2 bright stars nearby. They must be related. And ST3 says so. I couldn't see any colour per se in the other stars. Of the tight pair, the primary is at the apex of the triangle.

I just had a thought... I wonder if we can we reprogram the button on the C14 control pad. So that it doesn't park... You know what would be cool? To turn off and on tracking, a toggle.

Damn. I breathed on the eyepiece. Totally fogged.

I fetched the 120 volt hair dryer from the west wall cabinet in the Warm Room.

11:43. Tried η (eta) Sco. Nope... Way too low. Just say a fuzzy glow.

11:48. The Moon was gone. Finally. The sky seemed good. But the humidity was... off the chart!

Viewed ψ (psi) Dra. Nice. A bright colourful wide double. Light gold stars. Slight differences in brightness. There were a couple of faint stars nearby. Dsiban. [Again, I had previously viewed this target but not noted it in ST3.]

The seeing was still off.

11:54. Checked the conditions.

wind very light 1.6 km
hum 98
baro 1013.2
temp 16.2
dew point 15.9

Look at that. There was dew on the windows! Never seen that before...

12:11 AM, 7 July 2011. I viewed STT525 or Σ525 aka HR 7140. The primary is yellow-white; the secondary is light blue. Hold the phone! There's a very faint companion very close to the primary. It looks to be orange or yellow. But again is very faint.

The dew was incredible...

12:35 AM. The Tele Vue objective was completed dewed over. Had a feeling. Used the dryer and put the cover on. This is the 'scope I wanted to use for the occultation... I decided to protect it now until needed.

Handed the dryer to Kiron. He worked on his binos.

Humidity was still 98%.

I've never seen so much dew here. It's like Mew Lake!

12:49. The eyepieces fogged in the time I was away checking my notes!

12:56. I viewed Vesta. Again, TS6 did not have the correct position. I used ST3 to find a nearby star. Then that star I used to move the Paramount. Once again I chose HR8222. Tonight, Vesta was close to GSC 06369-0922, a faint 11.7 mag star.

I was getting sleepy... And I had to stay up for 4 more hours!

I went and laid on the picnic table for a while. See? I should have brought my non bifocal glasses. That's it. They're going into the astronomy box α!

I saw a southbound meteor go through Cygnus.

I returned to the eyepiece to view Vesta again. I wondered if I could see motion. If so, it must be glacial.

1:21. Kiron just shook my hand. He had found, after 3 days of searching, M81 and M82, using my C8! Yeh! He was pretty happy.

I've moved the occultation kit and camcorder to the warm room to dry out!

I caught myself napjerking...

2:07. Back from break. Everything was soaked in the observatory. The side tables had a millimetre of water on them!

I had loaded up on hot chocolate. But I was still sleepy. I could feel myself falling asleep. OK. I get it... Go have a quick nap. I headed to my bedroom.

3:40. Back from my nap. It was so hard getting up... I readied for the occultation. I couldn't remember, at first, if the extension tube was required on the TV101. It was not. I should have that noted somewhere on a pre-flight, quick checklist, when trying for occultations with the GBO refractor.

4:48. No joy for the Burnhamia occultation. The target stars were invisible. It was due to a combination of low elevation, a brightening sky, and the heavy dew.

This, once again, reinforces that we need a dew heater for the TV101.

Kiron showed me a view of Jupiter through the C8. It was lovely. There was good detail on the clouds. There was no sign of the GRS. Well, it was not obvious. I checked ST3: it said the GRS was coming around. There were 4 moons visible tonight, 2 each side. Huh. Good seeing.

Kiron wondered why his Stellarium disagreed. I hit the 8 key: zap. As I suspected, the date/time was off in his software. Until too late, I didn't think to check what it was. Perhaps he hit ] or [ at some point in the dark.

Well, that was an interesting evening. Crushing dew, a scratch on the occultation, but a few more double stars for my collection. I was very happy that Kiron was figuring out the equatorial mount.

We closed up, emptied the dehumidifier, and powered it up! Good luck!

As we walked up to the house, we noticed water around the perimeter, like it had rained. It was the water collecting and running off the roof. That was a lot of dew!

5:04. The conditions were a little grim. I've never seen so much dew before.

no wind
humidity 97
baro 1014.1
temp 15.3
dew point 14.9
rain sensor reports 0.3mm!

Indeed. The rain sensor thought it was raining!

I crawled into bed. And wouldn't you know it. I couldn't fall asleep. I was wide awake! I felt totally out of sync.

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