Saturday, August 31, 2019

clear skies at last (Bradford)

9:25 PM, Friday 30 August 2019. I saw stars! Yes! Clear!

local Clear Sky Charts for Friday night

To the "office." Here we go!

Oops. Forgot the computer, in my excitement.
Instrument: Celestron 8-inch SCT
Mount: Vixen Super Polaris
Method: slewing and tracking with IDEA GoToStar
Powered up the mount. Checked the date and time. All OK. Tried to spot Polaris through the mount: nope. Still too low and north. No matter; carry on. Did a two-star alignment. Albireo and Alphecca. Odd: the target stars were not in the finder but I received small polar axis error numbers (less than 1 minute). No matter; carry on. Slewed to Jupiter (in the trees) and performed a Sync command.

Turned on the dew heaters! The new None More Black controller responded with blinking LEDs showing the duty cycle! Nice. First field test. Didn't think I'd need 11 tonight...

9:45 PM. Fetched John Repeat Dance. Hooked up to the mount. Achoo!

Found the battery pack for the tripod red LED ring light...

Dropped the bike headlamp causing it to switch to white mode. It burns!

9:49. Slewed to 67 Ophiuchi.

Wanted the computer near to me. It would be better, faster, given the pointing was off a bit. Set aside the eyepieces case. Moved the TV table near the mount. Hauled over the computer and recorder.

9:57. On 67 Oph. Viewed with the baader planetarium aspheric 36mm. Noted an arrowhead to the north-west. Tip of the arrow directly north-west. To the west of A there was a faint pair of magnitude 11 lights including Tycho 00434-999 1. To the south-east, there was another pair of stars, with Tycho 00434 309 1, slightly equal.

The custom eyepiece dew heater was working, with rubber sleeve, warm, held in place with a rubber band. Flexible!

10:00. Switched to the Pentax XW 20mm eyepiece. SkyTools showed the centre of the large open cluster Collinder 359 was here. Huh. Spotted a fainter star, GSC 00434-1163, at mag 12.6 (poor quality data warning as usual), seemed right, dimmer than the aforementioned south-east Tycho stars, inline, north of them, east of A.

10:02. Was curious about the delay time in the hand controller, how long the display and keyboard would remain lit. I had stopped using it a few seconds ago.

Seeing seemed off a little. I thought the transparency good.

No obvious additional stars in the field near 67. Cheated. Zoomed in a lot. I mistook E as the obvious star to the south.

10:04. Hand controller lights went out. So about 2 minutes... Too bad it cannot be controlled. I'd make it extinguish faster.

10:05. Realised it was not the E star I was seeing. E is directly opposite A from arrowhead star Tycho 00434-1145 1. The star I was seeing, using the hockey stick pattern, was a bit to the right or east. That was the C star. Or the CD pair. The appearance of E was skewed due to the red film on my LCD screen, dimming the deep blue star C. C (8.1) was definitely brighter than E (mag 10.9).

Went looking for E (opposite 1145), D (east of C) and B (inline with 1145, A, and E).

10:10. Verified the E star. Very faint. Same separation as C. Good.

10:12. Spotted a star, opposite A from TYC 1145. Little bit further away. Much fainter. ST3P said it was GSC 00434-0517 at mag 14.5. Wow. Really?

Doubted the 14.5 value for that other star. Could not see the other components of 67. D star was dim, B was dimmer. And close to A. Done with this... I couldn't get the other stars. Not without excellent conditions and more aperture... (I had wanted to view this with the 74 but we were short on time and clouds were moving in.)

Bumped into the spacebar on the netbook which initiated a Sync command. Oops. That might have mucked up my connection... No software crash—whew. Reconnected. OK. Weird. Blinking X in the right spot.

Reloaded the low power ocular. In the software, I had noted a double star nearby.

Panned to next, north-east of 67.

10:19. Viewed HD 164529, aka BU 1202, a multi-star system. 6 elements. Formed a large triangle. I saw the C and E stars without difficulty. Companion C to the NE and element E to the SE. I didn't notice B listed (in the Context Viewer window).

To the south-west, I spotted a faint tight pair. That was BAL 2465 according to SkyTools.

Wanted to tackle my double to sketch. The "extra" star one. What was it again? Checked the blog. gamma Her! Right.

10:23. As I surveyed the constellation of Hercules, I observed a faint north-bound satellite. It went through the trapezoid of Herc. Huh. Probably went very close to M13.

