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).

no captions for you

Learned that the AIR blog, while it supports captions on images, requires each one be added individually.

Well, yes, I sort of expected that... 

The connotation though is that I'd have to submit them and someone else would add the labels. 

That's not what I'm after. That's impractical and error-prone. It ain't right.

So, sadly, the AIR photos are without tags.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

AIR day 11

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

Day 11 blog entry.

Thursday 19 May 2022: First day with rain.

Woke to the sound of rain. Amazingly, this is the first rain I have encountered at Killarney. And it looks like I'm in for a couple more days of it. Which will make everything all the more green, when the Sun returns.

Well, it'll give me time to catch up!

Informed Elaina and Bruce of my Tips and Tricks documentation for the future AIR people. Noted on all my little discoveries and suggestions. We briefly discussed plans for shooting some video. I’ll bungee-cord my smartphone to my tripod again!

Received a message from the RASC national office. The June 2022 Journal is available for members to download. In my Binary Universe column, I reviewed the latest version of FITS Liberator, the 4th edition, with many welcome improvements. I look forward to reading Alister Ling's article on De-rotating and De-trailing Tripod Shots. There's also a book review of Vera Rubin by Mitton and Mitton. Sounds quite interesting. Another intriguing issue, if I may be so bold.

SkyNews magazine at Shoppers in Sudbury

I needed some supplies so I headed to Sudbury. During one of my excursions, I drove past Science North, the big snowflakes perched on the dark rocky outcrops. I'll have to coordinate a visit if I return...

Did some Stellarium Training Series wrangling. Two courses ran tonight: a level 1 in the Mountain time zone; and a level 2 in Eastern.

Received an automated email from Telescopius with some interesting suggestions for celestial targets, as the sky darkens over the coming days. Hmmm.

At 6 PM, I joined the Six Nations Polytechnic's Haudenosaunee Astronomy Webinar facilitated by Tom Deer. Three hours long! Lots of good learning and knowledge exchange. With another session next week. I was grateful for the invitation.

Wow. Today went by super-fast.

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

well done

Congratulated Chris V on his RASC award.

Spotted in the Journal!

A high honour.

the Journal's out

Received an email message that the RASC Journal was live!

June 2022 cover for the Journal
The June 2022 issue of the Journal was available to members online as a PDF. 

INSIDE THIS ISSUE:

  • De-rotating and De-trailing Tripod Shots by Alister Ling
  • Visual Observation of a Curious Structure on the Near Side of the Moon
  • Canadian Visits of Early Spacefarers
  • book review of Vera Rubin by Mitton and Mitton

Plus, all the regular columnists and superb images from Canadian astrophotographers.

In my Binary Universe column, I reviewed the latest version of FITS Liberator, the 4th edition, with many welcome improvements. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

AIR day 10 (sunspots)

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

Day 10 blog entry.

Wednesday 18 May 2022: Our Amazing Sun

We ran our solar observing drop-in session today. Lots of visitors, young and old. Lots of great questions.

We used the Meade 10-inch SCT in the Waasa Debaabing observatory with a Kendrick full-spectrum white light visual solar filter. Great view of the Sun.

sunspots

Captured with a Canon 40D at 11:04 AM, ISO 100, 1/500th of a second. The large group at the top is the Active Region 3014. The two smaller spots below is AR 3015. Bottom-right is AR 3010 and finally bottom-south is region 3016.

Out of frame I saw Active Region 3007.

Busy place. Hopefully we’re get some aurora soon…

Two young lads helped do some safe solar projection with some old (small) binoculars. Science!

Why can I never remember how long it takes the Sun to rotate?!

It’s around 27 days.

My favourite question was: Why is the Sun not yellow?

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

no comments for you

A follower shared they are enjoying my blog posts on the AIR web page.

But they bemoaned that it does not accept comments.

Yeah. Weird. The social media pages are not very social (even though based on WordPress tech).

I promised to reported the issue.

visual and photographic (Killarney)

8:07 PM, Tuesday 17 May 2022. Well, hello. Checked the voice recorder: 7 hours left, good.

KPPO Kchi observatory open, UPS on, caps off, dew shield on, power bar on. Dual camera rig back in the 16; 21mm eyepiece back in the 130. Normal config.

Oregon Scientific weather station out in the open... Humidity was low (for now).

Brought my DSLR out for another ISS run, already on the tripod. Wrong lens. Also brought out my dew fighting case...

