Sunday, June 17, 2018

invasion beer

Stumbled across a funny beer. Brought some home for Rhonda. Unfortunately, it is a rather tart IPA and neither of us are fans. So, I just had to drink it.

Space Invader beer

Space Invader is made by Amsterdam Brewing Company (Canada).


Did a bit more work on the observatory today. Installed the synthetic barrier material to the south gable, temporarily removing the vent Ian had just installed. Then I installed the north gable sheathing and fabric barrier.

Jo did it

Learned from Grace that Jo worked on the design of the Cosmic beer label. Small planet.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

installed the roof

After I filled the voids at the bottom of the rafters with small pieces of foam insulation, Ian and I installed the metal roofing and ridge plates. I built custom beds to help us work comfortably and safely with the slippery surface.

Friday, June 15, 2018

attended DDO meeting

Attended (virtually) the David Dunlap Observation committee planning meeting in Ian's trailer.

blurred the frames

Shot more time lapse photos for the observatory build. Used Dietmar's neutral density filter. Along with the maximum aperture and lowest ISO, we were able to slow down the exposure to a fraction of a second. To create some blur.

prepared the roof

I worked mostly on my own on the observatory today. Released the rails from the supports. Made and installed the cross braces on the outrigger posts. Installed the insulation in the rafters. Cut the ends off the strapping. Later Thomas helped me install some support strips.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

aimed north again (Blue Mountains)

Tried shooting the northern sky again. Opened up the lens more. And this time I took the lens cap off... This is a single shot from the middle of the run.

twilight sky from Carr Observatory

Canon 40D, Rokinon 8mm, intevalometer, big tripod, f/5.6, ISO 1600, 45 seconds, daylight white balance, RAW, DPP.

No tumbling brilliant satellites. A few airplanes. One meteor. No UFOs.

Friday was turning

Checked the conditions. Tonight was looking pretty good.

CSC chart from mid-day

The Clear Sky Chart from mid-day.

CO table from the evening

Clear Outside. But now Friday was poor...

shot many photos

Shot photos of the build from mid-day to the end. So Dietmar could make a time lapse. Used my Canon kit lens, big tripod, intervalometer, one shot every minute, aperture priority, manually focused. Saved to RAW... That wasn't really necessary.


Ian and I worked on the roof rafters and strapping. I handed him his coffee. Mary-Ann and I worked on the sheathing on the south gable. I completed the vinyl siding (save the top course) on the west wall. I installed the finishing strips and J-forms on the north wall. Millie and Dietmar arrived so we showed them what was new.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

more work

Got more done on the new imaging observatory. Installed vinyl siding on the south and east walls. And did the little bit left of the door. Placed the rail supports atop the walls and installed the gables. Cut the rafters. Determined we needed the vinyl "finishing" strips for the top of the walls. Mostly Mary-Ann and I as Ian received some family from out of town. Some big weather came through around 2:00 PM so to retired for a time.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

tried for Himalia again (Blue Mountains)

10:32 PM, Tuesday 12 June 2018. Checked the space on voice recorder: 12 hours. OK.

11:16 PM. Went for Himalia again. Left the observatory inner door open. Hopefully no bugs tonight.

A text message came in... Funny timing. Rhonda asked if we were stargazing. I told her the skies were not great.

Switched from the 55mm to the 27mm.

Himalia in SkyTools chart

11:23. Closed in on the little moon...

Identified the bright star PPM 229302, north-east of Himalia. To the south-west was a wide pair of equal stars, mag 12.4 range, with GSC 5577-508, in-line, or pointing to Himalia. Right in the zone...

No joy, yet.

Saw the star GSC 5577-185 to the west of nearer star to Himalia. SkyTools said it was a mag 14.3 star. Ooh.

Back to the ocular.

The mozzies found me... Went to the house for bug juice.

Tagged the dim star south of GSC 5577-367, a J-star, at magnitude 14.4. Going deeper.

Oh! For a second I thought I saw GSC 5577-677 at magnitude 14.7! South-east of the moon. ST3P showed it was possible...

Nope. Crazy. Too dim...

Made a note to look for Jovian shadow transits with ST3P. Hopefully there were some coming up in the next couple of nights.

Closed the door.

11:43. Lost the sky. Told Rhonda. She asked if there were any fireflies around. Yep. I saw some last night. And tonight.

Chris M popped by. "I just saw that tumbler." At 11:40 according to his phone. What?! I zoomed outside but it was gone. Dang! Around Draco and Cassiopeia (above), near Cygnus, heading roughly east-south-east. He saw a flash from the THO. I offered to check Heaven's Above but couldn't find anything. Weird. [ed: Looks like it might have been the TELKOM 3. Path from Heaven's Above. But only mag 5.6...]

Grabbed another Cosmic Cream Ale. And munchies.

Fireflies were still going...

Warmer tonight.

11:57 PM. Pulled the Davis weather station page. Wind: 10 minute average 0.0 km/h; direction WNW; instantaneous speed 0.0. Humidity: 85%. Oh, high. Barometer: 1010.4 hPa. Temperature: 19.9°C; dew point 17.3. Close.

Checked the ADDS in infrared black and white. Looped it. The lakes were still cold. Clouds everywhere!

Disconnected from the mount and parked.

12:16. Closed the roof.

12:28 AM, Wed 13 Jun '18. Just noticed ST3P said Mars's moons are easy!

lookin' for clues

Grace said that Tom thought the old CAO guest books might be in an archival box in the library. Marked "2000s." I reported to Grace that I had had a quick look. There were lots of archival boxes but only a few are marked. I didn't see a "2000" box. I looked in one randomly and it had really old stuff.

juggled sked

One of the presenters cancelled for Wednesday 20 June so Paul Markov asked if I could step up. I have three slide decks in the can. So we settled on my barn door tracker topic. At the Ontario Science Centre of course. And streaming live. See you there.

That jostling means that my double star presentation, part 2, will go on 15 August...

made good progress

We worked on the observatory. Ian W liked my rail support idea so we built my simple support structure. Started at 8:26 AM. Extended the rails. Built the wooden roof supports for the roller wheels. Installed the barrier fibre material. Built the gables. I studied some YouTube videos to learn how the vinyl siding would be installed. Made a temporary bridge to access the deck from the east. Hmmm. Took siesta after noon and resumed work at 1:53 PM. Extra assistance from Mary-Ann and Chris M.

a workshop at midnight

Rhonda sent me an interesting note. She had found a "workshop" by the Toronto and Region Conservation organisation. An astronomy workshop. At midnight! Wow. It is run at the Kortright Centre for Conservation in Woodbridge. $45 per person. The show starts at 8:30 PM and runs into the next day. Participants get a talk, learn the sky in a portable planetarium, and then head outside to do naked eye, binocular, and telescope observing. Huh.

completed the Finest (Blue Mountains)

I came up to the CAO primarily to assist Ian W. If I got some observing in, that would be a bonus.

