Thursday, September 29, 2022

Saturn and Jupiter (St Thomas)

Looked correct... Here we go.

8:42 PM. First light from the new deck.

Meade ETX 90 Maksutov-Cassegrain with the Celestron 26mm Plössl eyepiece. On the Mamiya tripod at 2/3 height (too high, I wondered?). Camera finder with 3D-printed adapter. Clothespin on focuser. Astronomer chair.

No tracking though. I had not brought out the battery pack. So I had to manually pan. RA knob clockwise.

Viewed Saturn in the south-east.

Clear skies! Cool air.

8:44. Tan coloured planet and rings.

I spotted Titan below. Easy. [ed: magnitude 8.5.]

Headed indoors for the zoom eyepiece.

Plane flew overhead.

Enjoyed the view in the baader planetarium Hyperion Mark IV 8-24 aspheric zoom ocular. First time in the ETX. Another first light! It worked. Not a perfect fit (collision with the finder adapter) but it was fine. Sweet.

Fairly high power, second from last (12mm). OK view. It was better resolution. The rings were better defined. Titan, 6 o'clock position.

8:47. Noted the shadow on the right side of the planet. I could see a dark band behind between the planet and the ring. Probably the the shadow and not the C-ring. Equatorial belt on the planet was a touch lighter. Hints of the Cassini Division. The seeing was better. Nearly stable. It held up.

Couldn't see other moons...

Up high in the BigDOC chair. Uncomfortable. But I didn't want to rejig things at this stage. Next time I'll not go as high on the tripod. Might also help avoid some of the light glare from the parking lots.

Seeing went off.

Oh. The 'scope was warm. I forgot about that. I should have put it outside much earlier to equalise the OTA. Maybe I was seeing tube currents.

Took a short break. Grabbed the Android.

Fired up SkySafari on the phone to identify the Saturnian moons.

moons of Saturn from SkySafari

9:07. I might have seen Rhea to the left, the 8 o'clock, about half the distance. [ed: magnitude 9.9.] And I think I saw Dione, to the right of the rings, about the same distance as Titan, once, just for a second, averted. [ed: 10.6 mag.] Couldn't get that again.

The view was getting better as the ringed world slowly climbed. [ed: to culminate at just after 10 PM.]

Briefly considered some deep sky targets, like open clusters and doubles. Took me a while to sort out showing the current evening's best targets.

Tried for M30 (Messier 30), starhopping down, but didn't make it.

I think I ended up at ε (epsilon) Capricornus in the zoom (at low power, 24mm) also known as H 6 6. I saw a very faint star well away, to the right. That may have been the B companion alluded to in SkySafari at 65.8". Oddly, SkySafari did not show the B point on the screen (another double star goof-up).

double star epsilon Cap in SS app

Was keeping it light and easy so had no intention of using SkyTools on the Surface. But sure wanted to know what the field of view was supposed to look like.

[ed. I stand corrected. The faint star up and right of ε Cap A shown in SS is Tycho 06370-1178 1. According to SkyTools, this is in fact B, the companion, aka H 6 6 B. So I did see the mag 9-10 star.]

Swung to the east.

9:33. Viewed Jupiter, finally clear of the big maple tree. Very neat arrangement with the moons and Callisto extremely close to the planet, impersonating a tight double star, above (north).

Jupiter and moons from SkySafari

Started at low power. Clicked to the highest zoom setting, 8mm (about 140x). The seeing was OK. Detail on the surface of the gas giant, just after opposition. A very nice view. No Great Red Spot.

Looked for shadows. Didn't think there were any going on (confirmed in SkySafari). Next double shadow event on the Jovian world is due on 12 October...

Shot a photo of the setup with the Motorola camera. And the bright parking lot nearby.

ETX setup on deck

Phone battery alert.

9:40. Packed up. Leg sore. Not a lot of energy for a long observing session.

It had been comfortable, temperature-wise. Shirt and sweater, PJs, new fuzzy slippers from sis, deer toque with ear flaps by sis.

No vision issues.

This had been great. Good to get some telescope time, at last.


Forgot to snap the Clear Sky Chart at the time. 

CSC from morning after

The one above is from the morning. Still, it shows no cloud, good transparency, and good seeing.


In the spirit of nicknaming, I dubbed the new observing perch, the third floor balcony, with a nickname applied in SkyTools. The walk-out at Colbeck in Bloor West Village was The Overlook. The lovely backyard at Hurd St in BWG was Cupcakes. This place? Elevator.

noted the conditions

The nice weather was on its way.

A Clear Sky Alarm Clock notification rolled in at 6:00 PM.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Subject: CSAC Alarm for 2022-09-29 18:00:00 at St Thomas
Date: 2022-09-29 16:31
From: "Clear Sky Alarm Clock" <>

Favorable observing conditions at St. Thomas
Based on your St Thomas subscription.

