Sunday, May 05, 2019

flew the RC16 (Blue Mountains)

Headed to the Geoff Brown Observatory as the peepers peeped. Noted the roof was already open. Found the old laptop off to the side and running. I closed it. Readied things for observing. Turned on the warm room heaters. Felt naked without my SkyTools software...

The sky darkened.

We looked at Mars. Just a colourful disc. No features per se. The seeing degraded.

Sailu and I looked for other planets along the ecliptic.

I struggled with TheSkyX software. Didn't have my quick reference guide handy. Some of the colours used in the app do not work well with red film on the monitor (e.g. the ecliptic path is drawn in blue).

Tried for M13.

The pointing was off. Steve showed me how to sync. When Ian W popped in, he scolded us for syncing. I explained the pointing had been off from the get-go. It was getting worse and we were having to starhop. I asked if he could show us how to load his TPoint model. I took notes. We discovered some other model was loaded. Not sure how. We went to Messier 51 (M51), the Whirlpool. Nice view, the main face-on galaxy and interacting companion. The pointing was better. The target would be within the low power field of the refractor. We experimented with the software. Closing (without an prompts like in the past) automatically saved all settings...

We went to Messiers 65 and 66. The two galaxies fit within one field in the big 'scope. I hunted for NGC 3628 and found it after a few attempts.

At the midnight transition from Saturday to Sunday, I went for 35 Sextantis, aka Struve 1466. In a group of stars not unlike the pot of the Big Dipper.

I had not indicated in my notes why I wanted to view again this object. At some point I had put a reminder in my calendar. When I checked my life list, the L through V double star list, I found that I had not split the tight, half arc-second CD pair of stars. Nothing about a fast-moving binary. Anyhoo, the A, B, and C stars were obvious.

The AB pair were close, pale orange and very pale blue stars. A nice view with the Panoptic 27mm in 16" RC. The C star was well away. aka HIP 52438.

On checking my notes, I found that I had not split the CD pair. I thought it odd that Stelle Doppie did not show the D star. I stared for a long time. Maybe... I was seeing them. Often I had the impression that there was an extremely tight pair aimed at AB. [ed: When I zoom in tight in SkyTools 3 Professional, this is what I see!]

Jeremy Perez's sketch of STF 1466 is really nice.

I debated sketching but did not take to pencil and paper...

12:15 AM. Viewed Alula Australis aka ξ (xi) Ursae Majoris. Now this system is a fast mover. I viewed with the 27mm and the Radian 18mm. Lovely pair. Pale gold. Easy split in the 18. [ed: ST3P says PA 155° and Sep 2.13" as of March.] Poor seeing despite looking up high. A little soft. Backed off the power. Quite nice in the 27. I spotted a hockey stick of faint stars at the 1 o'clock position [ed: north-east]. The AB pair was oriented 10 to 4 [ed: Roughly north through south.]

Saw Jupiter rising.

I considered stuff in east but targets were too low and there too much light pollution from Collingwood.

Reviewed my list of Messiers to revisit. 55 and 69 were not up.

Ran out of mojo. And I couldn't party too hard as there was much to do tomorrow.

Countertops were soaked as I closed up. Very damp. Not surprisingly.

Was a little frustrated with the software. Took me a while to figure out that the Sky Chart was staying centred on where the telescope was pointing... and how to turn that off. Could not figure out how to zoom by dragging [ed: Maybe I'm thinking of a different app. SkyTools does this. Maybe it is because they changed the panning technique from requiring the right mouse button?!]. Couldn't figure out how to free rotate the field [ed: I recall trying the Free Rotation command in the Orientation menu and it didn't work. I should have used Tools, Rotate Tool.]. Wondered if a direction indicator could be shown [ed: Yes. Choose, Display, Chart Elements. Access Reference Lines & Photos, Milky Way Options..., Celestial North Arrow.]. Was surprised that there was not an indication of a mirrored field [ed: There is one! It's the bisected circle at the top-left. I noticed that icon but didn't understand it.]. Did not like the bloated appearance of the stars [ed: Changed the Star Options...]. I made a note to turn on the slew confirmation [ed: It's in the Mount Preferences again.].


Is 35 Sex an error on my part? I don't see anything about a fast binary... Why is it in my calendar to check annually?! Maybe I was thinking about γ (gamma) Sex. It has a 78 year period.


The Washington Double Star database does not show a D star for 35 Sex. Weird. Where did I get this information from? Well... SkyTools. But where did Greg get this data?


I confirmed that old TheSky6 software allowed dragging in the Sky Chart to draw a box and then zoom in to a region of interest... Now, in TheSkyX, in can still be done, wahoo, but one must hold the Shift key while dragging!


Put a red on black version of my quick reference guide on John Repeat Dance and the Lume smartphone. Also copied all the content into Evernote. Applied updates to the Evernote entry... So now I can't complain I'm without instructions.


Removed the 35 Sextantis annual entry from my calendar.

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