The skies were looking good! Set up in the Geoff Brown Observatory. Transferred lots of stuff from my car into the GBO including camera, barn door tracker, netbook computer, dew heating kit, eyepieces, NOCO battery, and so on. Connected my netbook to the Paramount ME. Used the centre's USB adapter (as I didn't have mine)... [ed: Found mine at home.]

7:49 PM, Monday 11 June 2018. I was ready to go!

And it was only three hours to darkness! Ugh.

8:04 PM. Turned on the mount. Removed the caps.

Looked at the Clear Sky Chart.

CAO CSC for Mon 11 Jun '18

Yes. Lots of blue!

Loaded up the Clear Outside page.

Clear Outside Mon 11 Jun '18 CAO

Also good. Lots of green!

8:10. Pulled the weather data from the Environment Canada web site. For Collingwood. No Alerts in effect. Current Conditions: 19°C. Observed at: Collingwood. Date: 7:00 PM EDT Monday 11 June 2018. Condition: Not observed (i.e. no humans). Pressure: 101.8 kPa, tendency: falling. Temperature: 18.5°C. Dew point: 8.6°C. Humidity: 53%. Wind: NNW 8 km/h. Nice.

The 24 Hour Forecast: Tonight, Clear, 11°C. Clear, Tue, 12 Jun, Mainly sunny, 28°C. Night, Chance of showers, 17°C, 60%, A mix of sun and cloud.

The Detailed Forecast: Issued: 3:30 PM EDT Monday 11 June 2018. Tonight, Clear. Low 11. Tue, 12 Jun. Mainly sunny. Increasing cloudiness late in the afternoon. High 28. Humidex 33. UV index 9 or very high. Night, Cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers late in the evening and overnight with risk of a thunderstorm. Low 17.

Overall, looking rather good for this evening. Moonless skies meant I should go for galaxies, faint fuzzies. But the transparency was not looking to be excellent. And the seeing was not high...

8:35. Considered trying to spot the tumbling or spinning satellite in a photograph. So I set up the camera and tripod between the GBO and the Observing Pad. Connected AC power. Aimed north with the fisheye. Connected the intervalometer. Loaded a new/different memory card. Set the 8mm lens to f/8 and infinity. Couldn't recalled a good exposure so I reviewed my notes from August 2015. Programmed a 30 second exposure. Set the camera to bulb, ISO 1600, daylight. Ready to start.

8:52. Ian D, Ian W, Wayne, and myself gathered at the Observing Pad. Helped Wayne with his polar alignment, discussing the alt-az controls.

I wondered about fighting with the camera rig; I wanted to know the expected dew point.

CAO Astrospheric for Mon 11 Jun '18

Astrospheric showed the air and dew temps getting as close as 5 degrees, around 10 or 11 PM. But then the dew point dropped very low... Decided to not worry about it.

9:07. I found the stink in the GBO! A dead mouse on the telescope pier stand.

Went to Jupiter. The telescope was way off target! [ed: I didn't notice it at the time but I had the wrong location in SkyTools.] Went to Venus. Had to sync in TheSky6 to improve the pointing. Returned to Jupiter. On target again. SkyTools seemed OK.

Could see the gibbous phase on the second planet. The air seeing was bad on Venus.

9:19. Viewed Jupiter. Seeing bad on Jupiter. Could see three moons. Two moons in the big 'scope, with the 27mm Panoptic, were "below" or to the west: Europa and Ganymede. Io was opposite to the east. Callisto was way out there.

Yep. Spotted the fourth moon.

9:21. Checked my email.

Reviewed the tumbler messages from Katrina and Chris V as well as the observing notes from Rhonda and I, looking for details, a pattern, times... Wondered when I should start the photo run.

9:28. Continued review. All the observations were around 11:30 so I decided to start shooting about 1 hour before. And that would be an hour from now...

Had another look at Jupiter. The seeing was getting better.

9:39. Yawned. Oh oh. I had not sleep-shifted going into this period. But then I had early starts...

Considered Himalia. It's a rather dim moon around Jupiter but it is in a large orbit, possibly easier to see than Amalthea which is very close to the host planet, and consequently difficult to see through the glare. SkyTools is really good, right? Huh. SkyTools showed it would be visible at 10:55 PM with the C14 with the 27mm! Intriguing.

Remembered the camera memory cards were reaching max capacity. Made a note to clear them out.

9:42. Opened the local CAO weather page. Schlanger. Stale dated. Went to the house to reboot the server. Returned with a snack.

Adjusted the SkyTools site conditions, temperature and humidity. Ran the NOLG to get some evening suggestions.

Tried to connect to the house server from the GBO but couldn't access it. Had someone else changed the system? Or was I using the wrong/old password? Ah ha: the latter. Ensured all the services were running. Logged out.

Davis weather station as of 9:49 PM. Wind: 10 minute average 9.7 km/h; direction SE; instantaneous speed 8.0; high 38.6. Humidity: 53%; was as high at 70. Barometric pressure: 1016.7 hPa. Temperature: 16.3°C; dew point 6.7; inside 22.3. Historical charts had not updated.

Continued working on my observing list. Considered some Arps. Tried "off the beaten path." Pulled from my Caldwell list. Reviewed my View Again list. A good mix, with 91 objects... OK.

Went to the 'scope to have another look at Jupiter. Higher now.

10:32. The seeing was better. Tried for the faint moon Himalia.

Wayne popped in. He reported loosening the large centre bolt did the trick; he was now able to move his EQ mount in azimuth. I opened the SkyShed Pod clamshell for him.

10:41. I started the star trails, time lapse imaging run aiming north-north-east.

Ian W and Chris M were on the Observing Pad.

10:42. Rhonda messaged me. She included a photo of the envelope from the ministry! w00t, it arrived, my volunteer service award stuff. I asked her to open it.

I left the GBO. I was cold.

Ian W came lookin' for me.

10:54. She sent photos of the contents. An attractive colour certificate. Gold pin. Nice!

Returned with more layers on, including long shirt and hoodie. And my toque.

Thought I was seeing the L-shape of stars. Kept trying to identify the star field around Himalia.

Ian W called out, "Bright satellite to the north-west."

The alcatel froze. Crikey. Rebooted the phone.

11:15. I had to perform a meridian flip as I couldn't nudge the mount any further. Then headed by to the tiny moon. ST3P said the moon was 942 arc-seconds away.

Closed and opened the Interactive Atlas to get the blinking X to reappear.

