Sunday, August 31, 2014

joined IDA-Toronto

Nicole invited me to like the International Dark-Sky Association, Toronto Chapter on Facebook. I joined in. It's a worthy case. In general people do not understand that light at night is bad.

ARO trip log day 4

Slept well, again. Immediately after waking, I packed up my gear.

7:53 AM. Had breakfast with Steve, Chas, Katrina. While Bill and Phil paddled around the lake. Mmm, the homemade bread was fantastic. Very tasty.

8:11. Showed Katrina the Alma background in Stellarium, reminded her that the images could be used in Starry Night.

Paid up for my stay. Thanked Caroline profusely. Great food, pleasant accommodations. An excellent tour. Thanked Ben, Catherine, and Chris. Wonderful hosts. My, they wear a lot of different hats.

Photo by Bill Longo.

9:59. We left the site after a group photo at dish. Katrina was at the wheel.

We stopped to hike the Barron Canyon trail. Incredible vistas. Surprisingly deep. I thought of glaciers. We did science, measuring gravity. We had to hustle when the rain started.

Photo by Phil Chow.

I took over driving from the park. Followed Bill then Ian to the outfitter shop. I found some funny gift items. Bill finally figured out where to put his eyeglasses!

1:00 PM. We reached the Wilno Tavern, between Barry's Bay and Killaloe. Non-stop jumbo perogies buffet. Stuffed! Nicole and Bill carried on west while we turned south.

3:16. Despite still feeling lunch, we had to stop for ice cream. Katrina also got her blueberries. The Kawartha Dairy outside Bancroft. I picked up the round for the crew. The last leg for the return, Phil took over driving.

Steve gave us the tour of the Kawarthas region pointing out drumlins and old haunts.

4:16. We passed the Great Dynamite Explosion plaque. Torn! Wanted to get home.

4:22. Finally reached Highway 7. And soon after the 115. It was painfully slow on the 401. Tailgating madness. We surmised it was people departing the cottage early, so to get their kids ready for school.

5:58. First stop, Katrina's. Fred said hello. Assured him the tent worked great. She hardly had any luggage and we were soon on our away across town. Steve was at the wheel to his home in the west end. After dropping Steve and his gear, I drove. Repeated the path to the 401.

By 6:45, I was back "home."

What an amazing, fun weekend with friends. Excellent company, good food, pleasant clean accommodations, a fantastic detailed hands-on tour of the ARO, with a dash of observing and imaging. Katrina's giggle fits. What a hoot.

Highly recommended.

spotted a Meteor

Spotted a coaster up near the ceiling at the Wilno. The coaster collection. Pointed it out to Bill.

Made by Brasserie Meteor of Hochfelden, France.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

ARO trip log day 3

8:43 AM. Woke with a start. Yet I was relaxed and rested. I could smell breakfast. People outside talking. Seemed like I was the last one up.

I learned it had started to rain in the morning and that had caused some scampering to tear down telescopes. Phil said the bugs were really bad.

9:12. Finished my continental breakfast. Tangerines, toast with butter, orange juice. There was cereal too but I did not partake. Mmm, pressed coffee. Infinite pressed coffee.

We chatted, compared notes, photos, video from the night before. Then Ben said he was ready to lead the first group for the dish. All right.

I took detailed notes in my Psion while others captured visual data. It was a tremendously interesting tour!

12:47 PM. We were back in the lodge, back from fantastic tour.

It was lunch time! I was hungry. Chili with cheese, garnished in a pleasing way, delicious garlic bread. Oh my. It hit the spot on what was turning into a grey day.

4:03. We returned from a short hike which included travelling the 660 metre portage beside the Poplar rapids, toward The Temptations. Brought back memories of past Algonquin trips, the Silver Peaks, canoeing with Cam on the Saugeen. I tried to read the water.

Kids were playing in the living/dining room. A few of us relaxed in the library. I read a bit more of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress on the netbook. Afternoon drowsiness.

Steve found old log books! Cool.

6:11. We heard distant thunder. Skies were getting dark.

6:23. I finally figured out the site layout from the mapping software. I had interpreted the scale wrong. Now I understood the lodge location versus the telescope.

Helped Charles with his Surface, again. This time I sorted out the networking, enabling the private option. But the wifi signal was still spotty. So he still could not connect.

Dinner was roast beast, mmm. And vegetables! Dessert: fudge brownie with ice cream. Wonderful. Ian, Steve, and Katrina shared beer and wine.

Catherine Tsouvaltsidis invited us all to the library. We watched the 1969 National Film Board documentary on the ARO. Entitled To the Edge of the Universe, the 22 minute film showed some of the construction of the ARO and its early use in pulsar VLBI experiments. I didn't know about that. Impressive.

Then she showed us two Discovery show clips. Fun. I got a kick out of Brendan painting the plates with a roller.

I tried to round up some players for euchre. But then I could not find any cards.

We heard from Catherine Carr. She was OK. Circumstances conspired to prevent them from making the trip. Too bad. Happily, the ARO appears to be thriving.

9:30. We put the lights out to watch the lightning.

Chas showed me and Katrina some of us Hawaii pix and vid. He's working on an upcoming presentation.

10:45. Popped outside for a moment. Bill and Steve were cloud busting. But I saw nothing, no stars. Good quality Bortle sky where the clouds are black; the light patches are the sky!

Headed to bed early. Almost immediately I fell asleep reading.


Steve and I talked a bit about cable management at the telescope and mount. It can get a little hairy with all the wires for all the accessories. He referred me to the Soba line from Blue Lounge. Expensive stuff but an attractive, well-thought out system. I've seen people use convoluted plastic wire harness conduit from the automotive section of Canadian Tire.

rain at the CAO

Ralph opened and closed the CAO. Weather's not looking good there. Too bad. A bunch had signed up.

the ARO tour

I captured the Algonquin Radio Observatory tour notes in my Psion.

We started our tour in the parking lot. Dr. Brendan Quine reminded us we should have sunglasses.

The dish is 46 metres or 150 feet in diameter. I asked how much it weighed. The dish is 1500 tons. Brendan said the accuracy was incredible. The National Research Council built it and operated it from 1965 to 1985. Then 12 buildings were removed leaving 12. The large array was also removed. Then NR Can operated the telescope until they broke it in 2007.

Thoth, a fully private company, took over. It took years to bring it back to life. Thoth has about 20 full-time and part-time employees plus some consultants. Chris said people have to be willing to do everything... Now Thoth provides quality radio services. Rate: $600/hour. Thoth, in Greek mythology, was the god of knowledge, wisdom, symbols, and maintained the Universe. We moved indoors to an old electro-mechanical room. There was the ibis logo on a banner.

