Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chris welcomed me

Chris Beckett released his Observing Committee report on video. Eric spotted it. Chris said he was stepping back. Wow, he does a lot. Welcomed me to the committee. Mentioned my double star project. Thanks.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

down to 18

Blinked the stacked image (of the Ring) with SkyTools.

Stars down to magnitude 18 and change.

J185334.1+325949: 16.90
J185330.2+325925: 17.15
J185329.2+325901: 17.64
J185324.8+330005: 17.20
J185324.3+330046: 18.22
J185336.7+325956: 18.05
J185348.6+330253: 18.16



That's appropriate. The C14 is rated to mag 16.2. And a general rule of thumb is that photography adds 2 magnitudes.

Monday, June 23, 2014

caught 'cast 200

Listened to the 200th episode of York Universe on Fun. Good show. Great topics. Congratulations to the whole team.

first cut

Did a quick stack with the lights (20) and darks (8) (captured on Saturday) in DSS. Quick, mild, fast processing in Ps. North is bottom-right; east is top-right. Messier 57 (M57).

I'm encouraged.


Wikipedia link: Ring Nebula.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

her thoughts on the solstice

Risa noted some of the events of the solstice weekend at the CAO over on her imaging Saturn blog.

backlash time-lapse

Helped Risa fix the backlash in her Celestron CGEM, in both the Dec and RA axis. The helpful repair instructions I had seen before on Cloudy Nights.

Allen keys and time-lapse by Steve McKinney.

long run on the shortest night (Blue Mountains)

Viewed Jupiter. Blue sky. Low. It was swimming.

Sat 21 Jun 2014, 9:55 PM. Viewed α (alpha) Librae. It was very wide in the Celestron 14" compound with the 55mm eyepiece. It was still wide in the Tele Vue 101mm refractor with the 10mm ocular. An intense white. I thought pale orange the secondary.

10:17 PM. Humidity was 78% according to the Davis Weather station. Temp 15.2. Dew point 11.4. The low prediction, for Collinwood, was 13.

Risa looked at Saturn

10:32. The Paramount was acting weird. Slews stopped working right. It kept going north. Restarted everything.

11:07. I photographed the comet. Used the intervalometer.

11:11. Did a few darks.

11:29. SkyTools crashed again. Rotation field error. I could recreated it. Razvan and I commiserated. He's familiar with software development.

11:47. Tried to split AB: no joy. Used the 10mm in the C14. Steve put is big refractor on it. It is a 102mm aperture, f/8. We used the ethos 13mm so 61x. I could see the E and F stars with averted.

Spotted TYC 02543-0914 1. I thought there were 4 stars.

Sun 22 Jun 2014, 12:00 AM. Viewed the quasar near LDS4214A. Off to the top-left. Saw GSC 02528-0091, GSC 02528-0510, and GSC 02528-0251. A big L. Razvan really enjoyed that, seeing his first quasar. Quasi-stellar radio source B2 1225+317.

12:12 AM. Viewed NGC 4452. A nice thin small needle galaxy.

12:24. Went to Messier 13 (M13) for Razvan.

12:59. Viewed Markarian 841. Crazy. Hard to see anything. In the centre of a big C-shape. Went to the 18mm.

1:20. Tried imaging Cor Caroli. Bright. Wide. Hints of colour.

Then headed to NGC 4656.

2:28. I dunno. I was frustrated. Had a hard time positioning, seeing things, figuring out the field rotation. [ed: Part of the problem was that I was thinking of a different galaxy so had the wrong expectations as to what I would see on the camera. I was thinking of the very symmetrical NGC 4565.]

Bent an arm on my glasses somehow! Damn it!

Risa returned my mirror and adapter and Steve's eyepiece.

2:35. Viewed V343 Peg. Yellow and yellow? Or maybe yellow and orange? A nice pair in the C14. Tight and somewhat faint in the TV101.

2:39. Viewed the number 1 star in Pegasus. A super bright primary, yellow. The pair looked yellow and blue in the C14 with 27mm; perhaps yellow and orange in the TV101. Very wide.

2:42. Viewed Messier 31 (M31), Messier 110 (M110), Messier 32 (M32) in Steve's TAC. A very nice view.

2:45. Had another look at 1 Pegasi. Spotted C star in the C14. It was not visible in the TV101. C was in-line with bright star at edge of field, HD 203536.

3:00. Tried to see Barnard's Galaxy. Not obvious in 27mm. Noted a ring of very faint stars... Was that it? Not obvious with various eyepieces.

4:08. Checked the local conditions. Wind speed over a 10 minute average: 3.2. From the NE. Humidity was 54. The barometer read 101.39. Temp was 13.9.

4:12. Shot darks.

It was light outside as Steve and I walked to the house! So far north...

caught the Ring (Blue Mountains)

Just for fun, I shot the Ring Nebula (Messier 57 or M57) with the 40D attached to the Celestron 14. Surprised myself.

Very little processing at this stage.

Canon 40D, Celestron 14 SCT, f/11, Paramount ME (Go To), 60 seconds, 1000 ISO, RAW, daylight white balance, manually focused, intervalometer triggered, no guiding. North is bottom-right; east is top-right.


Update: had a go at post processing...

faint Hockey Stick (Blue Mountains)

Was trying to image NGC 4656. Noted the Whale nearby.

Very little processing performed.

Canon 40D, Celestron 14 SCT, f/11, 120 seconds, 1600 ISO, RAW, daylight white balance, manually focused, intervalometer triggered, no guiding. North is top-right; east is top-left.


Wikipedia link: NGC 4656 and 4657.

focusing fun (Blue Mountains)

Looked for a nearby star to focus. Cor Caroli. Fun! Atypical colours!

No processing, so far.

Canon 40D, Celestron 14 SCT, f/11, 5 seconds, 1000 ISO, RAW, daylight white balance, manually focused, self timer, no guiding. North is top-right; east is top-left.


Wikipedia link: Cor Caroli.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

a bit of a tail (Blue Mountains)

Tagged the comet C/2012 K1 Pan-STARRS. North is right; east is top.

Very little corrections applied.

Canon 40D, Tele Vue 101, f/11, 60 seconds, 1000 ISO, RAW, daylight white balance, manually focused, intervalometer triggered, no guiding.


Originally noted, incorrectly, the Celestron 14 SCT as the instrument used. 


Wikipedia link: C/2012 K1.

the first star party

Read Chris Joly's blog entry on his RASC first star party. Reminded me a lot of my first one many Moons ago.

remembering Johnny Chase

I joined Risa at the picnic table under the pergola. She was cross-stitching stars; I started another tear-down of the Vixen Super Polaris.

She had the radio on, the little built-in radio of her Celestron power tank. Weird. A weird option, I think, on an astronomy power source. And weird. Weird that it was the second time in three days that I had heard someone using the built-in radio on their Celestron power tank. I guess others like it.

