Monday, May 31, 2021

taught level 1

Delivered the Stellarium level 1 course. Had two instructor candidates with me which was awesome!

set up v-pub

Upon request, I issued a virtual pub notice to RASC Toronto Centre members.

received more apps

The RASC Weekly notice was issued. The Stellarium course had top billing! And another gaggle of applications came in! Woo hoo!


Happy birthday, David Dunlap Observatory!

Sunday, May 30, 2021

certified another Moon lover

I approved an Explore the Moon-Telescope application. Ugh. I have to verify Moon observations...

Saturday, May 29, 2021

she hates stars

Ha ha. April in Parks and Rec. Season 3 episode where they went camping. She said (to the effect), "I hate camping. I can see stars. I hate them." That is so amazing.

a good meeting

Met with RASC member and book publisher John Read. A good chat.

heard from team member

Heard from a committee member in the Yukon. That made my day.

surprised by a delivery

That was a pleasant surprise. I was expecting a package or two from The Amazon Machine but I thought I noted this particular one was backordered.

thrilled to receive a book

So it was quite lovely to receive my hard-copy edition of Dr Seager's book.

sent in the report

After reviewing with the team, I submitted the RASC national Observing Committee report for the 2021 Annual General Meeting.

Friday, May 28, 2021

spotted Vega

Spotted a star at the liquor store.
Vega Sindoa wine

Spotted Vega Sindoa, a Spanish Cab Sav. Grabbed a bottle. 

2017 vintage. The one reviewer gave it a very high rating.

Intense deep red. Very strong but pleasing nose. It think it's gonna be good!

Made in Navarra by Bodegas Nekeas.


A little harsh, with a bitter finish, immediately upon opening. Much better on day two.

signed up auditor two

Was thrilled to hear from another trainer candidate. She'll be able to attend the upcoming course I'm delivering on Monday evening. That's the second auditor joining in. Woo hoo. If we're lucky, we'll double our training team size!

learned of DDO June events

Heard from the crew at the David Dunlap Observatory. They asked to promote these upcoming events widely!

Astronomy Speakers Night: "How Ancients Predicted Eclipses" with Ron MacNaughton
Saturday, June 5, 2021, 7pm to 8:30pm
Registration link.

Sunday Sungazing
Sunday, June 6, 2021, 12:30pm to 1pm
Registration link.

Off you go.

approved a certificate

Approved a RASC observing program certificate application, another Toronto Centre member no less, for their Messier Catalogue work. Onward and upwards.

helped a Stellarium user

Helped a Stellarium course participant with a Windows screen issue. It sorta resolved itself. My work is done.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

helped with angles

On CloudyNights, in the double stars forum, jjbroomco asked for some help with measuring the exit angle of drifting stars. I gave a few suggestions, such as repeating drifts, and verifying dead centre, if possible. He replied.

Great suggestions, thank you.  I agree, the more data points, the better.  I will try more than one drift.  I do have a 12.5 mm reticle eyepiece that I use for GoTo alignments.  I will give this a try as well.

Good stuff.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

attended CAO planning meeting

Attended a committee meeting for the Carr Astronomical Observatory, mostly as an observer. Good turnout.

appointed chair

Heard from Robyn Foret, president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, that the Board of Directors appointed me the interim Chair of the Observing Committee. Big shoes to fill...

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

the wound

Spotted a note on the IOTA occultations io group. Vince said he heard from Hristo that the lunar double stars events feed is no longer maintained for the US regions. Oh, I am NOT going down that path again...

viewed model at 2x

Ward sent over some photos. He had printed my 3D model for the David Dunlap Observatory at double-size.

DDO 74-in and Mini-Me


don't panic

Wear your mask. Get your shot. And know where your towel is.

Monday, May 24, 2021

it is not natural

I found this article back in early February but did not get a chance to read it until now. The piece is entitled Exploring the Link Between Exposure to Nighttime Artificial Lights and Thyroid Cancer Risk and I found it on the Technology Networks web site.

While it was not designed to establish causality, it discussed an observational study which compared lighting in satellite imagery to registered cancer cases for over 460 000 Americans. It suggests that there is a higher chance of developing thyroid cancer for people exposed to higher levels of outdoor artificial light. Perhaps it is due to disruptions in the circadian sleep patterns.

Certainly bright and constant lighting at night is not natural. We need to do whatever we can to limit or reduce this.


