Tuesday, August 31, 2021

tested spiral search

After writing some pseudocode, I deployed the spiral search function.

This is the latest version of my virtual hand controller for the IDEA GoToStar motor drive system.

VHC with spiral search button

Holy Universe, it works!

I thank Software Bisque for introducing me to the idea...

Monday, August 30, 2021

chatted about cool Vul double

Interesting discussion on Cloudy Nights, in the Double Stars forum. Someone asked about observing STF 2523 and KRU 8 and HLM 23. I shared my observation from one year ago, and the images. We all agreed it is a great grouping!

to join CAO maint. team

I was asked to help on the maintenance team for the Carr Astronomical Observatory. I agreed to lend a hand, now that some others have stepped away. The fall "mini" work party will have to be organised...

provided MC notes

Shared with Chris V all my MallinCam notes. Cautioned about unusual setup and the requirement to use the old Dell laptop with video acquisition card...

times two

Getting bogged down. A second request came in from the A/V team. I've two videos to review... Trevor Jones and Ron Macnaughton.

caught up

Caught up with one of the audio-visual team members on re-opening plans, vaccinations, 3D printing, and wind socks.

learned of a driver

The ASCOM Talk Forum digest message via groups.io rolled in. And caught my eye.

Arie B shared that he wrote an ObservingConditions driver to support various weather stations from Davis Instruments Inc.


I just might have to try that...

Sunday, August 29, 2021

WDS updated STF 2146 data

A conversation started up on Cloudy Nights. VanJan asked what was up with STF 2146. aka HD 156162 or SAO 30299. A few people chimed in. And it now looks like the Washington Double Star database was updated.


AB = 6.92, 8.80   2.8"   225°   (2018)   A9III     
AC = 6.95, 8.87   89.3"   235°   (2016)

Now (via Stella Doppie):

AC = 6.95, 8.87, 89.3,    235 (2016) CD = 8.87, 10.50, 2.8 ,    225 (2018) 

It seems the B is no more... Spurious or bad data early on and now deleted.

And it seems there's a companion at the C star, close in, 2.8" away. Ah.

That may explain why all my attempts did not reveal a B star close to A.


Did a big clean-up of the life list page. I found 2 copies, 3 entries total, for each of the pairs of Σ2146. Also, finally, put up the image from Sep 2018...


See images from:

Friday, August 27, 2021

exciting JWST update

James Webb on the move!

Read the NASA article on the completed testing for the James Webb Space Telescope.


Thursday, August 26, 2021

measured the drawtube

Disassembled the focuser on my Celestron FirstScope. Removed the drawtube. Cleaned it of the tacky thick old grease goo. Measured it.

Used my callipers and thread pitch tools.

drawtube dimensions

The rack pitch is weird. Is 17 TPI a thing?


Spent a long time on the rack thread pitch. In the end, I just manually mimicked it.

thread pitch match for the focuser rack

So that's 33 triangle trips across the 49 mm span of the rack. Or tip-to-tip over 49mm, there are 33 peaks. To get the correct pitch I used the solid pattern repeating feature in 123D with the properties of 49mm length with 33 elements within.

Then I had to remove one of the end triangles, reducing to 32 peaks, for the cutter! 

And finally I had to offset a half-tooth.

It worked! I was able to exactly recreate the weird thread pitch for the focuser rack.

That was brain-bending.

a couple more images

Submitted more photos for my next SkyNews article, due for the November release.

Sent the article in last week.

Sent a bunch of photos yesterday.

Made a diagram in Visio too. A bit meta.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

learned cross-hair method

Back on 25 July, I attempted to use the method described by John McCue, with only a cross-hair eyepiece, to measure the separation and position angle of a double star.

At the time I could not get it to work. It seemed to me that something was missing. It was a nagging feeling as I left the web page.

Early today, I had a go using Beish's method, where he demonstrated using a custom bi-filar eyepiece with a micrometer. It got me thinking...

I returned to the British Astronomical Association web page with McCue's notes and diagrams. Built a spreadsheet (again, must have discarded the other) and hammered out the numbers.

Some light bulbs lit this time. I grokked the triangle formed by the initial cross-hair alignment and the second alignment. Trig at work. I started to get some good numbers.

I carefully read every-single-word. Spotted the remark about converting the seconds of time into seconds of angle by multiplying by 15. I did not recall seeing that before.

And then I tried working his sample values. Worked his numbers backwards. Things did not seem to align. And again, hit a roadblock. Again, it felt like something was missing. Or is McCue operating at a different level? Does "sin θ" mean something that I don't know, never learned, never understood?

I did some algebra and ended up with an equation which would solve the separation. And there it was! It worked! I had a value that matched his. Bit more brain-bending formulae and I got the separation! Holy Universe. It actually worked.

Tested it with three random doubles and was impressed. Pretty close on Albireo and HD 206224. A fair result with 94 Aquarii.

So let me try to explain the process and the maths is an obvious and easy way. McCue explanations, I feel, leave a lot to be desired.

  1. align cross-hair to EW or parallel to RA and drift a star across the field
  2. roughly estimate the position angle considering N and W in the field
  3. get time (t1) between primary and secondary stars drifting across the NS line, e.g. 1.93 seconds
  4. put the primary star at the centre
  5. align cross-hair through both stars
  6. get time (t2) of the secondary star drifting across the NS and EW lines, e.g. 3.04 seconds
  7. get the apparent/current declination (d) of the star, e.g. +28.0
  8. calculate the separation
  9. calculate the position angle

The formulae:

formulae for calculating sep and PA

Hopefully I'm using the correct nomenclature here. To be clear, the sin-1 indicates the use of arcsine.

You should get a separation of 32.1" and a position angle of 53°.

Now, McCue explains that the initial PA can impact the final PA calculation. Again, I suggest you roughly estimate it at step 4 above. If the PA is between the degrees:

  • 0 and 90, the primary will lead, and you do not need to modify the calculated value
  • 90 and 180, the primary will lead, but use a final formula: 180 - your calculated PA
  • 180 and 270, the secondary will lead, but use a final formula: 180 + your calculated PA
  • 270 and 360, the secondary will lead, but use a final formula 360 - your calculated PA

McCue also cautions that if the PA is near zero or 180, timing is very difficult.


  • you need an equatorial mount where you can toggle sidereal tracking on and off, if that's not abundantly clear
  • you'll want to work at a long focal length for greater resolution
  • a stopwatch (app) with a lap timer will be very handy
  • the alignment drifting and the timing runs should be done a few times, perhaps a dozen, to yield an average
  • if you use an electronic spreadsheet such as Excel or Google Sheets, don't forget to convert to and from radians, as required

So, there you have it.

I really wanted to work through this, understand it. It is a proof of concept. It shows that if an observer really desires to measure doubles visually and has a cross-hair eyepiece, they are good to go. 

With the dearth of astrometric eyepieces now, there are few options for the visual observer trying to save a few bucks...


If you don't want to reinvent the wheel, ask me for my Excel workbook.


Edited on 25 Aug to move "rough estimate" of PA earlier in the sequence. It's much more obvious after step 1.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

bugs and stars

I enjoyed the photograph of the day at the Earth Science web site, EPOD.

Fireflies and star trails from Italy. Lovely shot by Elena Paschetto. She shares her photos on her instagram account.

Wish I could get that many fire bugs in my shots...

the spiral math

While listening to Hélène Vogelsinger's spiralling, looping, atmospheric, haunting songs, I figured out the math of the spiral search.

It became very clear after I made a drawing. I'll deploy the "inner ring" method first. Might be all that I need...

spirals of field of view circles

A lot fewer calculations than I first expected. 

What a neat pattern...

Monday, August 23, 2021

taught level 2 again

Taught level 2 intermediate Stellarium tonight. Good group. No issues. I successfully connected to and drive my mount. Yeh!

debugged the VHC

Decided to have a go at the Virtual Hand Controller for the IDEA GoToStar motor system.

It had crashed on the evening of 4 August. Crashed isn't the right word. When I finally got Visual Studio up and running on the laggy laptop in the backyard and then tried to launch the custom Visual Basic application, it threw a weird error.

A good portion of my time this evening was getting organised or reoriented to what I had done. The blog entry from 16 April was throwing me off because the different form layout. I had deployed the code to deactivate and activate the buttons given the port status. That was after the blog update. And I slowly remembered the decision to make it narrow vs wide. It was not that I had lost a version, thank the Universe.

Then the matter at hand, the "form1 not found" error. At last, I located the bad code in the application.designer.vb file. Updated to the renamed form object name. The app started working again, yes!

Applied a few random edits. Tried to figure out how to read the tracking status—not possible. Then searched the web for making a stand-alone program. And learned it was far simpler than I anticipated! 

For a test, I dropped the EXE to the desktop. Things were a little wonky so I closed down VS. And then it seemed to all function correctly! Wow.

virtual hand controller beside Stellarium

Look at that!

The apps running side-by-side. Er, at least easily accessible. I still have not fully thought out how to allow the apps to run simultaneously. I have pondered a virtual port possibly. In the meantime, I'll manually disconnect or close the port in one, then connect with the other. 

It works!

This'll be fun. At least, I should now be able to slew in one app and if the pointing is off, nudge and slew about in the VHC, until I get on track. And sync. Without touching the real hand controller!

Sunday, August 22, 2021

received a thank-you

Heard from Paul.

He thanked me for the mention in SkyNews! He was referring to the Sep-Oct 2021 issue.

Thank you for the plug for AstroBuySell in your SkyNews article!  Elsie says thanks too!  I enjoyed reading the article and found it to be a great ideas for folks who want to get started in imaging but need some direction.

That was nice.

photographed my focuser

Photographed my Celestron FirstScope and shared a photo with Alister. I don't see the silvery tube bit in his telescope... 

focuser on my 76 mm Newt

But I think I understand the complete ask now. The draw tube with integrated gear rack is damaged...

Saturday, August 21, 2021

most views in MI

Heard from Mark Sortzi in Michigan. He said, "I wanted to tell you that your [double stars] presentation has had 95 views on our YouTube channel, our most viewed video. Thank you again for doing that for us." Wow!

Friday, August 20, 2021

posted Aug '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.


The Moon is bright again. Jupiter and Saturn are not to be missed and easily bunch through light pollution. So do double stars. Assuming you are able to locate sparklers to star hop from or align on, you can have a ton of fun.

Here’s a short selection of doubles from my life list, ones I find interesting and impressive.

staralso known asalternate catalogue(s)
HD 174897 HerΣ2411SAO 104203, HIP 92620
HD 200465 CygH IV 113SAO 70818, HIP 103822
HR 7099 AqlΣ2404SAO 104170, HIP 92475
HD 174005 SctΣ2391SAO 142640, HIP 92296
η LyrAladfar, Σ2487SAO 68010, HIP 94481

Have fun!

Blake Nancarrow 
astronomy at computer-ease dot com

Notable double star designations:

Σ = F. Struve, STF
OΣ = O. Struve, STT
β = Burnham

got a hit!

Received a nice note from Dave R.

Evening Blake, I've just gotten around to reading June's RASC Journal and I really enjoyed your article on Stellarium Mobile Plus.  It sounded really interesting.

He was interested in the full version and was prepared to buy it but asked if I had any complimentary upgrade codes left. 

I did!

One left for iOS.


Scratch all that. The reader already has the Plus edition. Didn't need the code.

So I do still have one code for iOS.

(And three for Android.)

RASC members only.

noted smoke

I looked outside. Everything was orange. Everything cast in orange light from an orange Sun. Very orange. Like on Mars. Must have been really smokey.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

enjoyed the new SkyNews

It's amazing!

The cover of the September-October 2021 SkyNews magazine is amazing. Told the editor Allendria.

cover of SkyNews Sep-Oct '21 (with bleed)

This astro-target is huge and simply wants to grow and draw us in and envelope us. With the bleed, I feel like I'm hovering in space, a couple of light-years away, soaking it all in. 

The address label is unfortunately distracting.

Image of Rho Ophiuchi  by Stephan Hamel.

cover with white border and masthead

I bought a copy at the store and the cover was slightly different with a white border and white masthead.

The theme of this issue is imaging the night sky. So, let's of great articles on imaging. I'm published in this edition with my article "astrophotography on a budget."

snapshot of web site snippets

See the online snippets at the SkyNews web site for more info.


Took me a while to understand this.

The cover with the white border is a demand of the marketing people. They want bright colours and eye-catching text so to pull in the person scanning the magazine rack. Buy now. Buy more.

The cover without the white border, well, they don't need to do The Pitch. This version goes to the subscribers. They are already drinkin' the Kool-Aid. So we get the bigger pix and smaller text. Sadly, they need to print the mailing address, hence the garish white rectangle.

a moon and a planet (Bradford)

Walking home from the bus stop, I noted a big gibbous Moon climbing into the south-eastern sky. Low clouds smudged the silvery disc.

And then a bright point ahead of me, west, not moving, not an airplane. Too much luggage to check the phone. But I assumed it was Venus.

provided gennie info

Helped Tony with generator matters while he was at the CAO. Did as much as I could. Limited emails. Stuff sprinkled through Evernote. And I proved two days prior the camera was working. It is not helping matters that there's not effective central storage that seems to be working. That's a mess. I had built a spectacular system and now... shambles. We really need to get this properly sorted.

detector went off

Received a strange "urgent" email. At first I thought it real but the further along the dialogue went, the louder my BS indicator rang. When I was asked to buy 5 online gift cards for $100 each and send over the information, I knew I was on the verge of being had. But how did they spoof the president of RASC? How did they get my personal email address? How did they make that association? How did they know about the organisation's structure. Made me wonder if his address book or inbox had been hacked. I reported it to the executive director. They both replied later. They sloughed it off as a simple spoof attempt. I hope other members did not succumb.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

learned of reticule EOI

While scanning the double stars forum on Cloudy Nights, I spotted a new note on my thread on the badder planetarium Micro Guide.

Apparently, baader was asking people if they would purchase a reticule eyepiece. They had an "important" note on their web site and they are asking people to indicate their expression of interest.

... [with] the development of astro-electronics, the demand for this eyepiece has decreased over the decades to very small numbers.  Only very few observers nowadays still measure with the eye or show their students how to measure at the eyepiece and even fewer perform manual guiding with such a high quality eyepiece.  Therefore, production can only be resumed if there is a significant demand.  If you are seriously interested in this eyepiece... sign up at our Micro Guide notification list...

See the product page for the note and how to follow up with the company.

I told Melody.

I will put a note on the RASC forums.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

second in the same week

Ian B taught a Stellarium level 1 session. This is the one I goofed up on, using the wrong date. But he stepped up.

asked about telescope part

Alister L reached out. His little Celestron 76mm Newtonian FirstScope is damaged. The rack was stripped. He wondered if a replacement part could be produced with a 3D printer.

Alister's 76mm Newt with damaged focuser

Told him I'd look into it, once I was able to compare mine to his photos.

two thumbs up

Accolades for two publications.

I quite enjoy reading your binary universe pieces for the Journal (please keep those comin') and more recently in Skynews your hacking including 3-D printing of parts.

Thanks, Alister!

Then he asked for my help...

picked up hold

Yes! Picked up The Arctic Sky—Inuit Astronomy, Star Lore, and Legend from the library. Big! 290 pages. This is gonna be good!

Monday, August 16, 2021

another Stellarium session

Kersti taught Stellarium level 1. The accolades started coming in after the session. We have an awesome set of instructors.

Friday, August 13, 2021

astro gifts

Mom 2, Grace, gave me a couple of little gifts, astronomy-themed, sorta. 😀

She's so sweet.

A lunch bag set from full circle, resealable sandwich and snack bags, with rocket ships.

lunch kit for kids

And a Guinness tee. OK, beer theme as well. But emblazoned with "Hello, Darkness, my old friend..."

Thursday, August 12, 2021

saw a couple of Perseids (Bradford)

We saw three to four meteors, a few Perseids, in the backyard. That was a nice little treat.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

taught 100 people

Al taught Stellarium, for people on the west coast. All went well. We hit a cool milestone. 100 people trained.

Monday, August 09, 2021

team meet

Had a meet-up with the Stellarium instructors. Great team.

Sunday, August 08, 2021

did some chores

Maintenance weekend at the Carr observatory, primarily. But I had a bunch of other little things to do. Wanted to help Don S with his orientation so he can go up on his own. The grass needed to be cut - it's growing fast. I had the repaired (under warranty) computer for the Geoff Brown Observatory, the mount control machine. I had done a bunch of the prep but it still needed to be physically installed with a few final in-situ configuration items. Brought up the red film to cut a piece sized for the spare wide screen monitor in the Warm Room. Helped other members with their orientation. Located a security system sensor for Tony and copied the instructions for his pre-reading. Made signage for the GBO windows. Made a sign for the water utilities closet to clarify operations for members. Reconfigured some of the house lights. Corrected the drainage problem with the GBO dehumidifier. Scanned the WLAN and monitor internet performance. Overall, a fair weekend. Tiring.

startup problems

Noted another Cloudy Nights thread on SkySafari. Someone reported that the upgrade to fix "startup crashes" actually started causing startup crashes for the user. What a mess.

Fortunately, my SS6+ seems to be working OK. For now...

clear skies at last (Blue Mountains)

12:07 AM (801). I could see a few stars. Clouds. And the Milky Way.

Thank the Universe. I would have been bummed out if no observing chances emerged over the weekend... For me. And for Don.

Viewed Jupiter and Saturn.

Bad seeing. Too bad. Earlier in the week it was great. Now in darker skies it would have been nice to have...

The GBO desktop computer, recently repaired, was installed and working. Driving the Paramount ME. Pointing was off. Sadly. And I could not find the new TPoint file. I don't know where I backed it up. Not on the Linux computer; not on the server. Could see the target in the refractor with the 10mm so 54x, right? Simply had to alignment on each.

Red film on everything.

SkyTools going on my netbook. Connected to the wide screen monitor but not the mount. My observing plan from before. Let the charts show on the big monitor while the list was on the internal. Changed the location, date, and 'scope. 

I had forgotten why the GSC star in Sgr, marked high priority, was in the list. Nothing in the SkyTools notes. Nothing in Evernote. [ed: That was the occultation star from a week ago.]

Moving on. Chose a different target. A tight double...

Searched for τ (tau) Cygni on the other computer. Sheesh. TheSkyX couldn't find it. What the hell is wrong with its catalogues. Why does it not recognise Bayer names. Dumb. This is supposed to be the Ferrari of robotic mounts. Used an alternate designation. Centred and slewed.

Had to do field identification. Adjusted the charts for the correct 'scope and ocular. Looked like it was the brightest star in the field...

Saw the star in the small 'scope. Centred. Put it in the centre of the GSO 16 field of view. Seeing was bad. And then the star faded out. Clouds! Gah. OK. Needed to kill some time.

Checked the counter area in the warm room. I wanted to know the powers or magnifications. Ah ha. I had made an information sheet/table with all the eyepiece configurations. The 10mm would give ~300x; the 5mm would yield 650! I elected to use the 13mm Tele Vue ocular to give 250 power.

12:22. (802). Checked the audio recorder. Battery level half-way. I had fresh batteries nearby.

It was starting to clear. Or, more of the sky was clearing.

Rhonda came out. We talked about the Milky Way structure and our position in it, seasons, or our positional changes due to our orbit of the Sun. I tried to use a vehicle analogue. I needed a whiteboard...

I wanted to show her Saturn but low clouds occulted the ringed planet. Jupiter was bright. I didn't see the Great Red Spot. Checked ST3P. Nope. No shadow transits unfortunately. Bad seeing, again. My views from the backyard in the C8 outperformed this... Went to Saturn. Centred.

Went to a double star. Told rho about the trick of defocusing to boost the star colours. 

Saw a meteor. West to east, nearly overhead. Woo hoo, a Perseid! Fast one!

Slewed to Messier 13 and Messier 92, the two excellent globular clusters in Hercules (M13 and M92). Shared that many liked 92 better. Rhonda preferred 13.

Considered HD 174897. I had set low priority. Finally found the note that said that it caused a slewing error with my GoToStar. Searched for it by SAO 104203. Got HIP 92620 showing at a curious location, didn't look like it was in Hercules. In Aquila?

Looked in my "showpieces" list for Rhonda. Applied strict filters. Asked if it was clear by Cassiopeia.

Slewed to a Double Cluster near Cas and Per. We viewed in the lower power view offered by the refractor. NGCs 869 and 884. 

Another meteor.

We were getting kinks in our necks trying to spot meteors. The anti-gravity chairs would have been better.

Tried to spot The Coathanger. And guide Rhonda to it. She was lost with all the visible stars. Cr 399.

Grabbed the green laser pointer... to help.

Slewed to a new object. A neat double star system. Suggested viewing in both telescopes. 

Viewed the Andromeda Galaxy in the big Oberwerk binoculars. At low power. Guided her by eye as well.

Rhonda packed it in. Pretty late for her. I wanted to keep going.

