Friday, June 15, 2018

galaxies, doubles, planets (Blue Mountains)

8:45 PM, Thursday 14 June 2018. Started the conversion of the CWIO time lapse photos, from RAW to JPEG, for Dietmar.

8:55 PM. Did some work in Ian's shed. Copied my DDO time lapse JPEG images to his computer—almost 7000! Took them straight from the CF card.

9:02 PM. Helped Wayne with his pod.

9:14. Started the download of Shotcut 64-bit to Ian's machine. The mozzies found me.
Instruments: Celestron 14-inch SCT, Tele Vue 101 refractor
Mount: Paramount ME
Method: Go To
9:22. Pulled the EC weather data. Current Conditions. 19°C. Observed at: Collingwood. Date: 9:00 PM EDT Thursday 14 June 2018. Condition: Not observed. Pressure: 101.4 kPa. Tendency: Rising. Temperature: 18.6°C. Dew point: 8.4°C. Humidity: 52%. Wind: W 7 km/h. Forecast. Tonight. Clear. 9°C. Whoa, single digit. Fri 15 Jun. Sunny. 24°C. Night. Clear. 12°C. Sat 16 Jun. Chance of showers. 24°C. 40%. Night. Chance of showers. 18°C. 40%. Detailed Forecast. Forecast issued: 3:30 PM EDT Thursday 14 June 2018. Tonight. Clear. Wind northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. Low 9. Fri 15 Jun. Sunny. High 24. UV index 9 or very high. Night. Clear. Low 12. Sat 16 Jun. Cloudy with 40 percent chance of showers. High 24. Night Cloudy periods with 40 percent chance of showers. Low 18.

9:27 PM. Checked the site weather. Wind: 10 minute average 0.0 km/h; direction NW; instantaneous speed 1.6; high 35.4. Humidity: 69%. Barometric pressure: 1014.6 hPa. Temperature: 15.7°C; high 19.0, dew point 10.0; inside 25.0. About 5 degrees from the dew point. Looked at the trends. The wind had tailed off. Humidity peaked Tuesday at midnight at around 85%. Air pressure troughed midnight Tuesday at 1010.0. Rising now. Reception tanked Tuesday mid-day, down to 94%. Something interfered with it. Still working though.

Helped Millie at the THO. The top flap was stuck. North-east corner was resistant. Opened the angled flap from the outside.

Saw Venus (without my glasses).

9:33. Looked at the satellite imagery. Visible. Thin wispy clouds. Looked like we were on the edge of a front. A big system was near Chicago. Switched to infrared. Superior was very cold; the centre of Huron.

Continued the transfer of photos for Dietmar. About half-way.

Set an alarm to start the capture of wide field photos around 10:30.

Considered more targets for the evening. 

The coyotes fired up.

9:46. Millie popped by. She confirmed she was seeing Venus and Jupiter. Wondered about Mercury. I said I didn't think it was visible... She asked if I was going to be doing doubles. A little bit of everything! I hoped. She talked about some of her goals with her small refractor. She vaguely recalled an 8-star system in Cetus or Cass that we had looked at in the C14. I pulled my life list. The challenge is that I have looked at a lot of stuff... 85 pairs alone in Cassiopeia.

[ed: Mercury was trailing the Sun. About 12 degrees away.]

Activated red mode in SkyTools.

Added some fast movers to the plan...

Copied some items from my double star candidate programme list. About 15.

Headed to Ian's observatory again. Meltytech Shotcut worked slightly better this time. Still crashed on first start. Drag-and-drop of all 6800 files worked, albeit really slowly. And once again I noticed it does not put the files in the same sequence the file list which means re-sequencing would be required and doing that by drag-and-drop would be insane.

10:18. Felt cold. Considered more layers. Closed the warm room windows.

Returned to the GBO with more clothing. Also had my jacket this time!

Started the Paramount and TheSky. Switched to Real Time in SkyTools 3 Pro. Slewed to Jupiter.

Made a note about a filter idea for SkyTools...

Hit my head. Hit my head again! Almost smacked my face on the huge counterweights. We need some caution tape inside the GBO...

Spotted two moons close together. Io and Ganymede. Both heading inbound...

Got a sugar hit from a soda. No booze tonight.

10:32. Started my camera. Made sure the lens cap was off... Duh. Much brighter images this time! Hoped I had enough space on the card. I guessed there was enough for 300 shots...

The image conversion was proceeding: 277 of 316.

Pulled up the Current Events info in ST3P. Never noticed it before but red light mode doesn't work well in this tab. The blue text disappears. Noted an elongation of mag 14.4 Amalthea at 2 o'clock. Huh. Made a calendar entry. Phobos elongation at 3. Um. 

Reactivated my main list. Suddenly noticed the location was wrong; it was on Cupcakes. Broke the computer connection, reset to the Blue Mountains spot, reconnected. Tried slewing and didn't think it right; it was fine. A meridian flip confused me.

