Sunday, March 31, 2019

in deference

Am I an uber geek given that I wore my NASA t-shirt while watching The First Man?

first painting with stars

I just stumbled across Café Terrace At Night by van Gogh. Looking toward a Arles coffeehouse at night. Lovely. Stars!

Café Terrace at Night by Vincent van Gogh

I learned that this was the first painting in which he used starry backgrounds.

Wikipedia link: Vincent van Gogh

Saturday, March 30, 2019

remembered Earth Hour

I forgot about Earth Hour!

I had noticed the signboard earlier today at Vaughan city hall...

At 8:29, I paused my movie, I ran around about, and I shut off every light. I unplugged the bathroom night light. Turned off the hallway light. I powered off the work laptop and the netbook computer. Turned off my smartphone. I hear the fridge and furnace running. They're the big consumers.

uploaded column article

Submitted my article for the Journal. Once again proofed by Rhonda. I got an A+! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

thinner red

Received the 2-foot-wide roll of red theatre "gel" film from Ward, made by Rosco. Oh, it's thinner than the Lee Filter material I'm used to. The colours are bang on. Roscolux #26 Light Red.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

sunrise to sundown (York Region)

I watched the Sun rise. I watched the Sun fall.

stars and planets (Bradford)

Through crisp air I viewed the Summer Triangle rising.

Deneb in the middle. Never really noticed that before.

Spotted Altair and its companion. Why can I never remember... [ed: Tarazed!]

Looking north, I saw a big dipper scooping up water and a big W rising.

The old Moon was bright. Jupiter beige. Yes! Got it. Saturn dim, about 3 magnitudes less, about 20° away.

I kept looking and finally tagged a simmering Venus.

The increasing glow in the east. Beautiful sky. I was headed for a window less room...

Thursday, March 21, 2019

received 7 Leo data (Halifax)

BGO said queue was empty (back on 19 Mar 2019 around 22:42 EDT) so I looked for and submitted a target quickly. I chose a Sissy Haas double, one with curious colours. She says 7 Leonis is a deep blue star and blue-green partner. I aimed at nearby GSC 00827 00796.

double-star 7 Leo in luminance

Luminance only, ½ seconds sub, 12 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

7 Leo proper is the bright unequal pair to the south. Will be interesting to see this in full colour.

There's a doublet to the north. SkyTools 3 Pro does not show this as a pair; rather the single stars SAO 98667 and SAO 98665.


A little update as the data in ST3P is a bit old, dated 2003. The latest info in the WDS for 09359+1423 H 5 58 is from 2014.

PA 90
sep 41
mags 6.31 and 9.39.

That angle doesn't look right. I think it's less than 90.


Searched the WDS by coordinates. Found an entry for the equal pair to the north.

09362+1436 ARN  72
first report 1893
last report 2015
PA 111
last sep 81.7
mags 8.82 and 9.09
precise 093613.29+143547.8.

That's a good match for the ST3P info.


Processed in colour on 28 Nov '19.

surprise, two!

That was weird.

I received an email message from bgorobot.
Subject: BGO Robotic Telescope reply message
Date: 2019-03-21 06:18
Your observations taken overnight are ready...
I didn't know I had any completed observations...

Oh. Maybe this would show the one missing from the previous evening. A dynamic message said one had been captured but it never appeared in the done queue. I pulled up my Completed Observations page.


There were two listed!

The missing one plus another.

Oh well. Won't complain.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

received STF 1143 data (Halifax)

I wanted to image a double star in need of attention using a different method, a new technique, now that the WDS "neglected" system as been decommissioned.

After filtering for "old" data, I came across the entry 07481+0525 STF1143 with the last entry reported in 1825! Almost 200 year old data.

neglected double-star STF 1143 in luminance

Luminance only, ½ second subexposures, 12 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

Struve 1143 is also known as HD 63241 or SAO 115947. Stars visible to magnitude 14 and beyond are visible.

I found some notes in the WDS database: Some error in position. See note in BDS II. Bu_1906; This may be STF1134AB with a larger error than is typical for a FGW Struve measure.

Now Σ1143 is supposed to be a somewhat tight pair of unequal stars. The primary is mag 6.6 with a secondary at mag 11. The separation is purportedly 9.3 seconds of arc. B is supposed to the to the south-east.