With new measures, I redrew the CAO partition plans.

sent notices

Issued Stellarlium level 1 training course notices. I'm teaching next week...

reviewed app

Reviewed a recently submitted RASC Messier certificate application.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

more testing

Helped in another test of OBS Ninja. Still not ready for prime-time, unfortunately.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

drew some drawings

Completed architectural drawings for the physical partition design proposals at the CAO. Reviewed, by online meeting, with the maintenance supervisor.

imaged 70 Oph for 2021 (Haliffax)

It's that time of year again. Time to image binary star 70 Ophiuchi.

Queued a job up at the Burke-Gaffney Observatory. Once again aimed at GSC 00434 02340.

binary star 70 Oph in luminance

Special Observation method. North is up, east is left. LUM, 0.5 seconds, 12 exposures stacked. FITS Liberator and GIMP.

This is the sixth year of imaging!

Annual log:

2016 Aug
2017 Jul
2018 May
2019 May
2020 May
2021 May < you are here
2022 Aug
2023 May

Getting a good collection...

Friday, May 21, 2021

checked time and date

The Time and Date web site has good information on the upcoming annular solar eclipse. Good infographics and maps. Countdown timer. 19 days to go...

posted May '21 doubles list

Prepared my double star "bulletin." It is a short list of suggested targets. I shared this on the RASC Toronto Centre forum. I post here for all.


Wow. It was 3 years ago, I think, that I first started bombarding you with double star targets during bright Moon passes. I hope you're OK with all this because I have a couple more I would like to share. :-D

Double stars punch through bright skies so you can observe them any time, anywhere!

Here's a short selection of doubles from my life list, ones I find interesting and impressive. I did not include terribly tight targets. 

staralso known asalternate catalogue(s)
HD 105288 CVnHJ 2596SAO 44039, HIP 59115
HR 4698Σ1633, HD 107398SAO 82254, HIP 60197
ξ (xi) BooΣ1888, 37 BooSAO 101250, HIP 72659
HD 164984Σ2273SAO 17717, HIP 88071
HD 110886 VirΣ1677SAO 138952, HIP 62234

Add doubles to your observing list. They are fun, easy, sometimes challenging, interesting, colourful, and dynamic! I look forward to hearing how you did! Share your log notes.

Blake Nancarrow
astronomy at computer-ease dot com

Notable double star designations:
Σ = F. Struve, STF
OΣ = O. Struve, STT
β = Burnham, BU

forum now unusable

The new RASC forum tool has truly become unusable. It seems all mesages from the old listserv were loaded. Over 14000, I believe. But they are being shown in a single page! It overloads the browser. And it is ascending date order. What a complete load of sea-lice! It is impossible to use. So I wont be tuning in any more. I can't believe it... It is truly a stunning waste.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

tried for fix the Lenovo

Tried to ressurrect the GBO computer. At first I thought it was going to work but there must be something deeply wrong with the SSD drive...

asked to be let back in

Submitted a renewal request of MRO.


The human steward of the Mini-Robotic Observatory renewed me. I can use the little robot again!

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

considered June 10

I'm considering trying to take in the solar eclipse, such that it is, on June 10. Can't travel 'cause of COVID. Can't join a big star party 'cause of COVID. Will need to be careful of others if I'm out somewhere public... 'cause of COVID.

Checked all my astro-apps for sight lines and times.

Set Stellarium to my back yard for the general location but switched to a flat landscape.

Moon and Sun in Stellarium

Looks like the circumstances are:

  • 57½° azimuth
  • 5:43 rise time
  • high percentage of coverage

I copied the Sun data from the application.

  • Sun
  • Type: star
  • Magnitude: -24.98 (extincted to: -21.42)
  • Az./Alt.: +57°30'11.7"/+0°52'52.1" (apparent)
  • Ecliptic obliquity (on date): +23°26'13.9"
  • IAU Constellation: Tau
  • Distance: 1.015AU (151.888 M km)
  • Apparent diameter: +0°31'30.3"
  • Eclipse obscuration: 79.61%
  • Eclipse magnitude: 0.856

From SkyTools 4 Visual Pro.

Moon and Sun in SkyTools

Looks like the circumstances are:

  • 58° azimuth
  • 5:40-ish rise time
  • high percentage of coverage
Ran the Event Finder.

