Friday, July 31, 2015

viewed lost doubles (Blue Mountains)

Now, after dinner, from the parking lot, I took in the whole sky. Very clear to the west. Oh my: spotted some clouds to the south, closer now, but very low. Looked there was a haze around the Moon. Not great. Still, I thought it would be OK for star observing.
Instruments: Celestron 14-inch SCT, Tele Vue 101 refractor
Mount: Paramount ME
Method: Go To
In the Geoff Brown Observatory, I noted there was about 5.75 hours of space left. Decided to clear some recordings from the Sony ICD-SX 750. I also considered the new daily routine! It was a good time to try it.

Thu 30 Jul 2015, 9:18 PM. Set about first copying the "daily" files to a computer. And then deleting. The manual reconciliation took a while.

Had over 9 hours of space after clean-up. Made a reminder in Evernote for the new daily process.

Paramount was up and running. Connected and homed. Moved the mosquito coil a little further away from my seat.

Heard a car rolling up the drive. I guessed it was Wayne. It was.

He popped into the Warm Room. We talked about plans. He said recently it finally got it all working, met with some success imaging. Yeh! Tonight he was going to do some experimenting and refining. Perhaps shoot the full Moon. Whatever turns your crank. I shared I didn't really have a plan yet but I was very interested in re-examining the double stars I lost my notes for. He reported a bit of cloud to the north-west. Discussed sleeping quarters and then Wayne headed out to his Pod.

9:54 PM. Big wind gust! Checked the local site weather conditions. The Davis reported the wind was from the NW or 315°, instantaneous 6.4 km/h, 10 minute average 6.0, high 45.1! Temperature 18.1°C, dew point 14.6. Inside the house was still very high at 25.2. It had almost hit 30 before I opened it up! Wow. Humidity 80%. Barometer had been rising very slowly from 4:30. That said it was not high, almost 1010.0. Prediction: mostly cloudy and cooler, precipitation possibly in 12 hours, possibly heavy, windy. No doubt.

Oop. It tried to upload the data... and failed. I made a note to look into fixing it. I suspected it was a glitch (again) in the profile. Perhaps I just needed to make a new one.

Sent Lora and Phil my directions, wherein I avoided Primrose, the messed up intersection of Hwys 10 and 89.

10:06. Headed to the house for a glass of water and a pair of pants.

Did some kitchen chores before returning.

Made a new observing list. After a couple of attempts, I copied over the "lost" doubles, and marked them high priority.

10:20. Adjusted the observing conditions in the location profile. Applied some constraints. Sorted.

Reorganised eyepiece covers and caps.

Considered double star HR 5816 in Libra, aka SAO 140672, aka Σ1962 (Struve). In many older observing lists. In my candidate list. Something I have wanted to look at for some time now.

Installed the 55mm in the Celestron 14" SCT and the 10mm in the Tele Vue 101mm refractor.

Reorganised windows in the dual monitor set-up. Reset the onboard display of John Repeat Dance to 1024x600. Deleted some old/incorrect observing lists. Cleared the observed status indicators.

10:27. Spotted a nice pair in the TV101 at 55x. Pleasing, tight pair. Equally bright. Just as I looked in the C14, it dimmed—clouds!

In the interactive, it looked like a triple! I wondered if that was a flaw. Three stars, really close together, equidistant, in a nearly straight line.

Noted HD 139555 nearby. I must have stumbled across it before, randomly, and then added it to the old list. Accidental double.

Bloody clouds.

Tried to get my bearings in the eyepiece.

Consider that there was an error in SkyTools... In the chart, three equal stars were shown. Zoomed in a very high level. The one on the right or northern-most star was noted as HR 5816. When I hovered, I saw the magnitude listed as 5.4. When I hovered over the B star, south of A, it was shown as mag 6.4, with the name HD 139461. Continuing, slightly more than the AB distance, I arrived at HR 5815, mag 6.6. The Object Information box shows the mag as 6.7.

On double-clicking the target, reading the Object Information box, it referred to two stars. Magnitudes 5.4 and 6.7 (which struck me as a little odd). 11.6 arc seconds apart. When I selected the individual elements, B was listed as HD 139461. Something is wobbly.

I saw two stars. I thought them pretty well identical in brightness and colour. Pale yellow. Well. I thought. One time, one seemed pale blue; a moment later they flipped colour. Some I couldn't tell...

The chart showed a nearby orangey star up or north-west, possibly SAO 140668. An M star! Ooh. And I considered that HD 139555 would be at the 3 o'clock position. Headed to the ocular to corroborate.

10:43. Extinguished the bug coil.

Spotted a little faint star in the field: TYC 05596-0662 1 at mag 11. Tried to spot the faint star at the 7 or 8 o'clock position, opposite the Tycho star. No luck. But, to the south, I did see the big L made up of GSC 05596-0895, TYC 05596-0600 1, PPM 198818, and PPM 198822.

Marked as observed. But I have an issue with it. Took out the 27mm eyepiece for one more look.

10:48. Seeing went away.

Saw some more stuff with the higher power eyepiece. A stretched diamond shape to the west made up of GSC 05596-1079 at mag 13.3, GSC 05596-0819, brighter SAO 140668, and TYC 05596-0662 1. Looked again for J153841.7-084809 at mag 11.2 at the east of the target—not visible.

I was done with this. HR 5816: two stars. [ed: At last, Haas agrees.]

10:50. Viewed HD 139555, aka Σ3094. Nutty. Two equally bright stars, I thought. ST3P said they were 8.9 and 9.9 or 10 (from the OI); 8.9 and 9.4 in the chart. Huh. Crazy faint. Oh. Alignment of this pair was perpendicular to HR 5816. Had a moment of good seeing. Nice while it lasted. When the seeing degraded, the two bars turned into a bar.

Tended to some emails.

Reviewed the weather on my portal page. Ooo. The Clear Sky Chart looked good for tonight: dark, dark blue. Upper and lower bars. The Environment Canada showed Mount Forest as partly cloudy, going down to 13. Chilly! Friday and Friday night: thunderstorms. Ugh. Looked like it was going to rain all weekend. So that meant tonight was the night!

Considered 78 UMa. But on reviewing the data, I found the pair was very tight (1.0") and low (best viewed in May). Decided to move on.

Aimed for LY Serpentis aka SAO 83921.

11:01. Wide pair. Nice. Orange, of course. B, to the north-west, was quite bright. Different magnitudes. ST3P says 6.8 vs 8.8. I thought B as pale orange too. In an interesting pattern, a X-shape thing, oh, a bow-tie! With GSC 02033-0254, TYC 02033-0336 1, GSC 02033-0406, and TYC 02033-0398 1. Good in both 'scopes but not an earth-shattering double... ST3P said A was an M-class star and B a G-star. There was an arc of stars to the south-west.

11:04. In the TV101 I could see the TYC 02033-0336 1 star at mag 11.5.

Reviewed γ (gamma) Coronae Borealis in my lift list. I had not split it, to date. Would need good seeing, I surmised. Made the short hop.

11:11. γ CrB was super bright. Felt I was seeing more stars than the software was presenting. There were 3 stars to the east, nearly a straight line; a gaggle to the north. I put in a very powerful eyepiece, the 5mm, thinking of the recently-read blog where the author would sometimes try 600x. Can't hurt. Rather, it can't damage anything... Wow. Could see GSC 02036-1133 and GSC 02036-1476 to the north-east, equal I thought—mag 15.6 and 14.9 stars! I could see the 4 brights stars in the arc to the north. But, no clean split. Marked as re-observe. Checked the Year Bar: this was a good time. Checked the orbital display. Oh. It looked like an edge-on. It looked like they are tightening up. It would have been better a couple of years ago. In 2042, it would start sweeping the other way. Reviewed the lists. Not sure where it came from...

Slewed to HD 164492 aka SAO 186145 (or H N 40) in Sagittarius. Trifid Nebula or Messier 20 (M20) core again.

11:25. Verified I was in the right area. But with the infernal Moon, could not see any nebulosity.

Mmm. I forgot there was pie!

I was confused. Rechecked the field in the software using the Tele Vue 10mm.

11:34. A good one. Good in the refractor; but rewarding if you go deeper. In the wide field, I spotted the grouping of stars to the left or north-east, i.e. Messier 21, with HD 164863 at the centre. First impression of HD 164492 was that of a horse and out past the tail was M21. About equal brightness, orange and blue.

In the C14, it got really interesting. Immediately I saw A, B, C, and D. D, aka H 6, was at a right angle to the other three.

What?! Aurora alert email. Maximum kp 5 within 4 hours. Frickin' Moon!

Reviewed my life lists notes. Heh. I had crossed them out as they were so poorly written. Oh. C and D I had not cleanly split before. Good!

11:42. Had another look. A, B, C, and D, no problemo. I thought I spotted the F star. Adjusted SkyTools to unclutter the display, turning off the diffuse and dark nebulae outlines.

11:49. Adjusted the software having rotated the mirror diagonal. The E star was not visible to me. D, in good seeing, obvious. F was strange. Thought I saw it but the distance seemed different, in relation to GSC 06842-0079. ST3P showed F about 1/3rd of the way to 0079, in-line. To me it looked closer, about half the distance. And the angle was slightly different. Could it have moved? Oops. I mistook GSC 06842-0079 for F! It was half to GSC 06842-0596... That meant I was not seeing F. Dang. I saw GSC 06842-0157 and GSC 06842-0206 on the way to the bright TYC 06842-0367 1, all in-line with A, B, and C. B was remarkably faint. D was faint too. The chart was misleading. The Object Information box showed better info: A 7.2, B 10.4, C 8.9, and D 10.5.

Considered imaging the area. Made a note.

11:58. Landed in the area of HD 164863 aka S698. In the small refractor, it was clearly an open cluster of many faint stars (it's M21). Would probably look wonderful if there was not a huge, bright, nearby ball in the sky...

