Wednesday, June 12, 2019

doubles for June 2019

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



Tempus fugit. Here we are suddenly in the middle of June with another full Moon around the corner. It seems at long last the weather is finally improving. I myself had a couple of great nights in the backyard chasing down double stars in a little 'scope. You can too regardless of location, light pollution, or interference from the Moon.

staralso known asalternate catalogue(s)
93 LeoStruve B 7SAO 81998, HIP 57565
HR 5397 LibSHJ 179 SAO 158558, HIP 70518
η (eta) LupRMK 21SAO 207208, HIP 78384
π (pi) 1 UMiΣ1972SAO 2556, HIP 75809
HD 132909 BooSHJ 191SAO 29372, HIP 73366

Have fun. Happy splitting. Tell me what you see. Be seeing you.

Blake Nancarrow
astronomy at computer-ease dot com

Sunday, June 09, 2019

finished article

Nudged by Nikki this morning... Quickly crafted my next article for the Journal, finishing a piece first drafted in March. Curiously, the timing feels really good.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

observed after midnight (Bradford)

It was late. Rhonda had offered me a beer during the game. I was tired. But the skies were very good. I didn't want to waste 'em. So I suited up.

Set up in the backyard but this time near the shed. No distant street lights hitting my eyes. It was a good spot.

Maksutov on big metal tripod, computer on table, bench moved near to me, eyepiece case ready, carry-all case handy, deep red torch ready, astronomy adjustable chair up. Put on bug juice.
Instrument: Meade ETX-90 Mak
Mount: tripod (with tracking motor!)
Method: star hopping (with angle finder!)
Added the dew shield to the OTA.

Did not know where the Oregon weather station was. Probably still inside... Forgot the ETX battery pack. Oops.

12:10 AM. Did not yet have the red film on the LCD panel of John Repeat Dance. Installed it. Switched to my new observing session planning list. Applied the filters in the app including the start and end time constraints, 11:30 to 2:30.

Warmer tonight. No long johns. No hat. Only three layers on top.

Examined the sky. Lyra was well-positioned.

Aligned the finder scope. Right angle finder continued to work well. Changed the diopter again.

12:28. As per usual, loaded in the ole Celestron Plössl 26mm. Aimed at Vega and friends, the Double Double, and ζ (zeta). Hey, let's check out The Ring.

Messier 57 (M57) was a decent size, especially with averted vision. But dim. Clearly a donut, ring with a dark centre. But very faint. The Meade does not have a lot of light-gathering power.

OK. Let's get to work.

12:33. Two in the view! HR 7272 (Σ2474) south and HD 178849 (STF 2470) north. Almost the exact same alignment. Almost the exact same separations. Neat! Good for my candidate programme.

The 178849 pair was yellow and blue or blue-green. 7272 was fainter, yellow and orange. The secondaries were both about the same brightness (8.6 vs 8.3).

Seeing was not good.

SkyTools 3 Pro made it look like upper (north) pair were slightly tighter but I thought they looked the same. 178849 was 13.6 seconds of arc vs 7272 at 15.8. ST3P said the 178849 primary was 7.0 whereas 7272 was 6.7.

Welcome to Saturday. I checked the Oregon weather station even though it was still acclimating: 48% humidity, 14.1° temperature. Oh, as I watched, the RH climbed to 49%.

For the first time, I used the checked entries mode for the Visual Sky Simulation chart; I've only ever used it with the Interactive Atlas.

Reconsidered my targets. I had used the high priority setting in planning this session. Everything in Lyra was not high priority. And already logged.

12:49. Got lost so restarted the star hop from the triangle of Lyra. Arrived finally at η (eta) Cygni. Noticed an open cluster nearby, NGC 6871, so I headed there. Cool!

My back felt cold. Put on three more layers. Put on my winter beanie hat.

Boat-load of stuff in the eyepiece...

1:00. Carefully examined the cluster elements.

Bright 27 Cygni was at the top of the field for me, nearly the 12 o'clock position, or north-east.

There was an obvious wide double in the centre of the open cluster, south of 27 Cyg, with the primary noted as V1676 (suggesting a variable). Hosted an 8-star system!

Down and right of the wide pair was another doublet, south, about half the separation, with HD 227634 as the lead. Light skewed to the right or clock-wise.

Grabbed the 9mm. Really, tonight I ensured I had the Tele Vue 9mm Nagler Type 6.

Checked the pocket weather unit: humidity still climbing, currently 56% , air temp seemed to be flattening out, currently 11.8°. The air pressure was steady. Clouds tomorrow...

Dove deep.

1:03. V1676 is also known as Burnham 440. The bright partner to A, to the north, was the F star, aka SHJ 314! Fascinating. A and F were nearly equal in brightness. The software chart showed other stars, faint stars, being visible nearby...

At 48x, I could not see any other components. Resisted high power for a moment.

Checked HD 227634, the tighter canted pair, aka SHJ 315. I was thrown off a bit by the display in the software as it was showing a D star (SAO 69404). Was it part of some other system? This in fact was the companion. Simply put, the tight couple in the middle of NGC 6871 is SHJ 315 A and D with dimmer D to the south-west. ST3P did not list B or C.

Remembered to do some limit checks. I could see nearby V1820 at magnitude 10.8.

Installed the high magnification ocular. 139x.

1:13. Spotted star D to the left (north-west) of V1676. Much dimmer. Didn't stand up to direct but was obvious. Software said it mag 9.6 or 9.7. That didn't seem right.

I was seeing stars beyond the chart display this evening. I went into the SkyTools location profile and changed the air temp (was 0°) and the humidity (was 75%). Seeing was set at "good." Ah ha! More stars were rendered. It was better.

I noted the stars Tycho 2682-0316 1 (mag 11.0) and GSC 2682-0424 (11.1) to the west of BU 440.

1:18. Opposite SHJ 315 from BU 440, to the south-east, was BEW. I could see dimly the A and C stars. Magnitudes 11.2 and 11.0. It was actually a quadruple system. Hey, C was noted as Berko 82.

Well that was fun. I decided to not go any deeper into the open cluster. Offering BU 440 on my candidate list would be good, satisfying a few of my wishes for the programme.


Spotted Cassiopeia in the north-east clear of the trees. Would not have been able to enjoy that from the location used the last two nights.

Back at low power, I could still see the dim D star. About 1/3 or 1/4 the AF sep. Pretty well a 90 degree angle to the AF line. [ed: AF is 34.7 while AD is 11.0.]

1:26. Nice double, HR 7529. Nearly equal. White and orange. White and blue? Almost left and right for me (east-west). Milky Way field. Lots of faint stars. Attractively close at 48x. A and B were easy.

[ed: Haas says "pale lemon (and ) greenish white."]

Learned that STF 2578 was a multi-star system! The curious star to the far to the left or west was designated the F escort (mag 9.1). I went looking for the C...

Spotted 10.9 mag star Tycho 2668-0477 1 west of the F star.

Increased the power.

Spotted a star south of AB. SkyTools said this was GSC 2668-0049 at magnitude 12.5. Wha? [ed: Poor quality data.]

C did not make an appearance for me. D was not shown on the screen. [ed: The Interactive Atlas shows D as a mag 13.6 star. C is 11.5 as I hover. Should have seen it...]

Good stuff. A target never logged.

Done my high priority items in Cygnus. It was well up now.

Aimed to the south. Ophiuchus. Star hopped from Marfic.

1:42. Glanced at the Oregon. Whoa. Big jump. 68%! 11.2.

Targeted 19 Ophiuchi. Arrived at a big F-pattern of stars. The F was canted over. Nothing obvious at first glance... Learned that 19 was the bottom, southern star. Yellow. At first I thought there something, an extremely faint orange partner to the left.

With the 9mm in, it was clear there was a faint partner widely to the right (east). Nothing to the left. That was the B companion to 19 Oph (aka Struve 2096). Noted a faint star below. South. Nearly due south. A titch to the west. Fire truck! That was the C companion (mag 11.2). All right. Three stars.

The middle section of the F-shape there was an extremely wide pair. The bright star above was HD 151372 (WDS designation ENG 58). The dim star to the south-west (about the same separation as STF 2096 AC) was the partner.

Spotted BAL 1925 between the B of ENG and the A of 19. It was mag 11.5 according to the software planning app.

Back to low power. The B consort to 19 was very hard to tag...

Couldn't see my next target in the finder...

1:54. Viewed Messier 12 (M12). A little cloud. A couple of strings of field stars passing through, east-to-west, with a bright star on the south edge. Very pale, this globular cluster. Oblong, perhaps. Gradually brightening to the centre. Interesting to tag from the backyard but not a lot of detail.

Eyeballed orange Antares.

2:00. Hopped from Rasalhague. Viewed 53 Oph aka STF A 34. Yellow and blue? Or yellow and orange. Looked away. Yes, deep orange. North and south. Maybe 1½ magnitudes less than the primary. Very nice. Quite wide. Easy. Fairly plain field.

[ed: Haas refers only to the AB stars."Easy wide pair, bright white and fainter silvery blue..."]

Something popped for a second. It was the D star! To the south-west. Whiskey tango foxtrot. SkyTools says that star is mag 12.9! Well, hovering in the chart; from the Object Information box, it reports D as 10.8. That's probably the correct value.

With the 9mm, the C and D stars were easy! ST3P says C is mag 11.8 (or 10.8). They looked about the same. Must be 10.8.