Events for Cupcakes, Ontario

2021 Jun 10, Solar Eclipse:

  • 04:46  First Contact, Sep= +00°30'30", Alt= -7°
  • 05:40  Mid-eclipse, Sep= +00°03'09", Alt= 1°
  • 06:38  Last Contact, Sep= +00°30'34", Alt= 10°

Pretty short event.

This illustrates that at sunrise for me that it is right at the half-way point. Whoa! One degree!

And then it's winding down over the next hour.

Stellarium Mobile Plus now... Using the "automatic" location.

Moon and Sun in Stellarium Mobile

Good correspondence.

SkySafari (basic, free). Auto location again.

Moon and Sun in SkySafari

Same. Same stuff.

Pulled the twilight info from SS.

  • 3:11 AM astronomical twilight begins
  • 4:11 AM nautical twilight begins
  • 4:58 AM civil dawn

If clear, we should get a cool-looking "horned" Sun.

Found a nice web site by espace pour la vie montréal with good infographics.

If you're in Nunavut or north Québec and you are referring to the RASC Observer's Handbook, be sure to download the corrected table for the local circumstances.

Apparently U of T is planning an event but I don't know any details per se. I noted they said that "much of Canada" will see it. I'd argue that...

Of course, the Eclipsophile web site by Jay Anderson and Jennifer West has excellent information, including weather prospects.

Some random thoughts. I won't be able to share the view with other humans. I wonder how the media will blow all this out of proportion. Need to find all my solar gear, the 8-inch filter, the binocular filters, the solar glasses, the welding glass viewer thingee... Should I double-check? I think the sight line from the hill is great. Maybe I'll review my comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) photos from 7 Jul '20.

It's a work-day but I am thinking I'll go to the water tower hill before dawn and watch the Sun-Moon rise!

helped at speaker event

Helped at the Speaker's Night for RASC Toronto Centre. An amazing talk by Dr Claire David on a new neutrino experiment in the US.


Raw video online on our YouTube channel.

never ending

Now, I'm being flooded with RASC forum messages. Twice I have said that I don't want emails. Just now a dozen piled into my inbox, many backdated. Suffering seagulls! When will this utter silliness end?


Proofed my next SkyNews magazine article.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

and another!

We reset. We want to switch to all OBS Ninja but it's not there yet, for us. So we reverted to our hybrid Zoom-Ninja. Good to go.

learned of DDO events for May

Received a note from the DDO chair regarding upcomign events.

  • Up in the Sky: Friday, May 21, 2021, 9-10:30 PM EDT
  • Ask an Astronomer: Sunday, May 30, 2021, 1-2 PM EDT

Visit the Richmond Hill web site for more information and to reserve.

Monday, May 17, 2021

logged in!

Discovered, a bit by accident, that I was able to log into the RASC national web site. That occurred as I looked for Annual General Meeting minutes. The good news is that my editing privileges are back. The bad news is that the 2020 minutes are nowhere to be found.

another rehearsal

Helped with the RASC Toronto Centre Speaker's Night rehearsal. Looks like there are still some glitches with Ninja, unfortunately. Signed up an additional helper to the A/V committee. Caught up with the VP of Programs.

downloaded the June Journal

After receiving the notification email from head office, I downloaded the June 2021 Journal published by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Looks like a good one.

cover for the June 2021 Journal

There is an article on amateurs and the Hubble Space Telescope. Another in the series on the biological effects of light pollution. The Toronto Centre's Katrina Ince-Lum has submitted a piece on astronomer Caroline Herschel. Chris Beckett talks about building your own observing program with emphasis on paper charts. I look forward to John Percy's recollection of 60 years in RASC. Lots of fantastic astroimages of course with Jeff Booth getting the front cover!

Toronto Centre members represent!

My Binary Universe column is entitled “Stellarium in Your Pocket.” I review the latest version of Stellarium Mobile and Stellarium Mobile Plus. It is impressive.


I understand the Journal is now available to the public. Download it now. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 16, 2021

could this be the beginning of the end?

Warning: some cussing is contained in this post. If you're offended by foul talk and potty mouths, you better stop now.

I came across an article at The Verge on the Starlink wireless satellite internet system. It's a very interesting piece, I was captivated, intrigued, perturbed, and angered as I read through it.