Holy. SkyTools showed it was a multi-star system with 9 elements. Saw a triangle shape, nearly equilateral, which was the A star, the B-C combo, and D, with it's non-related companion, GSC 06263-0369. That star is mag 10.7 while D is 10.6. I could not see E. F, no problem, very slightly fainter than D. ST3P said F was 9.7. I saw something opposite D, south-west of A, the very faint GSC 06842-0867, mag 12.1, about half the distance of D. Spotted some faint stars to the right of D, on the way to bright TYC 06263-0243 1. I saw H and I—they popped! Very faint. Averted helped. 11.1 and 12.7. Good. Marked as Observed but I considered adding it to the View Again. [ed: Haas refers to only the A and B elements.]

Might be a good one for my candidate list.

Fri 31 Jul 2015, 12:07 AM. Tried again for the E star. And briefly, for maybe 1 second, I saw it! Ha!

Felt chilled.

12:22 AM. Back from the house with socks, another layer up top, and toast! Just a little bit of toast.

Stumbled across HD 176351 in the plan. Huh? A single star? Deleted it.

Checked the northern sky. Curious. Seemed like it was glowing. Possible aurora? Decided to take the camera out...

Forget the wind sock for the voice recorder. Put the camera on the tripod. Oh oh, camera battery was showing as low. Felt like I was at f-stop 3.5 with the Rokinon 8mm. Did a 30 second test shot. ISO 400. Ha ha. Looked like daylight. Reminded me of when I was at Dace's cottage trying my first star trails. Focus looked OK. Tight to one end. I didn't think I saw any aurora. But if there was faint northern light there it would be washed out. Shot another image. A lot of noise. Tried again. No obvious aurora. Briefly considered a time lapse.

[ed: On reviewing the best photo the next day, I think I see soft, faint, glowing green on the horizon...]

12:42. Back in the Warm Room. I learned some lessons. Not being familiar with the lens, I did not know how it was set, in the dark. I did not know which way to turn the lens (for infinity) or the aperture ring (for wide open). Did not bring a red flash light. Did not bring an extra battery.

Started charging the camera cells.

Reviewed lost stars.

Readied for double star HD 186224 or SAO 105169 in Sagitta. Oh. Near the meridian. But on the good side. Whole lot of nothin'.

12:50. Thought I was on the right star... Pointing off? Did a small move and, in the wide field, spotted β (beta) Sge, to the west of the target. In the software, I noted Sham or α (alpha), above or in a northerly direction. Star hopped in the TV101 to the small gaggle of stars east of orange β.

Wow. Spotted a diamond or kite with a short tail in the C14 with the 27. In a north-south orientation. The "bottom" of the kite with the tail was a double, C and D components of 186224. Close. The bright object, at the end of the short tail, was the AB pair.

Despite poor seeing, I spotted, off to the northeast, another double: HD 350461. [ed: Um...]

1:01. Really tough. Tough splits. Split HD 186224 A and B. Curious: separation 5.9"; magnitudes 8.6 and 10.2.

I did not think I was splitting 186224 C and D, even though wider than A and B. D was not where I thought it was. The chart showed D was mag 11.5 which I knew was doable. And I had seen other faint stars in the areas. For example, I could see GSC 01606-0992, mag 11.7, at a right angle to the AB pair in 350461 (as indicated in the software). However I could not actually see 350461 B. Ah. ST3P said it was mag 13.1 (in the OI box). So, to be viewed again later. In darker skies and better seeing! Weird for being up high...

On my DS candidate list. It's interesting, again. Works at low and high power. If I can split the fourth star, then I think it will definitely be a keeper. Interesting field too. With another challenging double nearby...

All right. All the high priority items done.

Gusty. Wind was shaking the big 'scope. It was more pronounced with the Moon shield on.

Ah! Mozzie! First I had heard for the evening. Weird.

Considered ρ (rho) Cap. Reviewed my log notes: it was the AB pair I had not split. Wrong side of the meridian... Hmm. Ahh! Right beside the Moon!

1:12. Watched the weather app do its thing. Wind direction WNW or 296, instant wind speed 1.6, high 17.7, 10 min avg 5, temp 15.7, dew point 13.4, humidity 86%, air pressure 1010.0, had been rising and just dipped. Precipitation prediction went away. Close the remote session.

Considered ISS passes for the weekend. In the evening phase.

Consider viewing interesting objects by constellation. Ursa Major.

Oh. Comet Lovejoy near ι (iota) UMa. But it's a full Moon. Meh.

Made an observing list with the double star generator. Filtered it. Slewed to a new target in Hercules. HD 148033.

1:24. I found a very empty field. Two touching stars. Nearly equal brightness. Super tight. Seeing off. Transparency in the tank. Yep. ST3P said they were 1.8 seconds of arc apart.

Felt tired. Thought of my bed.

Noted the aurora alert on the tablet. Oh. Kp 3 and Bz north. Nope.

Wayne popped in. He had tried his new AC-DC coupler. Unfortunately he had a cable wrap issue and lost power. He asked me a Backyard software question: he wanted to change the image storage location to save to both the computer and camera memory card. I checked the Setting dialog... Had to RTFM. Connected my EOS to netbook. Found it in the Imaging mode and the Capture Plan section! The Save To option. Not a general setting; it's part of the imaging run. I assumed it was the same for BYN.

Let Wayne know I had a new roll of red film.

He shared that he did not have luck with M101. I suggested to Wayne that the Moon might give him some grief with low-surface brightness targets. Showed him my recent photo... Quizzed him. He guessed mid-morning. Gotcha!

Helped him with some file management challenges. He was looking for his recent shots in the Mac environment; ah, I suspected that he needed to look in Parallels. Tuned his Windows Explorer. Transferred a file out of Explorer to the Finder. Pretty easy. Suggested he build some folders in the Mac. Encouraged good file management. It's an important skill for regular data files, documents and spreadsheets. But then when doing astrophotography, one needs to kick it up a notch, for the lights, the darks, the bias shots, the flats, the duds, etc. Crazy. Showed how to create folders in Windows and the Mac. I wondered—now—how many people loose wonderful photos simply due to misfiling. Discussed tagging. Also discussed workflows, treating the Mac OS as the master and then Parallels and Windows as, simply, a tool. I also cautioned that dragging-and-dropping from Parallels to Finder will perform a copy so now the files are in two places and taking up twice as much space.

Finally squashed the mozzie.

2:30. Asked Wayne about the house windows.

Checked for aurora. Started packing up. Wayne helped. Dew!

2:41. Exited.


Satisfying session. Tagged a few lost log items.

looking north (Blue Mountains)

Took a picture from the front deck. Enjoy.

Hee hee.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Just spotted the Moon!

better in the north

On my drive up, I had noted big fluffy clouds over the GTA; north of Orangeville, I saw more blue skies. When I arrived the CAO, it was strange, like a dividing line right over site, blue to the north, cloudy to the south. I was feeling optimistic.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

checked WDS on HD 133389

Light bulb. Said in one's best Gru voice.

Popped into the WDS. Headed into the 15s. Holy smokes! There were 2 entries for HD 133389:
15025+4745H 6  53AB 1901 2002...  0 358 86.7 87.3 8.80 12.43 G5...
15025+4745L  9001AC 1911 2002... 65  71 12.4 11.5 8.80 14.3  G5...
I double-checked the distances in SkyTools with the Angular Measure tool. Bingo!

G stars. Orangy.

B is noted as magnitude 12.43. ST3P shows 10.9 for B in the Object Information box for the AB pairing. When one points to the star, in shows as 12.9. On directly viewing the star in the OI box, it is noted as 12.89. Close. Close enough.

The big deal is the other star, the nearby one. According to the WDS, this is a companion, the C star. Cool! The discovery designation is L 9001 AC. WDS says it is mag 14.3. ST3P is completely different (as previously noted). Also, it is not shown as a companion.

What a crazy ride.

So, I think I have some good data now from Greg.

log notes postmortem

After a thorough review off all my notes and photos as well as the notations in SkyTools, from my week at the CAO, I have come to the conclusion that I lost data on the following items:
  • double star LY Ser
  • Turtle planetary nebula
  • Dumbbell planetary nebula
  • double star HD 186224
  • double star HD 139555
  • double star HR 5816
  • double star HD 176351
  • IC 3568 planetary nebula
I am not concerned with the Turtle or the Dumbbell as I've viewed these before and they are logged. All the other items I had not created a log entry for. And except for 186224, they all show the Observed status in the SkyTools list. Which suggests I saw them clearly. Damn. This was likely captured in audio recordings, subsequently corrupted.

That said, the observing list had 109 entries total. 43 items have some sort of Observing Status flag set. Combined with the separate list used for imaging Rasalgethi with 15 observed (photographed), I did pretty good.

Still, I hate losing data. Irksome. And through the week I kept having a fleeting thought of having a separate ST3P observing list for each day. But that just seemed like too much work.

Just don't let the batteries get really low in the Sony!

No point crying over spilled milk.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

read the NTSB report

Just spotted Catherine's post on Facebook about the NTSB findings in the Space Ship Two crash from last October. In the National Transportation Safety Board's report executive summary, as noted in the article at Spaceref, they attributed the breakup to co-pilot error. Essentially the feathering system was deployed at the wrong time.

Very sad, the incident, of course; but that it was not a direct fault in the Scaled Composites craft is a ray of light. Still, it was recommended that they install an inhibit to prevent this in the future, as well as revise procedures with more challenge/response checks. Happily, Virgin has already met and exceed these requirements.


Some video was released on Wed 29 Jul. Damn.

wrong red

Went to pick up the film. As I suspected, I had ordered the wrong type. Lee Filter #25 is an light orange-red. Norm and I compared my piece to his Rosco and Lee swatches. Curiously, in both, #26 was a good match.

He's going to look into an exchange.

How could I get these numbers so incredibly messed up?!


Green light! Sorry. Bad pun. The supplier will do a straight exchange. Roll of Lee Filter #026 on its way!

Monday, July 27, 2015

updated double stars life list

Reviewed the multi-star systems imaged last week so to update my log notes and multiple stars life list page.