Once again, west was down. Kept searching.

11:24. The meridian flip turned everything upside-down.

Nope. Nothing definitive.

I did pick up the magnitude 13.6 star, GSC 5577-884, to the south. It was inline with a pair of stars to the north and the bright star, PPM 229302. Himalia should have been between. The pair included GSC 5577-367, the brighter star, at mag 12.6; the other star was shown as mag 14.4. Himalia is mag 15.1 according to the software. Maybe below the C14 limit? Or impacted by the conditions. [ed: ST3P says the 14-inch Celestron can go to magnitude 16.1!]

11:30. Adjusted ST3P. Used the IA chart, versus the Context Viewer, to simulate the view. None of the orientations worked, unfortunately.

Decided to go after some deep sky objects.

Moved the ladder and slewed to NGC 4236 in Draco. It looked like an edge-on galaxy. Quite large in the C14 but extremely faint. Oriented north-to-south. Noted two bright stars above or north-east.

11:39. Grabbed the 55mm ocular. Bonkers.

It was a bit better, the view. Barely visible. Something interesting going on in the centre, reminding me of the Cigar. Noted a third star, HD 106925, to the NE.

A Caldwell target. You are crazy Sir Moore. SkyTools said it was magnitude 10.1. Diffuse.

11:43. Ian D visited. Things were working with his SkyTools software after following my advice. He had forgotten to select the Real Time tab.

Chose Hickson 68 in Canes Venatici. The galaxy group was not far away. Slewed.

11:45. It was good to see the Milky Way again. Pinged rho.

11:48. Neat. I saw three little galaxies beside a pair of bright stars.

The two on the right (south) were brighter. They were touching each other. The north galaxy was bigger.

The pair of stars (with HD 121197, mag 6.4, micro-variable) were yellow and blue! Huh.

Checked on the camera. Still clicking away...

Returned to the OTA to spot the other members of Hick 68...

Spotted NGC 5371 with the TV Plössl 55mm. Well away to the east. Near two bright stars. Large. Obvious. Oval.

Learned that the Hickson group was made up of a bunch of NGC galaxies: from south to north, 5353 and 5354, touching, then 5350 (aka Markarian 1485). I had to pan for 5371. I could not see 5355. Nor 5358. None of these were logged! Awesome. That was a good target.

Slewed to the comet C/2015 O1. Same constellation. Spotted the pair of stars to the left (north-west)... Nope. Nothing obvious.

12:02 AM, Tue 12 Jun. Headed to the Blaze Star.

Weird. Nothing there!

ST3P said the magnitude changes from 2.0 to 10.8. Whoa. It has a period of 29,000 days. And the current magnitude is 4.4. Was I in the right area?

Noted the double nearby... Not logged. Hmmm.

12:10 AM. HD 143707, aka H V 75, is pale yellow, almost white, and pale blue, quite dim. Much dimmer. An official double according to ST3P.

There is a tight pair to the south-east of the Blaze Star. It includes PPM 104510. South of it is PPM 104511. Equally bright. Mag 10.9 and 10.6. The numbers didn't seem right.

The Blaze Star showed as mag 6.4 in the chart when I hovered but it seemed dimmer than that.

I liked the little triangle of stars to the east. With Tycho 2038-222 1.


Moved to my next target: γ (gamma) CrB.

12:13. Pretty bright. Eyeballed a little gaggle of stars nearby. Eww. 0.37 seconds of arc. ST3P said it was not splittable. Period of 93 years. Decided to throw some power at it.

The seeing was poor.

12:17. No joy in the 27mm.

Slid to θ (theta) in Corona Borealis. Could not split it either. Separation: 0.8".

Felt tired. It was getting close to 12:30.

Considered high priority targets.

Big slew. Headed to Arp 330 in Draco.

Wayne peeked in. He surmised I was around. He had completed his polar alignment with satisfaction but was tired. He needed to get into town. We headed to the pod to close the lid. Afterwards I went to the Pad.

Mars was up! Saturn in Sagittarius. Scorpius was quite high.

Chris M was not on the Pad; I noticed red light coming from the THO.

12:44. Oops. It helps if you take the lens cap off when you're shooting a time lapse... 211 accidental dark frames!

Mmm. Hot chocolate.

The Arp group was very small. Near a bright star. Could not see anything. Nearby pattern of stars reminded me of a Space Invader sprite.

Rejected Messier 62. Too low.

Slewed to Saturn. Nice. Nice to be back on the ringed planet. Lots of moons buzzing around the nest. OK view; not great.

12:54. Looked for candidates on the east side of the meridian.

Tried panning around the region...

Stumbled across Messier 22 (M22). An oval shaped globular cluster. Very nice in the refractor. Not round. Quite bright. Near a funny triad of stars with 24 Sagittarii. ST3P showed lots of doubles within (or ahead of) it. Huh. I'd expect that of an open cluster... Must be close. Didn't have the patience to dig out the doubles...

Tried panning in the direction of the triad and beyond to reach M28. Fell into the Lagoon or the Trifid. An open cluster (on the left) and diffuse stuff (right). Saw lanes through it.

Did some more panning.

Bumped into it, NGC 6520! A small cluster in the 55mm in the C14. Orange star. A double (HD 164562). A bit of nebulousity? Quite small in the Tele Vue refractor. To the north-west, there was this orangey star. Noted a string of stars.

1:15. Nice. Blue white stars in the cluster, aka Collinder 361. Neat alignment of about three stars, equally bright. Seeing was not great. Plus really faint points. Streamer to the south-west. Equal pair to the north-east. Lots of stars in the field. At low power, a streamer off to the right. Really neat.

Went out for one more look.

This view of NGC 6520 marks the final NGC in the RASC Finest list! That was very exciting to tick this box.

I closed the observatory.

1:25. Concluded the imaging run and brought the photographic kit into the Warm Room.

Ran into Ian W.

1:30. Shut down the computer.

Locked the GBO. Headed to the house. In short order, I crawled into bed.

1:51 AM. Thanked Rhonda. My feet were warm tonight. Planet socks rock!

a lot of darks

I had hoped to image the northern or north-eastern sky for a protracted time, perhaps to capture the tumbling satellite a few of us have seen. So I set up my rig near the Observing Pad at the Carr Astronomical Observatory. And proceeded to make several mistakes.

I really didn't choose good exposure settings. The "light" frames are terribly underexposed. I had based my values on the star trails shots from 27 Aug '15 when I shot with the Rokinon 8mm lens at f/5.6, ISO 1600, and 30 seconds each frame.

When I configured my camera this time, I set the lens to f/8. Oops. This dramatically reduced the light reaching the sensor. The hot pixels are as bright as the stars. Distracting.

stars to the north-east from CAO

The bigger whoops was leaving the fisheye lens cap on. In my rushing to set up and not bug Chris M and Ian W on the Pad, I completely forgot to remove the cover. It wasn't until much later, after shoot over 200 stills, that I discovered my mistake. Well, I have lots of dark frames...

I manually inspected the 69 light frames. No obvious bright flares, spinning satellites, fireballs, or the like.

Tech. info.: Canon 40D, big tripod, intervalometer, RAW collected, DPP, 16-bit TIFF files to Photoshop, manually subtracted dark, levels, curves.

Monday, June 11, 2018

shared my idea

Told Ian W my modest proposal. An easy, fast solution.


I reported to the CAO team I had opened all the equipment boxes. Offered to photo-document if necessary. I asked for the packing lists or order forms, from Dietmar and Ian W, to ensure receipt of all items. There were lots of bits in the Paramount MyT box. Overall, everything looks good.

picked up supplies

Helped Ian pick up the building supplies for the new observatory. Strapping, vinyl siding, insulation, fasteners, etc.

got away

Arrived the Carr Astronomical Observatory for a week's vacation as well as some astronomy. It's planetary opposition season! Also, I planned to help with the construction of the new imaging observatory—unofficially the Chow-Wheelband Imaging Observatory.

Lovely drive.

Flying solo. Rhonda has a bunch of stuff to do on the weekend so can't join me later. Boo.

Bumped into Rainbow Sue and Skylights Chris just before they departed the grounds. They were able to halt their close-up tasks. It took the reins.

Beat Ian to the site by 15 minutes to so. Ah. He's the work captain now; the supervisor for the coming weekend. He had the new telescopes to unload...

Beautiful skies...

Friday, June 08, 2018

found 'em!

Found my glow-in-the-dark stars! Yeh. Small things, eh?

updated Fun Facts

First time in years I updated the Fun Facts astronomy presentation for RASC Toronto Centre.

Northcott slide from Fun Facts deck

Ian W had a look and enjoyed the updates, changes, and additions. We plan to run this automatic slide deck at the big DDO event.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

final demo online

The edited final version of my SkyTools software demonstration at the RASC Toronto Centre Recreational Astronomy Night meeting on May 23 was uploaded to our YouTube channel. I added corrections and additional notes in the comments area.

who's in?

Mr Chapman put out the call to see who intends to continue on the RASC national observing committee. Lots of hands going up.

see you at the DDO opening

The official grand re-opening of the David Dunlap Observatory is this Saturday afternoon, 9 June 2018.

a Grand Opening banner

RASC Toronto Centre and the Town of Richmond Hill's other partners will be there. Rhonda and I will be there volunteering. She's on the photography-media team and I'll be at the Ask The Astronomer booth. I hope it won't turn into the Stump The Astronomer booth... ;-)

Visit the town's web page for more info.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

resumed reading Doings

Resumed reading DDO Doings. I had started reading the volume 1 issues some time ago but only got as far as number 6, from 1968.

made part 2

Built the next slide deck for my double star series. This time on measuring doubles with emphasis on using an astrometric ocular.

reviewed CMG use

Tidied up my notes and spreadsheet on measuring double stars with the Celestron Micro Guide. Partly so to quickly demonstrate the use of the CMG.

today's quick Mars facts

Need Mars info?

The Earth-Mars distance is 0.6 AU right now. That's approximately 90 000 000 kilometres. This will decrease toward opposition.

The phase is 0.92 or 92%. That's very gibbous. It will increase.

The magnitude is -1.38. Getting brighter. So the mag value will become a higher negative value.

Current apparent visible size is 16" or 16 arc-seconds. This will increase too.

Mars in a telescope

Simulated view (from Stellarium) in a 14" SCT telescope with a 26mm eyepiece and a 3x magnifier.

Remember Mars reaches opposition mid-July.

Monday, June 04, 2018

use SkySafari for free

Pedro sent out a note on the Starry Night Yahoo!Group.
We recently made our SkySafari astronomy app a free download.  You can grab a copy for iOS or Android.
He shared links into the Apple App store (iOS) and the Google Play (Android) stores.

He encouraged us to tell our friends that the powerful, easy-to-use planetarium SkySafari (basic edition) is now a free download.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

completed my article

Rhonda proofread my Journal article. I applied changes and uploaded the materials for Nikki.

learned about Crowe

Rhonda and I watched a video (on YouTube) of astronomer Dr Richard Crowe.

planning talks

Mr Markov and I discussed future presentations I could deliver at RASC Toronto Centre meetings. We penciled in 15 August for my barn door talk, "a barn door tracker with alt-az base;" and 10 October for a presentation on BGO, called "using the robotic Burke-Gaffney Observatory."

DDO photos up

Peter V shared on Facebook the photos he shot at the DDO last night.

DDO parking lot signage

Copyright © 2018 Peter Visima.

sent my notes

Sent Bhairavi my follow-up from last night. Overall, things went very well at the DDO, so it's just little stuff.

sent rise and set times

Sent Grace some evening details for the Saturday 7 July 2018 members Open House and Awards Picnic at the CAO. Used SkyTools of course.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

returned to the DDO (Richmond Hill)

Rhonda and I arrived the David Dunlap Observatory around 7:15 PM. We were to volunteer with RASC Toronto Centre in partnership with the Town of Richmond Hill.

Noticed the development at Bayview, rerouting of the drive at Hillsview, the disappearance of the gate and gatehouse, the new tarmac up the lane, the new asphalt in the driveway, the painted lines. The excellent landscaping work! The place looked really good. Everything was clean and tidy.

A handful of volunteers were already present. Bhairavi led us to our office space in the administration building where we assisted the volunteers. I unpacked the new t-shirts. They looked good. She distributed my prepared targets list to the amateurs on the lawn. Bhairavi was thrilled that I had brought my FRS/GMRS radios so I distributed 5 of them to the team. It was good to meet Peter V at last. Really good to see Kirsten after such a long time.

We had enough people flying telescopes on the lawn so I was assigned to hall monitor duties and I guided visitors, answered questions, and kept an eye on the library. Tidied the office. Rhonda received guests at the parking. I helped Louis and Professor Delaney with some A/V set-up in the lecture hall. Started up a log note for evening issues.

Venus was easily spotted over the trees to the west during sunset. Astronomers reported the phase was visible.

We looked at Jupiter in Dan's apo. All four moons were visible. Cloud bands were obvious. Rhonda looked too. The seeing was not great unfortunately. Another operator was looking for Deneb but it was too low at the time. I pointed out Vega to help in their alignment.

I thought the signage, posters, and banners by the town's media team were excellent.