She was tuned to CBC. And there was some radio play on. The theatrical tone. The sound effects. The whole style... And suddenly... I went back in time. St Marys. Grade 9. The summer of 1978. In my bedroom. Listening to the radio. Tuning in for:

Johnny Chase - Secret Agent of Space!

Holy. I could almost hear the intro. I searched Google. Look at that. Found the wikipedia entry! Right, the smart but sarcastic computer Dante. I forgot the music had been done by FM. What a riot.

I think I have audio recordings of some of the episodes...


Found a neat article on the blog.

That image is so familiar...

lumpy observations

The European Space Agency's Rosetta probe has started snapping pictures and taking data of its target, comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, even though still hundreds of thousands of kilometres away. And already it is surprising. The comet seemed to be, for a time, shedding dust and getting brighter. The image from late April show a fuzzy streamer.

And now it's not doing anything. Camera shy? It just goes to show. Comets are very difficult to predict. They wax and wane, tumble and turn, they do what they want. But then again, they are non-spherical and lumpy. Expect the unexpected. The ESA craft with an early August rendezvous will have a front row seat.

Check out the full article from 19 June.

Creds: Image from the ESA web site. ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA.

Friday, June 20, 2014

high clouds slid in

Clouded out, sadly. So we hung out in the living room and chatted. Started into the Cracked Canoe. Later Peter and Risa headed out to the Observing Pad, with smokes, binoculars, and some hope. Finally I headed to my sleeping quarters, in the Orion Room. I tried out the repaired curtains. Kinda neat, actually, that you can make it really dark.

repaired mower received

Sent a quick report to the CAO committee. Michael had returned with the ride-on mower. With new bits, including fuel cutoff, which we tested (by accident). The lads suggested I drive it off the trailer. I took it for a little toot. Stargrazer was up and running. Yes. Good timing. Grass was gettin' tall. Steve suggested we tackle in Saturday.

We wondered where the old blade got to...


I walked about the property, trying to retrace Tony's path. Emailed Katrina. Phoned Tim. Noticed a couple of odd things. The cutting down the east side of the lawn, where Tim had described Dietmar going. I also noticed a thin rectangular-shaped piece of yellowed grass. Like something had been lying there for a time. And then I spotted it! Sitting on the easterly picnic table: blade and nut! Damn.

Peter, Steve, and I would cut the lawn tomorrow during the day.

Joel would bring 'round spare parts on Saturday evening. Maintenance bits.

I photographed the new parts, new valve, and the dip stick.

brief observing (Claremont)

Peter was very curious where my observing chair had come from. Mr Getgood. He liked the design.

Viewed the International Space Station. Chris V reminded us. We watched naked eye as it went overhead. Peter followed it, er, pointed ahead of it and let it "fall" through the field, in his forked SCT. Good (albeit) quick view! Four main arrays visible flanking the main structure.

Put my bug gloves on. The mozzies harangued us for a while.

19 Jun 2014, 9:54 PM. Looked at Saturn. Saw a bright satellite move through the field.

10:04 PM. I could see Dione, Iapetus, Rhea. I thought I saw Tethys and Enceladus at times!

Committed to the telescope three-panel view in SkyTools tonight. Double checked all my settings. Dropped the humidity a little bit to show more stars. Good. Software matched what I was seeing.

Viewed 35 Com. Yellow and... blue at high power? In the 26mm it looked yellow and orange. Charline thought that too. Looked for a long time at the triple. Could not split the A and B stars. SkyTools reminded me they were 1.03" apart. Kept trying higher and higher powers. No joy.

10:45. Showed Charline the Black Eye galaxy I had stumbled across. Not an excellent view but still obvious.

10:49. We saw a very bright in the east and wondered what it was. Turned out to be an aircraft.

Lots of fireflies. So neat.

11:13. We viewed comet C/2012 K1 Pan-STARRS in Chris's 'scope, the Lightswitch. Hard to make out a lot of detail. Low. Getting lost in the trees.

11:19. I helped Ali. He had a lot of questions. Just starting out. Nice equipment, including a MallinCam Junior. But, I think, getting a little overwhelmed by it all.

He pointed out the MallinCam Jr does not have cooling. I told him about our MallinCam Hyper Color and how we used with with the long exposure setting, along with integration, to yield very nice images. It sounds like the exposure control he has offers more versatility than our old unit.

11:35. Helped Ali some more. He had told his big SCT to go to the Whirlpool Galaxy. And when he looked through the eyepiece, he wasn't sure he was seeing it. Or maybe wasn't sure what he was seeing. He wondered if it was just too faint to see. He considered attaching his video camera. But that would be a big deal. I said he didn't need the camera. Encouraged him to look again and soak in some photons. I thought the view was very nice. Hints of detail big spiral. Hints of stuff going on between the main and companion galaxies. Transparency wasn't great. But it was still a lovely view. And then I suggested two important tips for visual observing: steady your body; use averted vision. Let him try my adjustable height observing chair. Discussed the physiology of the human eye.

Zoran offered a view of the Great Hercules cluster. But, even on tip-toe atop the two-step ladder, I was not tall enough to reach the eyepiece. Ha! Later he offered a view of the Ring Nebula aka Messier 57 (M57). I was able to reach the ocular. Nice view.

Later I loaned Ali my Tele Vue 2x. He only had one eyepiece.

Peter started packing up. Dang. That was quick. Was glad, again, I had a small Dobsonian.

20 Jun 2014, 12:01 AM. One more target! I spotted NGC 4214 in Canes Venatici. A little faint smudge.

Mike left.

Took a quick look in Chris's SCT again, this time at the Blinking Planetary (Caldwell 15). Encouraged Ali to practise his averted vision.

Took a look at Messier 92 (M92) in Stu's computerised Dob. First low, then high power. Fantastic.

Checked the sky quality. Earlier readings with the SQM had been 20.0. Stu got 20.3.

But we saw clouds.

In short order Peter and I finished packing up and left Glen Major Forest. He took a wrong turn (onto Concession Rd 9) but we figured it out. I noted it was very flat as we travelled along Salem Rd. Peter wondered if it was remnants of Lake Iroquois.

1:43 AM. Pulled into my driveway.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

introduced to Glen Major Forest

Chris V had rallied the troops. After a couple of rainy days, he said that it was looking very good for Thursday night. Peter had asked me if I wanted to join them. I was interested in seeing this new location...

Met Peter at his house. A little early myself, he gave me a quick tour. We talked about telescopes, parks, city lights, heavy JMI cases, the loaner orange-tube C8, etc. Transferred my gear to his vehicle. Then he showed me the way to Glen Major Forest.

It was slow on the 401 until Avenue Rd. Construction. Took Westney Rd N all the way from the highway. Had to do the little jog left (west) along Concession Rd 8. I wondered if Brock Rd then Uxbridge Pickering Townline might be quicker. Except it looks like you have to double back from the 401? It took about an hour and a half from Peter's home.

