Monday, March 22, 2021

doubles in a washed out sky (Bradford)

7:18 PM, Sunday 21 March 2021. It felt cold already. The Oregon Scientific portable weather station, on the picnic table, in the "office section" reported 11.1°C air temperature, 22% relative humidity, air pressure dropping, rain tomorrow, and 6:17 EST.

Heard a weird sound when I started the computer... 

Instrument: Celestron 8-inch SCT
Mount: Vixen Super Polaris
Method: slewing and tracking with IDEA GoToStar

I combined all the spare carabiners.

Put a foam pad under the recorder to cut down noise transmitted from the table into the kickstand.

Took a photo of the tripod tray, with the heater pad underneath. Very interesting this configuration. A first.

heating pad under triangle tray

Yapping mutts and barking birds and wandering neighbours.

Moved the second SLA marine battery under the tripod. The one shown in the photo above is for the objective and eyepiece dew heaters...

Powered up the mount. Connected the computer. Zipped up the doors.

Left for the house.

Back. Breathing hard...

Joined Phil's Zoom call. Grace, Tony, Millie, Dietmar, Joel, Guy, Phil. Birthday boy Ralph showed up. Charles jumped in later. Ontario, British Columbia, and Massachusetts. We talked about craft beers, the pandemic, the Moon, the past-presidents club, the Green Flash, old eyes, trips to the ARO, oral vaccines, and getting old. Good to see everyone but I didn't want to interrupt... Zoom events are way worse for large groups and casual conversations. Brutal for spectrum peeps.

Did my one-star alignment, after confirming the time.

7:48 PM. Slewed to the Moon. 

Had a look at the Moon... I have NEVER seen The Railroad aka Rupes Recta so pronounced. The shadow from the straight wall was thick, wide, black, stark! Wow.

Tried to share a view of the Moon... No one seemed to notice at first.

Later I held the phone below the telescope. Kind of neat. Should have taken a photo!

I moved to the picnic table and thought to shine the keyboard light on my face. Ralph thought I looked like the Chinese God of War Guan Yu, with the beard, big eyebrows, and the red face.

I considered an interesting double star to show the crew. Castor was no good. The sky was still too light.

8:33. I said goodbye, after Phil left, to the group. I think that triggered others to drop.

Went to Tabit in Orion, aka π (pi) 3 Orionis. This was from Friday? On the "try earlier" list.

8:41. Didn't spot AAA rechargeable batteries for the Sony audio recorder. I suspected they were in a pocket of the winter coat. In the house.

In SkyTools, I used the finder scope FOV. Had to switch on the Mirror Diagonal. It worked well in the bright sky. Went to the 36mm eyepiece view and turned off the MD mode. I noted a small X skymark for a photo I had done in the past, Jan 2020.

Bright star. Saw something faint nearby. Yep. A box. A super-elongated rectangle. Wide. Faint.. A was yellow. South. Another set of stars to the east, almost parallel. It was a double as well! The two parallel edges of the parallelogram were separate double stars. Funny. 

Went for another look. Panned.

I think you need a big 'scope to get the secondary of Tabit! Extremely faint. Red. I could directly look at B but at the edge of visibility. SkyTools said it was 8.8 magnitude. It seemed fainter. Curiously, Sissy Haas says the B stars is magnitude 11.3! STT 560. Neat. All right. Viewed! 

Decided to add checkmarks to the things viewed tonight... to catch me eye. Speed up logging.

The wide double to the east was HD 30714 aka Herschel VI 83. Yellow and orange-red. The A here was much dimmer than Tabit A.

A neat field. Pretty field.

Two in the view.

Had another look and synced the mount with the software.

Tonight I had brought out the flask to keep close to the breast and therefore warmed.

I had a couple more Orion targets... Nope. That constellation was exhausted. Well, the items in the software. Paged Haas's book.

Selected SHJ 49, aka HD 1600, SAO 94240, and HIP 23161. Lovely.