Did I just see M13 naked eye?! Or was that averted imagination?

Clouds. High level clouds. Checked the Oregon Scientific portable weather station sitting on the tripod triangular tray. It reported 53% humidity, 13.4° Celsius air temperature, dropping air pressure. It predicted rain tomorrow. Achoo!

10:31. Once again, too late! The target was in the trees. I should have started earlier. This should be the VERY first object viewed... I was getting distortion and dimming. Clouds over there too.


10:32. I did not see anything near the A star. A scratch for tonight. No obvious mystery star.

Slewed to next.

10:45. On the target. HR 7529 or STF 2578. Saw the A, B, and F stars no problem.

Nailed GSC 02668-0049 [ed: Or J194538.5+360313]. Magnitude 12 star. It formed an equilateral triangle with the A and F stars.

I was moving the custom heater from eyepiece to eyepiece. Mildly concerned about stressing the connectors.

10:47. That was easy. The C and D stars popped in the Tele Vue Nagler 9mm (226x). C to the north. D to the east.

I was seeing more stars than the software chart was showing. My previous change from Bortle 4 to 5 was too course. Back to 4 (21.2 mag/arcsec-squared). Identified GSC 02668-0616 to the south-west of F.

Checked my old log notes and life list. I had not seen the C and D stars in the 90mm Maksutov. Good to finally get them. No E noted in the software. Got the 4 pairs.

10:50. I could still see C and D in the 20mm (102x). All right.

Did not report it before even though I noticed it. The D star was visible in the 36mm (56x)...

10:53. Spotted a faint pair to the north-west. Mag 11 stars. With TYC 02668-0186 1. Similar orientation to HR 7529 but a bit wider. Not IDed in ST3P...

Remembered to do some checks with the GoToStar system. Curious. Examined the numbers (rounded) in the software:

J2000 apparent
RA 19h45m40s 19h46m24s
Dec +36°05'28" +36°08'36"
TRA - 19h46m24s
TDEC - +36°08'44"

The apparent coordinate numbers all lined up rather well. The controller showed the current numbers but they were way off. 3 minutes in the RA and over 40 minutes in the Dec. Out of sync, clearly.

Ensured the target was centred. Tried a Sync command on the controller. Of course, this made the "current" numbers on the GoToStar display match the "target" numbers. Which was what the software seemed to be using.

10:57. And back on the computer, the blinking X moved. It was exactly on HR 7529. Good talk-back! Did not blow up or crash the app. That was really good news. Happy.

While the sync command via software doesn't seem to work, I had a good work-around going forward...

Test slew: NGC 6871. Other side of the neck of the Swan. It worked.

10:58. Landed on the open cluster. Nice stars in here. Fine tuned.

Dead centre, neat double, bright yellow and orange. Nice. Bunch of cool doubles in the cluster. Oh wow. Three faint stars right around the yellow! Saw more pairs. Awesome possum.

Ah. V1676 Cygni. Previously viewed (with the ETX). Eight stars according to SkyTools.

The objective of the C8 is dirty...

Felt cool. I'd need another layer soon.

11:03. Headed to the house. Returned with another sweater and the jacket.

Slewed to next.

11:16. Examined 16 Vul. A simple pair on my View Again list (but I don't see it on the life list). It's in the RASC double and multi-star list.

Split them! Two equal stars. Oriented 10 o'clock, 4 o'clock. First order diffraction ring, touching. 9mm. Both white. Wow. Had to wait for the seeing. Obvious. Good seeing gives a black line.

Super-bright star at the 7 o'clock position meant that north was up for me.

The top-left, north-west star seemed brighter. ST3P said mags 5.2 and 6.2 respectively. Also known as STT 395. Got it even though the software said "not splittable at best." The separation was 0.8 seconds of arc!

Made the short slew.

11:28. Viewed HD 339672 in Vulpecula, aka β982, with the low power eyepiece. Two faint stars, 1.3" apart, from my View Again list. Mag 10 stars. Southern part of the open cluster NGC 6885. Oriented north-east to south-west. I thought the brighter was to the top-right / north-east. Software said the stars were the same intensity.

With the high power eyepiece, the brightness flipped! South-west now.

Noted a bunch of circles in the digital chart. SkyTools was showing lots of open clusters...

