Sunday, September 25, 2016

happy observing night (Blue Mountains)

Saw Mars naked eye.

Saw Venus naked eye.

Viewed Saturn in the Celestron 14 SCT with the 32mm. It was lovely.

In the THO, I put out a couple of Kick-Me-Nots so to avoid stepping on connectors.

Leveled the tripod with our medium-sized carpenter's instrument. It had not been true! That's why the pointing was so far off. I was hopeful. The remark I had made in my quick reference guide suggested it was rather important.

Did the initial telescope alignment.

7:51 PM, Saturday 24 September 2016. Found a glass with something rather fragrant. A gift beverage perhaps from a secret admirer?

Looked at the local weather data but I misread the time. It was from the morning.

Continued hooking up gear including the wireless mouse. Closed unneeded apps. Turned off the computer radio again. Fired up SkyTools. Reconfigured it (I had lost all the settings after the previous crashes.)

Went to γ (gamma) Del initially. Got it! A good point. Not perfectly centred but in the field. Showed how helpful the tripod's level is. Gold and blue, a pale blue.

Out on the Observing Pad, I could hear Chris, Ian W, and Millie helping the Probus guests.

Considered my first target, γ CrA. Slew! Mucky. The star was just dancing. Centred. If there were two stars there I could not tell. A lot of colour fringing. ST3P showed a rich field but the extinction was wiping everything out. Reset the telescope control movement rate.

8:07 PM. Panned. Spotted another star. A satellite went through. Detected another star as the sky darkened. Then more. Continued to try and identify the field.

Confirmed! More field stars were visible. North was to my bottom-left. Zoomed in with the software. Great: very low and very tight. But the view in the eyepiece looked better than before.

Milky Way was visible overhead. The Teapot. Mars. It felt colder tonight.

Bumped from the 36mm to the 20. Had another look. The OTA was nearly horizontal. The view was swimming again. Could not split it. Nope. ST3P said the separation was 1.43" (as of July). At aphelion, it would be 1.9". So, maybe I just keep trying... Boo!

Considered HD 164492 in Sgr. From my View Again list. Synced and slewed. Went back to the baader eyepiece. Lots of stars in the field. Another pair? Some nebulosity? Just split a very tight, very faint pair in the centre of the field.

8:36. Checked the software chart. Ah, there was nebulosity. Oh. That's because it is the Trifid Nebula, Messier 20 (M20)!

When I slewed, I landed near star HD 164294. To my 9 o'clock position or north-east was the Trifid and the double stars within. At the 8 or 7:30 position, I saw HR 6716. Panned to put the nebula in the centre while a satellite went through. Saw some nebulosity below the Trifid.

I saw the three bright stars. A. B was to the north. C was to the south. A was brighter, C was the second brightest. Thought I saw G. ST3P's chart did not show the correct brightness; the Object Information box was better. A was mag 7 and B was 10 with a PA of 20. C should be opposite, right? Yeah, 213. C was mag 9. The software showed A, B, C, E, and G in a nearly straight line.

The app showed C and D were on top of one another. Increased the magnification. Saw the faint star far field, still in line, which was G. The A-C separation was x, say. A-B was half that. G was 3 or 4 times x.

I could not split C and D. Maybe for a second?

Did not think I could see the E star.

The seeing was bad.

Tried to locate F. Spotted a star perpendicular to A-C. Fairly bright. But too far away. GSC 06842-0079. F should have been between.

Got D! About half the separation of A-B. Awfully tight. And very different intensities.

Really bad seeing.

Felt like I had done everything that I could do with the star system. I could not extract all of the elements.

Enjoyed the dark lanes. One heading to the 9 or 8:30 o'clock. One going up or to the 12 o'clock. A wide lane to the 4 o'clock. Dim. Very nicely framed in the Pentax. Again, I saw the luminous patch below, to the north, centred on orange HD 164514.

Dropped back to low power.

Chose a target in the same area to avoid turning the roof.

Synced and then aimed at Biurakan 4 (aka Stock 7 and OCL 351). Low in the sky. Swimming a bit.

9:13. A small cluster. Just a dozen or so stars. Super tiny. Two minutes in size.

