Tuesday, February 27, 2018

imaged Caldwell 8 (Halifax)

The Burke-Gaffney Observatory robot imaged Caldwell 8 or NGC 559 for me. An open cluster in the constellation Cassiopeia.

open cluster Caldwell 8 in luminance

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

Many faint stars. There is an arc along the south-east edge of the cluster. I like the zig-zag of bright stars, seemingly a lightning bolt, in the west. Is this a huge cluster or a small one in a busy part of the Milky Way?

Multi-star system MLB 330 marks the centre of the open cluster. They are aligned in a south-east to north-west orientation with the primary to the south-east. A and B are touching in the image. B is a good deal fainter than A. C is separated by a narrow gap. C is possibly brighter than B.

South-west of centre is the multi-star system MLB 329. A similar alignment as 330. Also A and B are arranged the same way with similar magnitudes. However C is opposite B this time.


Wikipedia link: NGC 559.

looked through a veil (Bradford)

Peeked outside, from the back deck. Noticed immediately that Sirius was soft. The nearly-full Moon was a little hazy. Fuzzy clouds to the south. West showed thicker clouds.

Tried to find Orion. Took a while, given the veil. It was higher than where I first looked. Betelgeuse was shimmering. Yep, bad seeing. The belt stars were barely visible. Procyon and Aldebaran were dim. Even Capella, up high. Could not trace the entire Winter Football as I could not dig out the Gemini stars.

OK. Scratch observing.

Sheesh, an occasion where I wanted to go out...

rebuilt the ETX

Reassembled the ETX. Did a test fit. All worked well, on the bench.

Used two thin bolts to hold the right arm to the base. Found two in my various parts bins. Had to cut one bolt down to avoid interference with the altitude worm. Used the new nickel-plated 6/32-½" bolts with washers from Sayal to secure the OTA to the arm brackets. Everything felt very secure.

Anxious to field test.

8 to image

With the imaging of 4725 now I have photographed all but 8 of the Finest NGCs.

imaged NGC 4725 (Halifax)

The Burke-Gaffney Observatory robot imaged NGC 4725 for me. A large galaxy in Coma Berenices. It is one of the RASC Finest NGCs.

RASC Finest galaxy NGC 4725 in luminance

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

Very interesting shape. It's like there's an arrowhead at the north-east. Huge faint halo.

There is a small dim fuzzy south-south-west of the big spiral: LEDA 1734926.

South of 4725 is LEDA 1735228. It is slightly larger than 1734926.

Far to the south, at the bottom edge of the image, are three points of light in a row, almost equidistant. SkyTools shows the west object as a star, J125024.9+252012, but it looks like a round lint ball of a distant galaxy. The next fuzzy to the east again ST3P shows as a star. ST3P shows LEDA 1732526 at the third point. Curious. It is the dimmest of the three, to me.

LEDA 1743969 is north-north-east of the big galaxy. Is it very small but bright.

[ed: First viewed on the evening of Sunday 8 May 2016.]


The shape of NGC 4725 reminds me of a creature but I can't remember what it is called. I also think it is surprisingly similar to a trilobite.

NGC 4038 and 4039 again (Halifax)

I asked BGO on Feb 7 to re-image the Antenna Galaxies. Not sure if this result improves on things.

NGC 4038 and 4039 in luminance

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

The first attempt on 22 Dec '17 showed good signal-to-noise but had a satellite in the luminance data. The most recent try on 27 Jan was soft. This is somewhere in between. The tails on the two interacting galaxies is not apparent in this image, probably because of the bright Moon.

Monday, February 26, 2018

tried NGC 3521 one more time (Halifax)

Hello Burke-Gaffney Observatory! It's been a while!

Thank you for imaging NGC 3521 again. Tried most recently on 3 Jan. I think this result is the best (despite a bright Moon).

galaxy NGC 3521 in luminance

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

ST order page is alive

At last, I deployed SkyTools order page! Now all RASC members coast-to-coast can buy the planning software at a reduced price. I'm very happy to see this up and running.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

alignment (Bradford)

Bradfordhenge. Almost. After a quick visit to neighbours on the other side of town, Rhonda and I turned west. The low Sun was almost perfectly inline with the road. Thirty to sixty minutes earlier, it would have been perfect.

