Sunday, April 17, 2016

less wind; more Moon (Blue Mountains)

Sat 16 Apr 2016. 9:00 PM. I put the 32mm Tele Vue eyepiece reassembled by Ian back in the 'scope. It was working fine. We were on Jupiter.

Was using the regular Dell computer to drive the Paramount.

The netbook was acting strange. Tried to perform a normal Standby process. Took a long time to react. Then a long time for the screen to shut off. No response after many minutes. Hard booted it. Wait! Kicked it in the ass! Crikey. Turned off the radio; connected by hard line. Had to change the horizon line colour slightly as the green was cancelled by the red filter.

Left the Geoff Brown Observatory to view Mercury. Easy to see. Slightly less than 10° above the horizon. Betelgeuse and Aldebaran and Mercury were almost in a straight line. Launched SkySafari on the Android: it said Mercury was 8 degrees up.

The peepers were incredibly loud. The owl was flying around again.

Decided to not do anything about an imaging campaign at SMU. Earlier I had considered cancelling jobs to grab galaxies, given the Moon light, to collect H-alpha instead. Meh.

9:06 PM. Tried Tonight's Best in SkySafari. I noted it suggested a lot of deep sky objects with no regard for the Moon light. Starfish Cluster? Huh? Oh... Messier 38. Pinwheel Cluster: M36. Mekbuda? I cross-checked it in my double star life list for ζ (zeta) Geminorum. Not here. OK, sure, let's try it. Slewed.

Noticed Ian's laptop was reporting a low battery, then very low, even though it had it plugged in. I realised what the issue was—I reset the breaker on the common wall. Tripped again...

What?! That's cool. I saw what looked like a triangle. There was a fairly bright star at my 2 or 3 o'clock position. SkyTools 3 Professional said this was the C star, to the north. Awesome. And there was a star at a 90° angle or to the east from the primary and that was the B star. Much fainter; C was brighter. And with averted vision, I could see a star between the C and A stars; ST3P referred to two stars here, with P and R labels, with magnitudes 12 and 13! Wow! Now, I did not see two stars there but there was clearly something. In a neat field.

9:23. Also, SkyTools did not show something I was seeing. There was a star opposite C, two times the distance. A fairly bright star. ST3P shows GSC 01353-1010 at mag 13.7 (poor quality)—I don't think that's right.

Reviewed the observing lists for Mekbuda. It is on the RASC Explore The Universe and the AL Binocular Doubles. It is a variable ranging from 3.5 to 4.2 over 10 days. It is listed as a naked eye variable. It was nice in the refractor. Light yellow primary. The C was grey in the big 'scope and dim blue in the small one. With averted in the 101mm I could see the B star. Nice. Very neat. Might be fun to photo.

I was getting chilled. Headed to the house for the winter coat. Helped Tony a bit with his Canon DPP.

9:27. Viewed Mekbuda naked eye. Left edge of the Twins. Funny how it came from SS+.

Considered Procyon. Reviewed my old notes. Changed the eyepieces. Checked the software. Had another look. No problem with the C star. ST3P was not showing the D star. Neither in the CV or IA charts. Nor B. Weird. ST3P said the B star was 4 seconds of arc away. That would be easy. Huh. Tried changing the date in the SkyTools software to a new Moon period...

Noted SAO 115746 to the north-west. Used it and the smattering of nearby faint stars to confirm my orientation.

Spotted the multi-star system Σ1126 to the east! aka HR 2950. Not in my life list. Cool. I thought I could see the A and B stars, touching. Very, very tight. ST3P said they were 0.9" apart. They seemed to be oriented north-south. Pale yellow. C was at a right angle, off to the west. C was pretty faint. With the Angular Measure tool in ST3P, I simulated the orientation I was seeing, up-down, and got a position angle of 160 between A and B and around 255 to C. The Object Information box said the PA values were 171 and 249. And they were equally bright stars, magnitude 6.6 and 6.7. Woo hoo. In mediocre seeing.

The A-B pair are part of a larger triangle. Unrelated stars. GSC 00187-1457 and GSC 00187-0984.

[ed: I believe there's an issue in the software in that it is not showing the A and B stars separately. By comparison, BRD 2 stars A and B are clearly shown and they are even closer at 0.8".]

