Tuesday, April 16, 2013

first time in a long time (Toronto)

4:05 PM. Stu called a GO for the city star party. The skies were looking good! But I was feeling a little lackadaisical.

4:37. Carolyn, a new RASC member, said she was going to visit the High Park group.

5:30. I contacted Dave to see if he was planning to go. Voice mail. He replied shortly after. He was able to come out and play.

Invited my long-time friend Ken out. He was available! Cool. He was able to finally make it.
Instrument: Celestron 8-inch SCT
Mount: Vixen Super Polaris
Method: slewing and tracking with IDEA GoToStar
6:00. Packed up. Put the main items in the foyer. Sent new member Carolyn a link to the High Park page. Told her where we'd be.

7:00. Moved the car from the garage near the front door. Packed up quickly. And headed to the park.

I arrived well before sunset. I was a little surprised to see a few sport games in progress. On the soccer pitch there was a casual game going on. The far baseball diamond was active (and its lights were on already). I was also surprised by the amount of cloud. Oh oh.

Set up my Celestron 8" SCT slowly. Two rambunctious pushy children raced across the field. The boy pushed the girl out of the way when I said I was ready to show them the Moon and grabbed the eyepiece so vigorously I thought he was going to topple the whole rig. I yelled at him. A woman near by stood up and started over. I wondered what she was thinking. I got the kids to settle down and take turns. I did wonder though if the boy was trying to push my buttons. He asked a litany of peculiar questions. I scooted them away. Encouraged them to come back later, when it was dark.

I enjoyed the view of the Moon at 55x. Noted how smooth Mare Tranquillitatis was. I was particularly intrigued by the complex shadows in the north hemisphere, along the terminator. I wonder if I was seeing the Montes Caucasus. Very interesting.

The girl and the brat returned. He got into an argument with us that anyone could take a trip to the Moon, if they had enough money. I assured him that only trips to low Earth orbit were possible, if you had a lot of money. I don't think he was convinced.

Later I showed the Moon and Jupiter to the kids and, it seemed, the entire two soccer teams. Lots of people noted the reversed field. Many wanted to know the distance to the Moon. 400k! I asked one man how many klicks he had on his car: 250k. I saw he was "on his way." Handed out one RASC brochure to an enthusiastic young man who will be returning to Calgary. Gave him the national web address and assured him there was a vibrant RASC presence there.

Ken showed up. We talked shop for a bit. We share a different expensive hobby but he's always been interested in astronomy.

Carolyn showed up shortly after with her Pentax binoculars. Introductions all around.

Member Dave (yet to join RASD) arrived with his celebrated Celestron 15x70 binoculars on a tripod. A short tripod...

Another person, arrived, name escapes me, a non member, with binoculars. He left early.

We took in the Moon, Earthshine, Jupiter, its four moons, Castor A, B, C, and D, Mizar A and B with Alcor and Sidus Ludoviciana, the pale (green?) Clown Face Nebula (remarkably good at 222x), colourful Algieba, brilliant 54 Leonis (after some crazy slews). I think Dave and I looked briefly at Izar too—but I forget the particulars.

We saw the International Space Station flyover at 9:09. Dave won. He picked it up first. It brightened once past north, despite the clouds. Everyone liked my use of the Sci-Fi alarm tone on the iPod.

I think we first tried for Saturn around 9:30? Maybe 9:45? I used the go-to on the C8 and it got me in the neighbourhood. I could see the planet in the finder. Centred and the planet looked rather good, even though very low. But a few minutes later it dimmed out and then faded completely behind clouds. Still, that was the highlight for Carolyn. Dave enjoyed the aperture and magnification.

We returned to Saturn, as the last target for the evening, and it was free from clouds, much brighter, but the seeing was very poor. It could only tolerate 77 power. That was maybe 10:30? We could also see Titan. But no other moons.

We fought the clouds for much of the evening. The baseball diamond lights switched off around 10 PM. Dave and I were the last to leave around 11 PM. Of course it was perfectly clear then.

Dave helped me pack up and lug! Thank you!

11:15. Arrived home. Quickly stowed the car.

Glad I went out.


The super-charged Vixen Super Polaris worked very well! The first use "in the field." Despite the rough polar alignment and only using the one-star align process, it was not bad.

And, another first, with the GoToStar, was powering it from the gel cell battery tank. It worked great is this respect as well. The provided cable (which is crazy long) worked well.


I realised later the CLA adapter cable for the GoToStar is the length that it is, so to reach one's car... should it be parked in the next field!


The Clown is also known as the NGC 2392 and Caldwell 39.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Enjoyed the view of the moon" huh???
Getting soft in your old age.