I tried to find the "stay centred" setting in TheSkyX. Couldn't find it.

1:46. (803). Almost 2. Not a lot of time left. Went back to my observing plan (under urban).

Skipped the Microscopium targets. Didn't feel like dropping the walls.

Awfully late but I slewed to θ (theta) CrB so to look with a big gun. No joy. Tried the 10mm. Back at the 27mm. Nope. Still not split.

Considered the mystery double. HD 174897. SAO 104203. PPM numbers matched. RA and Dec numbers matched. Officially within Hercules but it looked like it was in Aquila. Slewed the big mount.

Viewed in small and big 'scope. Yellow and orange. Neat. An open L shape. Other stars. Compelling. There were some nearby stars that looked like they'd be part of the system. A quad? aka STF 2411. Neat grouping, a little gaggle of stars to the south. I wondered why my Vixen mount freaked out. Off in the corner in Hercules. A Coldfield 200 object. [ed: Stelle Doppie says it is a 4-star system! Cool, I saw all official elements.]

Noted in the software a double in Vulpecula, another Coldfield target. HD 178277 or SAO 86828. Not far away. PPM 108419 aka STF 2457. Saw two doubles! Eerily similar, same magnitudes, same colours.

Was going for STF 2457. Yellow and orange. Noted a bright star above. Orange one to the south. Oriented nearly north-south. North was up for me. ST3P said the sep was 9.8".

But the bad pointing initially put me on or near HD 178211 or STF 2455. Yellow and orange. Bright one below, this time! Angle slightly different but similar separation. SW to NE. ST3P said the sep was 8.8". Tagged the C star to the NE. Previously viewed, back in 2019.

A little triangle thingee to the left or north. Confirmed. Saw the big T-shape. Bright star between: HD 343739.

A neat surprise two-in-the-view.

Turned on the dehumidifier on the observatory floor.

One more: SAO 87342, HD 184360, Σ2540. Still in Vul. White and orange. Tight. Half the separation of the previous pairs. Part of a big equilateral triangle. Spotted the third companion to the SSW. White. Dim. No further than the bright triangle star... Weird. Odd.

2:11. Parked the 'scope and closed the roof. Turned off red mode in SkyTools and slept the ASUS. 

2:17. (804). Snipped the recording. Verified the recording work. Yeh.

Trundled to the house.

Oh. White light from the THO. Don was busy. [ed: Learned he carried on to 4 or 5 AM. Good stuff.]


to do:

find the control in TheSkyX to stop following the cursor

Saturday, August 07, 2021

checked the charts


Cloudy. So I dove into the Uranometria books to track dowm some of the tracks from the Deep Sky Gems list.

the sky around Castor

I found the little cluster of galaxies near Castor.

busted email

Spotted a new thread on Cloudy Nights. Emailing from SkySafari not working. Indeed. Hopefully this will get some attention...

toured the CAO

Gave a tour/orientation of the Carr Astronomical Observatory. For a new member, passing through the region and my magazine editor who doesn't live far away. Don jumped in for another round.

Friday, August 06, 2021

couldn't use app

Got settled finally at the observatory.

Had a look at the phone. Sheesh. SkySafari still appeared to be downloading the "additional file." Nearly 48 hours stuck on this message...

Wanted to check for some astronomical event.

I opened the SkySafari app. I forget exactly what it said but it was along the lines, file transfer in progress or please complete the download. Should have taken another screen snap. Regardless, I could not clear the message or pause or cancel the download.

Oh. So now the software was unusable while this condition existed.

That was really bad. 

Now I could not use the app for astronomy.

The programmers are NOT thinking! Such poor programming practices.

Out of frustration, I killed all running processes on the phone. I thought about rebooting the phone. You know, I shouldn't have to do this.

Restarted SkySafari. Functional again, it seemed. But now I wondered, were the updates applied? Was it done? Did the "additional file" ever make it? Did the failed update corrupt data? Would the update process restart? 

I had no way of knowing. In the dark. 


On break during my teaching. Checked the Android motorola phone.

SkySafari has been showing this "loading" notification for hours. I started the update last night. It started the download of an "additional file." It had been about 14 hours...


updating SkySafari - stalled

Looks like it's died. Why? And they forgot to code a time-out. No progress indicators. No idea what's going on. No idea what this additional file is for. Is it critical? Can it be ignored? Can the download be restarted? 

Bad programming. Again.

Thursday, August 05, 2021

doubles from Haas (Bradford)

Transcription of audio notes. Time stamps missing. Will be added later.

Thursday 4 August. 4:43 PM. (403) Tested the audio recorder. Well, more to the point: tested my correct operation of the recorder... Did not want to scupper my audio notes again.

9:05 PM. (404). Checked the Sony SX recorder. All's well.

Decided to test my custom Visual Basic application, my virtual hand controller! In the field!

Put my eyepiece case on the floor and moved the wood TV table to near the 'scope. I needed to have the computer beside the telescope.

9:38. (405). I found the stupid Dell laptop power plug blue LED ring way too bright! I need to cover it with red film, if I'm gonna use this for astronomy...

Booted laptop. Hard disk started thrashing, as usual. Used the loaner "modern" USB-serial adapter, with blinkie lights, the only one I have access to that's compatible with Win10. Connected to the Vixen mount. Did a super-fast alignment but couldn't see Albireo so I expect some issues... Put some red film over the laptop with new elastic bands.

9:43. (406). Noted car headlights beam along the driveway. Device Manager started to load. Fire trucking slow though. Decided to launch Stellarium just for a quick test... Before launching VB. A basic connection check.

9:47. (407). I could not remember at all what I would need to do to run the VB app. It had been a long time... Very long time. I assumed, as I had not compiled the program, that I'd need the full Visual Studio environment. That would add more overhead.

Whiskey tango foxtrot! Frustrated. The hard disk was running solid. Barnacles! 100% activity. Killing all processes. Stupid slow. Stupid Windows. Unusable. Losing time. Valuable time under the stars. 

Rhonda said hello. I opened the west door and invited her in. I was not doing much. She thought the sky not really dark. Correct. Summer evening slow burn bright skies. It would be another half-hour or 45 minutes to astro-twilight end. Warned of tent pegs.

Dell computer non-responsive. Bah! Needed to do something else. Grabbed Sissy Haas's book.

10:06. (408). Still thrashing. Dumb. Double-clicked on Stellarium. Again. Must not have taken the double-click before. Briefly the full hourglass showed. Some response. Fungus!

10:07. (409). Stellarium started. Downloads, of course. Clock not running, at first. Checked for a mount control profile. Deleted an extra profile. Found a suitable profile. Edited it. It had the correct driver via ASCOM. Examined the COM port. Changed from 5 to 4. Slow! Tried to connect to the mount. Said connected. But no reticule. Didn't look right. Disconnected. Connected. Geez! That was the simulator! Disconnected. Reconnected. Still glitching. Tried a different physical port (oooh). And Stellarium crashed! Frig! Restarting. Steaming pile! Rechecked everything. Reticule in proper location, finally. Tried a short hop, to Albireo. Mount moved. The slew worked. 