κ (kappa) Herculis. Sometimes known as Marfik, which is also applied to λ (lambda) Oph. To be clear: Σ2010 (Struve).

It is a target is Haas's book, the AB pair, specifically. She says the stars are "grapefruit-orange [and] whitish scarlet." Smyth says "light yellow; pale garnet." It is also featured in the RASC Observer's Handbook Coloured Doubles list wherein it describes them as yellow and red. I don't see these colours! Curiously, in the Sky and Telescope More Pretty Double Stars summer list, it shows a zero in the Color Diff. column suggesting they are the same. I concur. Light gold.

I observed the bright pair in the past, 2011 or earlier, it seems. Logged it in SkyTools. I was likely working through the S&T summer doubles list and wanted to cross it off. ST3P however shows it is a triple.

The 30 second photograph made the C star obvious to the south or below, a faint orange star the opposite direction from B, about 2 or 3 times the separation. The planning software says the AC separation is 62.5" and magnitude 13.6. I updated my blog companion's page for the AC pair.

HD 151070, aka Σ2094, in Hercules.

A and C are easily spotted. In the 30 second photograph, the primary is white, possibly light beige. The C star is white. Is there just a hint of blue?

I could not see the B star at the time. Could not resolve it in any of the photos even with extreme stretching. All the photos showed vibration or shake. Perhaps I should have captured more? Haas reported that Harshaw split the tight AB pair with a 200mm. Noted A and B as both white. Both ST3P and Haas say the separation is 1.2". 

Neat field. The right-angle triangle to the south-west...

Sure looks like GSC 02045-0602 to the west, the pale orange star, is related. It's not.

However the Washington Double Star catalog shows there's a D star at θ (theta) or PA 13° and ρ (rho) or separation of 43.6". The WDS does not list the magnitude but ST3P (with poor quality data) shows the star as 15.7! Incredibly, I see this star in the long exposure: about twice the distance of C, at the 11:30 o'clock position. ST3P does not note this star as a companion; simply GSC 02045-0898. WDS shows it as SMR 63AD, discovered in 2013.

Added to my ST3P View Again list, hopefully to tag B.

Sarin aka δ (delta) Herculis. Also known as Σ3127.

Another target I have previously viewed, specifically 30 May '14. At that time I noted all four stars. Perhaps it is on my View Again list to recheck the colours. In the photo, the bright primary looks white with blue fringes and the B star seems a very light yellow-orange. Haas only refers to A and B and says "Sun yellow and whitish powder blue." I think I support those colours but the order is different. Does she not list in the A-B order? Removed from my View Again list.

I like the contrast of the dark orange C (above) and D (left) stars.

A fascinating arrangement of stars, this large diamond or box shape. A big kite! The reddish-orange star on the right or west is TYC 02065-1890 1 at mag 10.9; the brighter grey-white star below or south is TYC 02065-1530  at mag 10.4.

HD 148979 aka SHJ 233, in Hercules.

Bright stars, in an empty field. Very pale orange primary and a very pale yellow secondary. Widely separated. ST3P says 58.2". Perhaps 1 magnitude different. ST3P says 7.0 and 9.1. Haas does not list.

HR 6169 aka WEB 6, in Hercules.

Nearly equal stars: about 1 magnitude different and nearly the same colour. White-bluish. Possible with a hint of aquamarine? Widely separated. ST3P says mag 6.4 and 7.3 and 157". Haas does not list.

HD 150933, aka STTA149A, in Hercules.

Yellow and blue. Very pale colours. Bright stars, perhaps 2 mags different. ST3 says mag 7.2 and 8.5. Nearly empty field. Widely separated: 97.0". Haas does not list. Photographed on 15 Jul 2015.

HR 6341, aka STFA 33 or ΣI33, in Hercules.

A unique quintuple system. A is blue-white, B light orange, C white, P orange, and Q colourless. B is perhaps 1 mag dimmer than A. C, 2 or 3. P, south-east from A, and about half the distance of B, is much dimmer than A. And Q is dimmer again. Q is about the same brightness as the star west of P, TYC 00988-1006 1 (ST3P agrees). A, B, and C form a large equilateral triangle; A, B, and P from a smaller one.

Haas only notes the A and B stars! "Pure white and peach white."

Very interesting! Decided to add it to my candidate list.

HR 6594, aka β1251A, in Hercules.

Could not see the B or C stars in the 1 second exposure. SkyTools showed B very close to A, about 1.4" while C was well away, 155.5. The Object Information data showed they were 4 magnitudes different! 5.4 vs 9.8. But then C was mag 12.4. In the Interactive Atlas, on the other hand, B showed as 5.6 and C as 15.3. I was confused. Still, in the image, I could barely see mag 12 field stars. Will need to revisit.

Haas does not list.

HD 157789, aka Σ2159, in Ophiuchus.

A bright pair. White stars. About 1 magnitude difference. ST3P says 25.2" apart and mags 8.5 and 9.4.Not listed by Haas.

V451, aka H 4 122, in Hercules.

A very bright white sun accompanied by a dimmer light orange point, slightly away to the south-west.

In the middle of an interesting field. There's a star equal in brightness to B but orange to the west, PPM 132918. There's a fainter star, mag 12.2, closer, to the north-west, GSC 00988-0103. There's a deep orange star to the east, GSC 00988-0031. And then a greyish star double the distance to the south-west, TYC 00988-0028 1. Keeps making me think of a flying bird...

Haas did not catalog.

HD 159481, aka Σ2185, in Ophiuchus.

Holey moley. Spotted the A, B, C, E, G, H, I, and J stars! The F star, north-west of A, is visible if you zoom in. SkyTools does not list the D star. There's a K point too but ST3P says it is about a ¼ degree from A. I saw all there was to see. Wow.

colour brightness
from A
A white bright 7.4 (7.4) centre - - -
B pale yellow 2 dimmer than A 10.2 (11) due N 4 wide 27.3
C white 1 dimmer than A 8.4 (8.5) WSW 248 3.5x AB 88.9
E pale orange very dim 14.7 (16) SSW 194 8x AB 260.2
F pale orange dimmest 16.1 (14.5) NW 307 2x AB 56.0
G yellow slightly < B 11.3 (12) NNW 335 7x AB 184.4
H yellow 1 dimmer than G 13.4 (13) NNNW 340 7x AB 184.3
I orange slightly < H 13.8 (14) NNNW 341 6x AB 157.4
J yellow slightly < G 11.4 (11) NNE 19 6x AB 150.0

The magnitude values from SkyTools are from the Interactive Atlas and parenthetically from the Object Information box. It looks like the IA numbers match what I was seeing...

Other neat stars in the field like the blue TYC 00426-1716 1 east of the J star and the N-S line of orange on the west side.

When selecting the calibration candidates, I thought it would be a fun to include some multi-star options. This one was fantastic!

HD 161164, aka STH 4 A, in Hercules.

B is the faint star very close to the blue-white, at the 10 o'clock position or the north-east. The equally bright orange star to the west well away is variable V964. Haas did not catalog.

HR 6758, aka Σ2276, in Ophiuchus.

Ooh. Moth eyes! A is white; B is very pale yellow. Haas says "coppery white [and] smaller ash white." B is very slightly fainter than B. ST3 says 1 mag. Tight, almost touching. 6.9". A triple. Haas notes the the A and B stars only.

The C star is pale orange to the north-west. About 10 times the AB distance. 63.7". In a right-angle triangle with other similar stars.

POU3251, in Her.

Very faint stars. A appears pale orange; B possibly blue. Easily split. ST3P said 11.9". Similar in brightness. ST3P: 12.4 and 13.2.

Rasalgethi, aka α Her.

It seemed like the seeing tanked. The B star was visible in fast exposures but C and D were nowhere to be seen. According to ST3P, magnitude 3.1 and 5.4. In longer exposures, D was obvious at the 10 o'clock position or north-east. C was just visible at the 2 o'clock, in the glare of the A and B stars. A looked red, when blown out.

The AB was in my life list. Added C and D.

built cable

Prepared the new Optec focuser cable.

Ready to solder...

Saturday, July 25, 2015

right to copy

Ian W texted me. Was trying to drop the copyright symbol into a text box in Photoshop. I immediately thought of the Alt key four digit sequence. But I didn't know the code, of the top of my head. If my old Psion were alive, it would take just a few seconds to look it up... Didn't think I could do the same thing on the ASUS. But then I considered his computer. If he was using a laptop, the Alt key trick would be complicated by the embedded keyboard layout. In fact, I replied with that query, which computer was he using. By the time we connected, he had remembered the Windows CharMap app and transferred it in. Right! Of course. I had totally forgotten that. Or not gotten 'round to it, yet. He then shared he had tried the Alt method. That gave me a chance. I suggested he might have to turn on NumLock mode in the embedded keypad. And, on top of that, use the laptop's Fn. I think he tried it and get that working. Good.

By the way, the code is 0169.

ordered red film

Ordered another 25 foot roll of Lee Filter film. Should be in early next week. Asked for #25. Norm said, you mean Sunset Red, right? Yes.


I ordered the wrong colour. I don't know where the 25 value came from!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

watched Soyuz arrival

Watched the second half of the expedition 44 crew arrive at the International Space Station.

Lindgren, Kononenko, and Yui joined Padalka, Kelly, and Kornienko.

Binary Universe: SkySafari

cover of the RASC Journal 2015 August
The August issue of the RASC Journal was made available today.

My fourth installment in the Binary Universe column was included, featuring SkySafari Plus release 1.8.5 for tablets.

SkySafari is a very popular planetarium app.

Monday, July 20, 2015

multi-tasking night (Blue Mountains)

8:25 PM, Sunday 19 July 2015. Checked conditions from the Davis weather station. Wind NW 325, current speed 3.2, high 33.8, 10 minute average 3, temp 20.6, dew point 18.2, humidity 86, air pressure 1005.7, falling slightly. Had been rising since 4:30.

9:10 PM. Checked the Sony recorder. 5 hours of space left.
Instruments: Celestron 14-inch SCT, Tele Vue 101 refractor
Mount: Paramount ME
Method: Go To
Looked at the Moon and Venus. Quite pleasing.

