Wednesday, October 30, 2013

awfully quiet

Not going to the RASC meeting. Need some time. Away from humans.

now, late this week

Melissa said:
Shipping for the 2014 Observer's Calendars and Handbooks will begin late this week.
Where have I heard that before...

received Melissa's address

Charles forwarded a message from Melissa. A generic address. But still...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

corrected the article

Allard shared the interface details for the media library. The final piece to the puzzle. Thank you.

I put the finishing touches on my Oct-Nov The Sky This Month article.

heard from Mr Gray

Tried to find Melissa's contact info on the national web site. Nothing obvious. So I filled in the form.

Paul Gray replied! The editor of the calendar... Huh? So not who I wanted per se but he did shed some light on things.
I do know that the calendar is printed and is on its way or should be at the warehouses sometime this week and shipping is to start this week.
So, sadly, nothing had been sent yet...


That meant Nov 4 or 5?

gettin' there

Applied edits to my article directly. Good to be back! However I struggled getting the captions set correctly. Something was going on with the media library that I didn't understand. Asked Allard for some help.

further east the better

Some members asked if the CAO would offer a good view of the solar eclipse. I didn't think so...

All times morning, EST.
5:23 EDT - eclipse starts, -17° altitude
6:16 - mid-eclipse

6:59 - sunrise (over perfect horizon)
7:03 - Moon rise
7:18 - eclipse ends

At the end of the event, the Moon has an...

Azimuth: +113°20'
Apparent Altitude: +01°31'
Altitude above visible horizon: +02°16'

The problem is that our hill elevation to the south-east is 6 to 7°. It would block much of the event.

Go east!

Monday, October 28, 2013

rough landing

Sierra Nevada had a slight mishap on the weekend with their full-scale Dream Chaser craft. While the initial drop and air field approach went fine, one of the landing gear failed to deploy, and the remotely controlled ship crashed.

There were no injuries. Partly because no humans were on board...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

bumped to editor

Allard informed me that my access had been elevated to editor.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

cleared after the rain (Pinckney)

Saw some stars, and Venus, coming home from the pumpkin party.

he asked to remove

Tony asked Allard to pull down the work party "request" article. He asked if it could be used however as a template in the future.

he could or I could

Allard went back and corrected a couple of errors. He said if there were more I could let him know. Or he could give me editor access. Then asked for my ID... All right!

Friday, October 25, 2013

found many errors

I discovered a number of typographical errors and spelling mistakes in my TSTM article. Often with the image captions. I reported this to Allard and asked how to fix them.

TSTM article up

Allard published the TSTM article. My The Sky This Month for Oct-Nov 2013 content with images and PDF calendar and comet charts.


As Mom and I travelled along Highway 402, beyond for Michigan, I noted the Sarnia airport. One I had flown into and out of on a number of occasions... many moons ago. I was pleased to catch the new name.

Felt a bit of nostalgia. Love walking on tarmacs.


Had not heard from Bailey. Hoped her astronomy topic went OK.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tony's in

Got Tony straightened out with the remote software. He shared his observations with Dietmar.

rain, wind, snow

Phil called a no-go for the weekend. Looked like the weather at the CAO was going to be poor with 5mm of rain called for Friday and Saturday along with 40 km/h winds! Not to mention the snow! Looked like 9 to 12 inches!

it snowed up north

Katrina wanted to know if there was snow at the CAO. I sent a snapshot from the surveillance cameras to the supervisor Yahoo!Group. Lots of lake-effect snow was, in fact, stickin' around.

mag 3.8 sky (Mississauga)

A beautiful sky. Except for the gibbous Moon. The Moon was inside the Winter Football. Jupiter was overhead and very bright. Also inside the Hexagon. Mars was left of Regulus. Further than I expected. I could see the magnitude 3.4 (28) and mag 3.8 (48) stars in Orion, surrounding the belt.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

remote software confusion

Tony ran into trouble with the remote control software. Installed the server it seems; not the viewer. Passwords galore. Nothing worked. I didn't answer the phone, as I was in the classroom. Dietmar couldn't resolve it. I offered to help around 7 PM. He said, later, he was off to bed.

he liked the content

Allard responded promptly. "This is great content." I thanked him. And apologised for the mish-mash of image sizes. He told me not to worry.

shared suspicion

I informed Charles, Ralph, and Tony that I suspected Ian Steers was harvesting RASC email addresses without permission for the promotion of his science talks. I did not think that appropriate. He should know better and be using an opt-in approach. But I wasn't surprised given his stance on wanting a group photograph at a RASC meeting, which we all know blew up in his face... I shared that I would be asking him directly to remove me from his mailing list.

checked calendar prices

Surfed into the RASC national web site to check prices on the calendars. [ed: Moments before Eric asked me.]

Link from the lazy susan broke! Sheesh. Their web site is very glitchy.

Found the info, at last. Regular price: 17.95. Discounted member price: 15.95. OK. But a 7.25 shipping charge. Wow.

Then the taxes...

Ha. The online invoice shows PST and GST. No reference to HST. Strange.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

sent TSTM content

Sent the The Sky This Month  copy and images to the Allard for posting on the RASC Toronto Centre web site.

submitted winter use article

Submitted an item for the next SCOPE newsletter. A piece to show that the CAO is open year-round. Explained what is involved.

And reminded RASC members that the nights are long...

who needs some?

Messaged the Ops and Council groups to see if departments needed calendars. I was already planning to put some aside for the CAO, NOVA, speakers, etc.

due this or next week

Spoke to Melissa at National Office. She said Charles ordered 60 calendars last week. They'd be shipped to Rod Ends. And if all went well they'd ship later this week or early next week. She said she'd ping me when she knew more. Asked he let me know when they show and offered to pick them up.


So, that meant, due Oct 25 or Oct 28.

forwarded note, again

Tony asked, again, for the note for the remote surveillance system. I forwarded the July message. Which contained the May message.

let the research begin

Tony, hot to trot, started sending me camera and camera system links... Uh boy. No rest for the wicked.

make a focuser

Sent a note to the RASC TC listserv.

For the do-it-yourself member, especially those playing with Arduino, a focusing project, not unlike what Denis showed at last week's meeting.

I'll do it

Charles had not received any leads for the RASC calendar sales. I offered to be the wrangler.

"Holding together 10,000 half-wild short hairs. Well that's another thing altogether."

work party pix

Received Dietmar's work party pictures. Created a new folder in the (private) main Yahoo!Group. Lora uploaded her shots there. Reminded Ralph to send his there too.

why not the AGM notice?

Suggested to Charles that the new mass email tool would be perfect for reaching all the members about the AGM...

happy to help

Dave Cotterell had said, at the restaurant, that he was interested in getting his images online. But, not being very computer savvy, didn't know what was involved. I sent him the links to the blog, on blogger, and my companion evergreen pages, on my server. Invited him to ask me questions. Happy to help.


No reply as of 15 May 2014.

Monday, October 21, 2013

recognised stars

Found a neat web site with astro photos. Jim at Saugus included a wide-field photo of the Sagittarius region. He caught a meteor. What struck me was how similar the photo was to my first wide-field, piggy-back, of the same general area. I recognised the field. Cool.

good info received

Chris from National replied, in detail. Lots of good advice. And some good rattling of the cage: this will be a significant undertaking.

will talk on focusing masks

Mr Markov was on the hunt again for presentations at Recreational Astronomy Night meetings. After Denis's talk on a DSLR motorised focusing rig, I asked if a talk on focusing masks might be a good idea. He liked it. And slotted me into the December meeting. That's December 11.

thanked the crew

Thanked the CAO work party volunteers for all their hard work on the weekend. Thanked Elaine and Tony for the ride up. Lora and Ralph for the good eats.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I turned down the gig. I felt bad. But I didn't feel like there was enough time left for me to properly prepare. And for a high school teach, I would want to feel really comfortable. I apologised to Bailey.

doors and windows

Helped at the fall work party at the Carr Astronomical Observatory.

I was concerned about the storm window install and encouraged Tony to guide and monitor, especially at the beginning. Sadly, there was something wrong with the new screws...