The author, Nilay Patel, does not give the system a thumb's up. Now, their assessment of performance is likely limited by location. And, in theory, when more units fill in gaps in the constellation, reliability and speed will improve. Good and a bad thing...

But what was most fascinating to me was the depth of the article. The author touched on many related matters. There are a dozen URL links I need to follow up on. 

Also, they really came out bashing the telcos for dropping the ball. Yes. Yes, indeed. And it is interesting to note that there's as big a problem in the US and A as in rural Canada. The Great Divide. Made more apparent with a global pandemic! It sheds some light on the recent activities of our little ISP on the Blue Mountain.

What dismayed me the most though was the remark said that people are now so desperate for decent internet service and they are so fed up with the telcos that they are saying "fuck telescopes" and they don't care about the impact in terms of light and radio spectrum pollution. It is very "damning."

And that made me very sad. 

If Musk and others say fuck visual and radio astronomy then this hobby might be soon dead.

empty chair

The RASC national Observing Committee chair, Blair Stunder, stepped down. In fact, he's quitting RASC.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

tested with Ninja

Helped in OBS Ninja testing for RASC Toronto Centre. Very different this process. Shows promise. 

testing in the lab

Should be easier for the presenters... 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

almost done

Shooting darks... Playing with the barn door tracker tonight.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

spotted blue

Lots of blue in the Clear Sky Charts. It's been a while...

questions and no answers

When am I going to be able to edit the RASC national site site again? When will the RASC national web site be stable again? When are the major and minor bugs in the forum going to be corrected? When will the sub-forums for the committees going to be reinstated? Still no answer about my dark mode query. Still no answer to my question about digest mode. Still no answer about unsubscribing and subscribing controls. My question list is only growing. Finally saw another person comment on what I had observed a week or so ago. Even after unsubscribing from "all" messages, the system has started sending them again. What a mess.

reviewed another vid

Reviewed another video. Again for the RASC TC YouTube channel.

stopped, again

Issued another stop command for the RASC forum...

Monday, May 10, 2021

got everyone talking

Ran a meeting with some councillors to level-set with the camping organisers.

reviewed a vid

Reviewed a video for the RASC TC YouTube channel.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

inspected and prepared

Did an inspection and maintenance run at the CAO. The big thing was to get the ride-on mowers going.

short session (Blue Mountains)

Saturday 8 May 2021, 9:57 PM. In GBO, the Warm Room, the two heaters were on, it was toasty.

Had a lot of gear for the occultation—that happened on Friday night, above clouds. I was not planning to do any astrophotography tonight. Too tired. Sore back. Sore knee. From all the maintenance stuff and bumpy lawn. Not sleep shifted.

Instruments: GSO 16-inch RC, Tele Vue 101 refractor
Mount: Paramount ME
Method: Go To

Lots of layers on.

As the GBO computer had died, I needed to use my netbook to drive the Paramount. Had not done it for a while. Fished the serial cable through the counter port. Connected my old Prolific USB-serial adapter, IDed the port (COM5), started TheSky6, powered up the mount, opened the roof, configured the COM port in TS6, connected, and homed. Good! 

10:05 PM. Minimised the Bisque app, started SkyTools 3 Pro, red mode, found my prepared list with 33 targets, switched to visual mode from photographic, changed location, set date/time, chose the 16-inch RC, reset the filters.

Venus was gone. Mercury would set at 10:30 PM. gamma Sex was setting. Switched to Real Time mode. Location wrong, instrument wrong. Ugh. Reset everything. HD 79552 or STF 1327. Yep. A "view again" object. Opened the Interactive Atlas. Moved it to the external monitor. Opened the eyepiece simulator and put it on monitor 2. Turned on the constellations. Activated the ASCOM control, TheSky controlled option... Connected. Good!

The list jostled. Where did the HD star go? No matter. Chose γ Sex and slewed. Aubrey said "Slew aborted." Huh? Why? Tried a slew in TheSky. It seemed to be working fine. I noticed the blinking X was not showing in SkyTools. Did I not ordinarily see it? Right-clicked near M44, the Beehive. Tried a slew command again from ST3P and it seemed to work. Grabbed the 55mm Plössl and headed to the 'scope. Caps off. Was working OK. Took the 10mm Tele Vue to the refractor. 