9:29. Spotted Regulus, finally, naked eye, in the sky. Took SkyTools to help me to find it. Venus at 11 o'clock; Regulus as 5. Regulus was blue-white, flickering! Had a look in the Tele Vue 101 refractor with the 55mm eyepiece. Ha. Birds and airplanes flying through. Upside down! With the Celestron 14-inch SCT and the Tele Vue 27mm ocular, Regulus looked like a cop car in the distance.

9:49. Viewed γ (gamma) Coronae Borealis, aka Σ1967 (Struve). Blue-white. I saw a faint star at the 3:30 o'clock position, BD +26 02723, at mag 10.9. Did I see a bump at the 4 o'clock position? Inconclusive, again.

9:55. Had another look. Was I seeing it because I knew where it was? The primary looked like a figure-eight. With the 18mm I could see PPM 104263 above or north of BD +26 02723.

Oh, right. Sure. SkyTools said the separation was 0.5 arc seconds... In less than perfect conditions... Crikey! Been trying for this one for a long time...

Found a selection error in ST3P with BRT 167B. I could not select the A star.

9:58. I was happy to hear that Fire Capture was working for Risa, sorta. Whew, she was slowly moving ahead, toward her first images of Saturn. [ed: Later she went back to the provided software as Fire Capture was continuously crashing.]

Sounded like Phil was making progress too. I thought, it's gonna be a good night. [ed: Found out later, it was not so good for him.]

10:06. Viewed γ or 41 Serpentis. Was it another super tight pair? Light yellow. 11-5 orientation? Nope! My imagination. ST3P said the compatriots, B and C, were widely separated stars. OK then. So easy. I noted above, the C star, which was closer, around 10 o'clock or north-west. B was further, 11 o'clock or north-north-west. Both were faint. It was hard to tag colours. White? The primary was a lovely colour.

Spotted PPM 131829 at the 2 o'clock position at the edge of the field, mag 10.8. Seeing was not great.

I noted that γ Ser was on my double star candidate list. But I didn't think it should be: I could barely see B in the refractor. Not noted by Haas.

10:15. 78 Ursae Majoris, aka β1082. Touching stars. Didn't think I'd be able to cleanly split these... they were flickering badly in 18mm. ST3P said 1.0 seconds of arc, calculated a couple of months ago. This target would be higher in the sky in May. So I'll try next year... [ed: Set an alarm.]

10:25. Slewed to η (eta) CrB, or Σ1937, the 42 year binary system. I thought the primary looked like a bar. Would that mean equally-bright stars touching? I thought A and B in a 1-7 o'clock orientation for me, i.e. north-east to south-west. The ST3P chart matched. Huh. SkyTools calculated a 0.63" separation as of 2015.5. Wow. Tight. But I felt I saw them both.

[ed: Checked the orbit in SkyTools. B has been swinging out the last little while but it will dive back inward for the next decade.]

Noted other field stars in the 'hood. Faint stars to the north-east. A gaggle of stars to the south-west. C and D were obvious in the 18mm! [ed: Good news. I had not seen the C star before.] A was light gold; I could detect no colour with C and D.

Spotted GSC 02563-0165 to the south is about 3 or 4 times the distance of C (69.2"), along the same line. [ed: ST3P said about 3.75 arc-minutes.] These two points seemed the same brightness to me. ST3P must be wrong about one of them, probably GSC 02563-0165, which it is saying is mag 15; C is mag 12.6.

11:01. Started the star trails imaging run in front yard, near the red maple. Predicted it would be done at 12:30...

11:05. The seeing was bad.

Viewed HR 6267 aka KU 1 in Ursa Minor. A bright yellow star, perhaps elongated. That's A and B according to the planning software. Could not split A and B. There was a bright star to the 6 o'clock or north. That was C. A and C were easy in the TV101 at 54x.

A lovely field. There many field stars, a little faint triangle to the bottom-right, or north-west. Actually, it's 4 stars!

SkyTools is inconsistent here. In the Object Information box, the magnitudes for A, B, and C, respectively, show as 6.0, 10.2, and 9.8. However, in the Context Viewer, 6.0, 6.1, and 11.5. Which is right? I felt sure I was seeing equally bright stars in A and B...

Merits another look, in better conditions. Discovered (at the time) it was already in my View Again list!

Not in Haas's book. It is also on my double star candidate list. Now I'm wondering if it should be...

[ed: I have viewed this target on more than once occasion and not yet split the A and B stars. Not a good target in poor conditions. Found repetitive information in the life list table; consolidated the 4 rows into 2. Consulted the WDS to get more information about the brightness of B. It is KU 1 B is listed as 10.2—which correlates to the ST3P in the OI. And likely explains the root of the challenge: A and B are very close and, at the same time, more than 4 magnitudes different.]

11:18. HD 156162 or Σ2146 in Draco. There's a wide bright pair, wide in the TV101 too! AB and C. Lots of bright field stars. Could not split A and B. Not surprising. The seeing tanked.

Not in Haas's book. [ed: Already on my View Again list.]

11:44. Helped Risa with Antares, Summer Triangle, and the Andromeda galaxy.

Slid over to HD 164492, aka H N 40, in the middle of the Trifid. The nebulosity was visible in the refractor; dark lanes in SCT. [ed: Those dark lanes are classed dark nebula B 85.] Many bright stars. Bad seeing. Like I was underwater at times.

I saw two or three bright stars in the centre, possibly A, B, C and/or D. I was pretty sure I saw B below A or to the north but much fainter.

Again, I was getting confused by SkyTools. The CV showed A and B as the same mag; the OI said A was 7.2 and B 10.4. [ed: The later corresponds to the WDS suggesting my visual impression was correct.]

The C/D pair was to the south of A. Could not cleanly separate C and D.

Was certain I saw the faint G star, inline, above, or the the south-west, at mag 13.2.

I saw a box below or north-east of the main group. With two wings or tabs or flaps on the lower/north edge. The box proper: SE corner TYC 06842-0928 1, SW corner GSC 06842-0157, NW corner GSC 06842-0206, and finally NE corner GSC 06842-0349. To the north-west of -0206 was GSC 06842-0143, forming the right wing. Going east from -0349, about the same separation as -0206 and -0143, was a star, slightly fainter than -0143. The left wing. That star did not show in the software chart.

Wanted to coax out the E and F stars. Not happy. It was too much of a fight. I'd simply have to return in the future. It was already on the View Again list!

[ed: Disappointing at the time but it was still successful. Gave some structure to the existing life list notes.]

12:09 AM, Monday 20 July 2015. Measured the sky. SQM readings in the 21 range.

Viewed Ascella aka ζ (zeta) Sagittarii. It was OK in TV101 but a joke in the C14. Impossible to focus. Swimming! I was getting frustrated.

12:17 AM. θ (theta) or 4 CrB. Nearly pure white. Equally bright stars. Very, very close. In a north-south orientation. Skytools did show the stars in a line north-south. But again I found the listed brightnesses to be inconsistent. Which is correct, I wondered? Hovering on the stars in the Interactive Atlas show A and B are both mag 4.3. The OI showed they were more than 2 mags different. [ed: WDS says 4.3 and 6.3.] Decided to view again.

[ed: Now, looking back, it sure sounds like I definitely split them. I decided to set the Logged flag in SkyTools.]

12:23. SAO 85564 in Her. A delicate pair, faint stars, to the west of the triangle, north-west of ξ (xi). Pleasing in the TV101. An isosceles triangle off to the west. ξ is a bright yellow. B is to the right or south-east is very slightly dimmer. [ed: ST3P says 9.9 and 10.4.] Both A and B are dimmer than SAO 85584 (8.5) and SAO 85585 (8.6). Not in Haas's list.

12:40. Retrieved the camera from the front lawn. Wanted to get the Milky Way pouring into the GBO. Set it to shooting frames at 45 seconds. Phil had done a similar thing, aimed at the Milky Way centre (and Saturn). He shot at 45 sec, f/4, ISO 1250.

Returned to the roll-roof to attempt a faint galaxy.

12:58. Getting late. Phil had gone to bed. Risa too. Millie appeared to be packing up.

Gave up trying to find the mag 12.9 galaxy MCG 11-16-10. It should have been immediately south of J130619.8+674537, a mag 14.6 star. No joy.

1:06. 59 Ser. Could see B beside A. Fainter, close. NNW direction. OI says they're about 2 mags different.

Now, this is in the RASC Coloured Doubles list... I wondered why. OK. Maybe there are hints of colour. A is pale yellow; B is pale blue. But not really striking. Haas agrees with my colours; Herschel said orange and green. The Observer's Handbook says yellow and green. I dunno...

[ed: ST3P says there's a third star, P, but it's 1/3rd of an arc-second away...]

I had imaged 59 Ser and its neighbours a year ago. The photo is overexposed so A and B merge. But the stars to the south-west are rather interesting. I deliberately checked this. And, again, like last year, I saw an additional star near GSC 00433-0179. This is to say, there's a star not showing in ST3P.

1:17. Headed to δ (delta) Lyrae, specifically δ2.

Saw a Flying V, Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. OK. Not really. The bright yellow star, δ2, was the nose of the Flying V. The white star to the north-west, δ1, was at the end of the left wing. Another star, HD 175538, same distance as δ1 and δ2, but slightly fainter, to the south-west was at the tip of the right wing. There are 2 stars on the wing leading edges, one left and one right. Noted a band of similar stars going north-to-south. Right where the engines would be! All of this is Stephenson 1, an open cluster, also known as OCL 137.

Where was I?

In fact, δ2 A is the yellow star. I could see a point to the north of A. Very faint. It wavered in the eyepiece. "Comes and goes." That was BC, a tight pair.

Noted δ1 B to the north-east of δ1 A. B was in an isosceles triangle with two other stars.

All of this fit nicely in the TV 101 at 54x. Beautiful.

Checked the conditions. Wind NW or 318, wind speed 3.2, high 11.3, 10 min avg 2, temp 17.7, dew 13.8, humidity 78, baro 1007.1 and rising.