Saturday we did the generator maintenance. I coached Katrina and Bailey through the oil change and air filter inspection. At first, it looked like the Fram oil filter was not going to fit; it was perfect. I was very happy about that. We activated the battery blanket.

I repaired the ramp. Our plan to use carriage bolts was scuttled once I inspected the problem. Was able to build a very strong truss to correct for the snapped screws.

Bailey and I built the new bedside table/dresser. Entertaining.

Saturday night and Sunday morning I helped on the new screen doors. In particular, I mounted the dual dampeners and the handle hardware. Big job, those doors. But they'll have a big payoff. Winter and summer.

"Before starting this step, complete the next step." Uh huh.

The rest of the crew accomplished a great number of other tasks, small and large.

left without discussion

From the corner of my eye, from the living room, I saw a car heading to the west. "Where's Bailey," I asked. She was gone. What? We were going to talk about her school class presentation... I thought we were going to have a good sit-down and hammer out all the details. I need some assurances and direction. Now what?!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

hand delivery

Delivered a CAO passport to Michael in person.

Steve certified

We awarded Steve his RASC observing certificate! At the CAO.

Friday, October 18, 2013

found common filter

Tony reported finding a compatible oil filter for the Generac from Parts Source: Fram. Model PH3614. Awesome!

received contact from national

Stuart and I chatted about my certificate program idea briefly on Wednesday. Stu had subsequently talked to Chris at national. Urged me to connect. And reiterated he would be happy to help.

sorted times

Lora, unencumbered, left for the CAO a little after 1. Dietmar was to depart around that time also. Tony H wasn't due until early Saturday morning. Elaine started to lean to an early Saturday departure. I didn't want to go up Friday. In part, so I could get another good night's sleep in my bed. Ralph said breakfast would be around 8:00 to 9:00. My pick up time was set to 7:30. OK.

offered to set up a cloud folder

At the NYAA meeting, Dave Cotterell had offered to share his double star PowerPoint presentation from Starfest. I sent him a message. Reminded him that I had lost all my notes. I said I thought his approach was just right for getting beginners excited. And that I was thinking of conducting a double star workshop for the RASC Toronto Centre. I was looking for inspiration and ideas! I offered to set up a dropbox folder in the event the file was too large for email.


No reply as of 8 Sep.

lost Phil

Phil, injured, said he wouldn't be able to make the work party. He'd take care of Skeena. We lost our reporter...

learned the meaning of the date

Greg responded to my query about the dates associated with some double stars in SkyTools, using Gamma 2 Del aka STF2727A as an example.
Some stars, such as this one, are long period binaries.  Orbits have been computed for them, and SkyTools uses the orbit to estimate the PA and Separation for any given date.

Note on the Object info, just above where it displays the current PA and Sep, it says:  Preliminary Orbit:  P=3249.0 yr, a=10.22"

That tells us that there is an orbit, although it is not definitive yet.  The orbital period is 3,249 years, which explains why it's still preliminary.  In a millennium [or] so it should be more definitive.  :-)
Helpful as always.


I relayed this info to Dave Cotterell and Malcolm Park.

on gamma Equ

Sent Dave Cotterell a snapshot from SkyTools. The Object Information dialog. With details of gamma Equuleus. Something of a litmus test for him.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

delivered SkyTools demo

Delivered a reprise of my SkyTools software demonstration presentation to the North York Astronomical Association on a very rainy night. Made handouts for 40 people. A few familiar faces! I was pleased that Malcolm had a chance to see it. Thanked Elaine and Tony for transporter services.

Was asked a detail question: what exactly the date stamp associated with some double stars meant. I wasn't sure but said I'd follow up.


Invited to the restaurant after. Nice to hang with the crew. Gave me a chance to talk to Dave Cotterell. I was very interested in chatting with an expert on double stars...

funny math

Ralph sent a note to the strategic planning group. He remarked that despite the fee increase we were seeing an increase in the membership by almost 100.

No. We did not grow by 100. We're the same. Those 100 people were associate members; now they are called family members.

They did not "exist" to national office before. So their numbers went up.

I did not appreciate the spin. He tricked a few of the readers. For example, Steve said, "[That's an] impressive jump." No. He fooled Roberto. We are not "on the rise." Bamboozled Jason. Sorry. All our efforts have not yielded in an increase.

Doctored statistics! That drives me crazy!


Finally Ginder dove into the numbers. In face, we are experiencing a 7% decline.

Ralph to open

Ralph sent a note to the membership that was the CAO supervisor, the work party was a go rain-or-shine, and when he'd be opening.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

step 1

Talked to Stu about my certificate idea. He really liked it. Offered to help.

started the list

Tony sent out the job jar list to the CAO committee for review. Lora made some additions.

another way to focus

Denis delivered a presentation on a electro-mechanical way of focusing a DSLR camera with software-control. He referred to the Walter Lee Helifocus system which uses a rubber belt. Interesting.

delivered Oct-Nov '13 TSTM

I delivered, to the RASC Toronto Centre, The Sky This Month presentation for Oct-Nov 2013.

Provided, as per usual, a handout with a calendar. Opposite side was finder charts for a conglomeration of comets.

Images by Jim Chung, Bill Longo, Susan Lang, Steve McKinney, Chris Schur, Ian Wheelband, and others. Transportation by Ralph.

received fees

Jonathan sent his CAO payment by Interac. Good stuff! I forwarded the info to the treasury. He actually topped up, feeling badly that one other guest had not arrived. I told him not to worry about it. He split the difference. Thanks!

not right

Was feeling a little funny. Had a bad night last. Didn't sleep well. Fever, some body ache, listless. Very tired now. Wondered if I caught something. From Millie. Over last weekend. Great.

Started to wonder if I'd be able to make the work party... Or do my TSTM presentation!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

considered guidelines for first-timers

I launched a discussion with the committee about first-time users planning to visit the CAO. Suggested they be discouraged from arriving on the final evening of a weekend. Suggested the arrival time be in daylight, as much as possible. Asked if we shouldn't seek an acknowledgement to the registrar. I was thinking of the supervisor and other guests.

Some good ideas from Ian, Phil, Tony, Lora. Dietmar said, don't worry about it.

lots o' wheels

Lora found more RASC Star Finders at the CAO. We're good!

six month term

Jim verified that inactive NSN accounts are shut down. Six months...

Monday, October 14, 2013

found many birds

We killed about a dozen birds at the CAO. Glass collisions. I requested more decals. At least one per pane.

updated key info

Informed the CAO supervisors that I had found one of the missing downstairs window keys. Installed one of the extras at an appropriate location. But couldn't find another. Promised that I would duplicate it.

saw improvement

Complimented Manuel on his latest image of M45. Said I could see his progress with each photo. He wasn't happy with it.

checked if it was OK

Helped Manuel with his logon issues with the Yahoo!Group. Sorta. Saw his post.

He shared his latest efforts with The Pleiades.

reminded members of the work party

Tony sent a note to the RASC Toronto Centre Yahoo!Group about the upcoming CAO work party. Referred to the article on the web site.

explained work parties

Sent a note about work parties to our new neighbour. Michael updated me on his membership status. He said he'd drop by Saturday morning. Good stuff.

after fees

New visitor Jonathan forgot to pay his CAO fees. Sheesh. Now I gotta chase him.

heard from treasury

Scott replied to Tony's request. He said it was his recollection "that we have most of the outstanding leases In hand." Uh huh. Scott said he'd follow-up. He better. I have one of them...

chatted about CubeSats

Jonathan seems to have some knowledge of CubeSats.

very late visitors

Received first-time visitor Jonathan and his friend. Rather exuberant. For some reason, they decided to venture up late Sunday night. We didn't understand why they come only for the last night of a long weekend. Messaged the registrar at quarter to 11! Arrived around 2:00 AM. I was kind of amazed they actually found the place in the dark. The crew backed me up, thankfully—my patience was strained. We gave them a quick house tour. The grounds tour would have to wait until daylight. Packed it in for the night.

storm clouds

11:40 PM, Sunday 13 October 2013. Phil headed to bed. I aimed west. Millie said, "What kind of observing is this?" Exactly. Frustrating conditions.

