Tuesday, September 03, 2019

unexpected viewing (Bradford)

Wow. It was clear! The satellite imagery was right and all the prediction tools wrong.

I packed up and headed out back. Oops. Forgot the stand and sock for the voice recorder... Oh well.

10:13 PM, Monday 2 September 2019. Checked the sky. Some clouds but they were moving out. Maybe 75% of my sky was clear now.
Instrument: Celestron 8-inch SCT
Mount: Vixen Super Polaris
Method: slewing and tracking with IDEA GoToStar
Found the ring light on. Oops. Forgot to unplug it. It was still working but dim.

Powered up the mount. Installed the dew cap. And the 36mm. For balance. Wondered about the home position, particularly the vertical. Decided to do a one-star alignment tonight. Albireo. Fine tuned. Quick. Done. Ready to go.

10:23 PM. Humid. According to the Oregon Scientific weather station on the tripod tray: 83% relative humidity, 16.3 degrees C, pressure steady, rain tomorrow. Yikes. Gonna get dewy.

Found the elastic band in the triangle tray. Installed the custom eyepiece heater. It was already nice and warm. Yes.

10:25. Remembered gamma Herculis. Each time before it was too late. How 'bout now?

Checked the chart. I could see the star in a notch in the tree. Probably too late again but I decided to try. Hurry!

[ed: Huh. Was even later Friday night!]

Connected the netbook to the GoToStar and issued the slew command. Fine tuned.

10:31. Two stars, no problem. But it was already going behind the apple tree leaves. I was seeing dimming and distortion. Identified the field. 11 o'clock and 5 o'clock. That meant north was right and east was down. Spotted the "stringer" to the south-east and the cup to the east. And it faded out...

10:34. Earlier in the day I had added more items to the session list (versus making a new one) and at the time thought them high priority. But then I had worked my "final" list of double star candidates, 110, so it meant I didn't really have to do anything. No items not observed. Good! There were targets I could double-check; but I could also view new things, for fun!

10:36. Remembered to review various ways of slewing, to be thorough. Friday night I often used the Slew To button. It worked great.

This time, from a list item, I used the right-click option Slew Scope to. It has the keyboard shortcut F3. Everything responded appropriately in the software. During the slewing action at the mount, the Telescope Status box showed Slewing and the Slew To button changed to Abort Slew. When the target was achieved, the mount beeped, SkyTools issued the verbal confirmation, after a couple of seconds the Telescope Status box message changed to Tracking (Sidereal), and the button reverted to Slew To. All good. So that is a good technique.

I had selected HD 350459. Something from my View Again list. Identified the field. "There it is." Whoa.

10:43. Near β (beta) Sagittae. Interesting stuff. While faint, immediately spotted the close, tight pair to the south-west. HD 186224. Familiar! Used the 36mm. All were very faint. Increased the power with the 20mm.

10:46. Tried to draw out more of the pairs. Oh yeah. The kite shape. I had photographed this many times! [ed: Most recently on 24 Aug '16. A mighty fine image too. Plus another shot from 2 Sep '17 aimed at HD 350461.]

Gah. Couldn't see anything... Loaded the 9mm for maximum power.

10:52. Oh. OK. With the Tele Vue, I clearly saw a star south-west, below, HD 350461. I had seen this in the Pentax too... I was confused by the SkyTools chart presentation.

A silly thing. I wondered why I kept chasing this.

Did a sync command on the hand controller.

Tried slewing different ways... In a chart display, I tried Slew to Chart Target. That was wrong. I think that goes to your last target. Then I did Slew to Cursor for a new quarry and it worked right.

11:01. HD 185354 aka J 138 in Sagitta. Arrived a little triangle. Faint stars nearby. Yellow. Dim ones were orange. Neat system.

I didn't see any clouds! The transparency seemed quite good.

With the 9mm, I got the B and C stars! The SkyTools Object Information box said these stars were magnitudes 6.9, 13.4, and 11.4. That didn't seem right. Certainly C was brighter than B. But mag 13.4? I doubted that. [ed: Hovering over the stars in the chart: 6.9, 13.4, and 10.4. Ah. OK.] Three stars in a line, angled north-west to south-east. Very interesting.

[ed: The mag for the C star from the WDS database is 11.9. Curiously, it shows 13.4 for B.]

To the east there was a pair. HD 185418 or BU 1471. Almost angled the same way. But the faint companion was the opposite side of the primary. NW. So faint at 226 power! Ridiculous. SkyTools said B was 11.0 but I thought it fainter than that.

Decided to explore in the 'hood. Not hop all over. Check out things nearby. And save time.

11:12. Moved to V340 by panning. Also known as H N 84. Widely split. Orange and blue stars. Or green? Unequal. Low power. Interesting.

Off to the west, I spotted an obvious double. Super-wide. Yellow and blue. ST3P said this was a triple. [ed: That was epsilon Sge. Also unequal.] The C star was not visible with the baader.

I was getting too many stars in the Context Viewer. Adjusted the humidity and light pollution settings in SkyTools. Better.


