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.

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.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

updated CAO grounds map

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

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.

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...

Monday, February 05, 2018

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...

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.

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.