We found a few members already set up in the parking lot, including Mike, Charline N, Alan, and Stu. All kinds of gear, from tripod-mounted binoculars to a home-built 20" Dobsonian. We set up in the back section of the parking lot as the fireflies silently arced.

No stray lights. No trouble when the cars went by. Pretty good sight lines. Distant light domes low...

Earlier, around 6:00 PM, I had looked up the sky and weather conditions. Used the Environment Canada web page for Oshawa. It had been sunny, 21.2°C, with air pressure of 102.0 kPa, humidity 37%, winds at 17 km/h from the south. The dewpoint prediction was 6.2°C. I checked the forecast. Clear, 11°C. Friday was supposed to be mainly sunny and 22°C. The detailed forecast from the Oshawa airport, issued: at 3:30 PM, said: Tonight, 19 June - Clear. Wind northeast 20 km/h becoming light early this evening. Low 11. Then, Friday, 20 June - Mainly sunny. High 22 except 18 near Lake Ontario. UV index 9 or very high. Close to the solstice... sunrise: 5:33; sunset: 21:01.

Grabbed the Clear Sky Chart from Goodwood a little after 7:00 PM.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

10 ohms

Phil received goodies from Digi-Key. Huge resistors. And the support brackets. So to replicate Peter's design.

Now we can build a proper load circuit for lead acid battery charging and testing...

Monday, June 16, 2014

out back with the Dob (Mississauga)

Friend's 8" f/6 Dobsonian again. In the back yard this time. Near the fence. Patio table was the main station. Used the little wood TV table so to have the computer right beside the 'scope. Big Dipper over the roof.

[ed: Edited 30 Aug '21 for additional information on Struve 2146.]

15 Jun 2014, 11:03 PM. That was the fastest ever! Using the SkyTools 3 Professional "hopping" method with the Visual Sky Simulation three-panel display. I turned the computer screen 90° while I looked through the finder scope. And it was still a little hard to see the stars in the chart. But I could tell I was in the correct area in Ursa Minor.

Beside an hourglass of stars, with HD 151043 at the centre. Neat.

11:06 PM. Looked again at the multi-star system HR 6267. The first impression in the 40mm eyepiece was that it was one star. Put the 26mm in. Then the 9mm. Many faint stars visible now.

11:10. Ah ha. The faint, magnitude 11.5 star to the north is C. Toward TYC 04572-1278 1 (v10.5) and TYC 04572-1255 1 (v11.3).

11:12. Couldn't see B. Collimation off a hair. Slightly lopsided diffraction rings.

11:14. Tried again. Couldn't see B. It is fainter than C, according to the computer. Kept trying. Trying to tease it out.

11:20. Noted TYC 04572-1517 1. Saw it before, to the north-west. Faint star, magnitude 12.2. Tried the 4mm ocular. No joy. Could see the airy disc, the diffraction rings. Thought of water drops and ripples. But no second star.

Noticed, when zoomed in on the chart, that B was bright. Ah. So, once again, the Object Information box data was misleading. The atlas says B is mag 6.1 while A is 6.0. Only 2.6 seconds of arc apart. I was frustrated reading that. I can easily split stars this low. That's well within the capabilities of the equipment...

I thought, if this is on my multiple-stars-observing-programme list, I don't think this is a good one... [ed: It was on the list.]

11:27. Damn. Noticed some high thin cloud in Ursa Minor. Seemed to be thicker in north-east.

11:29. Spotted a satellite heading north-north-east. Not as bright as Kocab.

11:38. Next target near the neck of the Dragon. Wow, super fast again. Must be getting used to Greg's Way.

11:40. First impression, again, with the 26mm, it looked a single star. A little triangle to the east with HD 160657 as the brightest of the three. Neat. And there is a little faint double to the south...

11:42. Wow. ST3P says the C star is to the south, between the triangle and the wide double. OK. So, widely separated, very orange, much dimmer, A is yellowy. Took more looks at 26 Draconis aka HR 6573. Again, if this is on my double star candidate list, it's probably too hard as well: C is way too faint; B is way too close. [ed: It is not. But it is in the "fast movers" list.] Saw the star GSC 04199-1007 (not visible in the Context Viewer). ST3P says it's 14.2 but it's poor data. Saw GSC 04203-1285. It was easy, it's mag 12.9, to the north-west. [ed: Haas reports on the A, B, and C stars. Says A is bright yellow. Shows AB at 1.6" separation. She must have caught it at apastron. ST3P says they are currently 0.55"!]

11:52. Still wispy clouds in the way. Ugh. Mozzies as big as Cessnas. Going after my knuckles.

11:58. Holy frick. Made it very fast toward μ (mu) Draconis. Actually landed in a patch of doubles...

16 Jun 2014, 12:00 AM. HD 155674. A tight pair, in the 40mm, orange and blue, faint, very similar brightnesses. [ed: STF 2138. Pair was due east of μ. Oriented NW to SE.]

region near mu Draconis - including STF 2146

Image from SkyTools 3 Pro. North is down, east is right. mu at the left edge.

HD 156162, further east, brighter primary, ST3P says it's a triple, I saw the C star no prob, C is maybe 1 or 2 mags dimmer. [ed: ST3P says 2-ish.]

[ed: This is STF 2146.]

HD 234404 is a single star, orange? Which is beside HD 234403, yellow? "3" is a super tight double, below my career limit. "4" and "3" proper form a faint pairing, nearly equal intensities, although they are not related (according to SkyTools).

12:09 AM. Onto Arrakis! Two touching stars, with 26mm (i.e. 47 power), yellow. In the 9mm (now 135x), split. A and B are the same colour, same brightness.

12:25. Nope. Could not pull out, C star. Even though I could coax out GSC 03890-0488, 13.3 mag (poor data).

Went back to HD 156162. No problem with C star; could not split out B. Damn. Same brightness as C but closer in, obviously, 2.7". Should have been possible...

[ed: Hovering over B star in the chart said mag 6.9 while it was displayed as a dimmer star, same brightness roughly as C. Showed B inline with C to the SW. ST3P listed the following in Object Information box:
AB: mags 6.9 and 9.2, PA 225°, 2.7" sep;
AC: mags 6.9 and 9.2, PA 233°, 89.2".]

This whole area is neat... Anywho. Next!

12:46. Bull's eye! Landed on η (eta) Corona Borealis. Boom.

Saw KZA 86 to the south, obvious. A faint pair, mag 11 and 12 stars.

12:56. Crazy. That was tough, spotted Σ1973D, a magnitude 13.0 star, inline with TYC 02563-0766 1. But could not split B (v5.9). A is mag 5.0. They are currently 0.67" apart (another fast mover). OK. Maybe not tonight. But C? So frustrating! Could not see C (v12.6).

1:10. Viewed δ (delta) Cygni. Also frustrating. Could not see any of the elements. What? Why?

Possibly I saw C in a moment of good averted. Very difficult... Mag 12.0.

