Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Messiers, double stars, asteroids, and a comet (Blue Mountains)

We were all feeling a little cheated. Getting clouded out last night left a bad taste in our mouth. Tonight was looking good... One more kick at the can.
naked eye; 
Celestron 14-inch SCT and Tele Vue 101 refractor
on Paramount ME by Go To
8:48 PM, 1 Aug 2011. Spotted the Moon with Kiron's help. It was 2.3 days old. About 7 or 8 degrees up. Pretty.

9:40PM. I played with the MallinCam Hyper Color a little. Tried the 4x power mate (once again) in the Tele Vue 100mm 'scope. Could not see any image. Tried it with and without the extension tube. Tried the extension tube in front and behind the 4x. Every permutation I could think of. Tried the MallinCam in the Celestron 14-inc. I used the extension tube and hung the camera out about 1/4 of an inch, like in the TV, and it worked! Viewed Saturn. It was big! But a little soft. Probably would come out well with some stacking. I put the MCHC back on TV.

For all images: north is top-right; east is bottom-right.

I thought the seeing bad...

9:51. Hey... Just did a video recording of Cor Caroli in Canes Venatici! ALC 1/120; AGC on, max 3; WB ATW; zoom 8; gamma 0.45; h-rev off, v-rev on. Maybe I can put this double star through Ed's program, BinStar!

9:55. Just went to ξ (xi) Ursae Majoris. Darn. The MallinCam cannot split it.

Could have used my 2x Ultima... Damn it. Don't forget your eyepieces!

10:13. Recorded κ (kappa) Herculis. ALC 1/100; AGC on, max 7; WB ATW; zoom 8; gamma 0.45; h-rev off, v-rev on.

10:38. Eyeballed M63, aka the Sunflower galaxy, aka NGC 5055 in CVn. I had been viewing it on the MallinCam, in Hyper mode, 14x, and trying to figure out the orientation and flipping... But I realised after a while, it's probably sitting there in the eyepiece! Duh. Messier 63 looks like a canted spiral.

A wave of fatigue hit. Hopefully I'll last. I really should have taken a nap today after the very early start...

There are two bright field stars nearby. HD 115270 is shown by ST3 to be in front of the galaxy; and TYC 03024-1166. I can see the double star below.

I wonder where it got its name, the Sunflower. It's not black in the middle...

10:47. I heard the call of the coyotes!

Kiron took a look at the faint fuzzy.

10:51. Tried to see the little galaxy beside TYC 03024-1166 1 without success. But then PGC 46093 is quite faint.

11:02. Slewed to Messier 108 (M108). Wow. Faint. A nearly edge on galaxy. Bright centre. I noticed the little peppering of faint (mag 13-ish) stars to the north. I invited Kiron to have a look. He had already viewed the object but wanted to look again.

He was on M109. Funny. That's where I was going next.

11:10. Just viewed Messier 109 in my C8 and the RASC's C14. Very similar views with the 14" being slightly better. It is an oblong shape. I asked Kiron if it was an edge-on galaxy. He showed me the view in Stellarium. Yes, it is canted. But not as much as 108.

11:18. Back from kitchen. Had a chocolate and grabbed some water. The skies look good but I noticed Arcturus shimmering wildly.

Lots of light pollution from Collingwood.

11:29. Helped Millie again.

Dietmar popped in. He was imaging.

11:41. Still trying to get the MCHC to make DSOs pop!

Recorded M102 (excuse me, Messier 101 or M101). And took some darks. Sense Up 128x; ALC off; AGC manual, 8; WB manual, off, red 6, blue 6; zoom off; gamma 1; h-rev off, v-rev on.

11:46. Viewed Messier 102 visually. Hints of arms and structure.


Decided to visit Phil in his pod. I startled him.

Saw a bright Aquarid.

12:15 AM, 2 Aug 2011. Viewed asteroid Pallas.

12:19 AM. Got a floor fan from house.

12:25. Did a plot in ST3. Noted that Pallas was moving to the south near Sagitta. Confirmed location. Pallas formed a triangle with mag 9 and 10 stars, HD 354081 and HD 354082, both to the north.

You may roll or hover over the image below to see markers indicating Pallas...

A busy part of the sky! Busy galaxy...

12:56. Couldn't find my hot chocolate!

Back from a break. Grabbed a Coke.

Took SQM readings, three of 'em. Centred around 21.0. It reported a temp of 20. Checked the Davis weather station:

wind 3.2
hum 71
baro 10103
temp 19.2
dew point 13.8

1:01. Viewed 61 Cygni. Nice! Two bright equal stars. Both share a yellow colour with a hint of orange. Perhaps the companion is white? Both are the about the same brightness. Only 11 ly away! aka Bessel's Star or Piazzi's Flying Star. It is a binary star system.

[Had previously viewed this. More than once, I think. Not sure why it was not noted in ST3. Was I hunting for a double to image/measure?]

1:10. Worked on MallinCam settings to improve the double star image.

1:18. Looked at Cap some more, naked eye, hunting, scanning, searching... No Vesta...

Returned to the TV101. Snapped image of 61.

[ed: I find it a little... eerie... how similar the view in SkyTools3 is to this photo. The A star is above (to the north); the B star is below. The direction east is to the right in this image. The field above it approx. 35' by 25'. Ooh. Learned that this star shows a lot of proper motion...]

1:20. Slewed to Garradd. C/2009 P1 was in the eyepiece! That means I was successfully in updating TS6.

Went to the pad. Phil was there. He had packed up.

Saw a bright long Perseid. It was a beauty!

Millie got the comet at 76x in her 8" RC.

I saw Vesta naked eye with averted vision. At last.

1:44. Tried to get comet and Messier 15 (M15) in same field but it was not possible with MCHC without a focal reducer.

I have tiled the two images below...

1:55. I'm done, I thought. Couldn't type. Couldn't concentrate. Couldn't see properly.

Returned the fan to the house. Shut down the Paramount and the Dell. Capped the telescopes. Quickly tidied the warm room.

2:06. Saw a short fast Perseid.

Saw Vesta naked eye again, from the porch—yes, definitely there. Well, at least I got something done.

2:09. In bed.


I need to check my old notes on M61 as to why I was calling it the Sunflower.


Forgot to bring the videos and snapshots home. I made two recordings of double stars drifting in the field. Wanted to see if I could do measurements with them. Darn! I'll need to analyse them later. If they work, it might breathe some fresh air into double star efforts for me.


Wikipedia links: Pallas, 61 Cygni, Messier 13, and comet.

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