Professor Delaney's talk on "The Search for Planet Nine" was well received.

report on a double star conference

Later, Rhonda asked to visit the library. We noted many books going back to the 1800s. Then she spotted a booklet and called me over. A report by Sarah Lee Lippincott on double stars. Neat!

Then I guided Rhonda to the dome and we caught the tail end of Eric Brigg's talk.

second ISS flyover

As I exited the dome, I readied for the final flyover of the International Space Station. I spotted the ISS behind the trees to the north-west and called out for all. As predicted, it rose up high in the sky and then faded into the Earth's shadow. I was with Rhonda, Paul, Eric, and Matt. Eric pointed out that Drew Feustel has dual citizenship.

Everyone enjoyed my programmed scrolling LED badges. Rhonda's read, "Pleiades rocks! Rhonda. RASC TO." Of course, I configured mine to say "Double stars rock!"

Perfect weather. Amazing conditions. We left the grounds around 11:30.

Poorly designed street lights in the new development area. Passed "Telescope Gate" on the way out. Is that the new official street name?

It was so amazing to be back at the DDO! A breath of fresh air. Everyone was so happy. It was an awesome evening and things went very smoothly.

A new era. I am so excited to be a part of it.

Friday, June 01, 2018

join us at the DDO

Rhonda and I are volunteering for the astronomy night at the David Dunlap Observatory tomorrow night (Saturday 2 June). It's going to be so much fun to be back there!

imaged HD 177783 only (Halifax)

I had hoped to image the multi-star system HD 177648, one of the attractive suggestions from Coldfield list. I programmed the BGO robot with the target which it accepted.

But then I noticed there was another system nearby. For the second time, I tried employing the OFFSET option with the imaging request.

I shifted too far! It pushed my main target out of the view. Oops. You can just barely see it the bright wide AB pair at the bottom-right corner of the photograph!

I was only left with HD 177783 in the field. This is a triple in Vulpecula. Below and right of centre.

multi-star system HD 177783 in luminance

Luminance only, 1 second subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

The B star, somewhat dimmer, is almost due east of the primary. A titch to the north. Very close. Almost touching. The C element is further along, about 7 or 8 times the distance, canted a bit to the south.

This system is also known as BU 359.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

visit the DDO this summer

Check out the web site for the David Dunlap Observatory (owned and managed by Richmond Hill). You can quickly access the web site by typing into your favourite browser.

the new DDO web site

Lots of information from the town on summer astronomy and science programmes as well as long range future plans.

the DDO reopens

The town of Richmond Hill shared a news piece on their web site about the reopening of the DDO. They wish that the "David Dunlap Observatory will become a regional centre for education and public outreach related to astronomy with its upcoming programming." RASC Toronto Centre will help them achieve this goal.

watched DDO highlights

I watched the highlights captured from the live CTV broadcast with Anwar Knight at the David Dunlap Observatory. Anwar acknowledges the opening date anniversary and the verification of the first black hole. There's some words from our RASC Toronto Centre DDO chair Dr Bhairavi Shankar and a quick tour inside the dome with Archie Deridder. Getting real!

an interesting accolade

Shared with the Skyhound developer a link to the rough cut of the RASC meeting video from May 23. I wanted him to see my SkyTools 3 demo (starting at the 36 minute mark).

I was astonished by his reply.
Hey Blake!  That was the best SkyTools demo I have ever seen.  Hit all the right spots with only a few little nits to pick.  What an awesome job!  It so nice to see someone get it.  Greg
Wow. High praise.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

wrote next column article

Drafted my next Journal article. Need to test an app on iOS and then I can put it in the can.

returned to 70 Oph (Halifax)

Charged the BGO robot with imaging the binary system 70 Ophiuchi (aiming at GSC 00434 02340). I intend to return to this target every year, so to watch it move...

binary system 70 Oph in luminance

Luminance only, ½ second subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

24 Aug '16 (with a reprocessed detailed image)
19 Jul '17


Wikipedia link: 70 Ophiuchi.

revisited NGC 7027 (Halifax)

In July 2016 (5 and 17) I collected data on planetary nebula NGC 7027 with the help of the Burke-Gaffney Observatory. I returned to this target to retrieve more data, this time with the SBIG camera. I also wanted ionised oxygen information.

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

planetary nebula NGC 7027 in luminance

Luminance only, 15 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots.

planetary nebula NGC 7027 in hydrogen

Hydrogen-alpha filter only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots.

planetary nebula NGC 7027 in oxygen

Oxygen-III filter only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots.

This thing is small but bright!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

linked to photo album

Uploaded the CAO work party photos captured by Thomas to our Google Photos area. Shared out the link. Sent a notice via the RASC Toronto Centre forum. Also noted some other tasks accomplished.

configured BGO

Loaded a couple of new jobs into BGO.

I'm trying the RA and Dec offset again. I should be shifting north and east for my image of HD 177648 so to include a nearby double.

Added globular Messier 28. Another M catalogue object to look at again.

Something new that I tried was the MAXMOON parameter. So to keep Caldwell galaxy NGC 4236 in the queue but to make the robot resist queuing it during this full Moon period...

caught the test flight

Watched the Twitter feed as the VSS Unity underwent another test flight.

VSS Unity landing after 13th test flight

It was released from Virgin Galactic's VMS Eve, the rocket motor was ignited briefly, the tail booms were feathered, she turned for the glide back home, and successfully landed.

dealership sees the light

My Google Alert on light pollution had an interesting entry. The "Yarmouth" word caught my eye. Close to home. Well, in Canada.

The tickler said that a car dealership in Yarmouth County turned off its bright lights to help promote astro-tourism in the area.

The full article went on to say that Tim Doucette appreciated the gesture by the Tusket Ford shop.

Hopefully other businesses will reduce their light pollution after local midnight. It will save money and energy, improve the health and quality of life for humans, flora, and fauna. And reveal the wonder, once again, of the night sky.

Monday, May 28, 2018

read first S&T scan

While at the Carr Astronomical Observatory last weekend, I had intended retrieve some old issues of Sky & Telescope so to read early articles on double stars.

Initially, I had noted the results of a search of our index from the Fred Troyer library with issues starting in 2004. As I prepared for my trip to the CAO, I thought that starting year a little odd. So I dove into the the index catalogue again and learned that RASC Toronto Centre has copies of the periodical as far back as 1956. That's better. And the first double star piece I found was in an issue one year after that.

Shortly after Tom arrived the CAO on Friday night, I casually asked him the year of the first S&T issue, to corroborate my read of our index. He agreed. Moments later, he emerged from the basement with a surprise: The Complete Sky & Telescope: Seven Decade Collection. This is the optical disc archive of the magazine from its first issue in 1941 through to 2009! Wow.

