Sunday, July 01, 2012

observed with (by) Sharmin (Blue Mountains)

9:50 PM, June 30, 2012. While Katrina and Sharmin watched the live feed from the Alberta general assembly in the CAO living room, I searched for Mercury.

I had N11 going but the alignment was kooky.

I started a mosquito coil and put on some Deep Woods muskol, for better or for worse. Still, there must have been furious 100 mozzies inside the THO. Fortunately, it seemed none were biting.

9:56 PM. I found Mercury. Faint Mercury, around magnitude 0.5. First with my binoculars. And then I could see it naked eye. It was just over the house, not as far north as I thought it would be. It was about level with the peak of the roof, a bit less than 10° up. No sign of Katrina. She had said before she wanted to see it. Enjoying the GA, I guess.

10:08. I heard a vehicle. Saw a light silver minivan. Tim? No, I realised it was Ostap. He headed to his dome.

Mercury did not improve as it got darker. Bad air over there, I guess.

10:25. I did the N11 re-alignment process, picking two new stars. And suddenly, I was hitting targets. Good. I was happy. And lamented that I hadn't tried this last night, for Sharmin. I made a note to update my quick reference. It's good to know.

I also wondered if the big SCT would be easier to use with a right-angle corrected finder. But then, I realised, if the alignment worked, it wouldn't be needed...

10:41. I just viewed Menkent aka θ (theta) Centaurus! Cool. A very low, summer-only target below Libra.

10:45. Dietmar popped by. He was having trouble with his Windows Remote Desktop. He had checked cables. Asked if he had the IP address. And as soon as I said that, I knew that was the problem. He had not reconfigured his settings since the WISP change and the complete reorg of the LAN. I reminded him that the third octet had changed. He trundled off.

10:51. I returned to the double star Menkent. Or SAO 205188. I wondered if it was the first object in Centaurus I had viewed.... It was a very wide double which I knew, ordinarily, would be easy to split. But I could not see the companion. SkyTools said the primary was mag 2 while the companion was mag 14. Ugh. The problem was that it was down in the murk. I was looking through 8 airmasses. ST3 said that was making everything 3 magnitudes fainter. Uh huh. Scratch. That object came from looking at a suggested ST3 star in the 'hood...

10:52. I checked the local weather conditions, via the Davis weather station. 10 min wind average 4.8 km/h, direction west, today's high: 43.5°C (wow), humidity 70%, barometer 1007, outside temperature now 19.7°, the humidex was 19.9, dew point 14.0, and the inside temp was 26.1. Shoulda brought my tent.

11:46. Sharmin joined me while I viewed PPM 226714. It was a very difficult split... even with my 9mm. Both the Virgo stars were mag 11, at a 3.5 arc-second separation.

11:59. Viewed NGC 6530. A nice cluster. It fit well in the 36mm. This is the open star cluster within the Lagoon Nebula aka M8. A good choice on a moonlit night.

Hints of the nearby nebula were visible.

I wanted to sketch it. Sharmin asked if she could hang out. It was a little weird. I don't think I've ever had someone watching me while I sketched before...

12:55 AM, July 1, 2012. Finished sketching the cluster and nebula.

I asked if Sharmin had some targets in mind. We viewed the open clusters NGC 6633 and IC 4756, both near the Ophiuchus / Serpens Cauda border.

Then we split τ (tau) Boötis. It was too soft with the Nagler 9mm, given the bad seeing. Curiously, while the same field size, the orthoscopic 18mm was better. A clean split of the 1" pair. Wait... It got worse while we looked. Was the seeing going away?

I was tired. Probably from last night. The intensely concentrating during the drawing. And being tour guide. I needed a break...

2:04 AM. I returned from my break.

It was much cooler outside. The 10 min wind average had risen to 6.4 km/h, direction now WSW, the humidity had also risen to 76%, barometer was up a bit at 1007.9, the air temperature had dropped almost 3 degrees to 17.0, lowering the humidex to 16.9, and the dew point to 12.7, and the inside house temp to 24.0.

I considered some more targets but was very sleepy. Closed up. I was happy to find the top-hatch bolts working OK. The pin was holding.

Passed Katrina on my way to the house.

2:30. I was in bed in the library.

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