Sunday, August 08, 2021

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

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