There was a multi-star system within this cluster: HD 167287, aka BU 284. A was bright and blue-white. Noted the D and E stars to the south, well away. Opposite D was B, no problem. About the same distance as B, to my left, or north-east, was Q. Nutty! Got C. B, Q, and C were all around the same brightness, mag 9 to 10. Increased the power. More obvious. Moved a bit left. Tagged the P star with averted vision, to the south. Noted the non-related stars (part of the Biurakan 4 cluster) to the north-east of D and E.

I found the lines in the charts distracting. Changed their colours and style.

Tried to spot the 13.5 mag S star. No joy. I found the R star! It was north-west of B. But the distance looked different than in SkyTools. Had it moved?

[ed: Oops. Missed the F star.]

Noted Biurakan 5 aka OCL 33 in the software. 4 is to the south and 5 is to the north. 4 has a couple of bright stars; 5 has several stars. They seem to be treated as two separate objects by this astronomer.

Good to have another Stock viewed for the life list.

Off to Lyra. HD 176465. Something automatically added.

Headed to the house for chips. Mmm. Returned for the Sambuca!

Meteor! Through Serpens (on the left side of Ophiuchus).

9:40. Phil dropped by. Caught up on things. We saw fireworks in the distance.

Bright lights down the driveway. People leaving. The EPO portion was over.

Back at the eyepiece. Went back to the widest field. After setting the software to match, I reviewed the field stars.

9:55. Did not look like a round star. Must have been super tight. Seeing was OK. Loaded in the 20mm. I thought I got two stars. Equally bright. Same colour.

It got awfully quiet outside. Phil popped by again, said people were doing a recap for the evening. He was going to have some hot chocolate. And I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Well, until 5 metres from the house.

10:20. Returned to the THO, full of cake, good wishes, rainbows, and unicorn parts. And promptly kicked over my bowl of chips.

I could see the two stars! Easily split. A black line between them. Equal colours. Equal magnitudes. SkyTools said the sep. was 1.6".

There were excited calls from the Observing Pad: bright aurora. It looked pretty good to me. A handsome glow in the north.

Tried the Nagler 9mm. Softer view. Clearly two stars. It was harder to focus. Went back to the 20.

The A and B stars were up and down for me. They seemed to be pointing to the middle star, TYC 03545-2164 1, of the flatten triangle, to the south.

Headed to NGC 6791. At first, I did not see anything obvious. Beside a T-shape. The open cluster was made up of faint stars. Damn. How could one call this a cluster? It looked very much like the field stars. Loose and wide.

Nearby, still in Lyra, I saw a multi-star system. Nuts.

10:43. I reexamined NGC 6791. Checked SkyTools for some notes or comments. Nothing. Well, learned it is also known as OCL 142. While really not obvious, there was a slight concentration of stars, to the left or north of the T-shape. Crazy! How could this have been included in the NGC catalogue? Not very interesting.

Closely examined the group of stars to the south. Located the A star: BD + 37 03421. aka ES 2490. It included elements out to K. I saw a lot of them. Added to the SkyTools list. B and C were to the north-east of A. Then D, with averted, very faint, west of B and C. Saw the K star half-way between B-C and the bright star TYC 03134-1847 1. The bright ones to the left or north-west were E and F. Got I to the south-west of F. Saw H to the north-west. Struggled to get G. Spotted J half-way between I and TYC 03134-1787 1. Finally tagged G, between F and E, slightly closer to F. Why would the other nearby stars not be included? Weird. Regardless, it was pretty funky to get all the companions. Fun.

Slewed to my next item of interest. HD 337398. Another auto-generated item. A triple of tight stars.

10:58. Huh? Clouds?

I could not see edge-on MGC 5-45-3. It should have been beside the star TYC 02130-2085 1.

Tried the multi-star system again. aka ES 480. Put in the high power eyepiece. Could not spot the C. SkyTools said it was to the north. I could see the A and B stars. The ST3P data on the magnitudes was rather strange. The 9mm view was not good.

Checked the corrector for dew. It was OK. But I accidentally breathed on it. Sheesh.

Looked at the sky and considered my next subject. In Delphinus.

Chilled. Went to the GBO for the ceramic heater.

On the walk back I saw a very auroral bright spire. Called it out. Almost immediately it faded but a second spire appeared.

Fired up the heater. Turned it away from the chair.

Viewed NGC 6891 between Aquila and Delphinus. Fuzzy. Quite bright in the middle. Fuzzy at the edges. Perhaps blue or green?

11:24. Very obvious object with the 20mm. Still, it was a small planetary.