10:15. (410). Not in the eyepiece. Looked in the Orion finder. It was close. Panned to centre in the ocular. Did a sync on the hand controller. Tried another slew. Went to M57, Messier 57, the Ring Nebula. Close again. Panned around to get it in the eyepiece. Synced again on the HC and I noted Stellarium updated. That's like SkyTools: the mount sends data to the computer to indicated its updated position.

10:21. (411). I didn't recall every using Stellarium with a telescope, live, in the field. So that was kinda fun. A first. Nothing Earth-shattering but still the first time in the field.

Launched Visual Studio. Took its sweet time...

Inclined to use Vega, easy to find. But it was near the meridian. Mmm. Maybe out of time. How about Deneb. Better angle. Slewed. Really close. Good.

The studio environment opened. Screen blanked for a moment. Came back. File history screen. April. Wow. OK. Clicked on the old project SLN. Error: "Could not be opened. Do you want to remove it." I used the Open button instead. Big frickin' waste of time. Parasites. Parasites! Absolute huge waste of time. FCUK. I must have renamed things... App 1. Found a solution. It just went away... disconcerting. Back. OK. 

Went to Stellarium and disconnected, while waiting, to avoid a conflict.

Lit another mosquito coil.

Blisters! So slow! So frustrating.

Dead time.

Losing time.

Moved things around, while waiting. Figured that I'd need to be able to look through the finder and the eyepiece while close to the computer controls.

Tried to figure out the tabs in the VB IDE. Rusty. Not the code tab. Needed the form tab. Not responding. Hour glass. Ridiculous. Opening file. Laggy. Four tabs: VHC1.vb, Virtual Hand Controller 1... VHC designer. Designer was the form. My cool form. Clicked on the Start triangle button... And...

Build errors! What? Security messages. What? All kinds of frickin' errors. 'Form 1' is not a member of 'Windows App 1.' WTF? What does that mean? Lame. I was not going to debug this now! Very annoying. What would make all this fail now? I had it working before... 

Well, so much for that experiment.

Fire truck you.

Shut down Stellarium. Closed the Device Manager. Moved the churning laptop off to the side, to the floor. Done with that mess. Time I'll never get back.


Next experiment: try the baader planetarium Hyperion Universal Zoom Mark IV, 8-24mm eyepiece with 68° field of view.

10:50. (412). Back to SkyTools. Frustrated also with the pointing errors. Redid the mount alignment. But first the polar alignment. With SkyTools nearby, I turned on the apparent RA/Dec gridlines and rotated the field of view. Polaris was about the 10 o'clock position. Adjusted the mount alt and az. Done. Cycled the mount power. Did the star alignment. Seemed way off. Was that 15 degrees off? Was it a time zone issue? Or the offset? Oooh. The GoToStar system uses both Daylight Saving time and a GMT offset in minutes. Did it again. The second attempt I told it to NOT use DST.

10:59. (413). Wanted to check the pointing. Connected ST3P. 

Let's get some work done. δ (delta) Cepheus. Logged. View Again notes. I've not seen the B star.

11:02. (414). Slewed. Way off again. Panned and synced. 

Noted a faint pair of stars. B was mag 13. AC had a separation of 40. B was a quarter, correction, half of that. GSC 3995-1092 mag 12.2 to the east. Barely visible. GSC 3995-1038 to the north, mag 13.1. Interesting. Yellow and blue. Nice.

SkyTools says B is 13.0 so I should have been able to see it.

The laptop drive was still solid. What in The Universe was it doing?

[ed: I guess this is a problem with astronomy. We want to use our computers at night. Outside of business hours. When many push or delay their massive Windows updates to...]

Considered next target. Perhaps in the Giraffe. No, at the house roof line. Cygnus? Went to Deneb as a jumping off point. Pretty close, in the finder. Panned. Synced. Went to HR 8166.

Saw a couple of stars. Couple of stars nearby...

I saw a bright, equal pair.

11:16. (415). Tested the snip on Sony. To verify I was recording. OK.

11:16. (416). Viewed HR 8166 aka STT 437. Low power, 24 mm in the zoom. The seeing was not great. Equal stars, gold, pale gold, very tight, equal in colour and brightness. Almost exactly pointing to the blue-white star at the edge of the field [ed: HR 8169] to the north-east. Zoomed in to see if the colour would change. Same again. Diffraction rings. Airy disk. Faint pair off to the side, quite wide, two in the view. Pale orange now. Zoomed out. Ghost image, wow, weird. Not a good DS target to recommend to noobs. A Coldfield object. There was a C companion? Oh. OK. We'll have to look for that... The Meade 18mm eyepiece profile in ST3P closely matches the baader zoom at lowest power. The faint pair included Tycho star 2707-2258 1. West was kind of up for me, maybe the 11 o'clock position. Zoomed out I could just make out the faint pair. I saw a star well away to the 7 o'clock, faint. Ah. That was the C star. Got you! A and B were mag 6 stars. Bright enough. I guesstimated I was around 80 times magnification. A treat.


Chose τ (tau) Cygni. To view again. Slewed. Not in the centre. When a telescope doesn't point well you have to constantly do field identification. Good thing I know star hopping...

11:24. (417). Zoomed in slowly. I had clicked through 3 or 4 detents. I thought I saw a bump at the 3 or 4 position. But also getting diffraction rings. Seeing was poor. Jumping around. 

The eyepiece has an extendable eye cup. But I didn't like it out. I felt it was pushing me too far back.

Zoomed into one more level. Nothing obvious.

Maxed the zoom eyepiece. 8mm now. I did not see two stars. SkyTools showed the fast-mover binary pair A and B (aka AGC 13) at separation 1.0 seconds of arc (as of 2021.6). That's near my career limit. Nope. Could not say definitively. My impression did not match the highly magnified software view.

Oh. Look. The hard disk stopped thrashing. Meh.

Grabbed double stars for small telescopes.

Chose STF 2832 aka HD 207661. Slewed. Panned. Not on the right star...

Huh. Uh huh. Made it.

11:35. (418). Two faint stars. The left was a bit dimmer. A bit blue. Right was yellow or orange. Very similar. Faint star above, at the 1 position. Main pair oriented 3:30 to 9:30. ST3P said it was a triple. The star above was in fact the C. B was to the south-west. So C was to the north-west. C was about 3 to 4 times the AB separation. [ed: 13" vs 47".]

Next: Otto Struve 447 or HD 206224. Also BU 449 shows for the AB pair. Slewed. OK! Hit this target in the eyepiece. Nice. Off to the side. Lots going on.

11:42. (419). Main star was yellow. A good distance away, 4 o'clock position, blue, bluish-whitish?, star [ed: E, not B, ST3P shows as orange]. Double the distance, inline, faint star. Wait, two, was it two? [ed: F and K] Back to the main star, from it, 8:30 position, half the distance of the two bright ones, maybe 1/3rd, red? [ed: C] 

Quite far away, dim star, 11:30, slightly further than the ones at the 4 position [ed: I]. Tagged a star opposite the B from A, really far away [ed: Unrelated TYC 3191-718 1]. 