Some blackflies were around. Put some DEET cream on. Found my hat.

Connected power for the KPPO Dell computer. Confirmed connection. Windows wanted to do an update so I applied it. I deferred the Windows 11 update. That'll be a kick in the head.

Put the power supply for John Grim aside. Wondered where I'd put everything, need more desks, for all the computers. Left computer closed for the moment.

Reviewed the plan:

  1. get the big 'scope running; put it on something, a star, say Arcturus in the still bright sky; align and sync the big 'scope
  2. image the flyover around 10 o'clock
  3. image the supernova before the Moon rose, about an hour window
  4. then do some general stuff, my personal things...

Headed outside to do preliminaries for the wide-field shooting. Put the Rokinon 8mm lens on. Attached the DC coupler to the observatory power source. Aimed roughly, considering the path starting from WSW. Test shots. Brighter sky so dropped the ISO. Attached the intervalometer and it showed the problem again, working intermittently. A bit of pressure on it seemed to make for a good connection so I put some tension on the cable and secured it. Test again - seemed flawless.

Decided to hook up the dew heating. Used my custom warmer strap on the lens, secured with a large twist-tie, my do-it-yourself controller None More Black, powered from my hacked computer power supply unit. Power it all up and turned it (almost to 11) to see if all was working...

The 40D was ready to go. 

8:28 PM. Back in the observatory.

I thought about the Stellarium training happening right now. Kersti was teaching while I was sorta working. Neat. Saw an email for one participant, with a time-stamp shortly after 7. Hope they got in.

Wanted to check my notes. In Evernote, so I needed a computer. Tried the observatory small chair, a little low. But it let me have both computers side by each.

Confirmed with Unify to access the internet. Medium signal. (I was letting the Dell have the hard line.)

Asked Google to set an alarm for 9:45. Took 2 attempts, silly global computer.

The flyover started at 9:54, would be visible around 9:57. So basically a 10 PM pass.

I was thinking I'd image with the 16, the supernova. Connected the USB hub data cable to the Dell (with an adapter) to the last available port.

Flipped Chrome to dark mode. Checked the weather pages. Clear skies. Wow. It had opened up right over top of us, though there was something over Superior and moving east quick. I hoped it would dissipate. Pretty well gone? The lakes were still cold, Erie the warmest, Superior the nippiest. CSC. Updated EC for the town of Killarney: tonight, clear, wind north 20, becoming light early this evening, low zero with patchy frost, tomorrow, sunny, high 11, UV index 7 or high, night-time partly cloud, becoming cloudy after midnight with showers, wind becoming south-east 20 before morning, low 7. Gonna get cold tonight, with frost... (i.e. dew). Good for tomorrow for solar viewing.

Astrospheric showed good conditions. It showed three ISS flyovers. Oh ho. I never did this before. When you click the icon a page appear with the overhead sky and path drawn, plus times. Funny order I thought; I'd make it Rise, Max Alt, Set. There's a Remind feature--with a Pro account. Confirmed the 10 PM one was the best (or brightest).

My sister texted me. She shared that the Merlin app (from Cornell) on a phone can identify birds by song. I'm not that hard-core.

Decided to get APT ready. 

Sheesh. The site coordinates prompt again. A location has not been set. So I would do them a favour. Entered the name, lat, long, elevation, time zone. Looked like it worked. I examined the Darkness Bar.

Heh. Latitude 46. I'm 4 more north than normal...

There was also a pop-up about a new version, 4.0. They are running APT version 3.90.

APT takes PHD input. Robust. Many features than Backyard, I think. Can control the mount, the focuser, a rotator, with additional Tools, INDI and INDIGO. Found the past images preview.

Entered SN 2022hrs for the target name in APT. 

Considered taking darks and flats. Except I didn't know where the power cord was for the light panel.

8:55. Went to check the dew heater on the 8mm lens. It was warm. Local conditions: 52%, 8.5°, pressure dropping, clouds tomorrow. Examined the focus.

Would not reach astro twilight until 11. Son of a gun. Then the rotten Moon would come up. The sky would be bright while I was trying to get to the galaxy. Looking ahead, Virgo objects would get good.

9:00. Quickly cleared the phone alarm. Checked the email for a Stellarium report. Nothing yet. But they'd be wrapping...

