Tuesday, October 31, 2017

viewed the Garnet as a double (Halifax)

The Burke-Gaffney Observatory imaged The Garnet Star aka μ (mu) Cephei for me. I have viewed this colourful star many times as example of a deep orange or red star. Recently I learned it is also a multi-star system. This photograph is centred on GSC 03979 00454.

multi-star system mu Cep in luminance

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

The B and C companions to the primary are rather faint.

B is close, almost due west, almost on the diffraction spike.

C is to the north-west, about 3 times the AB distance. It is a bit dimmer than B.

A very interesting field.

It'll be fun (I hope) to process this in colour to see how red it really is...


Assembled in full colour.


Found the Garnet on my View Again list in SkyTools. Removed it.


Wikipedia link: mu Cephei.

supernova still visible (Halifax)

I continue to monitor supernova SN 2017 eaw in the Fireworks galaxy (NGC 6946). BGO captured this image.

supernova SN 2017 eaw in luminance

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

Last captured on 22 Oct.

found odd SAO number

Noted that the RASC Observer's Handbook now shows SAO numbers for the coloured double stars. A few looked off but checked out (in many cases the quoted number referred to the secondary versus the primary star). One however looked incorrect, referring to a completely different star. I reported the issue to Mr Edgar.


Clarified. And corrected.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

no backyard chances

It was about a year ago that I had a fun run in the backyard with the astronomy tent and my C8. Also, Rhonda joined me for the first time, under the stars. I had hoped to repeat this year. Kept looking for a decent contiguous sequence of clear weather days. Alas, there were only a couple of good nights in the week, nights when I didn't have homework or work the next day. Meh. Our busy weekend regime also had us out of town. But it was mostly the poor weather.

installed pinhole camera 1

Rhonda and I installed the first of two pinhole cameras. This one is facing over Koshlong Lake aimed roughly toward Umbrella Island. Hard to aim due south without a compass, compass app, or the Sun... Oh well. We'll see how it goes.

Version 2.0, with the pinhole skewed away from centre. And installed inverted, i.e. with the base of the beer can up.

redid NGC 1514 (Halifax)

I recently reshot NGC 1514 (7 Oct) with BGO but I wanted more time with the O-III and H-alpha filters.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

C/2017 U1 now A/2017 U1

The strange interstellar object has been reclassified. Originally it was thought to be a comet but it never grew tails. Robert Weryk's object is now known called A/2017 U1, as per the Minor Planet Center.

The NASA article shows an animated graphic of the interloper.

The unusual object was measured at 400 meters in diameter. A medium-sized rock.

It was moving remarkably fast outside of the solar system, around 25.5 kilometres per second. That's about the same speed as the Earth as it orbits around the Sun.

It came in from "above" the solar system. On 2 Sep, it passed through the plane of the planets and went inside the orbit of Mercury.

On 9 Sep, it slung around the Sun.

On 14 Oct, it went under the Earth at a distance of approximately 24 million km or 60 LD! Cosmologically, darned close.

It speed up to 44 km/s!

Friday, October 27, 2017

redid NGC 772 (Halifax)

I wanted to reshoot NGC 772. I hoped to get slightly better data from BGO, with no gradient.

galaxy NGC 772 in luminance

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

First shot on 5 Sep '16. Then a week later. And I even tried making a full colour image. So-so results. There's a gradient in this but it is less than the 5 Sep shot. Still, it's more data to work with.

redid NGC 246 (Halifax)

Wanted more data on NGC 246 aka the Skull Nebula. I first imaged this on 26 Aug '16. This time with BGO I collected L, R, G, B, OIII, and HA data.
  • luminosity, red, green, blue: 15 seconds 5 subs each
  • O-III: 60 seconds 10 subs
  • hydrogen-alpha: 60 seconds 10 subs

Stretching oxygen and hydrogen data is hard...

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Monday, October 23, 2017

RASC will return to DDO

After hearing the deputations and a protracted discussion, the Town of Richmond Hill moved that the commissioner of community services proceed with the staff recommendation in which RASC, partnering with DDOD, will run educational and public outreach events at the David Dunlap Observatory. The majority of the councillors voted in favour.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

shot SN2017eaw (Halifax)

Shot supernova SN2017eaw with BGO again. It looks dimmer but it's still around magnitude 17 when I compare to stars in SkyTools.

supernova SN2017eaw in luminance

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

Last shot on 18 Oct.

mysterious Moon (Otonabee Region)

Rhonda wondered what the weird thing was low over the horizon. Was it the Moon? Yep. A very Hallows Eve mysterious kind of Moon. Colourful, behind foreground clouds, a thin crescent. The direction was throwing her off but we were on one of those south-bound roads dodging Kawartha lakes.

watched clouds (Crowes Landing)

We saw iridescent clouds from the dock. Opalescent colours, aquamarine and pink. Then it faded as the Sun set. Didn't get my camera.

