Saturday, July 04, 2015

Saturn through clouds (Blue Mountains)

9:46 PM, Friday 3 July 2015. While Mr Horvatin loaded up a campy movie, I headed to the observatory. Prepared the audio recorder. Fresh batteries. Reset the date and time. Verified the astronomy folder was active. Checked the remaining time: 6½ hours. OK.

In the Geoff Brown Observatory. Did other miscellaneous prep. Checked the reticule eyepiece. Ready for batteries. Red lights on. Connected John Repeat Dance to the external monitor.

9:53 PM. Took care of some work emails. Let Chris know my future CAO plans.

10:02 PM. Heard some distant fireworks. Reviewed the weather. Clear Sky Chart was spotted, for sure, to midnight.

Saturday night looked good.

Checked Environment Canada for Collingwood. Current Conditions: 17°C. Observed at: Collingwood. Date: 9:00 PM EDT Friday 3 July 2015. Condition: Not observed. Pressure: 101.3 kPa, tendency: falling. Temperature: 16.8°C. Dewpoint: 12.6°C. Humidity: 76%.  Wind: WNW 6 km/h.

Detailed Forecast, issued: 3:30 PM EDT Friday 3 July 2015. Tonight: Clear. Low 11. Huh, brisk. Showed an image of a crescent Moon with stars and no clouds... Sat, 4 Jul: Sunny. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud late in the morning. High 25. UV index 8 or very high. Showed an image of partly cloud. Night: Clear. Low 14. Sun, 5 Jul: Sunny. High 27. Night: Clear. Low 16.

Forecast. Fri, 3 Jul: Clear. Night: 11°C. Sat, 4 Jul: Mainly sunny. 25°C. Night: 14°C. Sun, 5 Jul: Sunny. 27°C.

Check the local conditions on the Davis weather station. 10 min avg wind: 0. Wind direction: N. Wind speed: 0. Humidity: 77%. Barometer: 1013.1. Outside temperature: 13.5. Dew point: 9.5.

The Davis barometer graph looked like it was peaking. At its lowest Wednesday morning, at 1006.0. Climbed through Thursday midday, dropped slightly, and was climbing again.

The NOAA satellite imagery showed winds moving to the north-east. Stuff over lake Huron.

10:11 PM. Checked for flyovers of the International Space Station. No predictions for the next 10 days, out to the 13th. None. Pushed to the next period: morning runs. So we were between phases then. Checked the daylight passes, about 5 or 6 a day.

Looked at Weather Underground for Thornbury. Calling for clear tonight, 15.6, no wind, partly cloud. Air pressure was climbing. Tomorrow looked really good. It showed cloud cover now, about 45%, and diminishing, to 0%, to Saturday around 9 PM. Scuppered for tonight, it looked...

Prepared the Paramount. Opened the roof. Louder. Some vibration.

Fired up the Dell, homed, and slewed.

Viewed Saturn. Phoned the house and reported it was not bad. Not great with the high cloud (particulate?) but the seeing was fair to good. A few people headed out to have a look including Grace and Kristen. Used SkyTools to figure out the Saturn moons. Kristen helped me adjust the field rotation. Titan was around the 1 or 2 o'clock position, for us. She thought it was pretty cool, seeing moons so far away. We talked about averted vision. Confirmed I saw Tethys above, between the planet and Titan; Rhea and Dione below.

SkyTools 3 Pro showed Tethys and Enceladus on top of one another! Sneaky.

10:44. Mr dos Santos joined us. He bumped up the power. The 20mm. It was better. He thought the seeing was really good. He too was happy to see the Cassini Division.

The Velcro tab on one of the eyepiece heaters tore off. I switched to the other one.

We had a tumble with the chair. Too close to the trench. I encouraged Kristin to steady herself by some means.

More power. I suggested the 10mm, for 391 power. Too much maybe.

10:56. Tethys and Enceladus should have been plainly separated. Tony was enjoying the view, waiting for good seeing. He should the Division was easy. But could not see the shadow on the rings. I suggested going down one notch, to the beefy 13mm.

Moon was up. Well up. But punching through low clouds. A sausage-shaped glow? [VMA said Moon rise time was 10:11 PM.]

Tony and I discussion views and which hemisphere we were viewing.

11:04. Tony left to "find out."

11:11. He returned with the current Sky and Telescope magazine. Confirmed that the hemisphere in the foreground was the north.

We discussed eyepiece field of view orientation. He was getting confused by what he was seeing and what the magazine was showing. But he could see the shadow on the rings which meant the Sun was shining was above, even though he knew it wasn't.

I showed him the trick: turning the mirror diagonal so the eyepiece was pointing up to the sky, standing above the telescope and looking down. That made, in the SCT, a view where up was up but left was right. Flipped. I pointed out this was, in fact, the same for the refractor-mirror diagonal combination, as it was, like the C14, presenting an odd number of reflections.

I noted the magazine said, "The planet discs... have south up to match the view in many telescopes." I thought that a very poor way of describing it. What they meant was a reflector. They should say that! Or show the little right-angle N-W or N-E thing!

With SkyTools, I verified everything with Tony. Titan was on the left; Rhea and Dione on the right. The shadow should be on the right edge. "Yes." Meaning the Sun was on the left (in the view); we knew it was really to our right.

Further confounding matters was the optical illusion in the small aperture, that is, it was hard to tell what was in the foreground and background. It was flat; not three dimensional.

The clouds (and the damned Moon) made it look like daylight.


An eyepiece took a tumble... We moved them back from the edge of the counter.

Added 59 Ser to my observing list. Best around 1 o'clock. Half an hour from now. Added Pluto. Best at 1:30 AM.

11:32. Checked the free space on the camera. Oh. Lots. Already cleared out. Space for 944 photos. OK.

Reviewed my View Again list. Ah. Lots of doubles... Considered ones high up. Slewed to 44 Boo. Switched to the 27mm from the 55mm. Could not split...

Tony took off. I then joined him and Wayne in the kitchen for a debrief.

1:00-ish, Saturday 4 July 2015. Still clouds. Returned to the GBO. Stood in the Warm Room. Realised that it would take considerable effort to do what I had intended to do, photograph double stars.


Parked the Paramount. Closed the roof. Shut the lights off.

1:07 AM, Saturday 4 July 2015. Headed to bed.

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