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.

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