Watched for sundogs. None.

Curiously, Frank had sent out a note on the RASC TC forum earlier: "Today (Sunday) is the sort of day when various unusual cloud phenomena, such as halos and ice crystal phenomena, waves, and iridescent clouds, are possible to appear."

I also wondered if the distant cirrus-like clouds were actually extreme high-level clouds that would become noctilucent. They exhibited many of the tells: criss-cross streaks, fast ripples, slow moving. I considered it possible for these types of clouds to form at sunset and remain, catching light from the Sun as it dipped far below the horizon. I'll have to look into that...

let's go for Bode's

Submitted a BGO job for Rhonda.


Learned later I screwed up in the syntax... But then, I'm not sure it would have mattered; I think the weather turned.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

from the soil, from the Sun

Rhonda picked up a bottle of wine for our hosts. It sounds really good. The soil, the vine, the way, taking time, the Sun... Modus from Italy. I hope they like it.

bottle of Modus wine

I pointed out the Moon phases on the label.

imaged NGC 2276 and friends (Halifax)

The BGO returned an image centred on GSC 04622 00638. It features NGC 2276 in Cepheus. A "two in the view" target. I was hoping to get 2276 and NGC 2300 but I chopped it off. Happily, there are many more smaller galaxies in the area.

NGC 2276 and neighbours in luminance

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

We viewed this Arp target in Glendo...

Of course, the brightest member is NGC 2276, a wonderful rich spiral. Curiously, it is off-centre. That is, the core of the galaxy is not centred in the arms. Gravitational tidal forces at work, no doubt. It is also known as Arp 25. The core is not overly bright. There seems to be a smooth ring around the core while the arms are mottled.

The bright star right or west of the spiral is HD 51141, a very tight double.

Far to the west is a small edge-on spiral, known as MCG 14-4-24.

Further west is tiny LEDA 2790096. It looks like another spiral.

Still further west is a large elliptical: MCG 14-4-20. A smooth oval with a bright core.

South of these three is a canted spiral. It's MCG 14-4-21.

Further south is MCG 14-4-26. It looks an elliptical to me. SkyTools says it is a spiral.

Again, I cut off NGC 2300. It is the glow to the east-south-east to 2276.


Wikipedia link: NGC 2276.

saw many meteors (Crowes Landing)

After the movie ended, a groggy Rhonda noted on Facebook people talking about the meteor shower. She asked what that was about. I told her the Orionids were peaking. We checked her iOS app. About 20 per hour.

We suited up and headed down to the dock. Had to watch our step, trying to stay dark adapted, using only dim red light.

Viewed Pleiades with the loaner Orion Little Giant II binoculars mounted on my small metal tripod. A pretty view.

Beautiful sky. Fantastic seeing near the zenith. Fair transparency. Some clouds in the west.

Then we lay on the dock to watch the sky. Almost immediately I saw a short northbound meteor near Auriga. Soon we were racking them up. Some left glowing trains. The best was almost overhead, heading west. It was extremely bright, probably a negative magnitude. The long train burned for a few seconds. Probably 20 Orionids together. I also a couple of sporadics.
Instrument: Orion Little Giant II binoculars
Mount: tripod and hand-held
Looked at many constellations and stars including Capella, Cassiopeia, Perseus, Cepheus, Taurus and the Hyades and intense Aldebaran, Andromeda, Triangulum, portions of Pegasus, Gemini rising, Ursa Minor, the Big Dipper scooping up. In the west Lyra with Vega, Cygnus, Aquila with Altair diving down, and Delphinus leaping. I could clearly see six stars in the Pleiades. The gathering of stars, with 19, 17, IQ, and 16, on the right edge of Auriga were obvious to the unaided eye.

We spent a long time looking at Orion. The Meissa cluster was obvious. Over time all the belt stars emerged over the trees.

Dismounted the 15x70 bins and used them as we lay on our backs.

The Andromeda Galaxy (Messier 31) was spectacular, beautifully framed. The little smudge of Messier 110 was very obvious, at our 10 o'clock, a short distance from the centre of the big galaxy.

The Double Cluster was very nice. A little small though. Curiously, brighter naked eye. Perhaps it was that the binocular magnification revealed many stars of the Milky Way arm.

I looked for, and found, the open clusters in Auriga: large M38, small M36, and M37 well below. All were lovely. Was there a smudge to the right of Messier 38?

