Friday, July 01, 2022

new FOV screen

Stumbled across a new version of Stellarium Mobile. 

Version 1.9.3 has a reworked screen for fields of view! Yes!

new Fields of View panel

They give you a Telrad, 1 degree circle, rectangle, a reticule (just a cross-hair), a binoculars icon, a telescope icon, and an Add button.

Go nuts. You can add as many as you need.

(I think there's more to this but overall a very welcome change. Previously, you were limited to one configuration so were constantly replacing a old one with a new.)

§

I shared the news on the Stellarium Training Series Google classroom.

§

A minor change in this version is the shift of the Locations command to the Settings meeting. Looks like they are trying to get the main menu short.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

delivered citizen science talk

Delivered my talk for the General Assembly.

I was first up on Sunday afternoon. People from Hamilton, Lawrence, Kansas!, Toronto, Victoria, Rigaud, Québec, Thornhill, Ottawa, Fredericton, Baton Rouge, Louisiana! Wow. 

Lauri got us started and briefly introduced me.

Citizen Science - Measuring Double Stars

Talk went OK. Kirsten shared my resource links as we went. We took some questions.

I captured the notes from the Zoom chat.

From David L at 01:24 PM
I have the Celestron 12.5 illuminated reticle eyepiece, same as the Baader. If you have lost your instructions they can be found here 
https://www.baader-planetarium.com/en/downloads/dl/file/id/1370/product/0/micro_guide_reticle_eyepiece_manual.pdf

From Jada Y at 01:25 PM
Thank you, this was really cool! 

From Pat Seilis at 01:25 PM
Thanks Blake.   Excellent as always!

From Eric Smialek at 01:25 PM
Really appreciate your enthusiasm!

From Glenn Hawley at 01:28 PM
Exxxxxcellent presentation
Do you have to take into consideration the 'view' through the scope when estimating 'clock' position? (reversed, mirror image, etca)

From Swapna Shrivastava at 01:28 PM
Thank you!

From David Lee to Everyone 01:30 PM
Many thanks!

§

I'll follow up with David with my revised, enhanced, and universal procedure for a reticule eyepiece.

I answered Glenn's query within the Q&A period. I said, "Record what you see." Use the clock-face. Use "in view" markers, other stars, etc. Then I suggested later, maybe the morning after, you worry about the telescope-eyepiece optical train presentation. Count the reflections to determine whether your going clockwise or counter-clockwise.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

received ETU Guide Book

Received a hard copy of the Explore The Universe Guide Book from RASC, 3rd Edition, written by Brenda Shaw.

Apropos the committee chair know what's in this book.

cover of the ETU Guide

A bit thinner than I expected but looks good!

Monday, June 20, 2022

did s/w training admin

Did a bunch of Stellarium Training Series administrative work.

Processed people from Al's level 1 last week. Reviewed evals, followed up on one, added interested parties to the level 2 wait list, invited people to the Classroom.

Loaded more people into my level 2 for Monday 4 July. Clarified for some people the level 2 is not solely on driving a mount. Remembered to add the event to the RASC main calendar.

received consent form

Heard from Lauren Knowles.

She thanked me for my patience and provided the image consent form.

Good stuff!

registered

Heard from Steve Kerr.

He copied Murray Forbes.

It was regarding the TTSO16 event.

He said I was on the list.

All right!

Sunday, June 19, 2022

can't play

Learned that 2001: A Space Odyssey is playing at the Ontario Place Cinesphere on the afternoon of 26 June.

Dang. Good place to see it, in 70mm.

That's a busy day for me with RASC GA stuff...

I'm afraid I can't do that.

provided links

As requested, I sent a list of the hyperlinks I'll be showing in my Citizen Science presentation next week.

I'll have another look at the presentation proper but I think it is fairly stable...

sorry, no

Asked if I'd do a presentation to the RASC Toronto Centre.

Nope. No can do.

shared log files

Per Greg instructions, I took a backup on the SkyTools logs only.

Packaged up and shared with him.

He's back home now so he can scan the individual log files to find the culprit.

received ETUGB files

Dave and I were given access to the Explore The Universe Guide Book files today.

That'll help us as we review the 3rd edition for any errors...

The original files were made with InDesign. Fortunately, there are PDFs available as well.

bounced

Received an email "Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender."

My request message to the director of the TTSO16 bounced.

Diagnostic-Code: smtp; 550 5.7.1 Message rejected due to SPF policy.

Whatever that means...

§

Dropped a reply in the groups.io forum...

registered for the TTSO16

Spotted the notice on the IOTA groups.io forum by Dave Herald regarding the upcoming Sixteenth Trans-Tasman Symposium on Occultations event.

Specifically, that he was going to be demonstrating the Occult software. General use and on double star occultations. 

Hello. I perked up.

I know the basics but I'd like to learn the software better. While I have attempted asteroid occultations, I'm very interested in the occultation of double stars.

The time zones are going to present a challenge. I'll have to stay up at 3:00 AM local time to view. Ugh.

Followed the instructions and sent a note to the director.

Friday, June 17, 2022

followed the shaped-masks topic

Stumbled across an interesting conversation in Cloudy Nights.

The title: Observation of Close Binaries using Shaped Aperture Masks.

Fascinating!

Shared some information on the small mask I had made.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

ring, ring

Ah. The Astronomer Hotline.

Oh, how many of these kinds of calls have I taken...

xkcd comic - Astronomer Hotline

This comic is from xkcd.com.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

DDO recognised by GC

I learned today that the Government of Canada recognised the national significance of the David Dunlap Observatory.

RASC Toronto DDO Outreach chair Denise Chilton was on hand. 

They unveiled a commemorative plaque with English and French. It reads:

This observatory helped established academic astronomy in Canada.  C.A. Chant, a founder of the discipline in Canada, championed its construction for the University of Toronto.  Since its opening in 1935, scientists and the public have studied the night sky from this once-isolated campus, where Thomas Bolton confirmed the existence of black holes in 1972 and Helen Sawyer Hogg catalogued star clusters.  The site consists of several structures, including a Beaux-Arts-style Administration Building and the Great Telescope Dome, which combined Modern and Neo-Classical elements, and houses what was once the second-largest telescope in the world.

See the news release for more information.

completed proper comparison

OK. I think I have it now. I figured it out myself. Thanks to Blue Stacks...

This chart will show what's included and not included in the free or basic version of Stellarium Mobile.

feature or capability basic full
product name Mobile    Plus
cost * freeCAD $25
realistic sky display yesyes
search by name, category, or favourites yesyes
date, time, and speed controls yesyes
stars, to magnitude 824
control star label density noyes
control star magnitude limit noyes
control star brightness noyes
constellations lines and borders yesyes
other sky cultures and lore yesyes
planets and asteroids yesyes
planet image resolution lowhigh
planet 3D interactive views no yes
control planet label density noyes
artificial satellites yesyes
space station 3D interactive view no yes
control satellite label density noyes
deep sky objects, to magnitude 1018
DSO image resolution lowhigh
control DSO label density noyes
azimuthal grid yesyes
toggle cardinal points yesyes
equatorial grid, current and J2000 noyes
ecliptic line noyes
meridian line noyes
celestial equator noyes
toggle atmosphere yesyes
control light pollution noyes
ground fog noyes
planets and satellites visible for the evening noyes
calendar with solar system events noyes
eyepiece, camera, Telrad oculars noyes
telescope control noyes
start-up time control noyes
full-screen override noyes
interactive visibility elevation graph noyes

This table should help a user when considering the upgrade to the full paid version. Is it worth it? Check which features are not available and ask yourself if you need or want them.

People using the free version may note a green padlock icon. This represents a feature not available but unlocked with cash.

locked features in the main menu

And over here in the object information screen:

more locked features is Stellarium Mobile - basic

On the Android platform, there is an option wherein you can "try" the advanced features for 30 days paying CAD $2.50.

§

Table updated on 16 June.

represent!

Len, new double star certificate applicant, pinged me again.

Was happy to hear from me. Tidying his log notes. He's scanning sheets. Getting ready to share.

Then he said, 

So cool that you responded as you're the "face" of Canadian double star observing for me with videos, articles, etc.  I also enjoy many of the threads on Cloudy Nights Double Star forum, especially from Canadian contributors like Dave (Cotts), Chris (c2m2t), and yourself.  Just a great community!

Wow. That's very nice.

The face? 

Wow.

noted the Edit tab

Was surprised to discover I could edit the Observing Committee's Tips and Tricks page today.

Walter must have flicked a switch.

I let Melody know. She was pleased. She in turn let Dave know: he's off the hook.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

clarified the number of seconds

Messaged briefly with James E, assistant editor for the Journal.

He was looking for some clarification.

240s or 4m

Did I shoot 240 one-second exposures or a few 240-second exposures?

Hyphens matter.

circled a date

Sent out a note to Stellarium trainees looking for some level 2 intermediate knowledge (on the computer product).

Penciled in July 4. Most of the people are in western Canada so I offered an appropriate time in the evening.

With sufficient interest I'll firm up that date.

read about new domes

The Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) received their two new domes.

CTV News Toronto reported on the installation of the new fully-automated shuttered domes, replacing the original ones, some 50 years old. 

crane operations at the observatory

The York U Twitter feed has lots of photos and video.

Dr Hyde had been deep in the planning while I was at Killarney... I am pleased for her.

Shiny.

what's different?

I had another look inside my app. From the hamburger main menu, I chose Stellarium PLUS.


A four panel display appears.

Screen 1 says: Massive objects catalogs: 1.6 billion stars, 2 million Deep Sky Objects.

The next: High resolution planets and deep sky images.

Then: Telescope Control: drive any telescope compatible with NexStar, SynScan, or LX200 through Bluetooth or WIFI.

Finally: Advanced settings & observation planning features.


On the web site, 4 differences are noted:

3D View

Observe Calendar

Instrument Ocular

Telescope Control


So, there's partial overlap. 

I believe a list should note the following:

Basic does not have:

a massive catalog of stars

a masstive catalog of DSOs

high rez images of planets

high rez images of DSOs

telescope control

3D View

Observe Calendar

Instrument Ocular


heard from a NB member

Len from New Brunswick reached out. He's wrapping up observations for the RASC Double Stars program. He's looking for a reviewer.

No worries. The national committee will help.

Another convert!

tried to get more info

Thought I'd reach out to the Stellarium Labs crew to learn more about the differences between the basic/free version versus the paid product.

I started off with:

I was reading the stellarium-labs.com web site comparing the free vs paid versions of Stellarium Mobile.  I understand the free version does not have 3D Views, the Observe/ calendar function, the Instruments Oculars, nor the Telescope control.  I thought I read somewhere else that the free version does not show as many stars?  Is that correct?  Are there any other differences?

A short time later, Darlene R replied.

Yes, this is mostly correct.  Visibility features and other advanced settings are also included in the PLUS version.

OK. If I'm mostly correctly, what did I get right and what did I get wrong? What are the "other" settings?

Then she did a bit of a sales pitch!

I responded:

Please let me know exactly which visibility features are included and not included in basic.

She sent me an image showing an object's elevation profile with this note:

You will be able to see the time an object will be visible (its rising and setting time) and also, the path it will be taking in the sky.

OK. But surely there are other differences... And a question from my first missive remained unanswered. I asked again:

What about the stars?

She replied. 

The app views all known stars: Gaia DR2 catalog of over 1.4 Billion stars.  You will be able to browse it at Search (upper right corner) > Browse by type > Stars.

Still didn't answer the question.

Frustrating when people don't carefully read their email.

No further ahead after this exchange with I presume a paid employee.

I terminated the conversation. Said I'll look elsewhere.

Monday, June 13, 2022

a nearly perfect course

Delivered the Stellarium Mobile Plus course for the RASC Stellarium Training Series.

First run.

And it went very well. Very very well.

I had a good amount of content. Not too much this time. Not cramming at the end. No technical glitches.

The attendees were quite happy and generous in their compliments.

It felt nearly perfect. 

Which is so satisfying. Building a brand new course from scratch and hitting the bullseye? Extremely fulfilling.

it really is free

While preparing for the Stellarium Mobile course delivery, I had a quick look at the software web site, stellarium-labs.com (N.B. that's not stellarium.org), and then popped into the respective online stores to check the versions and prices. I had noted a different number for the iOS product.

Latest version for Android: 1.8.8.

Latest version for iOS: 1.9.1.

Then I read the version history for the iOS product...

For version 1.9.0 they say

In this new version, we made Stellarium mobile free with an in-app purchase to unlock the full version, so that you can try a limited version for free before deciding to buy it or not...

Well. How about that.

Stellarium Mobile is now available for free on iOS.

Yeh.

This is interesting repercussions.

Now when people say "Stellarium is completely free on all devices!" I don't have to jump up and correct them.

The free products are "basic" or scaled down. The free versions do not offer 3D Views (on the ISS and planets for example), the Observe planning and calendar feature, the Instruments and Oculars, nor the Telescope Control. I thought I read somewhere that a smaller number of stars is shown.

But the big thing I'm wondering is how it will affect my training course... Hmmm.

podcast is up

It's live.

Episode 230 of The Actual Astronomy Podcast is up.

Or listen directly to this episode on Podbean.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

recorded podcast

Met up with Chris and Shane to record episode 230 of the Actual Astronomy podcast.

We talked about my recent stint at the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory, the RASC Double Stars observing program, and double stars in general.

My first time officially meeting Shane. That was good.

Should be up tomorrow.

Saturday, June 04, 2022

keeping it simple

Watched the Astronomy for Everyone episode with Adrian Bradley.

(First met him in the Explore Scientific podcast.)

He's such an amazing photographer. I love his nightscapes.

What's very impressive to me is he keeps it simple.

One shot.

He likes taking one shot, say up to 30 seconds. Now a camera body that supports high ISO helps. And he's using fast lenses, up to 2.8.

See his online gallery on Adobe Portfolio. 

received Jul/Aug SkyNews

Received the July/August issue of SkyNews in the mail. Nice little surprise.

cover of the Jul-Aug SkyNews
Lots of great articles. The piece on meteorite craters is very interesting. I enjoyed Eric's interview of Chris and Shane and learning more about The Actual Astronomy Podcast. Looking forward to reading Alan's article on exploring the Milky Way with binoculars.

This issue features my article on planning software. I talk about SkyTools, Astro Planner, Deep Sky Planner, Stellarium, SkySafari, and Telescopius.

Cover image coming soon...

§

Spotted in my local on 16 June. Found the cover online.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

asked for interview

I was contacted by Don Klaser for an interview.

Don is the producer and host for the Ford Amateur Astronomy Club YouTube channel program Astronomy For Everyone

They produce a monthly 30-minute program where he interviews a guest speaker about an astronomical topic. It is done out of a studio located in Wyandotte, Michigan. We'll use Zoom, of course. 

§

Said I was happy to help.

We're going to meet near the end of July to rehearse and the show will go out in August.

Monday, May 30, 2022

talk scheduled at RASC GA

The RASC Weekly e-newsletter was sent out.

The schedule for the General Assembly was included. I'm on the docket.

In the "Reach Out" category, Sunday morning, I'll be speaking on doing citizen science by measuring double stars.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

AIR day 21 (heading home)

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 21 blog entry.

Sunday 29 May 2022: Exit Stage Left

At 10:04 AM, having turned in the keys to the observatory, I left the park office of Killarney Provincial Park. A little sad, a little homesick, a little itchy. 

I would return to noisy neighbours, lots of cars, big box plazas, ground pollution, air pollution, and light pollution.

eastbound on the 637

Thanks for having me. Thanks for following along. Hope you enjoyed the show.

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

Saturday, May 28, 2022

AIR day 20 - item 5

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 20 blog entry.

Saturday 28 May 2022 - 6:00 PM: The Last Show

The final full day…

Did a bit of pre-packing. Loaded non-essentials or used/done items into the car. No astronomy activities planned tonight so that gear could be stowed.

a few small sunspots

Checked SpaceWeather.com for the state of our star today. Active Region 3023 is a big one. A double?

Inspected the 16-inch dome after removing all my stuff. Put various park gear items in the astro-closet. Opened the 10-inch dome in advance of solar observing. Moved my eyepiece case over there. Grabbed the old park bins (for projection experiments). Took at least one blackfly bite. I think I saw a Grey Catbird!?

Touched based with Chuck Allen of the Astronomical League from his home in Kentucky. We want to chat in detail about our respective observing certificate programs...

Bumped into Kate. She thanked me for all my efforts. I'm grateful for all her support.

Almost lost my Ontario Volunteer Service Award pin. Dang.

12:45 PM. Spotted Harrison, my helper for solar observing. I had him serve as a model for some operational shots of the Losmandy mount.

We enjoyed a good view of the Sun. I had no trouble with the dual spot group AR 3023 at our 4 o'clock position and AR 3024, a single, at the 5 o'clock.

While we waited for park visitors, we talked about astronomy history. Hans Lippershey invented the magnifying instrument, initially for a military application, which Galileo later turned to the night sky. Had my dates wrong at first; that was in the early 1600s. Then Newton and others made 'scopes with mirrors. In the mid-1900s, Mr Schmidt made his camera lens. A compound design with lens and mirrors. This led to the three common telescope types today.

We received our first visitor. She said, "Tell me everything." Where to start! Not my job; just a hobby. Self-taught. Voracious reader. She was a raw beginner so I recommended NightWatch by Dickinson. Showed her the Sun in the 'scope but unfortunately the contrast was degraded because of the wispy clouds. Hold the phone... In those wispy, ice-cold clouds, we spotted parhelia, a beautiful full 22 degree ring, very colourful. Gave her The Evening Sky Map and Getting Started in Astrophotography handouts.

A full family came through and the two little boys immediately ran into the dome and started pulling on the eyepiece - yikes! I dashed into the dome and got everyone settled down. The view was getting soft but I think they all enjoyed looking at the Sun.

I had Harrison shut down the 'scope and close up the dome. He thanked me; I thanked him!

Put the solar filter and bins away.

And that's it! My last program was completed.

Looking cloudy so tonight I'll relax.

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

AIR day 20 - item 4 (Milky Way)

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 20 blog entry.

Saturday 28 May 2022 - 2:21 AM: A Better Milky Way

More technical issues with my home-made barn door tracker. But at least I got a better shot of the Milky Way. Exposed longer but still not enough! The histogram is still clipped.

a better Milky Way shot

Canon 40D, Rokinon 8mm, lens heated, f/5.6, ISO 800, 240 seconds, tripod, tracked, manually focused, dark frame applied.

(High-rez photo uploaded to the gallery but unfortunately I don’t know when it will be synced.)

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

AIR day 20 - item 3 (aurora)

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 20 blog entry.

Saturday 28 May 2022 - 1:37 AM: Distracting Aurora

As I set up my barn door tracker, DSLR camera, intervalometer, and dew heating system for another Milky Way series, I noticed a glow in the north. Could it be?

OK, OK. Turned the camera to the north and took a quick shot. Yep! There ya go. Green. Tried a couple more shots as spires, over 20 degrees tall, easily visible to the naked eye, danced to and fro.

aurora from Killarney Provincial Park

Canon 40D, Rokinon 8mm, f/5.6, ISO 1600, 30 seconds, tripod, manually focused.

(High-rez photo uploaded to the gallery but unfortunately I don’t know when it will be synced.)

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

AIR day 20 - item 2

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 20 blog entry.

Saturday 28 May 2022 - 12:30 AM: The Skies Cleared

As predicted, the clouds were leaving. It was clearing. So I readied to do some wide-field imaging...

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

AIR day 20 - item 1

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 20 blog entry.

Saturday 28 May 2022 - 12:01 AM: Fire Up the Taste Buds

It’s National Hamburger Day!

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

Friday, May 27, 2022

AIR day 19

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 19 blog entry.

Friday 27 May 2022: Busy Day

Surprised by the 8 AM alarm today. TGIF.

Reviewed my weather and sky resources. The Aviation Weather Center showed winds pushing from the SW, gradually clearing. The Clear Sky Chart was not updating even after clearing the cache. Env Can said mainly cloudy tonight, hiss; clear Sat, meow. Astrospheric said it wouldn't clear tonight until 11.

I noted a good ISS flyover at 10 PM. If clear, we could photograph that. The NOAA space weather page showed kp-index values of 4 in our early evening and through the night. If clear, if we saw a glow in the north, we could photograph that.

Headed to the Kchi observatory and shot a bunch of videos to augment the written guides.

barn door tracker on the slab after minor surgery

Then trundled to the maintenance building hoping I could borrow some tools. They graciously let me use their cordless drill, a large bit, and a spanner. I modified my barn door tracker, moving the camera mount closer to the curved rod. Hopefully this will improve the balance.

12:59 PM. I was ready to upload the videos so I set up my laptop in the observatory, connected to the hard line, and pushed the MPEG files to Google. It predicted it would take over 2 hours for the 19 files. OK. I can take lunch now.

lunch in Killarney

Headed to Killarney and enjoyed a classic fish-and-chips meal at Herbert Fisheries. Yum. Walked down the street to the Gateway Restaurant. Busy, lots of people at the picnic tables by the channel. I bought some treats! Had a laugh on seeing a photograph of Ron Swanson in the restaurant.

Back at camp, I heard a loon. Not the first time: a couple of days ago I heard one.

Around 2:30, I returned to the dome. Holy Universe! Google said it needed another 2 hours for the remaining 10 files. The original estimate was off by half! Ah, it ain't internet by fibre optic here.

Did more tidying up. Made more labels. Dried out some electronics. Put silica packs in cases with sensitive equipment.

4:12 PM. Had a quick meeting with Marisa about the "Getting Started in Astrophotography." We lamented that it was going to be cloudy.

Ah ha! I learned why the Clear Sky Charts were not updating... The Ottawa region was still recovering from the big storm about a week ago with hydro only being restored now... Mr Danko reported: "POWER FAILURE: A power failure has shutdown main chart-updating computers. So chart updates may be delayed or limited to one per day depending how I can scrounge generators, gasoline, and internet access..."

Checked the Clear Outside weather resource. It too showed clouds to midnight or 1:00 AM.

6:03 PM. The upload finished, at last.

Light low-carb dinner again. My last pork chop.

Set up about 30 minutes before show time. The blackflies were bad tonight. Forced me to fetch my bug jacket.

10:26 PM. We concluded our presentation. Clouded out again, sadly. Lots of good questions though. I showed classic shooting with my Canon 40D camera on a tripod. Or smartphone held to tripod with a bungee cord. Or smartphone on deck railing. Showed an inexpensive intervalometer for remote control. Then tracking the sky, in this case with my home-made barn door tracker. I showed through-the-telescope imaging, using the Meade 16-inch and Canon 6D as a sample. That's a big lens! I also showed the rather sophisticated features on my motorola e6 smartphone camera, including a full manual mode, and the ability to save files in RAW format.

Another day done.

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

Thursday, May 26, 2022

AIR day 18 - item 2

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 18 blog entry.

Thursday 26 May 2022: Outdoor Meetings Are Better

Slept till 8. Wow. Blake NcMuffin breakfast.

Received today's invite for the Haudenosaunee Astronomy Webinar. Somehow I missed the first one but I'll watch for the recording.

Raining. A little windy. Foggy. Heavy rain at times. Environment Canada showed rain all day and into Friday morning. Friday night, cloudy periods. Today was a good day for a duck, beaver, otter, frog, and a fish.

I queued up some Miles Davis then decided to have a go at freshening my "Getting Started in Astrophotography" presentation. For raw beginners and up. Made a new version in Google Docs and asked the park to print up some double-sided copies for me.

Holy nut butter! The sky brightened up. Didn't realise how dark it was before. It was clearing up. Woo hoo. Let's do stuff outside! Aired out both of the domes.

Headed to the park office. Forgot to buy something at the Friends store yesterday. When I bumped into Kathleen on trail! Funny. She was looking for me to talk about the next couple of days. I was gonna ask, at the store, if she was in her office. We had a walking meeting along the green path. Could get used to meetings like this.

new buttons

Returned to the store and bought badges! Apropos that I have "I Stargazed" at Killarney badge, don't ya think?

Back at the observatory, I set up to shoot some video. Ugh. The mozzies were out so I powered up the DEET deflector shields. Strapped my smartphone to my camera tripod with a bungee cord. Hey. It works.

I made 7 little instructional video clips for the 10-inch observatory. Uploaded them from within the Dog House and let the team know they could check them out soon.  Bruce said "right on target." Good. I was hoping.

While my little laptop pushed data up to Google, I had a look at the light panel. It seemed to work fine. On-off control with about 8 brightness levels. For when people want to shoot flats.

Low carb dinner and then wound down.

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

AIR day 18 - item 1

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 18 blog entry.

Thursday 26 May 2022: Had Another Go

I’m still disappointed my barn door tracker didn’t work for me. But I decided to take a single frame from the Milky Way tracked run, and have a go in Photoshop. It’s hard to tell on this white background but it looks decent (you really want to view the large version full screen). I think I can even see oxygen air glow!

single frame of Milky Way imaging run

Canon 40D, Rokinon 8mm fisheye, f/5.6, lens heated, manually focused, ISO 800, 210 seconds, tracked with custom barn door mount, various minor enhancements in Photoshop, a single dark frame removed.

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

AIR day 17 - item 3

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 17 blog entry.

Wednesday 25 May 2022: 42, Of Course

I almost forgot. Happy Towel Day!

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

AIR day 17 - item 2

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 17 blog entry.

Wednesday 25 May 2022: Quiet

Early breakfast on this grey day. I deserved two cinnamon buns today. Hrmph.

Retrieved my camera and park laptop from the dome. Pulled the images Kathleen captured last night, cleaned them up, and uploaded them (I was told they won't appear until the weekend, sorry!).

Pulled the photos from my DSLR. Sadly, only 12 subs for the Milky Way. I have a balance issue to sort out with my barn door tracker. The individual shots looks OK. Maybe I’ll have another go at one of those. At least I got darks this time!

Visited the Friends of Killarney Store again. Noted another astronomy Almanac on the shelves. This one has charts by my favourite cartographer, Mr Tirion.

Spotted the Dakota-Lakota star finder by Annette Lee. It's a very nice design with wonderful artwork. The sales person asked where the Moose was. I turned the wheel to late summer. Voila.

And I stumbled across some astronomy-these postcards by Bill Gardner. Nice.

Treated myself to a nice hoodie with a Moose and a Moon!

Made a short movie of my images used for the star trails. Lovely motion of the stars and Milky Way rising in the east. Elaina reported that unfortunately the MPEG file will not display from the normal image folder. She'll have to make it available by other means. So, again, sorry, you'll have to wait a bit for that too.

While looking for my old presentations on getting started in astrophotography, I found the slide deck I had prepared for the recreational camping talk I did for Mountain Equipment Co-op. Forgot all about that. Strangely topical.

Hopped into the York U Wednesday Night astronomy show. Speaker Alex Innanen talked enthusiastically about clouds on Mars. After the live web cast, in the Zoom backstage, I showed my video from inside the Kchi dome. Couldn't open the observatory for the team as it was raining.

So, all in all, a very quiet day. Good for me to recharge.

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

wrong destination

Learned that a large observing logbook had been sent to the past chair of the RASC national observing committee.

Old addresses... 

§

Asked it be shipped to head office.

Asked head office to make arrangements to pay for the shipping.

AIR day 17 - item 1

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 17 blog entry.

Wednesday 25 May 2022: Possible Aurora?

While reviewing the Space Weather Enthusiasts Dashboard at the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center, I noted that the kp-index numbers are climbing to 4. This starts at 1800h UTC on 26 May and continues to 27 May 0900h UTC. If I’m doing my math right, we add 4 hours to those times. Therefore, look north starting 10:00 PM Thu 26 May. If there are no clouds, you might see a glow or spires off above the northern horizon. If not sure you’re seeing aurora, shoot with your tripod-mounted camera a 15 or 30 second exposure and look for green.

And then, over at SpaceWeather.com I saw a note about possible noctilucent clouds. So watch for those before dawn or after sunset.

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

AIR day 16 (live views deep sky)

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 16 blog entry.

Tuesday 24 May 2022 - Beginning of the Final Week

Woke early. My sleep shifting is definitely not working. Observed some wispy clouds but it was trying to be sunny. The windsock was down: zero knots.

Discovered a message in my inbox from the night before. Missed it. A RASC member was looking for some technical support with TheSkyX and a Paramount MyT. Sounded like a cabling problem. "It's always the wire." I looped in others to see if someone had more ideas.

8:03 AM. Our woodpecker friend is back. Sending signals again. Was able to get a fuzzy photo of the little rascal.

... . -. -.. / -- --- .-. . / ... .- .--.

Worked on a target list for the evening. Some Messiers, a couple of unusual things, a double star of course, a few combo unaided eye-telescope things. Made up a worksheet for the telescope operator.

target list for the evening - prime and secondary

Weird. The Clear Sky Chart for Killarney had not updated. It's a couple of days old now. Astrospheric is working fortunately. Looks good according to Environment Canada.

I looked up the evening's best flyover of the International Space Station. And who's on board right now: Korsakov, Artemyev, Matveev from Roscosmos; Lindgren, Hines, and Watkins from NASA; Cristoforetti from ESA; and crash test dummy Rosie the Rocketeer from Boeing. It is very interesting that there are many spacecraft docked to ISS: the brand new Boeing Starliner; SpaceX Dragon; and a couple of Soyuz.

Did a bunch of prep at the dome! For the show for the park visitors as well as my next wide-field imaging run.

Had a go at trying to fix the finder scope illuminator on the 10-inch telescope but it uses some peculiar coin batteries which I don't have.

Received a confirmation that I'm on the docket for a presentation at the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada General Assembly. I'll talk about how amateur astronomers can perform citizen science on double stars, contributing to our body of knowledge on star formation and stellar distances.

Brianna sent me a YouTube link on an interesting piece on time. I look forward to viewing it. We like these brain benders.

3:29 PM. Started receiving Clear Sky Alarm Clock alerts for some of my other favourite observing sites around the province. A good sign, in general.

Updated the imaging document with some information on the Fire Capture software.

Dinner: pork chops with a secret recipe rub.

I thought the skies were improving. Yeh! Wispy clouds kill galaxies.

Huh. Tried to find it but the old NRC magnetic declination calculator is gone! Used a different web site instead. It's roughly -9.5°. Note the negative, meaning west.

https://www.magnetic-declination.com/

At 9:30 PM, we ran another Tour of the Night Sky. But this time, without clouds! And it was a fantastic event!

Apologised for the lack of planets. But for the early morning people, I encouraged them to check out the very nice grouping before dawn, over the next couple of days with the Moon passing Mars, Jupiter, and Venus. Showed a simulated view in Stellarium Mobile Plus.

We shared live views and photographs from the telescope. Sky was bright at the start but we viewed Arcturus with our eyes and on the camera. Then we checked out the neat double star system in Ursa Major: Mizar, Alcor, Mizar A and B. We ruminated on the exosolar system Muscida, a naked-eye star with known exoplanets. 

globular M53 in colour

Messier 53, a globular cluster, looked wonderful with a long exposure. 

Owl Nebula in colour, a planetary nebula

The Owl Nebula was green! A very interesting planetary nebula. 

Black Eye galaxy in colour

Finally, we enjoyed the Black Eye Galaxy with its curious dark features. 

We found the North Star aka Polaris using the Big Dipper. We tagged the constellations Leo, Ursa Major, Lyra, Cygnus, and Corvus. And that Big Dipper also marks the locaiton of The Fischer Hero. Kathleen flew the 16 aided by Kate. Everything worked and I was very pleased with how things looked. Oh, and we saw the ISS flyover.

Whew!

Fun!

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

Monday, May 23, 2022

AIR day 15 - item 3

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 15 blog entry.

Monday 23 May 2022: Planned the Third Week

8 AM. Simple breakfast.

Heard a weird sound. Went outside. Silly woodpeckers. Territorial sapsuckers. They were pecking at the steel roofs of the buildings in the staff area. Their special woodpecker Morse code. Are you bonkers? The roof, like a big drum, amplifies the sound and…

Wait a second! Smart woodpeckers!

Missed Tony’s text message from yesterday evening. They enjoyed glorious conditions on the Blue Mountains. I shared the news about the excellent skies.

Met with Kathleen and staring, once again, at the weather data from Environment Canada, we planned astronomy activities for the week.

  • Tue night - tour of the night sky with hopefully live views
  • Fri night - getting started with astrophotography
  • Sat day - solar viewing

Learned some of the fascinating history of the area.

Transcribed my audio notes from last night’s visual observing. Informed the president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada that I will speak on behalf of the national Observing Committee during the General Assembly in late June. Took some questions from a RASC member about to embark on the Explore The Moon observing certificate program. Finished the major edits to the 10-inch telescope operational manual.

Prepared a large Caesar salad with back bacon! Tasty.

At dusk, I locked up the SkyShed POD. Clouds tonight, sadly. Walking back from the dome, I passed closely to the bat boxes. I could hear lots of scratchin' and squeakin'. Go get those bugs!

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

AIR day 15 - item 2

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 15 blog entry.

Monday 23 May 2022: World Turtle Day

Happy Turtle Day to you and yours. The world needs more turtles!

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

received newsletter

Received the weekly newsletter, What's Happening @ the RASC?

Information about the upcoming RASC General Assembly (GA).

An invitation to Haudenosaunee Astronomy Webinar offered by the Six Nations Polytechnic.

And a few lunar eclipse photos from around the country.

AIR day 15 - item 1 (star trails)

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 15 blog entry.

Monday 23 May 2022: The Sky Turns

Imaged the sky turning. Rather, the Earth turning below the sky! In a moonless sky.

Captured Sunday night or technically early Monday morning.

star trails from Killarney Provincial Park

Canon 40D, Rokinon 8mm fisheye at f/5.6, ISO 1600, daylight white balance, 35 second exposures, 5 second gap, 202 shots captured with Neewer intervalometer, from 1:00 AM to 3:00 AM. Converted from RAW to TIFF with Photoshop. Combined with StarStaX, gap-fill mode.

Those are true star colours. Lyra with white Vega in the middle. Scorpius and orange Antares at the right.

Note the meteor down in the trees. How many little sporadic meteors can you see?

There’s a “tumbler” satellite at the top-left. Or a plane?

Forgot, again, to shoot darks! Sorry for the hot pixels.

Click the thumbnail image in the gallery for a full-size version and dive in…

You know you’re in a dark park when the trees go black.

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

more gems (Killarney)

As the skies remained clear, I decided to head to the dome.

Lovely sky.

The plan was to go through the LX600 alignment process to get more familiar with it. Then do some visual observing, mainly RASC Deep-Sky Gem targets. With many layers on, I headed to the Kchi Waasa Debaabing observatory.

10:58 PM, Sunday 22 May 2022. Arrived the dome. And there was a gaggle of people! What the heck? Two couples and a group of 4. Another couple. I said "Hello." I wondered what were they waiting for?!

Opened the clamshell. Power up the UPS. Caps off. Installed the dew shield. Removed the roof clamps and pushed the dome onto the table. Started up the Surface computer.

Asked if everyone was enjoying the nice dark sky. Handed out copies of The Evening Sky Map to all and encouraged them to identify stars and constellations. Told them to holler if they had questions. Explained we did not have programmed activities tonight. Sorry!

Powered the mount. Went to Arcturus. It was not too far off actually. But out of the FOV of the frac. Aligned with the ES finder scope. Started reading the instruction for the re-alignment process.

A young man asked if there was a satellite flyover about a half an hour prior. I looked it up with Heavens Above. Yes. 10:46 PM, in the north, the International Space Station flew between Polaris and Cassiopeia, brighter than any star. Fun fact: the Boeing spacecraft is at ISS, just arrived. Another man asked about chains of satellites. Yep, easily seen.

When I released the Dec clutch and turned the OTA, I noted the camera didn't fit. Ah! I had extended the electronic focuser. So I retracted it and was able to reach 90 degrees.

The last of the park visitors left...

I believe I encountered a missing step. I think you do the alignment from the park position. I'll have to check... I carried on. As the forks rotated I watched for cable snags. Used the step stool to look through the frac to align on Polaris.

Not a trivial process... But target objects were in the refractor field of view. Tested with Arcturus and Regulus. Updated the documentation. Re-centred the electronic focuser.

Chose my first target, from the Deep-Sky Gem observing certificate program run by RASC. NGC 5371 (also known as NGC 5390). Almost exactly between Seginus of Boötes, Alkaid, and the bright stars of Canes Venatici. I decided to start from Cor Caroli, the lovely double.

Slewed to α (alpha) CVn.

11:50 PM. A glitch in SkyTools. I could not see the Field of View circle in the Eyepiece View window though the direction arrow was shown. Buggy. The direction arrow did not respond. Closed the charts, reopened. No circle. Turned off Night Vision mode. Boxed in, can't use SkyTools 3 and SkyTools 4 is... frustrating. Checked the View settings. The circle feature was turned off. Why? I never changed that setting. Grrr. Enabled it and everything worked again. Waste of time. Finally turned the field to mimic the view in the Meade 130 mm with the Meade 21 mm.

Used the step ladder as a table for the hand controller.

Started the star hop. Uh huh. Noted a bright star. A gaggle of stars. A large oval. Arrow heads and boxes. A line of stars.

I don't think the 21mm ocular is planar. One side of the field is soft.

Arrived.

Bathroom light in the other apartment. The west windows are distracting down in the observing area. All the west windows should have black-out or dark curtains. For the hard-core visual astronomers...

12:05 AM, Monday 23 May 2022. I saw a whole bunch of things!

I saw NGC 5371 in the refractor. SkyTools shows other designations including NGC 5390, MCG 7-29-20, UGC 8846, Z 219-29, H II-716, and PGC 49514.

Interesting bird call in the middle of the night! Close.

A neat circle of stars with SAO 44804. The galaxy was right beside SAO 44805. This oval or circlet with fainter stars was to the north-east.

Diffuse, oval-shaped, angled to the first star, i.e. 44804 (a position angle of 8°. [ed: ST4V says the PA is 6.]

Down and left, at my 7 o'clock (west), was a somewhat bright star. Looked like a double. Put my close-up specs on to read the hi-rez, small pixel computer screen. HD 121197. Not a double in ST4. To the right of the star (south-east) I saw fuzzy things, two. NGC 5354 was to the north; NGC 5353 below. I could not see NGC 5350 even though the software showed it was bigger.

I wanted to view in the big gun. I removed the camera assembly from the Meade 16 ACF SCT. Dug out my Williams Optics dielectric diagonal and my baader planetarium aspheric 36mm. Grabbed my Big DOC astronomy chair and set it way down low. Under The Beast.

I was right on it!

Now, west was to my 10 o'clock.

Used the coarse then fine focus. Damp time was long, more than a couple seconds.

Oval shape. Some structure. A spiral, canted. A nice view beside the two stars. Soft and diffuse. Nice.

Panned to the west and spotted the two previously viewed islands. Oh! There's the third. Bigger, yes, but fainter, lower surface brightness, more diffuse. That's why it was not easily seen in the smaller aperture. Looked like a face-on spiral.

I thought it a nice double star! Bright orange star. Seeing was bad. Wow. Looking nearly straight up through the least amount of air, and the seeing was bad.

The galaxy furthest down was quite bright. But they were all ovals in shape.

The "new" galaxy was half the distance, approx., as HD 121147 (west) was from HD 121197, in the other direction (east).

Three galaxies, boom, boom, boom.  Bottom (5353) was oval, a spiral.  The middle (5354), even though with a bright core, was tiny. Smallest. Curiously, both were brighter than the upper. The top galaxy (5350) upper was a face-on. 

Tried to fine-tune the focus. It was fine (sorry).

Returned to 5371. The biggest of all these galaxies. Big object. Definitely a spiral. Structure visible, hints of mottling, hints of spiral arms. Popped with averted.  SkyTools said it was a spiral--good.

Two faint stars above, flanking it. 

Nice double off to the left, very faint, equal, inline with the bottom of the two bright ones. Aiming toward the triangle. I would classify that as a double star. ST4 didn't show it as such. The bright member is Tycho 03030-0993 1. The fainter star was inline with the star SAO 44805. So this pair's alignment was roughly to the north-east.

SkyTools revealed two more galaxies, smaller still. I did not see them. The 3 that I spotted and the missing 2 were part of a galaxy group, Hickson 68. [ed: I did not realised, or pay attention to, that this was previously viewed.]

Done. 

SkyTools glitched, once again. When I set the status of the 5371 galaxy, it made the rows go white from black. I had to turn off and on the red mode in the application to recover.

Oh! Just discovered that NGC 5350 was another target in the DSG list. How about that?!

A two-fer!

That big faint one near 5353 and 5354 that I didn't see at low power. Yeh. SkyTools did concur: it was a spiral. Marked it observed too!

Next on the list was 5377. It must have been nearby. Ah. Quite close to Alkaid. But that meant more star hopping...

Spotted Antares over the southern trees.

Checked the time (around half past 12) and considered the setup for the star trails imaging run. Collecting the gear and setting up would take about half an hour? Noted the dew power was here in the dome but the strap was with the camera and tripod. Checked the clearances--OK. Fetched the stuff.

At first, I set the tripod down near the west bench but that would require an extension cord. It occurred to me it really didn't matter where the camera was so I put it beside the dome. Rigged everything up: camera, camera power, lens, intervalometer, dew strap, dew controller, dew power. Programmed the camera for ISO 1600. Programmed the intervalometer for 35 seconds plus a 5 second gap. Removed the entire lens hood from the fisheye.

Bonked my head. Owww.

12:48 AM. Checked the Oregon. Relative humidity was at 70% but as I was looking at it, it dropped to 69%. The ambient temperature was 3.3° Celsius. Barometric pressure was dropping. Clouds tomorrow. The display was foggy.

Took a moment to rest.

Decided, since I was in the area, to go for one more DSG. I'd jump off from Alkaid. Wow, the LX600 was even higher up.

Short distance away. Oops. Rotated the FOV in the software. Satellite went through...

I saw it. Very, very faint in the refractor, almost invisible when stationary. Three stars, a little triangle (with PPM 53808). Not a lot of field stars. Almost a void. Turned the WO mirror to view from the other direction and sat on the step ladder. Right there. An edge-on galaxy. Very faint. Diffuse pattern. 11 o'clock to 5 o'clock. Small compact core. Really canted. Fairly large with averted vision. The galaxy angle was about a 90 degree angle to the triangle. Actually another star there reminded me of a mini-Corvus.

SkyTools glitched again. Greg's gonna get an earful.

Looked at my rough plan in Evernote. DSGs, a comet, a double. I was losing steam. Already had accomplished more than planned with the DSG. It was around 1:00 o'clock.

Bat flew by.

The dew-covered Oregon now reported 73% and 3.1.

1:05. Very humid. 

I could see the Milky Way. Wondered if my regular eyeglasses were nearby. Yes, they were. Put on my specs. Took in the view, focused. 

Whoa. A meteor. Southbound! Weird. It went between Lyra and Hercules. 

Next clear night like this I would use the tracker and pull in the Milky Way.

Enjoyed the dark rift, star clouds near the core. 

Saw a tumbler satellite, through Serpens Caput. [ed: No, the left side is Cauda.]

1:10. Didn't feel like I had done much. Although it was good to go through the align process, and accommodated for the electronic focuser. Stumbled across a few more typos. The pointing did seem improved.

Viewed The Coathanger. Hey, not upside-down! Early in the season.

Eyeballed Hercules. Third of the way down, right hand side. Confirmed! Messier 13! A naked eye globular cluster. Pretty good...

Planned to shut down. Then I'd have a nap and get up at 3, before the Moon spoiled the view. Everything went well overall but I bonked my hacked weather station and it fell to the wood deck. The belt clip went one direction. The display was blank. Oh oh. I'd have to do some diagnostics in the morning...

1:23. Carried on. The new close position marks are handy! Left the UPS on, of course. Closed the SkyShed POD.

1:28. Checked the camera. When the intervalometer completed an exposure, and paused 5 seconds to transfer the data, I quickly shone my red flashlight on the lens. No dew. Yes!

Left the dome.

1:32. Made a little pile of the things I'd need later and set an alarm in my phone for 3.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

AIR day 14

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 14 blog entry.

Sunday 22 May 2022. Ask Me Anything

Still raining. Hopefully it would clear up for the afternoon, during the planned the Ask Me Anything event. Slept till 9:00 AM and the rain stopped an hour later.

Headed to the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory domes and tidied up.

Had a good look at the huge planisphere by Celestial Teapot Designs. It's twice the diameter of any that I have! I noticed that meteor showers are indicated on the date dial, that's unique. And it looked like every Messier object is shown, marked in blue.

After lunch, I marked the close positions on both observations. Takes some of the guesswork out of turning the dome before closing the clamshell.

Marisa arrived in advance of our session. I noted her astro-themed backpack! She said the Subaru provided a bunch of gear to the park staff. I explained the significance of the logo.

Around 1:30, as I was reviewing email and text messages, the Kchi Uninterruptible Power Supply started squawking. Oh oh. And power went out. Immediately, the maintenance area generators fired up. Unplugged my laptop to not burden the UPS and saved my files.

Received visitor Christine during the Ask Me Anything.

We talked about dark sky preserves like Killarney. They themselves use appropriate lighting within the park. They reach out to the local towns and cities about their light management plans. And they educate all on the importance of reducing light at night.

We discussed meteor showers at length. I consulted the reminder items in my phone calendar. The only major active one at the moment was the eta Aquarids. It peaked back on May 5, would conclude on the 28th, could produce 65 per hour, and was from debris left behind Halley's comet. One didn't need to necessarily look directly at the constellation; I recommended just looking at the whole sky, perhaps from a reclining chair. The Perseids runs 17 Jul to 24 Aug, should peak on 12 Aug could produce 100 per hour. From Comet 109P/Swift–Tuttle. The best meteor showers though were in the winter! Why not organise a party with friends?!

I mentioned both the American and International meteor organisations:

https://www.amsmeteors.org/

https://www.imo.net/

Finally, we talked about winter camping in a Yurt so to enjoy long winter nights. I gave her a copy of The Evening Sky Map and encouraged her to dust off her telescope.

