Thursday, February 09, 2012

Venus and Uranus (Toronto)

5:09 PM. It was Thursday night. A week after the City Observing Session window. Maia sent a note to the RASC Toronto Centre Yahoo!Group...
I will be going to Bayview tonight, for a 7-8:30pm observing with a few students. We will try to get a glimpse of Uranus, today is our chance! Anyone interested in joining us?
"Our chance?" Huh? That was a curious remark...

About an hour later it hit me. I checked my online astronomy events calendar. Right! Venus was very near Uranus! Okie dokey. Let's have a look once the skies darken.

7:03 PM. I viewed the pairing in my cheapo binoculars, the Bushnell Ensigns, on the tall tripod. Uranus was tiny! At 7x, it was easy to overlook. But, clearly, there. Nice.

I wanted some more power. But I was not feeling very energetic. No time to set up a large telescope. So I viewed in them in the cheapo reflector, the Celestron First Scope. Not bad. Not great either...

7:15. Tried the Tele Vue Nagler 9mm eyepiece in the tiny reflector. Funny. The eyepiece costs two or three times what the 'scope did.

The view was wobbly. Some colour. Some flaring. It was hard to focus. It was like the collimation was crazy. I think it is that this little 'scope has a very small sweet spot... Is that a characteristic of a spherical mirror? I'm assuming this has that kind of mirror.

Still, the large size, once centred, was pleasing. Uranus was aquamarine.

It was great seeing these Venus and Uranus together. Official planets... inner and outer ones. The second planet was 1 astronomical unit away versus 21 AU for the last! Fun.

It was a little chilly.

Funny. Now that I was outside, with sweater and toque, nothing the clear skies, I wanted to do more.

7:25. I swung over to Messier 42. The small mirror showed hints of the nebula.

Orientation was different. Threw me off a little. Different than the 8" SCT.

θ-2 (theta) caught my eye. Some bright stars above. [I didn't realise until later, that was the Trapezium.] I also spotted ι (iota), and the small cluster to the right (NGC 1980).

7:28. Viewed Jupiter. Three moons, to the west; one to the east. Seemed the west-most moon was the brightest. [Turned out that was Ganymede at magnitude 5.0.]


Noticed something strange in SkyTools, or rather my configuration, for the Celestron FirstScope. The 20mm eyepiece seems to be presenting the field wrong, at the wrong power. I would need to look into that...


Discovered in my life list for solar system objects, I did not have Uranus checked for binoculars. Curious. Until last fall at Mew Lake, I guess I had only viewed the distant planet in a telescope.

No comments: