Saturday, February 18, 2017

first dark sky viewing (Blue Mountains)

Enjoyed some Friday night astronomy with Rhonda. We were at the Carr Astronomical Observatory over the Family Day weekend.

Clear Sky Chart from Friday morning

We weren't expecting clear skies! But the Clear Sky Chart looked optimistic. And the clouds pushed off after 10 PM.

Environment Canada, for Collingwood, showed decent conditions. As observed at 10:00 PM Fri 17. Pressure 100.6 kPa and falling; temperature 0.4°C; dew point -4.8; humidity 68%; wind, SE at 9 km/h.

The forecast, issued 3:30 PM Fri 17, for Friday night was: "clearing this evening" with "fog patches overnight." Wind SE 20 km/h becoming light before morning. Low minus 3. Saturday was looking good, still.

I pre-heated the Warm Room of the Geoff Brown Observatory.

We looked at the Pleiades in the refractor. And individual stars in the catadioptric.

We looked at the Orion Nebula, Messier 42 (M42) and the Trapezium.

I wondered about the performance of the dew heaters. Made a note to reprogram the system for winter mode.

12:35 AM, Saturday 18 February 2017. We viewed the Cigar and Bode's galaxies, Messiers 82 and 81.

As Rhonda headed to the house for a moment, I warmed up. My legs were cold.

Checked the local Davis weather station page. It had recently updated—as of 11:43 PM. I transcribed the data: 10 minute average wind speed 25.7 km/h; wind direction SW; instant wind speed 20.9; high 59.5; outside humidity 76%; barometer 1005.9 (and still falling); outside temp 1.7°C; wind chill -3.8; dew point -2.1.

Showed the open cluster Messier 67 (M67) and its many double stars. Delicate in the eyepiece. Not super bright.

We viewed the Black Eye Galaxy aka Messier 64 (M64). Non-symmetrical in the eyepiece. Dark region on the right, for me.

We viewed the Eskimo Nebula aka NGC 2392. One of the Finest. Not a bad view. Rings visible. Bright central star.

Took in Jupiter. All four moons were visible. It was still low so the view wasn't great.

Rho spotted the Messier poster in the Warm Room. Reflected on the view of Messier 82. And the Black Eye.

Windy. Quite windy. The views were often shaky. Frustrating for us.

Bad seeing. Ian W concurred.

We watched the colourful Moon rise up over the hill.

It was cool. It felt colder than the temperature gauge. Forgot my long johns!

Rhonda helped me close up.

§

The Paramount ME worked very well. No unusual sounds after Tony's tune-up. My pointing, with SkyTools, was very good.

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