Saturday, September 01, 2012

doubles for Sissy; a Messier for me (Blue Mountains)

It was interesting. The Dell laptop computer, normally used to control the telescopes, was not in the warm room despite members being at the CAO for a couple of nights already. Everyone had their own gear. Or was imaging. That meant I could use the GBO telescopes!
Instruments: Celestron 14-inch SCT, Tele Vue 101 refractor
Mount: Paramount ME
Method: Go To
I settled into the Geoff Brown Observatory. Put on the "light" shields on the telescopes. In short order, I had the Tele Vue 101mm and the Celestron 14", atop the Paramount, ready to go. I had the ASUS netbook connected to the Paramount. SkyTools 3 Professional ready to drive the mount.  Steve was still setting up.

I was planning to do some more double star research for Sissy Haas's project.

9:26 PM, 31 August 2012. I went to Izar to kick things off. Steve had a look. Millie could split it in the big telescope, the C14. I did not think the 2.9 arc second separation easy with the Tele Vue 55mm plössl eyepiece, at 71 power. However, it was obvious with the 27mm, the TV Panoptic, at 145x. Millie slewed to it with her 8" RC, a T4 by GSO.

There were a lot of crickets chirping.

9:38 PM. I viewed Izar, aka ε (epsilon) Boötis, in Millie's 1625mm focal length 'scope, with her Meade 14mm ocular, at 116x. Then I examined it in the TV101 with the Tele Vue Radian 5mm. An easy split. Of course.

9:46. Took at look with Steve's Tele Vue Ethos 13mm in the RC 8. Good. But it only emphasised that the RC collimation was off a little...

10:02. Prepared to start hammering away at the double star list by Sissy. I sorted the list in ST3P by the optimum viewing time. But, quickly, we realised that we already too late for some targets. Gave up on Σ1881 (Struve) in Virgo. And the double stars in Canes Venatici. Bypassed δ (delta) Serpentis and decided to skip 65 Ursae Majoris. Too low, too murky. Tomorrow night, if I started early, I could maybe get them...

10:03. Viewed θ (theta) Coronae Borealis in the TV101 with the 5mm and the C14 with the 27mm. Found a bright blue-white star. But could not split... Checked the lists. Oooh. That's why... The separation is 0.8". Yikes. Way below Millie's limit (2-ish) and near my career limit (0.48). We tried different eyepieces. The Ethos in the C14 and Millie's 4.7mm Meade in the TV101. No luck.

10:31. Considered 36 And but found it mushy. Needed to be higher. Decided to wait an hour for it. Headed over to DL Draconis aka Σ1878.

10:33. Cool! In the C14 at 145x, I saw yellow and orange stars, widely split, but very different magnitudes. Millie thought the secondary is red! OK, maybe deep orange. Steve thought we were crazy. He could not see any colour. Whatever. It is a very nice double star.

I suggested to Millie that we could collimate her telescope. Steve agreed it was off.

10:57. Split Σ2054 or HR 6130 in Draco with the C14 and 27mm. Identical colours, a light gold. Similar magnitudes. ST3 said they were about 1 mag different. It was an easier split with Tele Vue Radian 18mm.

Dietmar, imaging run in progress, popped into the GBO to see what was going on. I asked what was involved in collimating an RC 'scope. He briefly explained the process and said he had the tools to make it easy. Asked if we could help Millie with it and received his blessing. But Millie was luke warm...

11:24. Viewed Σ2403 aka HR 7075. Also in Dra. I was not sure. I was not confident I was splitting the tight double...

11:32. Wow. Viewed Σ2958 aka HR 8724 in Peg. Steve said it was easy in the 5mm in the TV101. I thought the wide pair quite nice in the C14 with the 55mm! Orange or red was the secondary. Bumped to the 27mm. Lovely.

I checked the local weather conditions via our Davis Vantage console. There was no wind. The humidity was at 81% but, happily, no water was forming in the observatory. The air temperature was 16.7°C with a dewpoint of 13.4. The barometer was 1015.2 bars.

12:00 AM, 1 September 2012. I could not see the B star with the C14 of HJ 5188 or HR 7764. The target in Sagittarius was nevertheless interesting with multiple stars. I could see the C star along with D and E. It was fascinating. D and E were the same separation as A and B. Also D and E were the same brightness as B. And yet I could not see B, near the bright A star. Another hint or clue was that B was in direction of D and E. Didn't help. I still could not see B.

We took a break retiring to the kitchen for snacks and beverages... And jujubes.

12:44 AM. Returned to the GBO.

12:46. I split Σ389 in Camelopardalis. Aka HR 1043. The primary was white; the secondary, orangey. It was a tight pair even at 145x in the C14.

12:54. In the TV101 with the 5mm, i.e. at 108x, I was able to split the pair. But when I switched to the 10mm, dropping to 54x, I could not.

1:02. Got it! Looked again. Confirmed! I could see the white and orange stars, tight, in the C14 with the 27mm, of HU 544 in in Perseus. Also known as V572. A nice challenge. The position angle of the pair was in-line with the bright star HR 969.

1:22. I could not split γ (gamma) Equulei. Another tight pair with very different magnitudes. As I updated the matrix provided by Sissy, I saw a pattern emerging. I was not meeting with much success at targets at the top-right of the table. Interesting...

It was time to switch gears...

1:32. I viewed Messier 34 (M34). For some reason it was not completed on my life list. Used 10mm ocular in TV101 to frame it nicely... The centre portion of the open cluster reminded me of a flower, a tulip on the stem.

Hey! Guess who's at opposition?!

1:43. Viewed Neptune. Really wanted to see a moon or two. Alas, I could not see Triton. The C14 should ordinarily be able to spot 14.5 mag objects. But not with such a nasty bright overbearing Luna...

1:52 (approximate time). Saw, while walking to the house, a very bright satellite. Initially it was the same brightness as Jupiter. Moving slowing north, just below Mirfak. Called out to Steve. He saw it too. He looked it up but could not find any data on it...

2:03. Finally landed on Uranus. It was way off target in the big 'scopes. I think that I spotted Oberon, about 10 planet-widths away.

2:16. Viewed Jupiter. Could see cloud bands and colour.

The seeing was better in the east.


I thought we tried for "Met 60" as well. But I did not keep good notes...

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