Brendan talked for a time about pulsars and GPS. A pulsar reference frame is used to measure where things are located on the planet. A pulsar time pulse is better than any atomic clock. The ARO has 1mm accuracy. It was invented here, VLBI or very-long-baseline interferometry, in 1965. You have to sift through a lot of noise. EVLBI (electronic) also invented here. Thoth is working on IVLBI (internet).

The ARO site became the most well-mapped location on earth. The GPS system is a US-based with military ties. He pointed out the prime geodetic (landmark) white post pillar. Thoth provides data to NASA who in turns it to the US government. 150ms ping on L-band. The fourth GPS satellite provides time reference. I quickly typed my notes on the little keyboard. I don't know if they'll make sense.

Headed to control room. Awesome. Dish just outside the window. Moments of movie Contact synchronicity. Brendan pointed out the old control panel. Mentioned that it is clearly visible in the NFB film. Now they use a programmble control unit, computer-based, basically fly by wire. Chris had fired up a couple of PC screens as we were walking in.

There was a question about backup power. He said they do have generators but generally don't run in a power cut.

Discussed looking at things a long ways away, looking for plane radiation, which is reflected to focus in the cabin above the dish. Not unlike a visual instrument. Lambda over 8 preferred. 1mm RMS. Each plate was individually bent, 36 pieces. Mentioned some of the companies from the construction. Freeman Fox. Rank Mann Mechanical. Grubb Parsons, of course. Ship building companies. Even he was impressed that it occurred a mere 15 years after the world war. Modern pre-amp's are incredible, only 25 K. Mixing is used for noise reduction. It is 200 metres between focus cabin and sample room.

There is a campaign to measure the size of a pulsar. Mentioned the Rayleigh limit. India has twenty 25m antennas, Germany has a 100m, UK has a big one. This will permit a baseline of 8000 km. But it is still not enough. Lensing may help. IBM sponsors them, helps with computing and storage. 4 tb! They'll be able to push 40 gb in the new optical fibre recently installed. USA is cutting funding by half, so US radio observatories will going commercial, like Thoth. They are committed to providing high-quality data with live diagnostics for verification and that can be inspected immediately. They will inject engineering data.

We went downstairs to the "time lab." We huddled in the thermal room/Faraday cage to examine the hydrogen maser. Provided by NASA, about a cost of about $1 million. Canada has about 5, made by Hopkins University. He emphasised that hydrogen very accurate for "short" projects, like one-night pulsar measurements. Very accurate. 1 in 1015. Pointed out the mauve colour of the hydrogen emission. The most interesting factoid: it doesn't need to be synced with other atomic clocks. It's more about time signatures. Reminded me of occultations.

Reminiscent of SNOLab, we travelled the dark underground tunnel to the antenna.

We emerged in the basement of the pedestal. The base goes into bedrock, the Canadian Shield, for stability. It was built somewhat close to Ottawa so to show off to the dignitaries, for the low water effect in winter, and that it was near the train.

Brendan explained that the ARO is one of 17 locations used to measure gravity. Reminded us that the land's elevation is changing about 10 cm all the time, it's dynamic, of course. Plastic.

Headed up one level. Brendan said this will be the new "interpretative" level. Showed some students experiments. When Thoth took over the ARO, it was broken. In many ways, including water systems. But the worst damage was to the main antenna. Over the years, lady bugs had gathered in the gearboxes and bearings and their hard shells had slowly damaged things. They fixed the gearboxes. But the final blow was when the dish was driven at speed into the end stop causing catastrophic bearing failure. Even though designed for 250 ton static loads with double rollers, the bearing and race was severely damaged.

SKF (Germany) provided bearings, with the latest versions made in China.

A Discovery Channel segment shows some of the bearing work.

We spotted a dial phone and 5¼" floppies on desks. Bernard said current students had never seen these things. I felt old.

He showed us some more servo-mechanical, 600 volt equipment. I missed the reference but the builder had a connection to German dams. I recalled the Ice Pilots NWT show where Arnie demonstrated the skipping barrel bomb drop.

Picked up our hard hats.

We entered the azimuth deck or track room. We saw the central pivot point and the four motors that turned the turret. They feature integrated jacks. We clearly saw the large metal ring that the upper assembly rode on. Wow.

To reach the elevation deck, we went outside for a moment. We could see the altitude bearings and motors. And now I understood where the counterweight was. I remarked that it seemed small. Brendan agreed and said he'd like to see more added. He verified my suspicion, that the telescope is nose-heavy.

We entered the "twister" room. Fantastic. I had wondered how things would connect in the junctions. We saw massive cables on three looms. The looms would elevate when more cable was needed. This allowed the turret to rotate more than 360°.

The next part of the tour felt like we were on a ship or a submarine. Das Boot scenes came to mind. Through oval portals, we entered the Vertex Cabin. Brendan said he had two modes for working in this space. Below us was the floor. Now. But if the dish was aimed to the horizon, the "wall" to my left became the floor. He said you had to be careful where you put tools... If you didn't secure them, they'd go missing.

He pointed out the Cassegrain funnel. In that configuration, the dish could be used for planetary work. The final leg. One after another, we climbed the ladder to the brightness above.

We were on the dish! Holy smokes. Amazing. I had hoped we could walk on it, like Sara had. Not a lot of telescopes you can walk, run, or sit on. Wow. Chris said, "We don't often get to bring people up here." I felt very privileged.

I looked through the rectangular holes in the plates. Looked over the edge, through the mesh. One must not have a fear of heights. I was fascinated by the fasteners for the plates. Decagonal or dodecagonal heads.

It was hot as we emerged. I already had my sunglasses on. Incredible. In full sunlight, it'd be a scorcher. They should recommend sunscreen too! Sunscreen everywhere. Don't forget the bottom parts too...

It was noted that the arms holding the focus cabin were asymmetrical. I surmised the "bottom" ones were designed to carry more weight.

We heard the wind in the mesh. The dish was singing to us.

Brendan pointed out the water drain. And with grey clouds broiling, asked us to be ready to exit immediately should it begin to rain. Also, the seals are going. If it rains they prefer to orient the dish so no water collects at all.

Katrina spotted a bull's eye reflective marker. It was from an old experiment. Chris said that you could see them coming up the road. Ah ha!

What a painting job.

The rain started. We exited back to the Vertex Room, down one more level, and then took the long central spiral stair case to the interpretative level. Returned the brain buckets and headed down a level and outside. It was raining harder. Right on cue, when Brendan emerged from the tower, they started slewing the dish. And down came the water!