2:04. I heard the neighbour rustling about behind me. Saw a bright light from a flashlight—no, a phone. Thank goodness I had my hoodie on. Heard him calling his dog. Oh oh. He had let the dog out (off leash) and it was tearing around our yard as well as the yard to the south! Neighbour walked by me flooding my workspace with light. I was about to ask him to not shine it on or near me. He said something about looking at stars. Then he called the mutt back and it headed straight for me. Before I knew it, it was under the tripod! Knocking it about. Damn, lost my alignment. I grabbed it just as the dog bolted. It could have tumbled over! If the dog had gone under the wood table, all that stuff would have gone flying. Then they were gone.

What an idiot, the human had absolutely no control of the dog. And no regard for me. He didn't apologise, didn't say anything. What a jack ass. Irresponsible, inconsiderate. As usual. What is it with these people.

Took the wind out of my sails.

Stoopid humans.

2:07. Interesting. Humidity was dropping. Now 66%.

I quickly packed up and went in. Carried the 'scope attached to the 'pod.

Spotted Saturn! Not bright but obvious.

2:18. Inside. Verified everything was in. Returned the ASUS to the desk.



Despite the near disaster at the end, I accomplished a few good things tonight.

Continued the testing of the right angle finder. It's very convenient. I'll try to make a more sturdy adapter.

Deliberately gauged magnitude limits with the little Meade OTA. This will help me in a few ways. Just knowing more about the 'scope's limitations is good. And it will also inform me as to dim targets that are in or out of range. I updated the mag limit page as it had been a while.

Assured myself the tracking motor was working fine. The night before I had noticed some drift. I thought it was slip. Or low batteries. But I think it is just slop in the gears. If I biased the target slightly right or west, it would settle in to the centre and then stay put.

I tackled a few high priority targets. Some of which were doubles on my candidate list.

I revisited a darker area of the yard. Much more enjoyable, with less polluting stray light, if I am not inside the Observing Tent, protected by the tent walls. That said, it is further from the house so if I need AC power, I'll need a longer extension.

And it was good to visit a couple of Messier targets. This inspiration is due in part as I read Mollise's urban astronomy book. While faint and small, M targets are possible in less than pristine skies.

This whole setup is pretty "fast." I can be outside and working within 30 minutes. Tear-down is probably 15 minutes if work quick and dirty.

And finally, thank you weather gods! So good to get some photons, on back-to-back nights. An amazing run of good conditions. I probably could have erected the astronomy tent and enjoyed 3 clear nights. No worries though. It was still good fun.

Friday, June 07, 2019

viewed with creatures (Bradford)

Set up in the backyard. Small table, astro chair, Mamiya tripod, Meade ETX telescope (chilled), astronomy case ε (eyepieces), computer, Rhonda's red blinkie string of LEDs, and paraphernalia. A pleasant temperature.

I positioned a bit further east in the yard thinking I'd avoid the pool of light if the upper bedroom ceiling light was triggered.

Some changes were planned for tonight: I had a DSLR camera right angle finder positioned on the aft-end of the dinkie Meade finder scope to ease 'scope use, particularly when star hopping to objects near the zenith. Also, I intended to run the tracking motor in the telescope base from the external battery pack and hacked pigtail power cord.

I had to readjust the angle finder as one of the elastic bands broke and everything fell apart.

Well, hello. Skunk waddled by, south of me, from the east hedge to the west edge.

9:42 PM, Thursday 6 June 2019. The sky was still bright. Wait! Just spotted Arcturus (without my spectacles).

Tried the jury-rigged right angle finder. It worked! I saw Arcturus. Wow. Put the 90mm ETX tube on the orange star. Then I set about aligning the finder scope proper. Very fiddly but got it done.

9:44 PM. I heard mosquitoes! Gah!

Put some stuff on. DEET supplies are low!

Got the angle finder focused with the onboard diopter adjustment.

Saw bats! Yeh. Keep on eatin'!

Thin crescent Moon through the trees... See ya. Good riddance.

Saw Leo. Or, the tail of the big cat constellation.

9:59. Improved the Polaris alignment.

Started star hopping for my first target in Leo. Found δ (delta) Leonis. Landed on 81 Leo.

10:11. Noted a triangle to my 10 o'clock, a right angle triangle. I put the 9mm eyepiece in (correction: 20mm). It was supposed to be a tight pair with the companion dimmer... About 4 magnitudes different.

SkyTools 3 Professional showed the B star at the 2 o'clock position. This was different than what I was seeing.

Nope. Not seeing the partner.

Probably hidden due to the residual sky brightness [ed: SkyTools simulates this. Triangle stars visible at 10:08 PM. Primary star visible. Secondary emerges from the background as the sky darkens]. Might be fine at a different time or season.

