Tuesday, March 20, 2018

night 4 in the tent (Bradford)

Around 7:20 PM, Monday. There was sunlight still hitting the tops of the trees. I was ready for an early start. Wanted to knock down some of the targets in my observing list that were deeper in the west after sunset.

I had brought out hard candies.
Instrument: Celestron 8-inch SCT
Mount: Celestron CGEM
Method: Go To
7:27 PM. Inspected the saddle and my hacked plates. The Celestron 8-inch was secure in the CGEM saddle. No movement whatever. Good stuff.

Fired up the ASUS Eec PC portable computer. Mouse trouble. Didn't work when I plugged in the USB receiver; the touchpad responded when disconnected. Repowered the mouse and then it started working fine. Launched SkyTools 3 Pro. Noticed that when I landed in Real Time mode it showed Imaging mode. I thought it ordinarily switched to the last-used mode. Oh well.

Booted the mount. Set the time. All's well. Used Sirius to start. Found the bright star in the blue sky. Synced the software and the mount. Slewed to Rigel.

7:47. Synced on β (beta) Orionis. Saw Rigel B. Checked ST3P: 0.1 vs magnitude 10.4. Just over 9 seconds of arc away. Moved to next target.

7:51. Viewed 33 Ori. aka STF 729. Two extremely close stars. White. Maybe yellow. Not equal. A magnitude or two different. Saw another bright star, much further away. Same brightness as B. It was at roughly a 90° angle to A and B. Not related. Wow. I just picked off A and B at a 1.9" separation. A was magnitude 5.5 and B 6.8. ST3P said C was very far. The US Naval Office has C listed at magnitude 14.7. Oh. That's why it was not showing in the software Context Viewer display. On Haas's research project, in the RASC handbook (regular list), the Cambridge showpieces. On my View Again. Subsequent viewing would require a big gun...

Computer crashed. Schlanger. Not the mouse; it had totally frozen. I suspected it was static electricity again. Made a note to touch the table as I sat down. Pondered ways to avoid ESD in the future: A wire to a ground plug? A wire to a water pipe? A wire stuck in the ground nearby?! Where was I...

I had notice a wide double to the south-south-east (HD 36429). And another pair, tighter, to the west (HD 36133). Headed back to the ocular.

Checked HD 36133. A triple actually. Yellow and orange stars. A and B were wide. ST3P said the separation was 25. Oh my. The B and C were extremely close—not doable.

Examined HD 36429. Very wide. Easy. About a magnitude different. The software concurred. Yellow and orange. Bright one on the bottom or south.

Chose κ (kappa) Lep from the candidate list, to evaluate. ST3P said they were pretty close and unequal. I could not see B. On lots of other lists but maybe too tough for mine. Part of an interesting hook-shape of stars. "No way." I marked it to re-observe. Might be better in January. Removed the high priority.

Decided to find something in the area... Slewed briefly. ι (iota) Leporis aka STF 655. Heh. Interesting field! White star with a very faint reddish companion. A tiny little dot! To the north. A good distance apart; no problem separating. A very cool double. To the west was a neat warm, deep orange star. That turned out to be RX Lep! There was a somewhat bright star to the north, forming an L-shape with RX and iota. The double was not in any observing lists! A great discovery. I will add it to my candidate list. It would be a challenge in a very small 'scope but rewarding. The RX was not in any red list... Wow. No new data on that pair...

Slewed to 55 Eridani nearby. On my View Again and candidate lists. Nice! Easily split. Initially looked identical but slightly different brightnesses. Yellow. A F-class star. Easy. Great.

Went to Keid or ο (omicron) 2 Eri or Struve 518. From my candidate list.


8:26. Very wide. The A star was orange or intense yellow. I couldn't get a colour for B. Blue or red? ST3P said B was wide, 80". The app said C was an easy separation and mag. It also showed the B and fourth star were well apart. The fourth element shows as lowercase a. Mag 12. Should be easy.

It was falling into the trees. Noted the Scorpius-like grouping to the right or north. I'd need to look again, earlier in the year. B was to the east; for me, below the bright primary. Checked the Interactive Atlas to try to identify all the consorts. Really interesting. The 1-2-3 Scorpius stars were at my 3 o'clock. I saw the B star at 7—very different than the software. SkyTools showed B at 5 o'clock!

Reviewed targets on the same side of the meridian...

Went to W Ori, another red star, that I had selected for Rhonda. C class! Good colour but all by itself. Moving on...

The wind picked up.

Bulls-eyed HR 1669 aka STF 644. Yellow stars. Extremely tight, just touching. Needed to wait for brief, good seeing. Nearby red star below (C) or south. Dim. Wide, well away. A triple! A and B were right on top of one another. ST3P said 1.6" apart. Wow. Great! A was magnitude 6.0 and B was 6.9. C was mag 9.4. A great triple in Auriga. Would be an awesome choice for my candidate programme...

Flattened or squished rectangle to my right or the east. The rectangle, or parallelogram, with HD 33364 had a double in it. The west-most stars, closest to HR 1669, were an extremely wide double. aka HR 33308 or BLL 13.

Lots of doubles in the area. Busy field. Milky Way in the background.

Panned left or west over to NGC 1778 aka Collinder 58. A small open cluster. Very dim stars. Relatively compact. Below a loose grouping of stars to the north. I thought it might have 50 to 100 stars. Looked like it harboured a number of doubles. ST3P showed a few... For another day though... The whole area will be fun to return to!

8:52. Shouted at my erratic optical mouse.

HD 17359 in Perseus... (?) Extraordinarily faint. Looked like a triple... The computer view looked different. I was in the trees, decided it too low. Moved to 14 Ori.

It looked like a single while located in an interesting pattern. Near a cup-shape. The software showed another double nearby, to the south. But 14 Orionis proper, a binary with a 200 year period, was very tight at 1 arc-second. Uh huh. I didn't want to change eyepieces... Probably high power would be useful. No split. For another day.

From my View Again list, I selected HD 49317 in Canis Major. A double in the open cluster Messier 41. Which was at my 4 o'clock (west). Orange (8.2) and really faint (10.5) white stars. Tight at 4.4". B is toward the really bright star in the field, 12 CMa. A bit clockwise of that. Roughly a PA of 185°. The software said the PA was 190. Removed the priority flag; marked as observed.

After 9 PM. My left hand was cold. Something to do with mousing? Switched to my right hand.

Slewed to a Monoceros target, HD 262066. Near the cluster NGC 2264 with the bright star. My target was the triangle to the east of the cluster core, a quad-star system. The PA of AB was running between C and D.

Whiskey tango foxtrot! Bad computer crash!

9:16. Hard booted John Repeat Dance.

OK. The separation of Struve 3118 was 3.3". The stars were essentially the same mag, around 10. The A star was canted slightly toward the D star of the triangle; B was the outside star.

Headed to my next objective: HR 2879 or Σ1108. Pair in Gemini. Orange and blue, possibly. Easy split. From the Coldfield beautiful doubles list. Nice.

Cold. I needed to warm up.

10:50. Slewed to Propus in Gem. Noted a funny little shape. Tight? Another pair in the field. Close pair toward the... returned to the ocular. The software showed they were equally bright. The Object Information showed they were very different magnitudes. I could not split them. Not a good one for my candidate list. Not a terribly interesting field.

Off to HD 58246 or STF 1083. Once again, from the Coldfield list. Faint pair in The Twins. Nearly equal. White and orange. Nearly empty field. ST3P said the primary was an A5 class furnace.

Forgot to sync, again.

Traveled to TU Geminorum. Saw a faint red star. No marker in the software for the companion. Ugh. The companion was 0.4" away. Yikes. Colourful. And the field was unique. In a triangle pattern or a big flying-V. To the south, a pair with Tycho 1881-199 1. And some stars to the east, HD 252966. Could not split it.