I don't see anything...

The equal pair of stars to the north (not noted as a double) are separated by about 22". So 1143 A and B should be visible at half that distance.



What did Friedrich Georg Wilhelm see?

Regardless, it is a lovely little pattern of stars...


Another curious thing about this is that SkyTools shows a star north-east of the upper pair, of equal brightness. It says it is NSV 3739. I see nothing.


Strange. When I went looking for the completed data the morning after, the target showed as pending... Some short of glitch which in the end worked itself out.

imaged ARY 51 (Halifax)

Tried to sort another "neglected" double star...

I used the data culled from an old list for 09390+3017 ARY. It showed data from 2003 with a position angle of 273 and an angular separation of 116.4. Magnitude 9.1 and 9.4 stars, one of which was a K2.

I programmed the Burke-Gaffney Observatory robot to acquire some photons from the distant suns in Leo.

neglected double-star ARY 51 in luminance

Luminance only, 1 second subexposures, 12 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

Clearly there's a very wide pair of stars, nearly perfectly horizontal, nearly equal in brightness. So, not a lot to write home about.

A pair of stars shows in SkyTools at this location. SAO 61616 on the left or east and SAO 61615 to the west.

This is the last neglected done via the old technique...


I checked the current data for the system.

ID 09390+3017
discoverer ARY  51
pair AB
first report 1903
last report 2017
angle 273
first sep 116.4
last sep 118.7
mags 9.15 and 9.55
precise 093859.33+301631.6

It's interesting that the first reporting appears to have been rolled back 100 years.

imaged HJ 465 (Halifax)

Captured the double star HJ 465 in Leo with the BGO system. Aimed at GSC 01959 00225 which then puts the faint double in question in the lower portion of the image.

double-star HJ 465 in luminance

Luminance only, 1 second sub, 12 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

This double star target was chosen from an old "neglected" list at the WDS. I initially used the location, 09312+2446, in the ID to try to find the object. There was nothing at the location in SkyTools 3 Pro. But ST3P showed a conspicuous pair due south at +24 36! Proper motion? Looked like an entry error in the coordinates to me. Also my software showed the pair data was dated 1915. Over 100 years old. I selected the star GSC 01959-0225, kind of in the middle, for the Burke-Gaffney robot.

The image clearly shows the pair with the brighter element to the west. They are nearly in a perfect east-west orientation. There's a neat big funnel shape...

I plate-solved the (rotated) FITS image with The image centre is at 09h 31m 11.498s and +24° 41' 53.307". The image size 23.9 x 23.9 arcmin with a radius of 0.282 deg. The pixel scale is 0.934 arcsec/pixel. The image is rotated from the equatorial coordinate system very slightly: up is 0.298 degrees E of N.

As I examine the current "main" Washington Double Star 06-11 list now, I see there have been 9 observations for HJ 465 with the most recent in 2015. I don't see any notes on the database entry. Most importantly, the WDS shows the precise coordinates as 093112.74+243605.5 so all appears good now...

Monday, March 18, 2019

received red fabric

I was looking for some nice fabric to make a cover for the custom dew heater strap. Rhonda showed me some of her fabric pieces for quilting. I chose a neat red pattern. She loaned me her sewing machine (the one I fixed many moons ago).

connected insulated power line

Continued work on the custom dew heating strap element.

Knowing it's difficult to solder nichrome, I cut down a small bolt. Then attached a lead power wire to the far end of the nichrome element by nut and bolt. It's just visible at the far left.

lead wire bolted to nichrome at left end

I fed the heater element through rubber tube again and readied for a test.

It worked! Fantastic. Very happy.

So to connect to a dew heater controller, I considered the feed wire. In one of my "wires" bins, found mic wire, with 4 leads, and a very flexible jacket. Grabbed a male RCA, with big opening on the strain relief, white again, not that the colour matters.

Got an idea. Make the plastic strip longer, put screw holes in the end, for mounting points, for attachment crimp points, and the power lead connections. That's for version 1.1!

shot STF 1682 (Halifax)

Aiming at GSC 05538 00035, I asked the Burke-Gaffney Observatory to shoot the colourful multi-star system Struve 1682. Haas uses intriguing terms when referring to this star in the constellation of Virgo.

multi-star system STF 1682 in luminance

Luminance only, 1 seconds sub, a dozen stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

aka HR 4877. The B partner, about 3 magnitudes dimmer, is close and to the west-north-west. The C consort is much dimmer, about 6 times the distance, lies to the south-west.