11:37. Clouds in the south. Below Aquila. Blotting out Saturn.

11:43. SkyTools said there was an open cluster near NGC 6885, with the star HD 192043, called AH03 J2011+26.7. No other details. I saw little tiny stars, 4 or 5, cup shape. Interesting object. It seemed I caught it in an image... [ed: Yep, here.]


11:54. On the hunt for HD 180994 in Aquila, never viewed, or never logged, mag 9½ stars. Spotted a tiny pattern of stars to the south, like Delphinus. I could see the two stars, oriented 2 o'clock through 8, or NE through SW. I thought the brighter star was to the NE. ST3P disagreed. The accomplice was mag 9.9 vs A at 9.3. Equal stars in the 9mm. Separated by 1.5". Burnham 1256. On my View Again.


12:06 AM, Saturday 31 August 2019. Nice and easy couple... I wondered if I was on the right target.

Checked HD 172068 in Lyra. Mag 6.9 and 7.7, aka STF 2351. Same colour, same brightness. Easy split. 5". Easy in the low power eyepiece. I pulled this from a different list, a past backyard list. Looks I wanted to try this on a few occasions. An automatic suggestion. In a neat group of stars. Oriented north-south, more or less. There was a nearby fun triple, at the 11 o'clock position, i.e. the west.

Low power, two in the view!

12:10 AM. Took in the triple. SAO 47601 aka ARY 14. Never viewed. Triple. Easy, easy. Ah, northern C is brighter than western B. Neat. Copied to my current observing list...

Something dim went through the field super-fast. Wasn't a meteor; some fast satellite.

A long frustration: hovering over a star in a SkyTools chart almost always shows the secondary, not the primary. Strange.


12:16. Had a quick look at the Double Double since I was in the 'hood. Barely obvious at 56x.

Clouds. Almost at the zenith. From the south? Waited a moment. No, out of the west. West to east. The southern sky was pooched. Cygnus was clear. Considered Cas and And for targets...

Eastern sky. Big slew. Moved the chair and table.

Stopped switching the ocular heater; just left it on the 36mm.

Crazy idea: multiple heaters, one for each eyepiece...

12:24. Viewed V640 Cas or Struve 3062. Yellow, yellow-white. Two stars touching. Oriented to 1 o'clock and 7. Angled toward HD 240500. Mmm, maybe more to the middle of the 3 stars... Essentially north-south. Not logged this high priority item. Fast-mover, on my View Again. ST3P said 107 year period, 1.5" as of July.

Changed the eyepiece. Two separate stars in the Pentax. The southern star was brighter, by a bit.

Clouds were gone. It was a nice sky to the east. All of Andromeda visible. Triangulum above the trees.

12:32. Eyeballed the double star to the west: HD 225257 / Σ3057. Unequal stars. Indeed, SkyTools said 6.6 and 9.5. Pentax eyepiece. White and orange. Nice.

Weather check, 57%, 12.9°, steady pressure, partly sunny tomorrow. Aug 31! Noticed the date. Sheesh, where did August go?!

Zipped the main door to block the neighbour's waste light.

12:50. Navigated to the location of the Bubble Nebula. I wanted to coax out details.

Put in the 2-inch O-III filter. Saw some haziness around the north and west stars. But no bubble...

12:53. Filter out.

Neat star field. Noted a little triplet to the north. SAO 20557.

Messier 52 (M52) was nearby! Popped over. Wanted to dive deep!

No problem with STI 1173. North-north-west of the centre of M52. Two equal stars, faint. North of the bright star SAO 20606. Angled NE to SW.

North of centre of M52 was something that looked like a triple. ST3P only noted it as a double: STI 1177. B was to the west. Faint stars. The third star, GSC 04279-0653, was to the south side.

Oooh. I learned the bright star SAO 20606 is a quadruple inside the cluster! Also known as BLL 58. B was to the south, C to the north, and D very far away to the north-east!

STI 1175. West of the D star, faint. Needed averted for that pair.


1:15. HD 223718 in Andromeda. STF 3042. Nice double. 5.6" sep. Same magnitudes, almost the same. Pulled from a past list, July (and June) targets, for the backyard.

Straight up and down for me. An E-W orientation. Blue-white, very subtle colours. Yellow-orange, bottom one (west) is blue. Quite tight in the 36mm. Nearly empty field. Out in the middle of nowhere. Noted a triangle to the east-south-east...