Looked for Messier 33, the Whirlpool or Pinwheel or Triangulum galaxy. Very nice. Definitely smaller than M31. Tough naked eye. NGC 752 was easy with the Mark I eyeball.

Viewed the Great Orion Nebula, M42, in the binoculars. Rhonda liked that a lot.

I was feeling cold despite many layers, jeans, shoes, a jacket, and gloves. Shoulda brought my winter coat. We grabbed the gear and headed to the house. Not before enjoying one more look, stars above, and reflected in the shimmering quiet water of Big Stoney Lake.

"... revealed themselves one star at a time."

Friday, October 20, 2017

another gift from the cosmos

Magazine Astronomy published an article on the August neutron star merger. Lots of great info on this amazing discovery by the LIGO/Virgo system.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

from outer space

Robert Weryk, using a Pan-STARRS telescope, discovered a strange object. It is travelling along a highly eccentric trajectory, like a comet. Classification: C/2017 U1 (PANSTARRS). When found, it was at 85 Lunar Distances (LD, the Earth-Moon distance) and moving away from the Sun.

No, its not an alien spaceship.


The article at Virtual Telescope refers to the event. While there are only a few observations so far, the fascinating thing is that it appears this object is coming from outside our solar system!

graphic of C/2017 U1's hyperbolic path

It went through perihelion 40 days ago. The orbital characteristic is hyperbolic. It will never return.

aimed into Hickson 10 (Halifax)

Positioned BGO on star on GSC0230001449 in the middle of the galaxy cluster Hickson 10 in Andromeda.

galaxy cluster Hickson 10 in luminance

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

The Hickson 10 target shows in many of my SkyTools 3 Professional observing lists, as far back as August 2014. I believe it gets automatically added in some situations by the Nightly Observing List Generator. But in all that time, I don't recall viewing it. It is a lovely grouping.

West of centre is the large elliptical galaxy NGC 529.

Just above, north-west of 529, is a very small oblong smudge. Another elliptical? That's LEDA 169778.

The bright star to the south is HR 410.

To the east-south-east of centre is a canted spiral of NGC 536. It has huge sweeping spiral arms fanning out into space, perhaps extended by gravity. Fantastic.

NGC 542 appears to the south-east of 536. It looks like an edge-on spiral.

North of 536 is a curious shape, almost rectangular. It is a canted spiral perhaps with a bright core. NGC 531. SkyTools says it is a barred lenticular.

There are many more small fuzzies in this image...

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

shot NGC 185 again (Halifax)

I asked the Burke-Gaffney Observatory robot to imaged NGC 185 again. First shot in 4 Aug '16 and again on 8 Aug '16. Tonight's shot is much better.

NGC 185 in luminance

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

received 2018 OH

w00t! Rhonda and I received the RASC 2018 Observer's Handbook. I think she was more excited than me.

cover of the RASC Observer's Handbook

Colourful rho Ophiuchi on the front cover by Lynn Hilborn. Guest writer is Randall Rosenfeld. The 150 year badge on the back cover. I showed Rhonda various sections. We're both looking forward to diving in...

revisited SN2017eaw (Halifax)

Once again, BGO captured supernova SN2017eaw. Much dimmer.

fading supernova in the Fireworks Galaxy in luminance

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

Last shot 12 Oct '17.

stepped down

Submitted my resignation. I'm stepping down from RASC Toronto Centre council.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

when neutron stars merge

The detection of gravitational waves from merging black holes over two years ago was a big deal. A very big deal. It was like we developed a new sense. The LIGO and similar instruments allow analyses of the Universe in completely new ways.

And now we've detected gravitational waves coming from neutron star collisions. This is an exciting breakthrough partly because neutron stars are visible directly. We can see light from the event in addition to disturbances in gravity. The article at Astronomy Now is intriguing.

This discovery also helps in our understanding of where heavier but still fundamental material likely comes from, such as gold.

captured HR 6043 (Halifax)

The Burke-Gaffney Observatory imaged HR 6043 aka STT 305. This is a multi-star system in Corona Borealis. I selected it from a "most beautiful" list in SkyTools 3 Pro. The image is centred on GSC 02576-1852 with the target system near the top.

multi-star system HR 6043 in luminance

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

The B attendant is the medium-bright star immediately to the west, very close, almost touching the primary.

While there are many bright stars nearby, they are not noted in ST3P as members of the system. Also there is a dim star to the south-west. Close.

There is a C element. It is further west. In fact, it is in the vertical line of 3 dim stars, being the lowest or southern point.

It is fascinating to spot the dim oval galaxy south of OΣΣ 305 C. This is PGC 57432. It must be bright to appear in a 4 second shot...