Friday, February 23, 2018

updated a map

Updated the winter parking map for the Carr Astronomical Observatory (in Visio).

processed STF 1360 in colour

Processed HD 82159 in colour in Photoshop using the data gathered on 6 Feb. And I have to say, I do not see any notable colour in the A and B stars. When I zoom in they both look very pale yellow to me.

STF 1360 in full colour

Luminance 2x10 and RGB 2x20 each.

Checked the stellar classification of the A primary star and it is G5. That's not unlike our Sun. A yellowy star. SkyTools says the B companion is a K0, to the orange side. One class level apart so very similar.

C, at the 10 o'clock position, is very dim and looks grey.

D, the furthest out, brighter, looks blue-white.

The PPM 126514 star near the top-right of the image is pale orange.

I looked at the DSS Colored image in SIMBAD/Aladin. A looks white; B has a hint of orange. That's the opposite of my visual colour impressions.

The B-V index for A is 0.905; and B is 0.878.

The RASC Observer's Handbook says they are blue and green. Huh. The first visual observations left me thinking they were orange and blue. Wow.

clear out east

Monitored the BGO Twitter feed. Clear on the east coast too! Particularly after local midnight. The 'scope was busy capturing data for students.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

double star attempts (Bradford)

7:25 PM. I had been outside for about 5 minutes.
Instrument: Meade ETX-90 Mak
Mount: tripod
Method: star hopping
Looked at the Moon with the Celestron 26mm Plössl. The magnification is 48 times. OK view. No colour fringing.

Focuser is a little stiff. It is sensitive too, requiring very little rotation.

Aligned the little 8x21 finder scope. Fiddly tiny hard-to-reach screws.

7:32. Compared time in the Sony voice recorder (after using the Split function) to the ASUS netbook compared.

Adjusted SkyTools for time-now. I had the wrong date. Tried to get the Moon icon in the correct location in the Interactive Atlas chart.

7:39. I noticed the little straight-through finder scope presents a correct view! I was expecting a rotated view, common for refractors.

Considered π (pi) Andromedae as my first target. Too low. Behind the trees in the west. Chose ω (omega) And as it was higher. Spotted Cassiopeia. Decided to use γ (gamma) And as my launch point for the star hop.

7:42. The double, aka Almaak, looked great in the 90mm 'scope.

OK. Verified I was in the correct position.

Realigned the finder.

Rhonda arrived home.

Lost it. Had to reacquire.

Incoming GO train in the background.

She noticed the skies were good on her drive home. She was gonna tell me, "It's really clear. Get out there." Happy to see me already at it. She liked the blinky lights.

We caught up. Work. Chatted about her friend's ladder. She apologised for tripping the security light. S'OK.

She noticed it was not windy but damp.

Made it. Hopped from γ, 51 And, φ (phi) Persei, down to ω.

7:54. Must be a tight double. Could not see anything obvious.

Decided to increase the power so I headed to the ocular case. Kicked the tripod. Damn it! Reacquired the star. Grabbed the Rod Ends 20mm (for 62x). Carefully loosened the eyepiece grub screw so to not spin it out and drop it.

7:59. A faint star to begin with. Was not sure if I could see the companion.

Raised the power again with the Tele Vue Type 6 Nagler 9mm (139x). Big jump, over two times.

I saw something. To the north, my 9 o'clock. Could see the diffraction rings. Checked the software. A and B were 1.8 arc-seconds. Kricky. That was out of the question. But the A and C pair were 119". That should be easy. Zoomed into to the Context Viewer. C was not showing. What about D?

It was drifting faster now, of course, at the higher power.

Checked the view again. OK. Something at the 2 o'clock position. Another star at the 1 o'clock position but roughly twice the distance.

Tried to simulate the view on John Repeat Dance. I actually did not have a configuration for the Meade ETX 90 RA in SkyTools 3 Professional so was using the another, the Questar 3.5". Switched to the 80x Erfle eyepiece and then applied the 2x doubler. It was pretty close. Not bad.

It seemed like this was too difficult for this little OTA.

8:09. I was confused. Wondered if the software was incorrect. I expected to see the C and D stars.

Changed the eyepiece. Back to low power.

8:10. Lots of distracting light. There appeared to be a security light on the west side of my building. I've never noticed that before. It was lighting up the west side of the property, the fence, and the neighbouring building. Extraordinary light trespass! The neighbours to the south brought the bins in from the curb tripping their back yard light.

Another train rolled in.