11:44 PM. Back after the weird movie.

Big yawn. Tired. But if the skies cooperated, I wanted to try a bit more observing. I still had many items on the list. Checked the skies and considered Cetus.

Lora popped into the Warm Room. She said "Our guests are still coming. ETA: 0130." What?! I thought that crazy. Oh boy. That meant we had to receive them at 1:30 or 2:00. Not a good time to tour the facility... Had they not checked the weather conditions? We were under clouds! Millie was surprised too. I grew angry sitting there thinking about it. Lora said she was going to bed... Needed some air. I didn't know how to deal with this.

12:17 AM, Monday 14 October 2013. Tried to viewed BRT358A in Cetus. Not in TheSky. Used the star GSC 4704:271.

I had turned off the dew heater power supply earlier, when we had gone in for the movie. And then forgot to turn it back on. The 'scope was dewed up. Crikey. Stupid mistake. Should have made a reminder note.

Couldn't see any stars in the 'scope.

Couldn't think straight. This wasn't sitting right with me. Brooding, I closed up. Normally in marginal conditions like this I'd go to bed. Now I couldn't... Betwixt and between. Closed the roof and started the humidifier. Engaged the latches. Millie asked if I needed any help. Nice of her. Phil walked into the GBO. Hey, I thought he had gone to bed. He had gotten up to help me out. He also thought it was a bit of a raw deal. Lora popped in. The whole gang's here! Here to shore me up. Packed up my camera equipment. Put away all the eyepieces.

Checked the current conditions via the Davis Instruments weather station as of 12:22. The 10 minute average wind speed 3.2 km/h, out of the north-west, current was 4.8, high had been 8.0, humidity 94, barometric pressure 1025.4, temperature 8.4, dew point 7.5.

Excel was being cranky. Saved my updated observing list on the house computer, considering that I'd be taking the laptop offline. The Dell wanted to apply ten updates; I let it do that. Decided to leave my personal items in the GBO, since it was all going to the car in a few hours.

12:44 AM. Checked the skies. Clouded out again.

12:51. Headed to the house.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

dodged clouds (Blue Mountains)

7:15 PM. Partly cloudy. Just looked at Saturn. It was swimming. Offered views in either 'scope, either the TV101 or C14, to Lora. Phil took a peek. Soupy. Millie arrived.

Put the red film on the Dell computer. Dimmed the screen.

7:31 PM. Next stop Venus. Could see the phase easily. Asked Phil if we had a 1¼ neutral density filter. I wanted to dim it. Both Phil and Millie offered their polarisers. We could see a faint star beside it.

Phil spotted the Summer Triangle. Enough to do an alignment! Phil suggested to Millie she could practice. We teased her terribly.

I turned on the ceramic heater.

7:49. We watched the International Space Station fly-over. We also spotted a south-bound satellite, very bright. But it was not on the list...

Grrr. Clouds. Checked the radar. It wasn't showing anything major. Weird. We were out of commission. I looked closer. The radar might have showed thin clouds. But it was sure affecting us. A big system. Dietmar guessed it would take a while to clear out.

There was no sign of our visitors...

Helped Dietmar with TPoint in TheSky. We reviewed how to deactivate and reload a model. He thought you right-clicked on it. No... Not right-click; just left-click on it. Once it had the focus, you could perform various actions.

8:11. It was warm in the Warm Room. Toasty warm.

Everyone headed to the house. I asked Phil to keep an eye on the driveway...

I reloaded my sky horizon profile into TheSky. Dietmar and I chatted some more about controlling the TPoint. He wanted to try AutoMapper so to refine his polar alignment. It lets you specify how many points you want and where. On hold, until it cleared up.

8:21. Still cloudy to the south. Grim, in fact.

8:36. The sky cleared! Weird weather.

8:41. Tried for γ (gamma) Corona Australis. Viewed in the TV101 with 10mm and the C14 with 27mm. Thought I detected a split in the refractor but it might have been wishful thinking. In the big SCT, I noted an interesting pattern, colour fringing. Orange on the bottom and kind of blue-green on the top. Then a cloudy went through... Bumped the power in the TV with a 5mm. SkyTools showed A and B separated by 1.4 seconds of arc. Oh boy.

With the Moon coming up I planned for more double stars...

Intercommed the house. Told people to grab their boots and toques. Lora answered. So who knows if they got the message. Then Millie came out. Dietmar was controlling his rig from the house.

Coaxed Phil out. Asked if I could borrow his computer, with SkyTools, again. If they went into movie-mode, there'd be a conflict...

9:07. Slewed to the Blue Racquetball aka NGC 6572. I could see the central star, at magnitude 9.8. Noted a little triangle of stars with HD 166872 mag 9.4, Tycho 00443-0638 1 mag 10.9, both to the east, and a faint star at the apex, west side, closest to the nebula, GSC 00443-0158 mag 12.8.

Slewed to Uranus. Pointing was off again. 18mm. I spotted Titania. Was seeing mag 14 stars. Confirmed. Reviewed the positions with Phil. Millie spotted more clouds.

9:32. Viewed NGC 7027. Phil asked, "What are we looking at?" A planetary nebula. I pulled up some pictures. Looked like a flying squirrel! That's what we were seeing, an elongated shape. It reminded Millie of the Dumbbell.

Phil said the clouds were coming in from the north-west. A huge solid mass. Surrendered his computer for movies. We headed to the living room to watch a flick.

measured, photographed, probed

Did some work party recon.

Pried lids.

Unrolled molding.

Shot photos. Sent them to Tony.

Measured the downstairs windows: 38½ total width by 20 height. And recorded key numbers.

Measured the taupe molding: 42 feet.

worked downstairs

Affected some repairs downstairs. For the Great Room door, I transferred the good window screen from the westward door to the east one. As usually, turned into a big job. Also installed working bulbs into the outdoor fixtures. Red, of course.

hardened signage

Put up the new laminated signs. The light etiquette signage for the CAO. Lora and Phil had helped me laminate them. They look much better. And will obviously stand up to the elements.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

received our new neighbour

Michael visited the CAO on Saturday. Now he was a RASC member and a CAO passholder. It was very pleasant to catch up. We talked about the Carr Observatory, the upcoming work party, winter use. He told us a bit about his work in the film industry. Michael offered to help at the work party. Fantastic!

We invited him back for Sunday night after dinner for some observing.


Sorted some computer issues in the GBO. Chatted with Sharmin on Facebook. Sounded like they had a blast at Bayview. Risa yelled at me for not inviting her to the Jupiter broadcast. Huh?

CAO work party article up

Allard informed us that the article for the Carr Astronomical Observatory work party was up.

viewed The 37 (Blue Mountains)

Tried to view the 37 Cluster. Up in the arm of Orion.

3:04 AM. I found it was tiny! Tele Vue 'scope made it look tiny. In the C14, I spotted a double star in it.

SkyTools shows HD 41943 aka Σ848 as a multi-star system that is the whole 37 Cluster! Nutty. The star at the top of the 3, closest to the 7, is the primary star, A. Letters up to Q and R. Impressive! The AB pair is about 2 or 3 arc-seconds apart. [ed: Haas refers to this, as Struve 848, but only notes the AB pair.]

Yawned. Tired. Long day...

3:12. Rob was packing up. Looked like he was leaving; I thought he was staying.

Bill started packing up. Showed me Messier 1 (M1) in his SCT. And the Orion Nebula (Messier 42 or M42).

I tried to find a planetary nebula. NGC 2022. Without success.

Bill and I discussed a night-cap. I closed the roof and parked the 'scope. Done.


The 37 Cluster is also known as NGC 2169, Collinder 83, and OCL 481.

recorded Jupiter (Blue Mountains)

9:23 PM, Friday 11 October 2013. Jim activated the new NSN account for me. When I was unable to access the old account, I immediately assumed it was shutdown for inactivity. And, on that premise, made a new account.

9:35 PM. I sent out a note to the Yahoo!Group telling RASC Toronto Centre members to stay tuned...