Went to next.

10:18. Cool. Two doubles. Two in the view! Nearly equal in their separation.

93 Leo aka Struve Appendix B 7. Nice! Bright yellow star, I suspected that was 93 proper. To my 1 o'clock (north), colourless, maybe blue, was the faint companion. ST3P said the separation was 74 seconds of arc.

To my 8 o'lock (south-west) was a much fainter pair. Right, 72" separation. Basically the same. The HD 102428 aka SHJ 130 primary was between the brightness of ΣII7 A and B. The second star of this SHJ was challenging with direct vision, easy in averted. Colour? Blue-white? Orange? This pair points at the 93 Leo, perhaps right at the 93 B.

Neat at low power (48x). Two doubles in one shot.

10:21. The tracking motor on the ETX was working well.

My new position in the yard was not great. The stoopid excessively bright LED street light on Frederick was shining right in my eyes.

Next. Chose a quarry in Virgo. Hopped from ε (epsilon).

10:33. Spotted HD 112278 aka STF 1689, popped while panning. In a hook shape of stars, to my 9 o'clock (south-west). Tight pair. The primary looked yellow-white; the comrade orange-red. Challenging. The Object Information box in ST3P listed the magnitudes at 7.0 and 9.5. Generous separation at 30". But difficult to spot the B star in the little OTA.

[ed: Haas says the pair shows "pretty colours." She says the pair is "peach-white" with a blue companion.]

Took in the whole sky for a bit, various constellations. Which Serpens is which? I could see the bits on the right or west side of Ophiuchus [ed: the right piece is Caput].

10:43. Lovely. Fantastic. HD 111845 in Coma Berenices. Also known as STF 1685. Yellow and orange. Or was it yellow and blue? In a right angle triangle with the target at a point on the short side. Other stars near by. In a loose cluster or asterism? There were a number of bright stars sprinkled about. The pair was tight. B was a bit dimmer. Noticed in the software it was about a half-mag fainter.

A triple. Nice! C is easily seen, to the north-north-west. Extremely wide. A dozen times the AB sep. C is about a full magnitude or so dimmer?

[ed: Haas only refers to the AB pair.]

Interesting the star (or pair) to the left (or west). Why was it not included? Well, it's double the AC sep.

This target is smack-dab between 32 and 35 Com.

Checked the Oregon portable weather station (with external battery pack): relative humidity 54%, air temperature 13.6°C, air pressure dropping, cloudy tomorrow.

Felt a little cool. Decided to head inside for more layers. Added a vest and two hoodies. Switch from cap to full hat.

I riled up the mozzies as I walked around the shed. I was checking for a dark spot on the lawn... It would be good on the west side of the lawn when viewing the eastern and north-eastern sky.

11:03. Viewed ξ (xi) Boötis, aka Σ1888, near DE Boo (a variable?). Very nice, in an attractive field. A fun tight double. Yellow and orange stars. The orange was to my 10 o'clock (north-west).

[ed: Haas quotes Hartung: "yellow and deep orange."]

In a large triangle. Fantastic, a multi-star system. The other parts of the triangle were the E and F stars, very wide, faint. F was at the top (north) with E to the bottom-right. I noted another star, similar to E and F, to the south, about the same distance and same separation, Tycho 01481-0609 1. Not part of the system. Whoa! AB are a binary system with a 152 year period. Yes!

[ed: ST3P shows it drawing closer in the coming years. It will be 1/2 or 1/3 the separation in 50 years.]

Viewed previously (in ancient history) and also photographed (with BGO).

Went looking for the D accomplice. ST3P was not showing it on the chart. The OI box said the PA was 286° with a separation of 149". At mag 9.6, I should have been able to see it in the little ETX, roughly the same position angle as B, just further out... Was it an error in the brightness value? [ed: Yes. The Interactive Atlas shows the star opposite E at mag 13.8.]

11:14. The conditions: 55%, 12.8°.

For fun, went to the cotton ball of Messier 5 (M5). Quite large at low power. I could almost resolve some stars in the globular cluster with averted vision. Fuzzy. Speckled. There was a bright star well away at my 5 o'clock position—that was 5 Serpentis. I bumped the power (darker, not a great view). Something bright at the bottom-left. A foreground star?

11:32. Eyeballed Jupiter through the trees. Some of Scorpius.

Decided to try for targets on Corona Borealis despite being quite high. I was hoping the angle finder would make this easier than ever before.

Started from α (alpha) CrB. Headed to HD 139691...

11:42. Landed on a bright tight pair of white and blue-white stars. Oops. ζ1 (zeta) and ζ2! My quarry was down and left.

My target? Also known as HU 1167. Faint pair, double the separation of the ζ doublet, much fainter, equal brightness. Orange (right) and blue. Another great "two in the view" target.