8:12. Noticed clouds in the south. I wondered if that would scupper my session sooner versus later. I wondered how they were doing at the RASC Toronto Centre City Observing Session at Bayview Village Park.

Aimed to the south.

8:16. Went to the Great Orion Nebula (aka Messier 42 or M42). Very nice in the little 'scope. Filled the field of view. Spotted the Trapezium stars (the four bright ones). Easy. Twinkling a bit.

My lovely popped outside with a snack. Wow! Yummy.

Shared the view. "Oh, wow. Cool!"

Shifted up or to the north.

Verified the bright star on the left was 42 Orionis and the right one was 45. In the middle was faint V359. A mini-Corvus.

Switched the ocular. Back to the 20mm.

8:21. The security light to the west was off. Had been for a while. The south yard light was still burning.

Took the second sandwich inside. I wasn't exactly hungry; or I was focused on observing.

Considered that this target was going to be difficult too.

8:25. Well. 42 and 45 are rewarding at low power; treats would be revealed at high power. So, OK to have on my double star candidate list.

Consider 14 Ori. Ugh. Faint again.

Clouds were encroaching. Made me consider only going for brighter targets. Betelgeuse was on the list. It was 5 elements. But they were super-faint at magnitude 14. Nope.

Auriga was straight up. That would be impossible to get to with this equipment.

Looked at the Winter Football.

Tried to activated the Interactive Atlas with checked entries but it wasn't working. Something wasn't working right. I didn't see the cross-hairs. There were alpha and beta designations everywhere. I must have screwed up the chart preferences.

Wispy clouds were all through Orion. How about Gemini? The high priority target there was λ (lambda).

Moved the big Mamiya tripod. The tripod central shaft was sticking before; now it seemed OK. Perhaps when I kicked the tripod before it caused it to bind.

Tried to star hop in Gemini. Too hard to go for objects high in the sky...

Orion was free of clouds so decided to try again for 14. Along the arm, between the shoulder and the bow. The Moon was nearby... Couldn't do it.

Considered 33. Between Bellatrix and the Belt. The IA chart was maximised. Didn't remember doing that.


8:43. Frustrated. Noticed glare in the finder scope. Stoopid Moon. Needed to aim somewhere else.

Neighbours let the dog out. It freaked, despite assurances, when hearing me down below.

8:53. Got Procyon. Saw a bright triad to the right or east. Multi-star HD 61502 was between.

Heard dark birds fly over head...

8:55. Decided that HD 61502 aka BRD 2 not a good suggestion for this evening. The C star is dimmer than magnitude 13, below the limit of this small aperture 'scope; and the A and B stars were less than 1" apart. Need a big gun for this system.

Next? 14 CMi. Too hard to star hop too...

Clouds everywhere. Even overheard. Light, thin cloud. Oh oh.

8:58. Wisps all around. I wondered if it might make a halo around the Moon. Big Dipper was rising.

Not a great night. Quits!

Quickly hauled the gear to the deck and then inside. Rhonda was watching her Olympic skaters.

saw a clear western sky

The local Clear Sky Charts were looking good. The Newmarket one showed the skies clearing in the afternoon and remaining that way, mostly, until after midnight.

Newmarket Clear Sky Chart from Thursday daytime

And when Peter called a GO for the local RASC observing session, I reconsidered observing in the evening. Seize the opportunity. The Clear Outside prediction looked pretty good. The Weather Underground 10-day graph showed the cloud cover dipping to 6% at 9 PM.

I checked the Environment Canada data.

Observed at: Toronto Buttonville Municipal Airport
Date: 5:00 PM EST Thursday 22 February 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 103.9 kPa
Temperature: 0.8°C
Dew point: -8.2°C
Humidity: 51%
Wind: E 12 km/h

Detailed Forecast
Issued: 3:30 PM EST Thursday 22 February 2018
Tonight Partly cloudy. Becoming cloudy before morning. Risk of freezing drizzle before morning. Wind northeast 20 km/h becoming light early this evening. Low minus 6.

But some of the other local tools were not so optimistic. Good To Stargaze showed at least 30% cloud cover and building through the evening. And the satellite imagery from AWC showed streamers flying north-north-east over Lake Ontario and skirting Lake Simcoe. Toronto looked OK but York-Simcoe not so much.

So I hoofed it upstairs and looked outside. Clear! Sunset was in full display with distant clouds to the north-west. South? Looked good.

