Saturday, May 31, 2014

couple of doubles (Blue Mountains)

Observing in the Geoff Brown Observatory and on the Observing Pad. Many members in attendance: Richard imaging inside the GBO; Ian D wandering about and planning to piggyback image; Michael on the Observing Pad; Wayne too. The dos Santos were expected later. They would be busy sorting out the new trailer, preparing their POD, and thinking about what it is like to supervise.

Earlier, Ian had mounted his camera, or rather, his big lens, on the Tele Vue Losmandy rail. We need a adapter like he has! Asked if I could borrow this for Saturday night for Steven...

Fri 30 May 2014, 10:06 PM. I helped Wayne with photos of the young Moon. We tried to coax out earthshine.

We watched Jupiter. Europa was falling into the planet, then touching the disc.

Warned Richard to watch his head as I tried some crazy low targets.

Richard complained about blue LEDs. We agreed that manufacturers have gone bananas with them. Not astronomy friendly.

Michael was impressed with how the moons of Jupiter were moving over time. I pointed out the Europa was passing in front of the planet and would, in fact, create a shadow. Unfortunately that shadow apparition would occur moments before the planet was to set. So we'd like not see it. I asked Michael if he could see the Great Red Spot. I could not. Told him where to look for it.

Richard and I talked about leaving the lens cap on. I shared with him my wish list item for modern DSLRs.

Ah ha! Wow. We finally agree.

10:18 PM. Viewed 6 Leo. Fantastic. Burnt orange and blue. No, wait. Orange and green? Could it be? Ha, we finally agree. Widely separated in the 27mm.

10:24. Ian was up, after napping. I asked if he was up to anything. Not yet.

I dropped to the 55mm in the C14.

Michael asked if there were any anti-gravity chairs around. Yep. In fact, we had pulled some out earlier in the day.

10:41. Spotted something very bright overhead. Like an Iridium flare. Fired up Heavens Above. I believe it was the USA 245 reconnaissance satellite. Left of Polaris.

Checked the end of astronomical twilight: 11:17.

Holy cow! I see it. Random star. Cancer. [ed: Ugh. Not sure now what I was viewing. Poor notes. Did close the Notepad without saving by accident in a moment of multi-tasking...]

Richard visited me in the Warm Room while his rig calibration and guiding. He was planning to image M106 and some of the nearby little galaxies. I turned off the stars in TheSky6. Tons of fuzzies remained. He shared that AstroTortilla wasn't working with the SBIG.

Ian wanted to focus. I suggested Cor Caroli. He wanted a planet. We went to Mars. Ian said he didn't think the sky was good enough...

Incoming vehicle! It was Elaine and Tony. As it was dark, they elected to just pull off to the side and shut down so to not disturb the observers on the Pad. And to defer the trailer set-up to daylight.

Oh. Done. Or it didn't work? We tore down Ian's set-up, dismounting the 400mm lens. Reattached the refractor. Ian and I slewed to Mars and aligned the two 'scopes.

The pointing was off. A lot. Odd. Viewed Saturn.

Nicole phoned. She was at the Glen Forest. The RA motor is not moving. What?! We discussed some checks. I reviewed the maintenance steps I had done. That was very disappointing. I wondered what had happened between my testing and her set-up. There's no way the motor assembly could have moved! Damn it!

Ian helped Tony with some coloured filters in the telescope. Elaine was curious about all Ian's bags.

Shared with Tony that I had made a matrix or table for all the eyepieces and telescopes. It showed the magnification and field of view.

Sat 31 May 2014, 12:45. I asked Tony if he wanted to look at NGC 5981 in Draco. We slewed to it. Faint. Magnitude 13.2. Was it there? Ian moved to M101 to gauge the sky. We could see it in both 'scopes. I think I saw 5981 as I was panning around... Again, the pointing was off so I wasn't sure.

Tony said he was heading to bed. He was gonna get edge-on! Funny.

Discussed the new wireless network configuration with Richard.

We also discussed plans for tomorrow night. Ian had said he wanted to image. Richard was interested in putting the SBIG on the C14. I said I was expecting the Sil family and we might do a bit of sky tour for them. Didn't know what was up with Kiron. And then Steven and Stephen also wanted to do piggyback. Perhaps if the target was of interest to all, we could image and guide on both 'scopes at the same time.

I was curious Richard's outcome with the SBIG. Desiccant was working. He was getting dialled into it. We checked if MaximDL was on the Dell GBO computer. We checked the USB cables.

I was getting frustrated with the pointing. Decided to drive the Paramount from SkyTools.

1:15 AM. Parked the Paramount. Delatched the serial cable.

Michael popped into the Warm Room. He was going to head out. He had waited for Andromeda to peek over the horizon. He had had fun. Saw cool stuff tonight. Likes the open sight lines. Wasn't sure if he'd make it back tomorrow despite the good-looking Clear Sky Chart.

Rebooted the mount. Homed in TheSky6. Something was wrong. SkyTools showed the telescope status as "slewing" when it was passive, or tracking. Oh boy. Still not working. Rebooted.


Slewed to target from SkyTools.

2:09. Arrakis. Also known as μ (mu) Draconis. A neat double in the C14 with the 27mm. Could barely make it out in TV101. Couldn't see C star... [ed: A binary system with a 700 year period.]

[ed: Haas only refers to the A and B stars.]

2:14. Sarin within Hercules. Off-white and orange. 2 or 3 mags different. Doable—fun—in the TV101. Very obvious in the C14. C and D stars spotted in both 'scopes. Formed a right angle triangle with Sarin at the corner. B is brighter than C and D. [ed: Haas describes only the A and B stars, yellow and blue.]

2:16. Nicole messaged me on Facebook but I missed her query.

Wayne asked for the wifi password. I reminded him that we now have 3 separate wireless access points. That'd he'd have to log in three times. He said he would be going to bed shortly. He had dismounted the 'scope and covered the tripod.

Slewed again.

2:28. The White Eyed Pea, aka IC 4593, in Hercules. Not very exciting. A round small fuzzy. No colour. Appears perfectly round. I think I've looked at it before. Put the 18mm in the C14. Still unsatisfying. OK.

2:30. 5mm in the SCT! Stupid high power. But it made it big. Bright centre. Comet like.

2:34. Slewed to a new target in Cepheus. IC 1396. But could not see it. Richard said it was very faint. [ed: Should use filters.]

Lots of other stuff going on in the area.

2:57. Noted the double and triple stars in the area of IC 1396.

Tried to reprogram the mount park position. It was screwed up.

Asked Richard to help me with the SQM readings. Numbers included 21.17 and 21.06. He was curious what the numbers meant. Magnitude to arc-sec squared. 

3:13. Humidity was 47%. Temperature was 12.0°C. Richard said it was 71% at the beginning of the evening. I checked the Davis weather station. Wind gusting to 19 km/h, average 12. Humidity 61.


3:41. Sent Lora a report of the attendees. No sign of Kiron. I guess he'll make an appearance tomorrow.

A good evening, overall. A little busy at times. It was neat seeing Ian's Losmandy dovetail camera adapter in action. Lots of good imaging. Fair skies. I viewed a few more doubles.

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