11:21. Decided to pop in on Messier 71 (M71), a glob. Hello. Quite large in the 36mm. Fuzzy patch. Didn't look round. Interesting.

Neat pattern of stars to the left or west. Curious it is not an official star cluster.

It occurred to me again that there's a difference between the actual field of view and the simulation in the planning app. Probably due to the focuser. The software was optimistic or showed a larger field.

Noted a blob at the edge of the field to the south. An open cluster. That was Collinder 408 aka Harvard 20 and OCL 116. Didn't I look at Harvard 21 recently? Small. About 7 main stars, in an arc. Big flat triangle? Seemed to have a misting of stars in the middle.

Lots going on.

Considered the eastern sky.

Slewed. Big jump.

11:30. Enif. Moved the "workstation" around. Saw the B companion star. But not C. I thought it was on a View Again list...

Readied to take in IK Pegasi. aka HR 8210. Variable. Outburst star. Potential outburst. Candidate for explosion. Slewed. In the eyepiece. Huh. Nothing special... yellow. Dim. [ed: Plait talked about this back in 2012. He described it as a "weird" star. While itself not big enough to explode, it has white dwarf sidekick that may blow up. At 150 light years, it probably won't hurt us. Whew. But if it goes, we'll have a ring-side seat.]

11:39. There was a faint star to the north, well away. Beyond that, equidistant, a faint pair of stars oriented north-south. With TYC 01671-0621 1. SkyTools did not show these as a double.

Upside-down V-shape of stars to the south. Neat field.

Remembered a thought from last week. I should set up a "permanent" notes file in SkyTools, for things like this. Why do I wan't to observe this object? Why did I add it to this list? Why do I need to revisit it? If I keep a general pro-active notes group in the software and just continually add to it, it would work nicely. At first I was worried about overwhelming notes everywhere but it is self-correcting. That is, when I complete things, I won't have them in upcoming observing sessions so there will be no clutter. Good. OK. I'll have to do this for future sessions... Might help me avoid repeats too.

Closed outer main door to block the light from the neighbour.

11:43. Ooh. I considered photographing IK periodically. [ed: Added to BGO list.]

Made the short slew to 3 Pegasi aka STF A 56.

11:46. 3 Peg is a great system. Wide pair. Nearly inline another pair, ¼ the separation. Yellow and blue, the wide pair; the faint pair, both orange. Fun at low and high power. That was a double-check. Yes, in my final DS list. An excellent target. The whole pattern was neat. [ed: The faint doublet is SAO 126937 or STT 443.]

Panned and synced. Off to the next subject in Pegasus.

11:49. Another double-check. Triple HR 8348 or HJ 947. Also on my final DS list...

I heard the back door. Rhonda ventured out. Noted right away it was humid. Yep, over 80%. But she saw the skies were quite good. She pined for aurora. From the street, it seemed the glow to the north-east was from bright street lights... If there was northern lights, they were low and faint.

Asked if she wanted to see anything in particular. Ring? Dumbbell? I suggested the cool double in Delphinus. Slewed to γ (gamma) Del, the nose of the Dolphin. Panned about until I got it. Pretty. Dimmer element to the left or west.

"Oh, cool." She thought it a nice one. Close. I thought they were different colours but they were clearly the same. rho agreed. I must have been thinking of something else. The same. She enjoyed seeing it naked eye and through the 'scope.

Rhonda spotted Milky Way, faint. Very good. Running along the body of the Swan, straight up. Wow. It was good transparency. It had been clear for her at camp. She reminisced seeing the Milky Way, with dark rifts, from the Carr, thought it more prominent, clearer then. I wondered if Haliburton wouldn't be darker but she was blinded by campfires! True. She headed in. Holidays over, sadly.

Spotted HD 197913 below, to the south. Previously logged.

12:10 AM, Tuesday 3 September 2019. aka STF 2725. Blue and orange stars. Pointing toward γ. Mag 7.1 and 8.5 stars. Two in the view!

Panned about. Synced. Slewed to Rotanev.

12:15 AM. Also designated as β. Previously viewed.

Spotted the faint tiny triangle nearby, again, previously logged: HD 196411 or Struve 2703. North-west of the neck of the leaping dolphin.

There was an extremely faint pair of stars south-east of beta, with TYC 01100-0667 1.

Back to the east. Next! Aimed to γ Andromedae. Almaak.

12:22. Forgot how amazing it is. Amazing colours. Yellow and pale blue. γ1 and γ2.

Right, it is a quad. And I've never been able to split BC. SkyTools said the separation was 0.2 seconds of arc as of July. No. Way. The blue colour was more pronounced at high power.

Checked other observing lists for ideas.

Slewed to the selection. From a list made over a month ago. From the Coldfield list.

12:34. Viewed HD 220334 aka Σ3007. Triple. One of the apexes of a large triangle with colourful stars. Spotted the faint star pointing roughly west, slightly to the north, to the inner part of the big triangle. I did not see the B partner.

12:36. Wow. Got it! Very subtle. A is yellow, warm yellow. Very close, orange star, the B star, to the east. C, again, was opposite, inside the triangle. C looked orange. Wait. Or was it blue? Or grey. Ha! Super-dim. Wow, all with the low power eyepiece.

