Thursday, April 03, 2014

some visual observing (Blue Mountains)

Ran TheSky on the laptop in zenith mode so I had a dynamic display of the whole sky.

Considered targets in Sextans. Had to remind myself where it was. Above Crater, below Leo. Beside Hydra. Huh. Noticed that TheSky 6 was not showing the constellation lines for Sextans.

10:50 PM, Wed 2 Apr 2014. Slewed to Ghost of Jupiter, aka NGC 3242 (aka Caldwell 59), in Hydra, even though I have viewed it before. 3 years ago. Did not have to drop the south wall panels. Quite large in the 27mm. Thought I some swirling structure within. Took out the 18 and 10mm.

11:11 PM. Woo hoo. Neat object. Was able to crank the power. 391x with the 10mm. Nice view. I think I can see bright rings inside. Bright point in the centre. Diffuse at the outer edges. Nearly round. Not a lot of field stars. Noted TYC 06065-0765 1 nearby. Large in the eyepiece!

Postponed my Friday night training / dinner with the dos Santos... Dang.

Went to house for the iPod Touch. Made a hot chocolate from my supply (unopened box, yeah). Spotted the Double Cluster over the house naked eye. The Beehive up high. Looked at the southern sky on the way back with Hydra, Alphard, Corvus. I love that pair of δ (delta) and η (eta) Corvi. Sextans is just above Alphard, right? A large diamond of faint stars? Tried to spot Crater.

Nicole and I were instant messaging. I told her it was a beautiful night. And I had hot chocolate. She replied, "You're killin' me."

Softer viewer now. Probably because it was so low.

11:36. Stopped the dark run. Shut down the Canon. Had another look at the blob. A little softer now. Probably because it was so low.

Headed to the Spindle, thinking of Mr dos Santos. Not far from λ (lambda) Hydrae. Also previously viewed.

11:43. Looked at the Spindle galaxy, NGC 3115 (aka Caldwell 53), in Sextans. Lovely. Canted spiral. Very bright pin-point centre. Progressive smooth gradient from the centre. Large in the 27mm. Mag 10.0. A straight line of faint stars parallel to the plane of the galaxy to the south-east, with TYC 05477-1015 1, and the brightest member being PPM 193074, at mag 10.5. Very faint stars nearby. ST3P showed a couple of other galaxies nearby...

Hot chocolate cooling...

Could not see the neighbouring galaxies. Where I thought PGC 29299 was, was a faint star, GSC 05477-1060 at mag 14.7. The small galaxy would be between the faint star and the line of stars. Nope. Not seeing it. Could not see the mid-sized galaxy, MCG-1-26-21, further away. Weird void to the south east of the Spindle.

Noted a hook of stars near the south-west end of the galaxy. The brightest star was GSC 05477-1016 at mag 12.9. But I saw the faint star within the disc of the galaxy. This star did not show in the Context Viewer. In the Interactive Atlas it showed as J100513.0-074425 at mag 16.3. Wha?!

12:00 AM, Thu 3 Apr 2014. Since I was in the area, I slewed to 35 Sextantis. I had not viewed this before. On the RASC coloured list. Got the 5 and 10mm eyepieces out, for the TV 101.

12:04 AM. In the C14 with the 27mm, viewed the double star, aka (Struve) Σ1466. Pale yellow and pale blue. Fairly tight, fairly close. Put the 5mm in the TV101 and my first impression here was that the primary was more orange with a light blue companion. The Observer's Handbook describes these are orange and blue. Finally! We concur! Very colourful.

SkyTools showed that it was a quad. Clearly the RASC OH is referring to the AB pair. The main pair are 6.8 seconds of arc from one another; A and C are very widely separated at 5 arc minutes; C and D on the other hand are extremely tight at half an arc-second. A and B are mags 5.77 and 7.34. The C star is part of a nearby L-pattern, the brightest star at the top of the L. So, I've already spotted the C companion. The position angle of AB is nearly toward the apex of the L, star SAO 118444, nearly, slightly to the east. Maybe around 245°.

[ed: Haas describes the showcase target but only refers to the A and B stars. She says 241°, 6.7", mags 6.2 and 7.1. She says they are "citrus-orange and blended blue-green." Smyth however says, "topaz yellow; smalt blue."]

12:17. Now, the C and D were nearly equal brightnesses, both around mag 9. I wondered if I could split them! An interesting experiment. That's below my career split limit. Tried some high power eyepieces. But even at 391x I was not positive. Seeing was off now. Jumping around. I guessed that the position angle might be similar to AB. SkyTools showed that AB were 239°; while CD were are 210°. Counter to what I was thinking. Hmm. So maybe I did not see the split. Would need better conditions... It would be higher in late April. I'll put this on my re-observe list. [ed: Done.]

12:25. Viewed with the 27mm the Gemini Nebula in... you guessed it... Gemini! Never viewed before. Not far from Castor and Pollux. Also known as NGC 2371. Reminded me of the Helix planetary nebula. Not round, as SkyTools made it look. This seemed to have two lobes. Did some googling to find some photos. Bumped to higher power with the 18mm.

