Monday, August 29, 2016

multi-tasking night (Blue Mountains)

Moved into the GBO.

Fired up the Sony recorder.

Borrowed a hand controller from Mr dos Santos. To test on Nicole's mount. If necessary.

9:00 PM, Sunday 28 August. Connected the netbook to the big monitor. Extended desktop.

Sal was chatting with a coding friend from the picnic table.

Set up my camera out on the lawn, west of the Geoff Brown Observatory.

9:13 PM. Did some test shots, with the kit lens. Mars and Saturn in the background. I was trying to control the depth of field. Could not seem to do it! Weird. RTFCM. Page 90. Manual control. Oh. I was not in super-duper mode. That's why. The power switch was not in the full up position. Whatever it's called.

9:17. Camera was working the way I wanted. Grabbed the intervalometer to get past the 30 second barrier. And to minimise vibration.

Took the hood and filter off the camera lens.

9:28. Wondered if I would need a dew heater.

Ran in a strange problem: the intervalometer was not triggering the camera. At first I thought it was a camera glitch. In the end, I thought it a poor connection between the Neewer and camera body. It worked when I reseated it.

Could not find my eyeglasses! Ooh. I remembered where they were. Took them off in the garage when I was at the lockers. Found them. Clay was busy at work!

bird house in pine tree, stars and planets in background

Canon 40D, Canon 18-55 lens at 18, 120 seconds, f/4.5, ISO 1600, Manfrotto tripod, DPP. Oops. Had the flash open/up when I started the shot and the flash fired. Bird house. Scorpius, Mars, Saturn, the Milky Way, an airplane, and a meteor!

Ian D popped by. Wondered what the white flashes were. Me!

The coyotes yelped. They were in the forest on the hill.

9:45. Popped into the Warm Room for a moment.

Continued working the camera. Dropped to ISO 1000.

10:30. Did get some shots but wanted to try my long lens.

Sal wanted to shoot through the C14. Slewed the Paramount from my SkyTools. I went to Vega to help him focus. Realigned the Tele Vue 101 to the Celestron 14.

Gave him my 2-inch nose piece. Explained his SCT adapter was not appropriate for our configuration. We really do need one for the GBO. We had a hard time threading my nose piece to his Sony t-ring. Finally got it. Helped him with focusing. Various camera settings. He used the in-camera dark application. Suggested the Ring Nebula.

10:58. Took out the Vivitar Series 1. Love a lens with distance measurements! And hard stops!

Watched for meteors. Didn't see a lot... Caught a long one in a test shot.

I could hear Clay cutting and hammering in the garage.

Encouraged Sal to shoot many shots, partly to accommodate for tracking issues.

11:07. I was shooting with the 70-210, wide open, at 70mm, manually focused, around 4 metres, now 5 metres. I had moved the rig again. Out of the gulch. It was not bad.

Crickets in the Warm Room...

Sal requested a new target. Globulars? Perhaps M13 or M92. I loaded up my SkyTools showpieces list. We talked about the number of images to take for stacking. I suggested a dozen. But any number, 2 or more, would be good. Previewed some galaxies in ST3P and simulated the view with my 40D. His Sony had an APC like mine so we hoped the views would be similar. We readied for M13. Slewed to zeta Her for focusing. Fortunately on the same side of the meridian.

11:48. Sal was working on the focus. Slewed using an offset hoping I'd exactly hit the target.

Grabbed my old screw-mount Takumar 55. The fastest lens in my gear. f/2.0. Removed the hood and filter; installed my adapter. Wondered if this was first light, for astronomy, for this lens.

Ian D dropped by. Asked what his fastest lenses were. Among others, 50mm f/1.2, 24mm f/1.4.

My crazy old lens was working!

Looked for Lacerta. The little W of the head, beta, alpha, 4, 5, and 2. Zig zag. That faces toward Cygnus. Did note that it was just above Pegasus.

12:14 AM, Monday 29 August. f/2, 4 metres.

Checked in with Sal. He thought he'd stay on M13 for a while longer.

I wanted to try a new location. Stopped short of the front lawn. Used the maple tree at the south-west corner of the house.

As I returned from the yard, I noticed Messier 45 (M45) rising over the hill. Nice.

Noticed a double in Capricornus. Naked eye.

12:31 AM. Shot the Pleiades. Stopped down to f/2.8 to get rid of some of the bloat. Moved slightly off infinity. I was still at ISO 1000. Programmed a 2 second timer. Took 10 second shots. Amazing, the old clunker lens. It did really well.

Sal asked about a galaxy. His last target for the evening. Showed him some photos (not to toot my own horn). He liked the Splinter. It was around the two air mass. I explained that notion to Sal. Happily, again, on the same side of the meridian. Looked up the NGC number. Suggested he do the centering this time.

12:38. He completed the centering. Focus looked good. Slewed to the galaxy. Asked that he do a test shot.

Set up Nicole's mount for another test. Polar aligned, aligned on two stars, added one calibration star, and then slewed to M31. Left it to see what would happen.

Sal was trying to centre the galaxy in the camera.

1:02. He saw a tumbling satellite.

I saw the Sal was hunting. Perhaps struggling with the joystick. And the weird directions, telescope with mirror diagonal vs. camera straight-thru. I offered to help, using the computer, to move in a methodical way. He gave up. OK. Nailed it! Lucky guess.

1:15. Checked the weather. The Davis weather page was up-to-date. The wind was 1.6 km/h, west, humidity 96%, air pressure 1022.4 hPa, temperature 16.7°C. Damp!

