Thursday, August 13, 2015

a little bit of everything (Blue Mountains)

9:05 PM, Wed 12 Aug 2015. In the Geoff Brown Observatory. Checked the Sony ICD recorder: almost 9 hours of recording time available.

Chatted with Wayne outside the GBO as the crickets slowly chirped. He was having trouble getting Backyard Nikon to connect.

Chris V popped into the Warm Room looking for a 2" O-III filter. I apologised for not replying to his earlier email. Told him the CAO had one and I had one.

With (lonely) astronomy case δ and it's 12 volt supply, the low-pressure pump, I inflated my pool chair, in anticipation of meteors! Pumped the main volume and then the arms. Moved it outside.

Heard from Katrina via email. Sounded like she, Sophia, and Bill were going meteor hunting...

Elaine popped in. Couldn't find the Double Cluster in her Sky Walk app. Reminded her it was not a formal name. I gave her the NGC numbers, 869 and 884. Confirmed in the computer.

9:35 PM. Used the Nightly Observing List Generator in SkyTools 3 Pro, the Showpieces mode with the filter exclude logged items applied, and it gave me two items! Two! That's it? Ha. Ran it again with the Interesting Deep Sky. OK. 194 items added. Lots of galaxies. Then I chose Obvious and it gave me 9. Ha.

Alarms from Ananke started firing: Perseids now! I know!

9:40. I looked at Tonight's Best in SkySafari.

Back in ST3P, I added comets. Ha, one was 67P. Copied some supernovae. And quasars.

Visited Ian. He was still setting up.

Vehicle arrived: Ed T. Lora received him.

9:49. Slewed into "the area" using SAO 85498. Right at the meridian... Slew to a nearby random star to wait. Put the 10mm eyepiece in the Tele Vue 101 refractor. Slewed directly. It worked.

Dimmed all the red lights.

Oops. Went to the wrong object.

Ian popped in. Wanted to know if I was on the comet. Getting close. When he say my chair, he said he had brought the hammock frame. All right! Headed out to peek at the comet.

Using a star, I slewed to the area near comet 22P/Kopff. Didn't notice, at the time, that the comet was in fact listed or shown in TheSky 6 (as per my earlier download/update). Ugh. Crazy low in Virgo. Saw the bright stars HD 120088 and HD 120235. The comet would be down and right (south-east) of those... Looked again. I wondered if I was not fully dark adapted.

10:04. Had yet another look trying to find a little triangle. Turned on the dew heaters.

The International Space Station flew over. Chris directed me. I didn't know there was a north pass...

Saw a meteor over the Bay, way off to the north and low. And then another through the Great Square, faint though. And then a bright one above the Great Square. Sweet! Many saw that one.

10:12. Checked the airmasses for the comet (in the apparent data): 5.7. Silly. Decided to abandon.

I heard another "whoa" from outside. Ha.

Considered a planetary in Serpens... PN G013.3+32.7 aka PK 013+32.1 or Sn 1.

Took a bio break and grabbed some water.

Considered imaging Perseids. Idea 1: fixed tripod, aimed north, get some aurora maybe, meteors, and then could do star trails. Idea 2: tracked or piggybacked, using Ian W's beefy Losmandy clamp, fixed stars, subs, and then stack.

Checked the tablet widget. Aurora alert. Minor storm. Bz: south. Huh.

Slewed to SAO 121529 aka HD 147370.

Checked the weather. As of 10:01 PM. 10 minute average wind speed 3.2 km/h, from the north-west, 3.2 immediate, high was 37 (I had felt it shaking the car). Humidity 84%. Air pressure was 1016.1 hPa. Temperature was 13.7°C, dew point 11.0. Applied the temp and humidity into the SkyTools location.

Had a visitor. Chris was looking at Lovejoy. Very faint. Was going for Neptune and Uranus later.

Saw some stars. Made me think of a beak. GSC 05034-0539 was at the point.

I noted the nice sky outside.

Jeez. Felt lost. Went to σ (sigma) Serpentis to check the Paramount pointing...

10:35. OK. Confirmed. Spotted a double nearby. Star hopped along the Serpens Caput and Ophiuchus border... Found the beak again... Headed toward the big diamond or kite.

