Saturday, September 23, 2017

some visual among clouds (Blue Mountains)

In GBO. I was working with the Paramount. I connected my ASUS and launched Software Bisque TheSky 6.

Richard was multi-tasking: imaging with his 8" compound telescope and his Star Adventurer.

8:28 PM, Friday 22 September 2017. Richard said he saw the sky flash with lightning. Earlier in the evening his wife had reported thunder in Tobermory.

Checked with Richard about vibration from the inner door slamming. He didn't think it was a problem.

I got my keys from the house. Opened the eyepiece cabinet. Installed two oculars.

I offered to help Richard with his Canon DSLR, if he needed it.

The pointing was off. Way off. 33 arc-minutes and 47 seconds! Wow. No good. Was my TPoint model damaged?

8:40 PM. Connected with SkyTools 3 Professional.

I checked weather data. The jetstream looked very strange. Richard showed me a big band of cloud headed our way.

8:45. Slewed to Saturn with SkyTools. Pointing was still off.

Also did not see the blinking X in ST3P to show where the telescope was aimed.

Slewed to the Fireworks galaxy to examine supernova SN 2017 eaw. It was almost straight up. I could see the entire galaxy although dim. At low power, I could not see the supernova. Increased the power. The limiting magnitude of the C14 is 16.1.

It did not seem humid. Richard said the humidity was bad the previous weekend. Along with the forest fire smoke, it made for challenging conditions. The lightning was putting on quite a show.

Used my most recent image from BGO at SMU. Flipped it and rotated it to much my ocular view.

[ed: The supernova in the photo from 21 Sep '17 is dimmer than magnitude 15.1 and brighter than 16.3.]

9:05. Geneviève arrived in the warm room for her imaging session with my assistance.

9:27. I thought I could see the supernova with averted vision.

Richard and I talked about camera settings, ISO, noise introduced before and after amplification.

Put in the 10mm in the Celestron 'scope, for 391 power. Stupid power. It made the supernova barely visible.

Slewed to one of the Messiers. To view again.

Ian W popped in. He caught up with Geneviève.

Weather update. Ian wondered what was happening with the thunderstorms. He thought they were coming to get us. In an hour or so. I pulled up some satellite imagery. It was massive earlier, going down, but then popped up. I checked as well. Nothing showing yet... The jetstream was nuts. The predictions yesterday were for clear, clear, clear. Ian said it would "wreck the night." Some sites were showing rain!

Ian and I chatted about the supernova. Showed him my shot from last night. It was visually dim in the telescope now. He offered to look but I was off the target.

Denis popped in. He was very happy. He had good polar alignment and a functional pointing model. Things were working for him at last.

Someone arrived, white light up the driveway. The Horvatins, Ian guessed.

I had viewed Messier 30 in Capricornus. Nice small lint ball in the Tele Vue refractor. 18mm in TV 101 yielded 30 power. The C14 showed individual stars. The 27mm in the big 'scope was at 145x. There was a star nearby. And a double nearby, according to the SkyTools app.

9:58. Grace visited us. Drive up was OK.

Asked guests to avoid letting the observatory door slam so to reduce vibration into Richard's rig. Reminded them to steer clear of his tripod.

Rhonda visited. She looked at M30 with Richard. Encouraged her to look in both 'scopes. Explained I was revisiting Messiers with only one log entry.

Mary-Ann dropped in briefly. Intros with Geneviève.

Sailu came into the observatory, yawning. He said he was starting to fall asleep in his hammock.

10:37. Tony popped into the warm room. Caught up with the crew.

SkyTools crashed. I restarted it. Oh, the X reappeared. All right.

Razvan visited. When the clouds appeared, he packed up. Now it was clear. He was kicking himself.

11:47. Sailu headed home. To return tomorrow.

Richard asked for a tiny Philips screwdriver. The dial on his accessory was loose. I fetched my eyeglasses screwdriver from the car, steps away. I realised at the car the windows were still down so I turned on the car to raise them. Ruby's headlights came on! Oops! Damn. I'm not used to an automatic car...

Spotted the Pleiades.

I realised I had forgotten to print and post the weekend astronomy information.

Showed Richard my shot of the Iris last night.

His guiding was not working well.

12:38 AM, Saturday 23 September 2017. Pinged Rhonda. We were resuming visual observing after Geneviève's imaging run.

Clouds again. Richard looked at Clear Sky Chart and Clear Outside.

Rhonda said she was coming out. When she arrived, I urged her to look in the big OTA at the Dumbbell.

Clouds! The wind was up.

Wondered about viewing a double star. Asked rho to check if it was clear toward Cassiopeia. Not great. We headed outside to find a clear patch.