Realised I had been at it for a while. Came in for a snack. Sat on the couch. Ahhh.

1:39. Notice the light of the Moon on floor. Oh. Right! That's why the sky was going away... It was pretty high in the sky but I was still sheltered from it behind the tall trees.

Suddenly lost my momentum.

Checked the current conditions at the Environment Canada web site. Partly cloudy, 14°C. Observed at Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport. As of 1:00 AM EDT Monday 16 June 2014. Condition: Partly Cloudy. Pressure: 102.0 kPa, rising. Temperature: 13.9°C. Dewpoint: 9.0°C. Humidity: 72%. Wind: E 6 km/h. The forecast: Increasing cloudiness. 60 percent chance of showers in the afternoon with risk of a thunderstorm. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h late in the afternoon. High 24.

It was never fully dark this evening, like yesterday. Twilight ended at 11:23 PM but the Moon rose at 11:03.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

finished Wake

Read Robert J. Sawyer's book Wake. It is the first part of a triptych.

From the Toronto Public Library.

Interesting. About a consciousness arising inside the internet. A pretty good read.

Interesting too, in light of our exoplanet research, SETI work, etc.

Just how peculiar will an off-world intelligence be? At least, something here on the same earth, has some common ground (or water).

was on track

Turned out I was not too far off.

I was hitting the + (or =) and - keys in the typewriter area, hoping to change the "light pollution" factor in the telescope view last night. But SkyTools uses those keys for changing the time, as per the Time Step Units value. One can change the number of stars shown (indirectly) but it must be done via the + and - keys of the numeric keypad! Ooh. Missed that.

Of course, on a portable computer, that requires activating the integrated keypad...

Still, I tried it in ST3P on the netbook just now. And raised the NELM (Naked Eye Limiting Magnitude presumably) to 8.0. That's as high as it goes. But it was not much better.

Discovered that possibly I made the problem worse by switching the chart preferences from the Default Telescope/Binoculars style to a custom one. The custom one I had made so to yield "smaller" stars. Often I have found the stars to blotted. Last night I had switched it to darken the sky background.

It seems a big factor is Moonlight. If I advanced one day forward, 24 hours later, simulating a lower Moon, the star field looks better.

Asked Greg if there was anything I could do.


Discovered a bug along the way. If the light pollution keys are used, it mucks up the location profile.


Created a "fake" eyepiece called the "Orion 9x50 finder" and bound it to the 8" Dob f/6 telescope. Used the highest eyepiece focal length, 100mm, and set the FOV to 60°. That yielded a field—with this telescope—of approx. 300 minutes. Close enough.

dark skies with Peter (Caledon)

Sat 14 Jun 2014, 7:55 PM. Peter arrived a bit earlier. Didn't take as long as he thought. After a bit of reshuffling we packed my gear in his truck. Pitched in for fuel.

Sun in our eyes as we travelled north to the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park via regional road 11.

We found about a half dozen cars in parking lot, mostly hikers and dog-walkers. We stopped on the north edge. A young couple arrived later with their music and booze. It's a Jeep thing. After sunset they split.

9:01 PM. I paid park fee. $7.50.
Instrument: custom 8-inch Newtonian, f/6.0
Mount: Dobsonian
Method: star hopping
I had a loaner 8" f/6 Dobsonian. It was quick and easy, of course. Very satisfying. Attached the image-erect finder scope, attached the red dot finder (incorrectly at first). Had not brought any power. Was hoping I wouldn't need to fight dew. Helped Peter with his setup. A Meade fork-mount 8" SCT. He needed darker skies to finish.

A family came over. Very curious what we were up to. I grew anxious when Dad repeated, many times, to his son "Don't touch ANYTHING." Oh oh. We invited them to come back for planet-viewing when darker.

A single woman wandered by. American. Wondered if there was any special going on tonight.

9:29. Peter aimed his iPad to the west. Jupiter was up there... After some concerted searching, I finally found it. Thanks to Peter's Celestron binoculars! Then spotted it naked eye. Only about 15° up. Then got the Dob on it. Swimming. Initially only saw two moons (Io inside, Ganymede). Then all four moons became apparent to me (Europa opposite the two, Callisto beyond the two). Stellarium helped confirm the positions.

I could see the shadow of secondary visible while using the provided 40mm Tele Vue Plössl ocular. I put my old Celestron 26mm in. Hard to see detail on the planet surface for the sky conditions.

9:31. Tried the Meade orthoscopic 18mm. The seeing was bad. Combined with the low elevation. Not a great view.

9:45. Headed to Mars with the 18mm. The disc was clearly visible. But no surface details. Diffraction spikes. I don't like it... Hard to get it crisp. I wondered if the collimation was off but some quick checks suggested it was OK.

9:56. Headed to Saturn. Very nice. Dropped in the Tele Vue 9mm Nagler Type 2. It looked good. Could see the equatorial belt, the Cassini division. Titan and Rhea were immediately obvious. And it would only get better. Was I seeing the C ring?! Peter thought we were. Cool!

Offered views to the family. The young boy behaved. Mostly. Looked like a loose cannon.

Peter did his alignment process. I helped him with locating Dubhe. He started the sky tour function in the hand controller.

9:58. Beautiful. Spotted Iapetus near the ringed planet! Yes! Dione same side as Titan; Tethys same side as Rhea. There was a star above (er, to the south): HD 133034. Magnitude 8.9 according to SkyTools 3 Pro. Watched. For a long time. Wow.

I liked the view in the Dobsonian. Brighter, better contrast.

Gave Peter a quick demo of SkyTools.

I was frustrated with the telescope view.  I could see way more stars. Made a note to look into it...

11:11. After starting on the incorrect star, ψ (psi) Ursae Majoris instead of μ (mu), I starhopped successfully with the Dob and found comet C/2012 K1 Pan-STARRS in Leo Minor, at the feet of the big bear.

11:14. Encouraged Peter to photograph the comet with his DSLR. He forgot to focus first. Oops. Suggested Dubhe. Then, from β (beta) LMi, I helped him get back to the field. Very near the stars HD 88191 and HD 88352. Suggested exposure and ISO settings. Try 15 seconds. He shot 1/15. Keep going: the symbol that looks like a quote. "15 inch?" That's it! I think he got the comet.

In the reflector, I could see the visually see the comet beside the mag 10 stars TYC 02509-0501 1 and TYC 02509-0529 1, just to the north.

11:17. Just a smudge. Not round. But no sense of direction. No obvious tail. I thought it looked a bit better in the 26mm.

11:18. Few mozzies this evening. It was cold. I put my winter coat on.

Peter wanted some targets for imaging. I suggested M51, the Whirlpool. And the Great Hercules Cluster, M13. Meanwhile, I got to work!

11:51. Found Lalande 21185, a variable star in Ursa Major, suggested by SkyTools's Nightly Observing List Generator. It didn't look particularly red to me. ST3P says it is an M2 star. Was it a light orange? [ed: Oh. Close. 8 light years.]