Went to Porrima, partly to test things. Used TheSky6 to do the slew. On target, no problem.

Looked in the TV: wasn't sure. Easily split in the Celestron 14-inch, with the 27mm. Same colour? The one on the left looked orange for a moment. Spotted a somewhat bright star inline. Pale. Flipped the mirror on the Tele Vue 101mm refractor to be the same orientation. Matched the field. The tight pair looked like a snowman. Not a clean split; but clearly not a single star. HD 110381, south or left for me. Seeing was off. Added the double star to my observing list.

10:54. Looked up the details of γ (gamma) Virginis. Separation was 2.74" as of May. Noted it was a multi-star system. Headed back to the oculars.

Reset things in SkyTools. Saw a blinking X on target. Good.

A few things... The Henry Draper star is the E companion of this 5-star system. Equal brightness, A and B. Orange and white. Pale orange, left; the other looked white. Colourless. D was to the east. No problem. Noted the outlier, HD 110298. Why would this bright star not be included? Could not see C. Tried again.

Dimmed lights and screens to improve my dark adaptation.

Turned on the dew heaters and installed the wraps on the eyepieces.

Could not see C. There was a star north-east of D, GSC 4949-1097, which would make a line to C. I also saw the J-star at magnitude 13.1 to the south-east of AB, closer than E, which C would be between. Strange. ST3P says Struve 1670 C is magnitude 15.1. Too dim for the conditions and challenging in the old SCT.

11:04. Found a message from Ian about his trailer jack, in case I wanted to lift the observatory roof.

Rhonda pinged me. Updated her on the building progress.

Looked at Denebola. Just above the 2 airmass line. Looked like one star. In a big V-shape of stars. SkyTools wasn't even showing the B star... ST3P said B was mag 15.7. Oh. That's why. I had seen D in the southern arm. Easy, of course. Saw GSC 870-160, the north-west element in the wide pair, NW of AB proper. ST3P said it was mag 13.5. I got the star in between! NNW. SkyTools said this was GSC 870-167. But mag 15.7. That can't be right. Noted PPM 128588 to the east.

Tried for BU 604 C again... Could not see it... ST3P said it was 13.2. Why couldn't I see it?! This is a tricky one! Maybe it should not be on my candidate list.

Being mindful of the meridian, I slewed to HD 92370 aka Σ1460 in Ursa Major.

11:26. Interesting! Very dim in the small 'scope. At first I didn't see it. A tight double. Very faint. The one on the right looked slightly dimmer to me. 3.8". Noted a bent line of stars on the west edge of the FOV. West was up. Neat shape of stars, like a funnel. ST3P said the left one was dimmer, mag 8.8 vs 8.0. Effectively the same. Nearly oriented north-south. Super-tight. Easy in the C14. No colour per se. Equal colours. The double is in a right-angle triangle. Faint star on the 90 degree bend. An automatic suggestion from SkyTools. Huh.

ST3P suggested I look at Amalthea.

Someone was fiddling with their car in the parking lot, triggering the lights. Multiple flashes. Sheesh.

11:34. Millie dropped into the warm room and said the tumbling satellite would be visible in 9 minutes. I asked her how she knew that. She was going for someone's logged entry time. I shared it had appeared at different times. Her guess would be as good as mine as to when and where. She headed out to watch for it.

Slewed the Paramount to NGC 3088 B.

Freakin' nasty. I suspected I was seeing A. I knew I was on target with the medium bright star SAO 81939. But I thought I only saw one fuzzy.

Got it!

11:41. Wow. Saw both! Added NGC 3088 A to the list. Arp 87 in Leo. B to the right or north was dimmer and smaller. Opposite from the SAO star. Well separated, the two small galaxies. Surprising I got them given April is the best time.

Lost the blinking X again. Fixed.

Slewed to NGC 4884 in Coma Berenices. A Caldwell target.

11:49. Wow.

Considered checking on my camera rig. Lamented not testing my BDT.

Interesting galaxy. Lot of stuff going on. SkyTools shows dozens of little galaxies in the field. [ed: I didn't realise it at the time but these galaxies are in the ACO 1656 galaxy group.]

Noted a bright star, HD 112887. Saw galaxy NGC 4884 in the centre of the eyepiece. Spiral with a bright centre. This was right or east of another big galaxy. I saw two faint small fuzzies above and below 4884. The little galaxy above or north might have been NGC 4882. Perhaps the one below was NGC 4898? ST3P said it was mag 15.6. Didn't seem possible.

SkyTools says 4884 is an elliptical.

The large galaxy to the west of 4884 was NGC 4874. Fainter than the right one. SkyTools says it is a lenticular. 2.5' by 2.1'.

Would be astonishing to photograph this region [ed: See below.].