1:37. Studied HR 7162 aka β648 for a time. The field in Lyra looked quite different...

1:42. Rotated the field in the software. Ah ha. Yep. I saw C and E to the north-west, F to the east, D to the south-west, in addition to many other field stars. For example, GSC 02643-1483, to the south-east of A, formed a parallelogram with F. Could not split B and A... Bad seeing again! [ed: Oh, tight and very different magnitudes.] Guessed the pair was in a NW-to-SE direction. That disagreed with ST3P. Not included double stars for small telescopes.

[ed: B is a fast binary, 61 years...]

1:56. Tried to view the Phantom Streak aka NGC 6741, a teenie planetary nebula. It was not very exciting. Again, conditions were not great. Generally, I found it hard to focus.

Hrrm. Was feeling a little irked. A little perturbed, perhaps, that I had not accomplished more.

Headed outside. The camera was still clicking away. Impressive. Maybe these batteries (in warm weather) aren't so bad. I put the cap on lens and let it carry on, shooting darks.

OK. One more object!

2:04. Viewed ρ (rho) or 11 Capricornus. I saw C, D, and E no prob. I could not split A and B. I thought AB a light yellow. D was also yellow.

[ed: This was good, even though I could not dig out the B star, for I had not spotted the C star before.]


Well. Any night under the stars is better than... not. So, actually, I was glad I had decided to stay another night! This was, for me, possibly the best one, the best conditions.

I was pleased too with my ability to multi-task. I planned and executed two DSLR wide-field runs while continuing my telescopic observing.

pouring in (Blue Mountains)

Did some very quick processing of one of the Milky Way shots...

Canon 40D, Rokinon 8mm, ISO 1600, 45 seconds. f-stop unknown.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

other than the Sun (Blue Mountains)

Just looked at the Moon and Venus. Quite pleasing.

cleaned and tightened

After reviewing the notes at the Tele Vue web site, I began cleaning all the GBO eyepieces. Puffer, isopropanol, lens tissues if necessary. Risa joined me. We split the batch.

We chatted about focusing masks, backwards recycling on various cities, and loose worm gears.

thanks all around

It was starting to getting quiet. Andrew and crew were gone. The dos Santos were packing up. They'd depart...once the girls got going! Brian was packing up.

How nice. The girls gave us a gift! A copy of the National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Night Sky by Chartrand published by Knopf. Very nice charts. Good textual pages by constellation. It will make a wonderful addition to our collection.

I thanked them while they thanked us.

1.5 hours +

Fired up Open Office Calc and crunched some numbers for the planned star trails shot. At The Secret Place, Steve had shot 175 frames at 30 seconds each. That would mean about 90 minutes of exposure time...

caught a break (Blue Mountains)

Lucky with the weather. The skies cleared, suddenly!

9:35 PM, Saturday 18 July 2015. We ran a sky tour for our guests. The girls, Brian and daughter, Risa's friends, et al. Both Phil and I ran the show. Good having a supervisor and an asst. sup!

Let's say the boy was very curious...

11:30 PM. We viewed Saturn, Titan, Rhea, and Iapetus.

Risa and Andrew figured out the inflate-a-bed after some quick instructions—rather quick on my part.

1:14 AM, Sunday 19 July 2015. I reacquired Pluto, at last. It had been difficult in the average conditions. And then we hit the meridian and after the flip I had to do it all over again. At last, several saw it visually. Gah.

Brian returned to the observatory. I did a sky tour of some of the fun showpieces.

We got clouded out. It was good while it lasted.

Brian stayed with me to the end. He helped me quickly close up.

Found the girls in the kitchen. They wanted to stay up to dawn to catch Mercury. OK. Have fun!

2:27 AM. I was in bed. Thankful for the break in the clouds.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

see the web team

Ian W found some weird data on the RASC TC web site regarding library talks and the like. I referred him to the web team.

inspected the refractor

Had a go at Olivia and Brian's little inexpensive refractor telescope.

Found the base damaged. It looked like the telescope OTA had been pushed about (I mean, who wouldn't) stripping the plastic threads on the base shaft. I emphasised that the OTA must be turned by only using the geared knob at the head of the tripod.

I suggested the plastic shaft be glued to the metal base and a retaining bolt added...

Rebuilt the altitude motion control. The original grease had turned to glue! It worked a lot better. Showed how the tension control worked.

Aligned the finder scope.

Optically, I didn't think it too bad.

But it will be hard to aim the thing...


Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to put it through its paces.

took in the spots (Blue Mountains)

There were three sunspot groups: 2384, 2486, and 2487.

Viewed them in the Oberwerk binoculars and the C14.

repaired SBIG 11000

Wow. Repaired Elaine's SBIG 11000 camera.

For some time, she had heard something rattling around inside. To me it sounded like a screw or a piece of hard plastic.

In the end, we discovered that two screws had fallen off shutter mount! I surmised they were not properly torqued and shook loose over time due to vibration. That could have turned into a very bad situation.

I reinstalled each screw with a little bit of blue thread locker.

Friday, July 17, 2015

operated the Optec remotely

I didn't want to do anything destructive to Dan's RJ-serial adapter. So I took an old serial cable and cut it in half. Then I remapped the wires to suit the Optec TCF-S cable requirements.

Moved the Dell computer into the observatory to be near the pier. Attached my Frankenstein cable. Turned on the focuser. Fired up the software... Nothing.

Oh. Noticed the label "PC" on the mode switch. It needs to be in PC mode!

Tested it again. It worked! With my custom cable I was able to operate the hand controller. Yes!

Next step: testing with a very long wire.


It all worked! The very long long serial extension cable from the Warm Room. I also tested the USB adapter, since the serial port on the Dell would normally be tied up for Paramount control.

So happy!

class is in

We had a lesson at the CAO. It was awesome! Dietmar concentrated on the triangle of time, aperture, and sensitivity. Risa gave us a quick demonstration of white balance.

Good review of the basics for me. Picked up a couple of pointers. It was a good reminder that a camera, even a modern one, is still easily confused.

advised the members

Issued the notice that the Carr Astronomical Observatory would be open despite the sketchy weather.

Jim announced his DIY book

Jim Chung announced his new book Astro-Imaging Projects for Amateur Astronomers - A Maker’s Guide in both soft and hard versions, published by Springer. Looks like a good read for the do-it-yourselfer.

short session in bad seeing (Blue Mountains)

[ed: Very poor notes. I had to take some guesses at things here...]

11:38 PM, Thursday 16 July 2015. Reviewed the local weather station data. Wind south, wind speed 16.1, high speed 27.4, 10 min avg 16, temp 16.2, dew point 11.0, humidity 71 (yeh!), barometer 1015.5, had been very steady all day.

11:43 PM. Holey moley. There IS a star there! [ed: I did not document this further. Turns out it was spotting a star, in a good photo, very near to HD 133389.]

12:16 AM, Friday 17 July 2015. Helped Risa, sorta, with her image capture. Couldn't focus. Couldn't see anything on the display.

1:01 AM. Seeing was bad.

Viewed 78 Ursae Majoris. Looked like a very tight double. Two equally bright pale yellow stars. It's a very tight pair according to ST3P. [ed: Cannot tell from these notes if I well and truly split it. In SkyTools, I added the Re-observe icon. Haas says they are unequal stars...]

1:19. I was in bed. Sadly, the sky had turned very soft. Bad seeing.


Unfortunate, the conditions, for our guests who had arrived—with high hopes—on Friday night. Others were rolling the dice, deferring their arrival to Saturday.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

imaged HD 133389 (Blue Mountains)

[ed: Figured it out! I had forgotten about a little small side-project. My poor log notes at the time made for a bit of a mystery a couple of weeks later. But I was able to finally retrace my footsteps. Stumbling across the photos helped! Another factor complicating this matter was that the first sighting of the target was blogged but has not yet published so wasn't coming up when searching the front end! Anyway. Mystery solved.]

In my Evernote list of things to do on my vacation, I had a reminder about HD 133389. I wanted to look at it again. I had spotted it on 4 Jul 2015 (natch) and not seen things visually as presented by SkyTools. In particular, the Context Viewer showed two equally bright stars. But I had only seen one. I assumed it was an error in the app. Viewing it again would help me gather some evidence.

Through the week I had considered the target but just not gotten around to it. Wednesday, thought of it again. And moved on. But then tonight, I decided to do something about it. And then, not just visual. What better way to validate a presentation issue than to image it!

Attached the DSLR to the C14 and from 11:23 to 11:34 photographed the target area. Shot increasingly long exposures, starting at 20 seconds, and going to 120.

As the images started downloading to the computer, I quickly glanced at them and compared to ST3P, once again. And, like before, I thought something wrong. The bright pale yellow star HD 133389, aka H 6 53, was clearly visible at the bottom-centre along with the identically coloured bright HD 133483 up and left of centre (east). But no bright star immediately above 133389. I hovered over the star in question. The Context Viewer Status Bar read: J150230.3+474439 (star) in Boo, V8.6.

In the 40 second shot, curiously not shaky or blurry, the grey-white B companion emerged, a short distance away, at the 2 o'clock position (north). In the 1 minute picture, I noticed the pale sky blue star GSC 03484-1254 right of centre (further north of 133389). It made a nice triangle with the two bright stars. I also perceived it to be the same brightness as HD 133389 B, maybe a touch fainter. [ed: ST3P says they are both 12.9.] Which was rendered similarly in the computer chart.

One more pix for fun. The 2 minute image downloaded. Ironically, it looked best of all! No shake or vibration or bad seeing. Nice round stars. Finally... And that's when I saw it! A tiny orange point immediately next to the target star. That is what prompted my exclamation (in my other entry) at 11:43 PM.

So. That changed things around a bit. SkyTools did in fact have a star at the correct location. There was not a rogue star that had been there and gone out. What was throwing me was the chart appearance, both the Interactive Atlas and Context Viewer. They both showed a comparable star. Plus the Object Information box showed that the star was magnitude 8.6 (8.57 to be precise).