Focused on both instruments but nothing showed. Checked TS6. It was way off. Weird. Checked date, time, location, etc. All appeared fine. Slewed to M44 from the official app. It moved to the target. That was good. Bad seeing.

Tried Algieba, gamma Leonis, in SkyTools. It worked. Looked fine in refractor, peanut-shaped. Split in big gun. Separation: 4.5 arc-seconds. Golden stars. Off a bit but visible in the refractor and I was able to easily centre with the joystick.

Rhonda came into the Warm Room, startling me. Crikey. She had a look then went for a walk.

Tony texted me and I viewed my phone under the red film of the faulty computer. We talked about me taking it home to my workshop. There's a light burnt out on one side...

Checked the sep. and position of gamma Sex. Yowzers. No way. Too low.

Next. Σ1327. From the RASC Observer's Handbook, the Coloured Doubles list. Slewed. Looked OK. Everything seemed to be working fine now. Ah... couldn't figure out the field. I knew north was up (more or less). Pointing as off. Software issues pissing me off.

SkyTools updated the real-time list and what I was lookin' at disappeared. Grrr.

Turned down the heater.

Hunted. An arc of three stars. Couldn't figure out the field... Had another look. Manually solved it. Determine I needed to move the mount left.

10:42. Got it! Finally landed on target. Yellow, orange, and orange? Or was C blue? Faint star to the north. NE according to ST3P. Three or four, five, times the distance, in line, another star. Orange colour. Hard time getting the colour. Bluish or greenish? Coming and going. Neat field stars. Roughly a circular shape to the SE. A few field stars. Looked for notes in the observing list. Nope. Loaded Lumpy and looked up my Cancer star. The logged colours matched my current impressions.

Rhonda gave a distant early warning before returning to the Warm Room, thank the Universe.

C and D are 2.2". I really wanted to get them... But would the poor seeing allow it?

Told rho about η (eta) Aquarid meteor shower.

We went to the observatory floor. We talked about star colours. Additive colour models. Proximity of different colour points. The psychology. Perception. Rhonda headed to the house.

Once again, inconclusive. I could not split C and D. I wondered if they were oriented at a 45 degree angle to A-B-C. A and B were at roughly at an 11 o'clock alignment. So that meant that north was down and left. I thought C and D were north-south. SkyTools showed different. D mag 11, C 10.2. I needed perfect seeing at the current power. I went to higher power but it made the view too soft. Too much. Had the 10mm in the RC16. Pretty high magnification. No joy.

Slewed to Bode's, for Rhonda. Two-In-The-View in the refractor. When my phone finally woke up, I pinged rho. I spoke, "I have two lovely faint fuzzies for you." Google thought I said "I have two lovely pink fuzzies for you." Sheesh. Rhonda replied, "omw."

I shared that the Big Dipper, the host asterism, was straight up. "This is the best view you're gonna get. Like it or lump it." We took in the refractor view. Luke warm.

Oh my. Rhonda spotted a train of satellites. We went to the Observing Pad for a Good sight line. We saw about 20 to 30 satellites moving from the north-north-west through north to fade out in Cassiopeia. I thought of the caller from late Friday night.

We saw a good meteor. It came from behind us. Must have been an Aquarid. That was serendipitous.

11:14. We returned to the GSO Ritchey-Chrétien telescope. Then I centred on the edge-on The Cigar Galaxy and we examined it in the large OTA. Averted vision showed the middle of M82 was traversed with dark bands. I thought it quite good. We switched to M81. I'm never really been bowled over with canted Messier 81. Soft, diffuse. Visually. Good photographers can pull out structure.

[ed: I should have interesting factoids handy.]

Rhonda was cold. I pulled up the weather page. No wind. No direction. Wait a minute. Everything reported by the Davis weather station was blank. Oh... The battery in the roof-top ISS was dead; only when the Sun was out hitting the solar panel did we receive exterior data.

I enjoyed a cherry Nibs string. 

Slewed to the Owl (Messier 97, M97). Big. But no detail. No obvious eyes. Not satisfying. What?! It was right overhead. I was expecting a much better view! We talked about morphology, respectful names for planetaries, etc. Asked for any requests. How about a neat double. I showed Cor Caroli. She liked it.

Rhonda called it quits. I suggested a quick check for aurora. Nope.

I thought about my winter coat... But I was feeling so sore and tired, I didn't think it worth it...

