Sunday, December 31, 2017

reviewed 2017

I believe it has been some time since I reviewed significant events for a year...

2017, in terms of blogging, passed the number of posts for 2015. But then that year showed a significant drop. Something of a blip. The previous threshold passed was 2010. This means that '17 slides in at 6th spot. Solid.

Stepped down from my councillor role for the RASC Toronto Centre. Having retired from the CAO director role in '16, this relieved me of significant volunteer assignments. I have been struggling with burn-out. I still write for the RASC Journal which I enjoy although struggle some times with ideation.

At long last, the result of a multi-year journey, I made my first three-dimensional part which is not by itself astronomy-related. I made a part for telescope and it was somehow rather satisfying.

I enjoyed capturing imagery with a tiny video camera on-board one of our model rockets launched during the open house at the Carr Astronomical Observatory. The little device worked remarkably well.

Rhonda and I made a solargraph, thanks to Risa, Ian W, and crew. We installed the extra pinhole camera late 2016 and let it expose for the spring and summer. We were very happy with the result and wanted to do it again. We made and installed two new cameras (with slight modifications).

I continued imaging with the Burke-Gaffney Observatory in Halifax. I captured more of the Finest NGC objects. Combined with visual observing, I have seen almost all deep sky objects in the RASC list. Some fantastic sights. While going "around again" I gathered additional data to improve quality and use other filters like O-III for planetary nebulae. After learning in late-2017 that I could override the minimum altitude setting allowing the telescope to go lower, I realised that some targets previously considered inaccessible may be possible to photograph now. I still struggle with image processing.

I had wanted to amp-up my double stars work and was somewhat successful. A major milestone was reaching a total of 1100 viewed doubles. Total attempts are near 1200. Happily, I saw a few more tight pairs, below 1 arc-second. I was thrilled to have a double star photo published in Sky and Telescope. I also imaged many doubles with BGO.

It was fun monitoring the supernova in NGC 6946. It blew in the summer, remains visible, but is slowly fading.

I continue to revisit some of the Messier objects. I visually took in some while photographing others. This is part of the plan to ensure I have seen all the Messiers at least twice.

Imaged a couple more Palomar globulars. A little side-project.

Rhonda and I saw lots of Orionids while up north. That was fun. Really wanted to see the Geminids but it just didn't work out.

Did little observing in backyard sadly. That said, we enjoyed an amazing view of Jupiter in June.

My gut feeling is that overall observing was down this year. I believe this is due in part to the weather. I haven't measured this at all but I think the number of good weather weekends was down a bit. Mind you, I wasn't at the observatory as much. [ed: 10 visits in 2017 vs. 18 in 2016.]

It was fun trying out some different gear this year. Using an 11-inch StarMaster was a treat, for example.

This year I observed and imaged from a few new locations: Big Hawk Lake, the Wanakita camp on Lake Koshlong, Upper Stony Lake near Crowes Landing, the Merritt Reservoir in Nebraska, and Glendo in Wyoming. A couple of those were obviously were as a result of the eclipse trip.

It goes without saying that seeing my first total solar eclipse during the fun road trip, while visiting more of America, was the highlight. I was happy with my solar eclipse photography even though wide angle. My only regret was not being able to share the spectacle with Rhonda.

Being and observing with Rhonda has been good for my astronomy. She puts many questions to me and researching and answering them helps me better understand the science and physics behind them.

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