So I began the backyard setup. Took the Meade ETX 90 RA outside (without its base). Installed it on the large Mamiya tripod. Essentially, an alt-az setup.

Prepared an observing list in SkyTools. Mostly doubles. Some Messiers to revisit. Over 90 entries.

Reviewed my session pre-flight check lists...

the name

Mr Briggs pointed out that I am pronouncing the Russian name Struve improperly. It is not "stroov" but "struv-eh." I stand corrected.

I jumped into the amazing wikipedia to read about the Struve family. Impressive bunch.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

received double star book

A RASC member brought a book for me from a friend's estate. Very thoughtful. Thank you!

The book is Observing Visual Double Stars by Paul Couteau (translated by Canadian Alan Batten). Soft cover edition. It was originally published in France in 1978. MIT published the translation in 1981. It looks very interesting!

Observing Visual Double Stars by Couteau

Astronomy magazine reviewed it and said "Not only does [the book] urge you to join these dedicated observers, it also gives you a sense of purpose and urgency about your nightly vigils. Even now, many close binaries are passing unobserved through critical phases of their orbits-potentially priceless data lost for lack of observers."

delivered talk on unnoticed treasures

Delivered my presentation "unnoticed treasures" on double stars. I think it was well received.

Mr Markov bumped me to the last spot for more time. Good plan as I took 36 minutes for the presentation proper. There were good questions afterwards that I was able to take.

I made my double star presentation notes available on the RASC Toronto Centre web site.


We live-streamed the event. The rough cut of the video is online.


A fellow presenter made an interesting comment: "It's a whole new field I never knew existed."


Thanked the A/V team. They are doing a great job of supporting the presenters. I was very happy to be able to use PowerPoint with Presenter View in a dual monitor setup.

ready for doubles talk

Ready to deliver my double stars presentation tonight (7:30 PM EST) at the Ontario Science Centre. It will be streamed live from the RASC Toronto Centre YouTube channel. This might be the first of a series of talks on observing and measuring double star and multi-star systems.


The following link should also go directly to the live feed.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

looked for DS issues

I looked up the Sky & Telescope magazine index of all articles. I specifically searched for pieces on double stars. Wow. I found articles has far back as 1942! Then I checked the RASC Toronto Centre collection of S&T issues and was very pleased to learn that the Fred Troyer library goes back to 1956! All right.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

stargazer's remorse

Should have gone out.

Don't know exactly what I was thinking. I guess it was a combination of things. I wanted to spend some time with Rhonda at the end of a busy week. I didn't like how low the air temperature was predicted to go, with the wind chill. That it was looking like only one night discouraged me from taking out a large telescope. In the end, I did not do any back yard observation.

double face palm

Now I'm not happy.

Perhaps I should have simply tried some wide doubles in the small Meade catadioptric. That would have been fairly quick and easy to do. Could have tested the web cam too. Be nice to check that off.

Kicking myself.

Friday, February 16, 2018

clear for a change (Bradford)

It was clear. As predicted.

Stars were visible overhead as I walked to the car. Emergency coffee bean run.

I saw Sirius blazing over the parking lot as I emerged from the store. I looked up and right to find Orion. Belt stars visible through the glare. Orange Betelgeuse opposite cool blue Rigel.

TESS arrives in FLA

After watching the DeepAstronomy.space webcast of Dr Sara Seager and Natalia Guerrero, Deputy TOI Manager, on exoplanet satellite TESS, I found an article at Spaceflight Now. It documents the arrival of the TESS to Florida. The launch is planned for mid-April and NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite will reach space atop a Falcon 9.

graphic of the TESS probe in space

The MIT web site has lots of information on the satellite and the mission.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

set up a test order page

I worked on the SkyTools 3 purchase processing for RASC members. Received the PayPal buttons and code. Embedded this into a test order page. It glitched but Walter and I got it working. Did some tests using direct payment and using a PayPal account observing the experience. Asked for a volunteer to conduct additional testing.

updated CAO grounds map

Updated the grounds illustration for the Carr Astronomical Observatory (in Visio).