Photos by Katrina Ince-Lum, Bill Longo, and Phil Chow.

observing under clouds (Lake Travers)

We did some observing and imaging from the front lawn but then we were clouded out. Better than a poke in the eye with a stick.

After returning from the antenna imaging, we retired to the library. Tried to process images.

Someone checked outside and reported it was clear! We hustled outside. Phil had his Obsession up and running. Ian had his big Dob ready to go. Bill had the twins out. I was trying out Ian's barn door tracker...

11:06 PM, Friday 29 August 2014. Finished my first barn door image tracking photo. Cepheus and Cassiopeia. Andromeda Galaxy is near the right edge and the Double Cluster near the bottom-right. 600 seconds, f/4, ISO 400, 18mm, manually focused, daylight white balance. North is bottom-left; east is bottom-right.

Found the comet in a cropped version.

11:28 PM. Viewed M33 in Ian's 20" Dobsonian. Still faint.

11:42 PM. Finished another tracked photo. This time to the south, Aquarius and Capricornus. Neptune is almost near the centre but too faint. Fomalhaut at the bottom. Clarity to the tree line, in fact, was awesome. 600 seconds, f/4, ISO 400, 18mm, manually focused, daylight white balance.

The glow in the north was not aurora.

And, again, we were clouded out... Enjoyed some midnight cookies. We packed up for the night. Gambled it wouldn't rain. Ian and Phil covered the 'scopes. Bill torn down.

12:30 AM, Saturday 30 August 2014. I was in bed, winding down. It was a very comfortable bed...


It was a lot of fun trying out the barn door tracker. Very good results for a few dollars of lumber, hardware, and a motor. I was particularly impressed with the power supply. Polar alignment was off a smidgen but hey. Good results for the first try.

I felt we had lucked out on the weather. Early in the week the weather reports had looked grim. So two nights of observing and imaging was real good. I was happy.

Friday, August 29, 2014

shot the dish (Lake Travers)

Armed with the gate code, we headed over to the ARO antenna. Katrina, Bill, Steve, Phil, and myself. Would have been nice to have clear skies but, well, ya take what ya get.

Noticed the reflective markers on the dish as we drove along the lane but did not know what they were at the time... Initially, I thought they were lights. Parked near the old 11 metre dish antenna and the old microwave horn.

All photos with a Canon 40D, 18-55mm lens, manually focused, daylight white balance, tripod mounted.

8:56 PM. 15 seconds, f/4, ISO 1600. The clouds behind, the deep blue, I thought made for a dramatic image.

9:10. 120 seconds, f/4, ISO 1600. It was curious to me how the antenna looked quite flat from this angle. Probably an effect of the dual red lights.

Briefly we spotted the Moon through the clouds.

9:17. 58 seconds, f/4, ISO 1600. I wanted to get behind the dish.

9:27. 180 seconds, f/3.5, ISO 800. I like how the stars are moving.

9:32. 141 seconds, f/4, ISO 1600. Caught an Iridium (perhaps)! Lucky. Saw it naked eye and felt it would be in the frame. Aborted the exposure to check. Yes. [ed: Not an Iridium... Maybe it was the ALOS from Japan. Comet Jacques is in this shot too!]

9:37. 300 seconds, f/4, ISO 800. Not real happy with this shot but it was the best I could do with the lens. I didn't think, at the time, to go to the north side. From the south, I had run out of space... Still, I love the colour of the Garnet Star.

The 46 metre diameter antenna. The largest radio telescope in Canada. One of the largest in the world. I've stood under it, in awe. Done!

A very cool experience. We were very happy to have some clear skies, briefly. Worth the drive to Achray.


Wikipedia link: Algonquin Radio Observatory.

ARO trip log day 2

We had planned an early start so to make the Algonquin Radio Observatory in the early afternoon.

I heard people moving about. Talking quietly. Someone said it was 4°C. Wow. Happily I was comfortable in the tent. My three-season sleeping bag plus Katrina's blanket had kept me warm. It was very dewy outside. Visited the kybo, returned the candle.

7:42 AM. The truck was packed up. The lads were signing the guest book—I already had. The cabin was very nice. Somehow I pictured it to be half the size. Steve too.

Phil forgot to unpack Argo Navis cable again. Doh. Echo!

7:50. We said "Bye, cabin," and we're on our way. Steve took the first shift. We could see the lake this time.

First stop: The Blue Roof Restaurant for a hearty breakfast amidst the locals. I had the big breakfast with peameal and infinite coffee. Potatoes! It was yummy.

Nicole apparently saw my aurora photo, via Katrina, and exclaimed: "Are you kidding?!" Sara liked my aurora photo. Malcolm Park too. Ripples outward.

Chas phoned me while we were at the Blue Roof. They were in Ottawa. He said to say hello to the gang. "Hello!"

8:50. Breakfast was done. Was looking like a nice day. In short order we were back on Highway 11. On the road again.

9:29. Somehow we missed our turn. Phil was riding shotgun but missed the sign for 94. No worries. To pick up Highway 17 we just continued further toward North Bay.

9:32. It was warming up. The vehicle thermometer said it was 16°.

Someone spotted an attraction sign and we agreed to an impromptu side trip of the Brent meteor crater! Not to hike the 2 km loop trail; we'd take a gander from the tower.

10:25. We stopped at the park office. Stretched our legs. It was warm. Phil took the opportunity to pay for our Algonquin vehicle permits. We picked up the brochure on the crater. I looked for factoids.
  • discovered in 1951 by John Roberts of Spartan Air Services
  • he noticed a perfectly circular 3 km feature from an aircraft
  • the Dominion Observatory of Canada was notified
  • first scientific investigation was conducted later in the same year
  • today it is among the best known and most thoroughly studied craters
  • far older and smaller than Mexico's Yucatan crater
  • being in Canadian Shield rock, it is less affected by erosion
  • the meteor was probably 150 metres in diameter
  • it carved out a depression 600 metres deep at the time of impact
  • the walls would have raised up 100 metres
  • the explosion was estimated to be 250 megatons
  • if repeated today, every tree in the park would be flattened
I warned them of a few remarks, such as "It is true that the Brent Crater is not especially striking—at least from the ground."

11:07. I did some comet review with SkyTools. Funny. We all forgot to look last night!

We arrived at the parking lot for the Brent Crater. Climbed the steps to the wooden lookout.

Stitched panoramic photo made with 4 or 5 panels.

