Monday, July 03, 2017

captured the Moon and Saturn (Blue Mountains)

We viewed and imaged the Moon. Used the iOptron smartphone holder I had brought from the house. Rhonda liked the colour. Thought it matched the Paramount. Indeed. Helped people wrangle their smartphone camera apps to improve the shots.

Moon, waxing gibbous

10:38 PM, Sunday 2 July 2017. Moon by Rhonda Gribbon. Used with permission. Tele Vue 101, f/5.3, iOptron adapter, 12.5mm PL eyepiece, Samsung Galaxy s4, f/2.2, 4mm, 1/100 second, ISO 80, spot metering.

Started my audio recorder.

11:08 PM. Rhonda was singing in the Warm Room.

Rohini, Kitty, and Thomas saw Saturn. We used SkyTools to figure out the moons we saw. Rohini helped me get the orientation with bright Titan at the right. I didn't think Hyperion was possible but the others should be. Rhonda had another look.

Aditya said Saturn was very distant. Indeed, small in the eyepiece.

Rohini asked about taking a picture of Saturn with her huge smartphone. I connected the iOptron adapter in anticipation. Thomas said that Kitty was expecting Saturn to be as big as the moon. I wondered if she's been reading too many of those spoof emails... 400 000 kilometres versus 1 400 000 000.

I was trying to remember the line... "I'm ready for my close-up..." [ed: Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up, from Sunset Boulevard.]

11:13. Thomas spotted fireworks from our southern neighbours.

Set up the ladder for Adi to look at Saturn.

Rhonda could see the "double" of Rhea and Dione. I could see Titan and likely Rhea in the small 'scope. The seeing went really steady. No Mimas: it was too close to the rings.

Rhonda thought she saw Hyperion (magnitude 14.4). It did not seem the right distance. It was a star. It was much further away. Hyperion was closer than Iapetus.

Realised I was mistaking Tethys for Enceladus (11.9). So, to recap: Tethys (10.4), Rhea, Dione, Titan, Iapetus.

Rhonda was certain she saw Mimas, a bump on the ring. Impressive! Hawk-eye!

11:19. Grabbed a 2"-1¼" ring to hook up the camera adapter. Reminded everyone to hang onto their butts!

Rhonda spotted a meteor! Right above the bowl of the Big Dipper.

Reminded Rohini to use her timer function again. Suggested she try movie mode and later examine for crisp frames.

Saturn through the big 'scope

Saturn by Rohini Bernard. Used with permission. Celestron 14, f/11, iOptron adapter, 12.5mm PL eyepiece, Apple iPhone 7 Plus, f/1.8, 4mm, 1/13 second, ISO 100, spot metering, exposure compensation -3.9.

Decent skies. Freaky, given how it had been all day, scattered clouds, high cirrus and low fluffy. We could almost see all of Scorpius. There were low clouds far to the south.

11:26. Helped Kitty take some photos of the ringed world.

Rohini said, "I only have two more things on my checklist." To which Thomas said, "No pressure!" She wanted to see Jupiter and a meteor. I could help with the first... I suggested her air bag chair donut thing for the latter.

Rhonda helped people spot the faint Milky Way. She used Vega as a marker.

Ian D popped into the observatory, dressed for deep sea diving. Wondered what we were doing. He said there were a lot of fireflies in the field. He headed back to his Pod for more visual observing.

11:36. Thomas said there was a -7 Iridium due soon. Roh wondered if we might see aurora tonight. She was thrilled to see the big show on 27 May.

Deepak got some good Saturn photographs with his smartphone.

I suggested the keeners could use AutoStakkert or RegiStax with their planet movies.

I had another look at Saturn. I could see the C ring and the Cassini Division and the equatorial belt. But no Mimas. Lovely.

11:43. Flipped over the meridian as we slewed to Jupiter. Rohini found the motion hypnotic.

Rhonda came into the GBO. She had seen another meteor. This one near the horizon.

