Friday, August 11, 2017

studied HD 38

Probed HD 38 aka STT 547 a bit deeper.

Pulled data from the Washington Double Star database for 00057+4549STT 547. Very interesting. Way beyond what is shown in my favourite software.

discoverer first obs last obs P.A. sep mag pri mag sec spectral
STT 547AB 1876 2016 189 6 8.98 9.15 K6+M0
STT 547AC 1911 2015 263 116.2 8.98 13.71 K6
STT 547AD 1911 2015 230 110.3 8.98 12.51 K6
STT 547AE 1911 2015 344 58.4 8.98 11.75 K6
STT 547AF 1897 2007 254 327.9 8.98 10.19 K6V+M2e
POP 217AP 1994 2015 320 15.4 8.98 13.4 K6
POP 217AQ 1998 2006 130 20 8.98 16 K6
POP 217AX 2004 2006 222 12 8.98 K6
POP 217AY 1998 2005 79 199 8.98 14.8 K6
STT 547BC 1925 2015 266 114.8 9.15 13.71 M0
STT 547BD 1921 2015 232 105.9 9.15 12.51 M0
STT 547BE 1991 2015 346 64 9.15 11.75 M0
STT 547BF 1961 2002 255 326.4 9.15 10.19 M0
STT 547BP 1989 2015 333 19.8 9.15 13.1 M0
POP 217YG 1998 2005 189 10 14.8 15.8

I transcribed the data from SkyTools 3 Professional.

AB 190 5.89
AC 356 54.5
AD 188 82.2
AF 268 84.52

Now, ST3P shows binary data information... The calculated values as of June 2017. AB has a 1551 year period. AF has a 83000 year period! Wow.

I flipped, zoomed, and cropped the image.

cropped flipped image of HD 38

North is up; east is right (opposite the full image).

I plotted in my custom Excel workbook the A through F stars using the WDS data. There is good correspondence to my BGO image.

plot of HD 38 A or STT 547

North is up; east is right.

I noted that the labelling between the WDS and ST3P was different. What ST3P called the C star, WDS said was E. What ST3P called star GSC 03246-1561 is C according to the WDS. From the BGO photo, I knew there was an issue with F. The WDS refers to a bright star which ST3P says is J000511.7+454706.

This means that for my log notes, I can claim to have spotted B, C, D, E, and F, according to the WDS. I have to adjust some notes from the initial observations. C is nearly due west of AB. It is extremely faint. It appears to me to be beside another star making it a pair (opposed or at a 90° angle to AB) with nearly the same separation as AB. E is to the north, about half the separation has C. F is far afield to the west.

plot of POP 217 stars

The WDS shows observations from POP. I plotted the stars POP 217 P, Q, X, and Y. I added the STT 547 F star to maintain the scale in the graph.

P corresponds to the image quite well. It is the medium-bright nearby star to the north-north-west. ST3P calls this GSC 03246-0320. I don't see anything at the Q location. Nor the X spot. Q is listed as mag 16; X has no value. The Y star however lines up with my image with a faint star. In fact, it too seems to be part of a faint double. Their alignment is almost identical to AB, roughly north-south. It is to the east, well away. In ST3P, this is shown as J000600.2+454920 at mag 14.8.

So I think I can safely add the P and Y stars to my life list log.

plot HD 38 B proper

The WDS catalogue lists C, D, E, F, and P associated with B. I plotted this system. Again I see a very good correlation to my image.

There's another POP 217 entry, this time for the G partner to Y. It is at position angle 189 and is 10 arc-seconds away. I see this in my image. This star is south of Y and fainter. And ST3P shows this too: GSC 03246-1853. I think I can add the G star to my log.

For clarity, I annotated the photograph.

photo of HD 38 with annotations


finished with HD 38 (Halifax)

BGO photographed HD 38 (aka STT 547). A neat multi-star system in the Andromeda constellation.

multi-star system HD 38 in luminance

Luminance only, 4 seconds subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

B is the equally bright partner to A, touching A, almost perfectly south.

C is the fainter start to the north-north-north-west, a good distance away (not to be confused with the very close dimmer uncategorised star GSC 03246-0320).

To the south-west, almost double the AC split, is D. It is the same brightness as C. SkyTools 3 Pro says C and D are in the 11 to 12 magnitude range.

ST3P does not list an E star.

Now things get interesting. ST3P shows a very bright star around magnitude 10 due west of AB slightly less than the AD separation. There's no bright star here. If you zoom the image, there is something: an extremely dim point! Is this it? Is it a variable? Or an old nova? Weird.

[ed: The SkyTools information is quite different that what's in the WDS. I analysed it.]

Near the top-right of the image, north-west of HD 38, is the faint pair VYS 1. While the telescope collimation is degrading the view, there are clearly two stars. They seem equally bright to me. They are oriented roughly north-north-east to south-south-west.

At the bottom-right of the image, south-west of HD 38, there's a bright double. This is HD 225291. The mag 7 and 9 stars are merged. ST3P says they are 4.1" apart. The brighter element is to the south. They are roughly oriented south-south-east to north-north-west.

imaged NGC 6946 again (Halifax)

It's been a while. I continue to collect data with BGO on the SN2017eaw within the Fireworks galaxy. It's hangin' in there, still bright.

galaxy NGC 6946 with SN2017eaw in luminance

Luminance only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

Last imaged on 20 Jul '17.

acquired 14 Ari (Halifax)

The robotic telescope at St Mary's University imaged 14 Arietis (centred on GSC 01761-2074). A multi-star system. This target has been on my View Again list for some time so to spot the B companion.

multi-star 14 Ari in luminance

Luminance only, 4 seconds subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

I viewed and measured 14 Ari back in Feb 2010 concentrating on the bright wide companion to the west. That's the C star. I did not know at the time it was a triple. B is the much dimmer attendant to the north-north east, slightly less than the AC separation. Very few field stars...

captured 30 Peg (Halifax)

Back in October I first queued the BGO robot to image 30 Pegasi (centred on GSC 00566-0058). A wonderful, compact triple-star system also known as HJ 962.

triple-star 30 Peg in luminance

Luminance only, 3 seconds subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

It is listed in the RASC Observer's Handbook but only the A and B stars are noted. B is the tight dim star to the north-north-east. C is to the south-west. It is equally bright to and almost opposite from B.

Found it in my View Again list in SkyTools, with high priority no less, even though I don't think I ever attempted it.

It was good to knock this one off the list.

started with 57 Aql (Halifax)

I wasn't expecting anything this evening; whereas, the last night I was. The Burke-Gaffney Observatory began a long campaign for me. I had many double star targets in the queue.

BGO first imaged 57 Aquilae (centred on GSC 05725-1337). Also known as Struve 2594, this popular and colourful double-star is in the Sky & Telescope magazine summer list and the RASC Observer's Handbook.

double-star 57 Aql in luminance

Luminance only, 2 seconds subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

I wanted to look again to check the colours. My log notes (from 30 Aug '07) show, "The brighter one is a pale lilac; the fainter star is pale yellow." The RASC list says yellow and green. Huh. Will need to do colour processing to complete my study...

Monday, August 07, 2017


Read Nicole's CBC article on viewing the upcoming solar eclipse. She emphasised sites coast to coast, many of which are hosted by RASC.

captured M18 (Halifax)

BGO also imaged Messier 18. A Messier catalogue object I wished to revisit. An open cluster in Sagittarius.

open cluster Messier 18 in luminance

Luminance only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

An interesting compact cluster of stars in a Milky Way rich field. Top-left of centre makes me think of a flint arrowhead. Or an acorn shape.

