Sunday, April 08, 2012

more winter doubles (Blue Mountains)

8:20 PM, 7 Apr 2012. Viewed Venus in the Celestron 14-inch SCT at 391 power. It was very bright. I put in a polariser PL filter. Very nice shape. Half-lit. Wow.

On a whim, I bumped the power. Put in the 5mm. Yes. 782 power! Unbelievable. The view held up!

I wondered if we might see details or features on the cloud deck of the second planet. Aside from polarisers and solar filters, there was nothing in the RASC eyepiece cabinet. I asked Millie. She had a filter kit!

So we tried a variety of filters. The blue 80A, the deep red, the light red. No luck. Went back to the blue. Dropped power to 10mm. Hints of detail? Were the clouds uniform? Or was there some variance? It was very hard to tell.

It was about 35° up. We were looking through 1.8 air masses.

Went to Jupiter. Not a pleasing view. But then, it was lower. 15°. 4 air masses. I could not see the shadow of Io...

8:57 PM. Viewed Venus in Millie's RC. It showed a similar view.

I could see the glare from the vanes. See? That bugs me. The refractor people say central obstructions or suspended mirrors cause problems. I agree with them on spider vanes.

Went to γ (gamma) Leporis. Another target from the Sky and Telescope winter list.

Huh. The C14 was off target! I had to centre in the TV101.

Viewed the double star in the 27mm. Bright primary, yellow. Secondary 1 to 2 mags fainter, orange. Widely separated. (ST3 says the magnitude delta is 2.8.)

9:01. Went to 42 Orionis. Also on the S&T list, sort of. They list 45 as a companion to 42. But these stars are not related, per se. They'd be pleasing together at very low power, mind you. A target for binoculars perhaps. Meanwhile, Skytools 3 showed 42 itself was a double star. So, I thought I'd try splitting it.

42 is right in the middle of NGC 1977. Noticed some wisps of nebulosity in the area. 1977 is classed as both an open cluster and diffuse nebula. Noticed a double star to the north (in the centre of the diffuse nebula NGC 1975): Σ746A (Struve, STF). I could not split 42 Ori. I switched to the 10mm. Seeing was now worse.

Looked at 45 Ori. Again, not far from 42. They were similar in brightness. I guess I can now mark these are complete on the S&T list...

And, again, ST3 shows there's more to this. 45 is a triple. I could see the C star. But not B. Kept trying.

9:16. With averted vision I spotted B and C with 45 Ori. Wow. Those are 14.3 mag stars, according to the data in ST3, in the Object Information box.

Turned on the double star companion labels feature in ST3, at some point.

Still nothing with 42.

Returned to Σ746: spotted C with averted. Very faint. A and B seemed to be the same brightness...

Viewed M42, the great nebula. With Millie's 'scope and special filter, a UHC. Wow! Nebula was huge and bright! Stunning view.

9:25. Showed Millie the Winter Albireo. aka HR 2764. Lovely in the 27mm. C14 off target again!

9:28. Next up was 22 Ori. Also on the S&T list. Slewed. Saw a bright star to the north-east. Turned out that it was 22! Again, the mount was off a little. The bright star in the small perfect triangle with two faint start was HR 1764! OK. I had my bearings.

I had spotted the B and C companions to HR 1764 immediately. Thought the C star was a little brighter than B. ST3 supported this. B = 11.3 and C = 10.8. But B was easy to see averted. I had been using the 27mm. The B star I thought in-line with lower, distant bright star, 22.

Huh. I clued into the S&T listing. I wondered if Sky and Telescope was referring to 22 and HR 1764 as the "pair." Yes, these would be another good low-power target. If so, they're equal in brightness and colour. It was SkyTools that was making me go deeper. And it seemed the 22 proper was a (suspected) variable. No companions.

9:38. Wow. Viewed η (eta) Ori. A super tight pair. Equal colour. Star to the east was fainter. Maybe 1 to 2 mags. On the S&T winter doubles list, the AB pair. Spotted! (Yep. ST3 says the mag diff is 1.5.)

ST3 showed another star. I could easily see the C star to the north east. Other fainter stars in the field.

It was quiet. Heard Dietmar in his squeaky pants walking to his pod!

It had been wonderful with out the Moon, so far. Hopefully an indicator of the coming summer. I miss it here.

I hate the Moon.

I enjoyed seeing Venus above the Pleiades. Truly naked eye. That is, I didn't have my eyeglasses with me.

The "Moon" button... in the Context viewer. In SkyTools. The "simulate" button. Stumbled across or noticed it tonight. Turned it off! Yes! Why the hell didn't I notice it the last 2 nights?! It made the on-screen displays work as I expected.

9:46. Ha. Viewed η Pup aka Howe 19 and HR 2910. A cool double star. Car headlights. Wide split in the 27mm. Nearly exact same brightness. Same colour. Light yellow. Another one (from the S&T list) bites the dust.

9:52. 32 Ori. Super tight. Blue white stars. Companion was to the north east. I estimated about 1 mag different (ST3 says 1.6). Tried the 10mm but the view was too soft. And vibration during focusing was a problem. Went to the 18mm which was better. ST3 said the true binary system was showing a 1.3" separation (as of March).

9:56. The Moon cleared the hill.

I hate you.

10:01. Looked quickly at M78 with the 27mm. Still thinking about it, the reflection nebula, for the Orion talk at the DDO. Responded to averted. Why hadn't I looked earlier?! Duh.

10:06. 52 Ori. Equal stars, equal colour and brightness. Very tight. 1.0" in 2002.

10:11. Viewed Christmas Tree cluster, aka NGC 2264. In C14 'scope it was cut off. Viewed with 55mm in TV101. Nice. Put 18mm in TV, better still. Lovely.

10:26. I grabbed the conditions:

The Collingwood report from Environment Canada:

As of: 10:00 PM EDT Saturday 7 April 2012
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: falling
Temperature: 4.1°C
Dewpoint: -4.7°C
Humidity: 53 %
Wind: SSW 3 km/h


Issued : 3:30 PM EDT Saturday 7 April 2012
Wind northwest 20 km/h becoming light this evening.
Low minus 2.

And the local conditions according to the Davis weather station:

wind 0
hum 49
baro 1021.6
temp 5.0

10:48. Went to the Clown Face nebula (aka NGC 2392, Caldwell 39). For two reasons. To verify the 'scope, er mount, was OK under orders from the Dell now. And to show Millie. Viewed at low power first in the C14. Then bumped to the 18mm. Wow. Structure was visible in the planetary nebula. Concentric rings.

Viewed Pleiades in big (Oberwerk) binos. Lovely. 3D! No neb visible.

Started playing with TPoint. Released control of the Paramount from the netbook computer.

2:07 AM. 8 Apr 2012. Showed Millie Σ1417 in the C14. An easy split. aka HD 88829. The view was mushy in her equipment... More collimation issues? Dirty eyepiece?

2:09 AM. Viewed Saturn. Lovely. Seeing was fairly good. Used the 18mm. Many moons and stars visible. But could not see Enceladus.

2:22. Viewed Mars. Dark region centre and slightly to the north.

2:28. Could not see the moons of Mars.

I was done. But satisfied.

What an amazing three evenings. Beautiful clear skies (not great seeing but hey). Increasingly comfortable with the Paramount and driving it. Much accomplished. Many double stars. A couple of Messiers. The mystery star in Messier 93 found. 31 targets in total. Broke my double star split limit. Blew it out of the water... Happy.

No comments: