Tuesday, August 03, 2021

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...

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