10:15. Dietmar asked if I was broadcasting. Not yet. He suggested I could park on a cluster; give people something to look at. Started setting up for the Jupiter event. Moved the MallinCam to the C14 telescope after removing the eyepiece and mirror diagonal. Bill helped as I tried to sort out video issues. Installed the long S-video cable. Connected the RS-485 control cable. Figured out the active serial port. Nothing was showing on the video input of the AVerMedia software. Source was OK. Removed and reinserted the PCMCIA card. Closed all the apps and relaunched. No joy.

10:48. Rebooted the laptop. Again. Saw hot pixels. Bill saw them too. OK. Moving on.

Turned on the cooler. Checked the integration settings. Focused using Aldebaran. Again Bill helped. He thought the seeing was... not good. Like we were under water. Recorded it for a moment, a example of bad seeing. Then slewed to Neptune. Alignment off a bit.

Warned people to watch their step in the observatory. Loose cables between the control computer and the mount... Bob asked if there was anything to look at. Nope. Sorry. Not yet.

I slewed to M33 to have something to look at. But I couldn't see it. And since the go-to pointing was off a little, I had no idea where to shift to. Couldn't see anything. Frustrating.

11:28. Bill said he was freezing. Temperature had continued to drop. Had his wind pants on now. Toque. With BS Protectors. And was considering breaking out the Amarula. Bull! He was imaging The Bubble. Thought the seeing was poor... Said Orion was up.

Dietmar checked in. I was experiencing two issues. The camera was not responding correctly. The text display was working, changing, so I knew I was getting a signal from the camera to the computer. Dietmar rebooted the camera for me. Yeh. It started working.

Also, the Google Hangouts didn't seem to be working right. I could not get back in like before. It was not using the video feed from the camera. I wondered, now that I had the NSN account up, if I should switch to it...

Jupiter was still below the horizon. 1 degree below.

12:06 AM, Saturday 12 October 2013. Bill reported that Betelgeuse and "one of the belt stars" (Mintaka) was up. I was getting really frustrated. Finally, I hard booted everything.

Used the Pleiades for testing.

I manually nudged the mount as Bill watched the view. Then I used the software controls to fine tune the position. Then lost it. Frig! Grabbed the joystick. Hit centre quickly. Meanwhile Katrina joined the Google event. I could hear her typing.

12:09 AM. Asked her to check the URL.

Started playing with the settings in the MallinCam Camera Control software to try to improve the image. It looked like the gain was on.

Invited Nicole to the Google Hangout chat. We talked live through the microphone and speakers until the weird feedback became very distracting. Shut my mic off.

Bill reported taking his first image of the Great Orion Nebula for the year. With a tree stuck in the middle of it.

Felt like the gain was on despite the settings in the software. Dietmar checked if Jupiter was over the hill and trees. He spotted it between the trees.

Phil helped Millie again. Finally got it sorted. Millie was very happy.

Sal said his time lapse panning was working. He and Dietmar chatted about position of the camera, image formats, memory cards, etc.

12:38 AM, Saturday 12 October 2013. Jupiter was up! Visible through the tree branches. 8° up. 38.9 arc-seconds. Magnitude -1.84 extincted to -0.53. According to software, the three shadows were "in progress." I slewed to it.

Jupiter was completely blown out. Asked Dietmar to grab the Quick Reference sheet from the box. I tried to adjust for the recommended settings. Spotted a moon. Turning off the gain. Set to Exposure Control to ALC. Tried 12000, the fastest shutter. Still blown out. BLC off. AGC off. Dropped the Gamma. Set the gain to manual. Focused again with Dietmar watching.

Wanted to close the roof a bit. But it was jammed again! Crap. No tools around. Finally got it going.

Dietmar took to the focuser. We got it a bit better. I turned the camera for better framing. Sal spotted me. Refocused.

Bill said Jupiter looked awful in his 'scope.

Went through all the settings again.

Eric chimed in. Saw the image refreshing. He wondered if I was using a high sense value. I continued to try different settings. I could not seem to control the gain...

Tony popped in. "Yours is bigger than my Jupiter," he said. Yeah: 3.9 metres... He wasn't seeing any shadows despite staring for a long time. Yet. Too many atmospheres.

Stopped getting video. Rebooted the camera.

Sharmin joined in the Google Hangout. Complained, "I don't see anything." She was at the Bayview location. Reported I was having technical problems and I was considering hard booting the laptop. Shared that we were not seeing anything visually.

No options. Hard booted.

I took a look through the Tele Vue and could see one of the shadows. Millie thought she could see two.

Nudged the mount.

Wind was shaking the 'scope. Damn. Took the dew shield off. Put the south wall flaps up. Phil's Dob would shift as soon as he'd let go.

Elaine and Tony popped into the warm room. Tony thought their view was like mine. But they headed to their dome to try some shots.

Sharmin reported they had spotted all three. Eric said the Callisto shadow, according to Starry Night, was sliding off. He was wondering if anyone could see the Great Red Spot. Doug and Keven were online also.

1:45 AM. I shared that the C14 oscillates sometimes when the wind speed over 15 km/h. We were seeing a 10 minutes average of 24 with a peak of 35. I was disappointed with the conditions. But it was a fun experiment trying the Google system. That seemed to work well. Might work well for the prospective "Night at the Observatory" broadcast idea. Brenda confirmed the shadow times, referring to my blog entry. Callisto's shadow would go for another couple of minutes, until 1:50.

Bill could see shadows in his 80mm.

Doug and I played with the Google Hangout settings. Sharing features.

I shut down the video feedback. The system said that the recording would be uploaded to the YouTube channel. Cool. Maybe I'd be able to pull some good frames.

Tony and Elaine came in. Tony said, "That's the best view I've seen." They had shut down their rig. I tore down the MallinCam.

Wind: 42 gusting; 27 average. Increasing. Closed the roof a bit more.

Thanked Elaine for the cheesecake. Triple chocolate! With fruit! Good for ya. Woke me up.

2:30. I reviewed my blog timings again. We wondered if we were seeing one of the moons in front of the planet, along with the shadow. Sal enjoyed the view.

We chatted about SkyTools. My upcoming presentation to the NYAA...

2:35. Ten minutes of shadow left. That was Elaine's first shadow transit; Tony's second.

Bill confirmed they had seen three shadows at Bayview. He said it was a long walk from the parking lot.

2:52. Elaine and Tony headed off to bed. They had a early start tomorrow. Turned on the ceramic heater.

2:53. Checked the local weather conditions. As of 2:37, 10 minute average wind speed 25.7, current 22.0, peak 40.2, humidity 46, barometer 1019.1 and falling, temperature 15.9, wind chill 12.7, dew point 4.3.

Friday, October 11, 2013

doubles before the shadows (Blue Mountains)

Did a bit of observing before the Jupiter event.

8:08 PM. Saturn was not an option for us. Viewed Venus naked eye.

Sal asked for a bubble level. Millie had a small one. He was going to do a panning time lapse...

8:12. Looked at γ (gamma) Corona Australis, a double star in the Excel file, suggested from SkyTools.

Asked Phil if I could borrow his laptop with SkyTools. Felt naked without mine. He brought it into Warm Room. He tried to find some Painter's Tape. We put some red film on his laptop screen.

Millie was trying to set up her Sky-Watcher AllView mount. Without success, it seemed. "I'm desperate. I just can't align..." Phil helped. He wondered if the mount had to be started from a particular position, a "home" position. He spoke frankly: the process she was following didn't make sense to him.

Bill visited the Warm Room. He liked how toasty it was. He was planning to snag a bunch of Messiers in the south. Was curious what I was doing with SkyTools. He also wanted to try out his new 20mm f/2. He was still settling into being at the CAO... enjoying being able to walk about and not having to worry. I, again, encouraged him to stay. "Lots of room!"

Coyotes started up. They were really close this time...

8:47. I covered the very bright LEDs of Phil's computer with "clean edge" painters tape then electrician's tape. Transferred my STX file. Back in business!

8:53. Went back to γ CrA. Down low. Still, got a good view, in the muck...

