Wednesday, April 02, 2014

imaged weird thing (Blue Mountains)

Decided to start viewing the mystery object starting now. SkyTools showed the Auriga area was already dropping from the peak elevation (at 7 PM) according to a neighbouring star. The various skymarks for the my weird blob and Nicole's moving thing did not have viewing times listed. The target area would still be above the 2x at midnight. And the Moon will be down at 11. Slewed to GSC 03361-1239, between HD 39863 and IC 2149, the site from 2 nights ago. Bumped the power up with the 27mm.

Fire trucking wild. Messaged Nicole that I had just seen the fuzzy in the same spot as the Friday night! I saw the flattened triangle of bright stars at the bottom of the field of view (or west) with the brightest element, a mag 9.2 star, being TYC 03361-0643 1. Curiously, I could see a faint star (a companion?) beside it although ST3P said it was mag 14.2.

The fuzzy was pretty close the the position I had marked (from memory) from Friday. The thing was actually a bit further to the east. But the distances were good. The fuzzy was the same distance from star GSC 03361-1453 as it was from GSC 03361-1239. But more like a right-angle triangle with GSC 03361-1453 at the apex. Wow.

Not moving... Or it's moving very slowly?

9:13. Nicole suggested I should image it myself. Duh. Why not?! To make my own record. I started noodling on what I'd need. Suited up quickly and headed out the air lock.  Chose Menkalinan for focusing. Crude focus by hand.

9:18. Then headed back to the region.

9:23. Did a 30 second exposure. Got it! Frickin' nuts! Very exciting. Really interesting. Have I found something not charted?!

Pointing was off a smidge. In TS6 I would have nudged it. In ST3P I rotated the camera field to match. Then in ST3P did a slight off-setting slew, further to the west. All right, centred! Crude focus. By hand.

Programmed the intervalometer for 45 second subs at 1 minute intervals, i.e. a 15 second gap. Let it go for a while.

9:40. Considered this was the exact area as Friday. So what did I see in Nicole image from yesterday. Is this a generally unexplored area of the sky? No, surely that can't be.

Considered some other targets from my observing list, while waiting. Puppis targets did not seem like a good idea with the murky horizon. Too low. Andromeda and Perseus were setting; really the wrong time of year for them. I was not comfortable retracting the roof more.

Stopped the intervalometer.

10:05. Really interesting. Fine-tuned the focusing a bit with the TCF. Pretty good. Increased the exposure time to 90 seconds. Refined the intervalometer settings, with a 1:45 interval, and a 10 second delay. And I saw even more stuff! A batch to the west. Fainter. But connecting stuff between! That makes it a very large thing! Freaky. Curves to the west. It is about 2 arc-minutes in length! Wow!

Wondered what I should do? What are the next steps? Considered returning to the area Nicole imaged. It was more to the east.

10:10. Crunched the numbers for the imaging run. 10 images, less than 2 min each, so less than 20 minutes total. So around 10:30 it would be done. Then I could do darks. For post-processing.

Very nice sky. Very low wind.

10:18. Chatted with Nicole. She had an iTelescope imaging run lined up.

Moon was getting low. Low the 2 airmass level.

Wondered about friends down at the RASC meeting at the Ontario Science Centre. Chris had said he was going to take his telescope so to view Jupiter and Mars. Initially, when he said that, I thought Jupiter would be too low. Au contraire. Jupiter was still way up; Mars was lying close to the ground. And from the OSC parking lot, I wondered if the Don Mills apartment buildings would thwart their efforts.

Checked emails. Meeting recordings. Supervisor stuff. Awards Picnic matters. ARO tour. Annoying messages from Network Solutions. BS. Mr dos Santos said he enjoyed my site CAO photos and asked about Friday dinner. Oops...

Beautiful sky. Just beautiful. Realised I should be going for DSOs.

10:32. Was not hearing anything... The battery had died in the camera. Oops. Attached the AC adapter and DC coupler. Only got 6 good photos at 90 seconds. Initiated a new run.

10:37. Got 6 frames at 90 seconds. Needed 4 more. So less than 8 minutes. So 10:46 when done. Then I could get the darks. Did some visual planning...

10:49. Switched to dark frame gathering. Laid the camera on the floor with the body cap installed. Re-initiated the intervalometer again. Darks would be done at 11:21.

Put an eyepiece in. Reconfigured the SkyTools software for visual work.


All shots... Canon 40D. ISO 1600, daylight white balance, no noise reduction. RAW. On the Celestron 14 so f/11. Little or no processing in DPP.

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