Monday, July 01, 2019

doubles on Canada Day Eve (Bradford)

I rendezvoused with the big metal tripod, small wood table, adjustable astronomy chair near the shed. About 4 metres to the north-east. Set-up inline with deciduous tree trunk, directly opposite Frederick street light.

Mozzie shields to full power, captain!

Moved Rhonda's wood bench into my workstation.

The little telescope had been cooling on Rhonda's deck.
Instrument: Meade ETX-90 Mak
Mount: tripod (with tracking motor)
Method: star hopping (with angle finder)
9:58 PM, Sunday 30 June 2019. Brought out case ε (epsilon) with the eyepieces. Brought out the carry-all, with the audio recorder, running computer John Repeat Dance. Attached the tripod to the telescope.

Fireworks all around. Wood fire smoke. Happy Canadians. A beautiful night.

10:04 PM. It was about 1 hour after sunset. Blinkie red from rho I had draped around the bench. I had the red eyeglasses from Elaine; didn't know where the wrap-around ones were... [ed: Back in case α (alpha) prime.] Both red flashlights ready to go. Connected the lizard green mouse to the netbook. Tested the power on the motor. Had my old specs ready with both available straps.

Spotted some high cirrus cloud to the north-east, moving slowly south. Ugh.

Aimed at Vega so to align the finder.

10:18. Couldn't see anything through the finder scope-right angle viewer combination. I had attached the custom adapter backwards. Remounted it with the spacers/fillers. Fiddly. Tricky.

10:25. Better! Working as before.

Double-checked alignment by going to the Tim Horton star!

Having set up so far south in the yard, I effectively blocked all low southern targets. The trees were occulting things from about 30° to 40°. Scratch Centaurus, Scorpius, Sagittarius. That also included the planets... dang. I could see brilliant Jupiter through the leaves of the big perennial plant. Boötes was straight up, starting to move behind the western trees. Virgo was gone. So that meant targets straight up or to the east were up for grabs.

Started the star hop for my first target, a suggested from SkyTools using the Nightly Observing List Generator: HD 170267 aka Struve 2319.

10:38. Oh oh. Pepé Le Pew was very near by. Didn't wanna startle him...

10:40. Wow. Really hard star hop. No bright stars. Started at ζ (zeta) in Aquila aka Deneb el Okab. Headed toward Hercules, towards the triad, with ξ (xi) Herculis. Challenging overall. A faint target, not directly visible in the finder. Oh boy. A bit blind in the finder but I got it. Obvious triangle of stars with a bright member to the west, the west apex, that appeared to be the double star.

SkyTools 3 Professional said that this was a quadruple system. A and B were 5.3 seconds of arc apart, magnitudes 7.5 and 8.5 respectively. I wasn't sure I was seeing that pair; I think I was seeing the AC pair at 41.9 arc-seconds. C was mag 10.5. The D was 159.5" and brighter at 9.2.

Decided to zoom in... (in the software.)

10:43. Interesting! The star to the upper-right or north-east was the D star. Bright so very easier. Bottom part of the triangle, to the south-east, was another star, essentially the same split. A bit dimmer. Why would it not be counted?! Anyhoo... Hold the phone, was I seeing the AB stars? Yes! Holy moley. Oriented up and down for me, north-south, toward the faint field star to the south HD 348699. Yes!

[ed: The Washington Double Star catalogue is similar. It only includes four stars.]

A and B were blue-white, nearly equal in brightness.

Got it!

Good seeing.

Grabbed a higher power eyepiece. I remembered the Pentax wide field tonight. Hadn't used it for a while. Slight interference issue with my custom finder adapter but it worked. The XW 20mm yielding 62 magnification power. Fantastic view.

Juggled things on the table to make more room.

10:46. Lovely in the Pentax. Super-wide field. Everything popped. C star is visible by direct vision. A and B no problem. C, no problem, C is brighter than D. Great eyepiece. Excellent transmission.

Great system, fun. Still, a hard hop.

10:50. Took on the whole sky for a moment. Spotted a faint satellite moving due east, through the head of the Serpent and over the shoulder of Hercules.

10:41. Examined the Oregon portable weather station as it had been sitting out on the table for a while now. Relative humidity 64%, air temperature 15.2°C. Nearly dark Moon. Level air pressure and partly sunny tomorrow.

Hit the altitude range limit with the 'scope. Weird. It was out of whack. Loosened the clamps and forced the OTA down. Ha. Like the tangent arm on the DDO 74-inch...

Moved to next object.

11:07. Verified the field. I was at HD 145958 in Hercules. Also known as Σ2021. Oriented up and down again, north-south. Very tight, equal stars, blue-white. ST3P said they were 4.1" apart as of May 2019, a 1300 year period binary system. Mags 6.7 and 7.6.

[ed: Haas calls this 49 Ser. She says "pearly white." Smyth thinks they are slightly different colours.]

Just spotted the C companion, to the south-east! Was just looking around. Very faint. Well away. Averted vision. Wow. Angled somewhat to the very distant brighter star SAO 102025. With the low power Celestron 26mm Plössl at 48x. Freaky. Loaded up the Pentax again.

11:11. Magnification of 62 times makes the AB split easy and makes the C star stand up to direct vision. More field stars. Nice.

Once again a challenging star hop. But very interesting.

Oops. Landed at Rasalhague by accident. Had meant to start at β (beta) Ophiuchi or Cebalrai. Carry on.

Fireworks were winding down...

11:23. Headed to IC 4665 for a quick look. Very loose open cluster. Dim white stars. A couple of faint doubles within...

Moving on.

11:26. Viewed 61 Oph (or STF 2202). Very nice. Two equal stars oriented east and west. Pretty dim. Slightly different colours. The colours were flipping back and forth. Left was blue, the other orange?