But the J label should have been a clue... That moniker is normally attributed to faint objects.

The net result then is that there is a error in SkyTools but it is simply the magnitude value.

received Dan's adapter

Wow. Dan found a RJ-to-serial adapter in his kit and gave it to me! Bizarre. He could not recall what it was for but said I could use it for the Optec remote focusing cable. All right. 6 pins!

I tested the lines. Not surprisingly, the pin-out was different. Still. This is a big part to the puzzle. Along with the short RJ 6-wire cable I had found earlier.

Now if I could just find a DB F-M serial cable that could be sacrificed... Damn. Have a ton at home...

the Eastern Veil

Steve shared his image of the Eastern Veil Nebula after collecting more data last week end. Very well done.

time warp

Headed into Collingwood. Around 2.

Ugh. They were tearing up the 119.

Went to the-store-formerly-known-as-Radio-Shack to see if they had "classic" serial cables, or parts, or on the very off chance, a serial-RJ 6-wire adapter. Nope. Nothing. The sales associate then told me, We're no longer an electronic parts store; we're a phone store. Oh. OK.

He went on to say that there was a shop, in the east end, called Ideal Supply. They might have what I was looking for. "Near the Toyota dealer." I drove back and forth but couldn't spot it. Whew. It was hot out.

I did see a computer shop though. The Computer Doctor. Pulled into the driveway. Gah. Closed Thursdays as they were manning the Barrie store.

Picked up my groceries. Goofed here too. Initially I had intended to buy dry goods only. Nothing that needed refrigeration. So, I repacked at cold and frozen goods. It was hot.

Headed to Wayne's. It was hot. After putting my sensitive groceries in his fridge, I received the quick tour. Then we settled down at the computer. We worked through a few astronomy matters on his Macintosh, with emphasis on Backyard Nikon.

Kept noticing that all his clocks were wrong.

Was thinking of the observatory, guests arriving, dinner on the grill. So I bid adieu. Given that the skies seemed to be improving, Wayne said he'd join us later. OK. See you soon! Took 26 and 40 back. Got my wires crossed at the Seventh Line (expecting Fifth) so went the long way 'round.

Many guests had arrived. Holey moley. Everyone was well into their dinner plans. It was after 7:00 PM... What?! Did I go through a temporal causality loop?! I looked again at the ASUS tablet: it reporting the wrong time. Rebooted Ananke. She jumped ahead a couple of hours. Crikey.


Ideal is near the Toyota shop. 290 Pretty River Parkway. But on the west side. I was looking the wrong way...

sorted the double star shots

Finished sorting the double star photos on John Repeat Dance using Explorer, Digital Photo Pro, and SkyTools. What a chore. 175 files in 17 folders. It was awkward trying to identify the shots with very faint stars and without notes. Upset that my voice notes vanished. Very time consuming.

It would be helpful to make folders on the fly. But that would add a lot of steps to the workflow. Still, in the moments waiting for the shutter to close, and the image to download...

took a Windsor call

Took a very strange telephone call. The man opened with "Are you the observatory?" Ah... I assumed it was someone from Thornbury or Collingwood hoping to visit. He mentioned the Comber (?) Observatory in Tilbury. Said he was in Windsor. Ah. OK.

Asked if we had a telescope and could take photos. This line of questioning immediately seemed strange. My BS Mark I sensor activated.

He then asked if we could take images of aircraft flying over his property. Explained that there was some residue from said aircraft and he wanted to identify and document the parties involved. Excuse me?! I suggested he call the local authorities, in particular, the local airport, as all air traffic was regulated. He balked. BS meter went up another couple of ticks.

He wasn't interested in hearing my thoughts. I explained we were hundreds of kilometres away. And besides, a telescope couldn't follow an aircraft in that way. I suggested he consult a photographer with long lenses. He balked. And I grew upset because he wasn't listening. I just gave two valid options.

Asked his name. He refused to answer. He turned belligerent. Like I was part of The Conspiracy. Now he was wasting my time. I closed with "Sorry, can't help you."

prepared CAO report

Tony crafted a CAO report for the SCOPE newsletter. Various chimed in with edits and comments.

ringed planet, binaries, comet, and quasar (Blue Mountains)

Looked at Saturn in Ian W's 20" Dob. It was pretty good.

Helped Dan with red film for his Mac display. Two pieces, one from my kit, one from the GBO, put together to fully cover the screen. Worked despite the overlap.

Visually looked at Jupiter and Venus. Could not see Regulus.

Helped Millie with her finder scope mount issue, with the bent bolt. I put some electrical tape around the mount interface so it would not fall out. Not a good design.

10:08 PM, Wednesday 15 July 2015. Checked the weather conditions. In fact, that's what prompted me to fire up the Sony...

From the Davis station, via TightVNC. Wind out of the north or 13°, currently 0 km/h, 10 minute average 0, high 37, temperature 12.3 (wow, cool, was cool in the day), dew point 10.0, humidity 86, air pressure 1016.0, high through the day, steady from 4 to 6, then a slow rise, then flattened, now 1017.5? Forecast: increasing clouds with little temperature change, precipitation possible in 24 to 48 hours.

Caught the app just as it tried to transferred the data. For Profile 1. Downloaded the data from the station, read the data, generated the images, connected to the internet, and then paused at the upload. Huh. I suspect it is not logging into the FTP server correctly... I could not remember the login data.

Checked the Oregon Scientific portable. In the Warm Room for a couple of days. The new batteries showed as empty! Humidity 55, temp 16.4, air pressure showed as steady, showing the Sun image, for tomorrow. Turned on the backlight briefly.

The GBO Bionaire unit: humidity 50, temp 17.

Mosquitoes in the Warm Room! Gah. One bit my finger.

Reviewed my notes in Notepad.

Started up SkyTools. Reviewed my target list for Rasalgethi. Kinda neat. It worked well, having the target star along with the calibration stars. It's a good approach and I look forward to using it again.

Considered my next photos for Pluto. Reviewed the data in SkyTools. Between midnight and 1 AM the tiny planet is at maximum altitude.

Updated the weather data in the location profile, the humidity and temperature. The Context Viewer updated immediately.

Millie borrowed the little carpet to cover her power cables.

Reviewed quasar 3C 332 in Corona Borealis.

10:53 PM. We were waiting for astronomical twilight. Cloudy to the north.

Viewed Saturn again in the 20". Could see Titan and Dione at the south pole. Rhea. Saw Iapetus way far away, above. Could not see Enceladus. Ian said he could see Mimas, coming and going.

Connected my keyboard light and started some visual observing.

With the Paramount ME, headed to gamma Coronae Borealis. Wow. Surprisingly good seeing. A bright blueish white star. [ed: Smyth said "Flushed white" in Sissy Haas's book.]

Noted a little blob of 3 stars at the 4 o'clock position, to the east, which included BD +26 02723. Oh! Super tight pair. ST3P didn't show it right away. Had to do a trick to get the stars to show up in a similar way. Turned off the mirror diagonal.

Bumped the power with the 10mm. Interesting. Right at the limit. I think I just saw it but the diffraction rings were making it difficult to know for certain.

I wondered why it was on my list. Found references back to 2013. Mag 3.9 and 5.6. Hrrm. 0.52 seconds of arc. A fast mover at 93 years. Returned to the eyepiece to wait for a good moment...

11:12. Thought I saw a figure-8 or peanut. I reconsidered the angle, that the line went under the three stars, so about 118 degrees. ST3P says 110. Still, inconclusive. I will leave it not logged.

Considered my next target: 44 Boo. It sounded very familiar. Felt familiar. Found some notes from early July: could not split on last attempt, with the 27mm. [ed: Weird notes. I found a "logged" tag in ST3P. So did I view it or not?!] On my View Again list... Once again, a fast mover, 206 years, with aphelion separation of 3.8"! That's a substantial change.

Two gold stars, equal colour, equal brightness. [ed: Haas says Smyth says "Pale white; lucid grey." Wow. She said "grapefruit-orange."] ST3P said 4.8 and 6.1. Separation: 0.8. And that the primary is an F-class star. I estimated the position angle to be 74 degrees; SkyTools said 69. Hey, that's pretty good. Split 44 aka Σ1909 with the 18mm in the C14. By the way, B is also known as I Boo.

[ed: The SkyTools orbital plot shows the separation is continuing to decrease. In the fall of 2019 they will be at their closest. And then will fall away, to 2076... Good timing.]

11:17. Considered HD 133389. Reviewed a remark in Evernote: there might be an error is SkyTools.

Instead, I slewed to 25 CVn.

11:20. Viewed 25 Canes Venatici aka Σ1768. Another fairly fast mover: 228 years. Fairly tight. Pale yellow and orange stars. Very different brightnesses, 3 or 4 magnitudes different. While pointing in the chart, ST3P said the primary was 4.8 and the secondary 4.9. No. The Object Information said 4.8 and 7.0. Right. One point seven arc seconds apart. I might have seen the B at the 4 o'clock position (east) with C star, well away, at 12:30 (north-west). Yep, confirmed.

Went back to the ocular to dig out the other stars... Good conditions! Yeah. Saw D, E, and F. All easy to see. The chart mags show as 13.4, 12.6, and 9.4 respectively. I would argue the D value. Also noted the mag 14 stars GSC 02543-0640 and -0724 to the north-east.

Took SQM readings. All around 21.

Viewed 25 CVn at 50x in the Tele Vue. Is it a good candidate? Not super-exciting.

11:29. Dan and Ian dropped by. He thought the seeing was crappy. They requested Neptune. Ah, maybe not: 3 degrees up. Uranus was 10° below the horizon.

Ian asked about my pointing accuracy. I shared I was hitting targets with the 18mm eyepiece in. He also found his good. I wondered if, for some, it was a combination of the mount locks, temperature changes, and model issues.

Ian suggested comet Lovejoy. This comet is on its way out. This could be the last time it might be viewed...