Decided to go for Arcturus. The GPS Fix occurred in the usual three asterisks. But nothing in the eyepieces. Nada. Fired up Stellarium. Software suggested it was visible to the eye. 

9:05. I surmised the mount was way off. Reboot! Arcturus again. I looked again the finder and many 'scope OTAs. I panned and hunted for a bit. Nyet. Left it for a bit.

Pined for binoculars.

Put on my specs and looking around, with corrected vision.

It occurred to me that the long stalk on the finder scope needs to be turned. It'll poke your eye out! Should be near the body of the 16-inch.

Thought I had it but then lost sight of the star in the east... Or was it my imagination?

Sis texted me again. Asked if I got to see the eclipse.

Spotted Arcturus, higher up. The mount was way off! Way too low. Fiddling with my specs, I got it in the finder. Checked the frac. Weird, not co-axial again. Slewed to Messier 60. Wait, I decided to use a nearby star, Vindemiatrix, for syncing. The AutoStar hand controller is not very "smart." It dropped me into the named star list in the E section. Why? And I believe it shows every named star in its catalogue, even ones below the horizon (which might be dangerous). Two line menus! Grrr. 

Nevertheless, synced. And the settled on M60.

I wondered if the various panels could be closed or minimised in APT. They are distracting. 

Did test shots. Blown out. Tried again. 

It occurred to me I did not know if I was in focus. Back to Vind. Test shot. Why did the ISO change. Oh. There was a star. Centred. Course, fine, and electronic focus. Too bad there are no readouts for focus. Back to M60. ISO changed again. Bonkers. Lost my settings. ISO 800. Too much. 400. Blue sky.

9:28. Spotted Kersti's report. I thanked her. And confirmed that the Stellarium Absolute and Relative star values do not correspond to the Bortle scale. 

Put the red film on John Grim. Connected the red keyboard light. Set the app to red mode.

Tried another test shot.

Ah. Saw a fuzzy blob. Yeh. 

Noted a weird pattern, vertical light and dark regions, in the 'scope or on the Dell screen?

Went back to ISO 800. Galaxy. And some stars. Compared to SkyTools Visual. ISO 1600. Right, the mirror diagonal was out so even reflections, not the usual three reflections. 10 seconds, ISO 1600. I confirmed when you go back and forth between Live View and Shoot, it throws away your settings. Annoying.

Went outside and checked the intervalometer function.

Couple of dudes came through. He recounted a U of T astronomer from last year. Not me.

Turned on the red flashlight for light painting.

They spotted it first. Dim. Got brighter. Then brighter than any star. Good pass. When past the range of my fisheye, I stopped the intervalometer. Checked the spherical lens. Clear! Sweet. (Either it was not humid or the dew heater worked.)

We talked about internet satellite services.

Offered a view of the main 'scope imaging. Panned a bit to centre. M60 and NGC 4647. Hey, spotted another galaxy, 4638. Cool.

Liam and Philip headed out. Invited them out tomorrow.

10:16. I wanted to set up a plan in APT but couldn't figure it out. Did it manually. Pausing 5 seconds. A meat puppet.

The program shows in the Status column the letter E for the exposure duration. And it counts up. It should count down. I watched the real-time clock at the top-right to do an in-my-head gap or delay. I could not see camera data per the sensor temperature.

First, it would let me do anything until I selected the frames type. I chose Light. But then it wouldn't let me set the gap or the reps. Not obvious how it works. I suppose I could have read the manual in daylight.

10 seconds, ISO 12800. Verified it was working, noting the last image shift.  

Checked the roof clearances.

There was a double star at the bottom-left of the field. SkyTools did not show it. In fact, it didn't show any star there at all.

[ed: NGC 4638 is very bright like an elliptical but also looks like an edge-on spiral. ST4 says it is a lenticular galaxy. Uh huh. aka MCG 2-32-187, UGC 7880, and PGC 42728. This is south-west of M60. Immediate left or west of 4638, in the processed image, is a faint but mottled shape, about the same size as 4638. This is, according to the software, NGC 4637 or MCG 2-32-188, UGC 7881, PGC 42744. It too is a lenticular. Dim! South-south-east of M60 is another faint fuzzy. It's quite small. The SkyTools Object Information says it is LEDA 1394064; the chart label though it Z 71-18.]

Felt cooler. Temp dropping. Planned a run to get another sweater and the coat.

Dove into Windows File Exploder to see how many images I had so far. 103. And that was RAW and JPEG. So 50. Decided to do another 10.

