Sunday, August 04, 2013

sky tour for guests (Blue Mountains)

Attached SkyTools to the Paramount tonight. For faster, more direct slews.

10:10 PM, Saturday, August 3, 2013. Saturn looked good.

Risa spotted a meteor.

She was trying some photos. Wondered about using Tele Vue with her Nikon. She had success with the Sun earlier. Reminded her that the focal length was much shorter. Said we could try it...

Tony thought the viewing was better tonight. Less turbulent.

We took in Saturn. Risa thought it beautiful. Tried the 5mm in the Tele Vue. Sharmin, Risa, Tony d.S. Phil popped in.

Helped Risa dismount her camera from the C14.

Ruoqing and Hanning arrived the GBO. Hanning exclaimed he saw a shooting star; Sharmin explained it was a plane. Lei followed a short time later.

Sharmin asked if I had set up the NexStar 11. Not yet. Offered to get it out. Could ask Dietmar or Phil to cover me for a bit. She said she was happy to view from here, with me, with the C14. Her main goal was to see really deep sky. She wanted to go all night. Me too.

Pointed out my "showpieces" list in SkyTools with over 170 items. Explained it can work anywhere. Any season. Sharmin noted the Lost Galaxy, in Virgo, NGC 4535 in my observing list. She wanted to see it. Cautioned that it was low.

10:25 PM. Checked the conditions, from the Davis weather station. Reloaded the weather page. As of 10:07 PM. 10 min average wind: 4.8 km/h. Peak: 37. Humidity: 91%. Already high. Pressure: 1013.8 mbar. Temp: 13.6°C.

10:26. Noted, while viewing Saturn, we were close to the Lost Galaxy. We could try... Slewed.

The boys wanted to have a look. Sharmin said we were still getting ready.

She saw something very dim. A fuzz. I could see it. Very soft. It was very, very faint.

10:28. Turned the observatory lights down a bit. Reviewed my log. I had looked at it in May and it was really good.

Lucy came in the warm room and said she couldn't find the Lagoon Nebula. She was lost. Realised she hadn't gone far enough. Located it on a chart.

Lucy also said the Dobsonian was hard to move.

Mosquitoes. Argh!

The sky overhead was very good. We moved to the Ring Nebula. Sharmin said, "Ooh, it's cool." Showed her how to turn the diagonal. She showed the boys the planetary nebula.

10:34. Opened the packet of the Off! Clip-On™ fan-circulated repellent thingee.

Sharmin requested an open cluster. She wondered about the cluster in Lyra. Or nearby. Didn't know the designation. Wondered about M29. Thought it was in Cygnus. Or M27. That's the Dumbbell. Then she thought we could go for the Veil Nebula.

Lei headed to the house. Asked if she could leave the boys in the observatory. No problem.

Ruoqing asked my name.

Added Messier 29 (M29) to my SkyTools list. Slewed. Headed to the telescopes to change eyepieces.

Sharmin thought the sky was beautiful.

Lei saw a meteor. Squealed with delight. Hanning said "Hole-y."

Slewed. A big jump into the Sagittarius region.

Millie dropped in. Asked if the boys were having fun. Said she was going to try for the comet, with the coordinates I had given her yesterday.

Fired up the repellent fan.

Sharmin requested Messier 28 (M28). Slewed. The mount did a meridian flip.

Hanning thanked me, as he exited the GBO.

10:54. We put the 10mm in the Tele Vue. So 54 power. Oh. It's a globular. 16000 ly. Faint. Weida viewed it as well.

Asked if she wanted to view the Trifid aka Messier 20 (M20) and NGC 6514.

Sharmin asked if I had seen 54 Sagittarii. A neat multi-star system. Nope. She declined to tell me the colour. I found it near Capricornus. Between Cap and the Teapot. Also known as e-1 Sagittarii, HIP 96808, HD 185644, HR 7476. It would be good around midnight, just at the two air-mass threshold.

Risa popped into the observatory. Sharmin some hot chocolate. In my mug! Hrrrm.

We spotted more meteors.

When I learned that Weida had not seen Saturn, we headed back to the planet.

Sharmin asked for Messier 16 (M16). The Eagle. Slewed. I reminded her we'd be near the Omega.