TheSky 6 was not showing C/2014 Q2 in the correct location. Ian said it was near Polaris. Ah. Using my TS6 profile now, not Katrina's. I tried updating—crashed! Damn. I thought I had that fixed! Looked like I'd need to go to each profile...

Noted that RR Ursae Minoris aka SAO 16558 was nearby. Slewed. Grabbed a low power eyepiece, the 55mm. We headed to the 'scopes. The mount bull's-eyed orange RR UMi and I could easily see the comet. With averted vision, it popped. Dan saw it, with some coaching. At the 12 o'clock position. The comet was big.

I asked what they thought of the shape. Ian thought the comet oblong, less of it toward the star. SkyTools showed the tail going away from the star. Mag 9.2.

We moved the refractor objective dew heater up a bit after Ian noted the view was soft. Ran the hair drier on the lens.

Bev popped in. Ian gave a quick sky tour.

It might be a neat photo, I conjectured, with the orange star and green comet. Checked the framing in SkyTools: too tight in the C14; nicely framed in the Tele Vue. Grabbed the 40D and bolted it to the 101. Asked Ian to slew to Mizar, for focusing. While I manually focused, he readied to return to the SAO coordinate. Did a test shot, at 30 seconds. Verified the comet was between RR UMi and the equilateral triangle to the east. Grabbed the intervalometer so to push past 30s. Configured for a 1 minute sub. We chatted politics and stacking while killing time. We thought it a neat shot. We could see more of the comet's shape, a fan. Ian encouraged me to shot another half dozen. He thought my exposure OK. I programmed an imaging run.

Ian proposed a coffee break; I suggested we go for the quasar. 3C 332 in CrB: 1.8 gigayears light travel time, with a redshift of 0.15. HS 1603+3820 at 9.4 gy (which we viewed 4 years ago) was our current record holder. Still, I suspected 3C 332 would be challenging as it was fainter. We headed to the east end of the Observing Pad to aim the big gun...

Found it! Observed 3C 332. My fifth quasar.

Fixed Ian's SkyTools display problem with Dan's remarks and Greg's notes. Something to do with the tablet's high DPI screen...

12:41 AM, Thursday 16 July 2015. Headed to Pluto. Moved the DSRL from the TV101 to the C14. Grabbed the USB camera-computer cable. Headed to a bright star to focus. Connected the camera to the netbook. I liked that I could still operate the camera directly and things were replicated on the software in the Warm Room. Then headed back to Pluto. ISO 1000. Shot a frame to analyse the field. Shifted west.

Was thrown by the EOS Utility showing that I could now shoot 8000 photos. Huh? [ed: Didn't realise, at the time, that it was because it was aiming at the hard disk for storage.]

The dew was incredible. I was feeling slightly chilled from the damp. The Warm Room windows were fogged, could not see through the glass. I set the humidity to 90% in SkyTools.

Millie brought her equipment in, to store in the observatory. Bev popped by again. Shared how I was framing things. She correctly IDed the Teapot. Yep. Pluto was just above the handle.

Shifted a bit more. Started 2 minute subs.

2:00 AM. Got a nice shot. Tried to find the teenie planet.

Everyone had packed up. The Observing Pad was quiet.

Took me a while to find the little point. It was obvious. I was just misreading the chart.

2:03. Pulled up the Davis weather station conditions. Wind NE, 44°, speed 0, high 11.3, 10 minute average 0, temperature 11.2, dew point 10.7, humidity 97%. Barometer had risen slightly through the evening, from 8 PM to 2 AM, to 1018.5. Increasing clouds with little temperature change, precipitation within 24 to 48 hours.

Wanted to look at the comet photos but they were in the camera...

Another picture downloaded. Trailing. Gah! Programmed EU for 10 shoots. I'd keep going until I got a good one... The next image was bad, again. A tracking issue? The last three shots were showing slight drift to the west!

Ice cream!

Briefly, Millie and I chatted about the double star certificate programme.

OK. A good shot. Finally. Another one. Good. Stopped the third Pluto imaging run.

Started ISO 1000 darks.

Returned to the Warm Room. I had two more layers on. Pulled out the ceramic heater! Closed the outer door.

Started the ISO 1600 darks.

Before heading to bed, Ian D popped in. We commiserated. He had a good visual run from the THO.

Considered 52 Cygni or Σ2726. But I didn't want to do a meridian flip. Oh. It's in the Veil. Right. Two years ago I had tried to split this.

The western Veil remnant was going straight up and down for me. Very different magnitudes, 3 or 4 or 5? A hint of yellow in the primary; companion was orange. Very close. Companion at the 2 o'clock position (i.e. north-east). ST3P said the stars were mag 4.2 and 9.5 and 6.4" apart. Neat. [ed: Again, the Observer's Handbook says the partner is blue; that was not my impression.]

2:39. OK. SAO 33034 or HR 8040. Close to the meridian. I waited for the sky to shift...

Stopped shooting.

2:47. Viewed ε (epsilon) Equulei. The number 1 star in The Little Horse. aka Σ2737. Pretty double star. Bright yellow and light yellow stars. Hints of green? About one magnitude different. SkyTools said it was a quad! But A and B were 0.22". So, no chance for me, on those. Curiously, the AB pair is a 100-year binary with an aphelion separation of 0.65" So, maybe in the future I'll be able to split them... It was the AC pair I first spotted. ST3P said mags 5.2 and 7.4. Easily spotted in the TV101 at 50x. The D was well away. The A star was F5 class.

Spotted the D star!

There were a couple of stars inline with the AC pair. For example, GSC 00521-1928 at mag 13.9 and then GSC 00521-1231 at mag 14.1. About half the distance of -1928 was D. What?! When I hovered over the star in SkyTools 3 Professional, it said the magnitude was 15.8. No. That can't be right. It was fainter, yes. About a 135° angle to the AC pair. Neat.

[ed: The Observer's Handbook refers to the AB pair! And shows that the separation is presently decreasing! Yikes.]

Almost 3.

Slewed. But did not enjoy the view. Done. Tired and cold.

Copied the comet images.

Started closing up. Rolled back the roof. Turned on the dehumidifier. Shut down the laptop. Detached the netbook. Turned off the heater. Packed up for the house.

3:07. Stopped recording.

3:10. Spotted, walking to the house, a fast meteor, in the western hemisphere, heading west. It left a brief train. A Perseid? Already?


A fun night overall. Good views of Saturn. Tackled a few more multi-star systems. Dug deep to nab another quasar. Imaged a comet and a dwarf planet. Despite average conditions.

three times (Blue Mountains)

Captured Pluto again.

Same settings. Image from 1:49 AM. North is up; east is left.

spotted 3C 332 (Blue Mountains)

Ian and I have been talking about viewing more quasars. I told him that I had a candidate for the evening. Dan was interested too. So we undertook the search with Ian W's big Dobsonian for 3C 332 in Corona Borealis at magnitude 16.0.

It took us a while to find it.

It was, as per usual, a little challenging atop a tall ladder with nothing to hang on to, the step height not quite right, the stars drifting by in the field. We got in the neighbour using the RA and Dec from the computer and the push-to encoders and a low power Tele Vue. Complicating matters was that Ian's SkyTools 3 Pro, under Windows 8, on his tablet/notebook, was doing something weird: the field-of-view circle was not showing, or showing correctly. Some strange Win 8 video driver issue with high DPI screens... Finally, in frustration, I fetched my netbook with my SkyTools.

With Ian at the eyepiece and me holding the netbook over my head so he could glance at it, we completed the starhop. I had another look. Oh! Yeah, no problem. No problem seeing the quasar with direct vision with the high power ocular. In fact, I had spotted it before, thinking it a field star. South-east of GSC 02580-1473 and GSC 02580-1636. Almost exactly between 1473 and GSC 02580-1239.

SkyTools says the quasi-stellar object (QSO) has a red shift of 0.15 and a light travel time of 1.8 gigayears. Not the furthest; but the faintest.

That's 5 quasars for me now, 5 visually observed.

Lots of others had a look. A first for many.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

iceberg blue and warm orange (Blue Mountains)

With Ian W and Dan's help, I quickly imaged comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) with the Tele Vue refractor. It was near the colourful variable star RR Ursae Minoris.

Canon 40D, Tele Vue 101, 120 seconds, f/11, ISO 1000, manually focused, intervalometer, Paramount, unguided. North is right; east is up.


Wikipedia links: C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) and RR Ursae Minoris.

lost notes from 14th

And earlier...

Found a strange condition with the Sony ICD SX 850 D voice recorder. The display did not show the current date and time. Clearly the batteries were low. Very low.

Put in fresh batteries. Reset the date and time.

Did not realise it at the time but discovered later that something serious happened. Some extremely low power condition perhaps. The audio files from the night before were corrupted! They would not play back at all. I could not copy them from the device.

Lost the audio notes...

found the clamp

Could not find the eyepiece-camera clamp. Bev could have used it with her point-n-shoot.

Asked the CAO supervisors if anyone had seen it.

Mr Horvatin chimed in. On the dining room side table. Bingo!

asked if we had the Optec cable

I was really interested in being able to control the C14 focus in the Warm Room and with the computer.

Reorganised the drawers and cupboards of the GBO. Found my custom Kendrick cable. But could not find anything that exactly matched the documentation.

Asked the CAO supervisors if we ever had the serial cable and/or adapters to control the Optec TCF-S focuser.

matters of the heart

Had a good chat with our new CAO supervisor candidate.

compared BYN and BYE

Ian W and I sat down in the GBO Warm Room, which was nice and cool, to do a side-by-side comparison of Backyard Nikon and EOS. We connected our DSLRs.

feature Nikon Canon notes

camera during test D7100 40D
software version tested   1.0.0 3.0.3 Yet to update my version.

main screen
dithering button name Dither PHD Simply a renamed feature?
battery level percent bars Constrained by the camera?
sensor temperature no yes

frame and focus
lens focus control no yes BYN has ASCOM Focuser.
live view 5x zoom no yes

white balance no yes Nikon has auto.
white balance temp no yes
Save To yes no

live view maximum sensitivity aperture
save planetary jpg no yes

Overall, very similar. And, to me, that was impressive and good. Along the way, I helped Ian configure his BYN Weather Center for Collingwood.