11:41. Next? Canes Venatici? Decided to skip tight doubles. Or peculiar DSOs. I felt cold. Turned the ceramic heater up a bit. 17 Com? No. Too tight. 

What about Alula Borealis aka nu? From the View Again list. Going down... With a backwards L in the field. That was neat! 18mm was in the big 'scope. West was down and left for me. Fire trucking wild. B. Yep. I saw a faint star inline. Oh. Only a double. Remarkably different. Over six magnitudes different. Primary was yellow. Secondary was a dull yellow. Very distant field star that was blue. Fantastic double! Pulled the telescope report from ST3P: I was at 181 power. Huh. Struve 1524. Seven arc-seconds. Field star was at 8 o'clock; B was at 4. Wide, easily split. But so faint compared to the A star. A little bit of goodness.

Tried for target in Corvus. Lots of hits at Cupcakes; maybe I was using a small instrument?

Knee was sore.

Oops. Went to wrong star.

Sunday 9 May 2021, 0:00 PM. Another View Again target. Did not see anything in the 101mm Tele Vue. 81 Leo. Yellow and blue stars in the RC16. Very different in magnitude. Very wide at 181x. Noticed star GSC 1437-727 to the NW, then further out 1737-1401, almost in a straight line. No problem with A and B. B was at 11 or 10 o'clock. Easy. Saw the faint one... Formed an L. NE. Flick off! SkyTools said it was magnitude 15.4! Wow. Was the transparency really good. Left the deck to dig out the B star in the small OTA...

Heard helicopters in Clarksburg. Bright lights. Felt new... Lake of foliage?

I did see it in the refractor. But it was one of those peculiar situations where it disappeared in the blind spot of the left eye. I had to force myself to look right of the primary to make the secondary of 81 Leonis appear.

Above, to the north. I also noted the faint GSC stars.

Really tired. Not in the mood for more. That's it, I decided. Performed a graceful shutdown... Went to the floor to quickly close out things. 

12:14 AM. Rapidly closed out the Warm Room.

Looked down to Thornbury and Clarksburg from the deck. Helicopter still going. Weird.

Creaked and moaned into bed.

Short session but I was happy to get some View Again doubles split. Good to see a meteor. Good to briefly enjoy dark skies.

Friday, May 07, 2021

noted the link on CN

MawkHawk (aka Mark) started a thread and shared a link to my double stars talk for Seven Ponds on Cloudy Nights. That's kinda a freaky.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

stopped the forum deluge

I had to shut off the messages from the new RASC forum! There's no apparent daily digest mode. It sends attachments out with the emails. That's really bad. They are poorly formed with "cruft" as another member put it and lack sender identification. Even the rusty ole MailMan listserv was better than this... 


It's kind of shocking. I hope for their sake this doesn't backfire. The plan was to improve communications but this is going in the wrong direction.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

tried to help Chris

I was tired so I crawled into bed. Oddly early for me. And I really wanted to sleep shift... But then again I had pushed my training course 3 hours earlier so I wouldn't be able to sleep in. I was about to return to Babel-17 by Mr Delany when I noticed a pending text message.

Chris V had pinged me in the afternoon.

He asked, "Do you have notes on HD 198626, the foreground double star in the middle of the Cygnus Loop?" Was he observing now? Was Cygnus up?!

With my phone, I checked my double star life list. No hits. I looked up the DS in Stelle Doppie. Burnham (BU) 67. Looked to me like a tight double of unequal stars. Simple double. No other stars. I pinged back, a little late.

Chris agreed. But he encouraged me to centre on it in Stellarium. "You'd be left with the impression that there's a great DS there." Now I was intrigued. I hopped out from my toasty covers and grabbed John Gomez. 

Searched by the Henry Draper number. Landed in the middle of the Veil supernova remnant. Chris had said the star was labelled B67 but I noted β 67. Beta, followed by a number, so BU or Burnham.

I zoomed to half a degree and saw a pleasing double. Yellow and blue stars. But I had a feeling that was not what Chris was after. Zoom in more and the HD star split. Ah ha. There was the true double. The Stellarium application showed a position angle of 311° and a separation of 1.48". This closely matched the data in SD. The B star was to the north-west.

A very tight double. Three magnitudes different in brightness.

Chris said, "I was going to highlight it. Not now."

Oh. It sounded like he was writing an article and looking for a fun double.

