Monday, January 31, 2022

processed the Double Cluster

Been a while.

I processed some BGO Finest NGC images in colour. I looked for a luminance-only image in the FNGC gallery and spotted an open cluster. Ah. NGC 884. Well. If I'm gonna do one, I better do both... So, here they are, the two of the Double Cluster, 884 and 869. Together, Caldwell 14.

NGC 869, half of the Double Cluster

869 above.

NGC 884, half of the Double Cluster

884 above.

I acquired NGC 869 aka h Persei on 21 August and 25 August 2016.

I acquired the χ (chi) Persei or NGC 884 data on 25 August 2016.

Both processed in Photoshop. Both LRGB, 60x10, 60x5, 60x5, 60x5.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

speaking at the 16 Feb Astro Café

I'm on deck to speak during the RASC Edmonton's Astro Café on the evening of 16 February 2022.

7:30 PM to 9:00 PM is show time. That's Mountain time.

Edmonton announcement for the Astro Café on 16 Feb

On behalf of the RASC National Observing Committee, I'll be talking about the RASC visual observing certificate programs.

Visit their event web page for more info.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

another strikeout (Bradford)

I tried again to split the double star Sirius but I was unsuccessful. 

It started out promising in that I observed better seeing conditions even though the transparency was worse than the night before. But then I experienced fogging at the eyepiece and I realized my mistake: I had the eyepiece installed in the optical tube assembly when I put the telescope out hours before to chill down. I should not have left the eyepiece outside. When the chemical hand warmer did not work at clearing the frost I went inside for a deep cycle battery and dew heaters. I actually put two straps on the eyepiece to heat it up fast and that did work! 

In the meantime that transparency was degrading as was the seeing. I still wasn't tagging the companion. Once more to the house, this time for the 2x Tele Vue PowerMate. Effectively I was using a 4mm eyepiece.

Not bad! Not a completely useless mushy view!

Once I thought I saw something, to the east of the primary. And then a second later again I saw something again, a very faint star, a easy distance away, not directly in the glare. Was that it?! 

I really wanted some more sightings but the transparency and seeing continued to decline and I packed it in.

I really do like the insulated bib overalls! Is this what a space suit feels like? When I first put it on I can feel the limited range and the bulk but after a short while at the eyepiece, I don't notice it anymore; rather my legs were completely warm, they were fine. 

This time I had another layer for my torso: long sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, Cookie Monster sweater, RASC vest, fleece sweater, and finally the winter coat. At the end I was feeling a bit cool but I think it was that I was sweating through the inner layers because of all the running around.

Tonight's air temperature was a little higher but there was a bit of a breeze and the humidity was elevated so overall it felt kind of the same. Damned cold. Winter dark bitter chill.

I had high hopes early on but I'm really not comfortable with those two brief sightings. Anywho, the stars of alpha Canis Majoris ain't going anywhere soon...


Wait, is the old Kendrick 2-inch strap dead? If so, I should not have it in the dew fighting case...


Yep, found the Kendrick eyepiece strap faulty (on 26 Jan '19) two years ago! That's why I made my own...


The Orion XT10 specs:
  • Optical diameter: 254mm (i.e. 10 inches)
  • Focal length: 1200mm
  • Focal ratio: f/4.7
  • Resolving power: 0.46arc*sec
  • Lowest useful magnification: 36x
  • Highest useful magnification: 300x
  • Highest theoretical magnification: 508x
  • Limiting stellar magnitude: 14.7
  • Secondary mirror obstruction: 63mm
  • Secondary mirror obstruction by diameter: 25%
  • Secondary mirror obstruction by area: 6%
  • Tube material: Steel
  • Weight, optical tube: 31 lbs.
  • Weight, mount/tripod: 23 lbs.
So with the baader zoom at 8mm, the magnification is 150x.

clear skies, for now

Stunning transparency... in daylight. From the Bradford "mountain" (i.e. old town, near the water tower) I could clearly see the ridge on the south side of the Holland Marsh, toward Kettleby and Snowball.

Noticed, while pissy blue jays squawked, terrorising all the other birds, as I walked north, back home, there was not a cloud in the sky. Wind on my face. Still bitter cold.

Will the clear atmosphere hold into this evening? Hoping again for good transparency and excellent seeing... If clear, and slightly warmer, I'll collimate the 10-inch Dobsonian (with my DSLR).

Must. Split. Sirius.


Let's see...

Clear Sky Chart for Bradford area for 29 Jan 2022

Clear Sky Chart's not lookin' good. Hrrm.

Wait! Transparency erodes before midnight but the seeing is above average!

Friday, January 28, 2022

tried to spot the Pup (Bradford)

Just in from an attempt to view the Pup. The companion to the dog star Sirius.

I tried back on 3 Jan '22, after the backyard campfire. My winter coat still smelled of smoke. Mmm. 

My guess back then for the tight, faint companion was not right...

Seeing was poor tonight. Noted that as soon as I walked through the driveway to the backyard. Worse than before. Oh well, I thought. I'm already out the airlock.

Used the cooled loaner Orion Intelliscope XT10 (without intelligence) again. Collimation still off a little but, once again, I did not feel like tryin' to fix it. 

Dumbass stoned neighbours yelled at each other again while I set up. Sheesh. Don't make me angry. I'm trying to de-stress here you pickled prattling pyromaniacs!

This evening I remembered to use the loaner baader planetarium Mark IV zoom eyepiece. Once centred on the brightest start, I cranked it. Doesn't go to 11... I went to 8mm, max zoom. That was a bit more than on the 3rd where I used my Nagler 9mm.

Sketched the region...

Sirius and neighbours sketched (v2)

North is down; west (drift) is left.

(New version of scanned sketch image with better brightness and contrast.)

I wanted to record the ambient conditions but when I shone the red flashlight on the display, the Oregon Scientific portable weather station was blank. Admittedly, I had not checked the unit beforehand. But certainly the cold was a factor.

As expected, I didn't need dew heaters.

My torso was OK (but cooling despite two long sleeve shirts, fleece sweater, vest, and MEC winter coat). My face was cold, really cold in my cheeks, so I put my balaclava on. Feet were fine in the Baffin Island boots. My legs were warm thanks to the new insulated bib overalls by Carhartt. Really happy with the coveralls! Yeh. Thanks, Mom!

Still, I had no plans to do anything else... Did not view Rigel. Did not go for M42. Did not take in σ (sigma) Orionis. Just α (alpha).

Quiet when I packed up. Briefly scanned the whole sky. Transparency so-so. Some cloud wisps here and there. 

So, I will check my software tools to see how it compares to what I think I saw... 9 o'clock?


The New Tecumseth page from Environment Canada showed the conditions as follows:

Current Conditions 

Observed at: Egbert
Date: 11:00 PM EST Friday 28 January 2022
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -21.8°C
Dew point: -25.7°C
Humidity: 71%
Wind: NW 6 km/h
Wind Chill: -27

I had not noticed any wind... Lee of the house?

I believe that's the coldest air I've ever observed in.

Good to get some photons from outer space.

Good to get out of these four walls for a bit.


I forgot to switch to Kelvin last night. It was 256 degrees out! Toasty! :-D


I continue to monitor the thread "I tawt a taw a Pup" on Cloudy Nights!



Checked SkyTools. It shows the B star at the 4 o'clock position (right side of the sketch). I thought I was seeing something on the left... Will need to try again.

The search continues...