Image from Aladin. NGC2371. POSSII/N/DSS2. Size and definition: 12.9' x 12.9'. 768 x 768 pixels. Survey: Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (POSSII). Color: InfraRed (N). Origine: Space Telescope Science Institute. Rotated.

12:32. Very neat object. Very pleasing at this power. Not regular. It gives the impression of spinning, swooping, things trailing off. Like a kids toy windmill. Double vanes. And I noted now the bright point or fuzziness in the middle. There's a tight double below (to the north) with the brightest star being GSC 01922-0557 at mag 12.5. There's a wide double above, with mag 12 and 13 stars, the brightest being GSC 01922-1629. This pair is perhaps better for the alignment of the lobes, parallel to the direction of the poles. Meaning the lobes are oriented north-east through south-west.

12:45. Slewed to 5 Lyncis. Another selection from the RASC coloured double stars.

12:50. Triple! 5 Lyn A and C are crazy far apart. A and B close together. B is faint. C is brighter, eye-catching. SkyTools Object Information says the magnitudes are: A 5.2, B 10.0, C 8.1. A and C are 1.5 minutes apart; A and B 32". The RASC OH quotes these are yellow and blue but again does not refer to which pair. C, to me, is aqua? Maybe green-ish? B is fainter, definitely blue. A lot of bright stars in the field. [ed: The Observer's Handbook is referring to the AB pair. It colours them yellow and blue, and notes them as faint. OK.]

12:55. Second looks. In the C14, the B star is definitely blue, a deep blue. C is hard to qualify, off on its own. In the TV101 at 108x, B is almost impossible to see. I wonder if a novice would miss that in a low power 'scope; whereas C is obvious and definitely blue. [ed: In daylight, SkyTools shows the star colours as: A orange, B white-ish, C pink-ish. Huh.]

I wondered what the magnitude limit of the Tele Vue refractor was and if I was close to it. [ed: No. It's computed as 14.2. And, while we're at it, the C14: 16.1.]

A and C are almost in-line to the bright star HD 44473, off to the west. B is almost at a right angle, opposite direction from HD 44536, which is to the north. Neat.

[ed: Haas notes both the AB and AC pairs. She describes AC as orange and pink, widely apart. And, that she did not see the B star (at 50x)! Huh. Smyth though, she reports, spotted all: A orange, B blue, and C "pale garnet."]

12:57. Been at it for 5 and a ½ hours so far! Yawn! Glanced at Mars out the window... Getting close! Chose a target in Corvus. Again, a RASC coloured system.

1:04. Viewed HD 105590 with a medium powered eyepiece. Super cool. Wow. A very tight triple star. Almost a perfect equilateral triangle. The primary is magnitude 6.8, according to the Context Viewer. Faint B was to the right (east), mag 9.1. Quiet faint. C, aka SAO 157112, to the north is brighter at 6.7. Separations are: AB 9.2; AC 10.4.

Fantastic colours in the 18mm! A yellowy, C blue, B red or orange. [ed: Haas has "grapefruit orange, sky blue, and silvery" (without stating the order). She also says C is brighter than B, that is B is 9.4 and C is 8.1. There appears to be a typo though. A shows in the first row is 6.6 and the second row as 6.9.]

[ed: This is from the RASC supplemental list. Σ1604. Mags 6.6 and 9.4. 9" apart. Orange and blue. Confusing. The separation and brightness values suggests the author is talking about the AB stars; the colour of the secondary however suggests the C star! And why no mention at all of the triple nature, perhaps the most interesting quality?! I will have to report this again...]

Oh! An optical grouping. ST3P says the distances in light-years are: A 89, B 45, C 110. C in the background. I wondered if B was a red dwarf. In the foreground. Neat.

Found another database issue in Greg's software. The Object Information says that C is magnitude 9.3. But that's clearly not right. It is significantly brighter than B, which is noted as 9.4.

Needed more hot chocolate.

Noticed some stars below Crater in the south-west-south. Maybe Libra stars. Serpens rising. Oh, Saturn.

Noticed, in TheSky, that Mars was about to enter the no-fly-zone for the Paramount.

1:35. Cleared space around the telescope. Headed to 6 Leo. Never viewed before. A simple pair. RASC notes it as orange and green. No. In the C14 intense yellow; a bit orangey, warmer, in the TV. The companion is a deep, deep blue. [ed: Haas thinks the primary is "brick-red" and intimates the secondary is colourless. She also quotes Smyth and Webb. Respectively, "pale rose tint, purple" and "deep orange, green." Wow. Very different impressions, all of us.]

Very different brightnesses. I found the B star surprisingly challenging to see in the small 'scope. ST3P says they are 5.1 and 9.2. Nice pair.

Another optical double. Chance alignment. Very far apart in space...

88 Leo. Medium tight in the 101mm refractor. Primary looked colourless, perhaps. Maybe off-white or beige. It seems yellow, but very pale, in the big SCT. Companion seemed blue at first glance in the 14". Maybe a light blue. Hard to tell. Faint. Widely separated at 200 power. Noticed another pair off in the distance, to the east, wider separation, almost the same alignment, much fainter.

[ed: Haas thought the primary white in a small 'scope. Smyth thought yellow and lilac.]

Noticed I did not have a lot of deep sky targets in the list...

Headed to Porrima...

OK. It's Mars time!

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