Made colour image.

next council meeting

The next meeting of the RASC Toronto Centre council is on Thu 19 Oct.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

helped at CAO work party

We helped at the fall work party at the Carr Astronomical Observatory.

welding the Stargrazer cutting deck

I worked on the small motors with Ed. We winterised the Stargrazer and Green Flash ride-on mowers and the Blade Runner walk-behind. With Jeff's help, we welded up the old MTD cutting deck. I winterised the generator. I also replaced the batteries for fire safety and security devices.

Rhonda worked on a number of indoor and outdoor tasks. I think she had fun. It was awesome having her there.

The weather was satisfactory. It was warm. It did not rain much on Saturday. It did not snow!

The event was very well run with Ian W and Phil at the helm.

The food by the dos Santos was amazing.

updated notes

Helped Geneviève with her imaging procedure notes. We refined the set-up notes she had transcribed. Drew an additional sketch for the electronic focuser cabling. I added the closing down notes.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

loaded and locked

Loaded our two pinhole cameras with Ilford 5x7 paper. Rhonda and I closed the shutters. Capped the cans. Ready to go...


Jeff told me about he and Richard using Geoff Gaherty's astronomy equipment during the solar eclipse. A nice tribute.

entranced by IC 342 (Halifax)

Directed BGO to image IC 342. Number 5 is the Caldwell catalogue. This is a massive face-on galaxy in Camelopardalis. It is a very challenging visual target...

galaxy IC 342 in luminance

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


Wikipedia link: IC 342.

revisited Arp 133 (Halifax)

Returned to Arp 133 centred on NGC 541. The Burke-Gaffney Observation produced a much better image than my first attempt on 30 August.

galaxy cluster centred on NGC 541 in luminance

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


Tried again on 20 Nov.

Friday, October 13, 2017

look at the Elora

Katrina found a cool beer. Astronomy themed, of course. Looking forward to trying it. And made close to home too...

Elora Borealis pale ale beer

Photo by Rhonda.

we brought the clouds

It clouded over just after we arrived. Boo!

The gang had been observing since sunset under rather good skies.

They reported seeing aurora too!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

SN2017eaw still visible (Halifax)

Clear in Halifax. As expected, the BGO robot got busy. Imaged NGC 6946 for me once again. Supernova SN2017eaw is hanging on...

supernova within Fireworks galaxy in luminance

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

Last shot 5 days ago...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

made two new cameras

Rhonda and I made two new pinhole beer can cameras using Justin Quinnell's method. One thing we decided to do different was invert the can. This should help reduce water incursion without installing an additional cover. Also, we're doing an experiment. Ian W suggested changing the location of the pinhole so to get more of the Sun's arc in the "high" season. We put the pinholes about 1/3rd of the way down from the top of the camera.

Link: Justin's pinhole photography site.

Monday, October 09, 2017

quiet observing (Bradford)

Camp fire! Well, not camping. In the back yard. In the fire pit. Under the old rusty fire place, rho built a lovely warm fire.

As we decompressed from the weekend, we took in many sights in the clear sky overhead. The Summer Triangle was straight overhead when we started. Aquila, Cygnus, Lyra, high up while Andromeda, The Great Square, Pegasus were over the cedars. Cassiopeia was behind me. Cepheus was way up too. As it got darker, we could see Delphinus and the top of Capricornus. Rhonda asked about the stars left of Cap and below Peg. I had to check. Yep. Aquarius. I couldn't see it at first but pointed out the faint Water Jar. Then I located Equuleus, between Del and Peg, down a bit. Very faint, a compressed triangle, with two stars at the top and one at the bottom.

Tried to split Albireo with the old 7x Bushnell binocs hand-held—no luck.

Later when I stood on the west side of the yard, I saw Capella and the Pleiades.

We used my high-power green laser pointer. I did a quick test of my work laser pointer, that is the Logitech remote presentation control with built-in green laser. Low milli-watts! It was almost impossible to see.

We were back inside before the Moon came out. Whew.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

rushed article

Submitted my Journal column. Quickly. A bit rushed. Behind schedule. Fortunately, I was able to connect with Malcolm Park for some perspective on the Apple side. Heard from the author: he liked my suggestion. Rhonda proofread my submitted draft.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

shot supernova again (Halifax)

Ordered BGO to capture the SN2017eaw again. I'm intrigued by the long, slow burn-down.

supernova SN2017eaw in luminance

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

Last captured on 5 Oct.

captured 54 Sgr (Halifax)

The Burke-Gaffney Observatory imaged 54 Sagittarii, a multi-star system I wanted to revisit as I had not logged the B star. First viewed in August 2013, at the CAO, a suggestion from a guest.

multi-star system 54 Sgr in luminance

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

C is the bright companion to the north-east.

No wonder I did not see the B element. It is very faint. Due west of A.

SkyTools 3 Pro shows B to be bright and states it is magnitude 11. No way. It's more like mag 14.


Processed in colour on 6 Dec.

imaged Pal 11 (Halifax)

Programmed BGO to image Palomar 11. A globular cluster in Aquila. Frame centred on SAO 143755.

globular cluster Palomar 11 in luminance

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

Faint, loose, south-east (down and left) of centre.

one year ago

Happy astronomy anniversary!

Rhonda and I did our first night-time astronomy viewing together on Fri 7 Oct 2016.

Space-time flies...

more data for NGC 1514 (Halifax)

Sent the Burke-Gaffney Observatory back to NGC 1514, the Crystal Ball, to get more data. More luminance, colour, and oxygen-III data. Also, for the first time, hydrogen-alpha data.

For all: FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

planetary nebula NGC 1514 in luminance

Luminance only, 10 seconds subexposures, 15 stacked shots.

planetary nebula NGC 1514 in O-III

O-III only, 30 seconds subexposures, 15 stacked shots.

planetary nebula NGC 1514 in hydrogen-alpha

Hα only, 30 seconds subexposures, 15 stacked shots.

First imaged the planetary nebula on 12 Sep '16.


Collected more oxygen and hydrogen data on 29 Oct '17.

tried NSV 1484 yet again (Halifax)

I programmed the BGO robot with double the exposure time for NSV 1484 (from the previous attempt). Still I see nothing at the location marked in SkyTools 3 Professional. The region of interest is near centre now as I used the star GSC 03730 00073.

suspected variable star NSV 1484 in luminance

Luminance only, 8 seconds subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

Magnitude 17 stars are visible in this image.

Friday, October 06, 2017

received SN Nov/Dec 2017

cover of the Nov/Dec '17 SkyNews magazine
Received some mail today including SkyNews magazine. The November/December issue.

The cover shows Saturn imaged from the Cassini space probe. The Farewell to Saturn headline portends to an article about the craft's spectacular 13-year mission.

Looks like there are also round-up articles and photos from the August 2017 solar eclipse.

received postcard

Rhonda went through her mail shortly after getting home from work. Ha! She spotted my postcard from USA...

I had been wondering what had happened with the Wyoming card! Dropped at a USPS station on 27 Aug. Took weeks to get here...

Oops. I did not apply enough postage, that's why. I had affixed what I thought were two stamps but only one was a valid stamp; the other was some decorative element.

revisited HR 1741 (Halifax)

Sent BGO into Taurus to snap HR 1741 aka STF 680. A double I wanted to view again for its colour.

double-star HR 1741 in luminance

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

On 15 Feb '14 I struggled a bit with the colours. It will be interesting to process the RGB data...


Processed in colour on 4 Dec '17.

new hand installed

Read an article at Space Flight Now regarding the space walk to replace one of the "hands" on the CanadArm on the International Space Station. All went well exchanging the end effector and they finished ahead of schedule.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

file size matters

Rhonda and I chatted about the Journal. A day ago she had read the notice, sorted out logging in, and tried to download the PDF. She reported that it didn't work or was slow. I pointed out the high and low resolution versions and that high quality one can take a while...

tried for NSV 1484 (Halifax)

I charged the robotic Burke-Gaffney Observatory to image variable NSV 1484, an object I had attempted unsuccessfully to view before. Centring on GSC 03730 00607 in Camelopardalis, I was able to include a number of nearby double stars.

variable star NSV 1484 with doubles in luminance

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

I did not see NSV 1484 on the evening of 16 Jan '12 even though I could see magnitude 11 stars. I do not see it in this image, near the bottom-left edge of the frame! It should be south of TYC 03730-0145 1 and GSC 03730-0076, the vertically arranged medium bright stars, and between J041145.8+595414 and GSC 03730-0073, the horizontally oriented dim stars. Nada. Magnitude 16 stars are easily spotted in this stacked photograph. But there's no NSC 1484. Weird.

North of centre, at the top edge of the frame, is the bright and tight pair HD 25993. The position angle is roughly 45 degrees with A to the south-west. B is only slightly dimmer. It is interesting to note that SkyTools 3 Pro reports the separation at 4.60". I thought the limit for the BGO setup was 5.

The bright triad, with HR 1270, to the south-west is not a double.

South of centre is the faint tight double of STI 500. Tantalising. The brighter element is to the east and the companion looks to be at a PA just under 270. ST3P shows that the A star is in fact on the west side.