I could see a star to the east, or left, GSC 00187-1335. The software said it was 15.6! Although it also noted that was poor quality data.

Ian popped by to check his laptop. Asked if I was ready for the second ISS video file. I checked that the first file had made it to the Taurus computer on the network. Yep. 1.9 GB. In the meantime, his computer went a little funny on the network.

Told him about the power issue. He wondered if we had a ground fault issue.

Asked Ian his impression of Struve 1126. Greenish-blue and orange. Touching. He thought the tight pair in-line with the C. He thought the view was wobbling. Wondered if there was a drive issue. Or really bad seeing.

Also noticed that I had viewed the BRD 2, aka HD 61502, to the north-east of Procyon before but had not spotted the C. More weird stuff.

10:12. I could not see BRD 2 C. ST3P said it was mag 13.4. So, doable. Could see lots of other stars in the area. I could see field stars in the area that the software said were magnitude 13 and 14. Tricky area. A little frustrating.

The Horvatins vigorously enjoyed some campfire songs.

Made a SkyTools chart with checked entries. Plus symbols showed. Considered VZ Cancri from Turn Left At Orion. Looked up alternate names for TheSky 6: SAO 98035 or HIP 42594. Oh. Near the Moon. Slewed.

Saw the elongated diamond of stars to the north and the string of stars to the south-east.

It barely changes 7.2 and 7.9. But it is fast: 4.3 hours! There were no equivalent stars in the C14. Went to look in the Tele Vue 101 with the 10mm.

10:24. Saw a grouping of 5 stars. VZ Cnc is an F-class star. I wondered what the point was. Is it that it is a fast-changing star? Should check the book.

[ed: Guy says it is arguably the most dynamic variable star. Recommends using binoculars and comparing it to 36 and 37 Cnc. 37 in particular is 7.4. So, in the course of 2 hours, one would see it appear bright than 37 and then dimmer... OK. That's what I'll do...]

SAO 98037 to the north was fainter (9.2). SAO 98016 to the west was fainter (9.4).

Considered 17 Hyd. aka HR 3553, HD 76370, or SAO 136408. Not from any particular list; automatically added. Well below the head of water snake.

10:29. 17 Hydrae. Equally bright stars. Pale blue. The other was hard to tag. Orange or blue? [ed: Haas says both are "gloss-white."]

A somewhat empty field. Close, tight. But easy. ST3P said 4" apart and mags 6 and 7.

I saw a cup of stars (below or south-east) and a triangle (east).

There was another pair to the north-west or at my 2 or 3 o'clock. Headed back to the 'scope. HD 76274 was at the edge of the field. Seeing was bad but it would snap in. 7.6 vs 10.9. I thought about half the separation of 17 Hyd. Tricky. Should be re-observed.

10:37. Slewed to SAO 134929. Noted a big question-mark shape of stars.

10:41. The software made it look like there was a double or triple in the middle of it. J  2844. Faint. In the telescope I could not make out any detail. Just a blob. Not fun, per se. The cluster was interesting.

10:42. Jujubes!

Was getting a little frustrated. This last suggestion was also an automatic entry from SkyTools. Crazy faint. I decided on a different approach. Started reviewing other SkyTools lists for possible candidates good for this time of year. Applied some filters. Rejected DSOs. Oh. Found one in the Cambridge list...

Tony visited briefly. He grabbed the Star Adventurer tripod, returning it to the house.

10:53. θ (theta) Aurigae was cool. White and pale, dark orange. Wow. An interesting double. Finally! Very close. Maybe 10". The software said 3.5" and not currently splittable. Oh, yes it is. A quad system. The C and D are well away, forming a triangle. That was great.

[ed: Haas does not refer to C star. She says A and B are white and green and D is silvery. Smyth says lilac and pale violet!]

10:57. That was a fun system, aka OΣ545. B is almost perfectly inline with C. B and C are in a north-west direction. D is to the north. I could see D in the Tele Vue! I think this will be a good candidate for the double star project: it works at low power and rewards at high power. [ed: It's already on that list.]

Faint pair off to the north-west. Forming an equilateral triangle with theta. Freaky. At the limit of vision. ALI 555. About the same distance as θ D from θ A. Wide pair of low mag 12 stars.