11:37. We left the tower. The crater observing platform was OK. But not great. Still, it was the first known crater site for me (I think). Had some ARO cookies. Asked a French couple to shoot a group photo. Merci.

Bio break. Steve and I. A very steep cliff, the edge of the crater wall.

11:46. We were heading north again, back toward Highway 17.

11:53. My battery started running low. I tried charging the netbook thought my custom cheater adapter and the 3-way CLA splitter. A loose connection somewhere made it awkward.

12:16 PM. We passed the park office. Carried on. I reported the crater side-trip took us 2 hours. Interesting but it required a good amount of imagination. Still, we were not too worried about the time.

12:17. Yeh. We were finally back on the main road, eastbound again.

12:57. I might have cat-napped for a bit.

We pressed to Deep River and stopped at Tim's—beside the LCBO of course. Mr Horton's place was packed! I somehow ended up in the slowest lane. Quickly consumed my soup. Carried on. Immediately it seemed we were approaching Pembroke. Yeh. At last we turned west to enter the park. Long way 'round.

2:34. Phil checked with the park office about more paperwork. We were good. We left the Sand Lake Gate. This was the last leg.

2:44. Passed the Achray campgrounds. It was now 34 km or less! But dusty dirt roads with the occasional on-coming. So, it felt very slow.

Photo by Phil Chow.

3:09. w00t! We arrived Algonquin Radio Observatory guest quarters. Yes. Spotted Ian's truck, Charles's van, in the parking lot. We parked near the 6-wheeled Argo. We were here. No dish in site. I wondered if it was just over the trees beyond the parking lot.

Charles was playing with his toys on the picnic table. Ian said hello. Greeted Sara and the boys.

Caroline Roberts greeted us. Friendly, pleasant, humble. Showed us our rooms, the shared bathrooms. Gave us the door code. Initially, Caroline put me in room 4, with two beds, overlooking the front lawn. But when we told her we were expecting Catherine and family, she asked if I wouldn't mind surrendering it. No problem. So, around the corner to room 12. Which was probably better for me, in the long run, a bit quieter, distant from the office. We also heard that Rajesh had registered. And Michelle—just for the day.

Nice view of Lake Travers. I quite liked the open fireplace in the living/dining area. That would be spectacular on cold evenings with snow whipping about. I mused over the bright orange-red carpeting, the small boy, a tricycle, the ATV in the lot, and what it would be like up here in the winter...

The wireless networking was not working, unfortunately. I could see the router but nothing happened after that.

Noticed the big reflector telescope and equatorial mount in the hallway near the stairs... Hmmm.

4:01. The gang, including Ian, went for a quick canoe, Phil with Ian, Katrina with Steve. I walked about for a bit. Old broken pavement to nowhere. A pleasant afternoon. Fresh air. The birds.

4:13. Charles was trying his quad copter. Some trouble with the controls. A calibration problem? We checked the video from the small HD camera on gimbals.

Bill and Nicole arrived.

5:30. We set the 'scopes up in front of the lodge. Despite the grey skies overhead. I helped Phil, Ian, and Bill. We discussed our motivation. Or sanity.

Ian offered his barn door tracking device with ball head and quick release. Awesome! I calibrated it, one minute exactly for the large gear. I should make one of these one day. Talk about cheap and easy!

Ian and I talked about regional astronomy clubs. I was surprised at his dissatisfaction with the one closest to his home. Too bad. Sounded like politics and power trips. Surprise, surprise.

After reviewing yesterday's photos from my camera on the flatscreen TV in the living room, I helped Charles with his MS Surface, reconfiguring the default app for playing video.

Charles gave me the book The Martian by Andy Weir. He had received it from Denis. A survival-style tale. I'm looking forward to it.

6:32. Relaxed on the front lawn. We wondered where Catherine was.

6:40. Met director Brendan, a prof at York, and Chris, helper, fixer, ARO jack-of-all-trades. Brendan "Ben" Quine told us they were installing fibre from the focus cabin to the control room to offer more bandwidth and less degradation. We would be able see it, if we looked along one of the supports, a bright blue line. Chris Soucy sounded like he could fix anything. A radio telescope repair man! We learned that Caroline was Thoth president and CEO. Huh!

Ben sounded rather intrigued when I shared that I had been running SETI scans for many years.

Dinner was served. By the CEO no less! Tasty butter chicken and rice. It hit the spot. Dessert was apple pie with spiked whipped cream. Very tasty. Katrina shared some wine.

Skies were not looking great but it didn't seem like it was going to be full-on rain, fortunately. We asked about visiting the antenna after dark...

already adapted

Phil and I had talked about dew avoidance on the secondary. A couple of days back.

He said he converted his heater to an RCA plug connector so to connect to a traditional controller. Now, he said, he couldn't use a small battery easily. I suggested building a "cheater" plug, an adapter with a female RCA and perhaps a 9v plug snap. Then he could, for this event, keep it compact. But he didn't feel like hauling out the soldering iron...

While setting up his truss-Dobsonian, I looked at the upper cage. And spotted something interesting. Pointed it out. The 9 volt battery connector plug was still there! He had in fact made an adapter already. Huh! Seems he totally forgot he did this.

All he needed now was a 9 volt "transistor" battery!

all OK at the CAO

Received a report from Wayne. I had asked him to let me know how things were at the CAO. His friend Peggy enjoyed her visit.

received flying permit

Thanks to Michael, we received our permit from Transport Canada! In fact, they gave him a blanket permit for a month. That will give us some flexibility.

long meteor, aurora, and fuzzies (Sundridge)

11:04 PM, Thursday 28 August 2014. They spotted a bright meteor. And bubbled and sputtered and mumbled. "Where?!" I demanded. Neither Katrina nor Steve nor Phil could give a direction or constellation. Fortunately, as I swivelled around, I spotted it. An incredible eastbound meteor. They said, finally, it had started near Hercules. It was reddish at the beginning. Showed a very long train. It went through Cassiopeia and down into the treeline. Already slow moving. Slowed down more. Across the whole sky. Wow.

Tried to see the Messier 33 (M33) galaxy naked eye. Nope. Could see the blob above γ (gamma) and β (beta) Triangulum. NGC 752 naked eye. Open cluster. aka Collinder 23, Melotte 12, Raab 8, OCL 363, and Caldwell 28.