Adjusted the SkyTools chart display options. TYC 01081-0256 was to my 12 o'clock or east.

Wished again for a slightly more powerful eyepiece. Bigger now but hard to focus. Finally reached decent focus. It appeared to have a shell. Perhaps a couple. Mottled in the centre.

Visitor. I loaned the heater so Sue could warm her tent. Sure.

Now it was time to knock down targets in Cygnus.

First up was ES 1101. Non-descript field. OK. Faint. Going straight up and down for me. Or east-west. Damn! I split them. Tough. Dim stars. Mag 11.9 each according to ST3P. Really close. 2 arc-seconds apart. Wow. Unclear why it was on my list.

Slewed to NGC 7048.

11:47. It was in the field. Pretty large. On the top edge. Centred on it. Oval. Large and diffuse. Not perfectly round. Almond shape? Dark in the middle? Neat. ST3P said "irregular disc with traces of ring structure."

[ed: Enjoyed this photo from the Caelum Observatory.]

Noted a Predator target triangle nearby.

Dark region to the left. A void. No stars. To the north-west. Weird.

[ed: When I looked at photos suggested by Google, it reminded me of NGC 6781.]

Ian offered a view of distant moons in the big Newtonian. Neptune. Yes! I headed out. Chris, with SkySafari, tried to check the positions. With the 10mm eyepiece. Struggle with some of the moons. Checked the configurations with SkyTools. Yep. The Y-pattern. One branch was going straight up. So, I saw Triton. Closer to the blue planet. About a 10th of the distance to the star TYC 05812-0071 1. Before that Uranus. Same config. Titania and Oberon were above or to the south-east. The point opposite was Ariel and Umbriel combined.

Saw a north-bound meteor through Lyra.

Heard people packing up. They were cold.

Dietmar was imaging in Ian's shed. Cool!

12:35 AM, Sunday 25 September 2016. Decided to head to Collinder 419. Did not need to turn the roof. A small concentration of stars with a bright one. Ugh. The seeing went away. Terrible. A very small open cluster, aka OCL 177.

This was also a multi-star system, HR 7767, aka Struve 2666. Spotted the very faint B to my 7 o'clock or west. To the 6 and 5 o'clock were C and D. A was 5.8 while B was 8. C 8.5, D 10. A looked beige, B seemed pale orange, while C and D looked grey. They turned deep blue with the 36mm ocular. [ed: Haas says gold and blue for A and B.]

There was a wide pair of non-related stars far away to the north.

Near Sadr.

Viewed HD 193633 aka STT A 205. White. Blue-white. Then grey. Widely separated. North-east and far from my previous target.

Slewed to the vandenBergh 130, aka OCL 167.1. Clouds? Lost my stars. The stars dimmed. A cloud went through. Son of a gun. Came back. Brightening. Tons of stars. Checked the field. The pointing was off a bit. That's it? You're kidding. That little triangle, with a bright member, HD 228789, itself a double, aka SEI 1070.

12:55 AM. Noted many faint stars around the triangle. ST3P did not show a lot of information.

Was the sky going away? I saw clouds. Checked the whole sky, as much as possible, from the slot. Quite a lot of scattered cloud. So, that suggested I'd be ending soon. Even part of Cygnus was blotted.

I thought it a good run for the evening. Viewed quite a lot of things! In many telescopes. And enjoyed some aurora! And ate cake!

Still... I had really wanted to view some galaxies. Set the class filter to galaxies. I had none in my list in Cygnus. Chose a target. Big slew. Chose another target. Another big slew.

Finally landed near MCG 8-40-2 in Lacerta. aka PGC 68121. Noted a big triangle as the sky faded. Saw the fuzzy during panning. It was small. Bumped the magnification. A small faint oval. At the 4:30 position to the star SAO 51681. The galaxy was oriented toward the bright star to the north-east, HD 210404.

The sky had improved in Cygnus.

1:13. I was tired. Considered my photographic plans but at the same time I was anxious about staying up late. I did not want to much up plans for tomorrow. Work crept into my thoughts.

Clouds in the west. I thought they were moving toward us. Called it quits. Turned the roof to the locking position. Closed the lower flap from outside. Spotted Meissa over the hill. Shut down the heater. Remembered to shut down the software and telescope gracefully this time.

1:16. Turned off the 'scope. Turned off the blinkies. Grabbed Ananke and John Repeat Dance.


I arranged for clear skies and aurora. You're welcome!

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