9:01. Wide stars, easily separated. Yellow main star. Blue above or toward 11:30. Very slightly further away. Grey? Orange. Dimmer. 4 o'clock position. No other bright stars in the field. C is east. Nice one! Fantastic! SkyTools 3 Professional, in the Object Information box, said the AB separation was 39.5 seconds of arc while AC was 53.3. A was magnitude 6.2, B 8.0, and C 9.8. Haas compared it to Albireo. And described the group as a "boomerang." Ha.

I noted ο (omicron) 2 off to the side... To the south-west. I panned to it.

Hmmm. Zoomed in with the Pentax 20. It didn't look right... Slewed (quickly) to corroborate the position. 

Big sigh. I did not see the faint companion. I did see a star to the west (left), quite dim, mag 13: GSC 00696-0370. I saw another star below [ed: south]. The bright star above [ed: HD 31374, north-west]. But to the right [ed: east] I did not see a mag 11.3 star. Kites and triangles to the right or east... Panned about.

[ed: There's a C star but magnitude 14.1... on hovering.]

Back to the 'scope. Well. That was a mystery. Peculiar. But to view again.

Made a note of "needs" for the next trip to the house... coat... toque. And off I went. Kitty Tucker heard me moving about...

9:29. Back with more layers and a topped up the flask. Checked the recorder. Battery level OK, space remaining OK. But the spare batteries aside.

I was aimed to the west side of the meridian. 

Looked for a new item in Sissy's double stars for small telescopes.

Selected Struve 734 in Orion aka HR 1863 and SAO 132247 and HIP 26020. Pretty neat.

9:33. Hockey stick shape perhaps. Yellow star. Orange star at 10 o'clock. Opposite, about 3 or 4 times the distance, a fainter orange star. Two magnitudes and then two magnitudes. Oh. According to SkyTools, the lower star was not part of the double star system. And A and B were a tight pair. A quad! Holy smokes!

Busy field. Lots of bright stars. I thought, "I must be in the Orion Belt Cluster." [aka Collinder 70 or OCL 503.] Checked the finder scope view. I was! Lots going on. Southern part of the Belt. Great field.

Gotta do some digging then to get the B star...

Glued my eyeball to the ocular again. Amped up the magnification.


That said, it will bear repeat viewing... Evocative. Showpiece item. SkyTools showed:

star magnitude separation
A 6.5
B 8.3 1.5
C 9.1 29.6
D 10.0 0.7 (to C)

But need better skies. Read Haas's notes. Strange colours, again.

9:41. Almost the same angles too.

Next. STF 750...

As I keyed in the coordinate, the ASUS netbook stopped responding... Schlanger! Static electricity. 

Weird. I had brought out the electronics anti-static wrist strap... Damn. I had not hooked it up to the standard computer cord. Cold iron. Reboot but there were no unusual sounds from the computer (unlike earlier).

9:45. A car pulled in the driveway...

Back in the planning software. Slewed to Σ750 (without a sync).

I saw a extremely faint pair, very close, in the middle of the field. Bottom-left (south-east) was a fan-shape of stars--a crow's foot. Top-right (north) I thought of a chalice, arcs and lines. Lots of bright stars, blue-white stars... 

[ed: This doesn't make sense—if west is to the 10 o'clock. May have misspoke, "chalice" in top-left? Was the "crow's foot" stars 42 and 45? Later when we viewed sigma, it was nearly horizontal with the tip to the left so that put's west at the 1 or 2 o'clock position. If that holds for 750, rolling it backwards, then... Ironically the "crow's foot" is the target, HR 1898 to the north, HR 1891, and V1046. And the "chalice" includes HD 36629.]

Near the Running Man.

9:51. Recreated my settings (again) in SkyTools. 

I didn't think I was in the right area. I was a bit lost... [ed: Indeed, 750 is one of the talons of the crow's foot. Reviewed in Aladin 10. A tight pair is the northern most set of stars.]

Re-examined to the previous target in the computer chart.

Went to the σ (sigma) Orionis cluster to get my bearings... (A nice treat, of course.) [ed: The tip of the arrow was left, that was south-east. STF 761, the tail of the arrow was right. Therefore, west was to the 1 or 2 o'clock position.] Synced.

