Saturday, December 10, 2011

ISS crossing the Moon (Humber Bay)

Everyone had arrived, including Jim, Scott, Kiron, Sharmin, Bill, and Steve. A great turnout! It got quiet as everyone went about their business with about an hour to go. I began to follow my script.

Set up the small TV table. Started the voice recorder at 3:18 AM. Fired up the Global Position Sensor. Started to set up the tripod and mount.

The GPS got a fix on the location at 3:20. I finished putting the mount on the tripod.

3:21 AM. As I was trying to attach the control knobs, one of the grub screws came all the way out. I could not get it back in, by hand; I had to use the screwdriver.

3:25. Set up the tripod stool.

3:26. Found my illuminated pen frozen; switched to the Fischer Space Pen to make notes. Put the Oregon Scientific weather station out to acclimate. Already the GPS was protesting in the cold.

3:28. Sharmin asked if I had scissors, so to open her heat pack wraps; we used my switch blade knife.

3:30. Installed the finder and checked the alignment; it was fine. Started polar alignment. Tried restarting the GPS. It worked quickly this time, getting the latitude and longitude. 43° 37' 20" by 79° 28' 35". I put it into elevation mode.

Denis asked about the event time. I thought it was 3:51 and around 52 seconds. Steve said he had checked in Stellarium and it said 3:52:00. Kiron asked if the ISS was going to go through the Pleiades. Told him I hadn't looked.

3:33. I noted my GPS reported 98 metres for the elevation. Denis said he was getting 79 and change from the Kiwi.

3:36. Tried hooking up the inverter to one of the batteries but it was wobbly. Connected to the other and it was fine.

3:38. I roused the computer out of hibernation.

3:39. Saw the Moon in the SKYnyx view but then I lost it.

3:41. I finally reached focus, after removing the mirror diagonal and racking the focuser out quite far.

3:43. Asked Tony to help me while I rotated the camera. We put Crisium near the top of the field. Next was to test recording. Someone said it was 10 minutes to go. Had trouble getting it to record, if I had the Preview window open in LuCam. But then the exposure was way off. AmCap seemed to be using different settings them than LuCam.

3:49. Finally had everything going, recording OK, exposure OK. With about 2 minutes ago.

3:50. 1 minute to predicted time.

That was a long minute...

And I briefly thought, What if nothing happens? There's gonna be a dozen people very mad at me for getting them out of bed...

3:51. There it was! The crowd went wild! I couldn't believe it. I almost missed it myself. I think I was just blinking or turning away and I saw something whisk by, out of the corner of my eye. It was more everyone yelling and hooting that I knew we had nailed it. It was like a sporting event and our team had won. The reaction by everyone was amazing.

3:53. People started reviewing video.

3:55. I found it on my video, at the 2:48 position. Steve liked it. "Oh, you got lots of frames." I was glad I had run the system at 60 fps.

3:57. We prepared for group photo.

4:01. Tony's first group photo was no good.

4:03. Tony's second group photo worked. So we could start the break down.

My GPS started failing.

4:04. Trevor offered to help tear down. Then Kiron. Then Tony.

4:08. I checked the conditions with the Oregon portable station: 59%, -5.1°C. Forgot to check the air pressure trend.

Location details captured at the end, via the GPS, before the batteries died: 43° 37' 20" by 79° 28' 35". Unchanged from the earlier reading.

4:09. Scott posited going for a "night cap." Mmm, breakfast!

Butane hand warmer worked great!

Used the found Energizer found bike light.

While other complained about the cold, I was very warm. Once again, the Baffin boots were awesome.

Discovered the recorder was still in DST mode... And a few minutes fast.

What a great experience.

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