Sunday, April 05, 2020

not much (Bradford)

While inside, dropped off the imaging gear, I switched to my winter coat.

Outside moved the equipment to the yard, with Rhonda's help. I set aside the big tripod but then remembered that I needed it.

It was so bright. I asked if the Moon was full. Rhonda said it was in a couple of days. She headed in. There was very few naked eye stars in the bright sky...

I continued the switch to astronomical viewing. Dang. I had taken the hex plate inside...
Instrument: Meade ETX-90 Maksutov
Mount: fork mount with tracking motor, tripod
Method: star hopping, with angle finder
The noisy street racers were bored.

Shortened the legs on the big tripod for seated viewing.

9:51. Old Meade ETX 90 Maksutov-Cassegrain with slightly skewed secondary on the Mamiya. Roughly polar aligned.

Loaded in an eyepiece, the Celestron 26mm Plössl.

Streets racers up into the rev limiter.

Installed the red film to John Repeat Dance. At the beginning of the evening I had put it underneath the netbook.

Considered a target near Procyon. Rejected some targets being too low. Off limits.

Finder alignment was fair. Tracking was pretty good.

I kept choosing the wrong view in SkyTools 3 Professional. With the ETX, in the backyard, I prefer the "telescope" view, the Visual Sky Simulation.

Cold! Headed inside. Put on sous-vêtements longs, another sweater, and -100 boots.

10:22. Back outside.

Checked recorder. Battery and time was OK.

The Puppis target, HR 2910, was too low. Left of Sirius. Landed on ξ (xi) Pup aka Azmidiske, an interesting system, a double. But impossible in this 'scope. There was another, HR 3315... Went to ρ (rho) Puppis.

Eyes were watering like crazy...

Yep. Triad in the field. Verified. Didn't see anything at first. Oh!

10:35. Got it! HR 3315 aka S 568 in Puppis. Challenging yes but detectable in bright moonlight. Nice. Wide in 26mm. B is much dimmer. Yellow and orange. Thought yellow and blue at first. Visible by direct vision. A high priority item. Previously logged. In the RASC coloured list. Done. It's a keeper. So there. Good stuff.  B was due east.

It was like there was a big shield. An arc of stars, a big arc, to the north-east. Bright star to the north (HD 71142). Two equally bright stars to the north east. Faint one to the east.

Noted a pair of stars to the north, not designated as a double in ST3P. Very faint, barely detectable. Averted, tough in the bright sky [ed: mag 9.8 and 9.9 stars with HD 71175]. Almost inline with 71142. A little bit off the line, a touch east. Quite wide, a different angle.

Oh! I checked the Oregon Scientific portable weather station. Relative humidity was 61%, air temperature was 1.2°C, the air pressure was dropping, with rain predicted tomorrow. Felt a lot colder! The humidity seemed to be much lower than estimated.

Another train came through town.

An elastic broke on the finder 3D-printed adapter. The other was still in place, thankfully. I checked the gap between the pieces of the adapter. Seemed OK.

Tried for HD 63241. Changed the eyepieces. Moved the table. Changed the eyepieces again. And again.

10:54. This is in my list as a neglected double. ST3P says there's a mag 11 star 9.3" away. But I couldn't see anything. The little triangle diamond thing to the north is interesting... But no find companion... Moving on. Something in Gemini.

Next? Tried for NGC 2304. Too low.

Used Mekbuda in Gemini.

Frustrated. I kept choose the wrong display.

OK. Another suggestion from Blair. Headed to the west edge of Gemini.

11:10. Viewed Mebsuta, ε (epsilon) Geminorum, or S 533. Yellow (primary) and blue stars. Wide, in the 26mm. Secondary to the south-east, much, much fainter. Good! Something new!

Hopped further west.

11:16. Verified I was in the area of NGC 2266. But if nobody told me... I saw a big box, a big square shape, almost like a dipper, with a handle. The bright star at the end of the handle was HD 47836. The open cluster, according to the software, was at the bottom-left corner of the pot, i.e. the south-west. I saw faint stars in the middle. That was Tycho 01901-1425 1 at mag 10.2. I also spotted faintly Tycho 01901-0627 1 at mag 10.6. Bumped the power...

And I lost it! Frack! So annoying. Back to low power. Nope. Completely lost.

Decided to try for a comet...

Spent a long time trying to get to Muscida. The 'scope was in a weird orientation, hard to work with. My eyeglasses fogged. Finally made it (nothing special). Then started the star hop to comet C/2019 Y4...

At one point, I released the Dec clamp and the whole OTA rotated. That's it! To hell with it. Alpha queue.

Packed up.

11:50. 69 percent, 0.0 degrees.

Midnight train.

Put the chairs back. I piled things at the airlock but carried the 'scope and tripod inside.

Rhonda and Tucker said hello.


Lessons learned:

An elastic broke for the right-angle-straight-thru-finder adapter. I knew that would happen, eventually. Will need a new one. I should figure out a better way... Metal clip? Wire tie? Oh, I could drill holes through for wires... [ed: Holes for bolts?]

Kept losing the Interactive Atlas settings, like the constellation lines. I need to store them.

Didn't run into it this time but I need to remember to centre the Declination control...

The cap for the front of the finder scope is too small such that it cannot be affixed squarely, properly. Need to try (or make) a different cap.

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