Marisa herself asked a bunch of questions.

What is a UPS? We used one in each observatory to keep the telescopes going in the event of a power failure and to allow a graceful shutdown. Handy.

Are there motors in a telescope mount? There could be. Our use them. The 10-inch telescope rides on a Losmandy G-11 mount which has one motor, called a "clock drive." It essential operates like a 24-hour clock, turning the telescope to rotate the opposite direction as the Earth turns. The 16-inch 'scope on the other hand had two motors, one to counter-act the Earth's rotation, and the other for up and down motion. They can also be commanded to drive at fast rates as it is a Go-To mount.

We wrapped another day-time astronomy event.

Finally, I found a spot for the USB hub on the 16-inch 'scope so I affixed with self-adhesive Velcro patches. Tidied the cables again. Very neat.

3:39 PM. I heard the big generator shut down. Woo hoo, power's back! Charged up computers and phones! Caught up on messages, including a text from my cousin in Michigan.

Closed up shop and considered dinner. How about bammed spaghetti? Yes!

I examined all the weather tools and it looked like it was going to clear after midnight. That's hard-core but I thought let's take advantage. I considered an imaging run of the Milky Way, tracked with my home-made barn door tracker but wimped out. Instead, I opted for a simpler star trails imaging running, facing south-east. From 1 AM to 3 AM, it would be clear and without any moonlight. OK.  Prepared a packing list and reviewed my astronomy blog for exposure details.

Weird. The clouds predicted by all the tools from 8 PM to midnight did not show up. So I headed out at 11 PM to did some visual astronomy.

I used star hopping techniques to view galaxies NGC 5371 (aka NGC 5390), NGC 5350, NGC 5354, and NGC 5353. The later 3 faint fuzzies are part of the Hickson 68 galaxy cluster in Canes Venatici. Some of these are targets in the RASC Deep-Sky Gems observing certificate program. And before I knew it, it was approaching 1 AM.

Set up my DSLR on the tripod with fisheye lens set to f/5.6. Secured the intervalometer. And started shooting 35 second exposures with a 5 second gap. Number of shots? Infinity. Headed to bed and set an alarm for 3 AM. Nightie night!

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

curious about meteors

Read Chris V's Skylights.

Was intrigued by his remark about a meteor shower "warning." Asked for more data.

I could like park staff know and they could pass on to campers, if the skies were clear.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

AIR day 13 - item 2

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 13 blog entry.

Saturday 21 May 2022 - Tour Under Clouds

Up early. Ugh. Made extra coffee.

Finished the revisions to 16-inch telescope operator's manual! It's in pretty good shape. Finished the text overhaul of the 10-inch user manual. Next step: add the images back in.

Started collecting all the official user manuals for the telescopes, mounts, accessories, cameras, software, etc. For the operator library.

Looked like it wasn't going to rain so I hopped on the bike. It felt SOOO good. I do believe it was the first official bike ride of the season. Didn't have a heart attack, didn't get off the bike on the hills, didn't have a diverging fall, didn't experience a fast leak in the front tire, and went fast enough to outrun the blackflies.

I checked out the park's amphitheater, Yurts area, small Nature Centre building, and Trout Creek section. I paused at the scenic La Cloche Silhouette trail head. Ah, the smell of campfires. Experienced flashbacks when I arrived at Bear Alley. I remembered the steep roads, walking along them at night without a flashlight, site 67 and where I set up my tent, and spending an afternoon at Second Beach.

panoramic view of Lake George from Second Beach

Dinner? It's Vindaloo night!

About an hour before show time, I heard Kate setting up in the observatory grounds. I decided to deliver my presentation at the front, beside the projector, with my laptop directly connected. I wanted them to see me, and me them. More intimate.

ready to present

I did a redux of my Tour of the Night Sky. Virtual tour as we were clouded out once again. Actually, the deck was updated with our recent supernova and lunar eclipse images! And I added a slide encouraging people to try for the RASC Explore the Universe certificate. Any one can do it. The presentation seemed to go well, with the biggest crowd yet. Haven't used my remote presenter device for a while--handy as I had gloves on.

Some intriguing questions at the end such as "Can aurora happen at any time?" Yes, but it depends on the Sun! Showed some of the monitoring sites I watch and suggested trying a smartphone app.

I apologised that my science team has not perfected the cloud filter. Alas.

Tomorrow: it's Ask Me Anything.

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

AIR day 13 - item 1

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 13 blog entry.

Saturday 21 May 2022: Discover the Night

Popped into the park office to grab a map. In case I got lost on my bike-about.

sign board with Discovery programs

Hey! That’s me!

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

Friday, May 20, 2022

AIR day 12

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 12 blog entry.

Friday 20 May 2022: Quiet Day Then Thunder Boomers

Holy smokes, it's Friday already! (And the beginning of The Big Weekend.)

Realised I should add a slide at the end of my Tour of the Night slide presentation about the RASC Explore the Universe program. It’s open to the public. Anyone can do it! Tomorrow evening I will delivery this presentation.

Had a proper Blake's Breakfast Sandwich with peameal bacon! Yum.

Chatted with my sis. She asked if I've seen any porcupines! Gosh, no. I told her about the bats and the moths. She loves bats.

The rain's picked up. It's a good day for a duck. Checked the Clear Sky Chart for Killarney. Oh dear.

Considered how to stack my supernova images. I checked the Dell laptop for Deep Sky Stacker. I used that before so was ready to try it. Bruce recommended Sequator. I’ve also used it but only once or twice. OK. The good news? Sequator accepts CR2 files directly! The spiral arms in NGC 4647 were visible. That was impressive with such short subs, and no flats, and no darks!

Tested the batteries in the various finders. Put red film on some of the extremely bright LEDs in the Kchi observatory.

It turned fair, stopped raining. I entertained the idea of getting on the bicycle, finally. But then I had to head into a meeting. Elaina and I caught up.

Dinner time: Mexican night! Ola!

Updated images recently captured and began uploading them.

At 6:55 PM, I heard thunder. The lights flickered in a brief brown out. Three minutes later? They stayed out. And I heard a gennie fire up...

Oh. I missed the weather alert, the severe thunderstorm watch, from earlier in the day.

"Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms that may be capable of producing strong wind gusts and large hail... A tornado or two is possible." That can be a little unnerving when you're in a tent.

I read a few more pages in my book. Played a phone game but then put it to sleep to save power. Put my laptop into Hibernate mode. Then lay down on the couch…

Flickering lights, clicking, beeping pulled me out of my slumber at 9:20 PM.

Kinda time to wind down anyway…

P. S. Heard from Trevor. He’s been camping and then busy at work. He asked me if I had seen any bears. As a matter of fact…

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).