Neat field. A lot of faint field stars. A gaggle of stars to the north looking like a faint open cluster.

From the RASC Coloured: jumped to 35 Com. Field didn't look right. Must have pointed wrong. Ooh. Indeed. Big shift. 

11:05. Bumped into Messier 64. Very soft galaxy, in these conditions. Almost completely featureless.

The Coma Berenices double was warm yellow and blue. Checked the notes in the application. Three stars. The A and C stars are the ones noted in the RASC tome. In terms of observing list—done. It was in my life list in ST3P. But I should consider this logged. Mags 5 and 7. A challenge object in a small 'scope. C is dark, dark blue in the 101.

My impression was that the primary yellow star was two, oriented left-right or south-west to north-east. That matched what the software was showing. Just splittable. Tight. Very tight. 1.03" according to the computer. Closer than their maximum separation. This is a good example of a double that looks like a rod.

Saw the J125328.4+211731 star to the north-east. Mag 13.8. Way off to the right.

11:12. Decided to keep it in the View Again list. But I want to log it to close out the entry in the Coloured Doubles list.

Pulled up the Fast Movers list. Considered HR 4758 or SAO 157326. 151 years. A quad. North of the crow. Slewed.

Verified. Very neat! Triad. Saw all four, the A, B, C, and D stars. The A and B are tight, very close together. Dull orange. The C (to the north-west) and D (south-east) kind of flank the AB. The AB pair seemed to be oriented left and right but the software showed a different arrangement. I could not confidently split. Marked as observed but I'd like to have another go at it.

There's a faint star to the north-east, J123012.3-132237, forming a larger triangle.

Noted a pair off to the side, to the south of the target. Not marked as a double... PPM 225922 and TYC 05533-0549 1.

I also noted PPM 225935, south of HR 4758. ST3P says this is a pair of low mag 11 stars. I could not clearly resolve. It just looked like an elongated faint star. Not great.

Considered a red dwarf. AD Leo or SAO 81292. Right beside the Moon. Pass!

Chose Ross 128 or HIP 57548. Stop! It was forcing a meridian flip.

It looked like I had exhausted my "shared" lists.

From my double stars list... Chose HD 132909 or SAO 29372. Slewed. Huh, close to where I had halted.

Checked the battery on the Sony voice recorder: good.

11:31. Interesting. Wide pair. Pale yellow or possible green; the other was a sky blue. Similar magnitudes. Easy split in the TV101. In the refractor, I noted a box of stars, a very neat pattern. Kitty corner (to the north), a pair of stars, including HD 238415; the corner to the west, a pair of stars, including TYC 03861-0486 1; and then the corner to the north-east, a single star, TYC 03861-0527 1. Almost a perfect square.

Faint galaxy nearby but I did not see it.

Faint field stars in the area.

Cleared the Mars alert from ISS Detector.

I looked in the Red Star list. Huh. The Blaze Star, aka T CrB. There's been talk about that lately... TS6 did not like either designation; used SAO 84129. Slewed.

ST3P said it was mag 6.4. I didn't agree. Looked again. Meh. Very unimpressive.

11:42. Not exciting. Returned to the ocular to double-check. Very faint. I had expected it to be much brighter. It did not seem very orange. Not colourful.

Saw the nearby triangle.

[ed: A long period variable.]

Didn't know what to do next. Break time!

Tony was heading to bed. Got water. 

Boötes rising. Spotted Mars over Ian's shed.

Noted the dark part of the sky—away from the Moon. Draco. Selected μ (mu) Draconis, aka Arrakis. Up by the head. Selected. Why was it on my list? To see all 3 stars? The seeing was not great. A and B were oriented straight up and down.

Spotted a bright star, at about my 11 o'clock: HD 234387.

Spotted the flattened triangle at the bottom of the field, including TDT 206A. That sounds like a double...

Noted many faint mag 13 and 14 stars to the north, between mu and the triangle. So why would I not be able to see the C? After more viewing, I confirmed seeing GSC 03890-0642 at mag 14.7. Still could not spot μ C. Oh. Just noticed that the Object Information box said the AC data was from 1958. Oh. Weird. I discovered this not in my multiple star life list in ST3P... Even though it is in my View Again. Strange. It should be. Perhaps I should look at WDS and Aladin... Maybe the C star is dimmer. Maybe it is not there.