The bright non-round star to the north-east is double HD 26112. The stars are merged. ST3P states they are less than 2 seconds of arc.


Did a bit of digging in the New Catalogue of Suspected Variable Stars warehoused at the Sternberg Astronomical Institute, Moscow University. NSV number: 01484.
  • hours RA, equinox 2000.0: 041142.2+595406. 
  • type of variability: UV
  • magnitude at maximum brightness: 6
  • l_magMin, if magMin is a bright limit: <
  • minimum magnitude or amplitude: 12
  • magCode, the photometric system for magnitudes: p 
Note: Seen only on one plate with double images (Dec. 15, 1900).

Uh huh. So no one has seen this for over 100 years?

And the "if magMin is a bright limit" tag being true suggests perhaps it is not brighter than mag 12?


Tried again (and centred) on 7 Oct '17.

returned to NGC 6946 (Halifax)

Returned to the Fireworks Galaxy with BGO for another view of the supernova SN2017eaw.

supernova SN2017eaw in luminance

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

Imaged two nights ago.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

watched the shadow

Watched the video by Earth to Sky Calculus using a GoPro camera sent aloft with a balloon on 21 August. It imaged the Moon's shadow racing across Wyoming. Fantastic!

members notified

Notice was issued for the October 2017 issue of the Journal (as a PDF download). I thought the timing of that a little curious... I downloaded it directly about two weeks ago.

photographed HD 79210 (Halifax)

Multi-star system HD 79210 aka STF 1321 was on my "view again" list so I sent the Burke-Gaffney Observatory to Ursa Major.

multi-star system HD 79210 in luminance

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

A and B are the equally bright stars oriented east and west with A on the left or east side.

C is the extremely dim star to the north-east.

D, brighter than C, forms a nice equilateral triangle, is to the south-west.

This object is included in the RASC coloured double stars list... I'm very curious how this will turn out in colour.

SkyTools says A and B are a binary system with an initial orbit calculated at 975 years.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

captured supernova again (Halifax)

Ordered BGO to centre on NGC 6946 again. The supernova continues to drop in brightness.

supernova SN2017eaw in luminance

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

It is around magnitude 16.8 now.

Last imaged on 29 Sep '17.

revisited 32 Cyg (Halifax)

I programmed the BGO robot to image 32 Cygni (and friends) centring on TYC 3563 02372 1. Bright 32 Cyg aka S 743 is a double-star.

It was recorded in my SkyTools 3 Pro "multiples" life list but not officially logged. Neither was it noted on my online life list. It was marked in ST3P to view again. When I reviewed all the observing sessions it was included in, I did not find any specific observing status flags. I was not sure how it got on the SkyTools list. It suggested I had viewed it before. This could be the first.

double-star 32 Cygni in luminance

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

32 Cyg A is the very bright star on the east (left) side of the image. Nearly due south is a medium bright star. This is 32 Cyg B. Widely separated.

Lodriguss includes this object in his naked eye double star list.

Due west of 32 is what appears to be a dim pair, canted south-west through north-east. This is ES 799. It is actually a quadruple system! The upper left element is actually A and B merged separated by 2.3 seconds of arc. The bottom right star is C. While ST3P refers to D, it does not show it on the chart. The software says it is 3.7" away from C at position angle 74.


I think part of the confusion may be that 32 Cyg is also known as ο (omicron) 2 and it is near 31 and 30. The ο designation has been used over the years for two or three of these stars creating some ambiguity. The Flamsteed designation is more clear than the Bayer.

30 and 31 are not shown in the photograph.

30, 31, and 32, in the Swan's right wing, together make an interesting naked eye and binocular target.


Produced colour image on 15 May '18.


Wikipedia link: 32 Cygni.

Monday, October 02, 2017

returned to HD 194192 (Halifax)

The BGO robot imaged HD 194192 aka HJ 1510. A multi-star system in Cygnus. I had first viewed the 6-star grouping from the CAO recently, on 23 September, but had not spotted the C companion.

multi-star HD 194192 in luminance

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

A is at the centre of the compact grouping. B is to the south-east, close, tight, and almost the same brightness. C, which eluded me before, is very dim, opposite B, to the north-west, slightly further away. D is further north-west, quite bright. E and F are opposite again, in the same direction as B, to the south-east, a pair in their own right. E is the brighter attendant to the north-east; F is slightly dimmer. E is brighter than D; F is dimmer.


Assembled in colour on 26 Apr '20.

Sunday, October 01, 2017


Rhonda asked, "Why lumpy darkness?"



Why indeed.

'Cause it's lumpy.