I'm also intrigued by the somewhat darker patch at the bottom-right of the image.

Looks like there's lots of doubles in the area... I'll have to see what the WDS says. Nothing is noted in SkyTools.

I was expecting more of a gradient from the full Moon. It's pretty flat...

imaged M25 (Halifax)

The Burke-Gaffney Observatory, after its vacation, imaged Messier 25 for me. Another Messier catalogue object I had viewed once or briefly or both. It is a loose open cluster in Sagittarius.

open cluster Messier 25 in luminance

Luminance only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

A mixtured of bright and dim stars. There seems to be two streams, an upper with the bright stars, and the lower, with a lane between void of points. I like the little lines of 3 stars sprinkled about. There are many faint, fine stars in the background as we're in a dense part of the Milky Way, not far from Galactic Centre. I look forward to seeing this in colour as I expect there to be lots of colour.

There's a bit of a gradient on the left edge of the image: the Moon was not far away. Still, I'm pleased with the result.

U Sgr is the brightest star left or east of centre. SkyTools 3 Professional shows that this is a multi-star system with around 20 elements! U is in this upper channel of stars.

B is the closest bright star to the west-west-south. ST3P shows another star is here too, U, but B and U points are merged in the image.

C is to the south-west in the lower channel. C looks by itself like a classic double star with the nearby bright neighbour. ST3 however does not note the star south of C. Strange.

There is no D consort according to the software.

E is to the west of A, up or north very slightly. It is in the middle of the nearly perfectly straight line of 3 rather bright stars.

The right-most or west-most star of this line is F.

G is far-flung. It is in the lower thread, to the far west, the brightest star on the west edge of the cluster. It is west-south-west from A.

H however is very close to A, to the west-north-west. It is slight further than B. It is due north of B. It is slightly dimmer than B.

ST3P does not show an I sidekick.

J is north-west of H at less than the AB separation. J is equally bright as H.

K is close to J and almost due west. It is a touch brighter. It is almost due north of E and almost the same split as K and J.

Back to the line of 3 bright stars with E in the centre: L is the east-most star, opposite F, dimmer, slightly closer.

M is quite far north, above J and K, and very slightly dimmer.

There is no N or O stars.

P is almost due south of A and almost due east of C. It is about the same magnitude as C.

Q is between P and C but to the north, forming an isosceles triangle. It is dimmer than all.

R is due east of A. It is somewhat dim. Slightly greater separation than AH. Interestingly, there's a very faint star really close to R.

S is a bright star to the west-north-west of A, well away, beyond J and K. It is the same mag as G, possibly a touch brighter. S is due west of M.

Speaking of G, the T star is near G, to the east-north-east. T and B appear the same brightness.

Cool. I spotted all the elements excepting B and U which appear as one.

North-west of the centre of the cluster is a faint and tight pair. SkyTools labels both of the stars GSC 06274-1098. Odd.

SkyTools shows a designated pair nearly due south of the GSC 06274-1098 thing and due west of U Sgr S: ARA 753. It shows the B star due south of A with a separation of about 5 arc-seconds. The image shows a faint star west of A, with a position angle around 275° and what appears to be a wider angular separation. Will need to check the Washington Double Star database for that one.

There's something odd to the south-east as well. The image shows what might be a tight pair. Curiously, the orientation that ST3P shows for ARA 753! What's going on?!

Neat cluster.

shared article

The software owner of Solar Eclipse Timer posted the RASC Journal article on his web site.

snapshot of the Solar Eclipse Timer web site with JRASC article

Thank you.

if in Glendo

Frank shared a link on the RASCals list. It is from the town of Glendo, Wyoming. Good reminders for anyone travelling in the area.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

avoiding smoke

Forest fires and the related smoke may be a factor for some trying to see the solar eclipse... The Eclipsophile web site specifically has a Forest Fires and Smoke page.

be careful

Dr Ralph Chou, a leading expert on eye safety, has a video on using solar eclipse glasses or viewers correctly and safely.

Hey. Be careful out there.

Reference: YouTube link.

Friday, August 04, 2017

provided meteor information

RASC Toronto Centre member Raymond asked, on the forum, about viewing the Perseid meteors. He specifically remarked about not seeing a GTA event listed on the web site. He wanted to know if anything was planned.

One member (who didn't sign their message) said there was a planned event on the 9th "at the OSC." That wasn't right. Not the right date for certain. And they used an acronym (instead of Ontario Science Centre) which the original poster (OP) might not know. [ed: Turned out they were referring to a meeting! So, a completely misleading reply.]

Joel jumped in. He said he thought the OP was asking about events on the evening of the 12th. He thought the Moon phase did not look promising on that night but asked if others, with more experience, could comment on this.

Ed added to the discussion. He suggesting going out at 10 PM when it was getting dark and continuing until 11 PM when the Moon would come up. I thought this a bit unhelpful as meteors are best viewed later in the evening. Still, one might get lucky. And then he said that viewing on any night but the peak "isn’t going to be useful." I thought that remark rather discouraging. Yes, the peak is best but showers run for days or weeks.

Tony chimed in noting the group event at the Carr Astronomical Observatory. He stated the location. Said they needed a couple more volunteers. And that volunteers could stay for free. He argued it was likely the darkest north-west skies in a two-hour driving range.

I was wondering what the OP thought of all this so far as no one had really directly answered his question. And there seemed to be a lot of misleading or obtuse statements. And no one from the observing team had joined in. I felt compelled. I wrote a long post to address his first query.
  • Suggested viewing meteors inside a city light dome reduces visibility.
  • Dark skies are best.
  • Suggested specific frequently-used dark sites.
    • Carr Astronomical Observatory
    • Long Sault
    • Forks of the Credit
    • Glen Major
  • Encouraged him to rally the troops if keen.
  • If one wanted really dark, Manitoulan island.
  • Briefly explained meteors are best viewed after midnight.
  • Noted Moon rise times with distance from the centre of Perseus.
    • Aug 11, 22:40, 60°
    • Aug 12, 23:11, 50°
  • Reminded that the Moon would be near third quarter phase.
  • Acknowledged peak date/time was very best.
  • But leading up to and after the peak dates was still viable.
  • Shared my recent meteor sightings (despite a poor sky and first quarter Moon).
  • Provided a link to the American Meteor Society site for general information.
I shared my belief that given the city light pollution combined with the Moon phase was why the RASC Toronto Centre has not planned any specific event inside the GTA limits.

Finally, I noted that next year, 2018, would be perfect! The 11/12th would be on the weekend. The Moon would be in the new phase. I expected we'd have a big party planned at the CAO on the Blue Mountains!

I wanted to provide facts. I wanted to be hopeful but realistic. And it needed to be said that no inner city event was planned.


At last, Allard noted the ParkBus Perseid event. Detailed were being finalised.

Raymond thanked all for the information. Hinted at staying in and around the GTA.

Joel noted the Perseid web page on our site was not updated. [ed: Still not.]

Katrina shared a link to the Lennox-Addington site.

I added a forgotten item. Referred to my Journal article from May where I reviewed the Meteor Shower Calendar app.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

spotted Saturn (Bradford)

The Moon was dodging clouds. I tried to see Saturn through the window, without luck. Diffraction cross from the screen.