Bumped the power, 1 click. Up again. Click. Pretty neat system. Up again. Another, faint, opposite B [er, opposite E, this is D], half the distance, inline, slightly up, ST3P shows it as bright. I disagreed. 

West was nearly straight up. I turned on the labels in the software. Whoa! Fire trucking wild. The bright star to the north-east was not B; that was E. This is the one Haas was talking about. C south. D, that just popped, west. I thought D very faint. Software says 11.2. Double beyond F and K. F was brighter. I could barely see the H star.

From the Object Information box in the software for this 10-star system. Star, magnitude, PA, sep.

  • A, 7.6, -, -
  • B, 12.7, 14°, 6.2"
  • C, 12.1, 176°, 14.1"
  • D, 11.2, 249°, 19.3"
  • E, 8.7, 45°, 29.6"
  • F (from E), 10.7, 47°, 43.5" (from A it's 45°, 71")
  • H, 13.8, 263°, 75.8"
  • I, 11.7, 271°, 92.6"
  • J, 13.9, 95°, 71.7"
  • K, 11.7, 49°, 72.7"

11:51. (420). A crazy system. All stars except for A and E there was no particular colour. Might be a fun one to share with double star hunters.

Zoomed out I could see C. And F and K! Also I. Really wild. Did not see B or J.

EF pair has WDS discovered code FOX 262. AH, AI, and AK have code ABH 148.

Saw a nearby object of interest. Panned over a little bit. Just for fun.

11:56. (421). Yellow and white stars, 10 o'clock position. Faint. 2½ times the distance, a very faint star. A fourth one in there too. This is 76 Cygni aka S 796. B mag 10.0, C is mag 11.7. Faint star between B and C, close to C, inline. Not shown as part of the system. Mag 13.8! Doesn't seem right. Should check the WDS.

[ed: Looked up 76 Cyg / S 796 in Stelle Doppie (link to double). It is a 6 star system! The star I saw between B and C would be PA 274 and Sep 109. No match in SD and presumably WDS. SD shows D thru F as mag 13.4 or dimmer stars.]  

Almost midnight (422). 11:58. Sky seemed bright. 

Wondered what the bright star was...

Next. Slewed. Short distance. Lovely field.

Thursday 5 August. 12:01 AM. (501). 69 Cyg or S 790. A triangle. Very wide pair. White primary. A blue star at the 6. Third, faint star, 4 position, red, half the sep. C was the bright one below. Due east. I had to look to the right, averted, to get B to show up. Atypical double with C brighter than B.

At the 2 o'clock, another triangle of stars. Random stars. No bigger...

Faint pair, unequal, at the edge of the field, 10 o'clock, south-west, with TYC 2715-1734 1. No wider than 69. Hmm.

Tycho 2715-975 1 was one of the stars in the faint equal pair at the top, west, edge of the field.

An asterism thingee at the 7 position, south-east. With SAO 71336.

Found an open cluster in my list. NGC 7063. Did a "slew to cursor" command. Sparse. Looked like there were a dozen bright stars within. aka Collinder 435 and OCL 192. [ed: From an auto generated function in ST3P, I believe.]

Ooh. Some doubles within.

12:08 AM. (502). Zoomed in one click with the baader.  Faint stars. Hard to focus. 

I saw a pair oriented up-down. ES 2126. ST3P said it was a triple. The OI box said the mags were 10.0, 11.2, and 12.2. I saw some of it... But not all three.

In a right-angle triangle, at the SW corner, I saw what looked like a double, with Tycho 2715-2574 1. 

I could not split the other marked double ES 2125. AB split was 1.9". No.

Thought about wrapping up. Felt tired. Looked in Haas's tome for something "grand."

Slewed a short distance. We're not far from the NA Neb.

12:19. (503). HD 200465 aka H IV 113. Very nice. A yellow and deep blue. Blue was around the 1 o'clock. Neat field stars. SkyTools showed a triangle. I did not see the third star... Nothing there. Whoa. I saw it. Averted. Zoomed at 8mm.

12:23. (504). Got the C star! It was about the brightness of the other mag 13 field stars. Right angle, C from B. When I look down and right of the primary I get it. Is it a variable star?

Considered M55. A Messier to double-down on. Nope.  In Sgr. Behind a tree.

That's it.

Tonight was the last. I'd do the full teardown later... tomorrow. Did a bit of pre-packing.

Wow. Remember this time to disconnect the software in advance!

12:28. (505). Environmentals: 52%, 17.3­°, steady, rain.

Rhonda dropped in briefly.

12:54. (506). Finished medium-thorough pack. I took a good amount of stuff inside.


General idea: 

Put a little label on each piece of red film to identify the monitor or device it is meant to cover. I have so many now...


To dos: 

Put a small piece of red film over the burning white indicators, disk, power, etc. on the Dell laptop. Some Baby Bel plastic would do.

Determine if the Dell keyboard lighting can be controlled. Dimmed, in particular. Way too bright for astronomy work.

Got revisit the Visual Studio to fix whatever I broke...


Disappointed with the Visual Basic app issues. Extraordinarily frustrating experience with the Win10 laptop. But it was very cool using the baader zoom eyepiece. It saves time. It gives decent views. It would mean less fiddling, gyrations, dew strap swapping.


Oh ho! I didn't know this. The Dell keyboard brightness can be easily changed. Fn Right Arrow. Documented as "Increase and Decrease the keyboard backlight illumination." It cycles through 5 states, off, low, medium-low, medium-high, and high. Nice. Works just fine. No driver needed.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

hot hot hot

Opened the tent. Another hot sunny day. 45°C inside! Wowzers. The black OTA was very warm.

observed with a zoom (Bradford)

These notes were created from memory of the night before...


Used the zoom eyepiece most of the evening. 

It was obvious, surprising, startling, seeing the darkening of the sky! There's proof. Going to high power darkens the sky. Some say this improves contrast so faint things are easier to see. Who was I talking to about this? Chris?! Allendria?

The click detents are obvious and catch when "climbing," i.e. increasing power from 24 to 8. A very faint click. A tactile small vibration. But the detent is soft going the other way. Not obvious especially if going quickly. Easy to miss. I often overshot to then come back.

Overall, I thought the optical quality good. Seemed to be quite a flat field. No weird colours. A little soft at highest power...

Spent a long time viewing θ (theta) CrB. Used the 2x again but in the focuser this time. I.e. C8 OTA, WO focuser, TV 2x PM, WO mirror, and then the ocular. And this evening, the Baader zoom on loan.

The zoom goes to 8mm. Hadn't considered that at first but that's more than the TV Nagler 9mm!

Theta? If i didn't know it was a double...

It was even higher in elevation, I got to it earlier. Lost the notes (didn't capture the notes) but ... was it 65 degrees? Is that possible? [ed. Yes, around 9:45 PM, it was 65° in altitude.]

Viewed HD 146168 aka STF 2029 in CrB. Nice. Subtle. Attractive separation at low zoom. Unequal brightness. Colourful, if I remember correctly.

Viewed ψ (psi) Ser. In Caput. Neat grouping. But could not see B star. Will need to put on View Again list. For the B star. The other members were extremely wide. From Haas. And she only refers to C. So I checked if off, done, in her book.

Went to β (beta) Ser. A and B obvious. HD 141040 off to the NE. I spotted a faint star opposite, about half the distance. Ah ha! That was C. Software did not show it initially. Had to turn off the moonlight. Also in Caput. Near the tail. Haas only refers to AB only.

Viewed HD 140665 aka ROE 75. Attractive at lowest zoom. 6". Tight. Unequal. Like the previous one, i.e. sep and brightness. Not far from β. Star hopped to it.

Observed HD 148653 also known as Σ2052. Hercules. Nice. C was super faint. A and B close. Equal. White. Oh, a binary, 224 year period. Has says citrus orange but I didn't think so.

Finished with M13 (Messier 13) in the loaner ocular. The grand globular was actually surprisingly good in the zoom. Richer at high power. Too soft at low power. Nice view at high. Many stars!

Oh, yes, Saturn. It was also quite nice in the zoom eyepiece. This would be good at star parties!

Not that late. 'Round midnight I decided to throw in the towel. Not in the mood.


Repaired mount worked just fine. Good seeing again. Poor transparency.


gamma Her. ST3P shows logged. But the general notes suggest something was missing. Will need to sort this out. And maybe update or delete the general notes. 

[ed: I have observed AB and BC but not AD. It is tight to the primary at 8.3". Looks like it is a mag 8.1 star compared to the bright 2.9. 5+ delta. Will be tricky.]

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

GA package arrived

Received my RASC General Assembly package. About 6½ weeks late. Better late than never, I suppose. I threw out the schedule. I threw out the sales pitch from the insurance company. The keepers are the embroidered RASC patch. That'll go on a fabric carrying case. The white on clear sticker. Hmm. A dark metal carrying case? And a large 3-colour metal pin. Handsome.


Reported it.


I don't know what I did exactly but I did not get an audio recording for Tuesday night. Must have hit the wrong button (buttons) on the Sony unit. Gar! Lost specifics of things. Would not have notes on the colours of doubles...

prepared for evening

Night 2. Looking forward to it!

Used a grocery shopping bag out to haul stuff back and forth.

8:50 PM. The smoke looked bad for region. Alas, I was planning on more double stars so not too worried.

Something's missing...

8:59 PM. Retrieved the phone and music stand from inside.

Rolled back the fly.

9:03 PM. Checked what the Oregon was reporting. 50% RH, 20.7°C, pressure dropping, rain. Huh.

Another low humidity night. Good.

Mount fixed. Had everything I needed. Ready to go...

noted an occultation

Spotted the occultation event in my calendar, set for 10:40 PM.

The Sigrid occultation. At 4 Aug 2021, 01:56 UT. It had a rank of 56. Asteroid (1493) Sigrid at magnitude 15.1 was to block star UCAC4 318-128760, mag 10.3. A north-south path on the globe, eastern USA and into South America. The predicted mag drop 4.8! Estimated maximum duration [s]: 15.5. 

The Moon would be 18% sunlit and 173° distant. The Sun: 136° distant.

An easy one in many respects.

But the star was in Sagittarius. Hmmm. That meant it would be low. Probably not visible to me...

I looked up UCAC4 318-128760. That was the new Gaia designation. I found the mag 10 star by RA/Dec in SkyTools. GSC 06836-0401. 

Made a note to check the sky a little before 10 PM.


Still looking for a dead-simple one that flies right overhead.

fixed the Dec

Fixed the Dec axis. Fortunately, it was a simple repair. The motor had been pushed out of position. Used a 5mm hex to loosen the bolts. Had to first move the OTA a bit.

Back in business!

I had been worried there was more damage. Relief.

I did, however, find the custom 3D-printed Declination motor cover deformed! Sagged? But how? Why? Heat? Constant pressure? Both?


At my lunch break, I headed out back. From the indoor to the outdoor office. The day office and the night office. Opened the tent. It was 40 degrees inside! When I opened the side door fly and interior zips, it was like a stove pipe, hot air venting out.

couldn't split theta CrB (Bradford)

Monday 2 August, 9:10 PM. The tent fly was rolled back.

I had the OTA installed on its trusty steed, the old equatorial mount. Balancing done.

DEET: check.

I waited for Polaris to emerge.

ASUS netbook, John Repeat Dance, on the picnic table at the east end of the tent. Tethered to the super-charged Vixen Super Polaris .

I planned to use the observing list I previously made for the July new Moon weekend at the Carr Astronomical Observatory and then repurposed for the August new Moon weekend. While it had a bunch of deep sky objects, there was a good selection of double stars, new, and ones to view again.

And theta Corona Borealis. There was some chatter on Cloudy Nights whether it could be split.

[ed: Specific time stamps missing. The parenthetic value is the number attached to the audio file.]

Monday 2 August, 9:29 PM. (202). Recording started, audio.

I did a two-star alignment with the IDEA GoToStar and things were bonkers. Shut down and did a one-star alignment. Pretty good. Centred on Albireo, quickly. Went to θ (theta) CrB. Fair point. Pretty close to centre. Roamed to verify field. θ looked pretty tight. Went to η (eta). Could not split it. But then it was 0.4". 

10:10 PM. (203). In Corona Borealis. Then I saw a nearby double. That was omicron. Very wide but in a neat pattern. Reminded me of those crazy people with flying suits who jump off mountains [ed: wingsuit]. B was easy to see, while dim, to the north-north-west. A was yellow with a touch of orange. Could not get any colour from B... grey? Other field stars were compelling. A little spin-off. Added to my urban list. Marked it observed. 

Went back to theta. Panned about.

10:18. (204). Landed at a wide, faint pair A 1369 (Aitken?) also in Corona Borealis. Checked SkyTools and get thrown off a bit. It showed B and C star labels. Checked the Object Information. A was mag 11.4, B was 10.3, and C 9.7. The separations were 4.2" for AB and 74.7" for A and C. I surmised I was viewing A and C. Very dim, nearly equal. Orange and blue. Oriented E to W. I decided to leave it not logged in ST3P so to view again.

Near a neat shape. A big triangle which filled the entire field. There was a small triangle due east. Noted a gaggle of stars to the south-east. An unidentified open cluster, perhaps?

Switched eyepieces.

Stepped away.

10:35 PM-ish. Checked the apparent altitude: 58 degrees. I had wanted to get it earlier but got hung up with technical challenges.

Tried to split theta CrB. Dove deep. Went to 444x with the Tele Vue 2x PowerMate and Tele Vue Nagler 9mm (doubler after the mirror diag). At the four o'clock position of the diffraction ring seemed brighter. [ed: That would have been SSSW.] But I knew it was there... I dunno... Curiously, while at that crazy-high power, the seeing was excellent. Rock steady. A rare treat.

10:39. (205). But after a lot of looking and waiting, could not split. Could not split in the C8. 

With the 9mm Type 6 ocular, I saw flanking stars PPM 78663 to the north and PPM 78673 to the south. Equal distance from θ.

10:42. (206). Disconnected from the mount. Reconnected. Slewed (was I re-aligning?).

Went for HD 161262... On my View Again list.