Phil and I talked about the brightness of the stars. We were both feeling like we were seeing less now, not more. Shared Tony's remarks are dark adaptation, his peculiar theory that you need to take a break, go indoors for a bit, to "improve" your adaptation. I pointed out that when we climbed from the truck, it felt like we could see so many stars. But we were not dark adapted. The dash console lights (even turned down), vehicle headlights, etc. Emerging from the truck, the sky was black. In turn, that made the stars brilliant and bright. But now, we were fully dark adapted and the sky was "bright." That is, the sky glow was very obvious, the trees were silhouetted and black. The sky, for us, had become brighter as we acclimated. And that meant the star-sky contrast was reduced. It felt like the stars weren't as bright.

11:51 PM. After focusing on Vega and doing some test shots, I shot a 20 minute exposure to get star trails. Used 400 ASA but still goofed on the light levels. And then the lens became fogged over. Lots of dew and I did not have any means of heating. I had packed light. Had not brought the dew heater box. Or the winter kit with hand warmers. Oops. I put the camera in the cabin. Done imaging.

Phil headed to his bunk bed.

12:11 AM, Friday 29 August 2014. Steve had his Disk Mount 6 up and running with the big Celestron 9¼. We viewed Messier 57 (M57) with the Ethos 8mm. Very nice, big. Good detail on the outer ring and central region but I could not see the central star.

I used Steve's image-stabilised binoculars, the Canon 12x36 IS II. Andromeda Galaxy. Viewed lots of fuzzies in the south. In fact, I was lost there. Don't know my Messiers well enough. Ha! Found M33. Damn, it's faint.

Earlier I had put out the Oregon Scientific portable weather station. It showed 73% humidity and 5.9° Celsius. Wow. Cool. The barometer was dropping. Rain in 24 hours.

12:31 AM. We viewed M33 in the SCT. Hints of the spiral arms with averted vision. Gradual brightening to the centre. How did Chuck Messier see this?! (And not others!)

The sky was bright to the north. Katrina thought it odd. Steve said that we should put a camera on it. So I grabbed mine. Tried not to disturb Phil. The lens was still fogged but I burned off the dew by holding the camera near the wood stove. I hoped the lens cap warmed in my pocket would help too. Headed outside.

12:45. Captured some bright aurora! Woo hoo. Green and red.

12:53. It was good aurora. Naked eye I could see streaks or spikes, moving and shifting. But unfortunately short lived.

1:00. While facing north, I viewed the Messier 81 (M81) and Messier (M82) galaxies in the IS binos.

Katrina used her point-and-shoot. Was able to expose for 60 seconds. But the aurora was fading.

We looked at the Double Cluster in the big OTA.

Katrina wanted to immediately share our good fortune so she took a picture with her smartphone of the back of my camera in playback mode. She immediately posted it online. I realised later that this is what Bill does! Light bulb.

We saw lots of shooting stars. Maybe some were α (alpha) Capricornids. The odd Perseid. Most were sporadics.

I checked the conditions again. Whoa. 83% and 3.7°C. Chilly. Even my eyeglasses fogged. Had to keep the eyeglasses and binoculars inside my sweater.

Early we had taken some readings of the sky's darkness. Steve's iPhone dark sky meter showed 21.00; Phil's read 21.80. Split the difference?

Headed to the Sierra Designs tent. It was large, roomy. I took a candle in to burn off some of the moisture. Snoozed briefly then blew out the tea light.

aurora faded (Sundridge)

Gradually faded. The aurora dimmed out. All shots with a tripod-mounted Canon 40D and 18-55mm lens at 25 mm. Manual focusing, daylight white balance, ISO 1600.

12:47 AM.





1:03. Red all but gone.

I kept reframing. Should not have done that. Forgot to shoot darks. Dew stayed away.

caught brief aurora (Sundridge)

Katrina spotted it. A brightening in the north. I returned to the cabin. Found my lens was still fogged. I held the camera close to the wood stove to burn off the moisture. Back outside, as I looked, I noticed it changing, shimmering, spikes heading up. Starting shooting. Woo hoo! Got 'em!

Canon 40D, 18-55 lens at 25, f/4.0, 30 seconds, ISO 1600, daylight white balance, tripod mounted, not tracked.

By the time Katrina and Steve had retrieved and set up their cameras, it was gone.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

aurora in the Kawarthas

Randy caught some aurora too. He was in the Kawarthas. Shared a picture on Facebook.

star trails attempt (Sundridge)

Tried to do some star trails. Improve on my first attempt, many Moons ago...

All shot with the Canon 40D and kit zoom lens, 18-55mm, at 18, tripod-mounted. Daylight white balance. Manually focused. All f/4.0 and ISO 1600.

11:09 PM. 15 seconds. Cassiopeia is near top-centre; Perseus is bottom-centre.

11:10. 30 seconds. Too much tree.

11:15. 30 seconds. I panned a bit to the right. Less tree.

11:20. 120 seconds. Short trails emerging on the right; pivoting around the top-left.

11:24. 600 seconds. This is my favourite. My best career star trails shot. I also like the different star colours. And the ghost of the Milky Way.

11:39. 1200 seconds. Oops. Wanted to check the lens for dew... Should not have done that! Note the star trail shapes have a bit of a tear-drop or meteor streak appearance. This is because of the dew building and softening the image.

11:59. 1200 seconds again. Heavily dewed. Like Vaseline on the lens. Astronomy porn.

Didn't consider dew. Should have done Bill's trick, using an elastic band to hold a hand warmer in place... Or maybe I could make a long tube dew cap. Except I'd have to make it cone shaped, no doubt, for the wide angle...

Wrong ISO on these last two. Very high noise level as well.

Totally forgot to shoot darks!

ARO trip log day 1

The trip to the Algonquin Radio Telescope started today. Phil handled the logistics and had offered Steve, Katrina, and myself a ride. He wanted to get away Thursday night so to have lots of time to settle in on Friday. It's a long drive direct—partly because one should enter from the north-east. Katrina proposed diverting to the cabin near North Bay to break up the trip. We fine-tuned plans.

7:28 AM. Phil said he'd try to remember to put the Argo Navis control box and cables in the cabin of the truck so that I could play with it on the journey. Maybe run some simulations in SkyTools 3 Pro. Cool. I was looking forward to that. We wanted to chase down some faint fuzzies in super dark skies.

8:25. Phil messaged that his Obsession 'scope is f/4.2. In SkyTools, I had it as 4.5 for some reason. Then he said he almost always ran it with the Tele Vue Paracorr. That increased things by about 15%, changing it to a f/4.8. Of course that would change magnification and field of view in the simulated views in the software. Maybe that I had it at 4.5 was OK. In the middle.