8:55. Reviewed the detailed info, now, with Phil's machine. Just a pair, gamma. Almost the same magnitude, different by 1 mag. A fast-mover, 122 years. Current separation 1.4. Tight. Maximum is 1.9". Software says it is not visible. I could not split it, sadly. In either the C14 or the TV101. For another day...

Tried to go to He 2-370. TheSky did not have it according to that designation. I also tried PK 002-5.1 and ESO 456-79. I had to find something in the area... Not too far from δ (delta) Sagittarii. Compared the planetarium views between the two applications.

9:06. I could not see the planetary nebula. Supposed to be magnitude 11.5. But only 10 arc-seconds. Small. Looking at it too late...

Tony d.S. visited. Saw the MallinCam sitting on the desk. He was looking forward to the Jupiter event. He wondered if the magnification would be OK. I thought it would work. But we had Powermates, if needed, my 2x, the Centre's 4x.

The palmtop alarm kept going off, for the next ISS flyby. Not a terribly good one. I tried to check the Heavens Above web site. It was pooched. I could not check the details of the 9:20 flyover. I had only noted that was to start in the SW.

9:21. Tony and I had a good chat about satellites. He had seen a couple in the telescope when he was polar aligning. I reminded him that there were 8000 up there. Shared my theory of satellite "highways."

9:29. With the 27mm in the C14, was able to split fast-mover HD 136176 aka Σ1932. Stars were equally bright, I thought. Mags 6.6 and 7.5. Even though down in the muck in the west. Nice. [ed: On my list to re-observe as I had not been able to split it before, with my C8.]

Bill returned my Canon USB cable he had borrowed earlier. Didn't need it. He showed me his Chameleon camera. Crazy, so tiny. $400. Twice the chip and yet half the price of the SKYnyx... He continued shooting Messiers.

Checked the field of view rectangle for the MallinCam in TheSky 6. It showed that Jupiter would be a decent size. I added telescope and camera info to Phil's SkyTools. And corroborated the view. I was happy. It suggested I would not need to use a doubler. Bill thought this would be a good plan, given how low it would be.

Bill looked at Triton.

He provided a beverage. Thanks, man!

9:57. Headed to the Cat's Eye Nebula. NGC 6543. Neat! 391x in the C14. Almond-shaped planetary.

Lots of north-bound meteors were spotted by others, including Bill. Millie had not seen any. She was curious what the current showers were. I checked my web site. South Taurids started yesterday. Orionids were to start next week. North Taurids the week after that. So there was nothing in the south. These were either sporadics. Or perhaps a new shower? Could the fireballs from the last couple of weeks suggest something new was emerging?

Millie sounded dejected at not getting her mount working.

10:11. I could see the central star in the Cat's Eye. Mag 11. Elaine took a look.

Elaine saw me using Evernote. We talked about tags and notebooks. She asked about task management. Ah. Something Evernote ain't good at. Suggested RTM. Remember The Milk!

watched Station (Blue Mountains)

Watched the ISS fly over. I was not quite ready with my MallinCam set-up to record it.

Bill shot some photos with his DSLR. Copyright © Bill Longo 2013. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission. Sorta.

still want more info

Bailey phoned.

We chatted with about me teaching for her grade 9 astronomy class. We went over some specifics, dates, times. Except for perhaps discussed the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram, she did not have an suggestions for topics or themes. I wondered (out loud) if I should look at the RASC materials regarding the curriculum...

She thought I wasn't interested; I was distracted by local activities. And anxious to sort out the remaining MallinCam technical issues. I had to close the call. I was interested. But I didn't feel we were getting anywhere. I had a lot of unanswered questions.

We agreed to chat more later.

prepared for broadcast

Wanted to bench-test with the MallinCam beside the laptop in preparation of the evening broadcast.

Millie popped into the Warm Room. She wanted to know who was going to set up in the observatory. I told her I didn't know for sure. But Bill might.

Tried logging into the Night Skies Network. Didn't work. I assumed they had shut down the account for inactivity. I requested a new account. Oops. That just closed a door. I should have started this process last night...

4:24 PM. Installed Google Voice and Video. Wondered about testing a Hangout. It didn't seem to work initially.

4:51. I restarted the laptop computer. Cold iron! Learned that broadcasting required a linked YouTube account. The confirmation code via SMS did not work; land line phone did. Started the browser first. Then the AVerMedia grabber. It worked! Woo hoo!

But the video was backwards or mirror reversed—perhaps it was meant to be that way. Looking from the inside... Inside the Matrix.

5:21 PM. Did a test with Katrina. I invited her.

She could hear things at my end.

5:28 PM. She could hear the crickets! Ha ha. My microphone was on. Didn't even know the Dell had a mic... Must be an audio-ready laptop, with the stereo speakers. Tested the Chat feature inside Google+ but she didn't see what I was typing. We chatted via Facebook in the meantime. Looked in the YouTube environment...

6:18 PM. She switched browsers. It appeared to work in Firefox on her Mac.

So, overall, it looked like it was working.

It was time to get some dinner...

showed Bill around

Bill arrived! Finally. He's at the CAO. Amazing.

Did the tour!

this weekend or generally?

Knox emailed me after an undeliverable bounce to Lora. I pinged Lora on the intercom. We were unclear about when he was thinking about visiting...

joined AstroBin

Created my own AstroBin account, finally. Partly to see it from the inside. And to comment on friends photos. Sent Manuel a message. Marked SmackAstro as a favourite.

viewed Sol (Blue Mountains)

Solar observing. Full spectrum and hydrogen-alpha. C14, Tele Vue, and the Oberwerk. I took some photos. Then tore down the filters.

Tele Vue 101, Coronado Solar Max, Canon 40D, 1/50 second, ISO 640.


I don't know what happened to this image... I'll reprocess it when I have a chance.

greased the wheels

Bill was at work. Could not remember his creds to log in.

I sent him the CAO map and directions. Encouraged him to stay overnight. Reminded him to bring his sleeping bag, pillow, food, etc. Already had a kit in the car, he said. Including MRE. He said he'd depart around 4. Asked about the alcohol policy. Right! Yes! Must bring comps to supervisor! He wanted to know if we had AC power. And extension cords. Whatever you need, man.

Later, he pinged me. Reservation had been made. And he was leaving in 5 minutes. Ha.

said we were open

Sent a note to the RASC Toronto Centre Yahoo!Group advising that Carr Astronomical Observatory the would be open for the long weekend. Weather was looking good for the next couple of days. And that I was the supervisor.

Shared that we would be trying to view the International Space Station, Uranus, Neptune, comets, and many other fuzzy things. And, tonight, the rare triple shadow transit on Jupiter.

Included the note, "Hey Bill! You should come to the CAO!"

Was trying to be brief, on one hand... And this started to backfire almost immediately.

Rob asked when I was going to arrive and open. Guess he missed the signature text: "sent... while at the CAO." I told him where I was!

I did not include the particulars of when I'd be closing either. And this would also come back to haunt me.

set the hook

Bill, considering the shadows on Jupiter, posted on his Facebook page: "Kirkfield tonight?" I replied in short order: "Hey Bill. You should come to the CAO!" Two minutes later, the hook was in!

tagged Triton and Hickson 93 (Blue Mountains)

Possibly my first time in a long time observing without SkyTools at my side...

Shortly after my arrival, around 9:00 PM, I opened the observatory quickly. For Sal. Slewed to Al Geidi.

We viewed Neptune in the C14 and Ian's 12½" Dob 'scope. 391x in the SCT. Around 350x in Ian's reflector with a 10mm and 2.5x doubler. After a time, we spotted Triton!

Took me a while to get the Sony IC Recorder going. I tried a bunch of my green Duracell rechargeable NiMH AAA batteries. They didn't seem to work. Are they getting old and tired? I've had them for a while. And, for some reason, I believe this type of rechargeable doesn't last as long. Then the SX750 prompted me for the time. Seems to have lost its real-time clock data. Attached the wind sock. Set the recorder in the little stand. Happily, all the recorded audio seemed to be intact. Crickets!

11:12 PM. Organised the warm room. Camera adapters, etc.

