Sunday, September 24, 2017

another night of visual (Blue Mountains)

8:55 PM, Saturday 23 September 2017. I returned to the GBO.

Sky conditions were looking much better.

Richard and Wayne discussed small onboard computers and SkyWatcher mounts. Geneviève had her Star Adventurer on the floor.

Geneviève joined me in the warm room. We were going to do another C14 imaging session.

9:02. Ian W popped into the GBO, coffee in hand.

Lucy dropped by.

Helped Wayne with choosing a target. Reviewed his 'scope and camera parameters. Approximated the view in SkyTools. Filtered on galaxies. Selected the RASC Finest list, above 2x, set the times. Left the Real Time tab. Down to 14 candidates. NGC 6503, fairly small. Googled it. The Splinter. In Draco, falling. Ugh. Out of season. Fireworks, face on, with a supernova Cepheus, NGC 6946. He liked that one.

9:31. Rhonda popped in. I gave her the big Celestrons, the 10x50. Suggested she try them hand-held but if too shakey we could mount on a tripod (with Tony's big bracket).

9:43. Lucy asked if I had a star chart to borrow. Or Stellarium. I launched Stellarium on my netbook. She was interested in finding the Dumbbell. She searched and found it.

Sailu dropped by. He had The Backyard Astronomer's Guide in hand, one of my favourite books. I shared my confusion. I thought I had used this book during my telescope shopping but the date of the book was too late; I bought the SCT in December 1990. He noted the copyright was 1991.

Richard continued imaging.

Checked in with Rhonda. She was having fun with the binoculars. She was OK with holding them. Ian had helped a little. She had seen the Andromeda Galaxy. I suggested the Double Cluster.

When chatting with Richard about cable wrap, I suggested tying the cable to the camera body.

There was no note paper in the warm room.

10:40. Checked the Clear Sky Chart as the coyotes yipped. Lovely. Lots of blue.

Rhonda was having fun. She found Pleiades. Found all the stars for Cassiopeia. Found Capella. Used the Great Square to find the two arcs (or "tails") of Andromeda. Found the big galaxy. She didn't think the Double Cluster as bright as Andromeda. When she said complained of a sore neck, I suggested an anti-gravity chair. That would be better. She headed to the house for a sweater.

Check the Davis weather station information. As of 10:36. 10 minute average wind speed 3.2 km/h, direction WSW, immediate wind speed 6.4, high was 28, temperature 22.8°C, humidity 88%, barometer 1018.1 hPa. I looked at the air pressure trend. It had been rising Thursday and Friday and 1019 at the T-F midnight transition. It had not yet updated for today.

Realised I had forgotten to spot the Iridium. I had programmed an alarm for the bright flare but the smartphone was in the house...

Lucy needed a chart again. I launched Stellarium again, activated red light mode, turned on the constellation lines. Offered my Pocket Sky Atlas—Rhonda had it but wasn't using it.

11:01. Lucy borrowed the binoculars.

11:14. Rhonda returned. Lucy had the bins. Asked if we could give the PSA to Lucy, after removing the acetate sheet.

Richard was imaging the 7331 and the Fleas.

Richard bumped into the big telescope. Ha!

He spotted the Abraham Dragonfly image on my screen saver.

Ian W was in da house. Things were going well for him.

Rhonda brought my PSA over. She didn't see the transparency sheet; it was there. Sticktion. She was taking a break.

The crew in the warm room observed the coaching as we adjusted the electronic focuser using the Live View.

Rhonda noted the star was changing size rapidly. A clear indication of seeing conditions, magnified.

The bins were back.

We spotted the gang from the NEAF road trip on my screen saver.

Richard showed me his shots of Andromeda with M110 and M32. Very nice. Lots of stars.

11:58. The coyotes fired up again. We could hear an owl in the distance.

Spent some time with Rhonda near the Observing Pad. We visited Mary-Ann in the Tony Horvatin Observatory.

Richard turned the red lights down a bit. Continued imaging.

12:23, Sunday 24 September 2017. Orbit Day.

Tony and I talked about more red light bulbs. I suggested incandescent for outdoor or cold applications. I asked if we could improve the red light in the pantry. We talked about possible revisions to the security circuits.