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

clouds arrived (Bradford)

We spotted Orion to the south as we departed the restaurant. I pointed out the Winter Football to Rhonda. Still clear. I was started to think about possibly maybe getting a telescope out... But when we reached home, a few moments later, I noted clouds. Gah.

clear! (Bradford)

Saw stars as we walked to the car. Huh. Clear. As predicted. First time in a long time... But it was date night!

ready for summer nights

Received a fun card from Rhonda. Nice wide-field star-filled shot reminiscent of summer nights up north under the stars.

celebration card with nebula

We are both pinning for the end of winter...

in my heart

After she returned home from work, I gave my sweetie her card. Rhonda was most curious how I made the image. Bokeh with a custom mask, our decorated tree in the foreground...

hearts a-aglow

She was very surprised when I told her what produced the white heart.

Canon 40D, EF-S 18-55 kit lens at 55, manually focused, f/5.6, ½ second, ISO 1600, daylight white balance, hand-held, custom mask.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

morning phenomena (Bradford)

As we walked to the car and before the security light kicked it, I enjoyed stars in the velvet blue sky. Cold!

Spotted on thin old Moon as we drove toward the GO kiss-and-ride. Very low.


Just as the train pulled into the Downsview station, I noted an extremely bright sun dog left of Sol. Thin and horizontal. Had been expecting some in the chilled winter morning air.

Friday, February 09, 2018

received SN Mar/Apr 2018

cover of the Mar/Apr 2018 SkyNews magazineRhonda asked if I had seen the SkyNews magazine. It was in the mail. Ho ho. All right. A bright point in the week.

The theme of the issue is aurora. There are pieces on astro-tourism and how to photograph the northern lights. There is also an article on the phenomena known as "Steve." Awesome colourful photographs.

I look forward to reading the item on entry-level refractors. That'll help when rookies ask about a starter 'scope.

Showed Rhonda Matt Quinn's beautiful photograph of the Geminids over a small island on a frozen lake in Algonquin park.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

oh, right

Of course I don't need to reshoot at the NGCs captured as a result of the BGO image dimensions change... duh. Just crop the early ones to match the current.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

reviewed the Heavy launch

SpaceX successfully launched their Falcon Heavy spacecraft today at 3:50 PM. After work I watched the videos. Wow.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy launching

Lift-off of the world's most powerful spacecraft with the central core and two strap-on boosters. Very exciting.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy rolling

Rolling for orbital insertion. The 27 Merlin motors worked great.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy in low orbit

This will be a thing now, when Heavy launches. Displays of different things in real-time. You'll need to decide what you want to watch.

pilot aboard Tesla - don't worry

I knew the Tesla car was on board and I learned of the simulated driver. But I burst out laughing when I saw the console.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy boosters back at base

Boosters land together like something out of a science fiction movie. FAB!

What an incredible day. History made.

photographed HD 82159 (Halifax)

BGO took photos of HD 82159 aka Σ1360, a multi-star system in Leo. From my View Again list, so to check the colours...

multi-star system HD 82159 in luminance

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

The A and B stars look to be the same brightness. If I had to guess, I think A is to the north-east. C is very faint, well away, east-north-east. D is beyond C, less than the AB-C separation, almost in-line with A and B.

The seeing had improved compared to the images earlier in the evening.

Looking forward to colour processing...


Processed in colour on 23 Feb.

Monday, February 05, 2018

optics arrived in California

Learned that the James Webb Space Telescope optics and science instruments package arrived in California. This will be combined with the spacecraft elements at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach. See the NASA article for full details.

imaged 16 Aur and HD 34413 (Halifax)

The BGO robot moved to an interesting target for me, aiming at SAO 57856, in Auriga. A double of doubles. Multi-star system HD 34413 (aka ES 59) is to the north-east while bright double 16 Aurigae (aka STT 103) is south-west. Poor image quality sadly is turning most of the stars big ovals.

16 Aur and HD 34413 in luminance

Luminance only, 4 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

Remarkably, despite the poor data, the HD 34413 A, B, C, and E stars are resolved. The primary is slightly brighter than B. B is almost due north. C is very faint and to the north-west of B, slight less than the AB separation. E is visible to the south-south-east of A. It almost looks like a double! Hmm.

I cannot split 16 Aur... The significant Δm, the tight sep., and the bad seeing are conspiring. This pair is noted in the RASC Observer's Handbook.