Sky and Telescope on DVD

"Tom," I said, "I didn't know we had this!" He relayed it was an item received from the late Geoff Gaherty.

What a treat. What a great membership perk. With this I could go be even further back... I signed it out.

I just finished reading my first article, Sirius and Its Companion, by Robert G Aitken from the September 1942 issue. The director emeritus of the Lick Observatory talks about how he helped validate the duality of Sirius as well as predictions by Albert Einstein. The perceived orbital path diagram from 1850 through 1950 is fascinating. It was this wavy line that lead Friedrich Bessel in 1842 to surmise there was a dense and dark star tugging at brilliant Sirius.

updated small motor dox

Updated the internal combustion engine documentation for the CAO.

he found it useful

Jaegar thanked me on the RASC TC forum regarding my double star suggestions. A "very useful resource," he said. All right!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Moon jumped Jupiter (Bradford)

From the back deck, in the cool air, winding down, trying not to stress about the week ahead, Rhonda and I reflected on the weekend. Overhead, the Moon had skipped over Jupiter.

trace of the Moon over 3 nights

It was about 5 degrees to the east now.

tidied up

Tidied loose ends for the CAO work party. I thank Joel, Bailey, and Stephen for their help with the outriggers work. Had a good chat with Ted about IT matters. Shared ideas on fixing a starter motor with Ed. Doug and I documented the new fire bottles. Stephen and I rejuvenated the DMM with a new battery. Gathered all my paper notes. Received the photos from Thomas.

rebooted during tour

Rebooted the server at the CAO again. The weather app had, as per usual, lost its connection with the console. As I showcased the LAN to Ted, I physically operated the machine.

we can improve Earth

If you're not completely convinced of the devasting impact the current world human population is having on the environment, well, I feel sorry for your children and grandchildren...

I will continue to do as much as I can to reduce my carbon footprint, reduce, recycling, reuse, and repair. I might start composting for the first time this summer. I've very active about reducing electricity and light pollution. I will plant trees. I encourage everyone to evaluate what your buy, what you throw out, how you use your vehicle(s), how your use light.

Maybe this is something that everyone can get behind... Imagine a world without chocolate!

didn't received three

BGO tried to image NGC 7027, M24, and 70 Oph but had trouble. I received "error syncing" messages. I suspect the east coast had suddenly bad skies.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

some quiet time (Blue Mountains)

Rhonda and I headed to the Observing Pad again before trundling off to our beds. Similar conditions to Friday. Perhaps a bit cooler. Happily bug free. Took in the Moon and Jupiter behind clouds. I've never really noticed moon beams before. We tagged a few stars and portions of constellations in the bright sky. The Summer Triangle was rising.

imaged M107 (Halifax)

The Burke-Gaffney Observatory also captured Messier 107 (M107) for me. A globular cluster in the constellation Ophiuchus. This is another object from Charles's list that I had only viewed once.

globular cluster Messier 107 in luminance

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

A lovely big globular with a sparsely packed core. The west edge is interesting with a bunch of stars in a nearly perfectly straight line. And that's a big backwards J-shape of stars starting below (south) and winging up to the east, curving around the core.

First viewed on 3 Aug '08.

There's some sort of problem with the image with all the bright stars showing a streak or trail to the west. I suspect the tracking of the mount went bonkers at some stage. Regardless, I like the photo.


Wikipedia link: Messier 107.

imaged M61 (Halifax)

I ordered the BGO robot to photograph Messier 61. Another object it seems I have looked at once only. Wanted to have another gander. This is an interesting face-on spiral galaxy in Virgo.

galaxy Messier 61 in luminance

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

The inner bright galactic arms are weird. They are not curved; they seem bent. All together they make for a diamond shape. To the north-west, there's a swooping curving arc trailing off to the north. There are many bright lumpy knots surrounding the intense bright core.

Neat to see other galaxies in the field.

NGC 4292 is the canted spiral to the north-west near the bright star PPM 158756. The galaxy looks like a barred spiral; SkyTools 3 Pro says it is a lenticular.

North of 4292 is a small round fuzzy: LEDA 213977.

LEDA 1266560 is south-west of M61. It is a dim horizontally stretched lint ball.

Another stretched fuzzy is PGC 40063, to the south-east.

North-east of M61 is NGC 4301, another face-on spiral galaxy. This one has a diffuse faint core but attractive encircling arms with some bright nodules.

Quasar Q1219+0047 shows in the software north-west of the central galaxy. I see the mag 16 star J122137.9+043026 but I don't see the mag 16.2 quasar just north of the star. Strange.

Wow. Fun.

First viewed M61 and NGC 4301 on 4 May '13, that amazing evening...


Wikipedia link: Messier 61.

completed our tasks

Helped at the spring work party at the CAO.

I was captain for Team Venus. We were charged with marking the holes for the auger at both the outrigger and gate locations, building the concrete outriggers for the imaging observatory, building the driveway gate, and repairing the east window in the Cygnus bedroom. With the rain delays and trouble with rocks at the outrigger auger locations, we handed the reins to another group to work on the gate while we concentrated on the outrigger posts. Due to the great teamwork, we finished our tasks.

looking for wires

I thank Rhonda, Richard, Joel, Phil, and Ted for their excellent hard work despite intense rain storms, hot and humid conditions, and hordes of black flies.

I thank Tony, Dietmar, and Phil for their support and guidance.

I thank our neighbour John for the real John Deere and auger.

And thanks to Thomas for the photos!

I thank Elaine and Tony for the awesome food.

good feedback

Frank sent a nice remark out on the RASC Toronto Centre mailing list.
Thanks Blake, your suggested doubles were a great observing project during last evening’s brightly moonlit sky.  It is definitely a great selection of different challenges and colour contrasts.  I loved them all and the triple was a really nice surprise.
That made me very happy.

Friday, May 25, 2018

with home made Dob (Blue Mountains)

Headed out to the Observing Pad for a bit. Cloudy. Rhonda and I looked through Clay's home made 12.5" Dobsonian. It think this is the last one he built here. Painted black.

We looked at Jupiter for a while. All the moons lined up, 3 on one side. No red spot. No shadows. Good detail in the cloud bands, when the wind didn't shake the tube.

We looked at the Moon at medium high then super high power, "in low orbit." Found a neat oblong crater, an oblique hit.

ISS over CAO

I tried for Venus but it bashfully disappeared behind a cloud bank.

Everything had an orange or yellow cast. Smoke from Manitoba perhaps?

Lovely temperature.