He went on to say that "SkySafari looked correct." I knew he had the Pro but I still fired up the free basic SS on the motorola. And zoomed in tight. I was not surprised that it didn't show all the stars. But the data for the double was in the Object Info panel and, again, aligned.

Chris shared, "I checked WDS and your life list this afternoon, after sending you that message." 

It dawned on me after a moment. Holy moley. Somebody actually used my double star life list table. Wow!

I relayed my findings in Stellarium. "Zooming on Burnham 67, I see the tight double at 1.5 arc seconds. I also see at about a 90° angle another star but it's 26 arc seconds away."

He said, "In Stellarium it's labelled with a Greek Beta. Not at the computer right now, but Stellarium seemed to have a nicely resolved close pair, uneven mags, oriented 11-5." 

Sounded like the β was throwing Chris. And the 11-5 reference was without context. Was this equatorial or real-time?

In equatorial orientation, HD 198626 A and B were to the north while the distant star, unlabelled in Stellarium, was to the south. Almost 12 and 6. Maybe 11:30 and 5:30.

He added, "SkySafari doesn't show them as that pair." I think he meant the distant star at 26 arc-seconds. 

Then, "It's moot, I think. I decided to delete the reference to it in my Veil piece. I was curious if you had seen it."

For some possibly easier targets, easier than BU 67, I suggested 52 Cygni. Or HD 198627.


Today I followed up. 

Confirmed my suspicion this was for a magazine article.

Ensured Chris was clear about the use of beta. Shared other odd designations with symbols. Sent wide field snap shots from SkyTools. No bright easy doubles in the Loop. Echoed my experience 10 years prior with Stellarium...

And finally did a deep dive with SkyTools 4 Visual Pro. There was no star shown 26" away and south of HD 198626. So doubly bad (no pun intended) for Stellarium.

I checked Aladin too. No mag 9 star south of the HD pair...

watched SN15 land

Starship SN15 successfully landed. I watched a brief video. Impressive. 

Starship 15 on the landing pad

Another historical moment for SpaceX.

monitored the Tube

Helped a little at RASC RAN meeting. Arrived late, after work. Monitored the YouTube chat.

tried a redo on NGC 6503

Saw the queue was empty so I fired in a job. A redo of Finest NGC 6503. A horrible result for the galaxy...

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

received STF 1686 good data (Halifax)

One more time. Sent the BGO robot back to STF 1686. A better result... Better than Sunday.

double star Struve 1686 in luminance

Luminance only, 1 second subexposures, 12 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

Two kissing stars.

accessed centre site

Successfully accessed the RASC Toronto Centre web site after the national database switchover. Well, after resetting my password a second time.

proofed Binary Universe piece

Proofed, with James, my article for the next RASC Journal. With a nice little nugget from Ian B...

Monday, May 03, 2021

learned of sync issue

The BGO Robotic Telescope sent an error message. Sync problem. The weather conditions must be volatile. I'll have to wait for the next attempt of HIP62852.

taught level 2 again

Taught the Stellarium level 2 course again for RASC members across Canada. Good group. Good questions. We started a bit late. I ran long again! Sheesh.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

tried to image STF 1686 (Halifax)

On the evening of 21 May '20, with the little ETX-90, I tried to split HD 111959 but gave up.

The double star also known as STF 1686 or HIP 62852 is in Com and has a quoted separation of 5.7 seconds of arc. I had found this suggestion in Haas's book and was curious about the colours...

I sent the Burke-Gaffney Observatory (with SBIG camera) on a mission...

double STF 1686 in luminance

Luminance only, 1 second subexposures, 12 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

The seeing was poor and that has made the stars look more like bubbles. But there's clearly a vertically aligned rod shape here.

I'll have to try imaging again to see if I can get a clean split...


Imaged two nights later with a better result.

helped at rehearsal

Helped at RASC RAN rehearsal meeting. Wow. We got everyone sorted.

answered an SMP question

Answered a question on FoFoAstro's channel on Stellarium Mobile Plus. Someone wanted to know how to set the camera width and height. I explained: Access the menu, tap Instruments, tap Oculars, enable the feature, go to the Shape menu and choose Camera, get set the width and height and rotation with the sliders. I'm assuming your know your camera frame size in angular measure for your optical train.

crafted the 6th article

Drafted weather article 6 of 6. One more read then off to my editor...