Headed to deck. Tagged a faint point, to the west, down slightly, about 10 degrees from Luna. Dim.

she tagged Jupiter (Bradford)

After Music in the Park, with a distracting gibbous Moon in the south, we headed downtown. Exciting downtown Bradford! Rhonda spotted Jupiter in the west while eating ice cream. Later another star. Looked orange to me.

tested filter adapter (Bradford)

Tested my custom solar filter adapter outside. Before the tornadoes arrive.

Ran into an interference issue but I was using the tripod wrong: using the tilt axis for elevation. When I remounted the hex plate, I was able to mount the filter.

custom solar filter box on camera, from side

Aimed at the Sun and turned on Live View. Ahoy!

custom solar filter box on camera, from rear

Focusing will be a challenge, I realised. But I was intrigued to see the autofocus turn the whole adapter box! Wow. Wondered if the converse would work!? Turned off the AF mode and then rotated the box. The focus changed. Ha ha! I was not expecting that.

partly cloudy Sun through custom filter box

Canon 40D, 18-55 lens at 55, manually focused, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO 100, daylight WB, RAW, DPP.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

made filter adapter

Made a solar filter adapter for the DSLR camera. Having not planned ahead to arrange to purchase a sheet of baader solar film, I decided to build it around my existing solar filter. A somewhat large filter...

sketch of adapter box with output tube

To repurpose my Kendrick visual solar filter, which is for an 8" SCT, I needed a large box to serve as the frame. Ideally, I wanted something like a shoebox. Relatively thin or shallow with a removeable top. Tried a shallow square box from digi-key. Not big enough. A box for a dozen wine bottles was too big and bulky and awkward.

I stumbled across a "tray," a corrugated cardboard tray for soda cans (or bottled water). The depth was perfect; the width was perfect; I could cut down the length. But did I have another? Amazingly, I found another tray in my packing materials supplies.

front element, solar filter held in place with tabs

For the front piece, I squared it, and glued the tabs. Could not find my container of white glue so I hope the Elmer's glue stick adhesive will work. I figured out the locations for the three tabs and glued them in place. I cut a large circle, centred, slightly larger than the filter's clear opening. Shimmed one of the tabs after a test fit (should have done the big circle before setting the tabs). Marked and drilled holes for two of the tabs...

Looks like it will be pretty light proof.

back element with output tube to fit camera lens

For the back piece, I sized it to fit over the front box, squared it, glued it. I cut a centred circle for the clear opening of the 18-55 lens hood. I shortened a bread crumbs tube for the camera lens in its retracted state and cut tabs. Centred and glued it to the back plate.

Let everything dry...

front and back elements mated, Kendrick filter installed

Will test for vignetting and weight issues...

Also wondering if I should paint it...


It works! Tested by shooting my Tizio lamp with halogen bulb on the II (high) setting.

halogen bulb filament

Canon 40D, 18-55 lens at 31, auto-focused, 1/15, f/4.5, ISO 1000, incandescent (tungsten) WB, RAW, DPP.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

received SN Sep/Oct 2017

cover of the Sep/Oct '17 SkyNews magazine
Yeh! A new SkyNews magazine appeared. Rhonda brought it in for me.

The September/October issue features astrophotographic contributions from the winners of the Photo of the Week competition. Lovely work, many very inspiring.

There's an article on wifi photography addressing the increasing number of cameras offering remote wireless control. I look forward to reading Mr Park's review of PoleMaster.

Looks like another good issue.

beware of fakes

Read a good but disturbing article from Quartz about counterfeit solar eclipse glasses being sold on Amazon. I truly hope the general public are careful.

view meteor streams

Learned of an interactive visual product for meteor showers. It lets you pick a particular meteor shower (from a list with about a dozen), zoom in and out, move above or below the ecliptic, and control a few other settings.

snapshot from meteor shower visualisation

Very nice.

It also highlighted another aspect of meteors I had not considered before. In the dynamical system, the old cometary material is still moving.

When considering meteor showers of late, I've wondered how they change from year to year. A factor would be that the Earth punches a hole through the old comet stream. I also imagined that many particles would get caught in gravitational wake and would follow along forever behind us.

Monday, July 31, 2017

that Moon (Bradford)

Spotted the Moon high up in the south while at the barbecue.

That Moon is going to block the Sun in about 20 days...

bright light (Bradford)

Couldn't fall asleep. Looked out the east window as the sky brightened? Venus or a street light? Too high for a LED lamp.

finished with ISS (Bradford)

Enjoyed Sagitta, Cygnus, Lyra, Delphinus, and Ophiuchus. It was good to see Aquila in full view. Now all of Cassiopeia was visible.

Viewed alpha 1 and 2 Capricornus in the binoculars. Pointed out the naked eye double (alpha 1 and 2 merge with brighter beta below) to Rhonda. That's where our first meteor came from.

The Milky Way was washed out by the Moon. We never saw our own galaxy.

Finished with watching the International Space Station pass just under the Big Dipper. Further from Merak than I expected but still bright. Three new crew had just arrived. It faded into sunset.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

odd one (Bradford)

Another meteor. Short and fast, throught Cygnus, brightening at the end. Odd one, going south-east.

Earlier I spotted a bright satellite in the east moving north. As I called it out to rho, it started fading. Might have been an Iridium. It went through a little triangle of stars. Later I realised this was part of Pegasus. It went near Scheat.


Rhonda spotted an alert on her iPad from Meteor Shower Calendar. She investigated. From the table, she noted the alpha Capricornids and Aquarid showers were active. We had seen a meteor from Cap based on the angle at the time.

But she also saw an entry for the beta Cassiopeids: 10 per hour, 52 km/s, and mag 2.0. Peaking July 30. Nicely matched the odd meteor we had seen at 11:24. I did not know about them! Huh!

I found some more info at Universe Guide.

a good meteor (Bradford)

While IDing constellations overhead, we saw a long meteor! Heading north-north-west, it started near Lyra and slipped into Draco. Best one I've seen in a long time.

Rhonda asked earlier about the equilateral triangle overhead. I misidentified it as part of Boötes; it was the chest of Hercules.

Found the Coathanger with the Bushnell binoculars. Also checked the Double Double. No sign of The Ring at 7x. Viewed omicron 1 and 2, splitting 2 and 30 Cygni.

The Moon had dipped below the trees. Just past First Quarter.

Antares was shimmering.

Spotted Saturn through the tree, south-south-west. It was not round in the bins but I could not see Titan.

The mozzies were bad.

The fire was nice.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Moon over Jupiter (Bradford)

From the fairgrounds, after some tasty ribs, Rhonda spotted the fuzzy Moon. A crescent. I asked if she also saw the planet below. Yep.

I hoped they were enjoying clear skies up north. Wisps all around us near The Marsh.

be safe

Found a helpful infographic on the correct and incorrect ways to view or photograph a solar eclipse. It was made by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (link) and American Astronomical Society.

infographic on safe solar eclipse viewing techniques

They show what's safe and not safe. I also like the little timeline during an eclipse showing the only safe time to remove filters.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

downloaded W&B SCOPE

Downloaded the current RASC Toronto Centre newsletter SCOPE with its unique cover and back page, in "eclipse" format, white on black.

processor crashed

The Burke Gaffney Observatory image processing 'bot crashed, sadly. Couldn't immediately process the Messier 26 image...

imaged M26 (Halifax)

In my "race" to view the entire Messier catalogue, I quickly viewed some objects. That is, I didn't linger. And I kept, in some cases, scant notes. For Messier objects that I can only find one blog entry for, I'm trying to view them again. Or image them.