Thanks to Jeff. Photograph of International Space Station used with permission. Rescaled. Copyright © 2018 Jeff Booth.

showed landscapes

Next, I gave Jeff a quick demo of custom landscapes in Stellarium. I showed him my efforts with the CAO, OSC, DDO, and others. He didn't know it was possible.

included in Mars page

The Observer's Handbook editor Dave Chapman created a special page on the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada web site featuring the Mars 2018 Opposition. The article he made shares some general information and a time line. Then he attached a number of PDF articles. I am proud to be included in the list with Randy Attwood and Denis Fell for my "Super Mars" column on software apps.

demonstrated privately

Gave Jeff a demo of SkyTools 3 Pro. He had been at the DDO orientation during my presentation. He liked a lot of what he saw including the custom horizon.

checked the LAN

Worked on the CAO network. Inspected all the routers, rebooting remotely when I could. Verified the GBO unit was working correctly.

fixed the machines

Phil and I travelled to the Carr Astronomical Observatory early to get a jump on some tasks. He was particularly interested in getting the lawn cut in advance of the work party. And that meant I had to give him some working machines.

I first serviced Green Flash, installed a repaired front wheel with new tire. Back tire, sadly, was very low. Pumped it up. Installed a charged battery and fired it up. It was working great. One down. I rode the mower over to the house and Phil took the wheel.

I then reviewed Blade Runner, the walk-behind, self-propelled. It had already been recently run so I was just inspecting. I found the small SLA installed so I tried it. The mower started fine. Good. Trimmed around the pergola. Put the battery on charge for a while to top it up. Two down.

horseless engine mobile

Then it was to Stargrazer with the seized motor. I was able to turn the motor by hand a fraction of a degree, which as good, but it was very stiff, even with the spark plug removed, which was bad. Worked the motor for a while with the help of PB Blaster and finally got it started. Ran it for an hour. It's loud and gets very hot. I'm not happy about that. Will require a deep dive...

Found the old red push mower. Huh. Thought we had disposed of it...

met WISP team

A couple of staff from our wireless internet service provider dropped by. Antenna looked OK. We chatted about options for improving signal. We chatted about our terribly old computer and LAN equipment. Met the new technician who is keen to look through a telescope.

what's in the way?

Alan sent out a note to the RASC Toronto Centre forums praising SkyTools. He enjoyed my presentation Wednesday night. He also noted a feature he quite likes, for planning purposes, but that I didn't cover.
The further Observing Location customization of Obstructed Horizon allows for further restricted session planning to exclude objects which would not be visible from an observing location due to local obstructions.  Perhaps this facility might be used to plan for objects to be viewed/photographed above a set altitude.
He also noted this is the YouTube video comments.

Indeed. I have used the customised horizon for locations where a lot of the sky is blocked.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

look up from Orangeville

Caught a headline about seeing the International Space Station overhead in the night sky. What was most intriguing to me was seeing it in an Orangeville Banner news article. Interesting. Good to see the local papers encouraging people to enjoy the night sky.

shared variable info

Sent Andy some screen snapshots from SkyTools emphasising the variable star data handling. In particular, the Object Information box with the Apparent Data tab active. I also showed how the software literally dims and brightens a star in the charts.

hole avoidance coming soon

Tom asked me, during my SkyTools 3 demo, if there was a maximum elevation filter, for users with Dobsonian telescopes. At the time, I told him I didn't think so.

After some quick research, I found a reference in the SkyTools 4 features page that said "Dobson's hole avoidance" will be in the next version. Which suggests the current does not have the feature...

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

got my mojo

As Rhonda and I headed north, we reflected on my software demonstration to RASC members. I said I felt comfortable again. Finally. Previous talks I felt off my game. I surmise it is that I'm getting used to her in the audience. And that I'm getting used to being recorded for live streaming/archival video. It also helps when I'm talking about a subject I know a great deal about. She thought it was great! Getting back in the groove. And it feels good.

popped into the exhibit

Rachel invited RASC members to a sneek peek of the new POPnology exhibit at the Ontario Science Centre after out meeting. Rhonda and I were some of the last ones out but Rachel was still there. The exhibit shows how things pop culture, computer games, science fiction movies, and so on, have inspired the world’s greatest technological innovations. I enjoyed the full mock-up of the time-travelling DeLorean from Back to the Future, complete with Flux Capacitor. I heard HAL 9000 speaking behind me. The display was well done. Looks like a fun piece.

worm gear fixed

Adrian and I chatted briefly at OSC. He updated me on his CGEM mount sharing that he and Jeff adjusted the worm gear tension and the mount is now working better than ever. Great news!

just for me

Holy Universe! Andy mentioned a double star in his This Sky This Month presentation!

on deck

I am speaking tonight at the Ontario Science Centre at the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada - Toronto Centre meeting. During this Recreational Astronomy Night gathering, I will be one of a handful of presenters.

session planning with SkyTools title slide

I will be talking about observing (or imaging) session preparation using the SkyTools software. This will also give me an opportunity to relay to members the (relatively) new benefit or perk, the very good discount pricing for RASC members. If you can't attend in person, be sure to jump into the live stream on our YouTube channel.

Monday, May 21, 2018

he wants more

Tom was the first to respond to my double star suggestions on the RASC Toronto Centre forum. He said, he was "really looking forward to trying these!" That was good to hear. Looks like I'm hitting the mark. Then he asked: "Another presentation soon please!" OK!

your monthly double stars

Issued my first double star "bulletin," a short list of suggested double and multi-star targets. I shared this on the RASC Toronto Centre forums. And I post here for all.


After delivering my double stars presentation (notes link, video link), I thought a periodic post with fun multi-star systems might be interesting.

Despite the full Moon phase approaching, you can still do lots of astronomy. Double stars punch through bright skies so you can observe them any time, anywhere!

Here’s a short selection of doubles from my life list, ones I find beautiful and impressive. I did not include terribly tight targets.

star also known as SAO catalogue
α (alpha) CVn Cor Caroli or Σ1692 SAO 63257
2 CVn SAO 44097
HD 115404 Com BU 800 SAO 100491
HD 105590 Crv Struve 1604 SAO 157111
γ (gamma) Vir Porrima or STF 1670 SAO 138917

Please consider adding these to your observing list. Doubles are fun, easy, sometimes challenging, interesting, colourful, and dynamic! I look forward to hearing how you did! Holler if you have any questions.

astronomy at computer-ease dot com

Sunday, May 20, 2018

dark over greens (Sharon)

Wow. Clear out. Stars were bright over the dark golf course.

Took in the constellations and asterisms. Big Dipper and Boötes up high.  Hercules rising. Lyra climbing out of the dark trees.