11:05. Katrina sent an email.
Just got a tweet from the CSA re aurorae - might get lucky tonight - bring cameras.  Or not.  Aurorae are like comets - without the tail thingy.
12:42 PM. I was in the final packing stage. Decided to bring DSLR and huge tripod. Rendezvous time was set for 5:30 PM. I redid my route planning after realising it didn't make sense to go to Phil's work on the other side of the GTA. Shorter, faster, but still long.

The 53 southbound bus was a bit late but I made the 35 bus connection on time. The bus reached the subway ahead of schedule. And my timing continued to improve slowly. The TTC operator at Christie gave me a break. So did the northbound bus driver. Thanks!

Arrived at the Stockyard restaurant about 8 minutes ahead. Popular spot! I grabbed a row of seats near the back. No wifi unfortunately. Which would be the beginning of a long drought...

5:33. Katrina texted me: she and Phil were on their way along St Clair Ave. Didn't wait long. Had the fried chicken dinner with huge portions.

Phil said he forgot to pull out the Argo Navis. But he could do that at Steve's.

We picked up Steve and packed his gear plus telescope. A bit ahead of the 7:30 PM time. I helped transfer items from the hallway to the sidewalk. A few trips! The truck bed was jammed!

Received an extra Starfest programme from Phil. I'll give it to Mom.

Forgot the Argo Navis again. Oh well. I read the documentation from Skyhound and Wildcard Innovations. The Argo Navis document, downloaded a few days back, is huge! Well, not like the SkyTools tomb. Still...

It was slow near Canal Road. Why? Crazy tailgaters.

I learned that Sharmin wouldn't be joining us. And I was sad. In more ways than one.

7:41. On the Highway 400, through Steve's window, I spotted the Moon, a thin crescent, which I guessed was 2 or 3 days old. 3.2 days old according to SkyTools.

We swapped drivers after highway pit spot the new Canadian Tire service centre, the ONroute stop just south of Barrie. The old weird underground portion was gone... It was around 8:30 PM. I grabbed a medium coffee and the wheel. Traffic was light now.

Saw the Moon again just over the trees, setting. The skies were looking good. Katrina, riding shotgun, could see Cassiopeia and the Dipper. I kept seeing a star about 5 degrees above the horizon. Looked like we'd be able to get some observing in.

Photo by Phil Chow. Where was she leading us?

I drove to the cabin. A tug in Huntsville, many-a-time I have turned onto 60 for Mew Lake. Carried on. Past Burk's Falls. Exited Highway 11 for 124 and passed through Sundridge. Quiet. Looks like the major industry is selling pick-up trucks. Couldn't see Lake Bernard in the dark. Katrina guided me to hers and Fred's dark site.

Nice spot! It was very dark as we emerged from the vehicle. Stars down to the tree line. We moved gear into the cabin. Fred had left the tent out—I offered to sleep there. Katrina started up the wood stove.

Leg 1 of the ARO journey was done.

It was before 11. We had made good time. We started to set up cameras and 'scopes.

pulled the trigger

Tony let us know that the roofing contractor was going to begin work next week! Wow. I thought it was a couple of more weeks off. He planned to head up on Monday to tear down the equipment on the roof. I didn't know if I'd be able to help much...

spotted 3 Tutors

Three red Tutor jets flew directly overhead, no doubt working the CNE Air Show downtown, as I walked to the bus stop. White markings on the bellies. Snowbirds? I thought of Hadfield.

OK to go

Catherine spear-headed the RASC Toronto Centre tour in April. Time flies.

I am OK to go.

Photo by Keith Vanderlinde, Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics.

collimation worked

Received some nice words from Doug this morning, acknowledging my assistance at Starfest.
I just wanted to say thank you for helping my wife and I figure out how to collimate our telescope.  We're glad that we had the lesson the first day because there was a noticeable improvement, most particularly with the 6.7mm eyepiece that we thought might be defective.
Aim to please.

I reminded him to practice and soon collimation would be second nature and only take a couple of minutes.

the first log book

Eric sent an email with a PDF attachment. The cover and the first few pages of the first CAO log book. He thinks it is in the library...

I look forward to reviewing it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


We received payment and keys from the previous tenant of MODL 3. This loop is finally closed. Felt good.

congratulated the new ED

Learned that Randy Attwood is taking over as executive director for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Fantastic news! I congratulated him. And said that we're in good hands now.

received NEQ6 Pro

Received Scott's NEQ6 Pro mount with custom power input and ADM dual saddle. Not exactly as shown.

I will perform a tear-down, tune-up, and rebuild, greasing for Canadian winter astronomy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

get the adapter

Strongly suggested Mike order the Meade AC adapter #546. $33 at Canadian Telescopes with free shipping. Easy return policy. It is listed as being compatible with the ETX-80 and DS-2000. If it worked at driving his Meade Star Navigator 102, then it would prove that the fault was with the custom CLA made by his friend. And it would get him up and running in the backyard. And at powered campsites... I suggested it would not be efficient to run off the AC invertor. But I think he missed that subtlety.

he wants a GPS

Mike asked me, at Starfest, when I returned his telescope to his camp site, if I could attach a GPS unit. Huh? He said the hand controller did not allow specific locations, only cities, like Toronto. Which he lived far from. Sounded strange. I said I'd look into it. I think this lead him to believe that I could "change" or "modify" his mount by rewiring to be GPS-enabled. But I didn't like where he was going with this. I didn't think it wise to try to hack the mount in this way. Even if possible, it would probably be complicated and extraordinarily expensive.

When he posed the question again in an email, I realised the issue wasn't going to go away. He wrote:
Given that I cannot place location coordinates into the telescope's controller, relying only on the closest major Canadian city (e.g. Toronto for the Starfest location) and affecting especially planetary viewing, is it possible to incorporate a GPS function to the scope similar to what the Celestron's have?
Oh boy. I don't think he appreciates that a hack would be more than the value of the 'scope and mount. Probably many times more. Still, I did some research. Looked for a GPS sensor function for the Star Navigator 102 but I didn't see anything. There's an "atomic clock" module but this is only available for the LNT-capable telescopes. I didn't think his mount was compatible.

So I read the manual! Convinced it was possible. Found some good notes on pages 26 though 28.  Learned that a user is not limited to the listed Canadian and US cities. In the SITE function of the hand controller, one can add and edit custom locations. In the SETUP menu. One can change the name, latitude, longitude, and time zone.