I spotted a double star to the south. HD 95658. The A component is blue white; B is orange. The colours were obvious at high power, with the 9mm. ST3P said it was a triple. But the BC pair were very tight. I did not split them.

Noted TYC 02521-1484 1 and TYC 02521-1443 1 inline with the A and B stars. Magnitude 11 and 12 stars.

We watched the light of the Moon creep across the empty parking lot. Peter channelled Cat Stevens.

I tried keyboard shortcuts in the telescope view so to reveal more stars. Initially used + and - but learned that was wrong; they advance or back-step the time. Tried to locate my keyboard shortcut documentation. I wanted the white-on-black web page but I had only downloaded the hyperlink. Oops. Checked the Help. Gah. Opened my PDF and reduced the window size to cut the bright light. Tried > and < to no avail. Damn it.

Peter was getting cold. Particularly his feet. I had put my woolie socks on.

Another car rolled in. Parked on the north edge. Three men poured out. I heard one talking about constellations at one point. Peter invited them over.

Sun 15 Jun 2014, 12:37 AM. I tried again to split ζ (zeta) Herculis. No luck. Let's go all the way, I thought. Put in the Meade 4mm. [ed: Over 300x.] Crazy. Airy disc and diffraction rings obvious. But no split. No luck. Damn!

We showed the three guys some stuff: Saturn, Mars, the Moon, Albireo. One said he had just ordered a Dob. But was wondering if it was the right purchase. He was impressed how I picked things off. Challenged by how to move it. Peter told them about RASC, urged them to join.

I realised I had not heard my programmed alarms for the International Space Station flyovers. The palmtop was in the car, inside the Magic Bag. Well insulated. I was also surprised we simply hadn't seen them but Peter pointed out that they were in the north, behind the trees, from our vantage.

I tried for a long time to find φ (phi) UMa. And then, finally, I could not split it. Way too tight! Gar.

Some high clouds occasionally drifted through.

Peter was done. Ready to go. I wanted one more double. A good one!

Sorted the list by separation and selected something that looked doable. Eyeballed δ (delta) Cygni. Then starhopped from κ (kappa) and ι (iota) 2. Spotted HR7294 in Cygnus, aka Σ2486. I split the A, B, and D stars. Nice one. D was very faint. C was not visible to me. I asked Peter if he thought they were equal. No, he thought A slightly brighter. And he thought they were slightly different colours. I agreed.

[ed. Haas calls them "kissing twins" of a "vivid gold" colour.]

I also spotted the faint double SAO 48207 nearby, to the south-east.

OK. Let's go. 

1:23 AM. We packed up. Likin' a Dob!

I noticed the temperature gauge on the truck's instrument cluster: 11°C. It was very dewy at the end. Made a note to put some of my silica packs in with the accessories.

1:35. We were rolling out the drive. Thirty minutes later I was bringing gear in from the front porch.

2:23. In bed. That was a good run.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

a better earth

I re-read the letter from Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger, the associate director of science at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, in response Sister Mary Jucunda's query. Why should we spend billions of dollars on space research and exploration when there are so many children were starving on Earth? Stuhlinger's missive is long but I believe fair and balanced. In fact, he argues that space missions help everyone on this fragile planet. His message is hosted on Letters of Note blog. It is particularly interesting to me that he touches on international cooperation. Prophetic, for 1970.

updated companion

Updated the lumpy darkness companion web site. Integrated the aurora prediction sites page, tips and tricks, and articles archive listing into the menu. Index page tidied up.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Moon over mountains (Mississauga)

Spotted the top half of a yellow disc out the bedroom window, the Moon, near full, rising over distant opaque range of cloud. I don't think I'll go out now.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

promoted the raffle

Made the Win a Weekend slider for the RASC Toronto Centre web site. Photo by Steve McKinney from the odd chilly July 2010 weekend.

To elevate the event. Get some more raffle ticket sales happening...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

first customers

Malcolm sent me a list of people, so far, interested in telescope service at Starfest. Yeh. Malcolm also let me know I'm on the schedule, he's mentioning it in his email blasts, it's on the registration form, and it will be in the program, Astrotent, and on the local wifi pages. Upon my prompt, he did discover I was not on the Speakers page... and added it. We're all set.

deleted the sky

Helped Trevor with the omnirama for the Killarney Provincial Park observatory. I grabbed the photos he put in dropbox, shoved them into Hug In, set the control points, then previewed. Not bad. While waiting for the cardinal directions and location details, I deleted the sky in Photoshop and rolled out a test PNG. It worked in Stellarium. I sent it to him for his review.

Applied one edit after hearing back and sent him the final PNG and corresponding INI file.

SkyNews carrot

Postie was stuffing the stupor mailbox as I walked up. It's a federal offence to touch it when open. I saw my July/August SkyNews magazine sitting there. Drool. A little snarky. He warmed up to me as he finished sorting.

The cover on the current issue is busy as heck. More words than stars in the photo. Holy moley.

Oh, neat, an article on Normand Fullum. Planet conjunctions galore, eh? Watch: they'll all be pre-dawn.

Ha!  Star Adventurer on the inside cover.

cleaning tips

Answered some cleaning questions for Trevor. He was planning to use isopropanol and Q-tips for eyepieces. But he wondered about the objective lens. He sent some photos.

The SCT corrector was not bad at all. I suggested it just needed a dusting. Recommended gently cleaning with a puffer brush or a soft unused paint brush.

The finder scope was bad. Maybe it had some corrosion!? Perhaps the coatings were being eaten away at. But I reminded him that cleaning was optional since it was not the primary instrument.

I wondered if they were both dirty because they are not being covered and the 'scope is left pointing up. I suggested parking the 'scope nose slightly down. That's what we do at the CAO. He liked that idea.

I also strongly suggested finding the dust covers or caps and reinstalling them when the 'scope was not being used! If the dust covers were long gone, I said he could make some. He reported finding the large cover but was dismayed to learn it had been left off all winter.

Finally, I encouraged Trevor to put up signs or an instruction sheet!

Monday, June 09, 2014

summer targets

Checked the Finest NGC and 40 Brightest Galaxies to see the number of not-yet-viewed objects. About 50 and 15. Should keep me busy this summer. Only 3 outstanding items on the S&T summer doubles list...

Sunday, June 08, 2014

IDed Wayne's photo

Wayne sent me a photo. He was tickled. His first DSLR image of a deep sky object through his telescope. The only issue was he labelled it M42. Ah. That can't be right. Wrong season! I tried to manual resolve it. M11? No. Tried a couple of other summer clusters. Nope. So I sent it to It tagged it pretty quickly. M52! He thanked me for checking into it.

received Dobsonian

Ian W is going to let me borrow his home-made 8" Dobsonian. Thanks! That'll help me get going again while I refurbish the equatorial mount. Provided some accessories too: red dot finder, an eyepiece or two. Very kind of you.

shared tour notes

Shared my David Dunlap Observatory walking tour notes, along with some of the quiz questions, on the Yahoo!Group.