Pointed out bright Jupiter to Tyler and Rhonda, before we departed.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

made a plan file

Fired up Microsoft Project to help me figure out my team's tasks for impending CAO work party.

waterfall for the outriggers

We have a lot on our docket.

noted Stellarium 0.18.0 shortcuts

Performed some quick testing in Stellarium 0.18.x. A general heads-up: a handful of existing keyboard shortcuts were changed.

[ed: Revised 20 May for a couple of omissions.]

This is an update of my keyboard and mouse shortcuts listing. This reference is for Windows and Macintosh computers (although not all shortcuts have been tested on a Mac).

controlling the surroundings

show Location window
Fn F6
toggle cardinal compass points qq
toggle ground and buildings
toggle ground fog
toggle atmosphere or air
toggle sky glow/building lights
Shift g
Shift g
toggle ground (e.g. mountain) labels
Ctrl Shift g
⌘ Shift g
return to "home" (start-up) view
Ctrl h

controlling the sky - deep sky

toggle stars
toggle star labels
Alt s
Option s
toggle constellation lines
toggle constellation boundaries
toggle constellation labels
toggle constellation artwork
remove previous constellations ¡ *
toggle asterism lines *
Alt a
Option a
toggle asterism labels *
Alt v
Option v
toggle ray helpers *
Alt r
Option r
toggle DSO/nebula labels/indicatorsn or d
n or d
toggle nebula background images
toggle quasars
Ctrl Alt q
⌘ Option q
toggle zodiacal light *
Ctrl Shift z
⌘ Shift z
toggle Milky Way
toggle digital sky survey ‡
Ctrl Alt d
⌘ Option d
toggle exoplanet labels, indicators
Ctrl Alt e
⌘ Option e
show Sky and Viewing Options
Fn F4

controlling the sky - solar system

toggle planets and Moon
toggle planet and Moon labels
Alt p
Option p
toggle planet markers
Ctrl p
⌘ p
toggle planet orbits
toggle starlore planet names
Ctrl Shift n
⌘ Shift n
toggle planet trails
Shift t
Shift t
toggle surface nomenclature labels *
Alt n
Option n
toggle meteor radiants *
Ctrl Shift m
⌘ Shift m
toggle meteor radiant labels
Shift m
Shift m

controlling lines

toggle altitude/azimuth grid
toggle equatorial grid
toggle ecliptic line
, (comma)
toggle celestial equator
. (period)
toggle meridian line
toggle horizon line

changing image presentation

flip horizontally
Ctrl Shift h
⌘ Shift h
flip vertically
Ctrl Shift v
⌘ Shift v
toggle equatorial/azimuthal mode
Ctrl m
⌘ m
look in direction, east (or n, w, s)
Shift e
Shift e
look up to zenith
Shift z
Shift z
look to NCP
Alt Shift n
Option Shift n
look to SCP
Alt Shift s
Option Shift s


zoom in
PgUp or
Ctrl Up Arrow

Fn Up Arrow
zoom out
PgDn or
Ctrl Dn Arrow

Fn Down Arrow
zoom in or out slowly
Shift with keys
quickly zoom in/out
mouse wheel
mouse wheel
zoom close to selected object
/ (slash)
zoom out fully
\ (backslash)
zoom very close to planet
/ twice
/ twice
set field of view (FOV) to 180°
Ctrl Alt 1
⌘ Option 1
set FOV to 90°
Ctrl Alt 2
⌘ Option 2
... through ...
set FOV to 2°
Ctrl Alt 8
⌘ Option 8
set to 1°
Ctrl Alt 9
⌘ Option 9
to ½°
Ctrl Alt 0
⌘ Option 0


quickly pan celestial sphere
pan right
Right Arrow
Right Arrow
pan left
Left Arrow
Left Arrow
pan up
Up Arrow
Up Arrow
pan down
Down Arrow
Down Arrow
pan a small amount
Shift Arrow-key 
Shift Arrow-key

controlling time flow

set date/time to now
set time rate to zero
increase time flow
l (lower case L)
decrease time flow
run time at normal rate
increase time flow a little
Shift l (that's L)
Shift l
decrease time flow a little
Shift j
Shift j
drag for time
Ctrl drag

controlling time with mouse wheel

increase/decrease by minutes
increase/decrease by hours
Ctrl Shift
increase/decrease by days
Ctrl Alt
increase/decrease by years
Ctrl Alt Shift

controlling "regular" time

show date/time window
Fn F5
forward 1 hour solar
Ctrl = (equal)
⌘ =
backward 1 hour
Ctrl - (hyphen)
⌘ -
forward 1 day solar
= (equal)
backward 1 day
- (hyphen)
forward 1 week solar
backward 1 week

controlling sidereal time

forward 1 day sidereal
Alt = (equal)
Option =
backward 1 day
Alt - (hyphen)
Option -
forward 1 year sidereal
Ctrl Alt Shift ]
⌘ Option Shift ]
backward 1 year
Ctrl Alt Shift [
⌘ Option Shift [

working with objects

select an object
centre on selected object
toggle tracking of object
deselect object
display search dialog box
Ctrl f or F3
⌘ f or Fn F3
go, i.e. travel, to a planet
Ctrl g
⌘ g
toggle angular measurement †
Ctrl a
⌘ a
copy object info to clipboard
Ctrl c
⌘ c
add custom marker
Shift click
remove custom marker
Shift right-click
remove all custom markers *
Alt Shift right-click

working with satellites †

configure artificial satellites
Alt z
Option z
toggle satellite display or "hints"
Ctrl z
⌘ z
toggle satellite labels *
Alt Shift z
Alt Shift z

controlling the screen

toggle night (red light) mode
Ctrl n
⌘ n
toggle full-screen mode
toggle toolbars/menus, i.e. GUI
Ctrl t
⌘ t
save screenshot to disk
Ctrl s
⌘ s
toggle planet selection marker
Ctrl Shift p
close a window/dialog box

controlling the application

show configuration window
Fn F2
show help/about window
Fn F1
show script console window
show keyboard shortcuts window
Fn F7
show Astronomical Calc. window
Fn F10
show Bookmarks window
Alt b
Option b
show Exoplanets config window †
Alt e
Option e
show meteor settings window † *
Ctrl Alt Shift m
⌘ Option Shift m
show meteor search window † *
Ctrl Alt m
⌘ Option m
quit from Stellarium
Ctrl q
⌘ q

* Recently added or changed shortcuts are marked with an asterisk.

† Keyboard shortcuts noted with a dagger are associated with a plug-in. They may not function if the plug-in is not active.

‡ The digital sky survey layering feature refers to the display as a "hierarchical progressive" sky survey.

¡ The "remove" constellation keyboard shortcut applies when "single constellation mode" is active.

Some shortcuts were omitted. Notably those for the oculars plug-in. And those to do with scripting.

Please report errors in the comments below...