Thursday, June 30, 2016

fantastic night (Blue Mountains)

Incredible skies through the day. Blue. Blue everywhere. We were getting excited. At dinner, I noticed, there was still not a cloud in the sky.

Chas dropped by. Just in time for scotch o'clock.

I drove the Paramount with SkyTools 3 Pro.
Instruments: Celestron 14-inch SCT, Tele Vue 101 refractor
Mount: Paramount ME
Method: Go To
Tried a sync in TheSky 6. Never tried it before. Wow, it worked. For the local area, I enjoyed spot-on pointing. (And very good pointing the rest of the evening.) [ed: And, I didn't notice it at first, but good feedback up into SkyTools with the blinking-X is the corrected location.]

So to avoid kicked mounts, I loaned Steve and Dietmar my Kick-Me-Not LED tripod leg lights.

10:08 PM, Wednesday 29 June 2016. A beautiful night.

Checked the local weather conditions via the Davis web page. As of 9:46 PM. Wind 10 min. avg., 3.2 km/h; from the north or NNNW; immediate wind speed, 3.2; high, 29; humidity, 65%; baro, 1015.8 hPa; outside temp, 15.4°C; dew point, 8.9. Fantastic. Lovely temperature, a light breeze, no humidity.

10:11 PM. Viewed 11 Scorpii. Fire truck! Yeah! I cracked this tough double. Very different magnitudes. A blue-white (B class) star with an orange partner. Fairly tight [ed: ST3P said 3.3 seconds of arc]. They were low which made for poor seeing. ST3P said the true altitude almost 32. Similar orientation as HD 144638 and TYC 05620-0926 1. Where did this come from? I couldn't figure that out. Also on the ST3P View Again list... but not logged nor in the doubles life list.

10:21. Viewed Saturn. Titan, south, below. Tethys, below, faint, south. Dione and Rhea together to the south-east.

10:32. All right. I tagged Iapetus.

Retrieved the adjustable height chair from the Great Room. A little crowded in the observatory. In a good way.

10:44. Viewed ι (iota) Boo. Asellus Secundus. Yellow and yellow in the C14. There was a faint star opposite B, about 2.5 times the distance: C (it was not showing in the CV window). Still using the 27mm eyepiece. Very faint. I had not seen the C star before. My life list shows a single entry which is for A and B only. [ed: And Sissy Haas only refers to A and B.]

A and B looked yellow and orange in the TV101. 18mm ocular, so about 30x. Very pleasing.

This was already in my double star candidates list. I made a note to update that list. Another that works well at low power and rewards at high power.

Spotted HR 5360 to the east. Also yellow.

10:54. Noted a faint pair to the NE of iota, about the same separation as iota AB. It was HD 234127. ST3P said it was a triple.

11:03. Centred with the C14. C was around 1 or 2 o'clock. There was a diamond above. I thought A and B were 10 and 4. ST3P showed them nearly horizontal. Very faint. Very tight. I thought it best to look again...

11:09. Viewed θ (theta) Boo. Yellow bright primary. Well away was B. A very faint dull orange.

Not visible in TV101.

11:25. To the east, I could see GSC 03478-1033 and GSC 03478-1262 between TYC 03478-0979 and theta. ST3P said they are mag 16! But low quality. Ian W called bullshit.

I thought the transparency very good; Ian not so much.

11:33. In SkyTools Interactive Atlas window, I noted a bunch of blobs nearby, clustered together. New General Catalog objects. I didn't realise it at first but they were H-II regions inside Messier 101. Lots of small fuzzies...

11:40. Borrowed Ian's 31mm Nagler ocular with an 82 degree field. To test-drive a modern, wide field-of-view eyepiece in the big 'scope. He suggested a short time ago we consider a 41mm for the C14. This would give a similar view.

Viewed NGC 5471 to the north-east, below the 3 stars, including GSC 03852-0070.

Spotted NGC 5461 in a triangle with GSC 03852-1001.

Noted NGC 5462 north of 5461.

Decided to try the loaner glass on different objects.

Viewed the Turtle planetary nebula. Small. So small. The O-III filter made no difference.

11:53. Took in M13 in the 31mm. It was very good.

I enjoyed the view. Without my eyeglasses, I could see the edge of the field all the way around. I was a little surprised to see it was not crisp at the field stop. The ocular has very restrictive eye relief. It was tough, I felt, to use with eyeglasses. Couldn't seem to get close enough. Ian then shared the price: $600. I dunno... That's a lot of bananas.

12:02 AM, Thursday 30 June 2016. Viewed La Suberba. It was pale orange and bright.

Observed a satellite moving through the field, to the NE. It was a slow-mover. It was similar in brightness to TYC 03459-0622 1, which is around mag 11.

12:07 AM. Split Izar. Easily. Gold, shimmering stars.

12:10. Viewed NGC 6946. It was faint, not round.

12:40. Tried Ian's 16mm. It was a nice wide field, again. And, unfortunately, similar eye relief. Very limited. Not sure oculars like this would be well-received during star parties to the general public.

Tried to coax out Campbell's Hydrogen Star. Sheesh. Tough.

1:11. Outside, we looked at both parts of the Veil Nebula in Ian's big Dob. Fantastic with the narrow band filter. [ed: East: NGC 6992, Caldwell 33; West: NGC 6960, Caldwell 34.]

Later we moved to the Swan. I helped a member shift the large 'scope.

Wonderful skies.

Could not spot Sargas in Scorpius though...

[ed: I noted an issue with the Swan Nebula in ST3P. Does not come up in a search.]

Returned to the GBO. Viewed Campbell's Hydrogen Star again. At 391x. There's something there but it is very tough (I wondered if I should try photographing it!)

1:44. Ian and I went for quasar Markarian 205. Beside the faint, small oval NGC 4319. Pretty easy to spot in the 20" light bucket. A pinpoint of light to the south-west of the galaxy. I think Ian was not impressed... [ed: SkyTools has "Markarian 205" listed as a galaxy and "MKN 205" as a quasar...]

Ian asked about the galaxy group I had recently imaged. We viewed NGC 5982 and gang. Ha. Rotated, from my image, of course.

It was chilly on the Observing Pad.

2:30. Back in Warm Room. Toasty, in fact.

2:37. Tried to see the planetary He 2-459. Couldn't see anything. Confirmed the field: it is tiny.

2:53. Viewed NGC 6885. aka Caldwell 37. Loose open cluster in Vulpecula. There was a bright triangle near the bottom-left, i.e. to the west. Most of the stars were blue-white. Was there dust or a reflection nebula around the bright star?

HD 339781, to the east, was orange.

Could not split HD 339672. A double star shown to the south by SkyTools.

3:12. Viewed the open cluster IC 4996 in Cygnus. It harbours a multi-star target, HD 193007. The primary was light yellow. C was to the NE. To the east was the U then V stars. B was west of A. R was in the upper-left of the cup, T-a was south of B, E was beyond U and V. I could not see P.

3:21. Yes. I did it: I spotted P. But it was much fainter than the software said. D and F were easy, both south of V.

3:24. It appeared as a lovely delicate triple in the TV101!

We decided to wrap it up.

3:27. Steve did one more frame for his imaging run.

3:28. Wind 3.2, humidity 64, baro 1015.7, temp 12.8, dew 6.1.

Viewed U Cyg. It was not very colourful. A was dimmer than B but brighter slightly than PPM 59697 and TYC 03576-1785 1. A was pale orange (in the C14); B pale yellow. Noted a circlet off to the west.

Helped Steve close up. We had a night-cap in the kitchen. I left a note for the early-risers... Quiet, please!

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