Wayne shared my notes with his brother-in-law, a former principal at Upper Canada College. Neat.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Marc joined our Yahoo!Group

Crikey. It worked. I sent another invite from Yahoo!Groups to Marc and asked him to try joining again. This was based on a thin hope. I had seen another member join the group recently, probably someone following up from a message from the membership team. I saw the feedback message from the system. And just heard from Marc. He wondered what had permitted it. Got me. The Yahoo! magical faeries?

a backup

Received the creds and technical notes for the MailChimp system, the Drupal web site tools, etc.

Moon near Mars (Richmond Hill)

Spotted a point above the Moon from the parking lot of the David Dunlap Observatory. About 1 degree away. It was Mars. Neat. Very close together.

lead the outdoor tour

Guided people on a walking tour of the David Dunlap Observatory. We looked at the radio shack and radio tour, discussed Dr MacRae's achievements in radio astronomy. I shared other buildings made in the GTA by the same architects as the administration building. We found the cornerstone, learned who laid it and when.

We checked out the Elms Lea house, from a safe distance, found the old Observatory Lane, and learned other interesting facts about the DDO and the grounds. I think everyone enjoyed it. I was pleased to arrive on time at the steps of the admin building to hand off to Karen, for her indoor tour.

2015 dates requested

James E contacted me. Was looking for 2015 dates for the next Observer's Handbook. He wanted the New Moon in June date. I referred him to the Chapmans. He also wanted the Annual Algonquin Adventure date. I told him that that one would be more difficult to determine.

Friday, June 06, 2014

proof-read battery paper

Proof-read Peter H's paper on lead acid battery maintenance. He appreciated my comments. It's now bound for the RASC Journal...

Bill found Ceres

Bill posted a pic on his Facebook wall. I chimed in with, "Number 1." James got it.

Ceres is from Denmark. Royal Unibrew appears to make it.

eggs and baskets

Learned that the June/July SCOPE newsletter email notification is 72 hours delayed. The membership team submitted the mailing list on May 31. The paper copies were mailed yesterday. The new monthly e-news note is stalled in MailChimp. Other teams have not heard from the webteam. They report nothing happening and no acknowledgements. The observing events and loan programme content is being updated by Stu. The article on the web site was low, below the May meeting notice. The Awards Picnic asked for elevation and an email blast. People are concerned the timing issues will impact the success of the award event. People are expressing a high level of frustration. What's happening?

stalled on doubles

Just realised my double star project article never made it to the current SCOPE. Eric apologised for forgetting. I'm stalled two months...

showed Peter the battery buggy

Showed Peter H my "battery cooler." On my old post. The beer cooler on wheels with handle for keeping my marine lead acid batteries out of the wind. Also shared that on really cold night I throw a hand warmer inside. He thought it an excellent idea and added a note to his paper.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

made schedule poster

Produced the nicely formatted schedule for the awards event. Released it to the planning committee for commentary. Applied a couple of corrections.

maxed out

Felt like I was hitting my maximum.

posted raffle content

Made the PayPal button and the article for the CAO weekend raffle tickets.

made award slider

Rolled out a slider image for the awards event.

heard from treasury, sorta

Verified I gave the two lease renewals and two lease payment cheques to the treasurer. Verified I had the donation cheque. However the treasurer did not answer my earlier question.

sent lease template

Sent out another sample lease. Looks like we have a serious MODL customer.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

other RASC business

Talked with Charles on all manner of things. Chatted with Marc about the Yahoo situation. Told Scott I still need the PayPal info. Received two signed MODL lease renewal documents, a set of cheques, a donation to the CAO, my 2x PowerMate with t-ring and caps, and my CF memory card. Returned Sharmin's hat. Lora's cooler. Delivered a large switch and wireless router to the DDO crew at Paul's request. Forgot to bring the touchkeys. But that can wait to the weekend. Told Ling I couldn't fix her home router or modem. Told Bill he should come to the CAO again. He asked about the MODLs. Chatted with Peter about expanded battery meter parts.

pitched the CAO

Encouraged new members and members who had simply never made the trek to visit the Carr Astronomical Observatory this summer. Let Tony and Phil have the floor to pitch the Star-B-Q and the private weekend raffle.

The mosquito was this big! Between the eyes!


Update: Put the presentation online in our Yahoo!Group (at low rez) and on our web site (at high rez).

webspotting 34 - graphical forecast

As published in the June 2014 issue of SCOPE, the newsletter of the RASC Toronto Centre. Republished here with permission.


It was 6 years ago, in the April/May 2008 issue of  SCOPE, in my third webspotting article, that I told you about the ADDS web site, part of the suite of US government weather products. To this day, I still use Aviation Digital Data Service satellite visible and infrared looped images to check sky conditions. It is still  incredibly useful. Actually, I noticed they redesigned the web site recently and it is even faster and easier to use.

It was about 1 year ago, I found another and similar tool in the National Weather Service site, in particular,  the Graphical Forecasts "loops." However, this site specifically predicts what might happen; the ADDS shows what just happened.

The Graphical Forecasts link I provide zooms you into Michigan state.

On the left panel, you may select the Forecast Element. Maximum Temperature is displayed by default. I'm usually interested in Sky Cover. In other words, the amount of cloud overhead.

Blue is good; grey is bad.

Low numbers are good; 100 means there's opaque cloud overhead blocking the sky.

The Element Period allows you to choose your preferred 3-hour time slot, starting from now. The digital forecasting tool allows you to go a week into the future!

Below the period menu is the Looping Control. There's a square button in the centre: that's Stop. The first triangle to the right of the Stop: that's Play. Hit the Play button. Now the image area comes to life and you  can watch the simulated clouds build or move away. You can speed-up or slow the animation with the + or - buttons respectively.

Again, this is a predictive tool. You can get a sense of whether it might be clear or not, later today,  tomorrow, a few days from now.

Obviously, this is a crude resource. And clearly Canada is covered in a blanket of permanent snow... But I still take a look. It's quite helpful to me when I'm considering a long drive for possible good skies. Another tool in our tool kit.

Monday, June 02, 2014

SBIG works well

Richard shared some photos taken with the CAO SBIG camera (and filter wheel) while hooked up to his refractor. Good to see it put to use. The images of M106 and M13 are in the Toronto Centre's Yahoo!Group, available to members.

it's full of stars (Blue Mountains)

At some point during the weekend we viewed the Andromeda Galaxy (Messier 31 or M31). There had been some rumblings of a supernova with the gamma ray burst (GRB) detection report. But when we viewed the big galaxy, it was not obvious. There are so many foreground stars... I wondered, could it be that one? Or that one? So much going on. Being so close, so large, covering so much of the sky, there are consequently a lot of Milky Way galaxy stars in the way. It would be difficult to tell. Photography is the way to go. But we did not image it. But, by then, people were saying the GRB incident had been a glitch... False alarm. And there was certainly nothing super bright.

brief bino viewing (Blue Mountains)

Sun 1 Jun 2014, 9:56 PM. Elaine and Tony played with the C14 and TV101. Learnin' the ropes.