BGO imaged open cluster Messier 26 in Scutum. Viewed only once.

open cluster Messier 26 in luminance

Luminance only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

It is an attractive clustering in a busy part of the Milky Way. There are a number of little strings of stars. I look forward to processing this in full colour.

Near the centre of the open cluster there is a known double star. They are nearly equal in brightness, canted north-west through south-east, with the brighter partner to the north-west. This is TDT 1033.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

my doubles journey

Thought I'd review my double stars milestones. It's been a fascinating journey...


first documented double star log entry 30 Jun


first documented view of the Trapezium 27 Dec


learned that a 6-inch 'scope can split below 1 arc-second 22 Dec


selected some doubles from Skyguide book 24 Jun
made multi-star checklist using various sources 29 Jun
noted colours in Mizar/Alcor 4 Aug
logged a few more doubles 20 Aug
created life lists including doubles 24 Aug
developed criteria to extract doubles 29 Aug


received double stars for small telescopes book by Sissy Haas 8 Jan
used 500 power to view epsilon Lyrae 8 Sep
viewed Albireo in 74" telescope 29 Sep
viewed various double stars 2 Nov
might have spotted Rigel B 2 Nov


split Porrima, approx. 1.0 arc-seconds 25 May
decided to measure double stars 29 Dec
asked for calibrated eyepiece reviews 30 Dec


delivered first The Sky This Month (with doubles) 5 Feb
reported error in Sky & Telescope winter list 11 Feb
learned PA and sep 24 Feb
Mortfield imaged Meissa with SN rig 10 Mar
reported error in S&T summer list 6 May
reached out to Spirit of 33 group 19 May
received Celestron Micro Guide 23 May
borrowed Observing and Measuring Visual Double Stars (1st) 24 May
measured Porrima with CMG (using casual method) 5 Jun
learned to Barlow with CMG 17 Jun
measured Porrima with CMG (using Celestron method) 22 Jun
double star work with CMG 1 Aug
viewed 20 pairs 3 Aug
closed in on 100 split stars 6 Aug
practiced measuring (with Teague method) 9 Aug


refined measuring notes (with Teague method) 19 Feb
joined binary stars (JDSO) Yahoo!Group 19 Feb
joined S33 Yahoo!Group 19 Feb
practiced measuring (with Teague method) 20 Feb
began reading the Journal of Double Star Observers 21 Feb
passed 100 split stars 27 Feb
received feedback from Teague 8 Mar
ordered Cambridge Double Star Atlas book 9 May
learned Washington Double Star database 31 May
downloaded neglected WDS list 23 Aug
broke 1.0 arc-second barrier 28 Aug
wrote article on JDSO for SCOPE 26 Nov


imaged Castor with StellaCam 17 Jan
reported errors in RASC Observer's Handbook 2011 12 Feb
learned of Star Splitters group 26 Mar
downloaded REDUC software 18 Jun
split ξ Scorpii AB at 1.01" 30 Jul
reviewed Mollise JDSO article on imaging 21 Aug
downloaded BinStar 23 Aug
sketched eta Per 10 Oct
viewed doubles with Millie 23 Oct
learned double star designations 24 Oct
passed 200 split stars 25 Oct
reported errors in RASC Observer's Handbook 2012 13 Nov
made RASC double star lists for SkyTools 19 Nov


tested BinStar 5 Feb
refined kappa Her sep and PA measurements 6 Feb
tested Tracker software 10 Feb
made new workflow checklist for double star measurement 10 Feb
attempted measurement of Castor with SKYnyx 19 Mar
reduced Castor data 20 Mar
downloaded REDUC software 30 Mar
split zeta Boo at 0.5" ? Mar
passed 250 split stars 9 Apr
offered to help Sissy Haas 2 Aug
viewed doubles for Haas 24 Aug
reviewed Objects in the Heavens book for doubles 2 Sep
imaged Albireo with C14 and 40D 12 Oct
reviewed Berkó JDSO articles on imaging 16 Dec


reached out to Ernõ Berkó 3 Apr
reviewed Ed's double star presentation 3 May
reviewed things needed for double star research 16 May
imaged 41 Dra with C8 and 40D 21 Jun
reduced 41 Dra data 23 Jun
tested RecToPol software 23 Jun
attended Cotterell's double star talk 9 Aug
hatched double star certificate idea 16 Oct


reported errors in RASC Observer's Handbook 2014 18 Jan
received Observing and Measuring Visual Double Stars (2nd) 5 Mar
made CDSA showpieces list for SkyTools 1 May
compiled first release of double star candidates 19 May
reviewed JDSO articles on new discoveries 19 May
imaged Porrima with C14 and 40D 30 May
imaged 59 Ser with C14 and 40D 5 Jul
assisted Beckett on RASC OH 2015 doubles matter 19 Jul
asked for help with doubles project in Toronto 27 Jul
split zeta Her at last at 1.2" 9 Aug
split HD 206081 at 0.9" 9 Aug
imaged doubles in Draco with C14 and 40D 10 Aug
passed 400 split stars 16 Aug
recorded Cotterell's double star talk 22 Aug
asked for help with doubles project in Canada 14 Nov


passed 500 split stars 21 May
imaged Rasalgethi with C14 and 40D 15 Jul
built double star project web site 7 Oct
referred to in RASC OH 2016 by Brian Mason 12 Oct
built double star list for SkySafari 15 Oct


make naked eye doubles list for SkyTools 6 Feb
passed 700 split stars 23 Apr
imaged double star with BGO 24 and Apogee 27 Apr
made WDS converting spreadsheet 16 May
split Diadem at 0.4" 25 Jun
tried to image J2303 with C14 and 40D 11 Jul
passed 800 split stars 22 Aug
split Ascella at 0.6" 3 Sep
imaged doubles with C14 and 40D 4 Sep


upgraded REDUC software 2 Mar
sold double star image to S&T magazine 21 Apr
added filtering to life list 3 May
made binary fast-movers list by month 6 May
developed Excel chart to plot PA 17 May
eta CrB at 0.5" 15 Jul
imaged SLE 235D with C14 and 40D 19 Jul
passed 1000 split stars 19 Jul


he liked it!

I heard from the owner of the Solar Eclipse Timer app after sending him a copy of the RASC Journal article. He said, "I enjoyed it a lot. It was very well written! You did a good job." He was so impressed, he joined RASC!

imaged Messier 73 (Halifax)

Burke-Gaffney imaged M73. Another Messier that I viewed only once. A very small open cluster in Aquarius. Seems more like a multi-star system. In a nice field.

small open cluster Messier 73 in luminance

Luminance only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

This tiny open cluster also known as NGC 6994, Collinder 426, and OCL 89, is described in wikipedia as an asterism. That's a good description. They also note it has only four stars. The article goes on to say that there was some controversy but now it is understood that M73 is not an official open cluster; it is a chance alignment of separate stars.

When I first observed this object in August 2008, I noted the V-shape. It is like a little checkmark.