Oops. As I checked the dew wrap on the finder I touched the lens. Will need to inspect it... May need cleaning.

1:20. Saw a pair of faint stars west of the triangle.

Crazy. Spotted the tight pair of stars, WDS double OL 7, faint stars at mag 12. At the apex of the triangle. 4.3" apart. Angled north and south?


Needed a break. Was pining for hot chocolate... None left. Sad. Found York mint chocolates on my desk. Score! So good.

1:43. Viewed ω (omega) Andromedae. The A star was in a triad, one of the points. TYC 03265-0388 1 and TYC 03265-2204 1 were the other points. Centre of the triad was the C or D star. Wonky. C was 10.4. D was also 10.4. So a little unclear. [ed: Hovering in the chart shows D is mag 13.1...] At 5" I should have been able to split them... Warm yellow and blue. [ed: While the Object Info box says B is mag 11.7...]

Kept staring. Clearly the central item was a double star...

Slewed to π (pi) And aka 29 or H V 17. Wide, easy in the lower power. A nice yellow and blue. Surprised I have never viewed before. Oh. A triple...

1:57. Got the C star but extremely dim in the 9mm. A little more than the A-B separation. Opposite. In a line. Very nice. To the north (while B is to the south).

Aries was rising. Cepheus was high up. Perseus was climbing out of the trees.

Headed to my next quarry.

2:15. IDed the field in Cassiopeia. Also found a double, BD +61 02555 aka ES 1932, mag 11 stars. Oriented north-south. I thought the surrounding stars were part of an open cluster but didn't see anything noted in SkyTools. [ed: It is the King 2 open cluster actually, revealed on zooming in to a half-degree field.]

Saw a super-faint cluster of stars between HD 223987 and HD 224055. That was Harvard 21 aka OCL 273. Very faint stars. Huh. On a number of auto-generated lists. Finally seen.

Panned south-east. Spotted the bright star HR 9085 to the east.

2:21. NGC 7788 (or OCL 275) was quite large. Loose. Lots of faint stars. Maybe 100 stars or so. Seemed to have a fuzzy glow in the centre.

South-east of 7788 was NGC 7790 (or OCL 276). Smaller (although ST3P shows a bigger circle). A glow. 4 or 5 bright stars with a peppering of faint stars.

To the north of 7788. Least interesting of all. Another conglomeration of stars. About 10 somewhat bright stars. Big. That was Frolov 1. SkyTools has an interesting note! "This cluster apparently does not exist."

Three in the view at low power! Wow. Milky Way action!

Pegasus was high up.

Off to my next target.

2:28. Got the B star of γ (gamma) Persei. HJ 2170. Million miles away. Needed the Nagler to get it. Faint double to the east. B was double that separation. Saw GSC 03701-0599 to the SE. It was about double the AB split.

66%, 11.7°.

2:31. Made the short slew to τ (tau) Per aka EDG 1. Horizontal? Tough. Not 100% sure. Will need to try again.

One more? Something from the Coldfield list then...

2:40. HD 23107 or STF 434. Good one to finish one. Colourful. Orange and blue. Very wide, very easy. Cool!


Added it to the observing list, after a couple of tries, for tagging.

As raccoons scrapped, I packed up. Oculars away. OTA parked. Oh. It hit 90 perfectly on the Dec. Set the OTA horizontal. Remembered to disconnect the computer first this time. Powered off. Remembered the recorder tonight. Stuff in the carry-all. Lights out. Zipped up and clipped down.

Inside. Tired. Stiff.

Wow. A 5 hour run!


One objective this evening was to sketch gamma Her. Once again, I landed at the target too late. And then as I got into the groove, I didn't feel the need to sketch any other objects.

Another objective this evening was to test my dew heater controller. It worked great! I really like the flashing LED indicators. In complete darkness, you can tell how much power is being sent to the heaters. Drove the finder, 8-inch, and eyepiece heaters. I don't think there was a lot of dew this evening but I certainly had no issues. And the custom wrap for the eyepiece worked very well too. I was a little worried it was too big for the smaller eyepieces but it was fine on the baader, Pentax, and Tele Vue. It will work on camera lenses too. Very happy.

Ironically, as I left the tent, I forgot to turn off the dew heaters! Oops. But it gave a chance to "burn in" the custom controller... No pun intended. ;-)

Ah. That means I need to build more...

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