A couple more...

OK. Lots of images of a supernova and a few galaxies in Virgo, in dark skies!

Nothing visible  in the Live View. So the DSLR is no good for live views of faint galaxies.

Left the observatory to put on more layers.

(And I totally forgot to shoot darks!)

When I returned... I needed some Whole Sky. I laid down on the deck, eyeglasses on, so to enjoy the very dark sharp skies of Killarney. Stunning.

10:46. Issued a Disconnect. Closed APT. Shut the camera off. Shut down the Dell and closed it. The Dell power USB-C plug had a white LED on both sides. Ugh. I covered it.

Moved my laptop atop.

Oh! I could go for a Deep Sky Gem! 

Reset the filter for the "personal projects" list. 187. Reapplied the time limits. Best quality. Down to 90. A target in Boötes, not far from Alkaid. With such a high target, I'd need to move the roof. All right. 

Then I slewed to Mizar. Nearly straight up. Crawled under the rig to look through the finder scope.  Panned about, on my way.  When the mount suddenly "skipped." What?! That was upsetting. The balance of this thing is so precarious.

I thought about quitting. 

Let's try again. I parked it. Booted it up. Went to Arcturus. Synced.

Selected Mizar. It was actually closer from the get-go. Synced. Where the heck were we. Let's resume.

11:12. Mizar A and B with Alcor and the star in the middle. It looked pretty good in the 130 refractor (as it should). 21mm eyepiece, wide field. 43x.

OK. Off to Alkaid. Field hopped in the frac comparing to the SkyTools charts. Bumped the slew speed. Doubles, Big Ls, something zipping through followed by a satellite, wide stars, many bright stars. Arrived Alkaid.

The quarry was next. To the east.

11:20. The Moon was up. The sky was brightening. That magnificent sky was going away. A few days later, I'd do a NELM test on the Little Dipper. I suspect this is darker than Mew.

Faint stars. Less. Damn it. I accidently dragged in the Atlas and lots my markers. Fire truck! Reselected the target in the list. Resumed the hop. OK, another waypoint. Quadrangles. Spotted 24 Boötis. Then HD 127824 and to the right of that faint TYC 03476-0117 1. Further to the right, south-east, my fuzzy galaxy NGC 5676. Got it!

I saw it in the refractor.

11:30. Needle shape. Tuned the angle in the software. The galaxy was angled north-east to south-west. Centred it.

Removed the power and data cables from the imaging rig and inserted my diagonal and my baader zoom, set to 24mm. Took some force to get the cap off. Worried I was gonna screw up the hair-trigger mount.

There it was. 

It was hard to focus manually with the 'scope shaking.

Definitely saw it.

Centred at a slow rate.

Fine tuned the focus with the hand box.

Bright core, with averted. Tiny bright core. L-shape of stars around it. Pretty sure it was a spiral, canted. The sky was starting to wash out. Seemed fairly uniform in its shape.

The sky was grey.

Checked the view in the software. I had the zoom in the software, ready to go. North was at the 2 o'clock position. The 24 didn't seem to closely match; the 20 looked better. It was in an L-shape with stars TYC 03476-0169 1, TYC 03476-0021 1, and GSC 03476-0122 (a mag 13.5 star).

Marked as observed!

Woo hoo.

11:46. Considered a double star since the sky was getting bright. The Moon was still behind the trees. Earlier, I had bookmarked Virgo in Haas's book but I flipped to Boo, since I was already there. And I started at the end of the list. Two pairs.

Selected Otto Struve 298. aka HD 139341 or SAO 64800. The HIP matched. I slewed. 

I noted a wide double in the finder. At first, it didn't seem right in the refractor. Definitely on the right one. Turned off the ACO display.

11:55. I was confused. In the refractor, I only saw two stars. SkyTools showed a third. I didn't see it. Couldn't get the software to mimic the view. 

OK. The obvious stars were A and C. Check.

SkyTools showed a "D star" but it was the core of a galaxy!

I also spotted the E star, faint, in line, 3 to 4 times the distance. Haas doesn't note it.

Oh dear, A and B were 0.8 seconds of arc apart. Maybe not. Fast binary.

Noted the gaggle of stars above, some 5 or more stars, a different system, given another C companion. SkyTools identified as a KZA double. Added it. Saw some of it.

Had another swig of water from my glow-in-the-dark water bottle.

