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.

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