Slewed again. HR 1898.

9:58. Noted a bright satellite, brighter than the field stars. Went from 2 o'clock to 7 o'clock. [ed: On checking Stellarium, I believe this is Starlink 1564. It passed through the Running Man at 9:54.]

Checked the Atlas. Noted the crow's foot. Oh, part of the open cluster, NGC 1981. And I spotted a faint pair. 

Had another look for 750. Panned around a bit.

It seemed like I was in a different area... 

I heard Rhonda. Offered a view of a double star. I shifted back to the little arrow of σ Ori. Mostly blue-white stars. She liked it. We caught up.

Near BD 04 11700, a variable, I saw two stars. Not in SkyTools. [ed: Actually, there is another star here: GSC 4774-0087 at magnitude 11.6.]

Need to view all this again... Won't be able to do these things for a while... [ed: Next time, I need to do a good sketch!]

Stoopid moon was really high up. Decided to work on the other part of the sky. Used Regulus to flip over the meridian. Centred and synced. Leo would start crossing over soon.

10:29. Ah. Leo Minor! Should do some targets there. Added 7 LMi and slewed. Almost straight up. 

Cool one! I was surprised that I had never looked at this one before. West was left, no, to 10 o'clock. B was blue and A was yellow. I saw another star, fainter, orange. To the south-west. Clearly a triple. The eyepiece view did not display it, even with the Moon setting off. I flipped and zoomed into the Interactive Atlas. Yep. There it was! A great system. The L pattern... Very good. C was toward the base of the L. Had another look. Made a note to sync. C goes through the middle of the L, between SAO 61512 and HD 81976. Triangle to the south. ABC is nearly an equilateral triangle. Fantastic.

Forgot to sync. Went and did it.

I read Haas's notes. "Sun-yellow" main star with a "silvery" speck. The third star was "livid." I thought that word meant angry. Strange.

Next: Struve 1374. Searched for STF 1374 aka HD 83698 in ST3P. Go! OK, now it was straight up!

Low power eyepiece. Seeing was a bit off. Empty field. Pretty sure I saw an orange star one or two magnitudes fainter than the yellow main star. Angled toward the 11 o'clock.

Frustrated with the zooming in SkyTools. Grrr.

There was a star above. Hovered over the stars, 6.9 and 7.1. That's equal!? I thought it was toward 11, not 12. I read the description in Haas's book and returned to the eyepiece. 

Tried higher power. It was apparent in the 20mm. Obvious! I spotted another star below at 6 o'clock. I had the correct orientation, B at the 11:30. It looked closer than 3 arc-seconds. The Object Info box said 6.9 and 8.7. ST3P said there was a distant C star. Very interesting pair. Challenging.

Felt a spark. Computer continued worked. Whew. 

Went looking for the third partner. Wow.

Did not see the C star. 

Went to STTA 104. ST3P called this UU LMi. Still on the east side of the sky. 

Back out to the 36mm. Noted bright field stars, 27, 28, and 30 Leo Minoris winding counter-clockwise from the south over to the east. The brighter star looked white. B looked yellow. Binocular double? "Vivid trapezoid." What? Haas said it was in a pattern like the Keystone of Hercules. I suppose?

Noted something to the right... Manually slewed.

Neat find, off-piste. Strange though. I thought the yellow star was part of a double. The software said it was a single. I thought HD 90681 was the primary and the blue-white to the south-east was B, HD 90698. But that one was the double A2152. It's a triple! The B is extremely tight to A but the C star was 42" and I thought it red. Then, west of the bright star was another red star. Very interesting system. A2152 was the only official double in there... I'll have to check the WDS for this one. 

[ed: WDS shows only ABC for A2152. But, the WDS/SD shows another double 2 arc-minutes away, at 10h28m51.39s +34°53'08.4". That's SHY 215. HD 90681 in SkyTools is at 10h28m51.2s and Dec. +34°53'07" (2000). Only problem is the WDS data is wonky! This needs to be measured!]

Short hop to the next object of interest.

A bit of a breeze went through tugging at the wind chimes.

I saw a super-faint pair.

