Sunday, October 09, 2016

enjoyed my second night (Bradford)

9:39 PM, Saturday 8 October 2016. I was back in the tent! Ready to go! A short time ago I had looked out the kitchen window and spied clear skies! All right.

What a treat having everything here, already set up.
Instrument: Celestron 8-inch SCT
Mount: Celestron CGEM
Method: Go To
I checked the Oregon portable weather station. It had been sitting in the tent all day with new batteries. It said the humidity was 64%, the air temperature was 8.5°C! Brrr! The air pressure indicator showed even or steady. The prediction indicator showed cloudy; but no rain.

I had released and folded back the east end of the tent fly to expose the observing section. I noted it was really, really dark with the fly folded over.

9:40 PM. I decided to sit on the other side of the picnic table this time. Dunno why.

I suddenly developed an idea for the astro-tent fly. Use some sort of quick-release clip so to permit rapid attaching and disconnecting of the corners of the fly.

I had forgotten some things in the house. Made a note to get them on the next trip. Which I expected soon, given the amount of water I had had and the falling air temperature.

9:57. After the two-star alignment, I did not like the pointing. It was not good—way off, for some reason. I added a calibration star (on the fly). Bang! Done. First time I had done that, I think, with a CGEM and new NexStar controller. Really easy and fast. And I didn't have to read the manual.

10:00. Slewed to 8 Lac. The seeing looked amazing!

North was top-right for me. I spotted B, C, and D without difficulty. B was bright. A and B were white? Or pale, pale yellow? B was to the south. Very slightly dimmer than A. C was further south, slightly east, much dimmer. It was orange! D was brighter than C, south-east of B, and blue.

Oh. E was well away to the west, pale orange, dimmer than B.

I had put this on my TSTM suggestion list. It was good to be able to do it in advance!

An evocative shape. Like Leo? Noted mag 12 stars at south end.

[ed: My first double in Lacerta! Haas lists A and B and hints at the others.]

10:22. I returned from a trip inside. I had red LED lights for the tent, the GFCI power bar, the collapsible wood TV table, two more layers, and the audio recorder (but I forgot the stand).

Finally found a use for the last, extra, LED red Christmas light set. Outdoors! In the backyard observatory. I briefly considered hanging the NOMA lights from the ceiling. Instead, tossed the LED string on the floor under the west window behind the table. Ugh. The red lights were too bright!

I had thought it a good idea to have the ground-fault power bar in the tent but realised I'd disturb the running mount. I did not want to disconnect the 'scope. For tomorrow then?

Checked the Sony recorder. Oh oh. It only had 2 hours left. I had not cleaned it out for a long time. Located the RASC council meeting entry and deleted it.

10:24. Looked up. Clouds!? What? Jeez. Checked the Oregon unit. 68%, 7.7, steady, and clouds.

10:33. Viewed 6 Tri. Nice. Yellow and orange, lovely colours. Tight but I could see the split in the 36mm. Obvious split in the 20mm. B was dimmer by 1 or 2 mags. North was to the left.

[ed: My first double in Triangulum! Haas says grapefruit-orange and grey; Smyth says topaz yellow and green. Also, Haas says this is iota; SkyTools does not show that.]

10:39. Panned east and found HD 13746, aka STF 232. A wider pair of faint stars. Exact same mag and colour, pale white. Oriented east-west. [ed: Second in Tri!]

10:43. I heard a whispered, "Hi?" Rhonda visited me again. Wasn't sure I was outside but spotted the red glow from inside the tent. She noted the tent was darker inside, referred to the roof. Looked through the eyepiece. Delicate. Asked her her impressions of the colours. She thought yellow and blue. She wanted to know how I knew where to look. SkyTools!

It clouded over.

The wind moved the chimes.

We chatted about family, Thanksgiving, where we had grown up. Making meals for friends. Crazy cats playing with their toys late at night. Volunteering.

Still cloudy. Looked up the weather on Environment Canada. Rain, 40% tonight, 40% tomorrow. High was 13 on Monday. Dropping to 3 on Monday night. Holy! Tomorrow to minus 1! Warms up on Wednesday, to 19, but then falls again. Rhonda asked about next weekend. I loaded up Wunderground. Saturday clear high 15. Sunday night rain. Hmm. The CAO work party. She didn't think she'd be able to get on the water again.

11:25. Went to Achird, aka η (eta) Cas. The kink in the W. Colourful. We figured out the orientation. Little tiny triangle at the bottom; H around the 1 o'clock position; north was to the top-right.

Focuser didn't seem to work.

We talked about types of double stars. After a few years or decades motion might be detected. How are they classed? I don't know the rules.

8.5°C. Dropping.

11:45. Tried for NGC 185 (or Caldwell 18). Couldn't see anything. Sucks!

11:52. Went to another galaxy. NGC 7331 (Caldwell 30). She could see it. Still tough.

She was fascinated by how the telescope worked, how it knew where to go.

We looked at the Dumbbell nebula, Messier 27 (M27). Another planetary nebula. She did not think it round. Elongated. Narrower in the middle. She liked my hourglass comparison.

Rhonda reported it drifting off... What?

11:59. Oh no. The mount stopped tracking. Caught up when I touched it. Zip! This was exactly an issue that Nicole had described. Very strange. I did not know what would cause this. But at least I had seen it happen!

[ed: Seems the work done a couple of nights back was not working...]

Helped her remember the name of M45. She recalled Perseus!

I tried to find a decent-sized planetary. The Crystal Ball? NGC 1514. Had the sky gone away a bit? Oh. Too low. The Cedar Cluster... Next!

12:08 AM, Sunday 9 October 2016. We viewed the ET cluster (NGC 457; Caldwell 13). Phone home!