Helped Sal find Polaris with the RASC green laser. This helped him aim the Vixen Polarie. Initially way off.

Ian was set up on the east end of Observing Pad.

Updated the Firefox browser toolbar button for the local CAO weather station, so to use the new address. Huh. Then I found the images were not current. As of 3 PM yesterday. Something wrong with the server? Considered trying to remote-in but couldn't remember the IP address...

Still had not found my eyeglasses strap. The preferred one, anyway. I know I packed it.

Headed to the house to return my keys, get my pants belt, to check the weather on the console, to fix the server. Decided against it, so to preserve my night vision; left it for tomorrow.

Outside temperature 13°C; dew point 9°; humidity 79%; air pressure 1020.6 (and dropping overall). Wind: was fluctuating between 10 and 14 km/h, out of the south-east. Bearing 133°. 10 minute average: 11. Inside humidity 58%.

The Clear Sky Charts looked good. Thursday night looks pretty good, dark-dark.

Checked Environment Canada, for Collingwood. 102.1 kPa and falling, 8.6°C, 7.6 dew point, humidity 94%, wind out of the south at 6 km/h. Friday clear 21, Saturday clear 21, Sunday rain, 60% POP. Clearing on Monday.

Milky Way was very apparent. Arcing overhead.

Downloaded files from my dropbox. Loaded the Excel file, the export from SkyTools, uploaded from home. I reformatted the cells to be white text on a black fill. Ha. Much easier to view on the monitor. Made a custom toolbar with the strikeout button. Sorted by the Optimum column.

Was a little thrown by the R in the Observation Status column. I guessed it meant "re-observe." [ed: Yes, R means Re-observe. And the others: N means Not yet observed; nothing shows for "no value;" and finally Y means Observed!]

Cracked open a soda.

Made a note of the process to add a comet in TheSky 6. Click on the Data menu, Comets and Minor Planets..., then uncheck old comets, as necessary, so to (hopefully) speed up the software and to unclutter the simulated sky. From The Web section, click the Observable... button. Then choose the preferred comet from the sorted list and click Add. It is automatically checked or made active. This assumes, obviously, there's a network connection.

Added 154P/Brewington, C/2010 S1 (LINEAR), C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy), 2P/Encke (added it again), C/2011 J2 (LINEAR), C/2012 S1 (ISON). Turned off L4 (Pan-STARRS).

Tried to view Brewington in Aquarius. SkyTools said it was magnitude 11.4, with a coma diameter of 3.9', only 0.9 AU from Earth; detectable. Dropped from a high power eyepiece in the C14 to the 27mm (so, 145x). Then the 50mm. Used the Tele Vue with the 10mm (so around 50x). Then the 27mm (20x). No joy. Double-checked the location—seemed OK. SkyTools said 21h58m30.8s by -04°29'44".

Ian W popped in. He was imaging the Bubble. He didn't think the transparency was all that good. A lot of moisture in the air. More sky glow. But steady. He took a look in the C14. He wondered if he didn't see a very faint object... Above the brightest star. Really?! I couldn't.

We chatted about comets. Ian said Hyakutake was still his favourite.

Ian went to bed. He planned to get up in a few hours to go after ISON, photographically and visually. Jupiter too.

Moon down. I took Sky Quality Meter readings. Best one was 21.18. Best for the season, so far: 21.28.

Getting tired.

Wanted to warm up the Warm Room. Closed the door. Fired up the portable ceramic heater.

Headed to the Andromeda-Pegasus border. Viewed NGC 7550, aka Arp 99. Very small. Went for more power. Started initially (by accident) with the 10mm eyepiece in the C14. That made it big. But it was very dark, the view. Perhaps a spiral. ST3P said mag 13.1. When I switched to the 18mm (217x), and I could see other objects! Zoomed in with TheSky 6. Spotted a mag 12.4 star to the south, GSC 01715-1460, and another galaxy to the north (NGC 7549, mag 14.1). And then one to the west (NGC 7547, mag 14.7).

Sal visited the Warm Room. Invited him to look. He thought them very faint. Wasn't sure he saw all three...

I didn't realise it at the time that these galaxies were part of the Hickson 93 galaxy group. Which contains four members, actually. I did not see 7553, the smallest galaxy in the cluster, or 7558 to the east.

With the big Oberwerk binoculars, Sal and I viewed the Pleiades (Messier 45 or M45). Awesome. I showed Sal how to rotate the turret eyepieces. Then the Orion nebula. Excellent at 25x.

12:58 AM. I closed the roof and shut down for the evening.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

MODL paperwork done

Take care of the last MODL loose end... Finally!

went due north

OK. Not strictly due north. Up? Point is, I was not coming from Toronto proper, points normally further east. For the first time (I think) I drove from Mississauga to the CAO. Certainly it was the first time travelling from the new "home." And, consequently, avoided the airport-401-Dixie-410-highway madness.

On seeing that Highway 410 was a parking lot between the 401 and the 407, I opted to use Kennedy. Straight up. Not bad. It got a little stop-and-go, with traffic lights, in Brampton. I probably could have deked over sooner (Queen, Steeles, even Derry) but I was a little unfamiliar with the streets. I finally blipped over to the highway via the Williams Parkway.

At the new PetroCan in Caledon, did a splash of and go (91 octane sadly). Then grabbed a bite in Orangeville. Stars showing... But no aurora.

Not too many animals on the dark road. Nothing big.

As I arrived the observatory, I killed the lights. Ian's truck and trailer on the left. Sal had parked in the middle of the driveway by the house so I couldn't pull up. He was in the kitchen having dinner.

Tony's trying

After not hearing anything myself, after a couple of attempts, I asked Tony to contact the treasurer about the status of the MODL paperwork. He sent a note outlining what we needed to know.

above average

Holy. Just received a sky alert from CSAC.
Favorable observing conditions at Carr Astronomical Observatory

  Based on your CAO subscription.

Opportunities to observe at: (Clouds/Trans/Seeing)
10-10 @ Hour 21 for 1 hours (0%/Transparent/Good)
10-11 @ Hour 05 for 2 hours (0%/Above Ave./Excellent)
10-11 @ Hour 08 for 11 hours (0%/Above Ave./Good)
10-11 @ Hour 20 for 2 hours (0%/Above Ave./Good)
10-12 @ Hour 05 for 2 hours (0%/Above Ave./Good)
10-12 @ Hour 08 for 1 hours (0%/Above Ave./Good)
Looks fantastic!


And then from CalSky, reminders of the ISS passes!

flames spotted

New RASC member Mangesh replied to Eric's message about Ms Munro but was suddenly asking about a new telescope store in the GTA and telescope-camera adapter. Oh oh. Not surprisingly, things went red hot in short order. Then Randy lost it. Ralph finally stepped in to close the thread. Sheesh.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

work party notice sent

Tony sent the CAO work party announcement article to the web team. With a couple of photos.

checked CAO usage

Reviewed the utilisation of the CAO with Steve. He replied, "Looks like 62% or so of all weekends and 63% of the regular season. Not so bad." Yeah. I don't have a lot of empirical data to refer to. But in my gut it feels like we had a good year. Almost every week in the summer!

no time

Allard asked me to send an article, brief introduction, plus a high resolution image, to the web team regarding the triple shadow transit. Poor timing. Too busy to do it in the time before the event. I apologised.

investigated alert

Another alarm. Ian W checked into it shortly after. All OK. Birdies? Ladybugs?!

walking north (Mississauga)

Clear sky again. Spotted the Moon. Walking home from the bus stop. Fake comets to the north...

local resident joined

Micheal joined! Cool. We converted a local. That's awesome. He sent a note to Lora saying, "I went to the open house last weekend. Had a great time, and decided to join the RASC Toronto chapter." He also purchased a CAO season pass! Wow. Asked if he could visit the observatory again on the weekend. She encouraged him to visit and gain him lots of good info.

bus stop sighting (Mississauga)

Jupiter high and bright. Orion starting to fall. Sirius sparkling. Cassiopeia upright to the north.