Wikipedia link: Messier 73.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

want 2 in a row

Is it too much to ask? The Clear Sky Chart looked good. Jeff called a GO for the Long Sault event. Once again I considered setting up in the backyard. But the CSC is not showing back to back good nights... And I'm still coasting from last Thursday.

updated supers on Optec

Issued a notice to the CAO supervisors that the Optec TCF-S focuser was back in place on the C14 and appeared to be working correctly. Shared two operational characteristics that I wasn't sure all were aware of:
  • the system should be gracefully powered down at the hand paddle
  • the use of the hand paddle buttons is non-linear
I hope this will help out the team.

tried Eclipse Safari

Heard about, from a couple of sources, Eclipse Safari by Simulation Curriculum. The same people who make SkySafari of course. Downloaded the free app to my Android tablet to try it out. There's an event countdown on the home page.

Android screen grab from Eclipse Safari

It has an interactive map that uses your devices location which in turn calculates the contact times. I didn't see a way to override the location. The Eclipse Viewing Guide is a lengthy article with visuals, some history, some good science content, and safety information. The live update page includes links to NASA, SPACE.COM, etc. There's also a giveaway prize form.

Very basic. Easy to use.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

broke 1000

With the double star project on Thursday-Friday and imaging a number of systems never previously viewed, I ended up adding about 30 entries to my double star life list. In turn, this pushed the counter for the total viewed or imaged systems over 1000. That's very interesting to me.


Rhonda expressed it another way. "That's over 2000 stars." Indeed.

Friday, July 21, 2017

into SW Ontario

Saw a post by Craig Levine on Facebook. It included a map showing the smoke dispersion.

smoke pattern from west coast fires

Yep. It's into south-western Ontario now...


I found the source. The image is generated by the Hazard Mapping System (HMS) Fire and Smoke Product (link) from NOAA.

planets and doubles (Blue Mountains)

Settled into the Geoff Brown Observatory. I had the roof partly open. Installed the dew cap on the Celestron 14 inch. Started the dew heater system.

Checked space remaining and power for the Sony voice recorder. Loaded fresh rechargeable batteries in the recorder, to be safe.

Checked the time stamps on various devices. The ASUS tablet just ticked over to 8:31 PM. Then the ASUS netbook computer did as well. The Sony recorder appeared to be a couple of minutes fast. S'OK.


9:57 PM, Thursday 20 July 2017. Just got off the phone with my sweetie. She was still struggling home. Stoopid traffic.

Finished my vindaloo. I popped outside to quickly check conditions. It was relatively clear. No clouds per se. None in the area. The afternoon wisps had burned off. It was hazy still.

Occurred to me that I did not have astronomy case α in the GBO. Still in the car. I'd need the t-ring and 2" tube for imaging.

Still a ways to go to astronomical twilight.

Noted I had a ton of web page tabs open (from the CHDK research). I started up SkyTools. I put it into red mode. Put my Alcatel phone aside as I did not have a red screen for it.

Before closing the Facebook tab, I noted Mr Park posting lots of remarks on Starfest. Hopefully, the early arrivals would be able to take advantage of the possible good conditions tonight. Someone posted it was currently "Soakfest" with all the day-time rain. I stopped looking at Facebook. Time-sucking, mind-numbing Facebook.

Had a flashback to using Squirrel email when I was doing late-night checks in red light mode. I had set a custom dark theme. Can't do that in RoundCube. Turned off the preview and reduced the window size. Moved the window to the internal monitor.

Congested. Still. Gah. Stoopid sinuses.

Noticed a recent aurora alert. It was to go to kp 5 in the next 4 hours. Huh. I'd have to keep an eye to the north...

Connected my red keyboard light.

Added Polaris to my observing list as a reminder to look north for aurora. Added Jupiter and Saturn. Added the Moon. Added a reference HD 172825 to my evening observing list to serve as a link or gateway to the previously-made double star campaign list. The HD primary contains a neglected star, SLE 235 D, according to the WDS. With the entry I could flip back and forth between the lists quickly.

The whiskey was good.

I had my bug kit ready, for the mozzies.

Readied to fire up the Paramount. Started the Dell laptop. Having this computer out would mean I could later reconfigure the supervisor user accounts with the Kendrick software... Opened the roof. Started Software Bisque's TheSky6.

Occurred to me I did not have my keys for the eyepiece cabinet. They were in the house.

I noted a gravelly noise when I turned the Optec temperature-controller focuser on. That's different. Motor? Gears? But it worked as prescribed: drawing in and returning to the original position. I exercised it. Put it to 3500 and did a graceful power-down. Powered up. All's well.

10:15 PM. Did some double star project checks. Connected the laptop to the mount. While the mount ran through the Home process, I collected items from the house and vehicle.

Put on my eyeglasses strap.

Grabbed some eyepieces: the 27mm Panoptic for the Celestron 14 and the 18mm Radian for the Tele Vue 101. Found both 'scopes loaded with 1¼" adapters.

Slight breeze.

Made TS6 look south. Noted Saturn was left (east) of the meridian and Jupiter, obviously, to the right. Slewed to Jupiter.

10:25. Remembered to check the fire bottle in the GBO to complete my inspection.

Viewed. Jupiter. Seeing was not great. Saw four moons. No Great Red Spot.

10:28. I had been meaning to check the local conditions via the on-site Davis weather station. Loaded the custom page and reviewed the graphic images as of 10:21. The 10-minute average wind speed was 8 km/h. The direction (the thin point) was west-south-west. The immediate wind speed was 8 km/h with a high of 30.6. The humidity was already high at 96%. Oh boy. Dewey. We'd need the heaters at max. Barometric pressure 1012.0 hPa. Just above the low marker. Outside temperature was 20.1°C. Dew point was calculated at 19.4. Pretty close. The house temperature 23.8.

Oh hey! The historical charts were updated! Cool. Friday to Thursday. Hadn't seen that in a long time. All right. Humidity was 100% late Sunday, through Monday, dropped a little bit, spiked Monday night, then started to fall. The barometer dropped Saturday evening and then slowly climbed to Tuesday mid-day. The temperature from Saturday through to today varied between 26 and 15. I was very happy to see the charts working again.

The Kendrick dew controller was running.

I thought of the people at Starfest possibly getting dewed out. If you don't have a dew heater for your 'scope, sucks to be you. Welcome to summer astronomy in Canada.

After some double star target planning, I found I had some time to kill. Considered objects from my July 15 observing plan. SkyTools said Moonrise was at 12:30. Huh? Oops, wrong date. It was New Moon. Astro twilight ended at 11:12. I could go for DSOs then. Unfortunately, I'd be ramping up on my double project.

One of the choices from the list was Antares! A double star system... While the mount slewed, I dropped the south wall panels.

The breeze was lovely.

10:47. Viewed orange Antares with the 27mm. Noted the bright star HD 148563 to the south-east, part of a Y-shape asterism. Noted the pair of stars, with HD 148606, east of the HD 148563. Spotted the faint star, away, to the east, GSC 06803-2124, at magnitude 12.4. But, sadly, I did not see an obvious companion to Antares proper. When I consulted SkyTools and learned the separation was 2 arc-seconds, my heart sank. Such a close partner to such a bright primary would be very challenging. It would likely be lost in the glare. I considered bumping to the Radian 10mm. In fact, ST3P recommended that. I headed to the telescopes to exchange the oculars.

Collimation looked pretty good.