And it's dark.

installed Stellarium

Installed the latest version of the Stellarium planetarium software for Jackie to her laptop. Configured the start-up settings. Gave her a quick demo.

if we make it

We discussed meteors, then asteroids, the differences between comets and asteroids, and then asteroids that might hit the Earth. Tons of material from space falls into our atmosphere every day. The world space agencies meet to plan for some of the game-changer events. But I didn't believe we had global support (and funding) to mount a serious campaign. The object that hit the Earth near the Yucatán Peninsula killed most of the plant and animal species.

Major solar flares can be bad. But that's been happening for millions of years. Serious events can affect satellites and power grids.

I said that I used the Space Weather web site to monitor things like this and specifically referred to the Potential Hazardous Asteroids (PHA) table. Of course that lead to other interesting ways that we might die (if certain world leaders don't do us all in). There are many threats from other space.

I mentioned Phil Plait's book Death From The Skies! You don't want to get spaghettified if a black hole wanders through our solar system, stretched apart by gravitational tidal forces. If a supernova goes off nearby, that could be bad. Betelgeuse, at 222 parsecs, might pop at any moment (it may already have).

Happy thoughts!


I couldn't remember the exact number. The Popular Science article says that 60 tons of cosmic dust falls to Earth every day.

The wikipedia article on the Chicxulub crater says 75% of life was destroyed in the incident.

NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) monitor near-Earth objects (NEOs). Many strategies are discussed in the asteroid collision avoidance article at wikipedia.

The Spaceweather.com web site has information about sunspots, solar flares, aurora, asteroids, etc.

The Near-Earth supernova article at wikipedia says that we'll get a significant dose of gamma radiation if a star pops within 10 to 300 parsecs (30 to 1000 light-years).

Quick reviews of Plait's book.

couple of DSOs before fog (Big Hawk Lake)

Took my telescope to Big Hawk Lake. Borrowed the mount.

Friday was clear but I didn't set up. Started the integration on Saturday afternoon so to take it slow and easy. Scouted about the yard.

gear (most of it) unloaded from the car

3:02 PM, Saturday 30 September 2017. I preferred the "front" yard, on the lake side.

I found the dovetail bar attached to the Celestron 8" SCT was too small for the Celestron DX saddle. Had to MacGyver it. Located a 1x½" piece of wood to fill the gap. Strapped it down with hook-and-loop wraps so it couldn't buckle up.

setup (stage 1) complete - note the stick protruding

4:07 PM. Completed the setup.

When I did a test alignment, I heard the RA motor straining. Checked the balance and found it way too top heavy. I had brought two 5-pound weights thinking it would be plenty.

counter weight (aquatic) on mount (telescopic)

6:05. Considered a rock in a sock but settled on the 10-pound anchor roped on RA shaft! Wow.

Installed the baader planetarium 36mm aspheric wide-angle eyepiece.

Put many items under the deck, cases, books, etc. hopefully out of the dew.

Looked up the exact latitude and longitude. Levelled the tripod. Used the compass to get the base roughly pointed to true north.


Set the mount to track the Moon.

Wondered if it would every clear the trees from the location I had selected.

7:21. Looked up the immediate azimuth (148°) and altitude (21°). I estimated I needed the Moon to go 20° to the right and 10 up. At 8:20, SkyTools 3 Pro said the Moon would be at 163 and 26; at 9:20, 178 and 27. Hmmm.


After our late dinner, I headed out to complete the polar alignment. Initially, Jackie and Rhonda helped but then they headed down to the fire pit. The neighbours to the south-east had a fire going too.

10:57. It was really humid. Dew covered the eyepiece case, the glass plate on the dock, the telescope tube.

I finished the polar alignment using the app on the Android.

Activated Rhonda's tiny red LED light string.

The mount motors struggled from time to time with the imbalance so I had to help by holding or pushing the optical equipment.

11:05. Tried to complete the star alignment but I had set the mount too high. And I had forgotten to align the finder scope.

11:12. Grabbed a patio chair to help me view through the finder scope at the top of the OTA. Then I was able to continue the two-star alignment.

11:18. Added a calibration star. But worked blind. I expected the model to be off.

Chose the Double Cluster (aka NGC 869 and 884). The pointing was indeed off. Eyeballed the location.

I was feeling a little out of sorts.

11:22. Final got to the Double Cluster just as Rhonda called up. She and Jackie walked up from the fire.

11:23. I hit the Enter button by accident causing the mount to slew. Given the pointing was off I lost my target. But I was able to get back to it quickly the second time.

Rhonda asked about my binoculars. I had put them on the steps from the deck. We unpacked them. Before going to "back yard" by the driveway to see the Moon, I had them take a look.