The right angle finder was amazing. A game charger. I would not have been able to do this otherwise! Avoided back-breaking contortions for overhead, straight-up targets. My little crazy cardboard adapter was working! If I made a 3D printed adapter thingee, it would be good...

Oh ho. Learned that HU 1167 was a multi-star system. A quint. AB 1.3" (tight and very dim), AC 15", AD 14" (dim, mag 10), CE 0.1". C and D were inline and 0.6" from each other. I must have been seeing the C consort (at mag 8). It will work in big 'scopes too! Fun!

[ed: Haas said the A and C elements were "gloss white" stars.]

11:52. HD 139569. Super dim. Very tight. Perhaps one of the tightest doubles I've seen in the Meade. I guessed 3"? ST3P said STF 1963 was 5.1 arc-seconds. Mags: 7.9 and 8.9. It's a triple—a big gun would be needed for the C element.

Probably shouldn't be on my candidate list. This is an "advanced" level target, methinks.

Tried for HD 144999. Too tough. Faint. Very tight at 2.7". B just below limits of this 3½" aperture. A and C are easy.

[ed: Not in Haas book.]

12:06 AM, Friday 7 June 2019. Ah. Nice couple. σ (sigma) CrB. Pretty tight, medium tight. Dozen or more? [ed: Sep. of AB is 7.4".] Main white; companion pale orange. Oriented 2 through 8 o'clock for me.

Then viewed the υ (upsilon) star of Corona Borealis, aka SHJ 223 or 18 CrB. Neat! Wide stars, forming a small triangle, two, to the north and north-east, C and D. Quite faint. Averted. I could not see the other stars, B and E, below or between. Neat system. Another candidate that works at small and big apertures.

[ed: Not in the Haas list.]

12:17 AM. Viewed HR 6110. WDS catalog name: Herschel V 38. Primary, dim, white. Above, fair distance away, a dim orange star. I noticed it was included in the AL binoculars (advanced) list. Curious.

[ed: Haas has some interesting colour descriptions.]

58%, 11.4°, pressure steady.

Tired. Almost 2 hours.

Happy Friday.


Decided to look in the north-western sky. Reorged the workstation.

12:31. After a quick peek at Cor Caroli, checked 25 CVn (STF 1768). Got the C star with good seeing and averted vision. Well away at 210". F star was easy (mag 9.5). Super distant at 438". AB is 1.6" so probably not doable. E is mag 11.5 according to the planning app. Not a great target for a small 'scope. Oh. A binary. Interesting to me but...

More tired. Considered something amazing to finish on... Pulled up the Coldfield doubles list. Maybe there was something in Ursa Major.

12:41. I briefly viewed Jupiter. Everything was roughly equidistant. North and south equatorial belts obvious. The south band was a bit fainter. Good seeing. Nice crisp view.

Surprise: rho came out! She liked the string lights. Thanks! ;-) Returned to Jupiter for her. She was impressed by the arrangement of the moons, in a nearly perfectly straight line, nearly equidistant. "That's so neat." I told her they had all been on the right side on Sunday night. On her second viewing, she could see the long cloud bands.

She heard an animal in the east hedge. "It's big." Was Mr Skunk back? Coon? Bunnies plotting an attack?

Rhonda told me about the grey cat blocking the driveway when she got home. Didn't want to move. "Not today." Someone walking by shooed it away.

12:52. 60%, 11.7°. Decent seeing in the small telescope.

Started packing up...

As I returned the oculars to the eyepiece case, I realised I had removed the Rod Ends 20mm, not the Tele Vue 9. Ha! That explains why the views were not great...

Returned all the gear to the east window portal. Carried the eyepieces and OTA in by hand.

(Helped Rhonda with her car.)

1:08. Everything was back inside.

Removed the 83 layers of clothing. Red lights off. Double-checked I had everything from outdoors. Really wanted an aprés-view beverage. Made some tea.


Seeing was OK this evening. Nothing jiggling in the eyepiece anyways. Transparency seemed a little off. Smoke?

Once again, no dew!

The right angle finder was incredible. Made things so much easier. The pivot feature to change the viewing angle was also very handy.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

helped at DDO

Helped at the David Dunlap Observatory tonight. We received a local 4-H group of kids and their stewards. I think everyone had a great time despite the poor skies.

Ron and I arrived early and readied the dome. When Chris arrived we started working a few projects. We made excellent progress on the MallinCam system. I deployed one of the Linux boxes in the Warm Room. I also measured the Apparent Field of View of a few eyepieces.

Bryon entertained and informed the group in the lecture hall. Ron welcomed them to the dome. And I received the group on the observatory floor and offered them the grand reveal of the big 'scope. Fun kids. Great questions. Inspired, Ron pulled a Dobsonian out of storage so they could get a close-up look.