1:00 AM. Short meteor! Heading toward Cygnus. Rhonda and I were facing that way. I asked if she saw it. She had. Yeh! Finally.

1:04. I tried to view U Cygni. I wasn't sure I was on it at first, given the poor pointing. This is a previously viewed target but I wanted to see again.

Denis and Richard discussed guiding, software control, backlash, etc.

Figured out my location. I was on 32 Cyg. A bit to the west. I realised I had the 27mm ocular installed; not the 55.

Denis said there were still some clouds out there, playing havoc with the imagers. Richard considered capturing his darks. He checked the radar weather info: nothing. He noticed a north-westerly flow.

I slewed. Gah. Cloudy everywhere.

1:37. Still cloudy.

1:47. Still cloudy. But Richard said it was improving in the north.

2:05. It was clearing. I wanted to resume my observations on the double star.

Geneviève headed to the house.

2:15. Confirmed I was on the correct star. U Cygni aka BUP 183. Amazing orange colour. B was white or blue-white. Widely separated. Oriented north-east to south-west. Very colourful pair. In an asterism of stars that made me think of a tadpole. Richard thought it very red.

Panned over HD 194192 aka HJ 1510 (still in Cygnus). Wow. Teenie weenie grouping of stars. I saw five stars. I saw A, B, D, E, and F. D is to the north-west. No problem with seeing D. Opposed, to the south-east, are the E and F stars. Both bright. E and F are oriented 90° to the A-B-D alignment. Could not see the C element opposite B. ST3P said it was 13.1 on the magnitude scale. A new object. Neat. [ed: The C, D, and E stars are under the WDS designation ES 29. F is classified as HJ 1511.]

It was curious the bright pair to the east, with SAO 49549, not identified in SkyTools.

Headed to the house for a sweater. Returned with still-awake Rhonda! We walked directly to the telescope. Showed her both U Cyg and HD 194192.

Tried again to spot the C star without luck.

2:38. Considered Uranus (and some moons). In Pisces in Aries. All right, the sky was clear there. Slewed. Cool blue.

Rhonda saw another short meteor. I asked if it had colour.

Now the challenge. To see Uranian moons through dirty eyepieces and occasional clouds. And old eyeballs.

2:46. The time in the software was wonky. Real time mode was off by an hour. Something to do with time zones? I wasn't sure the exact position of the moons... Tried to compensate.

Rhonda thought she saw something at 7 or 8 o'clock, 5 or 6, and something over by 3. Oberon (14.1) appeared to be around 5 o'clock. Titania, the brightest (13.9), should have been at the 9 o'clock. It should have been easy. I thought Umbriel (15.0) would not be possible. Ariel was probably not possible due to the glare.

We tried again. I decided against the 10mm eyepiece; went looking for the 18mm. No problem with Oberon. Asked rho if she liked viewing the second last planet in the solar system.

I noticed Orion was well up.

3:03. We slewed to our next target, the Great Orion Nebula. Huge in the C14! With the Trapezium in the centre. Enjoyed the wide field view in the TV101. Decreased the power in the SCT to take in more of the nebula. Of course, we looked with our eyes too. Neat, three levels of magnification.

Viewed the lovely σ (sigma) Orionis system. Explained the layout to Rhonda. She headed back to the 'scope to find HD 294271 D. With averted, she tagged it! She also noted the two stars between, one of which was mag 13 (assuming ST3P was right). Way to go, Hawkeye!

Noticed white light in the warm room: it was Geneviève's laptop waking up and applying updates. I covered the screen with the red film for the outdoor LCD panel.

Selected the next target. Something not too challenging. Rhonda said one more. HD 5005 in the middle of the Pacman Nebula in Cas. [ed: On my View Again list under Burnham 1 as I have not split A and B.]

3:42. Pointed out the Winter Hexagon. Or Football.

Holey moley. There were a boat load of stars in HD 5005. The H, I, and E stars were well away; the others were on top of each other. Saw D, to the south.

Also saw STI 1454 to the south-west.

Richard said we were staring down clouds...

Rhonda wanted to retire. I suggested one more observation first, looking to the east. We did not see obvious zodiacal light. If it was there, the light pollution from Collingwood was washing it all out.

3:53. My allergies were acting up.

Richard asked me why the time might be wrong on his computer! Weird. I shared mine was acting up as well.

Was going to look for the other companions in HD 5005 but I was clouded out.

Began my shutdown. Broke the connection with SkyTools. Parked with TheSky. Powered down the mount and accessories. Lifted panel B. Left everything else for Richard.

4:03. Done. Headed to bed.

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