Rohini said she saw one moon on the left--that was Europa. I shared that the other three should be visible according to the software simulation. From inner to outer: Io, Ganymede, and Callisto. Gave Roh the joystick to shift a bit. Kitty saw all 4 moons. Rohini filled out her customer satisfaction card.

11:48. Catherine and Barry dropped in. They were doing OK on the Observing Pad. One of their 'scopes (the hybrid Newtonian) was badly collimated unfortunately.

Kitty shared they had gone on an expensive tour north of Edmonton but not seen any aurora. Takes yer chances..

I encouraged people to look very closely at Jupiter. Look for a bump in the "upper" cloud band, on the outer edge. Adi and I had checked the software last night and it was not visible; I was hoping it would be facing us today. The feature often referred to as the Great Red spot was toward us. The Great Pale Spot. The Feature-Formally-Known-As-The-Great-Red-Spot. But it was hard to see. Low planets in the summer...

11:55. We waited for the Iridium. We spotted a dim satellite going north, near Jupiter. But no flares... We filled out our customer satisfaction cards.

Rhonda asked how far the Moon was, in terms of light: 1.3 seconds, on average.

12:01 AM, Monday 3 July 2017. Slewed to the Great Hercules Cluster, Messier 13. SkyTools calls it the Keystone Cluster. Rohini thought it a "fuzzy little thing." That fuzzy little thing is made up of 300 000 stars. Kitty thought it very pretty.

Rohini asked me to wake her if aurora appeared. No time restrictions. Rhonda took a look to the north for us. I had not seen any major outbursts on SolarHam.

Adi had a look at M13. I reminded him of the Wild Duck from last night, an open cluster, had a few hundred stars while this cluster was closer to a half-million.

12:06 AM. The Bernard entourage headed to bed.

My coughing frequency was increasing.

Rhonda returned. Sent her to the telescope. "Holy moley, straight up." She looked in. "Holy!" She recognised it as a globular cluster. "Nice, very pretty."

It got quiet in the GBO. Just the two of us.

12:13. Slewed to a double star from my list, ΞΎ (xi) Scorpii, one of the fast-movers. Between Ophiuchus and the scorpion.

After a moment, I split A and B--super tight. Roughly angled toward C. D and E were obvious. F was faint.

Rhonda had a look. At first, she thought the bright element a single; she noted the wide pair off to the left (or south). Told her the bright thing was a tight binary. She said she could see different colours on A and B. Blue on right, 4 o'clock, orange at the left, 10 o'clock. Kept looking. Then she saw the split! "Wow." Showed her a zoomed view in the SkyTools software. "That is cool!" Training her eyes...

I increased the power from the 27mm to the 18mm. Yep. Easy to split now.

I looked for markers to gauge the alignment of B to the primary. I drew a line from A, almost north-south. Noted a couple of stars, bright TYC 05619-0901 1 and dim GSC 05615-1059. I panned and put them at the bottom-right of the field. My line showed, below GSC, was around 9 to 10 degrees. ST3P said the PA was 8.0° as of May. Nice.

Considered Duval's double but the Cancer constellation was out of view.

Comtemplated tackling my high priority list items but then thought I should be careful. Wanted to do more but felt I needed the rest. Asked rho if she wanted to do any more observing.

I decided to show rho La Superba.

12:31. Slewed to Y CVn aka SAO 44317, a class C star. We looked in the Tele Vue.  She thought it orange. Used a longer eyepiece to draw in more field stars. We looked into the C14. Intense deeper hue at the higher power. "A cool star," in terms of temperature. Cool to look at too.

She asked why I didn't look at stars to the north. Coincidence is all. Suggested the grand multi-star system in UMa.

12:37. Had Rhonda search for and slew to Mizar. "Oh, it's two! White, silver." We looked at A and B and Alcor.

We opted to close up. Parked the 'scope. Rhonda closed the roof while I put up south wall panels. Powered up the dehumidifier. Put away a few items. Grabbed our gear.

12:43. We left the building.


I had really wanted to do some double star research. But I just didn't think I had the stamina to pull it off. Shorting myself on sleep would not wise.

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