As per the iDevice.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

more Yahoo complaints

Mickey decided to bash Yahoo! He sent a message on the main RASC Toronto Centre listserv entitled "Yahoo Needs to Go." But without any concrete alternatives. Great. Thanks a lot.

That lit a fire. Bryon jumped on the band wagon. He was having major issues with his Apple products. Jason said he "hated" Yahoo.

I asked people to remain calm. Shared that even I was having issues. Assured them we were looking at the issues. But at the same time we had an investment in Yahoo. And it would not be trivial for us to take it on.

Jason told members to reply to him. Corrected it and send reply to webteam. What am I? Chopped liver? What about Ralph? The co-owners of most of the groups. Jack ass.

I asked Bryon and Mickey what they would like to do to help. Bryon was willing to listen; Mickey said he was too busy. Allard and I initiated a dialogue with all the squeaky wheels. Allard laid out some of the considerations if we wanted to integrate into our new Drupal back end. And all of a sudden, it got awfully quiet.

how to attract

The RASC TC Facebook team referred to Jim's Uranus-Jupiter photo. Good. After Risa nudged them, they tagged my "more shadow details" blog entry. Thank you. But nothing about the city observing session or "star party" tonight! Come on! So much for attracting new members...

identified the field

Helped Risa recognise the field of view in the Andromeda galaxy she had imaged. She wanted to know if she was seeing the galactic arm.

Short answer: yes.

Remind her that with her 8" SCT, she was at high magnification! Tight on the galaxy centre and M32. I estimated the field to be less than 40 by 25 arc minutes. Only getting a fraction of the entire galaxy. Also was seeing stars down to magnitude 15 and 16!

Sent her some charts from SkyTools.

you make a list

Gave Elaine and Tony a homework assignment in SkyTools: make a list of edge-on galaxies. We could check them out on Friday night!

on the hunt for red

Kiron directed me as to where the red LED blinkies were at the CAO. Not in the kitchen, as I had discovered. He sent me to the work room. OK!

received update from Ian

Ian W did some recon at the CAO. Phone line OK. Photo'ed the tracks on the lawn. Checked the furnace. Measured the RG-6.

updated on MODL

Phil updated on his and Ostap's MODL paperwork. Thanks.

considered a broadcast

Started to seriously consider trying to broadcast the Jupiter-shadow event from the CAO using the C14 and the MallinCam.

Perhaps with our Night Skies Network account. Or Google Hangouts. Katrina liked the idea... Phil said he'd help.

the shuffle

Started room planning for guest at the CAO for the Thanksgiving weekend...

confused himself

Mangesh peppered the main Yahoo!Group with messages.

It started with: "Something happened and I got booted out of yahoo mailing list. Also password link is not working. My password is not working. Nor the SUBMIT button on forgot password link is not working. I have sent help request. I wish to remain in this email chain." Curiously, this was a reply to a message IN the main group, to the group, with the subject line "Comets." He clearly was seeing messages and able to reply. So still part of the "chain."

Ralph replied. Unfortunately, to the group. Still, he pointed out the replies were working. And Ralph intimated that he had checked his subscription on the group. So everything was OK.

More off-topic messages about his experience. It was at this point that I noticed he was using a Blackberry.

Phil replied and looped me in. Eric replied, off-line. Thank goodness. Pointed out that Yahoo has lots of password "checkpoints." Mangesh said, "Please add me back in." Then, "Maybe we can make this simpler." Um. Yeah. Computer says no.

Ralph confirmed he was in the list. He didn't understand what Mangesh was talking about. Me neither.

Monday, October 07, 2013

asked to teach a lesson

Bailey asked me if I wanted to teach her grade 9 class "astronomy one day." I was intrigued.

tuned into York U

Tuned into York U's astronomy radio program. They interviewed Dr Chou. It was an enjoyable show.

next: the work party

And now, to get right back on the horse again, it was time to do autumnal CAO work party planning in earnest. Out like a lion... Or, as Tony likes to say: no rest for the wicked. Steve and I chatted on the way down from the Blue Mountains. Tony and I started talking about tasks and coaching.

the lines blurred

A notice was sent to the entire RASC Toronto Centre membership using the new MailChimp system. And, oddly, it was not about astronomy. It was an important issue. But it just felt, to me, out of place. Not the right forum. One of the first uses, directly from the president no less, and no astronomy or science content.


I wonder if it contributed, indirectly, to the tensions that revealed themselves a few days later, with the off-topic messages in the Yahoo!Group. At least with the listserv, people can turn down the volume. The MailChimp was forced.

another item for the supervisors

After reviewing the configuration at the observatory on the weekend, I sent a note to the supervisors about fire safety issues for our guests staying downstairs at the CAO. Discussed the current state given locks and keys. Apologised for putting more on their plate.

Asked they all acknowledge.

more shadow details

Chris suggested I make the triple shadow details a "Facebook" post. Curiously, the IT chair is not allowed to do that... And then I remarked, why not our web site? Ha. I can't do that either. So, I'll copy what I put on the private Yahoo!Group.


Some more information for the Jupiter triple SHADOW transit. Including other events! It will be a busy night!

Note: Jupiter, viewed directly, without any atmospheric effects, is magnitude -1.8.

All dates and times are LOCAL, i.e. apply for the Toronto area.

11:00 PM Fri 11 Oct - Callisto's shadow appears (1st)
11:30 PM Fri 11 Oct - Europa's shadow appears (2nd)

11:45 PM Fri 11 Oct - Jupiter rises, in the NE, at 58° azimuth
11:50 PM Fri 11 Oct - Jupiter reaches magnitude 4
midnight Fri 11 Oct - Jupiter reaches magnitude 2
12:15 AM Sat 12 Oct - Jupiter is at 5° elevation or altitude
12:25 AM Sat 12 Oct - Jupiter reaches magnitude 0

12:30 AM Sat 12 Oct - Io's shadow appears (3rd)
12:45 AM Sat 12 Oct - Great Red Spot appears (on eastern edge)
12:50 AM Sat 12 Oct - Jupiter is at 10° elevation

01:10 AM Sat 12 Oct - Jupiter reaches magnitude -1
01:15 AM Sat 12 Oct - Jupiter is at 15° elevation
01:45 AM Sat 12 Oct - Io transits (in front) of Jupiter
01:50 AM Sat 12 Oct - Callisto's shadow disappears

02:00 AM Sat 12 Oct - Europa's shadow disappears
02:05 AM Sat 12 Oct - Europa transits (in front) of Jupiter
02:30 AM Sat 12 Oct - Great Red Spot at centre meridian
02:45 AM Sat 12 Oct - Io's shadow disappears

You can see that shadow transit events are IN PROGRESS as Jupiter rises over our eastern horizon. But the third shadow will appear after it is above our horizon. From 11:45 PM it is a 2 hour show.

For maximum visibility, you'll need an excellent sight line to the north-east.

I'll likely be at the CAO (I'm the supervisor this weekend). Our north-east horizon is blocked by a gentle hill. That said, we'll be able to see Jupiter as it rises over the tree line at 12:40 AM Saturday morning at about 8.5° elevation.

And... just to be perfectly clear: you need to be ready to observe/image this Friday evening.

P.S. Set your planetarium software to use a longitude of 203 for the Great Red Spot. The "rot_rotation_offset" for Stellarium should be 310.

sought help on security

Tony sent a note to the CAO committee and beyond. He shared that we want to undertake a study of a new security system. He asked for helpers.


As I suspected, there were no takers...

we'll need new signs

We talked about new signs for the CAO.

The CoroPlast ones were holding up; the foam core ones were not.

thanked POH volunteers

Sent a note of thanks to the volunteers for helping at the Public Open House.


Reminded the supervisors that power is to be left on in the GBO.

asked to help at the opener

Stuart asked if I would present at the season opener for the RASC Members Night at the David Dunlap Observatory. Theme: comets. Sure.

So that means I'm on deck on Saturday 16 November.

get ready for the triple shadows

The rare triple moon shadow transit on Jupiter will occur this weekend. It actually begins Friday night. It will be in progress as Jupiter rises around 11:45 PM (for people near 80° west longitude, i.e. Toronto, Barrie, etc.). And it will continue to 2:45 AM Saturday morning.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

where'd he go?

