Sunday, August 19, 2012

globulars and doubles (Blue Mountains)

8:49 PM, Sat 18 Aug 2012. While I was recording ultrasounds near the Observing Pad, Manuel G asked for the latitude and longitude for the Carr Astronomical Observatory. I told him it is noted in the Guest Book. When he shared that he had not signed in, I suggested he could accomplish two things.

8:51 PM. Saw first magnitude stars appearing overhead.

10:15. In the Geoff Brown Observatory, I viewed Izar. Steve shared, from one of his astronomy apps, that it is believed that ε (epsilon) Boötis, has moved through 3% of its orbit, since humans began recorded observations. That's a long orbit. We viewed it in the Celestron 14" SCT. Enjoyed the lovely colours.
Instruments: Celestron 14-inch SCT, Tele Vue 101 refractor
Mount: Paramount ME
Method: Go To
I chose this object to examine just because it caught my eye. It was near where the big telescope was aimed. But it also reminded me that I could take in some of the suggested targets from Sissy Haas's new double star project...

10:35. Helped Nicole operate her mobile phone beneath a sheet of red film.

10:45. Viewed the Double Cluster in the Tele Vue 101mm refractor. Lovely.

Watched the second International Space Station flyover for the evening.

Distant lightning continued to flicker on the horizons.

I tried to see comet C/2011 F1 (LINEAR). No joy.

10:54. Viewed NGC 6723, a globular cluster. It is officially in Sagittarius but right beside Corona Australis. It was on my draft "showpieces for the CAO" observing list in SkyTools 3 Pro. But I didn't like the appearance of the deep sky object. It was very poor. Part of the reason is that it is so low. Too low really for Canadians. ST3 said I was looking through over 6 air masses.

Viewed Messier 70 (aka NGC 6681). It was also poor. Another pale lint ball.

That was interesting. I just viewed this Messier object and it was not on my life list. It really is the best time of the year to view this target, being so low in the southern sky. Punching through 4 air masses. But M70 is still a boring globular. Damn.

Viewed NGC 6569. It was not good. The only interesting thing about this globular cluster is its distance, almost 100 000 light years away.

Olena dropped into the GBO. I asked if there was anything she wanted to look at.

10:58. Viewed the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8 or M8).

11:00. Viewed M54. This globular cluster was better than the others. Messier 54 is large and bright.

11:01. I found the globular NGC 6624 small, faint, and compact. While it had a bright centre, I didn't think it a good candidate to leave on the "showpieces" list.

These dim, faint GCs I need to remove from the ST3 observing list for public outreach. Too small, too faint, too dull.

I decided to shift gears... It was time to collect some data from Sissy. And as everyone else had equipment they were playing with, I had the C14 and TV101 at my disposal. Having the two 'scopes would be handy for this double star project too. Different types, different focal lengths, different magnifications.

11:15. Observed the double star 23 Aquilae (aka Σ2492 - Struve) with the C14 and the Panoptic 27mm eyepiece (at 145 power). I was able to easily split. I saw yellow and orange stars. Then I viewed it in the refractor with the Tele Vue Radian 5mm ocular (at 108x). I could still split them.

Showed some galaxies to Olena. We discussed galaxy types. I showed some spirals face-on (the Whirlpool) and some edge-on (NGC 4256, a needle galaxy). Showed her M31, M32, and M110 in the Oberwerk binoculars.

11:55. Split the white and orange companions of ψ (psi) Cygni. It was easy in the C14 with 27mm as well as the TV101 with the Tele Vue Radian 10mm (at 54x).

12:16 AM, Sun 19 Aug 2012. Viewed HR 7075 (aka Σ2403) in Draco. I could not split it in the TV101; I was able to split it in the C14, during moments of good seeing. They were very tight. Nearly equal brightness. The fainter star to the west. They were the same colour, white or light yellow.

12:22 AM. I had no problem with HR 7781 (aka Σ2671) in Cygnus. In the TV101 with the 10mm, it was easily split. The primary was blue-white; the secondary light-orange. I estimated 2.5 to 3 magnitude different. Then, in the C14, I thought the secondary seemed white or very pale orange. Hard to tell.

12:28. I checked the current weather conditions from our Davis weather station. The 10 minute average wind was 6.4. Direction SSW. The current wind speed was 8. It had gone as high as 14.5. The humidity was 78. The barometer was 1013.1. The temperature was cool at 14.1. The predicted dew point was 10.3.

12:36. I could not cleanly split HR 6130 (aka Σ2054) of Draco in the C14. It was a very tight double. The primary was bright, very bright. The main star was light yellow. Was the companion lost in the glare? I kept looking and checking. I wondered if I was seeing a figure-8 shape, angled north-south.

1:04. Spotted a meteor in Scutum. About the 3rd one for the evening.

1:10. Viewed M75, down in the goop, with the C14 and 27mm. Messier 75 was large. Had a bright centre. It seemed to have a speckled appearance. w00t. While already on my life list, I changed the status from "view again" to "done."

1:16. Tried to see M70 again. No joy. Too low. Very murky.

1:34. I wanted to see Neptune, or rather, Triton. But it was too cloudy. With the C14 and 27mm, I could not see moons.

1:43. Wispy clouds covered the sky. I folded camp.

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