The seeing was bad in the big OTA.

Oh ho. I saw the galaxy! NGC 5966. Wild. 

Whoa. I got it. A and B, despite the collimation issue. Same colour, same brightness. Oriented 3 and 9. Aimed toward the faint star (GSC 03053-1207, a mag 14.9 star) near the galaxy. Neat! 

12:04 AM. Wednesday 18 May 2022. Wow. Didn't expect to get a sub-arc-second split here. Impressive. Confirmed the angles.  Below was the bonkers system, the wide faint stars. 

{ed: Hold up. Didn't notice at the time that the SkyTools 4 Visual Object Information box had this to say about OΣ 298. The PA is 192° and the Sep 1.17" (as of 2022.4). Checked Stelle Doppie. It too reported the AB stars at a separation of 1.2".}

One more.

Yep, stars A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I. Oval shape. More like a little asterism or open cluster. I'll take it!

OK. That's enough. Put my eyeglasses away. Threw the dew fighting case inside the dome. Closed up shop. 

12:21. Moon was coming through the trees. The Oregon was fogged. 1.8 degrees, 68 percent.

Locked up.

Hauled the carrying case and camera-plus-tripod inside.

1.4, 69, gonna rain. Brrr.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

AIR day 9 - item 2 (supernova)

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

Day 9 blog entry.

Tuesday 17 May 2022: Imaged a Supernova

At any given moment, there are a number of stars in the universe which are exploding in a rather cataclysmic way. Just visit the Bright Supernova webpage by the Rochester Academy of Sciences.

I had heard about the SN near galaxy Messier 60 so I put it on my list of things to image. Tonight with the clear skies before moonrise, I ramped up to collect some data. I was able to acquire the target as the twilight sky darkened and shoot a number of short sub-exposures. Finished the run around 10:45 PM.

supernova 2022hrs in NGC 4647

Canon 6D Mark II (unmodified), Meade 16-inch ACF LX600, f/8, 10 seconds, 34 sub-exposures, ISO 12800. Stacked with Sequator. Some post-processing in Photoshop.

The supernova is marked with the 2 yellow lines. It is very obvious. The designation is 2022hrs.

Also obvious in the image, down and left of the SN, is the extremely bright core of the elliptical galaxy Messier 60 in constellation Virgo. This galaxy has a published distance of 70.0 million light-years.

Now up and right of the SN is a faint spiral galaxy. Can you make out its spiral arms? This is NGC 4647 from the New General Catalogue. Together, M60 and NGC 4647 are also referred to as Arp 116 from Halton Arp’s collection of unusual galaxies. My trusty SkyTools does not show a distance but The Amazing Wikipedia says around 63 million light-years. So that means, it is in the foreground, or closer than M60.

SN 2022hrs is thought to be inside NGC 4647. The rather amazing thing about this, which you can plainly see, is that a tiny individual star (or binary system), exploding and releasing extraordinary energy, is currently outshining the core of its host galaxy! That’s bright. Really bright. If a supernova went off in our galaxy, we’d probably be able to see it in the day-time!

This supernova is classified as a Type Ia (Roman numeral one-A). Because this class of SN produces a fairly consistent light curve as it brightens and fades away, we can use it as a standard for measuring distance. This means we will be able to refine our distance calculation for the host galaxy. Type Ia supernovae are very helpful for astronomers learning the vast distances that galaxies are from us here on Earth.

OK. Let’s try to estimate the effective brightness at the time of the image run. Conveniently, there is the pair of stars up and left, at a 45 degree angle, and the lower one is about the same intensity. SkyTools says that the star is TYC 00878-0293 1 and it shines at magnitude 11.85. There’s the triangle of stars below M60 and the upper star is GSC 00878-0222. It’s mag 12.24 but unfortunately the data quality for GSC stars is not great. The triangle at the bottom-right of the image has the bright star TYC 00878-0286 1 at mag 11.48 but the SN is not as bright as that one. So, briefly, I believe we can say that SN 2022hrs is around magnitude 12. What do you think?

Finally, if you look very closely in the image, you’ll find more galaxies. Once again, beside the right-angle triangle of stars below M60, there’s a faint fuzzy canted elongated patch of light. That’s galaxy LEDA 1394064. At the bottom-right of the image is the obvious bright galaxy NGC 4638. Look again. Just left of it is an elongated horizontally-oriented fuzzy: NGC 4637.

That was 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).