Why had I chosen Bradford. Felt lucky to find such a great backyard. Learned about the big business in the west end.

12:31 AM. Slewed to Uranus. Pale planet. Obvious disc. Focuser slipped again. Checked the software for moons. Then I increased the power. It would have taken a long time to tag the faint points.

Rhonda said she enjoyed the Moon yesterday. Talked about sleep-shifting.

Cold, 7.4, under the canopy, in the shade. Pondered ski pants. Rhonda suggested MEC or Basspro.

We talked about coffee. She used to drink a lot. Checked if she could hear my grinder. If I start roasting, that'll drive you crazy.

Tried the Fireworks galaxy. Ridiculous. No good. Need a bigger telescope... How about a double star? "Yah!" exclaimed Rhonda. OK!

12:53. We viewed ψ (psi) Aqr, aka SAO 146598, from the RASC Observer's Handbook. We compared colours.


I talked about the Greek alphabet. Another instance of the early astronomers not considering upper limits.

Yellow and blue. Yellow and aquamarine.

I thought the focuser was slipping again. Gah.

She thanked me for another sky show. I needed more clothing.

1:27. I returned to the backyard after warming up. Now I had additional layers: my winter coat, a sweater, a vest. I had tried the electric handwarmers but they did not fire up. I did not have fuel for the butane unit. Grabbed some oxide ones.

It was cloudy again! Grrr.

1:33. It cleared. And there's nothing in my list! Oh oh.

1:49. Didn't mean to go to the star system but I viewed SAO 75179. I saw the C and D to the primary. North was right. Tried to dig out B.

I spotted the faint pair to the north. Beyond C. About double the AC distance from A.

I felt I had seen the B star, with averted. It was about half the A-C sep, to the south. I wondered if it might have moved a bit. I was seeing something due south; ST3P showed it a touch to the west.

2:03. While looking at BD +29 00383, aka MLB 741, I spotted a little triangle to the north-west. After some effort, I got 'em! All three of the crazy-faint stars. I thought A and B were aiming somewhat toward TYC 02310-0333 1.

2:14. Viewed NGC 2129, a small cluster in Gem. A couple dozen stars? Noted HD 40740 off to the right. North was to the top-left. I had it in my showpieces list. I reconsidered.

2:27. Suddenly realised the audio recorder is very helpful when it is cold, so I can keep my gloves on. Yes!

Fetched my winter coat!

I continued examining NGC 2129, very near the Gemini-Taurus border. A very small open cluster. I viewed the triple on the northern edge. HD 250289. It is a triple. The BC pair was west of A. B and C were angled north-east to south-west.

On the east edge of the cluster I noted a double. Faint. Twice the separation of B and C. Angled the same way. This was POU 845.

Crazy faint cluster. Nice, but faint.

2:30. I wasn't feeling overly tired but I was getting cold again. Wondered where my long johns were.

In the software, I looked for a new target. Should do galaxies now that the Moon was gone!

Tried to view NGC 676 in Pisces. From my edge-on galaxy list. The mount flipped. Could not clearly detect it.

2:41. Verified I was pointing in the correct area. Freakin' faint. Damn. Small, too. Not satisfying for the conditions.

I found the red LED lights too bright. Tried to move and cover them a bit so they wouldn't shine in my eyes at the table or at the telescope.

Chose NGC 7814, another galaxy. Another edge-on. In Pegasus. I saw a smudge going up-down. Couple of medium-bright stars on my left. A very bright star to the top. North was to the top-right. Saw a couple of faint stars, including Tycho 01178-0738 1, to the north. Did not look uniform. Was it curved or bent? [eh: Whoa. Images show a razor-thin dust lane. aka Caldwell 43.]

Faint. Nuts!

The mount just did its quirky thing again! Froze, so the field drifted, but it caught up when I nudged it. The OTA was on the east side. That's where it was before. Is that a pattern? What would be causing this? Strange!

It was almost 3:00. Decided to finish off with one of my double star list candidates. Funny format on the list.

Moved to 55 Eridani or SAO 131443 or Struve 590. Big slew. Damn. Big maple tree in the way.

Shifted to HD 37013 or SAO 77313 or Σ742. Tight pair, nearly equal stars, somewhat faint. Oriented east-west. Simple pair. 6.9 and 7.9 mag stars in Taurus. Easily split, at 4 arc-seconds, with the 20mm eyepiece. A nice view.

[ed: Haas shows this near Struve 740 and zeta Tau. I gather that's obvious at low power.]

OK. One more! 118 Tauri. ST3P did not show a SAO number. It had HIP and Struve. Did not see anything in the hand controller.

3:07. As someone gunned their hot rod, I opened the SkyTools telescopic view so to star hop. Almost exactly between Alnath and ζ Tau. Light orange stars. About 1 magnitude different. Tight, again, like the separation of the previous. Thought for sure I saw the C star—a lot dimmer. To my 7 o'clock. North was to the bottom-right for me. Noted the arc of stars at the edge of the field to the east. Spotted two faint stars, mag 13 range, in a north-south line further away, beyond C. About a fifth of the way Tycho 01852-0777 1. The OI box showed the C star was mag 11; the charts showed it at 13. I agreed with the chart.

[ed: Haas shows others reporting different colours. She and I agree.]

I was done. I was cold. Wrapped up.

The corrector looked a little fogged as I was closing up.


That was a pretty good night albeit very cold. This is what it's all about. Setting up for more than one night. It had not looked promising in the afternoon. I was surprised that the humidity was low too. It was good to knock down some doubles.


Broke 900 attempted double stars!


I have no hot chocolate!

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