Told Mike about these discoveries. Wanted to close this loop.

helped Ian add comet Jacques

Ian W texted me. Was having trouble loading comet C/2014 E2 (Jacques) into his SkyTools. He was using a particular technique which had worked for him in the past but not now. I guided him through the recommended process:
  1. update from web
  2. review Current group
  3. review Current Comets
  4. copy preferred comets to evening-specific observing list
That's the best way.

found fried traces

Upon closer examination, I spotted blown traces on the ETX-125EC "main" or "interface" board. It's getting worse as I go deeper.

Andrew from Australia via the ETX Astro Yahoo!Group suspects it was caused by a reverse polarity incident.

Found one board from a US rebuilder for $132...

Monday, August 25, 2014

orbit milestone

Learned that the New Horizons probe passed the orbit of Neptune. Curiously, almost to the day, 25 years previously, that Voyager 2 flew the blue gas giant. The New Horizons craft will be put back to sleep again to save power. Still on target for a July 2015 arrival to Pluto and its litter of moons.

helped post dark sky slider

Helped Katrina with the web posting. Her attempts at adding a "slider" image to the RASC Toronto Centre home page were not working. Postings just disappeared. I logged in. Saw no history for today. I made a quick post, grabbed a shot by Bill of the Double Cluster, and tried previewing. It reminded me I need a URL cross-reference link. Added that and some good segue text. Set the time to late tonight. Saved. It worked. Chatted with Katrina. I could not explain why it had not worked for her.

I then made a "feature" image, uploaded it, and replaced the full image.

reconfigured the radio

Heard from our fantastic rural internet service provider, Bruce Street Technologies. Their new Ravenna fiber optic line was to be activated on Friday, assuming the circuit tests were positive. And that meant BST wanted to reconfigure their radio atop our roof. That would let us have more control over configuration and, in particular, port forwarding. Yeh. He gave me the new router WAN deets. He wanted to know if I was on the CAO grounds. Nope. At the Fest of Stars!

Yesterday I learned from Lora that Ian was on site. I asked if he could help me out.

I just walked Ian through the process. Then messaged Blair that we were done. Within moments, everything was done. Fully internet access on the grounds. And after Blair clarified the port numbers, I was able to access the cameras.

Easy peasy. I thanked Ian and Blair.


Once I adjust our dynamic domain, I'll let the team know.

This will also allow the MODL people to do their own monitoring.


The dynamic address was already updated! Yes. Meant the local applet was working.

corrected typos

Grace pointed out some typographical errors on the Telescope Repair Man web site. Thank you!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

confirmed AstroMaster 114 design

Researched the Celestron AstroMaster 114 "Newtonian" telescope. Confirmed what I learned from the weekend. It is a compound telescope. Some call it the Bird-Jones variant of a Newtonian. In the end, it is catadioptric, a telescope that uses both mirrors and lenses to form an image for the eyepiece.

I found a fascinating video by Calan Roupe, about 30 minutes long, where he showed how to effectively collimate the AstroMaster 114 with a laser collimator. It first requires removing the corrector lens from the bottom of the eyepiece tube! It's a handsome piece of glass—looks to be about 1 cm thick. Alignment is important—should be indexed before removal. Not terrible easy to do in the field...

Mike followed up

Mike started sending me messages on Facebook. Wanted me to continue looking in the power problem with his Meade 102 Star Navigator telscope and DS mount. He also brought up the GPS location issue again. He seemed pretty adamant about enhancing his mount. Immediately, I wanted to shift the conversation to email.

found a mess

Opened George's Meade ETX 125. Houston, we have a problem. George told me he had found a yellow wire going to nowhere. I found a lot more than that.

It looks like someone was tinkering or hacking. Regardless, it's a mess.
  • jumper connector (from interface board) to J2 on motor board is missing; in other words, the interface board is not connected in any way to the motor board
  • jumper connector (from azimuth motor) to J1 on motor board is missing
  • black wire to the azimuth motor broken at the motor connection point
  • red wire at power input on interface board cut
  • one wire's soldered joint was not covered or taped; a short-circuit potential problem
I told George it was a bigger problem...

thank you all

I am grateful for all the support this weekend.
  • Tony for the transport to Starfest and the cheese
  • Phil for the transport from Starfest, the Hotech collimator, the collimation support, and the wifi hotspot
  • Darcy for the Starfest 2014 cap
  • Elaine and Tony for the telescopes to play with, use of the truck for storage and as a wagon
  • Katrina for the shelter, kitchen, real coffee, picnic table, recording the double star talk, and the photographs
  • Andy for the power and the coffee
  • Elaine for the banana bread and photographs
  • Lora for the tarts of butter!
  • Paul for the Glatter and cheshire collimators
  • Malcolm for logistics and moral support and sorting power
  • North York Astronomical Association for the opportunity to assist telescope owners
I don't know how to repay you all for the kindnesses extended me.

good to go

All but torn down. Will be leaving River Place soon.

brief observing (River Place Park)

Needed to wind down. Calm down. I was stressed, upset, tired, anxious. Headed up the hill. No more repairs, OK?

11:42 PM, Saturday 23 August 2014. Arrived the dos Santos site. Enjoyed a beverage. Fired up SkyTools.

It was a nice sky. Not great transparency but still...

12:08 AM, Sunday 24 August 2014. Malcolm dropped off some paperwork to Elaine. I thanked him for inviting me to Starfest.

12:53 AM. The C11 pointing seemed to be off. Tony had said it was great late last night after he redid it. Not now. I starhopped to the Saturn Nebula (NGC 7009, Caldwell 55). Viewed at low power (32mm?) in the C11, then with 13mm. It was oblong. Bluey-greeny. A little unsatisfying. Phil taught it was too much power with the 13.

1:32. Tried to view Stefan's Quintet. Nothing was visible to me.

Wanted to view some target and considered a nearby star. But I quickly grew frustrated. The SAO targetting method in the Celestron (and SynScan) is ridiculous. The interface in the hand controllers is stupid! Why they make you enter the first four digits only is beyond me. And then, invariably, the star you're interested in not listed. Found a note in the documentation that said it only works for stars above mag 8. Useless.

I re-did the star-alignment. And I added one calibration star. Now it was pointing well.

1:47. Re-viewed Neptune. Definitely on it tonight.

I thought the collimation off. When defocused, I saw crescents.

More white lights... Worse this year.

Phil went back to camp. Andres came by and chatted with the dos Santos. At one point, they discussed the internet trouble. Andres said it was working fine. I argued that it was definitely not working. And I wasn't the only one. Hate that attitude. Katrina headed to camp.

Suddenly, we were clouded out. Such much for that. 'Scope was pointing well, finally. Optics were dry. I was settling into an observing plan. I hadn't had a chance to try the O-III filter. Didn't view any cool flat galaxies with Tony. I sent the 'scope to home and powered down. Said goodnight.