Ian left the CAO. Not a peep! I thought he wanted my help...

Saturday, October 05, 2013


We figured out why the GBO was so stinky...

Tony spotted it in the utility closet...

ran successful POH

We had a good Public Open House. Easy prep during the day. I made the name tags (had to tape the plastic holders to ensure the paper inserts didn't fall out). Had an early dinner. We staggered the parking lot duties. Sharmin took photos!

Tony was the MC.

The talks by Ian and Steve were good.

We had a brief window of clear skies. I floated for much of the event.

I did a brief introduction to Stellarium for the hangers-on. I wanted to do a virtual sky tour but they were more interested in how the software worked... There goes my script!

A few familiar faces. Met Michael. Lives not far from the CAO. He seems pretty keen!

We received over $200 in donations.


Sharmin put all of her CAO weekend shots on Facebook.


A couple of women attended the first talk but then spent the balance of the evening upstairs in the living room. Huh? Part of Bren's crew? Someone had a lot of fragrance on. Made my eyes water. Date night at the observatory?

POH never showed on Facebook

The Public Open House was never advertised on our Facebook page. It is unclear why. Opportunity lost.

Friday, October 04, 2013

and definitely not

Kiron told Lora his group decided to cancel their trip north due to the weather.

travelled with Steve

Travelled with Steve to the CAO. We aimed for a 3:30 PM departure.

Grabbed food and drink on the way. I treated Steve, finally; thanks for the old phone system.

We spotted a fault on entrance. Phone line was bad. I phoned 611 and filed a report. Said they'd have someone by on Monday to fix it. Uh huh.

Settled in. And started vacuuming flies...


Bob cancelled.

The Manuels cancelled.

locale paper is best

As Lora sent out the guest list, she noted how people had heard about us...
Our event was promoted through:

* RASC website, as of Sep 10 (4)
* Blue Mountain Courier Herald, Sep 25 & Oct 2 (5)
*, Sep 15 (0)
*, Sep 21 (0)
* Chamber of Commerce, Sep 25 (1)
* Poster at Ravenna General Store, Sep 14 (0)
* Poster at Farmer's Pantry, Sep 14 (0)
* Thornbury library, Sep 14 (0)
* Other - please specify (0)

NOTE:  We revised the website on September 25 to include a questionnaire to track how our guests found out about this event.  Unfortunately, we don't have any data for the 8 registrants who booked prior to the 25th.  However, what results we do have are shown in () above.  They show that the website and newspaper have the best impact.
Interesting stuff.

definitely attending

Kiron assured us his group of 20 people would be attending the CAO for the POH.

connector help

Ian asked if I could build some mount-computer cables for him. Sounds like a job for...

Telescope Repair Man!

they should fix it first

Phil and I discussed a database matter. National Office was sending him files which, when he opened them, seemed corrupted. I found this upsetting. I couldn't tell, at this stage, the root cause of the problem but I thought it important that he or Ralph let NO know about this. I was uncomfortable deploying anything at this stage if there was a possibility that might change things on their end.

rubber message

Tried to invite Celine to the Public Open House but her email bounced.

open rain or shine

Katrina noted she was the CAO supervisor and the reminded members of the open house event on Saturday. She also reminded booked guests to keep her and Lora apprised of their status, particularly if cancelling.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

monitored POH discussions

Lots of discussion today on the upcoming Public Open House. On name tags, Kiron's group, religion and astronomy, waiting lists, the weather, receiving the guests who are going to ignore the "doors open at..." message and arrive early. Wow.

moving Cosmos

Finished watching Cosmos, again. Dr Carl Sagan's personal journey. Amazing. Still amazing after all these years.

I first watched this program when it was aired by the US Public Broadcasting Service in 1980.

"We are one planet."

name tag matter

Grace sent a note, admitting it wasn't strictly POH related, raising—again—the issue of name tags for the CAO committee. She wanted to know how to go about getting this from council.

Tony followed up. Said the job was likely going to fall to him.  But he wanted some feedback from the rank-and-file. He said he'd appreciate an opportunity to talk about it at the CAO.

I was a little irked. It is true it is nothing to do with the POH. Or even the CAO directly. I see it as a council matter. And it's simple. The plastic blue tags made it the past, it is my understanding, were made for executive, councillors, and committee chairs. And the simple thing to do was to crank out a new batch with the new logo. Done.

Understood Grace's frustration that the whole thing had stalled. But at the same time, there's little, if anything, that the POH committee could do. Maybe the CAO committee proper could elevate it with council. Perhaps she was making the matter public to get some traction...

all day observing?

Joan messaged me. She had noted that the web site showed the city observing dates as "all day" activities. She asked, "Aren't these gatherings usually at night?"

I explained that the webteam had probably, in the interest of speed, quickly entered the calendar events without times attached.

Forwarded the concern.

coons and skunks (Kirkfield)

After driving to Don Mills, Bill took me to The Secret Place. We were huntin' aurora! No joy. Despite a KP index rating of 4 or 5 with a predicted maximum of 6. But we saw a ton of meteors. And enjoyed the dark skies. Orion rose as we drove back.


While Bill worked on some star trails, I goofed around with the Canon 40D and the stock 18-55 lens. Grabbed a bunch of RAW images.

10:55 PM, 2 October 2013. Used Lyra to get focused.

10:58 PM. Aimed north. Had Bill paint the road with his flashlight. 30 seconds, f/4.5, ISO 1600, daylight white balance, self-timer, tripod mounted, no noise reduction, 18mm. .

11:28. Gathered a bunch of images centred on the constellation Andromeda. 10 seconds. Brightened and unsharpened in DPP.

11:34. Shot Taurus with the Pleiades. We moved to the causeway. Brightened and unsharpened in DPP.

12:19 AM, 3 October 2013. Shot Taurus again, but with the water. At 24mm. Brightened and unsharpened in DPP.

12:47 AM. We were both a little disappointed in the lack of aurora. Headed by to the school. Bill sat in the car. I didn't want to take too long. 30 seconds, 25mm.

All photos unprocessed, except where noted. I did gather a bunch of 10 second darks... for the database.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

more POH planning

Did a bunch of Public Open House planning. Consolidating notes, assigning jobs, making up a schedule, etc. Looped Katrina in. She wanted a fancy vest. OK. Sheesh!

out of the pool

Dealt with a security issue at the observatory.

was it the wind?

Checked the weather conditions at the observatory.
  • 10 min. average wind speed: 17.7
  • direction:  almost due west (from)
  • daily high wind speed: 41.8
  • instantaneous wind speed: 14.5
Noticed the wind had gone up to 55 on Sunday night.

developed a new sign

Tony spotted a sign at a city event.

Based on it, I made a "you may be photographed" sign for the CAO. Sent it 'round for view.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

on meet up closing

There was some discussion about the meet-up group Astronomy Toronto shutting down. It seemed no one wanted to run with it. I jumped into the dialogue late and suggested we invite all the members to shift over to our Facebook page. And urged that we make it clear we still meet up!

thanked the crew

Thanked for the volunteers, on the Yahoo!Group, for running the Probus event.

POH conference

Conducted a Skype meeting with a bunch of the Public Open House people. To make sure we had all the bases covered. That everyone was on the same page. Sharmin, Ian, Tony, Lora, Grace, Steve, and Phil joined it. I checked with Katrina, if she had any requests. I felt like we were in pretty good shape.

dew heating 101

A member asked about the placement of dew heater straps and the size of a dew shield. I suggested the heaters line up with the objective, so to transfer maximum heat to the glass. And that rule of thumb for a shield was with a length 1.5 times the diameter. We also discussed that contrast could be improved by blocking stray light.

considered a virtual tour

Idea popped into my head that if we were clouded out at the Public Open House, we could, like they do at the David Dunlap Observatory, run Stellarium and do a virtual sky tour. Talked to Sharmin. Chris graciously sent me his Skylab notes.

happy anniversary

Happy 55, National Aeronautics and Space Administration!

You've made the world a better place.