Tony thought he found the moons of Mars. I dunno about that.

10:00 PM. They tried to image Mars. I helped a bit with the camera software. Exposure settings...

10:55. I viewed Messier 13 (M13) in the big binos. Nice.

11:13. Viewed ν (nu) 1 and 2 CrB. Hopped from ζ (zeta) Her. I found them to be widely separately in the Oberwerk. Still wide despite very low power. Orange stars. Equal brightness. [ed: Haas says grapefruit-orange, identical in colour. Webb says yellow.]

11:24. Viewed δ (delta) 2 and 1 in Lyr. δ2 is yellow; δ1 is white or white blue. They form an L-shape with HD 175538. δ2 is at the intersection. [ed: Not referred to by Haas.]

They are in a gaggle of other stars. That's Stephenson 1, aka OCL 137, an open cluster. Neat.

Ah. So δ2 itself is a triple. The AB pair are 88" apart. The BC pair is tighter at 2.2". Worthy of binos and telescopes. [ed: And δ1 is a double (previously viewed).]

11:33. Feeling a slight headache. Allergies flaring. Damn.

We saw a bright ISS flyover. Passed very near Sadr. I watched it go into the tree line.

Mon 2 Jun 2014, 12:35 AM. It was very windy. Shame. It looked like a nice sky otherwise. Damnit.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

watching it darken (Blue Mountains)

Elaine and Tony like the Moon.

No accounting for taste.

spotted Sun, pillar, Moon (Blue Mountains)

We spotted a Sun pillar. Both shot with the Canon 40D and kit lens, 18-55m, ISO 400, daylight white balance, f/9.0.

1/160 seconds.

OK, OK. I included the Moon.

1/80 seconds.

Later, we watched Jupiter emerge.

left a card on a shelf

Put Tim L's CAO passport card in the supervisors closet. Also encouraged him to claim a shelf.

that's Antares

Risa asked for help with another wide field image. Saturn or Antares. The photo showed the centre of the Milky Way, with Scorpius and Sagittarius. So, no Saturn.

quiet time

Getting quiet at the observatory. Richard and Wayne were gone. Ian D left after emptying his closet space. Ian W arrived, on schedule. I think it's hammock time...

helped Wayne with session planning

Demonstrated SkyTools to Wayne. He liked what he saw. But then I suggested that he'd want to look at AstroPlanner for the Macintosh. Turned out he had already downloaded it but had not finished the installation process. I helped him formally install the app from the image file.

big prom (Blue Mountains)

Did some solar observing. Partly inspired by Bill's call. It was a good opportunity to train Elaine and Tony. We saw the big prom Bill had alerted us to. Lots of filaments and plages on the surface. Not much in terms of sunspots. Elaine was surprised by the dirt and dust in the eyepiece.

Bill got a good pic. Copyright 2014 © Bill Longo. Used with coercion. Visit Bill's web site or we'll blow up this star.

busy night (Blue Mountains)

Busy tonight! Lots of people. Elaine and Tony, Steven and Stephen, Dave The Sage, Richard, Ian D, Wayne, the Sil family, yours truly. It got very crowded at times in the observatory...

Pie! We had a blue berry pie in the oven. 10 minutes to go. I had turned the oven down a bit. Moved the rack to the middle. Brought the chicken timer out to the GBO.

I convinced Dave to stay for the night.

Did an "opening up the GBO" simulation with the dos Santos.

Helped Steven with piggyback astrophotography. Not dark enough now. I talked about astronomical twilight. He recalled the numbers better than I.

Said hello to the Sils. They were on the eastern edge of the Observing Pad. Taban said he had entered UT instead of local time in the past. That's why his 'scope was pointing wrong before. He had sorted it. It was working well again. Good!

Dave spotted the Sky Quality Meter. Guess he had never seen one before. Showed him my log book.

They were looking at Jupiter.

Discussed the presentation in a telescope with a mirror diagonal with Elaine. Showed her that if she looked down from the top, up was up, left was right. But if viewing at a angle, if the star diagonal was turned, then it changed it.

The alarm went off. Pie time! Pie o'clock.

Elaine slewed to Mercury. It was around 10 o'clock. Could see the crescent. Disappearing in and out. Dave did not think it was a good view in the telescope.

Talked to Elaine about the red lighting controls. Considerations for public events. Showed her how to adjust the laptop screen brightness.

Steven and Stephen were working with the Polarie on the Observing Pad.

I collided with the Oberwerk binoculars. Moved them out of the way.

Elaine wondered if she should put the dew shield on the C14. Tony saw that the dew heaters were on. I pointed out it was too windy.

Removed the solar filter from the big binos.

10:32. We reconfigured for Steven's camera. Removed the Tele Vue 101. Installed Ian D's special adapter. Then mounted his long lens. We used some tethers too. Elaine helped me with lighting. Helped Steven focus with a star. Chose a bright star near the zenith. Encouraged him to shoot a test photo and zoom in to verify.

Reminded Elaine and Tony that if they are running the show, they can't leave the GBO. Someone always needs to be nearby. Their account was still closing out. Elaine showed Tony how to search. Ah. The bifocal crowd.

Richard wanted to know when twilight ended. I checked SkyTools. 11:19. Right about now.

10:47. Slewed to Messier 81 and Messier 82 (M82). Helped Elaine with the Paramount joystick. We were using the C14 to bull's eye the galaxy. The big 'scope was aimed at M81. Of course it was not an issue with the camera.

Photo copyright © 2014 Steven Fanutti. Used with permission. Canon T3, 439mm. Self-timer. Stack of 10 shots in sequence at 30s each, ISO 3200, f/8. Photoshop Elements and Lightroom. North is to the right; east is up. [ed: NGC 3077 is above M81, slightly left. NGC 2976 is near the bottom-left of the frame.]

Suggested to Elaine and Tony use the counter in the Warm Room for the eyepiece station.

Steven and I talked about the state of affairs with DSLR technology. We commiserated about the software situation for the Macintosh. There still isn't a lot of good astrophotography processing software for the Mac.

Tony moved the 'scope. He showed me an article in a May astronomy magazine. He was going to use it for some targets for the evening. Reminded him I had my SkyTools handy, including a list of edge-on galaxies.

Sky looked pretty good.

I asked Tony for some good showpiece objects right now. He suggested Messier 33 (M33). In Triangulum. Not up yet. And a terribly low surface brightness. Tony said "Well its gotta be NGC 2403." I pulled up the NGC 40 best in ST3P. Above 2x. I suggested the Black Eye. He liked how the SkyTools software was so helpful.

Tony slewed to Messier 64 (M64). Elaine spotted something near outside, pulled Tony out of the observatory. He said, "We'll get in trouble." Ha!