I will craft a more formal report soon...


Forgot to take screen snaps at the time.

Ian sent over a shot from the BYN main screen.

I grabbed the BYE main interface.

considered GBO space

Started considering the usage of the Geoff Brown Observatory. Risa needed some space for her imaging rig. Millie might want to set up inside too. And on Friday and Saturday, conditions permitting, we'd being doing sky tours. It'd be busy!

viewed Sol (Blue Mountains)

We looked at the Sun. Not a lot of activity. Not a lot of sunspots.

need to raise the dish

Learned that our microwave dish had been reaimed. But unless we raise the receiver dish, internet performance at the observatory will not improve.

Sometimes it has been really slow.

performed full double star imaging run

Readied for my double star measurement imaging run.

Target: Rasalgethi.


Ensured the Sony ICD SX 750 D audio recorder was running.

The ASUS netbook John Repeat Dance was connected to the external widescreen monitor. The Windows extended desktop was activated. SkyTools 3 Pro was running. The imaging Rasalgethi observing list was active. All the objects were selected together and then plotted on the Interactive Atlas.

Attached the Canon DSLR to the Celestron 14-inch f/11 telescope with t-ring and 2-inch nosepiece. Connected the camera to the netbook via the special USB extender kit. The endpoints were interconnected by a long ethernet cable passing through the port between the Warm Room and the observatory floor. I coiled a small piece of red film around the adapter to attenuate the bright blue LED. Then connected the adapter at the pier to a small DC power supply.

Started the Canon EOS Utility application and switched to Live View. Increased the exposure time. Set the ISO to 1000. Left the white balance in daylight.

Of course, the Paramount ME was connected to the Dell laptop and TheSky 6 was driving. Opened the motion controls dialog box.

Over the course of the run, moved the roof and adjusted the south walls to reduce the wind.


Slewed to Unukalhai aka α (alpha) Serpentis as a bright star to focus on. Centred the telescope on the star first using the Tele Vue 101. Used the mechanical focuser to coarsely reach focus. Slewed the Paramount ME slowly to centre the star in the camera field.

Grabbed the Optec TCF-S hand box to fine tune. Desperately wanted to focus electronically at a computer monitor. Alas, I put the flat screen on a box (the NOCO box!) and turned it toward the window. Using the keypad on the mount, I was able to focus while viewing the screen.


Readied to square the camera body to the celestial declination axis.

Moved Unukalhai off the edge of the camera field, the left or east edge, turned off tracking, and gauged the angle of the path across the camera field. Turned the camera coarsely in the opposite direction.

The camera was upright. Therefore, in all photos north is up; east is left.

All photos are the same scale.

Moved α Ser off the field again and let it drift across to the right or west. Measured the duration for the star to run across the long edge of the field. Approximately 1 minute and 20 seconds.

Moved back to the starting point. Noted the point, where TheSky 6 thought it was pointing. RA 15 43 37.72 by Dec +06 28 33.37. I would use the Move To command to return to the spot again.

Programmed the EOS Utility for an 80 second exposure. Started shooting and turned off the tracking.

12:25 AM. 80 seconds, tracking off. Interesting the little bumps in the line. Flaws in the gears, wind, vibration through the ground? All of the above?

Carefully turned the camera about 1° in the opposite direction again.

Decided it would be easier to gauge the angle if it was not in the centre of the field.

Nudged up the time so I would not have to rush...

12:32. 85 seconds. Bingo. Looked nearly perfect in alignment.

EOS Utility requires that an imaging run have 2 shots, minimum. Initially, I didn't want it to proceed so I interrupted the software after each exposure was completed. Then I returned to the start point, using the coordinates, and then restarted everything. Too much manual effort. On the fly, I realised I could optimise the process by using a random start near the starting point. Programmed the imaging to shoot the remaining 8 exposures with a 35 second gap.

12:56. The imaging computer proceeded hands-free; I just reacquired the target star at the starting area on the mount control computer after the shutter closed.

Listened to the wind... And stared at the images. Nearly straight streaks of star light. With tiny bumps and waves. I thought of plots of music or sound. Sinusoidal waves. Suddenly, I realised it was! It was the same. I was seeing the oscillation of the 'scope, the silent vibration.

1:08. A particularly strong gust manifested itself in one frame. Noisy wind.

Now the camera was not touched. No changes in orientation.


Readied to capture a dozen fixed double stars to validate the image frame size.

All images, for display here in the blog, processed slightly in Canon Digital Photo Pro. 

Slewed to Marfik, the Marfik that is κ (kappa) Herculis. Centred. Shot exposures: 30, 15, 5 seconds, ½ second, 1/8th, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125 of a second.

1:16. Marfik A and B. 30 seconds. The C star is obvious to the south or below. Stars look the same colour to me; the Observer's Handbook describes them as yellow and red.

Imaged HD 151070. Exposures: 30, 4, 2, 1, and ½. Vibration or shake in all!

1:38. HD 151070 A and C. 30 seconds. B is extremely tight to A, not resolved.

Shot Sarin aka δ (delta) Herculis. Exposures: 15, 8, 4, 1, ½, and ¼.

2:01. Sarin A, B, C, and D. 8 seconds. Spectacular. A fascinating arrangement of stars.

HD 148979. Exposures: 15, 10, 5, 2.5, and 1.

2:06. HD 148979 A and B. 10 seconds.

HR 6169. Exposures: 1 and ¼.

2:14. HR 6169 A and B. 1 second.

HD 150933. Exposures: 10, 8, 4, 2, and 1.

2:19. HD 150933 A and B. 8 seconds.

HR 6341. Exposures: 10, 5, and 4.

2:29. HR 6341 A, B, C, P, and Q. 4 seconds. Very interesting!

It occurred to me there was no reason to shoot the target star at the very end. In fact, as SkyTools was guiding me, it was best to work from west to east. See below the TARGET section.

[ed: It also makes sense if conditions worsen. Get the moving object while you can. The static reference stars can be done later. Even another night.]

2:32. Started imaging Rasalgethi.

2:41. Finished.

HR 6594. Exposures: 1, ½, ¼, 1/8, and 1/15.

2:43. HR 6594 A and... 1 second. B is very close to A. C is very faint. Probably not a good choice... I also don't know I didn't shoot a longer exposure.

HD 157789. Exposures: 30, 10, and 5.

2:49. HD 157789 A and B. 10 seconds.

V451. Exposures: 10, 5, and 2.

2:54. V451 A and B. 10 seconds.

HD 159481. Exposures: 30 and 15.

3:04. HD 159481. Wow. A, B, C, E, G, H, I, and J. 30 seconds. Wow! I knew this would be a fun one! The F star, north-west of A, is visible if you zoom in.

HD 161164. Exposures: 30 and 15.

3:11. HD 161164 A and B. 15 seconds. B is the faint star very close to the blue-white, at the 10 o'clock position. The orange star is variable V964.

HR 6758. Exposures: 15, 8, and 4.

3:15. HR 6758 A, B, and C. 8 seconds. Moth eyes!

POU3251. Took 3 shots, all at 30 seconds. I had to shoot blind as I could not see the faint target stars on the monitor.

3:22. POU3251 A and B. Barely visible.


As noted previously, it occurred to me to image the target star in sequence rather than waiting to the end. I changed the plans on the fly to capture it as it came up on the ST3P observing list.

Rasalgethi, aka α Her. Exposures: 15, 10, 1/8, 1/15, 1/20, and 1/30. The B star was visible at 1/8 and 1/15; C and D were nowhere to be seen. It looked like the seeing tanked...

Image above was shot fast. 1/15th of a second. A and B are visible. According to ST3P, magnitude 3.1 and 5.4. The Observer's Handbook describes these as red and green and very tight. Yes, no, yes.

Slow. 15 seconds. D is obvious at the 10 o'clock position. I believe C is just visible at the 2 o'clock, in the glare of the A and B stars. Certainly this star looks red, when blown out like this.


This was a very fun exercise! Gained lots of experience. Established a good workflow. Remote control focusing will improve things. I will hopefully gain insight as to when I should, or should not, use a doubler. I suspect this particular target is too tight to measure accurately. I need to learn the parameters of what I can do given the equipment I'll have access to. And there's a threshold for brightness too.

A fringe benefit that I was not expecting: rapidly adding to my double star life list.

I think it's fair to add these to my life list. My assessment of the stars, their colours and positions, is no different than if I was looking through an ocular. I had viewed Marfik, Sarin, and α Her before; that's 12 more systems observed!


Use the doubler or 4X. Or at least be ready to. That will be a factor of the target and how tight the pair is. I think conditions will play into this too, that the predicted conditions will need to be very good or higher for extreme magnification. This also reminds me that I don't think I've ever had success with the Tele Vue 4x Power Mate. But that's probably because it is such a small field...

Plan B. This also suggested that I have a backup plan. Given that the C14 is not in my backyard, I have to take whatever the weather gods give me. So if I arrive the CAO and the seeing if spectacular, I could go with tight binaries. But if it is average, then should have a wide-pair as a backup. Ah. A rainy-day activity: build observing/imaging plans in advance.

Keep shooting until a clean shot is captured. Maybe I was tired or rushing but I could have used more frames for some of the calibration stars, not to mention the target itself. So, shoot more. Especially if it is windy (and vibrating the 'scope). And if the seeing is off.

Have a look! If it looks like the system might be interesting, have a look in the Tele Vue refractor. I saw many new doubles during this run but looked at them through the camera! Since the TV101 is pointing at the same spot, go have a visual look. I might find some good candidates for the certificate list.

Turn on the grid. Should turn on the grid in the camera software during the drift alignment. Moving the star near to the edge of the frame is good but the gridlines will help.


Reduction of the data. That will start with confirming the frame orientation and image scale. And then, finally, measuring the position angle and separation.


Wikipedia links: kappa Herculis, delta HerculisHR 6594, and alpha Herculis.