Where's HD 34413 D? SkyTools does not show it. The WDS reports the following: ES 2611 DE, as of 2001, is at PA 358 and sep. 4.1. Well that puts is very near to E, to the north! Ah ha! That's the mystery double!

captured HR 890 (Halifax)

The Burke-Gaffney Observatory imaged HR 890 (aiming at GSC 03322-1203). A double-star in Perseus also known as STF 331. It is on an Astronomical League list as well as the Coldfield beautiful doubles. Sissy Haas calls it a showcase pair.

double-star HR 890 in luminance

Luminance only, 2 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

Tight pair oriented east-west with the primary to the west. I estimated the separation at about 10 arc-seconds (SkyTools says 11.9"). I estimated the Δm to be about 1 or 1½ (ST3P said the mags were 5.2 and 6.7).

The Clear Sky Chart showed curious conditions. The cloud indicator was 10, clear. The transparency was 5, transparent! I had never seen that before. However, the seeing was rated 1/5 or bad. Ugh. The Moon was 8 degrees below the horizon. Good time for galaxies...


Quickly processed in Photoshop in full colour. Discovered stacking errors in the green data unfortunately. The HR 890 stars are intense white-blue. They appear the same in Aladin with the DSS Colour data. Lovely. The dim star to the far east is pale orange; the brighter star far to the north-west is also white.

tomorrow's rockets

Tomorrow's to be a big day in space flight...

Sunday, February 04, 2018

checked UPS

Tony replaced a battery in an uninterruptible power supply at the Carr Astronomical Observatory. I did some checking by remote. Everything looked good.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

enhanced the plotter

Updated my Excel double star plotter workbook. Version 5 now correctly calculates the non-primary details, that is, if a CD angle and separation is quoted, it will figure out the AD position angle and angular separation. To solve a side-angle-side (SAS) triangle I had to use The Law of Cosines. That was to calculate the unknown side. Then I used The Law of Sines to find the smaller of the other two angles. Trig. Ugh. Had to blow out the cobwebs but it works! While it doesn't work for multiple instances, it is completed automated for each individual pair. Very happy.

Friday, February 02, 2018

more winter

Wiarton Willie waddled out of his den a short time ago. The land-beaver saw his shadow.

Willie's weather tweet for 2018

Boo! Six more weeks of winter.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

added another benefit

Today marks an interesting day with the execution of an agreement with Skyhound, maker of the excellent SkyTools software, and RASC national. I initiated this conversation with the volunteers at the national office in August 2015. I proposed that the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and Skyhound offer SkyTools at a discount rate to members in good standing. I was trying to mimic what we had done within the Toronto Centre back in August 2010 when we enjoyed the "astronomy club discount." However, I now envisioned a programme operating at the national level, for all members, coast to coast. Another benefit of membership for RASCals, this one with a very clear astronomy component. I am thrilled that we inked the deal.

submitted column

Submitted my column for the next Journal after receiving the proofed copy from Rhonda.

big hit

The BGO director dove into the individual frames of the M81 imaging run (hmmm) and found an unusual circumstance on one of the shots.

3D plot of direct cosmic hit

The 3D plot shows the profile of my bright point (the kinda tall peak) and the nearby star (the little mound). He remarked, "It was a helluva a cosmic 'whack!'" Indeed. I guess the cosmic ray came in perpendicular. It saturated the CCD suggesting a direct hit versus a graze.

not lost in space

A headline caught Rhonda's eye. "NASA lost track of a satellite 12 years ago. Lucky for them, an amateur astronomer..." A Canadian astronomer—Scott Tilley—no less. The IMAGE satellite was launched in 2000 and operated through 2005. She forwarded it along.

found nothing in the RGB

Asked Nicole if she might be able to shoot the area near M81 with an iTelescope. But then asked her to stand down. When I checked the red, green, and blue channels for the October M81 image, there were no bright points. It was only in the luminance... yep.

found a bright point

While blinking, I found a strange bright point north-east of M81 in a Burke-Gaffney Observatory image shot by Rhonda back in October. It sure looked like a supernova while quite far from the galaxy proper.

Checked Aladin/SIMBAD using the SDSS9, DSS, and 2MASS layers. Checked the BGO images of Messier 81 captured by another user shortly before our photograph. No matching point in any of those images.

Contacted Eric to review processes. I knew about the Minor Planet Center already; he reminded me to check David Bishop's supernova site. Right! Forgot about that one. No asteroids or comets. Lots of SN near M81 but nothing at the coordinates.

He also reminded me to check in with Mr Lane.