Opportunities to observe at: (Clouds/Trans/Seeing)
09-29 @ Hour 18 for 5 hours (10%/Average/Good)
09-30 @ Hour 04 for 3 hours (0%/Average/Good)
09-30 @ Hour 08 for 2 hours (0%/Above Ave./Good)

Check out your clock at

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Consider a sponsorship of the Clear Sky Alarm Clock.         
Reach over 3000 astronomers every week with your message.      
Inquire at                   

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

All right! Average transparency and good seeing. Good for planets...

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

tried a dry pilsner

Tried a new brewski. Alla Caccia from the Lake of Bays Brewing Co.

Sports a wolf howling at a big Moon. A shooting star.

Alla Caccia beer

Hints of classic pilsners.

Monday, September 26, 2022

down the pipe

Watched the NASA spacecraft smack an asteroid.

Rhonda reminded me of the impending demonstration mission. 

I searched around a bit to find a live feed. Successfully tuned in about 15 minutes before the planned impact. Pretty neat.

before the collision

The image shows the rocky moonlet asteroid Dimorphos seconds before impact with a picture-in-picture of mission control at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission is the first planetary defense test to gauge the effectiveness of crashing a rapidly moving object into a potential Earth-bound asteroid so to divert it.

Intriguing aspect: waiting for the loss of signal (LOS) to know of mission success!


Ha ha. As I was searching Google for DART info, I noted their animated collision effect.

web page askew


Sunday, September 25, 2022

received astro-gifts

After a nice dinner at Braxton's, we convened in my living room.

Received some astro-themed birthday gifts from the fam.

Zhishun notepads

Paper notepads, round, with a full Moon. Entitled Black Moon. [ed: Correction. Two pads gifted. One was the Moon; the other is Pluto!]

aurora soap front

aurora soap back

Bar soap. An aura collection black soap from Cellardoor. Called Northern Lights.

Oh, yes. And the b-day card from Donna featured laser-eyed cats in spaceships! Ha!

wore new shirt

Sported my new shirt during birthday dinner.

An early birthday gift from Rhonda.

Starry Night shirt

Is this a Hawaiian shirt? Need a new label for this one...

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

quick view of the eastern sky (St Thomas)

Late night walk about...

Aching leg.

From the balcony door I noted the Moon and Orion.

Nice sky.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

always the wire

While preparing for my level 2 Stellarium course, I set up the Vixen Super Polaris.

Then hooked up the computer to the GoToStar system.

In Stellarium, after creating an ASCOM mount profile, I tried to connect and slew.

No go.

Oh no.

After a bunch of testing, I determined the GoToStar data cable is bad.

Dang. Will have to make a new one...

assembled NGC 40 in colour

Processed NGC 40, aka the Bow-Tie Nebula, in colour.

Followed Trevor Jones's general advice for making a HaRGB image. A handy tutorial on his AstroBackyard web site.

It worked. It boosted the red in the image, emphasising the bi-polar features of the planetary nebula.

Used the data from 8 Aug '16 and 14 Sep '17 to assemble the full colour image.

NGC 40 in full colour with Ha boost

Prepared in Photoshop.


The red offset is a little off-putting... I'll have to employ a mask...

hazy planets (St Thomas)

After dinner—after the mosquitos—we headed to the deck. My sister and BIL's amazing verdant deck with comfy chairs and solar lights. Lovely evening.

Straight ahead there was a fuzzy point of light, rather dim initially. I was certain it was Jupiter. That became obvious when the barely visible clouds thinned.

To the right, but left of the tree near the stairs, I could faintly see Saturn, even without my corrective specs. I pointed it out to my sis. Then I showed her my Stellarium app screen. "Cool," she remarked.

the gas giants

"But where's the Moon?!" I bumbled an explanation, trying to say that being past the full Moon phase, it wasn't up yet. Fired up Daff Moon on my Android. Showed that screen too. Nearing Third Quarter phase... It would rise near 11 PM.

Remarkably humid.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

watched La Luna

Watched the short animated film La Luna (from 2011) featuring three generations.


I particularly liked the sound effects.

A nice surprise found on the recently-acquired Brave movie DVD.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

spotted the Moon (St Thomas)

Spotted the Moon... Eww.

I think observing from the balcony will be a treat...

Memories of "The Overlook" on Colbeck St.

With my black-out blinds, it should go rather good. 

I can see quite a lot of sky...

gave away a SkyNews

While we headed to the London air show, hoping to spot the B2 Spirit stealth bomber, I gave Jonesy one of my extra comp SkyNews magazines.

He was pleased.


Bomber model corrected.

Sunday, September 04, 2022

read Aug 1942 issue

Read the August 1942 issue of Sky and Telescope.

Noted the American Astronomers Report, relaying news from the AAS meeting in June. Dr R. M. Petrie of the DAO discovered another class of rare stars, sub dwarfs.

Some Canadian content.

I noted another list of double stars, the second in a series, this is 16h to 20h. The list for 12h to 16h appeared in June; next will appear in October 20h to 24h.

Friday, September 02, 2022

received another DS app

Received another RASC observing certificate for the Double Stars program. 

From a very early adopter, no less. They started their campaign in November 2020, immediately after we launched the newest certificate.