Felt chilled. Damp air. Coveted my coat. Grabbed some hard candy.

Chose my next target and issued the command to slew. The mount started a big motion that I wasn't expecting so I halted it. Oh. Wait. Not a fault. It was because the item in Pegasus had crossed over the meridian. Right. (I was happy to see the Abort Slew button worked well.)

Picked a new item on the current side of the sky...

12:52. Checked the conditions: 95% humidity, 13.4°C, oh, it dropped to 13.3, steady pressure, rain. I turned up the dew heater outputs.

Did I hear the last GO train rolling in?

12:57. Figure it out, at last, my star field between the King and the Queen. Not far away from my objective.

Spotted Struve 57! Faint tight pair in Cassiopeia. Extremely faint. The right star, to the north-east, was brighter. Mag 10.5. The B star was the left on, mag 10.7. Huh, barely different. Roughly pointing to the bright yellow star (HR 212). SkyTools showed an alignment below the yellow star; I thought they were pointing toward the faint star above, TYC 04303-0585 1. Maybe it is a fast-moving binary?

Panned about. A bit to the west. Something caught my eye.

There were a million doubles...

1:03. Landed at HD 3162. An official double in the Washington Double Star catalogue as member HJ 1983.

This was crazy. Just to the west was a little trio, or multi-star, system, with mag 10.0 star TYC 04303-2073 1. ST3P did not show this as an official double. Crazy.

Wanderin' Cas.

1:07. Finally arrived my desired target, a frequently auto-suggested item from SkyTools, HD 3891. Tight double, equal, white. Faint star above or north, orange, that was the C companion. Almost all were inline. Also called STF 48.

[ed: Heh. Close to the Struve starting point.]

To the south-west there was an interesting arrangement of close-together stars, with SAO 4170. Once again, not an official double. Three stars in a line, faint one in the middle.

Slewed to the open cluster Collinder 463 aka OCL 324. Not far from Segin, the left star in the W, in Cassiopeia. Positioned in the centre. Mostly faint stars. Clearly harbouring some doubles. Sparse.

1:15. Left and right for me; west and east. Bright star on the left; west. HD 10563 or mag, HJ 1089. A four star system. The A and B stars were obvious. Wide at low power. The C and D pair was at a 90 degree angle to A and B. Much fainter. One third or one half the AB separation. Very near the centre of the cluster. Just south of centre.

With TYC 04318-2177 1, there was a tiny triad of stars, east of HD 10563. Nutty.

East-south-east of the cluster centre was a faint pair, about the same split and orientation as HD 10563 AB. No ST3P designation. Included TYC 04318-1605 1.

Noted a triangle, a triplet, of faint stars to the east of the cluster mid-point. This included star TYC 04318-0011 1. Why not catalogued?

1:24. Found δ (delta) Cephei on my list but I couldn't remember how to visually assess it. Found an AAVSO article on the ESO web site that clarified things: use ζ (zeta) and ε (epsilon), the stars making up a flat triangle with delta. Magnitudes 3.6 and 4.2 respectively.

I thought it brighter than ε but less than ζ. So that would be around 3.8 or 3.9 maybe? [ed: Double-clicking δ from the chart with the time set to 1:14 AM, the Object Info box says the mag is 3.9.]

1:32. Headed to the north edge of the Collinder cluster to dig out the faint, tight pair HJ 2068. Wow. Extremely faint. Mag 11 and 12 stars. Angled north-south, pointing a bit left of the star SAO 4481.

Slewed to next.

1:35. Checked out 15 Trianguli, a selection just to get in the neighbourhood really. A rather wide pair, yellow and blue. An amazing gold star. A fine double.

Noted a pair to the west. Why would they, at the same separation, not be considered a double?

Spotted the faint star near 15, GSC 02332-1623 at mag 11.9.

1:47. Clouds! Moving from the north. Uh oh. Must have been low, they were bright white, reflecting wasted light from town.

Marched to my next task. A fun item, something from the Coldfield collection... HR 9074 or Struve 3050.

1:52. In the baader planetarium ocular, two equal stars touching. Oriented north-south, more or less. Both yellow, same intensity, same colour. Nice. The software said it was a triple, with the third member well away. Clouds distorted view. The software did not show the C star, oddly. Couldn't get it to show in the Context Viewer. I found it in the Interactive Atlas chart. Hovering over C said mag 14.6.

More clouds.

OK. I decided to finish. Remembered to disconnect the battery pack from the tripod ring light.

Inspected lenses. Dry. Everything else was wet.

2:03. The OneWorld, in the tent, under cover read: 94%, 14.0°. The Oregon, out in the open, read: 98 and 12.9.

2:12. Inside. Dropped off gear. Wide awake as usual.


I remarked about the Struve catalogue starting point in this point. I noted in Haas's book, she lists Σ10, Σ16, Σ30, and so on. They are found in Cassiopeia. This strongly suggests that the first ones are in the vain Queen's constellation...


Hold the phone. Found STF 12 in Pisces... So now I don't know how it works.

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