My DSLR seemed to be working fine. Tried checking for the remaining shots using the top LCD but didn't see a number... Thought it did that. Oh well.

Dimmed the galaxy drawing colour in the software chart so to make it less distracting. Back to the big 'scope.

Noted a keystone shape of stars with GSC 1995-1926 and Tycho 1995-1988 1 to the south. I think I was definitely seeing NGC 4898! Nuts!

Could be included in a "two in the view" list.

12:00 AM, Fri 15 Jun '18. Visions of popcorn popped in my head!

Couldn't find any popcorn kits! Boo. Returned with some spicy chips.

Closed the doors and fired up the heaters.

Slewed to next: ξ (xi) Scorpii. Nice! Surely I have looked at this before... Yes, showed as logged. On lots of lists, including Cambridge and Two in a View. On this evening's list for B, as B is a fast mover. Very, very tight. C is the easy split, at low power. The D and E stars below (south) as very far from AB. F is no problem. The software shows a star between E and F but I don't see anything there. On my candidate list which is brilliant.

Tried more power. Stupid high power.

Millie peeked in but didn't see me.

Toasty in the warm room. Turned down the thermostat.

I tried to convince myself I could see something below A, south. Orange-red fringe on the bottom. No black line. SkyTools said limited by seeing. A is pale yellow. C is orange. In a small telescope, A, C, D, and E were all visible. So a good candidate system.

Looked for my next quarry. Close to where I was. On the same side of the sky.

Commanded the ME mount to HD 144564 aka Struve 2007 in Serpens. A double star system I had added to my DS candidate list.

Wide pair, easily separated in the Tele Vue; super-wide in the Celestron. Triple. C was well away, opposite B. The primary star was yellow with a hint orange while B was white. B is to the north-west. The C attendant was in an arc of stars. Easy triple. Interesting field. Good choice.

Next. γ Serpentis.

Tough. Logged. Interesting. Wait a sec. I wondered if it might be confusing. Triple system, again. I was expecting a tight double but in fact they are very wide. Noted lines of stars in the field. B and C are almost invisible in the small aperture. Markedly dim. Needed averted. B and C could be confused with other field stars. At low power, it does not seem an obvious double or multi-star system. The main star looked blue-white in the TV101 but yellow in the C14. I dunno...

Slewed to LY Ser aka ARY 11 from my candidate list so to double-check. A rather wide double. Orange primary. Noted the squashed triangle to the south. And a pair of stars to the north-west (not official). Went to have another look. The B star is easily seen in the small OTA. Not terribly exciting.

12:54 AM. Mars was up. Camera was still working.

Slewed. Oops. Missed the button. Slewed. Returned to the gas giant. Ganymede was not visible.

Headed to Messier 62 (M62). Low. Had to drop the wall. Very nice, the globular cluster in Ophiuchus. Smooth, diffuse, gradual brightening to the centre. Not particularly bright. Unmistakable in the small telescope. Seemed dark on one edge, the right edge. 26 000 light-years away.

Millie dropped by. Wayne had gone to bed so I could close his pod. She offered to close the garage. She also apologised for walking in front of my camera. No worries!

1:17. Couldn't see the bottom star of Scorpius. Pretty amazing the three planets in the southern sky, nearly equidistant. Perseus rising. Saw a satellite near Polaris.

Checked the current weather from the Davis weather station. As of 1:04 AM. Wind: 10 minute average 0.0 km/h; direction NW; instantaneous speed 0.0; high 0.0. Humidity: 78%. Barometric pressure: 1015.9 hPa. Temperature: 12.9°C; dew point 9.1.

I thought it would be nice to stay up really late but I was fading.

Tomorrow night looked good (according to the CSC)...

Returned to Jupiter. But could not see Amalthea. Shoot.

Slewed to next double. Not too far away (did not do a meridian flip). A suggestion from SkyTools. Challenging in the Tele Vue. Tight, faint pair. Equal stars. Lovely field. Orange and blue maybe in the C14, easy split. Not logged. [ed: At the 1:47 mark in the 18061406.msv file. Not sure the target due to poor note-taking. Will need to determine by inference... Was it HD 159660 aka STF 2186 in Ophiuchus? Probably. 3 arc-seconds. Mags 7.6 and 8.4. Stellarium says A is a class B9 star.]

Considered another target... Passed on Vesta. Scanned the list again... Nope. Done.

Closed up shop. Activated the dehumidifier.

1:32. Rescued my camera. Over 200 shots. The fisheye was a bit fogged... And had pollen on it. [ed: Forgot to get darks.]

The photo conversion had finished. So I initiated the file copy to the server...


A good night. Nothing earth-shattering. But good to get some doubles done. And to check off another Messier second-visit. And shoot better the north sky.


Accidentally imaged the galaxy group ACO 1656 in bright moonlight on 7 Apr '20.

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