10:53. I thought I saw the partner... Something seemed to be there, to the north-west. It almost looked brown. A very dim brown star in the bright glare of the primary. Brown? It must have been the same colour as A. Considered increasing the power higher.

Checked the Kendrick system. The objective heaters were not running; the eyepiece ones were. Probably due to the temperature differential. I wondered if this would be a problem.

Thought I had the Tele Vue 10mm eyepiece in already; nope, it was the 18mm. Tried the ocular yielding 391x, hoping for an obvious result. Unfortunately, it was very soft. Went back to 217x. Wished I was at a more southern location for viewing this target.

When I compared the view in SkyTools, it showed the B star to my right or west. Noted a triangle of stars to the south-west. Realised it was a bit late in the season to view it. Hmmm. Not a good split. It needs to stay on the View Again list...

Slewed to Saturn.

10:59. A pretty nice view! Still had the 18mm in. Saw the shadow of the planet on the rings on the left (east) side. Thought I saw five moons... in a zig-zag pattern. Noted a star, well off-line to the north-east, bright at magnitude 8.8, about the same brightness as the biggest moon. Titan was south-west, at my 4 o'clock to 4:30 position. A line between Titan and the star would skirt just below the gas giant's north pole. I saw Dione east-south-east. Just for a second I spotted Tethys, quite close, opposite Dione. Rhea was no problem, directly left of the Titan. Went back out to find Enceladus and others... The eyepiece was a little fogged.

Noted a triangle of points well to the west. Oh! That included Iapetus. Seeing got good but I still could not spot Enceladus or Hyperion. Looked for Mimas. No joy. Eyepiece was clear this time.

Reviewed the Canada Day observing list again. Kept ignoring the deep sky objects.

Panned to nearby Sabik. 27mm in the C14; 18mm back in the refractor.

11:18. Sabik, aka η (eta) Oph, was centred. Noted a wide pair at my 6 o'clock to 6:30 position, near the edge of the field (east). I was sure I saw the C and D elements, to the south, to the west respectively. Oh my. Noticed that the AB separation was just over a half second of arc. Headed back to increase the power and wait for good seeing.

I was feeling a little tired. Yawning. I wondered how I would fair later, given the early start today...

Checked the big corrector plate.

11:22. Really tough. Not high in the sky. Marked Sabik to re-observe. C was quite faint, surprisingly so. D was brighter. I guessed the A and B were oriented straight up and down or north-east to south-west. They appeared to be the same brightness. A light cyan colour. Almost a hint of green.

SkyTools showed inconsistent magnitude information on the Interactive Atlas chart and Object Information box:

star IA OI
A 2.4 2.42
B 5.7 3.48
C 12.2 12.2
D 11.6 10.7

Looked like B and D chart values were wrong.

It was already in my View Again list.

11:29. Checked the time.

After a trip to the house, I started my double star research prep.

Amazingly not buggy. None on the observatory floor! Weird.

1:05 AM, Friday 21 July 2017. Popped outside between a drift shot. Thought I heard some voices to the west. Seeing was poor at the 30 degree level. Milky Way was visible. Not great though. Could see the dark rift.

Looked north for aurora. Nothing. Checked the Android tablet. The Widget did not show anything big. Checked Spaceweather web site. Not great. kp 4.

Thought of the die hard Starfesters. They'd be getting a good show tonight.

1:25. While walking between the house and observatory, I thought the sky looked better.

Between double star drift images, I checked the local conditions, as of 1:06. Looked like things, the daily highs and lows, had reset at midnight. The 10-min average wind speed was 4.8. Now coming out of the west. Immediate, 4.8, with a high of 16. Humidity had dropped a bit to 91%. Pressure, 1012.2, at the low mark. Outside temp was 19.6 with a dew point of 18.1. The historical graphs had updated again

3:50. Completed my double star project, collecting the light frames.

Fired up the dehumidifier. Closed the south panels. Closed the roof.

Spotted a super-bright object over the hill. Must be Venus!

Disconnected the Optec focuser software then shutdown the hand paddle. Grabbed things for the house and closed the observatory.

Enjoyed the eastern sky from the walkway. Pleiades, Taurus, and Auriga. Very cool. Nice finish.


4:50. You know the humidity's high when you hear the dew dropping off the roof.

collected data for SLE 235 D (Blue Mountains)

10:15 PM, Thursday 20 July 2017. I wondered when my target would hit the peak. I recalled it was around midnight. Turned on the horizon and meridian lines in SkyTools 3 Professional to check. Set the Interactive Atlas chart to Real Time then toggled it off. Moved forward. Yep. Around midnight it would move into the western hemisphere.

I also wondered about the visibility, with respect to the roof gable of the Geoff Brown Observatory. HD 172825 was a decent distance from Polaris so was there the possibility it would be behind the roof line. In SkyTools, I noticed the horizon line was smooth. I thought I had made a profile for the GBO. Switched to the other computer to display the simulated horizon line with GBO intrusions.

Noted my target was along the neck of the Dragon, as per ST3P, roughly between Grumium aka ξ (xi) Draconis and Nodus Secondus aka Altais aka δ (delta) Dra. I had to zoom a bit to the appropriate level but TheSky showed this well above the roof. Yeh. The altitude was around 60 to 70 degrees. Oh, no problem at all.

Reviewed the operational setup. The CAO laptop driving the Paramount was OK. And using it to remotely operate the Optec TCF-S focuser was OK. That offloaded tasks from the ASUS netbook which would be consumed with image capturing. Made a note to close all the browser tabs. Closed Evernote on John Repeat Dance.

Quickly planned out things. If the target crossed the meridian a little after midnight, I could begin my integration and setup around 11:00 or 11:30. I could have everything connected before midnight and do focusing. After midnight, in theory, the sky would be darker. Did some other things in the meantime.


11:30. Considered focus control. I found the custom Optec cable. I found long serial cable. I popped the screen a bit and passed it through the window. I would need the USB-serial adapter. Checked the assigned port: COM7. Adjusted the Optec software, connected, and tested operation. Put it back into Auto mode.

Closed unneeded apps on the netbook computer. Activated Super Performance mode.

Readied for camera control. Hooked up my USB-ethernet 2.0 extension kit (with power supply) with the subterranean cable. Attached the 2" nosepiece to the 40D body and connected the DC coupler. Hate the Canon power supply design. Bolted it up to the SCT 'scope and powered it on. Oops. Forgot the USB cable...

11:48. EOS Utility launched once I had the cable in place. Huh. Nothing. Tapped the shutter; it seemed the camera had gone to sleep. Switched the body to Manual to allow Live View at the computer.

Went to the camera, turned on the back display Live View, adjusted the exposure settings, ISO, white balance, a longer exposure time, and did crude focus, still on Sabik, with the telescope's mirror control. Forgot how easy that was to do, at the camera.

Operated the Optec software, starting from 3528, using the Dell computer, while monitoring the image on the ASUS computer (and external monitor). Everything was working just fine. No issues. Went down to 2528; went up. I thought it better when I went down. Stopped at 3328.

My target star was very close to the meridian. Slewed to a brighter star. Watched closely for cable binding. Wow. Nearly straight up. Bonkers.

12:01 AM, Friday 21 July 2017. Noted the Kendrick controller was now sending power to the objective dew heaters.

