Friday, August 31, 2018

quick doubles run (Bradford)

After seeing Clear Sky Alarm Clock messages from all my Ontario sites, I thought it appropriate to check the predictions. Wow. Clear, for a change. No good Saturday night. So, a one-night opportunity. I decided to try for a quick backyard session with the little Meade ETX-90 Maksutov.

Noted sunset was around 8:00. The sky would be without Moon (yeh) for 2 hours.

Put on my big jeans, a long sleeve over the tee, my hoodie (still smelling of a campfire). Thought my boots would be appropriate for easy on and off.

While setting up, one mozzie found me. Sheesh. Still around? Not cool enough to dampen them? Not enough bats either. Then I remembered! Dang. I gave rho the Good Stuff, my high-power DEET cream... Have I not donated enough?

Tossed an extension cord from the deck. Set up the big Mamiya tripod. Attached the 'scope. Securely! Didn't want the thing to topple over again. Crude polar alignment. Fired up the motor.

8:53 PM. Viewed Mars with the Celestron 26mm Plossl (magnification 48). It looked good. Steady. Colourful.

Made a quick dew shield with an old file folder.

Aligned the little finder. What a joke that thing is. I have to use my right eye on the short tube. Ugh. Somehow, though, it shows right side up. I don't know exactly how it erects the image...

Found some bug juice, old stuff, dregs from a tiny Muskol pump. It'll do.

9:00. Put the Meade 18mm orthoscopic in (69x). Apropos, Meade in Meade. Unfortunately, this revealed the seeing conditions. Not great at the moment. Was it the sky affecting Mars or the trees at the edge of the yard? I thought I could see light and dark regions on the planet surface. Was the polar cap to the 11 o'clock position? Didn't seem like the correct direction.

The neighbours had the bathroom light on when I re-emerged from inside. A little distracting but I was facing away. Then someone in the townies to the west flicked on their dining room or kitchen light. Flick off! A smoke alarm was triggered nearby. I heard scampering.

9:01. OK. I was ready to start a small campaign on... you guessed it: double stars! Double stars in a small 'scope tonight.

The first choice was near Saturn. Took me a moment to find the dim planet. No. Too near the trees initially. I decided to try later.

Huh. No wind per se...

9:16. Considered going to 44 Boo but it was setting. And the trees that way were are bigger now. I could see θ (theta) Boo naked eye as I stood a bit south-east of the 'scope.

What about Hercules?

9:19. Also considered μ (mu) Dra aka Arrakis. But it was straight up. Nope. Not with this rig. Spotted it naked eye near the head of the Dragon.

Turned south again. Had a quick look at Saturn. Tiny in the little telescope. Shadows in the field--still in the tree. But pretty.

9:25. Ah. I thought so. Spotted Titan at the 2 o'clock or east-north-east. Oddly, my software showed Iapetus as being visible but I didn't notice anything obvious in the direction indicated.

9:29. All righty then. I star hopped to the Lagoon and ended up right at the edge of the tree branch.

I actually saw it right away, at the low power, the double HD 164536 aka RST 3149 in Sagittarius. I spotted a wide pair. No colours detected. Faint. The brighter element was to the south. The dim cohort could be viewed directly. In the 18mm the view was not much better. I was seeing the C star. An easy split. SkyTools 3 Pro says 35.4" apart. [ed: Due to gaps in log updated, I didn't realised I had already viewed this target.]

9:39. And it went into the other tree now!  That's it. Done. Moving on. I decided that I would keep this target on my double star project. It works in a little OTA; it should be fine at high power. And it has the eye candy nearby...

9:45. Woo hoo. The teenie finder scope has a really wide field. I coulld see λ (lambda) and 12 Aquila eas well as η (eta) Scuti no problem. I could also tag β (beta) and R Sct. I was certain that I saw a dim small cloud in the finder so I aimed to it. Bam! I was on the lop-sided cluster of the Wild Duck. That was easy!

Moved up and left or north-west. I saw the pair, HR 7083, aka H 6 50. The A and C stars were easy. Yellow and blue.

Viewed the whole sky. Nice night. Sagitta, Delphinus, Pegasus, Cygnus.

10:00. The lights on upper porch blazed on. Then the dog freaked out, hearing me rustling about below. The human could not control the beast so they headed back inside. And turned the light out. OK, thanks.

10:06. I hopped directly to μ Aql! Wow. Quick. Noted a little C-shape at the 4 or 5 o'clock. Um, more of an arrowhead. There was a triad to the north.

Burnham 653 A was orangey yellow. I could see the E star easily though dim. It was inline with some other similar stars, tailing off up and right.

Tried for the D companion. Not sure, even with the 18mm.

The seeing was good. Quite good.

Tried to see the double HD 184152 to the west too. No luck. Just too dim for this little tube.

10:16. Was the sky getting brighter? The Moon was not due yet.

I was starting to lose my mojo. I had been at it 1 hour. One more...

10:18. Where to  next? I couldn't get Cas or Cep--I had plunked down too close to the house.

Not all star hops are so easy...

10:42. Finally completed the long star hop (in the eyepiece) to HD 200392 aka BU 69. Three stars in a big hockey stick. The lower tighter two were the target of interest. A was a touch brighter than C. A and C were easily split. I noted in ST3P that it was a multi-star system. It will be fun at high power.

Dim stars in Vulpecula, a challenging hop, but I think it's a keeper. It seemed like a little cluster.

C'est tout. I quickly packed up.

Happy. A little bit of play at the end of an intense week. Some observations of never before viewed objects. Quick and easy.

The mount needs a bit of work. It is sticky or jumpy in azimuth.

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