When someone asked me to explain why we could see both sides of a black hole at the same time, I grabbed my mini whiteboard and markers. Sadly, both my black dry erase markers had dried up. So... I drew a green hole!

For the first time I felt pretty settled. Finally.

between north and south

Tested the ETX on an external power supply and my custom pigtail power cord. Verified 4.5 volts direct current and centre tip positive. When I plugged it in initially, nothing happened. But as soon as I touched the direction switch, the motor started running. Whew!

This had flickered through my brain on Sunday night...

When I attach the Manfrotto tripod hexplate to the base of the mount, it just touches the North-South toggle switch.

Sunday night I inspected the base of the Meade mount and thought the direction switch looked funny. Half-way between N and S. Should have remounted it...

Anyways. It works! And there was much rejoicing.

broke 1400

Hit 1400+ viewed (or imaged) double stars on Sunday. Almost 1500 attempts.

Monday, June 03, 2019

viewed DS candidates (Bradford)

10:23 PM, Sunday 2 June 2019. Dark. Good looking skies. Wind had died down. Ready for the dropping temperature, I put on long johns and many layers for the torso.
Instrument: Meade ETX-90 Mak
Mount: tripod
Method: star hopping (and no tracking motor!)
Outside. With (almost) everything needed for my observing session. Just finished putting the telescope on the tripod and roughly aligning to Polaris. Set up the chair and table. Started unpacking gear from the carry-all.

Rhonda's little red LED light string for the tripod, eyeglasses, eyeglasses strap. Looked like I wouldn't need the dew heating gear [ed: That was good as I forgot the 8-inch strap inside], deep red flashlight, new external battery pack for the mount. First time in a long time, I had the Oregon portable weather station outside (with new external battery pack). Grabbed a 26mm eyepiece, the old Celestron Plössl.

I could not hear the mount whirring no matter what I tried. Dead batteries? Someone wrong inside the mount? Should I get the AC adapter and extension cord? Could I simply manually track?

Someone turned the upper bedroom ceiling light. It shone down directly onto my work site! Schlanger. I did not relish moving to a new spot but with the light on it was unworkable...

10:31 PM. I headed inside to get three fresh AA batteries and the John Repeat Dance computer.

Inside, I found batteries (after grabbing the LED "ice cube" for a light source).

Yeh, security light did not trigger as I walked about the drive! That was a first I think.

10:35. Returned to the yard. The upstairs light had been turned off. Thank you! Allergies acting up.

Tried the new batteries. Nothing! Oh, that's not good...

Didn't wanna futz with extension cords and the like so I pressed ahead. Old school...

Misplaced an elastic band so secured the Lee Filters red film with one along the top edge.

Looked south. Blue Spica and sprawling Virgo.

Went to Arcturus (confirmed). Aligned the finder. Readied the netbook and SkyTools 3 Professional.

10:48. Checked the Oregon: 37% relative humidity, 7.9°C air temperature, air pressure steady, cloudy conditions tomorrow, new Moon icon.

Remembered past successes with the "telescope" 3-panel view in SkyTools. Too big, sized for the external monitor in the office, so I adjusted the window size. Washed out. Set the time to now to improve the display. Tried switching the panels around but couldn't remember how to do it [ed: Shift-Drag].

Considered my targets from the previously compiled observing list in the planning app. It was too late for targets in Hydra. Messier 68 was too low. Probably selections in Centaurus were not an option with trees and houses. Leo, or parts, were still visible. I aimed to the rump.

As I turned the azimuth control, I found the mount jumped. Too tight! I made a note to decreased it to reduce binding (but that requires a full tear down...).

10:56. Went to Denebola aka β (beta) Leonis.

Noted SAO 99800 to the south-south-west. Also known as HR 4531 or Burnham 603. Fairly bright. ST3P said it was a tight double [ed: 1.12" as of April 2019, a fast binary at 134 years]. Too tight for me with this little OTA [ed: calculated Dawes limit is 1.3"].

[ed: ST3P shows it with a log entry but there's nothing on the life list. Logged 16 March 2018, from here, with the SPC8. Huh...]

10:58. The fainter star to the south (dimmer than 99800), near to Denebola, was the D star, the fourth companion with β.

11:00. The neighbours to the south presumably went to bed, turning out their backdoor lights. w00t! But that emphasised the bad streetlight. Nearly due south, on Frederick, over a block away, there's a bright LED light angled such that it directly shines in my eyes. It shines in our bedroom windows. Bad, boo, hiss! Completely unnecessary, wasted, intrusive, inappropriate, light pollution. I should talk to the town about that one...

While trying the Meade 18mm orthoscopic ocular, I noticed some optics issues. Collimation? Or something else? Not a good view. Rocked the eyepiece, turned it. Meh. Took it out.

Put caps on. Gently put the OTA cover on as I reviewed things at the computer.

11:04. Trusting SkyTools, zoomed in a lot on the eyepiece panel, and it only showed the D partner of Denebola. B and C were apparently too dim for the small aperture. The Object Information box said B was mag 15.7 and C 13.2. [ed: Mag 11 or 12 is probably the limit for the ETX 90.]

[ed: SkyTools shows the C star revealing itself with the C8 and B making an appearance with the GSO 16...]

Checked 99800. The software showed the B star almost due north, north-north-west. Different from my "up-down" impression at the eyepiece. Hard to say. I thought the orientation I was seeing looked more to the north-west. My imagination?

[ed: Viewed on 16 Mar '18 with the C8 but did not split.]

Considered HD 105913 in Corvus but it was not possible without moving the rig. I could just see γ (gamma) in the tree foliage.

The metal OTA cover fell off. Oops.

Got tangled in the LED string.

Found another target in Corvus, higher.

11:13. Cool! HD 109556 or Struve 1659. Wow. Immediately saw a neat pattern of stars, an obvious triangle, and then a close faint pair in the middle. And then spotted a very dim outlier star making a very interesting triad!

[ed: Sissy Haas notes this system in her book double stars for small telescopes. She specifically refers to the A, B, and C stars. No colours noted. She also quotes Dembowski describing a triangle in a triangle. I see that.]

Not too difficult a star hop from the top of Corvus, from Algorab (delta, right?). Straight up, basically.

Oh boy. A six star system.

Really cool.

I had added this to my double star project candidate list, unseen. Is it too wide? I can appreciate that at high power all the members would be far apart. But I was working at 48 times and it was fantastic.

Put the Tele Vue 9mm Nagler Type 6 in. No major optics issues. Dove deep.

A and B are the central stars, a faint close pair. A was to the bottom of the field of view for me (south).

11:16. Got the extremely faint C star at this higher power. Initially with averted but now easy to pick off. C was at a right angle to the line between A and B. Between A and B? No. Touch closer to A. About 1½ times the AB split, the distance from that imaginary line between AB. The E star was to my left or west (opposite C, a right-angle again). Fairly bright. Tiny bit closer to A than the D star. D was very faint (although visible in the 26mm). F was actually the brightest of all the members, to the south-east.

[ed: ST3P shows an S element but it's mag 15 and change!]

All stars blue-white. Maybe the two centre stars were slightly warmer.

A great little target. I want to keep it! (I also really like this target as there's other very interesting objects nearby...)

It was not annoying having to manually target. An advantage of low power, I surmised.

11:20. Spotted another multi-star system nearby, to the north-east, HD 109875 aka Σ1664. Faint stars. A hockey stick.

SkyTools showed 6 stars!

Three stars inline with a kink to the west end. Neat. A was the brightest, with a hint of colour, light orange. Down to my 5 o'clock clock, to the east, the E star. Further afield, not related, about 2/3rd the AE separation, was a dimmer light [ed: HD 109916]. To the south-west, 10 o'clock position, was the B companion, close, about a 1/3rd or 1/4th the AE sep. I did not see others... ST3P did not show the D star in the electronic chart [ed: The OI box said it was mag 11.6; the Interactive Atlas said it was mag 12.6; that looks right]. I did not see the C.

[ed: Haas includes this system in her book. In fact, she refers to AB, BC, and CD. She says C is magnitude 11.6. As is D. No colours noted.]

I learned this multi-star system was technically in Virgo. I'm right on the border...

Could be two-in-the-view at 50x or less!

[ed: Forgot to look at the galaxy!]

It was 11:30.

44%, air pressure dropping, rain tomorrow, 6.2°. Optics were clear. Occasionally I was fogging the ocular.

11:37. Phone alarm went off. I watched the western sky for the Space Station. Then I remembered the late one was low and short. I think I looked in the wrong part of the sky. Oops. I did see a couple of north-bound satellites. Anyhoo.

[ed: Not sure the target. HD 112278?] Decided a DS candidate was too tight, it appeared as a single star. One of my DS candidate suggestions. ST3P said the split was 30". Huh...

I spotted Antares and the pincer stars of Scorpius. Saw Jupiter too, tangled in the trees.

Rhonda popped out noting it was very cold. Relayed the bad news about the basketball game.

My back was cold. Headed inside to fetch my winter coat!

Looked for another double with Lucian remarked on.

Snagged the LED string again. Put it aside.

Tried for a star near Hercules but gave up. Saw a neat pattern but had no idea where I was.

12:01 AM, Monday 3 June 2019. Had a quick look at Jupiter (through the coniferous needles). Neat. All the moons were on one side, bit of a jagged line.