Viewed a double at low power. Nice pair. Pale yellow on the left. Pale blue on the right. [ed: North was up.] Nearly equal brightness. Oh. Not my target...

10:54. (207). Identified the field. I was on HR 6610 aka 61 Oph. Oops. Previously viewed and logged. The brighter, distracting, stars in the field. Panned to the target, a bit to the north.

11:00 PM (208). I got it. HD 161262 aka STF 2201... Extremely faint. It's going up. In a faint triangle shape. Triangle thingee. Up toward the 10 or 11 o'clock position, i.e. north-west. Primary: yellow-orange; secondary: red. B was to the north-west. Very, very faint. But I saw it at the lowest power (55x)! Yep. Confirmed the faint triangle. Base of the triangle running east-west. Lots of faint field stars, some curving around the target, curving up and down.  I thought briefly of a scorpion. 

Saw SAO 122662, way off to the west, at the edge of the field. That looked like a double but ST3P said no. "Computer says no."

Went and looked if any gas giant planets were visible...

Rhonda popped by. Asked if she could see the planets from her deck. Not yet visible at ground level. She noted I had a different configuration to the tent setup. Yep, I put it up wrong. Offered a view of the double. We caught up. The long weekend went by too quick. Too bad we had the rain on Saturday. Shared my work sked. I thought the transparency was so-so, and there was probably some smoke, but the seeing was fantastic. And the humidity was low. Low in the day and low now. Was not running the dew heaters. Double bats and strange squirrels. Talked about my target list. Any my experiment plans for the next evening or two. But I was tired, for lack of or disrupted sleep. Happily, my training work for the week was going to be easy, no-brainer stuff. That was why I was doing astronomy on a "school night." When would I get another chance?

11:26 PM. A good visit. Rhonda headed in.

11:30. (209). I was in Oph. Turned on the meridian line in the software, to stay on the same side. Found an entry in the plan, with a remark, "Get good notes." HD 159660. OK. I centred and synced. Slewed. Not far away.

Didn't know where I was... Back to the little computer... Panned about and did field identification. Panned some more. Slewed again. Panned again. More. And ran out of time... Ophiuchus, the snake wrangler, was disappearing behind the western trees. Re-examined the list. Serpens Cauda would work. 

Slewed. Fire truck! The mount went the wrong way and I couldn't stop it in time! Crash! Powered down, back up, and tried to re-do the start-up alignment. The mount did not move in Dec. The motor had been dislodged in the collision. Crikey. Other damaged may have occurred. It was too late and I was too tired to fix it. But I decided to keep going, with one busted axis.

RA was still good so I'd be able to track...

Manually positioned on Saturn. 

The view was awesome.

11:51. (210). Four moons easily spotted. Checked SkyTools. Titan was obvious at the 11 o'clock [ed: north]. Between Titan and the planet was Rhea. 9:30 position, west: Dione. Tethys was at the 8 o'clock position, close, the closest of all. Mimas and Enceladus... Wondered if I could see them. Seeing was very good. Iapetus was way out, opposite direction as Dione [ed: east].

Texted Rhonda, "Saturn is awesome."

Returned to the ocular to get the close-in moons on the east side. Tried lots of the tricks. Worked at my averted vision to avoid blind spots. Got Iapetus. [ed: Elevation was not great, around 25 degrees.]

11:57. (211). Tagged PPM 772263 at mag 10.4 beyond the distant moon. Iapetus was 11.2. Slightly bent line, the moon was at the kink. Checked ST3P. Enceladus 11.8; but Mimas 13.3. Ugh. Tethys 10.3, Dione 10,5, Rhea 9.8, Titan 8.5. Enceladus might have been doable. Tried again. Changed eyepieces.

Viewed with the 20mm. The rings were great. The A ring was a tan colour. The B ring was bright, really bright, shimmering white. Very intense. Cassini Division was very easy. Different cloud bands obvious. Equatorial belt bright, very obvious. Lots of striping. Either the shadow or the C ring was visible across "the belly." 

Went to the 9mm. Softer, of course. For a second, once, I thought I saw Enceladus; but then I couldn't get it again...

Tuesday 3 August. After midnight. 12:04 AM. (301) . That was a pretty good view.

12:05. (302). Oh oh. Noted very low power (blinking indicator) on the Sony. 

I powered down the recorder.

Rhonda came out for a look at Saturn. She enjoyed the view.

I wrapped up. Tired. And I was not able to use the mount properly.

Checked the Oregon. 67% humidity, 15.7 degrees, steady pressure, rain coming...

Monday, August 02, 2021

prepared in backyard

Set up the observing tent in the backyard. Lovely day. But I positioned it in the wrong direction. Well. It's not wrong. Every time previously I've had it oriented with the observing portion in the east and the "office" in the west. And that put the side door close to the house, i.e. north.

Ironically, the last time I used this tent, in a rush, I forgot to peg the floor down first. When I installed the polls, it started to pull up. Oops. So this time it was high in mind to peg down the corners. That's when I discovered I had it backwards.

Double-oops. Not the end of the world. I'd elected to not use the side door. The end door would now be on the west. That would be the prime portal. Weird how disorienting it was. At first. But in the end I thought it worth a try. Might be better, who knows...

I was very excited to use my new large S-biner clips for first time. In the past, I used little D-shape clips. A little small at night when tired and sore but operable in bare hands. In the winter though, with gloves or mitts: impossible. These new large carabiners, found at last on Amazon, looked promising. Immediately I enjoyed using them. I am confident they will work well with gloves or mitts.

Gah! A tent pole broke! One of the segments split, the outer aluminium part. Dang. I tried to jury-rig it but my effort was laughable. I will need to do proper research to know how to fix this. In the meantime, I let the office pole rest on the ground. Fortunate the problem was near the end, already near the ground, and not in the middle!

1:35 PM. Checked battery level: full. Space left: 7 hours.

Found butane hand warmer! A week or so back, I was surprised to not locate it in the winter gear, with the electric and chemical hand warmers. It wasn't that I needed the heater; I wanted the syringe when I was loading distilled water into a badly behaving SLA battery. Turns out it was misfiled! I found the Restoration Hardware warmer with accoutrements in Bug Bag. Moved all the bits back to proper sack, the winter stuff.

2:09 PM. Checked the Oregon Scientific portable weather station. It was sitting on the portable picnic table inside the office (now east) end of the tent. Relative humidity: 31% ; air temperature: 30.5°C; air pressure: steady; prediction for 24 hours from now: Sunny.

The OS weather unit was showing 2:12 compared to 2:10 PM on the computer. So it was 2 minutes fast to netbook. My mobile phone also showed 2:10.

2:15. I installed the triangle tray/tripod support.

Then I leveled the mount.

I planned to wait until it was cooler before installing the Celestron SCT 8-inch optical tube assembly. Didn't want it to get too hot...

Sunday, August 01, 2021

looked up GRS

With the Sky & Telescope tool, I looked up the Great Red Spot position: 2 degrees.

found another label error

Found another labelling error in SkySafari 6. Was checking things around NGC 3079. Saw a nearby star shown on the chart as HD 8666. That didn't look right. Confirmed: it is star HD 86661 aka KUI 46. Another unchecked bug.