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.


Annual image log:

2016 Aug
2017 Jul
2018 May < you are here
2019 May
2020 May
2021 May

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 queueing 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 devastating 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 sneak 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 alternate 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 Pheasant Run 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 2018 for a couple of omissions.]
[ed: Revised 20 May 2019 for full screen shortcut.]

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 dialogue 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/dialogue 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...


Learned from Ron that F11 works on a Mac for toggling full screen mode.

more Fireworks (Halifax)

It's been weeks since I photographed the Fireworks galaxy aka NGC 6946 which was the site of the SN 2017 eaw supernova. Last image is from 1 Apr. Asked BGO to have another look...

Firework spiral galaxy sans supernova

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

There's a dim point there burning around magnitude 19.

Friday, May 18, 2018

suffered from RBI

With help from Dave, we determined that my NGC 4388 imagery suffers from RBI. Or Residual Bulk Image. A visual "memory" issue. He shared a link to an article.

This is still fascinating to me as it is not unlike biological processes. It is not unlike the flashbulb effect. You know, when you have a portrait or picture taken and the flash goes off and you see weird coloured dots for a while. Your retina needs some time to recover from the intense bright point source of light. So to a CCD chip will be affected by a previous image with bright objects.

Dave looked at the image shot immediately prior to mine. The user was aimed at BGO-294-MKN421 (aka quasar MKN 421) for 150 seconds. In the field were two bright stars (actually triple star 51 UMa with A at mag 6.0 and C to the east at mag 7.4). Together, over the long exposure, they "blew out" the sensor.

Uh huh.

So, I can stand down. No new fragmented comet discovery...

stumbled with Astrometrica

Downloaded shareware Astrometrica upon Eric's recommendation. Help pages didn't load so I had to wing it. Encountered a number of bugs and poorly designed dialogue boxes and old instruction guides. And then I found the amazing video by David Rankin. The BGO setup instructions from Mr Lane were also very helpful. Finally got it plate solving.

ordered shirts

Finished the prep for the volunteer t-shirt order for RASC Toronto Centre. We need identifying clothing for our helpers at the May 31 media event and the big June 9 grand opening of the David Dunlap Observatory. Worked with Tony and Jon sorting the logo issues. Worked with the RASC DDO committee, with lots of support from Bhairavi, Chris, Eric, and Arnold to pick the promo wear, colours, sizes, etc. Liaised with the promotion company. It's in the hopper.

found fast movers

I was diving deeper into the recent image of NGC 4388 as the frame size was bigger and I had thus entrapped a few more faint fuzzies.

I noted the pair of fuzzy blobs a bit north-east of the big spiral and after some primarily checks started to wonder what was going on. Then I "blinked" the four sets of images I had received from BGO, comparing the luminance, red, green, and blue data. This is when I found the pair of blobs to be moving!

animated presentation of region around NGC 4388

Animated GIF produced Photoshop CS2.

I estimate the lint balls are moving approximate 0.74 arc-seconds per minute of time. Moving roughly north at a position angle of 11°.

Doing more digging...


An artefact: the CCD is experiencing RBI.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Binary Universe: apps for Mars watchin'

RASC members were notified of the publication of the June edition of the Journal.

cover of the June 2018 RASC Journal
The message from the editor, Nicole, is intriguing. She reminds us just how much has changed in a relatively short time. We're both children of the space race. Amazing. What will we see in the next 50 years?! The mind boggles.

I look forward to reading about the planned sesquicentennial celebrations. There's an article called Introduction to Photometry. Cool. Many items touch on Mars for 2018. As does my column.

My Binary Universe topic this month is Mars tools. I refer to the web based Mars Profiler from Sky & Telescope. The Apple app I recommend is Mars Atlas. I tested 2.6.0 on an iPad. I couldn't find an excellent app for Android but Physical Mars version 1.12 is not bad.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

assembled 32 Cyg

Using the LRGB data gathered on 3 Oct '17 from BGO, I produced a full colour image of the double star 32 Cygni or S 743.

32 Cygni in colour

Luminance 3x20, RGB 3x10 each. FITS Liberator 3, Photoshop CS2.

32 Cyg A is gold-orange. B is robin's egg blue. [ed: B is below or south of A.]

ES 799 AB is grey or beige. CD is pale light blue. [ed: ES 799 is due west of 32 A, to the right.]

about half-way

Learned that TESS is in the middle of its 60 day commissioning plan. It should be able to start its science mission around June 18.

fixed landscape

Tried to fix Stellarium. My custom landscape texture for the backyard was not showing the right time. Or rather, the sky was too dark for the current time. I realised it was the longitude. I had entered +79 in the LANDSCAPE.INI file; I changed it to negative.

Took me a little bit to find the file. Canned and custom landscapes are stored, for Windows, along the path C:\Program Files\Stellarium\landscapes\ and then I had to figure out how to save the file, given administrative restrictions.

Looks like it is OK now...

Then I set this to the default. But the elevation doesn't load in. Weird.

Monday, May 14, 2018

imaged M60 (Halifax)

Of the Burke-Gaffney Observatory I requested the target Messier 60. This is a Virgo galaxy that I viewed once and somewhat quickly, on 4 Jul '10. I wanted to have another look. Whoa.

galaxy Messier 60 in luminance

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

Very nice. I forgot that M60 aka NGC 4649 proper had a companion, NGC 4647. The primary galaxy is a nearly round large elliptical with a smooth progressive halo. The nearby large galaxy to the north-west is a spiral, nearly face-on, with mottled arms. The centre looks slightly askew. The far arm is dragging behind. Is it being tugged on my M60?

Due north of Messier 60 proper is a tiny oval, oriented east-west. That is LEDA 1397198.

Barely visible to the north-west, far away, there is a very faint smudge. Just north of star J124301.1+114028. Galaxy PGC 42758.

South-west of Arp 116, far away again, cut off in the image, is half of the oval NGC 4637.

LEDA 1394064 is south-south-east of M60, also oriented east-west.


Wikipedia: Messier 60.