10:46. Saw the little tiny arc of three stars, which included mag 11.5 star GSC 05034-0041. I wondered if Ian would like to try. Noted the coords 16 21 35 by 00 4 36 [ed: odd, a bit to the north].

Returned to the Warm Room. And then back out.

Nice one! A good meteor.

Returned to the Warm Room again.

11:02. Did some test shots, aimed north, with the DSLR.

11:10. I was getting confused by the field of view in Ian's Dob.

Took my netbook outside so to conduct the search. Again.

11:40. Headed to the front yard to do some more wide-field imaging.

Considered some lessons learned. Readied to swap lenses. Needed my red flashlight. Affixed the headband. Also wanted to get out my eyeglasses strap, once and for all. Battery pack. Power bits. Intervalometer.

12:06, Thu 13 Aug 2015. Started shooting subs, from the front porch, for the star trails.

Grabbed some more gear.

Put some Kick-Me-Nots on the camera tripod and cords.

12:12 AM. Felt humid. Wondered if my lens would get gooped up. Reconnected John Repeat Dance.

Weather check. Humidity was what I was most interested in. 85%. 10 min avg 4.8, still NW. Barometer 1016.3. Temp 13.4, dew 11.0.

There was one mosquito in the Warm Room. Boo!

The planetary was small. 6 arc seconds. Nutty. [ed: Noted to revisit.]

Considered my next target. Many were very low. Ah. The quasar PG 1634+706 in Draco (near the UMi border) near SAO 8552. Magnitude 14.7. Noticed the stick asterism...

12:18. Noticed some doubles and quads in the neighbourhood.

Moved the bright stars down a bit...

Mozzie flew by the recorder!

Saw a kite or diamond shape of mag 13 stars with GSC 04423-2040. South-west of the quasar. One star, GSC 04423-1588, was mag 14.4. In the software, I pulled out the fourth star, J163350.9+702941, at mag 15.2! Nothing about bad data... That was promising.

12:24. Oh. Easy. An easy quasar! I noted the orientation of position angle of the quasar with the nearby star GSC 04423-1470 was almost the same as the left (south-west) side of the diamond. The 15.2 star I had trouble with, this time. Had to use averted. Came and went. The quasar was clearly brighter than the 15.2 star... I also noted the star GSC 04423-1146 at mag 14.1 further afield, to the east. Cool.

SkyTools had this to say: Redshift (z): 1.34; Light Time: 7.6 Gyr.

Wondered when my star trails imaging run would finish. Fired up a spreadsheet. 24 frames per second. 1 minute of video. That would equal 1440 shots. 30 second subs with a 5 second gap. That means I would need 50 000 seconds. I knew there was 86 400 seconds per day... Therefore, I would need 14 hours! Oops. Memory card considerations aside, I rethought the total video length. 30 seconds? Or 15? 15 would mean a 3 or 4 hour run. OK. Should finish around 3:45... Oh my.

Adjusted ST3P for my next object.

Had one more look at the quasar...

12:49. Low battery indicator appeared on the recorder. I was nervous. I stopped the audio capture.

Reviewed my View Again list in ST3P.

Lora offered to make hot chocolate, spiked. Mmm. Thanks!

12:58. Tried for Arp 330 in Dra. Near HD 234352.

1:02. I saw two very faint objects with averted while panning to the south-west. Very challenging. It might be more easily viewed a couple of hours earlier. ST3P showed 4 little babies nearby. I could not see these. It might be a good target for photography...

1:05. Felt really tired... It seemed I was having a hard time concentrating.

Viewed NGC 7006, in Delphinus. It was pleasing in the TV101 and C14. A glob. It was rather large in the SCT. [ed: Whew. Distant. ST3P reports it is 160 000 light-years away. Also referred to as Caldwell 42.]

Headed to the Observing Pad to do some whole sky viewing.

2:00. Viewed many Perseids while supine in my inflatable chair. I was sleepy. Heard myself snoring at one point. Then I heard Lora telling me to go to bed!

2:31. Checked the conditions. 10 min avg 8.0, SSW direction (hence warmer), current wind 9.7, high 11.3. Humidity 87. Barometer 1015.8. Temp 11.8, dew point 9.7.

3:00. Needed to kill some time. Backed up the audio files.

3:50. Tore down camera. Verified the lens was at f/5.6.

4:00. Was in bed. Time for sleep...

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