Saturday, June 20, 2020

imaged in Vulpecula again (Bradford)

Quick report: will be replaced with detailed log entry later...

After the big afternoon thunderstorm, I imaged Vulpecula again. The clouds rolled in around 1:30 marking the end of an incredible run. And also marking the first time I've done some real citizen science in the backyard.

Headed inside for a night-cap.

Tomorrow I will take down the observatory.


Popped out to the deck. Incredibly, clear. All right, night-two of double star imaging.

Mixed feelings. A break would have been nice. But I also wanted to tear down. The stay-cation was over.

10:56 PM, Friday 19 June 2020. Made a quick list: recorder, netbook, camera bad, eyepieces, smarter phone, keys. Took a photo of astro kitty. Headed to the office.
Instrument: Celestron 8-inch SCT
Mount: Vixen Super Polaris
Method: slewing and tracking with IDEA GoToStar
11:03 PM. Applied DEET.

Did a rapid start up of the mount. Powered it on from the previous evening's Park command. Set the Declination axis from the nose-down position to 88-and-changed. Did a point to a bright star. It was pretty close. Awesome!

Quickly connected computer and power to the camera body.

Could use the phone for the conditions. Decided to use Good To Stargaze again. Felt humid. I was melting with all the activity. 73% relative humidity, 19.0°C air temperature, steady barometric air pressure, rain, again. Updated the wx text file for BYE.

I thought dew would be a problem tonight so rigged up the 8-inch objective Kendrick heater and the coffee cup warmer for the finder, driven by the Kendrick controller, and my custom ex-computer power supply. 

I got snagged in cables. The camera power line in particular.

Saw some clouds.

Did not hear a tone when BYE started and connected. But there was a star, how about that! Oriented the camera to be aligned with the Left and Right buttons of the hand controller. Focused with the Bahtinov mask. It occurred to me I could have saved the image run profile yesterday. What was I doing? Checked Digital Photo Professional before closing the app. 20 seconds at 3200 ISO.

11:30. Did a test shot with Vega.

epsilon Lyrae 1 and 2

For fun, tried shots of the Tim Horton star(s). Got both but merged. But you can see the I companion, F, E, hints of H and G. The orange star at the left is SAO 67349 aka BU 51. South is the tight pairing of the B and C stars. Why aren't TYC 03122-2093 1 and TYC 03122-1774 1 an official double? Or GSC 03122-1428 and GSC 03122-1460 with faint J184353.7+394125? Alas.

Tried 5 seconds. Still couldn't split ε (epsilon) Lyrae AB and CD. Moving on. 

Slewed to HD 183013. Landed at HD 182570. Test shots. Looked OK. Then shift to HD 183013. Humidity dropped! Sweet. You don't see that very often.

Looked up the drift times: right, 180 seconds. Added 10 more seconds. Tried to figure my position and the way things would drift. I knew west was on the right. Hurt my brain...

11:54. Started drift shots. Whoa. The angle was really different! Like 15 degrees... How did that happen. Didn't wanna touch it now, carry on. Put the bright star in the corner to allow for the longest possible line. Used HD 344344 as my new starting point. Programmed the image run with the 15 gap.

It occurred to me that starting earlier meant I was working lower: airmass 1.3, altitude 49.

12:10 AM, Saturday 20 June 2020. The upstairs porch light had been on for a while but I didn't think it was affecting me, given the angle of the 'scope, and the installed light shield.

It had climbed back to 87% RH. No clouds. 2.2° from the dew point...

drifting in Vulpecula

I surmised the camera got rotated by the tent hitting the body during the storm and/or me snagging cables.

Airmass was 1.2, elevation was 53. Cool. A rapid improvement. And back-loaded the double images meant I'd be even higher.

Humidity went to 88. Now 2 degrees from the dew point. Worked on drift 7 of 10.

Bored. Checked email.

12:49 AM. Rhonda visited. Invited her to unzip the door. Apologised for having my camera bag in her chair. Told her the skies were good. We talked about baking, cinnamon swirls, weather tomorrow (er, today), relaxed COVID requirements, golf balls, good stuff for a picnic lunch, the lack of bugs.

12:56. Started shooting the doubles. Used a different pattern to avoid gear backlash. Snaking up and down from the top-left. Three shots of each again.

Humidity up to 89. Spotted some cloud tendrils. When the stars fade out, I will have to quit.

1:12. Scalloped clouds. I had started quite far from the main star but now I jumped closer.

It was good actually that I had started earlier. I was ahead of the incoming clouds. Oh. It cleared a bit with clouds heading south.

I was gradually moving toward the Coathanger, just north of it.

Phone pinged me. Mars was rising. BGO imaging the Veil. Ha. I had two imaging systems going! Turned on dark mode in various apps. Course, stupid Gmail you can't do that. The Home screen looks funny with the Moon widget in the new phase—it looks like a black hole on the display.

imaging doubles with the old C8

Took a photo of the rig. Motorola e6, f/2, 1/15, ISO 992, 4mm, auto-flash.

Neat stuff in my local images.

Oh oh, big clouds... Getting closer...

Spotted two triangles, one with a double!

small open cluster NGC 6793

1:33. Racing the clouds. Ho ho, caught open cluster NGC 6793 aka OCL 115 in Vulpecula. Also harbouring a double star...

1:36. Fading stars signalled the end. It didn't look like it was going to clear.

Closed Backyard. [ed: Forgot to shoot darks!]

GTS said: 18°, 90%.

The end of the evening. And the end of an incredible run. Seven days? Seven evenings of astonishing skies. I felt very grateful. What a fun session.

Started packing. Light, in the end. Didn't want to stay up late doing a full close-out.


Inspected the corrector plate. It was slightly fogged despite cap and heater. Explain that Mr. Briggs.


Images uploaded (and quickly analysed) on 24 Jun '20.

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