I was on track for HR 6341 or STFA 33. Near Rasalgethi. Star hopped away from α (alpha) Herc. According to SkyTools this was in the direction opposite "L." What's L? Leading? Noted in the finder a stringer of stars going up and down and a wide double.

12:07 AM. My impression was that there was a T-shape. Sort of. Roughly oriented east-west was the top of the letter T. Equally bright. At a right angle, going down the middle, between the bright stars, a line of stars. There was a long stem with faint to very faint stars. Then at my 10 or 11 o'clock position there was a medium bright star, same intensity as the star at the bottom of the T. A bunch going on. Wow.

The primary was to my left (or north-west). B was right or south-east. SkyTools showed P and Q between A and B, P almost inline, a bit south. Then Q further away. The brighter star (brighter than P and Q) was further still and not related [ed: HD 154211]. Surprising it was not included. C was to the north of A. Ignoring P and Q, they formed a isosceles triangle.

I could not get any colours from the members. All blue-white.

All super-wide. Lucian suggests it is too wide. I really like it for a few reasons. A super-low power target and keeps giving with larger apertures. And it's easy to get to. Plus the logical put-in point is a very cool double. [ed: It is in Haas's book.]

[ed: Viewed back in July 2015.]

My allergies were really bad.

Consider Draco targets. They'd require more neck-breaking finding. So, no.

12:14. Weird. As I looked at Vega at 1x power (with my eyeglasses) it seemed bluey-green! Huh? Aquamarine. Where was that coming from?!


μ (mu) Herculis. Another candidate checked by Lucian. He said he only saw one star.

12:22. Switched eyepieces, bumped the power.

Slight collimation issue. Airy disk. Diffraction rings, bright on the one side. Probably the skewed secondary. Noted a faint object... to my 8 o'clock. Yep. Definitely something there. Set SkyTools to simulate the sky with the 9mm. I got it! Wow!

I saw the extremely faint companion. ST3P says A is magnitude 3.4 while B is 10.2.

The software shows two more dance partners but C is overly tight and D is likely below the light grasp limits of the 90mm.

Curiously, the A and B separation is rather generous (at 139x)!

Should we keep it? Yes. I think so. If I can see the B with a tiny OTA, then it represents a good, albeit challenging, target.

Huh! There's a star near the head of Draco that I have often viewed as a nose or snout to the dragon; in fact that star belongs to Hercules.

Neighbour to the east, on the other side of the hedge, appears to have a new motion light. When he headed out back to smoke, it triggered the luminaire. I don't remember seeing that before. It started bugging me as I tried to work in the eastern sky. I shifted to the south-west and moved the desk.

Wow! Cool!

12:38. Shot in the dark. City skies. Could not clearly see where I was going in the finder. Headed "down" from Zubenelgenubi. But happily, I landed at HR 5397 aka SHJ 179 in Libra. Very nice double at low power. Nearly equal brightness. Slightly different colours. White and orange or yellow and orange. Line of three stars (at a 90 degree angle) off to the north-west.

[ed: Haas calls "haunting." A pair of "reddish white" stars. Interesting.]

Another DS candidate. Never previously viewed. Yeah.

ST3P says it is a triple with a tight BC combo—that'll make it a good quarry in a big 'scope.

I couldn't remember what time I started... How long had I been going? Wondered if I should carry on.

12:42. Consider travelling to Vega. Decided to head inside for a break. As I walked in I wondered if I had any hot chocolate left...

Sadly, out of the good stuff. Put the kettle on and used the second last lemon tea bag.

1:15. Back in "the office."

Vega is too hard I think. While it has a number of companions, with decent separations, the parent is just too brilliant, and washes out the surrounding region. One needs a blocking or occulting eyepiece. So I'll remove it from the candidate list.

1:23. Double checked the Double Double (affectionately Tim Horton). In this little 'scope, I saw rod shapes at 48x. The ε1 (epsilon) pair was angled toward the 11 o'clock and 5 o'clock positions and pointing toward the lower-right pair, ε2 oriented to 8 and 2. No black lines but clearly tight doubles in the ETX.

[ed: Looks like the split limit for the little ETX is around 2½ to 3 seconds of arc.]

Really good to see the Swan back in the sky...

Spotted Altair and Tarazed.

1:38. Oregon said 61%, 4.6°.

Tried for HR 7529 in Cygnus but had a devil of a time with the stupid, useless finder scope.

I think I bumped into the Cygnus Fairy Ring! Ha!

Decided to quit [ed: Three hours. A good run]. I knew it'd take me 15 minutes or so to get back inside. In bed by 2 perhaps?

1:49. Back inside. I plugged in the ASUS to recharge.


Many complained of bad seeing this evening. Was OK for me in BWG.