Rhonda visited the GBO. With jujubes, yeh! But they all looked red, ha ha, in the warm room lighting. And dessert, yeh! Yum.

Discussed guiding equipment and on-board single-board computers. Richard reminded us that a Raspberry Pi ran on an ARM; an X86 might be better.

Richard saw vibration in his images from the outside door slamming!

Rhonda headed out to do meteor watching.

I did some binocular observing with Rhonda near the Observing Pad. Using the Centre's big Celestron bins. Facing west.

Later grabbed the DIY parallelogram to steady the image. The clunky unit made by Mr Brown needs some work. One of the chains is broken or detached. The parallelogram proper is too short; the arms could be 12 or 18 inches longer. The head does not pivot in azimuth which makes it a bit awkward to use at the side of one's chair.

Viewed Albireo. Wow. One could easily split the A and B stars. Lovely colours. I didn't know one could do this. I did not think I had ever viewed my favourite double with binoculars. Awesome view.

Viewed the Coathanger. Nice. Perfect size in the binoculars.

1:18. We both saw a bright meteor, low in the north-north-west, over the house. Fast-mower, west bound. Possibly a Perseid. It was bright.

Turned east.

Looked at delta Cephei. It was at minimum.

Took in the Double Cluster. Lovely.

Took in the Pleaides. It was very nice. Noted the bright pair in the centre with a dim pair above. That was Alcyone, a multi-star system. B was above (or south). C and D were at a 90 degree angle to the A-B alignment, higher again. C was to the north-east; D south-west. Much fainter. They looked dull red to me compared to the blue-white of the bright stars. Cool! [ed: This is an 8-star system. Will need to return...]

Saw the Pinwheel galaxy for the first time naked eye. Yes! Been trying that for years! Very tough though. Required averted. A deep dark adaptation.

Lots of light pollution from Collingwood. Gross.

2:04. Swept the grass from the warm room.

Geneviève reported her imaging run was complete and she was shooting darks.

Consider the next targets.

Chose the multi-star system HR 7075 aka SAO 17995. Had Geneviève slew while I monitored for cable snags. Regained focus control at the Optec hand paddle.

2:27. Super-tight. I thought they were aligned south-east to north-west. Part of a triangle of stars. Way off to the east I saw a hockey stick. Couple of other stars to the south. Pretty blank field in the 18mm. I must have viewed this before. A pair on Sissy Haas's project list... 

Slewed to my next. 72 Pegasi. I split it! Two gold stars. Similar brightnesses. B was to the east.

Yeh! Fire truck, yeh! SkyTools showed the separation to be 0.53" as of July 2017. This was low. I wondered if I had broken my split record. Not really. I have logged items below this but many are suspect. This is a solid 5! Nice. I was happy. A binary, 246 year period.

Geneviève asked how many doubles I had seen. Over 1155.

2:47. The recorder stopped running having run out of space. Oops. I realised I had not cleared out old recordings...

Considered NGC 7253...

2:52. 7253. An Arp. Two interacting galaxies. I was not sure I could see them. Tried averted. The appearence was very soft.

I realised I was probably not fully dark adapted. The warm room was bright.

Rhonda joined me for some high power viewing.

Geneviève started imaging with her Star Adventurer.

3:01. Viewed HD 223070. A multiple star system, aka STF 3037 and SAO 20832. AB is yellow, bright; C is orange-red; D is pale blue; E is to the north-east, white; F is to the south-east, white. Love the colours. Very nice in the 55mm.

[ed: From my View Again list. It is a 6-star system. I had previously viewed A through D—all the stars Haas notes; but I had not viewed the E and F attendants.]

3:07. Put in the 27mm. Wow. Saw STI 1213. Easy split.

Re-examined HD 223070. A and B were split. Beautiful. A was to the north. Yellow. B, much fainter to the south, orange. All right.

We viewed a couple of fuzzies.

3:28. Put the rarely used 20mm in the C14 to check the Iris. It looked good. Wispy stuff.

Tried the O-III filter. No improvement.

3:30. Checked the Davis. 10 min avg 3.2, direction SWW, immediate 3.2, high 14.5, humidity 80, barometer 1018.8, outside temp 23.5.

We were tired. Asked Richard to close up again.

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