Fetched some water.

Checked the photos on my camera. Happy.

Sal said he was on his last shot.

1:35. Thanked me. Headed to the house.

Connected SkyTools to the Paramount (indirectly). Felt like doing some visual astronomy. Lowered the red lighting.

Checked Nicole's mount. Looked through the saddle. Seemed to be tracking fine. Tapped it, fairly firmly. It did not shift or more.

Clay was still working. I hoped Mr Wheelband was not trying to sleep.

M2! Messier 2. It was starting to descend. Slewed, from ST3P. A good point. A lovely globular. Many stars. Intense. Dense centre. Individual stars could be resolved. With the 27mm in the C14. I wanted to do that again as I have only been able to find one entry in my logs.

Heard a noise. Visited with Ian W on the Observing Pad. He was packing up his Dob. Wondered if had seen Fomalhaut. It was! Due south. 15 degrees up. Noted the Circlet, under the Great Square. The somewhat bright star the left was Diphda.

There was dew on the Warm Room windows.

1:59. Considered my next target from NGC 772. In Aries. Slewed.

Huh. Faint. Wow. I had also seen 770! Right beside the main galaxy. 772 was an oval shape, extremely faint. Very diffuse disc and arms. 770 was to my 4 o'clock. Noted 3 stars to the north. Made me wonder by the BGO had refused it...

A great night. I felt I needed to press. But considered that it was too late to start a major imaging campaign.

Lens simulations. I considered simulating the Canon body and all the various lenses in SkyTools. Be easy to do. Might be helpful for planning for star trails or tracked images.

Bright light! Weird. Coming from the garage? I was worried that Clay was mucking up images with his white light.

Had one more look at the two NGC galaxies.

Pointed to the Heart Nebula aka Sh 2-190 in Cassiopeia. Grabbed some accessories.

The Interactive Atlas of SkyTools showed that these were large structures.

2:28. Tried a bunch of things. Started with the Panoptic 27mm in the C14 and saw what looked like a cluster. Zoomed out with the Plössl 55mm (with the O-III). Then put the 27mm in the Tele Vue 101. Very wide field. And then the 55mm still with O-III filter in the TV101. I saw wispy stuff. Ah ha! And I saw two blobs. One was IC 1805, aka Collinder 26; the other was NGC 1027, aka Collinder 30. They were to my 10 and 4 o'clock. The 18mm ocular cut off one of the clusters. I thought I could see nebulosity.

I saw a round pattern thing. OK. Spotted HD 15558. Yellow and orange. In the middle of the IC 1805 cluster.

Decided to pan to the Soul Nebula. Panned to the east. I could see some stuff. It looked linear to me.

1027 is a very simple cluster. Not very exciting.

Big, faint objects. Considered that I should view again, with a large aperture.

Nicole's mount continued to track fine. Bumped and pushed it.

Viewed RZ Cassiopeiae. In the Tele Vue with the 18mm. I saw three stars, including SAO 12413, pointing to it. Varies 6.2 and 7.7 over 28 hours. SkyTools showed extensive information including the time for the next eclipse. Looked for some nearby comparison stars. Unfortunately, there were not a lot. RZ was brighter than the AB stars of HD 18056 aka HIP 13836, at magnitude 7.7.

The bright star at my 4 o'clock was SU Cas. Mag 5.9. RZ looked about the same brightness as SU.

I was tired.

Read the Turn Left at Orion notes.

3:00. Decided I did not want to look at any more variable stars.

Returned to the GBO with hot chocolate. Orion was rising. Andromeda and the Great Square were straight up. Tried to spot the M33. Noted The Eagle was setting. Weird. The Milky Way was over the house, arcing west to east. Never noticed that before.

Just noticed Neptune in my list. Slewed.

Checked Nicole's CGEM. Expected it to be nearly horizontal. Hibernated it.

Returned to the big gun to check the field. Faint close star above or east, bright star (PPM 709544) to the left or north. Pale blue.

3:28. About an 1/8th or 1/10th of the distance, from the GSC star, slightly to the south. 112 vs 12 arc-seconds. Got it. Spotted several times as the seeing settled.

What about Uranus? Well placed. Slewed.

3:37. Saw bright stars above and below. Saw faint things nearby.

Clay had white lights on again.

Right. The bright star below, or south, the planet was PPM 144664. With two faint stars nearby, making a fine triangle. Saw a star between. SkyTools said it was mag 15. Huh. Titania and Oberon looked pretty close. Grabbed the 32mm occulting eyepiece. It was wet. I put it beside the vent of John Repeat Dance to dry.

Confirmed. I saw Titania, toward the PPM star, and Oberon, to the south-east. Mags 13.9 and 14.2. They were the same distance from Uranus. Forming a triangle.

3:53. Could not see Ariel or Umbriel.

Slewed to Almaak. Nearly straight up. SkyTools said it was a quad. A and B were easy. The BC separation was 0.07". Not happening. D was faint and well away.

Took the dry occulting eyepiece out to the 14-inch 'scope to spot D. No luck. Sadly.

Considered that I should mark this star as logged.

It was 4:00. Time to hit the hay? Started shutting down the computers. Closed the roof. Whoa! The mount went to a weird park position, canted far over. Reconnected, reaimed, reprogrammed the park. Tested it. OK.

4:11. Turned off the recorder.

4:13. Noted a double on the bottom edge of the V of Taurus.

Clayton was leaving!

Checked the conditions: wind zero, W, hum 99, baro 1022.4, temp 15.6.


As I wound down in the living room, Clayton said goodbye.

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