Monday, September 14, 2015

incredibly clear (Blue Mountains)

Clear outside. Finally! Too bad everyone had left!

Brought out my netbook. Ian helped Tom collimate his Newtonian.

Dietmar set up his Star Adventurer, at last.

Millie set up. I was curious how she'd fair with Phil's updated notes.

Inspired by Risa, I made a list in SkyTools 3 Pro of the autumnal Turn Left at Orion objects, non yet viewed, some 15 targets!

Missed my socks! Turned on the baseboard heater.

8:01 PM Sunday 13 September 2015. Viewed Saturn. Lovely.

Some clouds showed up... Still, it was the best night I had seen in a while!

8:07 PM. Slewed with SkyTools. Nice... Working well. A simpler set-up too, frankly. Running without the RASC laptop.

Tom and I saw, in the Celestron 14-inch SCT, Titan, Rhea, Dione, and Tethys. Tried for Iapetus.

8:26. Checked the local weather conditions from the Davis weather station. The 10 minute average wind speed was 4.8 km/h. Down significantly from earlier in the day. The wind direction was WNW. The immediate speed 3.2. The high had been 40.2. The humidity was 88%. The barometer was 1011.6 hPa. The outside temperature was 10.3°C. Brrr. Socks! The predicted dew point temp was 8.4.

8:38. Tom and I spotted Iapetus finally. It was tricky. Nothing nearby. Saturn sinking. Currently at 3.5 air masses.

Dietmar exclaimed he could see several stars on his mirrorless camera view screen. The wonders of sensitive chips and high ISOs.

8:42. I rotated the eyepiece. Got it again, Iapetus.

8:50. The transparency looked really good. We could clearly see the Milky Way already. And the sky was not dark!

8:55. Viewed the multi-star system HD 164492 in the middle of the Trifid. A and C were easy. B was to the left or north, much dimmer. The ST3P chart showed them being the same brightness; but the Object Information said the magnitudes were 7.2 and 10.4. I agreed with the latter.

The nebula was visible. I could see the dark lanes. All three.

8:58. Spotted G. About 3 times the distance of the AC sep. To the right or south. ST3P said it was 13.2. Certainly it was tricky.

9:01. I saw the D star. It was not at a right angle to A and C. The CV chart said 7.1. No way; OI said 10.5.

Could not see E or F.

9:06. Tried the O-III filter, in the 55mm. It was a little hard to use, in the bright room. Also, it was smaller now, from the 27mm. Nice.

9:12. Went to γ (gamma) CrA. Dietmar asked, "Are you going for groundhogs?" No doubt.

Goofy. Just a coloured jumpy blob.

Ian popped in. He agreed the transparency was good.

9:24. Dietmar said the tracker and camera were working. He was happy with the results so far.

Incredible sky. The south-west was very clear. Could see Saturn just about the trees. 

9:43. Malcolm P phoned and was surprised someone was around. Leaving Midland. Asked if he could come by. Sure!

9:44. Viewed ζ (zeta) Sgr aka Ascella. Saw C no problem. Possibly I saw A and B, bright white stars, in a 70 degree alignment. Very tough. Started in the 27mm and then the 18mm. Very close. Seeing was not great.

[ed: Ascella is a fast-mover according to SkyTools with a 21 year orbit! ST3P calculated the separation of A and B to be 0.59" in July. The Object Information dialog showed the magnitudes as 2.6 and 3.5 respectively; Haas says 3.3 and 3.5. Ascella is listed in TLAO as a jumping-off point for locating M54 and M55. No mention of it being a double star... Haas noted the separation as 0.2" at publication.]

9:56. Tried to split AB ρ (rho) Cap. Not steady enough. Tried the 5mm in the TV101. No prob for C, D, and E stars. Saw many field stars.

10:31. Viewed 51 Peg. It was a light orange. [ed: A G5-class star.] Not a lot of comparable field stars nearby.

10:35. 51 Pegasi is magnitude 5.5. A suspected variable according to SkyTools. But not a lot of variance. Took the 5mm out of the 101; put the 55mm in. 51 was about the same brightness as 45 Peg (6.3). It was brighter than HD 216625 (7.0).

[ed: Guy Consolmagno refers to this "featureless" star in a "bleak" field simply because it was the first star shown to have planets. Removed from my View Again list.]

