Thursday, June 18, 2020

post-meeting observing (Bradford)

Post-meeting. Looked outside. Awesome conditions. Again!

A mozzie buzzed me while removing the fly, no pun intended. Put on DEET.

9:48 PM, Wednesday 17 June 2020. Funny. Earlier in the day I was thinking, do I wanna do any astronomy tonight? You know, I've had a good run. I'll be tired after the meeting. Could take a break. I struggled with it. But then I thought: I would kick myself.
Instrument: Celestron 8-inch SCT
Mount: Vixen Super Polaris
Method: slewing and tracking with IDEA GoToStar
9:51. Experiment time! To get the mount going without doing a two-star alignment and having physically moved it. Put the Dec axis to 88¼°. Powered on. Slewed to Vega. Look at that, in the finder. Wow. Awesome. It worked. So fast.

9:54. Didn't really have a plan... Had a sit-down.

9:59. Fired ST3P up.

Long slew. Now I had Virgo targets, a bunch from Haas.

Ooh. Landed on a colourful double. Yellow and blue.

10:27. Viewed HD 110886 aka Struve 1677. Nice pair, nearly equal magnitudes. Easily split. Low power. Bright one, for me, was angled toward 2 o'clock—the south. A box, keystone of stars. Neat field, nearly empty, classic double.

SkyTools said there was a comet here. Nothing obvious in the field.

Saw a wide double up around my 11 o'clock.

It was noisy down on Holland St. A truck maybe, with a trailer?

Changed the list build time. It was annoying when it recycled.

Headed to HD 118578. Also known as Struve 1764. Ooh. Neat. Nice. Yellow and orange. Blue? Very hard to tell. Gold and orange. Wow. The secondary, almost 90 degrees...

10:35. I saw two faint stars. Really interesting field. A was to my 3 o'clock so south-west. The dim one, blue, green, orange. Flanked, with a dim star to the north, Tycho 307-886-1. To the south-east there were two stars. The two were 2 to 3 times the separation of AB. Almost pointing to the B star; no, pointing to the Tycho star. Ha ha, the two stars were C and D! A hair brighter than the Tycho. Why the hell was the Tycho not part of the system?! Crazy.

Saw an arc of three stars to the east, south-east. Lovely.

The seeing seemed quite good (at the moment).

Off to the next. Ooh. Nice.

10:41. Viewed HR 5610 in Virgo. Nearly perfectly equal. Blue-white, both. Pronounced with no other bright objects in the field. Pretty.

No more Virgo targets. No priority stuff. Copied some targets from the Coldfield list with 200 items. Surprised to learn I have viewed most, about 10 to go.

10:44. Should I sketch? Return to Pallas, maybe? Forgot my phone inside.

10:48. Rhonda appeared. Encouraged her to have a look. Car headlights. Moth eyes.

Talked about my RASC meeting presentation. The very strange comment. The software crash that interrupted the meeting. Her first put in for the year. Heron sightings. Grasses, medium height, and perennial sunflowers. How my new potato box would work and where it should be located. Mower maintenance. I asked if it was recycling day; rho went to check. Farmer's markets and local vendors... Noise in the car wheels.

I selected a new target. In Ursa Major, 12.3", slightly unequal intensities, HR 4363 aka Σ1520. Nice. Medium tight. Lovely. I moved the chair. It was a little wobbly. Rhonda thought them a nice pair. Rhonda said the little one was orange and the other yellow.

Decided on HR 3806 aka STF 1362. Stoopid house was in the way. Rhonda reminded me it is not growing every year.

Spotted Kocab.

OK. Maybe not very exciting. An official double, yes. Rhonda said, "Good salesman." I wondered if they'd be better in binoculars, being so extremely wide. Dubhe. Super-bright. We were seeing A and C. I could not see the B star. Too close and too different. Maybe in the DDO 74...

Ordered up the next target. A Coldfield selection: HD 119702 or John Herschel 2682. Inside Ursa Minor.

11:28. Obvious wide pair. White, no yellow and blue. Other stars in the field so I suspected it had more ele... oh ho! It was a triple. I spotted a faint red star in a triangle. Holey Universe. C was the wider star; B was the red one. There was another star; again, why was it not included. The blue was straight down for me, north-west. B was west of A. The faint star—Tycho 4558-406-1—was to the 10 o'clock position, east. Fantastic. Neat field stars. Wow. Rhonda got 'em! "Pumpkin, the right star. Bottom was tangerine. Top was yellowy. Parchment paper." Oh my goodness, I've created a monster. Different.

Did my Saturn plug.

Considered the next. Thought it might work, a double in Camelopardalis. Almost at the roofline. Slewed. Oh my. Saw the big-C shape. HD 106799 or STF 1625. Rhonda said, "Little ET eyes. Almost equal. Left was a little brighter. The right was more yellow." I said, "Banana coloured, if I ever saw. Banana split, ah, ah, ah." Lovely. Another Coldfield. The seeing was bad, from the shingles.

No mosquito coil this evening.

Everything else in my list was rising. Had to flip. Headed to Vega to do a sync.


I had no idea where I was... Big bright star. Slewed to a known-good, not far away.

I was trying to get to HR 6162, on the Coldfield list. Slewed again. Back-breaker. How low can you go. Had to set the Big DOC observing chair to a very low level. Rhonda thought it nice. White-white-grey. She asked about any extras. Hercules. Almost straight-up. The least amount of air you could look through. I tried to get colour off the secondary. Orange? A was A4 and B was A0. That meant they were the same hue.

[ed: I think HD 174897 is the culprit.]

Another Hercules, also from the Coldfield. Synced. Slewed. Whoa! I killed the power! "Too close." I would have to reset. "Hold please." Tried a quick one-star alignment on Albireo. Quick look.

Rhonda exited.

Disconnected and reconnected the software. And again.

12:14 AM, Thursday 18 June 2020. When I did the sync on the hand controller, the software showed the mount was on Polaris. I requested the mount "Go To Park Position." Ah no, that was not the right direction. So I hacked it, manually moving the mount. Told it to go to Polaris again. Oh boy. A million miles away. Whiskey tango foxtrot. Nope. No more juice for debugging.

Gar. Forgot to turn off the software first.

Recorded ideas for the next night(s).
  • sketching
  • measuring a double
    • capturing with photos
    • choose a neglected candidate
    • prep reference or calibration stars
    • don't forgot the camera alignment drift process
If I was gonna measure, I'd need to review my Evernote...

12:23 AM. Conditions check. 48%, 17.2°, pressure dropping, rain.

Shut everything down.

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