Friday, June 03, 2016

helped members (Blue Mountains)

4:02 PM, Thu 2 Jun 2016. Sent directions to Super Genius.

After dinner, Ian and I chatted with Wayne about imaging. We tried to give him some simple takeaways: shoot darks; preload the mount.

10:00 PM. Risa, in the Tony Horvatin Observatory, installed LAN Messenger on her Mac so we could instant chat on the grounds. It worked!

Super Genius arrived a little after 11, with the twins. Offered a White Zone parking spot close to the GBO for unloading. He asked about the ISS. I had missed the 9:45 PM. I suggested he set up inside the GBO for end-of-night protection. Encouraged him to set up near the east wall with the south table flipped up.

11:19 PM. Got a flyover notice from ISS Detector Pro. 5 minutes to go. Bill asked if we could track it. Wow. OK. Would have to do a fast set-up. Updated the TLE data in TheSky. The ISSDP app was showing it funny... Like a very short path, with a hook? [ed: The blue path was hidden by the red film. Night mode avoids this.]

11:24. The app did the beeping 5 second countdown. Bill spotted it naked eye. Through the C14, he focused. "Oh, that's so cool!" The Paramount ME followed it well until we reached the meridian.

I commanded a meridian flip. Tried to catch up. Bill did not see it in the eyepiece.


Bill started his polar alignment of his CGEM. He enjoyed the carpeted floor of the observatory rather than lying on the ground.


11:49 PM 02/06/2016. Pinged Risa, in the THO, via LAN Messenger. She was trying to get her webcam going.


12:14 AM 03/06/2016. Got a snack. Risa swung by. Her webcam was working good. She offered to make coffee.

Gave Bill some suggestions for targets. Small NGC targets inside Messier 101. Seemed a little early to go for the North American Nebula. Gave him some loaner red film.

I suddenly realised I had not checked for comets in SkyTools. And it promptly crashed! Sheesh.

12:28 AM. 78% humidity.

Bill asked me to remind him to shoot darks and flats. OK!

12:39. We checked out his first 5 minute shot. Tried to figure out the blob at the top-left of his image.

Bill spotted a meteor. No major showers at the time...

Risa shared she was having trouble playing her captured video files. Bill headed over to the THO to visit.

Risa sorted more technical issues. Good.

After 12:55, received an alert for another ISS flyover. Figured out the colour issue! We visually watched it. Offered that he could connect his camera on the C14 tomorrow.

Risa asked about imaging Saturn on the C14. She and Bill went to the THO to check things.


I flipped the mount. Saturn was in the hot zone. Could not slew to it, yet; I forced it with the joystick. Dropped the power. Thar she blows. Wow. It was nice. I had not looked at Saturn for a while. Very nice. Seeing looked good. Ian agreed. Greatly tilted.

Risa gathered her equipment. Bill provided a 2" nose piece. Ian grabbed the 2" extension tube.

Bill asked when Sun rose. 5:30. Twilight would begin at 3:15. He considered the Veil.


Risa couldn't see anything. No gain option. Considered the gamma. Tried the Star Search. Hold on... Dug out my Celestron Micro Guide reticule eyepiece and batteries. Re-centred and focused. She remounted the camera. She restarted the software. Did hard focus. Then gave her the Optec hand paddle. "It's gorgeous," she said.

I found Chocolate from Heaven!

1:39. I headed to the house for another layer. Risa asked me to fire up the kettle. Bill wanted a guide star. I said I'd check.


Risa requested Mars. I wanted to try slewing by off-set method. She saw it fly by. I did a spiral search and stopped almost immediately. Manually moved. Then Risa recentred. 

For Mars, we recommended a faster shutter. Or exposure. Her app was acting weird. For a second it looked perfect. It looked like, to me, it was in some automatic mode. The Gain was in auto; asked her to turn it off.

Bill asked where The Whale (NGC 4631) and The Hockey Stick (NGC 4656) were. I looked them up. In CVn.

Bill showed his Dolphins and Jai alai shot. Looked good. He wanted a new target. In the west. I did an advanced search in SkyTools. Blackeye (M64)... no, too low.

2:31. Wayne dropped by. He was frustrated. Ian had helped a bit. I pointed out one of Ian's favourite beverages... He asked where Vega was. We checked my tracked Cygnus images. Wayne headed home. Felt bad for him.

2:48. Risa headed to bed.

I spotted something in Hercules. Oh. Comet 252/P Linear. Magnitude 9 (point source). 8 minutes in diameter. Gave Bill the SAO number of a nearby star. About 1 degree away. He didn't see anything in the test shot. Bill said it was near NGC 6224, a planetary.

Tried an advanced search. Minimum size 3. Received 84 candidates. How about NGC 3147, a spiral. In Draco. Just above the roof. Just a smudge, Bill reported. He set up for 10 minutes. I ran into a technical glitch and had to redo the search. Oh. A double galaxy, with NGC 4302, in Coma. Did a new search. Size 10 now. Added Lyra and Hercules. Ha! The Splinter or NGC 5907. Showed him my shot, from the 24... He saw it in his preview. He programmed a 10 minute.

3:19. Verified the glow in the east was not following the ecliptic. Bill caught another meteor.

Neptune! Planets galore.

Ha. The big 'scope was still on Mars. We had a look. Some detail, even though very low. Soupy.

Gave him another suggestion: NGC 4236. Another big edge-on. Similar to the other one. More wispy?

3:31. I turned on the heat for Bill. Gave him a tour of the GBO roof drive. Encouraged him to keep everything inside. We'd dry stuff out with the dehumidifier.

Had Bill help me with the south walls. Had him close the roof.

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