Friday, August 22, 2014

observed with the dos Santos (River Place Park)

Headed over the Elaine and Tony's site at nightfall.

9:15 PM, Thursday 21 August 2014. Enjoyed a fantastic flyover of the International Space Station. Long one! Almost 10 minutes. Very high too, almost overhead. Quite orange at the beginning. Wow.

I polar-aligned Elaine's mount, a Sky-Watcher EQ3.

I wondered about the cone angle. The 'scope is about 10 degrees to the right, given how the saddle is oriented. Would it affect star alignment?

9:53 PM. Manually slewed, with the help of the SkyTools 3 Pro software, to comet Jacques in refractor. A nice view.

Polar-aligned Tony's Celestron 11" SCT atop the CGEM mount. With new power cord. He doesn't have the polar scope. So it was a crude alignment with just the bore hole. Later tried to fit Elaine's polar scope. Different. There goes that theory. Did the star alignment. [ed: Forgot to check the location. Forgot to bring my reticule eyepiece.]

10:24. It was very dewy.

Confirmed the comet location. Near the pair of mag 10.7-ish stars TYC 04037-0243 1 and TYC 04037-0149 1. Beyond, to the east, was a little hockey stick with TYC 04037-0233 1, TYC 04041-1462 1, and TYC 04041-1365 1.

Focused Elaine's 'scope roughly on Vega. We found that the focuser fell down with the weight of the camera and the near vertical orientation. Impossible to keep it locked in. Elaine left for a bit. I went to Arcturus, to keep the 'scope more horizontal. That worked.

Back to the comet. I did a test shot, 30 seconds, ISO 3200. Nice! Lovely iceberg-blue colour.

Spotted Andromeda naked eye. Bright and big. Tried, naked eye, to spot Triangulum.

11:46. Finally found the comet C/2014 E2, in the C11. Was near ε (epsilon) in Cassiopeia aka Segin. Fan shaped? It moved fast. Every time we returned to the eyepiece, we could see it had shifted.

11:52. Elaine returned. She liked the focus in the test photo. She dropped to ISO 1600 to kill some of the noise.

Comet seemed fainter. Tony's corrector completely dewed up. He had not put the dew cap on. We needed a hair dryer. He found one from a fellow observer. Katrina determined that Scott had one. I forgot about mine! At least I provided 12 volt power for his hair dryer. I showed Tony how to better mount the dew strap under the dove tail.

Lots of dew. Even the eyepiece of the finder was fogged. Made it a little frustrating.

One of Elaine's dew heaters stopped working. She found a back-up. I offered to check it later.

I wanted to review the CGEM manual, better understand the polar routines, how to improve alignment. Elaine had a manual on her iPad but it didn't seem to be the correct or exact version. And the iOS sucks at displaying PDF files. Made a note to get the proper one, once the internet was up.

Some were curious which way the comet was going, in or out. Plotted it in SkyTools. Outbound.

Suddenly, fog. The sky was gone. The stars were going out, like in The Nine Billion Names of God.

Elaine said the Red Light Café was open. Started describing the menu. And, just as suddenly, I was hungry. Snack break! Mmm, pulled pork.

1:41 AM, Friday 22 August 2014. Helped Elaine with Messier 45 (M45). I suggested rotating the camera for better framing. 'Course that altered the focus. She shot lots of photos.

2:19 AM. Viewed Uranus. Spotted a faint point nearby. Maybe a moon. Confirmed. Oberon!

Tried to find Neptune. But I wasn't sure I got it.

2:33. Helped Elaine with the Auriga blobs. Messier 36 (M36), Messier 37 (M37), and Messier 38 (M38).

I was done. Tired. It was a nice sky but I had difficulty seeing the Coathanger. I crawled into my tent.

3:05. In bed.

Saw a bunch of meteors tonight. Surprisingly good skies overall.

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