11:01. STF 1432. Faint stars. Yellow and a red star. Two to three mags different. Angled at a 45 degree angle to my eye, 10 through 4. Bright star at 4 o'clock at the edge of the field, HD 90717. Simple. Very faint.

Selected 42 LMi. The last double in her book for this constellation. Not near the meridian.

Another binocular pair, I thought. Confirmed. White and below, pale orange. There was a grey-white star to the right.

I spotted another pair in the field, closer than the super-wide pair. Why not in Haas's book, in striking distance, doable in a small 'scope I'm sure.

Considered switching gears. Stir it up a bit. Started to load my "fast movers" binary star list and SkyTools imploded. Crikey. Tried again. OK. Geez, so annoying. OK, how about 44 Boo. I hadn't looked at it for 6 years. Aimed at Izar to sync. Oops. Cedars in the way... 

Algieba? Slewed, centred, synced.

B was pointing toward D. Saw C and D, faintly, above. C and D were angled somewhat left and right. Did I know that γ (gamma) Leonis was a quad? Surely I've viewed them before... [ed: Nope! Score!]

618 years? That's not a fast mover... I won't be around to see it change. Removed!

11:32. Added ι (iota) and slewed. 

Did not see anything... Dang. Next?

What about Alula? Oh! Not far away... added ξ (xi) Ursae Majoris.

Pretty well straight up and down for me Alula Australis. Very faint star to the 10 o'clock. Switched to the 9mm in the software. The one below was slightly fainter. Moved the high power ocular to get field stars so to get the angle. Good, west was to 10 o'clock. I thought the lower one was dimmer but the software said the opposite. Noted a cup shape of stars. OK, enough of that.

Now I wanted fun colours. I found the Coldfield 200 list that I had made some time ago. Lots in Cancer but it was going down. And I did not want to look at things near the Moon. Huh. I have viewed most... Draco?

Crazy idea. Galaxies in Leo.

That was silly. Nothing visible. Nothing at all.

Running out of steam... What interesting stuff could I look at? 

Hopped to Cor Caroli. Lovely, as usual. Hopped off to orange coloured star.

Checked "Blair's Open Clusters" list. No eligible targets... [ed: Is it only a partial list.]

Red stars! Reminded me of the recent interesting phone chat with Harold in London...

Big yawn.

I suddenly remembered that I forgot to make the square mask for the 8-inch. Distracted by the phone call.

Corona Borealis? Nope. Below Arcturus. What about Coma Berenices? Floundered... How about some hot chocolate.

11:54. Checked the battery level of the recorder: OK. Manually moved the mount to a horizontal position, aimed east. Turned off sidereal tracking and heading indoors for a warmup.

12:45 AM, Monday 22 March 2021. Back. I did not have a lot of great ideas. 

Moon still out. Boötes higher now. Checked the Oregon: 2.5°, 33%, dropping, rain. Time still wrong.

Slewed to Izar. Couldn't split it at 2.9" and different...

Inside I had looked up possible objects. I went to NGC 5466. Nothing. Again. Brutal.

Tried to split 44 Boo. Checked the software. Oh! 0.3". Scratch that! Frig.

Looked again at the Coldfield list... Found something but it would require a meridian flip. Went to gamma Leo again.

Slewed to my target, DI Lyn. A and B were nearly equal. Yellow and blue. Other star was orange. Yeah, the bright star below... Very nice. Nice double. SkyTools said it was a quad but the Aa was below resolution limits. aka HR 3811, HD 82780, SAO 42931, HIP 47053, and STF1369.

One more! Ha.

HD 81104 or STF 1346 from the Coldfield list. In Ursa Major. Aimed toward 10 o'clock, i.e. north-west. White and orange. Pretty. Nice field. 5.9". Gaggle of stars below. South. Made me think of a tulip.

Quits. That's all.

Packed all the eyepiece equipment but then did a fast, quick shutdown planning the full proper teardown tomorrow in the daylight.

Kept the recorder going in hopes of catching the owl call...


A good run these three nights, despite the Moon. Felt really good to use the gear and use my eyes and get out of the four walls.

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