11:26. Jackie viewed the two clusters. She enjoyed the Double Cluster. We showed her how to focus for her eyes. She struggled a bit with staying in the ocular's sweet spot; she kept shift off axis and everything went black. I encouraged her to bob and weave a bit and then brought over the astro chair to lean against. That helped.

Asked if they could see colour. None per se.

11:29. Rhonda really enjoyed Caldwell 14. "Look at them all," she exclaimed, viewing the two groupings for stars, one on the left, one on the right.

Jackie said she was happy to find Cassiopeia in the sky. A new constellation for her toolkit. I had also shown her Cepheus, the upside-down house. I used the green laser point to draw the constellation out for rho.

They then headed "back yard" to do some bino Moon gazing. I went inside for a bit.

Put my winter coat on. Found deep red flashlight! I had not seen it for a while. It was in the red shopping bag with the coat. Yeh.

11:35. When I returned to the telescope, I thought the tracking looked OK.

11:36. Considered syncing to improve pointing. Pressed the Back button multiple times to return to the main menu. Then hit Align. The hand controller presented various options like Alignment Star, Calibration, Polar, plus Sync. I chose Sync and hit Enter. Used the coarse and fine movement techniques.

I thought the eyepiece view OK. It did not seem dim or fogged even though it looked like it was at 100% humidity. I was worried about the dew on the corrector and the ocular. I had the 8" Kendrick heater; I had forgotten the 2" eyepiece heater. I had the Type IV controller on maximum. The wraps did not seem very hot.

11:38. The neighbour's guests departed. I watch the green and white lights drift across the lake. I couldn't remember my boating sidelight orientation clearly.

I noted some clouds. I could not see Perseus at all! Damn it.

11:41. Slewed to Albireo, helping the struggling mount. When it completed, I thought the OTA was low. Using the chair again, I put the double star in the centre of the finder.

11:44. Synced again.

When I walked to the back yard, I found the Moon was too low. Rather the trees too tall.

11:48. Returned to the 'scope. Checked over the mount. The hacked dovetail clamp was holding; the hacked counter weight was OK. Rhonda's LED light string was pulsing away. The dew heaters once again didn't seem hot enough. I heard Jackie and Rhonda in the distance, drawing closer. I saw that Perseus was back. Put the SCT cap on while I waited for them to return. The eyepiece cap was on. The neighbours had gone quiet.

11:51. The happy Moon lookers returned. They had found Luna in the binos once clear of the trees, a couple of cottages over. Unfortunately, the Bushnells fogged up. They had spotted the Big Dipper, low over the trees.

They wanted to know where Auriga and Capella were. Below Perseus. I thumbed the laser. Rhonda did not think Capella as yellow as other times.

11:57. She noticed mist on water. And it was getting worse given the lack of breeze. Did not bode well for astronomy; Jackie liked it. We all agreed it was eerie.

I was feeling a bit bad. Last night had been good but I had not set up. Was kicking myself.

11:59. After I removed the caps, rho had a look at Albireo. Two bright stars just right of centre. She called Jackie up. She really liked the double star in Cygnus. She described the top star as orange with a blue one on bottom. Rhonda was happy for Jackie seeing stellar colour.

We talked about double stars, the different types, etc.

We lost the sky sadly. And Jackie was cold.

12:08 AM, Sunday 1 October 2017. Jackie called it quits and headed inside while rho and I went down to the fire. Stoopid fog. Stoopid hobby.

Told rho about once losing the SCT cover in the drink...

We took in the whole sky, such as it was, from the pit, mist and fog and clouds coming and going. I assured rho we were not seeing aurora over the cottage roof; just clouds reflecting light.

12:20 AM. We viewed delta Cephei. Rhonda thought it at minimum. In fact, it was a tiny bit dimmer than "top" star (epsilon).

I shared that this was the first official time using rho's red LED lights. I liked the random pattern. I particularly liked that system used "regular" batteries versus coin-style lithium (or some other nasty metal). Told her about Phil's mild protest in Merritt. I feel they'll be a hit at public star parties.

12:28. Told rho about the trick of putting the bins inside one's jacket. Warm 'em up.

12:31. We decided to head in. The sky was not really improving. Earlier, I had planned to go to the Dumbbell but now it was too low.

Said it was OK to turn the cottage lights on. I slewed to a good orientation and hibernated the mount. I headed to the car to get blankets, a tarp, and the clips.

12:37. Powered off the mount, installed the polar scope caps, covered the 'scope.

Took stuff inside including the recorder and computer.

12:42. Inside, I turned the recorder off.