Considered the next target. HD 158868. Slewed.

Sun 17 Apr 2016. 12:10 AM. Σ2180. Possible orange and blue. Very subtle colours. Almost exactly the same. Equal brightness. Perhaps B is a hair fainter. Oriented left-right for me. Left star slightly brighter, the software says. Moth eyes. Came from the automatic suggestions (it has many times in fact).

[ed: Haas's team says bluish-white and ivory.]

Moon wouldn't set until 4:30. Sucks.


Nearly empty field. Gaggle of stars at the bottom-field.

Almost forgot. Initiated the file copy. From Taurus to John Repeat Dance.

Found my next target: an N star! UX Dra. Whoa! What a colour. Fantastic colour, an intense orange. Incredibly intense in the C14. But few field stars. Very pleasing in the Tele Vue. Still not an extraordinary collection of stars in the area. There is a neat grouping of stars to the west, a loose cluster, mostly blue-white. Wow.

Took another break. This time checked email.

Slewed to the next target: 75 Dra. Found this essentially by browsing. Super wide pair. In the TV 101.

12:28 AM. aka BUP 211. Very bright stars (the A and C). Extremely wide. A cool triple. For me, west is down. B is at a 90° angle to AC. About half the separation of AC. B is much fainter; not visible in the refractor. ST3P shows the magnitudes 5.4, 11.1, and 6.9; separations 109 and 197. Noted it was in the AL Binoculars list, perhaps with 74?

Part of a big "electric" S with TYC 04597-0837 1 at one end, to the south. It is almost at a 90° angle to the AC line. Further from C than the AC distance.

A very neat field. Lots of stuff.

[ed: Haas only notes the A and C stars; describes them as "coppery white and pearly white."]

Did some more panning in Draco and surrounding areas.

12:35. I had thought of it before... Remember again now. Checked my View Again list. I found 253 objects in the list! Wowzers. Filtered and reviewed. Slewed to HR 6267 aka KU 1...

12:45. I was not convinced I could split the bright stars. ST3P says 2.6" (1991 data) but 4 magnitudes different (in the OI box). Early I had an impression of seeing two pairs but the orientation did not match what the chart was showing. I could spot the C no problem. Could see faint stuff.

Felt tired. Big yawns. Considered going out with a bang...

Mars was climbing. Red.

Suddenly realised I had not checked the weather conditions! Seemed cool. The Davis weather station showed, as of 12:16, the following: 10 minute average wind speed 9.7 km/h, SSE, with a current speed of 9.7, with a high of 16.1, the humidity was 37% (that was frickin' awesome), barometer 1029.1 hPa (still pretty high), temperature was 12.3°C, with a wind chill of 11.4, and a dewpoint of -2.0. Good.

Chose the next target.

Slewed to κ (kappa) Cephei. aka Struve 2675. Viewed in C14. White and orange. Many magnitudes different, 4 or 5. Very close together. ST3P said 7". The C star is dimmer and to the north-west. It looked bluish. C looks dimmer than B. When hovering in the Context Viewer, B shows as 8.6 and C as 10.3 (the Object Information box says C is 8.4). A neat system!

SkyTools screen snapshot of kappa Cephei

This triple is part of a nearly perfect straight line of stars with C pointing the way. Random bright star, HD 192763, is next; then 2 faint stars. Very cool. Then there was another line of stars, with C at the end, and heading to the east. Nearly equidistant. Amazing.

Checked in the TV101. Impressive. I could see the B in the Tele Vue! Wickedly cool.

[ed: Haas only refers to the A and B stars: "brilliant peach white and a small powder blue." Uh huh.]

I think I'd like to add this to my double star project. Wow!

Tried to view Mars with the 'scope. But it was still very low. And I didn't feel like dropping the walls... Checked it outside the observatory with the Mark I eyeballs.

Closed the roof. Decided to do as much packing up/closing down as I could so to minimise steps Sunday mid-day.

1:13. Ian popped in. He reported his automated Tpoint model build was working well. We discussed the last ISS file. Not copied yet. We postponed that to the morning. We also chatted about where we'd post them. I pondered Vimeo...

1:18. Wrapped up.


Broke 700 multiple stars with this session, with over 600 confirmed splits...

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