I noticed the pointing was working well. With the 27mm of the C14, objects were in the field.

11:08. Steven imaged the dusty galaxy.

I asked Dave what he wanted to look at. The Ring! I put it in the hopper...

Tony wanted to make some coffee. Elaine asked why we didn't have a coffee maker out in the Warm Room. Ooh, I like how she thinks!

Elaine and I tagged up. She wanted to know if the Sil family was staying. Nope, they had changed their plans. Talked about monies collected.

Dave, Elaine, and I talked about darkness. Steven reminded me about the 18 degrees magic number. Astronomical twilight would be as dark as it could be in terms of natural light from the Sun. If the Moon wasn't up, then that's as dark as the sky would get. I also pointed out that, generally, after midnight, the sky would get a bit darker, near urban centres, as people went to bed and turned off lights.

We chose the Whale Galaxy (NGC 4631, Caldwell 32). In CVn.

Elaine busted my chops on the timing! Good for her.

11:23. Steven imaged the faint galaxy.

I handed the reins to Elaine. I wanted to go to the house. Pie! I showed Elaine how to use the phone intercom system. I rang Elaine from the house...

Steven finished his capture of the Whale. But Dave noted there was no operator around. Hey!

Elaine and Tony chose the next target. NGC 6946. Tony slewed. Elaine called from the floor, "You didn't call clear." Oops. Too low?

Wind was really picking up.

11:38. They chose something straight up, instead. Messier 101 (M101). Elaine showed Tony, in my SkyTools, how to gauge the elevation of a target, using the Night Bar. Tony wanted to see an image of it. I should show them how to view images in TheSky6 and SkyTools.

They headed to the Whirlpool. Also in CVn.

11:49. Steven imaged the interacting galaxies. Said he used to use GIMP for image processing in the past. And it was a struggle.

I checked the Davis weather station for the wind speed. 10 minute average 12.9; gusting to 19.3. Advised Elaine that wind speeds above 15 km/h might affect the C14. Elaine and I reviewed the Clear Sky Chart for tonight and tomorrow. Dave asked how I could interpret the CSC graph with the red screen on. I showed him the pop-up feature. He was curious about the source of the data, why it was collected, etc.

Tony wanted the Lagoon. We'd have to drop the walls. I reviewed with Elaine and Tony the process on door 1. Had Tony do door 2. Tony slewed. I recommended the lowest power eyepiece. Altitude is 10 degrees. Ooh. Not good... Over Toronto. And clouds. Dave didn't like the view.

Steven requested the Leo Triplet. Was that M85 or M65? Messier 65. I slewed.

Tony and I looked at some of Malcolm's photos on Facebook. They were Oak Heights.

I wondered how Nicole was doing. Near Lake Simcoe.

12:13. Steven did his last imaging run.

Dave and I talked about him old laptop that we had used while programming the touchkey system. The blue screen error referred to the IRQ code. I told him I suspected it was an overheating engine. Told him about all the dust that flew. I suggested he open it up. Vacuum it. Check in the inlets and outlets. Popped all the RAM and reseat them. Told him about my outrigger solution for the old e-machine.

The Sil's visited the GBO.

Elaine slewed to Saturn. We enjoyed the view.

12:25. They spotted the International Space Station heading to the north-east. Really bright. I shared that we have viewed the ISS in the telescope. And that I followed it in a big Dob once.

Elaine asked what the red band meant in TheSky6. I reviewed what the meridian line was. I was trying to view reorient the 'scope to get out of the wind. I tried to force the mount into the meridian zone. Closer to the meridian. Didn't work. Had to go back.

Elaine was tired. Thinking about heading to bed. They wondered what to do if they were both tired. Said they could practice sleep-shifting.

M57, the Ring Nebula, at last. It looked pretty awesome in the 27mm. I requested the 18mm and 1¼" adapter. Helped them with the 2-to-1¼ brass adapter. It was a better view at the high power. We tried to round up people. The Sils were in their car. We found Wayne.

I requested the Apple Core, aka the Dumbbell, or Messier 27 (M27). And suggested we go back to the 55mm. Helped Tony with searching.

1:00. We slewed to the big planetary.

Richard and I talked about imaging.

Asked Dave if there was anything else he wanted to view. Bed. Ah, the Bed Nebula. We talked more about the SkyTools software. He was impressed by what he saw. He asked me how long it took to learn the software. A year. He liked the Night Bar graph. I pointed out that the software puts the observing window centred on the midnight period. Makes perfect sense. Demo'ed the telescope control interface. Demo'ed some of the photographic features.

Checked Facebook. Ha! Charles met Brian Green and Bill Nye. So awesome!

Wind check. 37 high! Wow.

1:30. Dave was getting ready for bed. He suspected he'd still be up early. Before I'd be up. Thanked him for setting up the new system. He said he'd do a few more things, caulking around box, in the screw holes, a drain hole. Good night.

Elaine and Tony chatted about the Sils. She noted they were imaging while sitting in their car.

Fixed the Dell laptop account settings for the dos Santos. It was screen saver setting in the red light profile. Finally figured it out.

1:44. Viewed NGC 5033 in Canes Venatici. Richard thought it a faint fuzzy. Yep. Bright centre, canted, mottled. It reminded me a bit of the Black Eye.

Steven and Stephen popped into the Warm Room looking for me. Didn't see me. Didn't realise I was at the telescope. "OK, we'll just go." Drive safe!

2:05. Viewed ζ (zeta) Herculis. I was not sure I was splitting it even with 27mm. SkyTools showed the pair separated by 1.2 seconds of arc. Oh. [ed: A very fast mover, with a 35 year period!]

Very windy now. The 'scope continued to shake.

Richard kicked his 'scope tripod! Oh oh. Second time tonight...

2:20. Confirmed. The double star HR 6267 in Ursa Minor. I could see the C star in the C14. B? No... I saw a little triangle of stars to the north-west. They are mag 13 and 14. I could see the C star in the TV 101.

The seeing was bad. The wind was bad.


2:36. Tried for 41 Oph. Too tight for the conditions? Wind was bad. Davis said the 10 min avg was 24.1.

I consider wide-field imaging. With the loaner fish eye. Too tired.

Tony popped in for a bit. Still up! He said he spent a lot of time with the two Steves. Said one was very talented and the other was very excited. Richard reported he was going to go all night. Tony and I debriefed. And talked about Sunday plans. More training.

Richard came into the Warm Room. Felt cold. 11.4 with the wind chill.

3:20. Messaged Steven. Reminded him I owed him $10 change. He had paid me upon arrival for his guest. Unfortunately none of us could break the $20.

Something was wrong with the park position. I rebooted. Then I shut down. Handed off to Richard.

3:31. Reported to Lora the visitors for the evening. Once again, Kiron was a no-show.

CGEM working well

Nicole messaged me on Facebook again. All went well with her CGEM. Woo hoo!