TLAO said Messier 15 (M15) was in the neighbourhood. ST3P showed it out at the legs of the horse. OK, had a look. A nice big glob with the 27mm. A bright star nearby. That was HD 204712 at 7.6.

Helped Dietmar aim his camera at Messier 31 (M31).

Ian helped me find with Messier 8 (M8)—the Lagoon—naked eye, above the spout, before reclining. Above the spot of the Teapot.

Malcolm arrived. He was interested in imaging the northern sky. Hoping to catch aurora.

11:11. I slewed to Neptune hoping to find moons.

Tried to spot Messier 33 (M33) with Ian with the Mark I Eyeball on the Observing Pad. Nope. NGC 752 (aka Caldwell 28) was easy...

12:13 AM, Monday 14 September 2015. Couldn't see any moons around Neptune.

12:16 AM. Slewed to ρ Cas. Viewed in the TV101 with the 55mm. A pale orange citrus star. Noted V373 to the left or south-east. And a large round fuzzy with a bright centre to the 10 o'clock position. That was NGC 7789. rho was brighter than HR 9059 and σ (sigma) Cas and brighter than τ (tau) Cas. [ed: ρ Cas varies between 4.1 and 6.2. V373 varies between 5.9 and 6.3. HR 9059 is another suspected variable around 5.6. tau is a suspected variable around mag 5. sigma A is mag 4.9.]

12:24. Fantastic colour in the C14: intense light yellow-orange.

Saw the double STI3051A to the west. ST3P made it look like a triple on the chart; only a double. A was orange-ish, B blueish. A was brighter than B by a fair amount; opposite what ST3P said. [ed: ST3P says A is 11.8 and B is 11.4. No.]

Spotted a neat arc of 4 stars to the east near V373 Cas. With GSC 04009-0727.

TLAO said ρ Cas "may be on its way to becoming a supernova." That'd be neat!

Viewed the Sailboat Cluster aka NGC 225, Collinder 7, OCL 305. All equally bright stars. I wondered how it got its name. Was it the arc of stars in the east? Turned the mirror diagonal different ways. Was the curve the hull or the spinnaker?

12:41. Millie exited the GBO.

12:45. I noted a little triangle on the north edge of the cluster that ST3P referred to as HJ 1046. Similar brightnesses [ed: 10.9, 11.2, and 10.8, in the OI box]. AB were oriented east-west; C was at a right angle to A-B.

12:52. Took in NGC 436. [ed: aka Collinder 11, Melotte 6, Raab 2, and OCL 320.] Mostly pale blue stars, many fine faint stars. Lots actually. Three brighter stars running east-west nearly equally spaced. It was fairly large in the 55mm in the C14. Noted a yellow star to the west, HD 7284, in an arc.

1:01. Put the 27mm back in the C14 and the 10mm back in the TV101. Saw STI1550A the triple in the middle. A and B similar, C fainter, harder, perpendicular. Saw the double BD +57 00230 to the south-west, well away. [ed: aka LYS 2. I don't know this designation.]

Slewed to NGC 654. Neat cluster! [ed: aka Collinder 18, Melotte 9, Raab 5, and OCL 330.]

1:07. Noted a wedge shape. One bright star. Lots of doubles within, 6 pairs or more. And a triangle to the north.

1:13. Found STI 277A on the east edge. A was much brighter than B. Saw STI 275 A, B, and C. North of centre. A and B were close and faint. C was brighter. Noted STI 276A. To the north-east of centre. Again B was brighter than A. [ed: In the IA chart, ST3P showed A as 13.2 and B 11.7.] Saw STI 274 A and B but it looks like C had moved eastward... 274 was also north-east of centre but closer. Looked like there should be more! It was fun. But tiring.

1:22. Viewed NGC 559 or Caldwell 8. A faint cluster. Fairly small. Streamers or fronds arcing out. It too had a number of double stars.

Could not coax out any moons of Uranus.

1:45. Closed up. Tried to do as much as possible. To support a get-away tomorrow. [ed: Er. Late in the day...] Headed to the kitchen to unwind.


Wow. I didn't think, at the time, that I did much. When in fact I viewed 23 objects. A number of firsts. Some revisits. And knocked off a few from the TLAO Autumn list of course. Nine remain. A beautiful night.

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