In double stars for small telescopes, Haas describes the primary as "pearly" and the companion as "ghostly" and "ethereal." She quotes Smyth on this one who says they are "topaz yellow" and "lucid purple." SkyTools 3 Pro shows the main stars as deep orange with a classification of K0 while the other two appear white. And B, aka SAO 157549, is a G0 star. It will be interesting to process the captured data in colour...

There's a fuzzy star near the middle-left of the image: that's the core of the elliptical galaxy NGC 4742.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

monthly doubles for Mar 2019

Issued my double star "bulletin" for March 2019. It is a short list of suggested targets. I shared this on the RASC Toronto Centre forums. And I post here for all.



Days are getting longer and sun is getting higher. Hopefully weather more conducive to astronomy is around the corner. If you get chance to do some quick backyard observing, here are some double stars for your consideration.

staralso known asalternate catalogue(s)
HD 75646 CncSTT A 96SAO 80467, HIP 43535
α (alpha) LynSTT 571SAO 61414, HIP 45860
HD 60997 PupΣ1121SAO 153142
Struve 1126 CMiHR 2950SAO 115773
ε (epsilon) Mon8 Mon and STF 900SAO 113810, HIP 30419

A couple of hints... α Lyn is great triple as is HD 75646. STF 1126 is also a triple but the AB is rather challenging. HD 60997 comes with a couple of surprises!

I look forward to hearing how you did! Let me know if you have any questions.

Blake Nancarrow
astronomy at computer-ease dot com

Friday, March 15, 2019

tried larger tube

Took an inner tube out of bike tire, from one of my mountain bike slicks. 26x1-3/8". My first impression? The size was perfect!

The nichrome wire wrapped about the plastic bottle core fit nicely inside the tube. It was protected from damage. No chance of electrical shorts. I was very happy.

heater element with plastic core, medium sized bike inner tube

Oh. Gave me another idea. I could run the power line on the outside...

Thursday, March 14, 2019

darkness again (Bradford)

It was dark again, with the shift in time. Stoopid system.

I could only see Jupiter on the walk to the train station. Clouds blocked Saturn. Venus was nowhere to be seen.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

tried a tube

Had a brain wave. Bicycle tire. Or rather, an inner tube. Could this be used to surround the custom dew heating element? The rubber could help in terms of insulation, so the metal nichrome wires didn't short against telescope bits. And the tubing would offer some structure and protection for the whole element. Grabbed an old punctured tire inner tube from my racer bike with it's 1" rims. Too small, as an intact tube. Hmmm. What about the other bike?

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

tested element

I tested the custom dew heater element. It worked! I saw, with the DMM, it was drawing 0.54 amps. It got quite warm. That said, I could touch the element, touch the nichrome wires directly. So not insanely hot. So my math was good, I had the proper length of wire, given it's resistance characteristic. Excited, I was ready for next stage...

Monday, March 11, 2019

Binary Universe: more than just a clock

Saw a Facebook post which meant the April 2019 edition of the RASC Journal was out.

cover of the Apr 2019 edition of the Journal
Adrian made the Journal, page 2, with a fantastic hydrogen-alpha image. There's a lengthy article on radio astronomy at Queen's University, with a reference to the ARO, that looks very interesting. This ties in nicely with Erik Rosolowsky's piece on Fast Radio Bursts. John Percy has an intriguing article on pseudoastronomy that I will devour.

In my Binary Universe column, I return to the Android app Astro Clock Widget. I briefly mentioned in a past article when discussing apps that show sidereal time. But I wanted to share Astro Clock's many other interesting features including rise and set times for all the planets, the Sun, and the Moon, mini-display of the sky, and alerts of course.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

spotted bright planets (Bradford)

During my walk to the train station, I saw Jupiter nearly due south and a bright but yellow Venus low. I wondered where quick Mercury was...


Remembered that the Astro Clock Widget app on my phone would help. Learned later than Saturn was between them. Dang!