Synced before going to HR 3395... Nice pair. Yellow and white star. In the middle of a triangle. Cool. Flanked by stars to the west and east. And a star to the south. How about that. Hold it, it's a 5-star system! C was to the east, was dimmer than E. C looked red. E was mag 9.5. To the south. It looked blue. B was roughly north. ST3P did not show, with the Moon lighting, the star to the west. I tagged the D star! The dimmest of all. The OI said 12; the chart said 13.3. Opposite C. A great system! On the Hydra-Cancer border. Also known as Struve 1245. There was a band or stream of stars on the east side running due north-south. Very attractive view.

Went to Tegmen. Easily split. Checked my notes. Hadn't seen anything new.

Noted a quad nearby that I had not logged: HR 3228 or BU 1243. A little bent stick. The bright one was below or to the south-east. No colour per se on the upper star. I could not split the A and B stars... ST3P showed B was close and faint. The dim visible star, at the apex, was the C. Blue. The further star was D.

It felt rather cold. Grabbed the electric hand warmers and stuffed them in my gloves.

Slewed to VZ Cnc again. Tried to shift to get 36 (at mag 5.9) or 37 (6.5), for comparison, in the field. I was a bit disoriented so I synced to a known object. Figured out the view. The star in question looked dim. More so that earlier. Who knows... Quite a lot dimmer than 36 and 37. Compared to HD 73488 (north-west)—a little bit brighter than that star (8.2).

Considered a Hydra target: HD 81029. A suggestion from the Coldfield doubles list. White and blue. Nice, wide pair, STF 1347. 21", 7.3, 8.3. A very faint string or stream of stars to the south-west (below). Relatively empty field.

Ignored U Hyr, close to Crater, as it was in the other hemisphere.

Went to Alphard! Never viewed. Really easy. The B star was well away and dim. A and B together began a flattened W shape heading to the east.

Noticed a Number 7 shape to the north-east.

Orange A; very dim B.

11:35. Considered 27 Hya, not far away. I saw a really wide pair up and down. The software showed it was a triple with tight B and C stars. Had another look. I could not split the B and C. ST3P said they were over 9 arc-seconds apart. That should be easy. But C showed as mag 11. Might be a good one for the candidates... Works at very low power.

Considered Pyxis! Low! Added HR 3430 to the list.

Not quite sure what I was seeing. Checked SkyTools. I saw the A and C stars, for sure. The A and B are ½ a second of arc apart. Fast mover. Already on my list. C looked really faint to me. When I hovered in the Context Viewer, it said C was mag 11.2, but I thought it dimmer. It was in a triangle with other stars.

Spotted another pair. Very faint. Orange and blue. To the north-west. [ed: Should check this. There's a single star HD 73543 near a double SAO 176206 or ARA 1746. Did I actually see the pair? Or the HD star (mag 8.9) with one of the double elements.] ST3P said ARA was mag 10.0 and 12.3. I thought the pair was in-line with the HR 3430 system...

Saw something south of ARA 1746 that looked like a double but ST3P did not say it was so.

Fun. Had another look.

Lights went out in the house. Heard an incoming train. Geese on the move.

Slewed to my next time but it was in the trees...Next?

The USB powered hand warmers were still working thankfully.

I continued to look for triples.

It was midnight. Tried γ (gamma) Sextantis, from my fast-mover list. I could not see the A and B stars. ST3P said the AB split was 0.5". C was further away but much dimmer. I didn't see anything. Nothing obvious.

Noticed Lynx was visible. Slewed to 12 so to enjoy the view. Very near the NCP. Got all them. D to the west. Tight B and C. Unrelated star to the east. Good to see again.

Spotted HD 47977 to the west of 12 Lyncis. Tight. Unequal. STF 946. Mag 7.1 and 9.2. Yellow and orange. The PA was 130. Roughly the same direction as 12 Lyn A and C.

Done. Started the shutdown. Disconnected SkyTools and parked the mount. Closed the observing section of the tent. Disconnected the cables from the computer.

12:18 AM, Tuesday. Exited from the tent. Closed the fly. Headed inside.

12:30 AM. Ready for bed.

Interesting evening. Lots of computer woes. The CGEM mount worked great though. Lots more double stars.

Wow. A great run... Over 100 objects viewed. But the vacation was over.

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