Risa brought me a beverage. Thanks!

Lucy popped by. She had found her quarry earlier. Happy to find the Lagoon. And then just panned around. But she had packed it in, dewed-out. Telrad soaked. And relayed again her frustrations with the Dob. The base. Also the focuser jumps. Particularly bad with the high power eyepieces. She wondered if its been abused.

Installed the Lumicon oxygen OIII filter in the C14.

11:14. I pointed out the Eagle was technically in Serpens.

Slewed to the Omega aka the Swan. Phil popped by. Turned off the red lights. Some call Messier 17 (M17) the Checkmark Nebula, Lobster Nebula, or the Horseshoe Nebula.

11:17. Risa said, "Beauty." Sharmin returned. She reported Dietmar was happy.

Tony enjoyed the view. "Awesome."

Thomas and crew popped in.

Sharmin asked how the filters worked, where they were placed. I suggested we could go to the M17 [ed: er, Messier 11 (M11)], the Wild Duck, later.

With the laser, pointed out some Messiers, the Teapot, the steam coming out the spout.

Rohini asked about a double star. Maybe we could checked out Sharmin suggestion.

11:30. I added 54 Sgr.

Explained to Kitty and Veejay how SkyTools worked, the Night Bar.

Slewed to the double star. I had them assess the colours. Thomas said, "Purple." My impression yellow and blue or aquamarine...

Entertained a request for a galaxy. The Whirlpool. I asked Lucy if she meant M51. She wasn't sure. "The one below the handle of the Big Dipper." Yeah, Messier 51 in Canes Venatici.

Set up the big binoculars. Showed how to set the interocular distance. Trained them on the Andromeda Galaxy. Right tool for the job. Pointed out the galaxy is 3 to 4 times the size of the Moon. Risa looked. "Oh! A tiny little smudge of prettiness."

Pointed out where the galaxy was in the sky. How to find it naked eye.

We spotted a meteor. But it was going the other way. Not a Perseid.

Lucy asked about the Sombrero. I thought it might be too low. In Virgo. SkyTools was filtering it out. Relaxed the filter. It set at 10:30. Checked the year bar. May is the best time.

Asked if people wanted to look at the Dumbbell. Or the Apple Core.

12:02 AM, Sunday, August 4, 2013. Slewed to the Messier 27 (M27).

Tony asked about NGC 6865. In Aquila. A lenticular galaxy. Magnitude 15.9. Ah. No.

Again, he thought the sky better tonight.

Asked Sharmin if she'd help me with the SQM reading.

Lei asked a question of Tony which he couldn't answer, regarding planetary nebulae. I tried to answer.

Sharmin asked about a "weird" cluster in Camelopardalis. But she couldn't remember the NGC number. A planetary? No... 1502? No... Ah. Kemble's Cascade! I simulated the view for the Tele Vue. Added the Cascade and 1502 to the SkyTools list with a high priority.

Sharmin asked if I had viewed 54 Sgr. I had. She missed it. She wanted to know if I thought it good enough to add to my "showpieces" list. [ed: Although I misinterpreted her question at the time.]

Then she asked for M71 in Sagitta, the Arrow. A globular that looks like an open cluster.

12:19 AM. Slewed to Messier 71.

12:28. Slewed to Kemble's Cascade. Reminded people to look only in the Tele Vue.

Meteor! "Look at the train." Lucy said it was a good one.

Moved to the tailless comet in Cygnus.

SkyTools crashed. Big time.

Phil went to bed.

12:36. We were losing the sky. I pulled up a satellite image. I saw something coming down from the north-west.

I wanted to show people NGC 7008. A neat planetary, lots of pairs of stars. Sharmin enjoyed it.

Sharmin requested something near Mirfak. Collinder 39?

Let Sharmin slew to M13. Walked her through using SkyTools. Sorted by Primary ID. Look for Keystone.

1:01. We stepped to the observatory floor. And found we were completely clouded out.


Cut short. But not a bad night. The 14 guests enjoyed the sky tour. SkyTools worked quite well as the controlling computer. The Off! repellent fan may have worked very well: I saw no mozzies after I turned it on.

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