Seeing was bad. The stars were bouncing all around.

The planning app said there was a C star but it was mag 12.5. I did not try.

11:29. A breeze came through. The air felt rather cold.

I decided to go in for more clothing...

It crossed my mind that if the neighbour let his crazy dog run around untethered I might return to tipped over tables and a smashed telescope. Gotta talk to him...

11:34. Back at it. Long sleeve shirt and jacket, in addition to the tee and hoodie.

Checked the conditions: 15.1°. 66%. Huh. About the same temp.

11:35. The left or west star was brighter by a hair. [ed: On hovering in the chart, A shows as 6.2 while B is 6.7. Also, the software says A is a class B star while the companion is class A. Interesting. Nearly identical.]

There is a little arc of stars to the south-east. Magnitudes 10.9 and change. Spotted mag 11.2 star Tycho 419-1113 1 due east, barely visible.

11:44. SkyTools said there was a double to the north HD 161262 aka STF 2201. Mag 8.4 and 10.7. Somewhat wide at 7.8". But I could not say for certain I was splitting. Really hard. Too faint in this little OTA.

61 again: left blue; right orange.

[ed: Haas says they are equal and "straw-yellow." Smyth says "silvery-white."]

Nope, not sure about 161262.

I panned around a lot and tried averted vision at various points. Sometimes I think I saw a faint cotton-ball to the north-east of 161262, the distant globular NGC 6426. Nothing definitive.

I heard Rhonda wander outside.

She had a look at 61 Oph. "Oh wow. Really close."

Took in the whole sky. Agreed the conditions were good. Seeing was good (on average). We chatted about fireworks, scaredy cats, air temperature, air conditioners, neighbours, sign-up sheets, the Summer Triangle, skunky smells, lost dogs, light pollution, the new train schedule, naked eye planets. I considered moving the 'scope. The mozzies were on to her so she retreated.

[ed: Happy Canuck Day.]

Decided to try something in the same area.

12:13 AM, Monday 1 July 2019. Viewed 67 Oph or Burnham 1124. Very wide double at low power. Yellow star with an orange star. Or blue? The obvious companion, C, is to the south-east.

[ed: Haas says "lemon-yellow" with a "silvery dot." Webb: "yellowish, blue." Smyth: "straw, purple." OK then.]

I knew it was a multi-star system but I dove back in to see what I could see.

Dialled out the drift and changed the eyepieces. Loaded up the Tele Vue Type 6 Nagler 9mm.

There was a box to the north and west. One of the stars was TYC 434-999 1 at mag 11.4.

I could not see the D star...

I could not see the E star.

Spotted the TYC star 434-309 1 to the south-east with a nearby star making a wide north-south pair. Mags 10.6  and 11.5.

12:22 AM. Nope. I could only see C. ST3P said E was in the mag 10 to 11 range but I was not seeing it. The software reported D at mag 12.5 so out of range, for sure. [ed: was also off limits at mag 13+.]

[ed: The WDS has the following magnitudes: A 4.0, B 13.7, C 8.1, D 12.5, and E 11.0. So I should have been able to see it... The PA and sep are close to the numbers in ST3. Huh.]

It didn't feel cold per se. Humidity 68%, temp 13.3.

12:30. Bumped into a double when I went to Deneb. Wide faint pair. HD 197621 aka ES 2699. Mags 8.6 and 9.5, 40.1". To the south-east.

Lots of doubles 'round here...

12:33. Bumped into another system! North of α Cygni this time. A triple. HD 197488 or STT 411. Extremely faint. Mags 10.5 and 10.3. A curious system. There's an obvious triangle of stars to the south and south-east but they are NOT part of the system. The B and C stars are to the north of A, in a line!

[ed: Oh ho. The WDS shows more entries! Including one from Berko. Sorted it out. In fact, the triangle stars are the D and E components.]

Couldn't get oriented from Deneb...

Then I broke my SkyTools...

In the Visual Sky Simulation, I was zoomed out rather far in the naked eye panel and then I made it rather small. The screen froze. Well, not exactly. Full Windows busy-don't-touch-me hourglass and it would not respond to the stop button or resizing. When I switched to the Interactive Atlas, the app crashed. Oh boy.

If I went directly to the IA chart, it was OK. But I was very disoriented. After a time, I finally landed on 31 Cygni. Absolutely amazing colours. I don't know if I've ever seen a star so blue! That's the C star. Easy wide stars in the little 'scope.

[aka Struve Appendix A 50. A 6-star system according to ST3 but many are very faint. 30 Cyg is the ultra-wide star to the north. That's considered the D star.]

SkyTools showed a bunch of faint and tight doubles surrounding 31 but I did not see anything obvious...

Earlier I had spotted 31 and 32 naked eye.

I could not fix the VSS chart. The SkyTools problems took the window out of my sails. Damn it. I wasn't too tired. Would have kept going...

Another GO train arrived BWG. [ed: Must have been 12:50.]

1:03. Considered rebooting the ASUS. Saved open files. Closed the browser. Restarted.

Put away the string lights.

No joy.

1:11. Fire truck it!

Displayed the VSS chart again. Maybe it just needed more time... So I let it run as I packed up. Hauled stuff back to the house.

1:15. 71%, 12.8°.

Put gear by the "large port" for pickup. Chatted with rho and told her the bad news.

1:24. Collected everything still outside.

1:26. The computer had still not generated the map...

Not a great ending to the evening. Overall didn't get much done. Did see some new doubles, so that's always good. And some of these might be appropriate for the DS campaign. But I don't think I re-examined any of the view-agains from the DS project. That was disappointing. Finally saw 61 Oph—pleasing. No major telescope issues. No crazy animals.

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