Saturday, August 09, 2014

split zeta Herculis (Blue Mountains)

9:20 PM, Friday 8 August 2014. Feeling OK. Ready to observe. Despite the Moon.

I was in the GBO ready for the International Space Station flyover at 9:59 PM. Ready to track it in the telescopes atop the Paramount. Satellite data up-to-date in TheSky 6. Neat! It showed the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle nearby! Maybe we'd get a dual flyover sighting!

Focused on Arcturus while still light. Huh. I could easily the diffraction rings! Made me wonder, why can't one do collimation in the day...?!

Looked at Saturn. Noted the Cassini Division, the bright equatorial belt, the darker temperate, the shadow on ring. Pretty. Good seeing.

9:30 PM. Looked again. Saw Titan to the left (east). And two faint points in a line above (south). Then another further east. Nope, that was a star: HD 132568. Above it was Tethys close in, then Rhea.

9:40. Yep, got Dione. To the north.

Alarms went off. Aimed to the west and waited for station. Wayne, Lora, and Phil joined me in the observatory.

10:23. No joy with ISS sadly. The Paramount off a little, maybe a degree. It was only visible in UO finder scope. The Paramount stopped at meridian, which I had not expected with a northerly pass. Neither did we see naked eye the ATV. Everyone thanked me for trying.

OK. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

10:41. A black line! With the 10mm in the C14. I confirmed splitting ζ (zeta) Herculis. For the first time! Very cool. Not an incredible separation by any means but still cool. SkyTools 3 Pro said the current sep was 1.20" (as of 2014.6). I thought the primary is yellow-white and the secondary is dull orange. The companion might be near the second diffraction ring. The challenge was the proximity combined with the differences in magnitude, 2.8 vs 5.7.

10:52. It was really satisfying to finally get this. A challenging fast-moving binary star. Just made my evening. Made my week! Steady air helped. [ed: I've been trying for a while. The first SkyTools observing list I found this on was from 5 Apr 2012. Over 2 years...]

10:56. Viewed HD 151367, aka Σ2098 (Struve), a neat multiple star system near zeta. Spotted it off to the side in the Interactive Atlas. I could easily see the A, B, C, and D stars in the C14 with the 27mm. But could not pick off the "S" star. Huh? ST3P said this was a mag 14 star. Weird designation. There was no colours per se, they were all rather dim. A nice pattern. A and C seemed almost the same brightness to me, B was slightly fainter by maybe 1 mag, and D was much fainter. Could not see GSC 02582-1278 at mag 10.8 between A and B.

[ed: The chart view matched my visual assessment. ST3 says A and C are mag 8.8, B is 9.6, and C is 11.0. Not listed in Haas's double stars for small telescopes. Is the GSC star another catalog sync issue in SkyTools?]

Viewed the Turtle Nebula. Various powers. It was not round at 391x.

11:20. Wayne headed to the house, reporting he was very tired. The air was chilly.

11:27. The planetary nebula NGC 6210 was neat. Definitely not round. I thought I could see blobs sticking out to the north and south. I should return. Maybe try to image it. It would be fun to view (and image) in a dark sky. Viewed some images from the web.

11:35. Viewed HD 183014, a lovely double. Nearly equal stars in a little gaggle of stars. Also known as Σ2523. In Vulpecula, not far from the Coathanger. From my "candidates" list. A nice one.

Made for home base. Yummy toast. Appetite seemed OK. Chatted with Wayne about magnification and adapters and Barlows.

12:24 AM, Saturday 9 August 2014. I returned from a break.

12:25 AM. The mount reached the meridian. Slowly this time. Heard the note change.

12:30. Checked they were visible in the TV101 with the 5mm. HD 183014 was splittable at 108x.

12:34. Slewed to HD 206081, in the middle of IC 1396. Took in the sights with the 27mm. Spotted a double to the bottom left and to the top right (or east versus west). My target, according to SkyTools, was the east one. The double to the right was HD 205850. In HD 206081, I saw a pair of unequal stars. My first impression was yellow (A) and blue (C) but when I looked directly the blue turned to orange. I estimated they were about 1 or 2 mags different [ed: ST3 says 2.5]. ST3P said it was a triple...

12:42. Panned a bit and spotted the incredible HR 8281 in Cepheus.

I then tried HD 206081 in the TV101. The companion (C) star was all but invisible. Might be OK in a black sky.

Back in the C14 I looked closer at 206081. Did I see another star? At a 90 degree angle to the AC pair, to the south? Just touching A?

12:47. Yes! Holy moley. A split at 0.9"! From Skytools: AB: 8.25+10.11 mag. PA 160°, Sep 0.90" (2000). The software said "splittable currently (splittable at best)." Indeed. Wow... Eyes were working good tonight! Interesting... A sub one arcsecond split! Yes!

12:51. The 10mm did not improve the view. This time.

Viewed HD 205850. A simple double, nearly equal stars, colourless.

1:01. It looked to me like the HR 8281 data in ST3P was really mucked up.

OI box (with the pair buttons) observations:
  • 5 star system
  • B is mag 13.3
  • E is mag 11
  • E is at PA 360 about 53" from D, i.e. due north
  • individual star menu excludes B
CV chart observations:
  • B shown as very faint
  • hovering over B shows v5.7
  • D appears to be a double (not related)
  • E not shown
IA chart observations:
  • B shown as very faint
  • hovering over B shows v5.7
  • E appears at correct position and sep
1:43. The door opened. Oh! It was Lora visiting me, not Phil. Still up. I showed her the double star. She asked the about Sissy's project. I told her what I thought about that! I discussed my double star project.

She nudged me to wind it down. Good point. A relapse would not be good...

But, I had to do one more! Off to Arrakis. I told her about the moth eyes I had seen at a friend's cottage. Pale yellow eyes.

As I exited the GBO, Phil walked by. He was done too. He had a bad night. He had been "dietmarred!"

I had had a great night. Lots of energy. Surprising. Good eyes. Was it the meds? The lack of booze? Fiber? Good air? Worked on a few candidate doubles stars. Pleased to make some progress there. Regardless, I was very happy to have nailed zeta Her. And HD 206081. Another sub 1" split!

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