Pointing was off a bit so I manually panned. The refractor and SCT were fairly well-aligned. Decided on the 5mm eyepiece so to reduce the field, to make the 101 act as a finder. Opened TheSky's motion control dialog box. Fine-tuned the refractor alignment. Noted nearby the two sets of wide pairs, with HD 163769 on the west, and PPM 36276 on the east.

Now HD 172825 was over the meridian.

Initially, for me, the camera view wss upside,-down, north was down, almost straight down.

Gauged the pointing off-set in TheSky versus the camera view. Chose Orientation, Zoom To... Used Telescope (Ctrl-t) and Finder. The Finder was too wide. The Telescope field (on the long edge) was 1 degree. The telescope was pointing slightly above. The offset was not bad: a fraction of a degree. 8 arcminutes. Rotated the field in TheSky. Put north down. Activated the camera field in SkyTools.

Adjusted the camera settings in EOS Utility.


Except where noted, all photos were shot with a Canon 40D, daylight white balance, on a Celestron SCT 14-inch, f/11, atop a Paramount ME, Software Bisque TheSky 6, unguided. Initially manually focused using the SCT mirror shifting control.

These first few preparatory images were shot using ISO 1600. Initially used Canon EOS Utility. All the images were processed using Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP) 3.8. All images are oriented north to the top and east to the left unless noted otherwise. Lots of hot pixels. While dark frames were shot, none were applied to these images. Remember to click on images to enlarge; right-click to view in a separate tab or window at full size.

Performed crude focus and telescope(s) alignment with γ (gamma) Draconis. Did a test shot.

multi-star Etamin or gamma Draconis

12:11 AM. Gorgeous Etamin (aka Eltanin and Burnham 633). 10 seconds.

This is a multi-star system with 7 elements. The primary star is a lovely gold. B is faint, to the south-east, very close to the bright main star. Is it gold too? Or is that colour coming from the host? C is a very pale, dim partner to the south-west. It is the faintest star in the group. D is to the north, further out, and only slightly brighter than C. The white comrade E is beyond C, about the same brightness as B. Ally F is pale orange, further out still, to the east-south-east. Lastly, beige G is above or north-north-east, the brightest off the squad. Very cool to spot all the elements.

Searched for the star in TheSky using the SAO designation and manually accommodating for the offset. Did more checks and tests with my main objective, HD 172825 (aka SAO 17961 and HJ 2836A). I'm after the D companion...

multi-star system HD 172825 in Draco

12:22. 10 seconds. North is down; east is right.

I was happy to spot all the elements. Good correspondence with SkyTools. See below for the identification of all components.

Checked the infrared black and white satellite imagery. It was looking fine over Ontario.

Made a reminder note to get darks, at the end. Opened Evernote on the laptop to review my double star shooting notes (since the ASUS tablet was screwed up). Right. Do the "squaring" step...

Turned the camera in the focuser and did some manual drifting to better align the camera frame. A long run given the proximity to the pole. Used the grid in EOS Utility.

Ran a stopwatch app on Ananke to measure the full drift time. Figured out the timing: turn off tracking (a couple of seconds), expose (for 2:15), turn on tracking, slew back to the (previously selected) starting point (couple more seconds), wait for the next shot (about 10 seconds). Put the camera in bulb and programmed the interval to 2:35. Captured the multiple long exposure trails, using Etamin once again, using EOS Utilities script controls. These images will be used to measure the camera's orientation against the sky's declination.

trailed star to measure camera orientation against declination axis

1:20. 135 seconds. Pretty good alignment on the long axis. I'm not sure which way north is. Shot 15 images.

I just love the look of these traces...

Reviewed the process:

  • I ended up monitoring TheSky (that was better than watching the timer in EU). 
  • As the 'scope indicator drew near the edge of the frame. I would glance at the EOS Utility. I'd see the exposure timing around 2 minutes or 15 seconds to go. 
  • I'd return to TheSky. 
  • I'd choose Telescope, Options and hover the mouse pointer over the Tracking command. 
  • A quick glance at EU would show it the exposure time of 2:03 or so. 
  • Then I'd listen... When I heard the camera shutter close, I'd click the mouse, to turn the tracking on. 
  • Immediately, I'd hit the Slew button (using the previously selected point) and confirm the action to return to the start point. 
  • I'd choose Telescope, Options and hover over the Tracking command again. 
  • I'd watch EU count down to the next shot. About 8 seconds to go.
  • At 2 seconds before, I'd click the mouse, turning the tracking off.

Switched to Backyard EOS for advanced focus control. Operated the Optec TCF-S via the computer app again. Shortly after I activated the Frame & Focus, the FWHM showed a value 6.5. Curiously, as I adjusted the focuser, I never got a better value. Funny. Ended up back at 3328. Got a 6.7 at 3338. Went back to 3328. Remembered to put the focuser back to automatic.

Stayed in the BYE tool for its advanced filenaming and scripting controls.

Remembered to drop the ISO to lower the noise in the subsequent images.

OK. Next up was the image scale calibration stars, starting with ω (omega).

double star omega in Draco

1:52. Also known as 28 Dra and SAO 17576 and FOX 203. 10 seconds.

A is pure white. The B companion is very faint, a fair distance away, to the 4 o'clock position, or west-south-west. Also shot it at 20 seconds. BYE said the camera sensor was 29°. Shot it at 5 seconds and I could still see the B star.

The FOX 167 entry on the list seemed strange. Not sure how it got there.

Next up was Grumium. Couldn't see the companion so I shot a longer exposure.

double star Grumium in Draco

2:03. AKA ξ (xi) Dra, 32 Dra, SAO 30631, and LDS 1457. 20 seconds.

The main star is a pale gold. If I'm interpreting things correctly, the B colleague is the dark orange star to the west-north-west, well away. Really far. ST3P presents a chart that is different than the image. It's either bad data in the app or a bunch of these stars are moving around... Fascinating in any case.

Headed to T Dra, a M-class variable star. That is not a hot pixel.

variable and double star T Dra

2:07. aka HIP 87820 and ES 20. 10 seconds.

Wow. What an amazing colour! That might be the deepest orange-red star I've ever seen. The B partner, nearly equal in brightness, is close by, to the south-west. ST3P says it is also a variable, UY Dra. Wow.

I used the HD feature in Frame & Focus for the first time. It reminded me of the integration feature of the MallinCam, doing on the fly stacking.

Our next destination was HD 164330, a triple.

multi-star system HD 164330 in Draco

2:13. Other designations include: SAO 17695 and STT A 163. 5 seconds.

The primary star, near the centre of the photograph, is a beige or grey colour. The equally-bright B friend to the north-east is blue-white. Due north, well away, is the C star, dim, same colour as A. Also shot at 2 seconds.

Headed to HD 164984.

multi-star system HD 164984 in Draco

2:22. Other labels: SAO 17717 and Σ (STF) 2273. 10 seconds.

This might appear, at first glance, a simple pair. "Moth Eyes," as it were. But if you look closely, you'll see faint companions. SkyTools shows this to be a 4-star system. The A star is to the left or east. It is a pale blue-white. B is very slightly dimmer. And has a touch less blue. Further west, but at the same angular separation as A and B, is faint C. It looks grey. For bonus points, look near A and B, slightly north, to tag P, the very dim fourth star.

Lots of other interesting colourful stars in the field.

Took the big dew cap off to reduce wind-shake. From the floor I noticed clouds! That explained why some of the exposures were wonky. One shot showed a lot of vibration.