In a moment of inspiration, I grabbed my towel and toiletries. It was the perfect time for a long, hot shower.

Back at camp, grabbed my candle lantern. Mostly for ambiance.

2:39. Comfy in my sleeping bag. Starfest was all but over.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

helped Drew find Jacques (River Place Park)

Helped Drew find the comet in his SCT 'scope. At first I couldn't tag it myself. I knew roughly where it was. I fetched my SkyTools. Showed him the location, now well above Segin. In a line from Segin parallel to the one between δ (delta) and γ (gamma). But further up. Almost a right angle with δ and ε (epsilon). He quickly tagged it. It was a good view. Definitely fan shaped.

collimated the AstroMaster 114

After closing the Telescope Repair Man booth in the afternoon, I drove about the park looking for Heather. Spotted her and her party at the top of a hill near the entrance. Told her I wanted to have another go. She was willing. We discussed timing given the banquet was starting at 5:00 PM, to be followed by the keynote and prize draw.

After the dinner, Heather dropped off the 'scope. I had a quick look but covered it back up for Porco's talk.

Beautiful skies greeted us as we emerged from the big tent. I hurried back to the site. Everything was soaked! Even though covered, Heather's 'scope was dewed. Went through the collimation process again after drawing the secondary mirror back. Asked Phil to corroborate the process with the Hotech laser. That's when we spotted something unusual: a lens at the bottom of the focuser tube.

Suddenly it all made sense! The primary mirror was spherical. This was a corrective lens. This is what caused the Hotech laser beam to hit the primary as a blob, spread out, not a point but a non-circular blob about 1 centimetre in diameter. I also found the lens was fogged. Briefly warmed it with my portable hair dryer—until the power went down in our sector. Finally adjusted the secondary to make the laser exit out the focuser tube. And, while spread out further, I could see the return beam. Fine-tuned the primary and finally had a look.

Arcturus looked good! Sharp, easy to reach focus. Pin-point stars in the field. And just then Heather returned. She was blown away by the view. I showed her the Andromeda galaxy. A very nice view. I was impressed. And finally Mizar. Wow. Tack-sharp stars, when kept near the centre of the field. Beautiful resolution. Mizar A and B easily split, Alcor obvious, Sidus Ludoviciana in the middle. Heather was thrilled.

Me too.

the long main event

Enjoy the banquet dinner. Sat with Phil, Katrina, Denis, Joan, Scott, Elaine, Tony, Nicole, and Sara. Food was good. I liked the astro-themed desserts.

We returned later for the keynote by Dr Carolyn Porco. Some interesting candid insights. She was surprisingly crass at times. Lovely images of Saturn, the moons, and the rings.

The photo show and awards was nice but long. I was getting very uncomfortable in my chair. Dave Dev made it bearable.

The prizes at the end was fun but I really was thinking about the clear skies. It carried on for way too long. Andy didn't win. Heather did. I was glad to get out of the tent.

solved power problem

Visited Nicole. Said I heard she had had some power problems. Yep.

This time, the power connector on the side panel was loose. Turned out the outer hex nut had come loose. In addition, the female jack connectors had shift back and up, behind the metal plate, making cable disconnecting difficult. Sheesh.

I removed the panel, loosened the board, realigned the RJ connectors, secured the panel, and finally tightened up the hex. Did a test run (while the StarSense controller was attached). Hey! No RA movement. Re-seated the connectors and all was fine. Bolted it up.

So, I had fixed Nicole's mount, again. Told her about stuff built on Mondays...

repair booth report - day 2

Ran the Telescope Repair Man booth at Starfest again, Saturday afternoon. A bit later start today, 1:40 PM. And I went down a bit later to set up. Quieter.

Said hello to Karen Mortfield. She liked my superpower.

Torn down and inspected an alt-az mount with lot of play and found there were no bearings—not an easy fix but I suggested boring a larger hole and then using a plastic or metal sleeve. Helped with a Rigel battery: just a dead 2032 battery. Inspected a mirror diagonal with a loose input shaft: after removing the side covers, we found four set screws. Unfortunately they required an Allen key smaller than any of mine. Collimated more binoculars, including Viktor's on a long parallelogram. He was thrilled. Had a go at Heather's AstroMaster 114 Newtonian but I was not happy with the final result. And the Phil's Hotech laser collimator did not seem to work. I made a note to follow-up.

Photo by Katrina. Here I'm showing an owner how to adjust the collimation of their Newtonian. Which are the mirror locks and which are the collimation adjustment screws. Primary mirror slightly fogged but should still work fine.

Met Gary at Cangar. We had a good chat about the state of affairs for Canadian telescope owners.


Received George's non-functional ETX 125 to take back to the workshop.

O-III for a song

My first trip to the Starfest swap tables. Found a 2" Lumicon Oxygen-III filter. Offered by Wayne (apparently from Efstonscience). Haggled. He made a counter offer but then retracted on it. He accepted my original offer. Shook on it.

Markov was bummed. Thought it was being sold for more. He had misread the price tag. That was the new price!

Met Lynn Hilborn, in the flesh! He was running a table there. That was neat!

parts received

Received old Celestron hand controller from Denis. Thanks. He's gonna give me a circuit board from an old mount... It'll be interesting if Telescope Repair Man can build up a supply of used parts...

Orion up (River Place Park)

Woke. Needed a bio break. It was very quiet. Spotted Orion was over the treeline. Beautiful. Muted colours. Also saw a glow in the north-east. Seemed too early for dawn. Wondered if it was zodiacal light. Did I see an angled area, tilting to the right or south? Or was that wishful thinking? It was probably the Moon...

Friday, August 22, 2014

hit the hay

At 10:34 PM, we were clouded out. I decided to go to bed early. Very tired.

Later I heard activity build. Movement. More excited talking. It must have been clearing. Too lethargic to get out.


Too bad. I learned it was a good night.

ISS in the south (River Place Park)

We caught the International Space Station pass. Fainter and lower tonight. Mag -0.9, no more than 16° in elevation. But we saw it. Nice. Went very near Antares.

Katrina tried some photos. I tried some light-writing.

more RASCals

Phil, Denis, Markov, Craig, and Nicole had arrived. Yeh! A good crew.

I fed Wayne when I learned he had no food supplies.

just for you

Finally asked Paul if he noticed anything in particular about the double stars I had given him back in July. Anything special about, say, SAO 85564 in Hercules?

He laughed. Right in the middle of the open cluster Markov 1. Ha!