Tuesday, September 27, 2016

a couple of galaxies (Blue Mountains)

I returned to the Tony Horvatin Observatory with the Celestron NexStar 11 still set up.

Around 10:00 PM, Monday 26 September 2016. It was clear. Decided to have a go. It was windy. Gusting. Despite the wind sock on the Sony recorder.

Ian spotted something strange but then realised it was an airplane turning. Outside, we checked the whole sky. Ian also noted some "serious lightning" to the west.

Tended to the dos Santos trailer.

10:02. Returned with the netbook power cord. Decided to not route it through the frame of the lectern instead but the computer atop. I'd be able to sit up straight. Affixed the red film with an elastic band to prevent it blowing off.

Couldn't find the transceiver for the mouse. Probably in the house.

Turned on the N11 and let it do its GPS align. Set the time and date. Helped align it. Vega done. Then Altair. Connected SkyTools. Oops. Forgot to change the port. Closed Evernote. Spotted an email from Burke Gaffney, it had captured data at 9:45, so I grabbed the Halifax weather data. Restarted ST3P and connected successfully. Still had the galaxy filter active.

Clouds! Bastards! Pretty well everywhere. Sheesh. Waited for a pocket to drift through Aquila to verify alignment. Slewed to Ursa Minor to try to see NGC 6217. Patchy clouds. Just as I looked through the eyepiece the stars winked out. Configured SkyTools and then tried to id the field.

10:20. It seemed I had landed on the star TYC 04571-0600 1. Spotted the arc at my 2 o'clock. The galaxy should have been below. Waited for the heavy clouds to move off.

Spotted the faint galaxy. Reasonable large. Popped with averted. Between a wide pair of stars, including Tycho 04571-0972 1, and a gaggle of faint stars to the south-east, including GSC 04571-0704. The galaxy seemed to be oriented in a 1 to 7 o'clock orientation for me. South-east to north-west. Overall, dim. Uniform. Brightening in the centre. Or perhaps it was a foreground star. The brightness of the centre was similar to the south-east star which were in the magnitude 14 range. Those wide stars at the north-west were pointing directly to the galaxy, a good sign post. More and more I could see faint points within the galaxy.

Saw lightning in the eyepiece. Could hear the wind whipping.

On examining the Interactive Atlas, I noted Hickson 84 nearby, along with a triple. Clouds. Killed some time. Located all the camera equipment.

Considered I was in the wrong building to do sucker hole chasing. Saw a gap moving toward the Little Dipper so I readied to sync. Synced on the galaxy then slewed to the Hickson group. Flying blind.

Spotted a triangle of stars. Down and right I wondered if I saw some fuzzies. ST3P showed a couple of large members and a tiny one touching.

Clouds! It occurred to me it was probably a bad night for gathering galaxies.

Continued staring. Nothing. The last sucker hole did not line up.

Considered a double star for imaging, during the cable testing. Reviewed options in the software. Big wind. Wondered about View Again items. My life list choices were generally hard. Rejected targets overhead—probably not enough room with the fork mount. Still clouds. Checked the whole sky. Some holes. Water Jar. Hercules. But then settled on what I had tried before, δ (delta) Persei, to better gauge results.

Planned for my exit tomorrow. Stuff in the THO, GBO, and house.

11:01. At the eyepiece, I tried to coax out fuzzies. I could not see a single member.

Completely clear sky!

11:32. The adjustable height chair broke—again! Fire truck. Different spot this time. The area I had shored up was fine. The wood snapped above this. Glad I had other chairs in the THO. Grabbed a metal folding chair. Turned on the heater. Heartburn.

During my run to and from the house, and the pit stop at the GBO, I saw aurora as well as a direct lightning flash. Forgot the mouse USB thingee. Although I was running out of USB ports.

12:09 AM, Tuesday 27 September 2016. The sky was pretty good.

12:27 AM. Started imaging with the custom hacked mirror cable.

Crazy idea. Considered imaging Uranus or Neptune, to get the moons. Yawn. It was almost 1.

Shut off the mirror cable so to extinguish the yellow light.

Synced then slewed to IC 356, a galaxy in Camelopardalis. Turned the roof a bit. Tried a 15 second image. Tried to identify the field.

1:05. Tore down the camera gear. Turned the focuser about 5 or 6 full turns.

Reconfigured SkyTools. Figured out where I was pointing.

Saw it. Dim, diffuse object. Near a bright star. South of HD 25452. Generally, required averted vision. Faint. Featureless? A few bright points within it. Not uniform. Some mottling. An oval? An interesting object, aka Arp 213.

I was chilled.

1:15. The view was better. IC 356 was quite large.

[ed: Enjoyed the image from Deep Look web site.]

Checked the aurora.

Synced and slewed to a nearby galaxy. Tried for IC 342. Oh. Faint. Very faint. The software showed it was very large so I changed to the 36mm ocular. Not really exciting to me. ST3P said it was magnitude 9.6 but it was so big and spread out and face-on, I couldn't see anything really obvious. Marked this object (also known as Caldwell 5) to re-observe. With lots of aperture.

I felt very tired. It's been a long run these last few days...

Slewed to a new subject. Noted a bright star. But couldn't see anything. Didn't have the energy the fight anymore. Decided to wrap.

1:38. Starting packing up. In preparation for my departure, I prepared as much as I could, save moving things to different buildings or outside. Tidied up.

2:00. Exited.


Wow. Over 30 objects attempted during my extended stay. Pretty good.

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