Did some shots of the main goal, HD 172825, in case the sky turned bad. Got the D star. Programmed a run for 5 images. Was feeling a little tired. Took stuff to the house. Some images were faded with clouds; some were shakey.

Slewed to HD 238823. A delicious treat. A quadruple.

multi-star system HD 238823 in Draco

2:38. SAO 30778, PPM 36404, or Σ2300. 10 seconds.

A is the brightest star, of course. Blue-white. It is on the right or west side of the group. B is the next brightest distant furnace, tan in colour, along the north edge. Below and tight to B is the delicate little C element. Not directly south of B, it is slightly west. Finally the D star is to the east. Hint of orange. About the same intensity as C. An amazing little collection.

There's a red dot about the D star. Sorry. Hot pixel. Please ignore.

Neat system.

Had trouble finding my next Skytools suggestion in TheSky so I moved on to 36 Draconis.

double star 36 Dra

2:43. HR 6850, HD 168151, SAO 17828, PPM 20819, HIP 89348, and STT 586. 5 seconds.

A simple wide double. A is white. B is far away to the west, pale orange. Also shot at 2 seconds.

Skipped to HD 170508. There seemed to be clouds again as I could not see the stars in the HD view. Peeked outside. Wasn't terrible.

Checked the weather conditions. 10-minute average was 6.4 out of the SW. The immediate wind speed was 8 with a high of 22.5. Humidity 94. Pressure 1011.9, still falling. Temp 19.2, dew 18.2.

double star HD 170508 in Draco

2:50. AKA SAO 17882 and ES 2666. 2 seconds.

An easy faint pair with robin's egg blue and grey stars. B is due west.

Next up: HR 6979. Could not see anything at first.

double star HR 6979 in Draco

2:55. Also referred to as HD 171653, SAO 17912, and KUI 86. 5 seconds.

Another pair of stars. The host is blue-white while the partner is a very dim white to the north-east. Is B greenish?

The astronomical twilight would beginning around 3:45.

Centred on HD 172323.

double star HD 172323 in Draco

2:59. AKA SAO 17936 and STF 2365. 5 seconds.

White and orange stars with the dim sidekick to the north-north-east. SkyTools makes them look nearly equal in colour and magnitude. Nope.

Came to the main target in the observing list so gathered more data. Could see the B, C, and D stars in the 5 second shot.

Found dew on the corrector even with the dew heaters running. Grabbed the hair dryer to clear the fog. Switched the controller to our winter configuration.

Off to 46 Dra, a wide triple. Bright stars in the area.

multi-star system 46 Dra

3:08. HR 7049, SAO 31119, and H 6 37. 5 seconds.

Bright A is blue-white. B is a good distance away to the south-south-east, dull white. C is opposite B, double the separation, and is brighter. It is a very pale peach. Curious. Why wouldn't the star to the south, with the same brightness as C, almost the same sep., not be considered part of 46? Or the orange star to the west? Oh well...

Selected the double SAO 18068.

double star SAO 18068 in Draco

3:21. Also known as ES 2669. 2 seconds.

A very faint pair. A pale orange primary and a faint white secondary, close, to the south. It was very obvious in the 5 second exposure.

Targeted triple HR 7191. Shot for 1 second. Shot again.

multi-star system HR 7191 in Draco

3:14. HD 176668, SAO 18082, and Σ 2440. 2 seconds.

The leader is off-white or beige. The second point is at the 8 o'clock position or east-south-east, close. It might be a light yellow or very light orange. The third member of the group is a good distance away to the north-east, slightly dimmer than B. Also whitish in colour.

Went to the faint pair PPM 21295. Short slew. Had a hard time seeing it in Frame & Focus.

double star PPM 21295 in Draco

3:17. The Washington Double Star database designation is MLB1082. 5 seconds.

A is blue-white; B, to the north-east, is a dull orange. Also tried 4 seconds.

If passengers would look out the forward port window, they will see Altais or δ (delta) Draconis. I could see the B in a 5 second exposure.

double star delta Draconis

3:21. SkyTools calls this target Nodus Secundus. Other designations are 57 Dra and BUP 186. 20 seconds.

This simple double is comprised of the very bright, yellow component with the dim nearby white star to the north. Why the other stars aren't included is beyond me. Regardless, a lovely field.

I thought it odd that the star GSC 04444-1629 did not show in the image. SkyTools plots this mag 10.6 star to the south-west.

Slewed to HR 7361, a double.

double star HR 7361 in Draco

3:25. aka SAO 18287 or BUP 188. 5 seconds.

An intense blue-white primary. Again, you'd think this a multi-star system with all the nearby points of light. The companion is south, due south. White or grey. Nice field. Shot again at 3 seconds.

This time 'round, I was able to find the double HD 234577. Did I type it wrong before?  Shot blind. Whoa. Interesting stuff going on here... Shifted a bit and shot again.

double star HD 234577 in Draco

3:31. AKA SAO 30796, PPM 36426, and AG 217. 5 seconds.

There appear two doubles in the image. The right-hand pair, which are slightly tighter, is the target in question. The A star is the upper-left light tan point; to the south-west is the pale white slightly dimmer B star.

The east-most pair, with a slightly greater separation than HD 234577, is the pair HD 234579 (WDS VBS 27). Here the A star is bright with a very pale orange hue with the dim white B partner to the north-east.

Two for the price of one!

The blue-white star, HD 167103, to the west is unrelated.

Star hopped to Σ2332 using SkyTools as the target. Took a while. Near the neck. Shot blind. Got it! A delicate double.

double star STF 2332 in Draco

3:36. 5 seconds.

A is blue white. B, west, is very dim, grey. Orange?

Star hopped to another faint pair, STI 894. Shot blind again. Nailed it.

double star STI 894 in Draco

3:41. 5 seconds.

A is white, possibly pale blue. B, close, to the north-west, is white, a couple of notches dimmer.

From lessons learned during previous double star runs and considering the sketchy sky conditions, I grabbed data on the target multi-star system HD 172825 along the way. Returned to shoot a 5 second image. Moved west a bit. I wanted one very long exposure to get the field stars.

multi-star system HD 172825 in Draco with SLE 235 D

3:45. 30 seconds. Neat.

The primary star is the brightest in the field. It is white with subtle hints of blue. The B member is to the north-west or 2 o'clock position. Quite a bit dimmer than the lucida. A touch of pale orange. SkyTools shows B much dimmer but it is similar to C. The C element is to the west, slightly south, about double the AB separation. It is white. A fraction dimmer than B. Beyond B, about 5 times the distance, is a bright star. The software says this is D, specifically SLE 235 D. I went on this campaign as D is considered a neglected star in the Washington Double Star database.

Lots of data for reduction.

Reviewed my light frame times. Initially I viewed the EXIF data inside Backyard which was painfully slow. Went faster when I remembered the exposure value was in the filename. Programmed the dark frames run for all the exposures with 30 second delays. It would finish at 6 in the morning. Parked the 'scope. Monitored for cable wrap. Before installing the C14 cover, I dried off the corrector.

Fun. Overall, everything worked well. It took longer than I anticipated. Perhaps primarily due to taking more drift images and capturing more calibration stars. What I had forgotten is that targets near the North Celestial Pole have longer drift times.

The dew was incredible.

I'm thankful for the relatively clear skies.


Wikipedia links: gamma Draconis; omega Draconis; xi Draconis; delta Draconis.