Wednesday, April 12, 2023

observed some doubles (St Thomas)

Put the Meade ETX telescope outside to cool down.


Put the fabric blind up.


Created an observing list with a number of entries from Sissy Haas's book, double stars for small telescopes, suggestions never viewed, greater than 2" apart, selecting constellations that were well positioned. Ended up with 50+ double stars. Good stuff.


Astro chair was already outside, used during the day.

Put a strap on the eyeglasses. Tight fit!

9:05 PM. Fired up Sony recorder. The battery level was good. Amazing.

Moved outside. Relieved to sit down. Barkie McBark was at it. Frickin' humans. Pigs.

Took in the whole sky. Something due south. Checked the field in the SkyTools 4 Interactive Atlas.

Forgot the keyboard light.

Hit the "time now" button, then turned it off. Wondered if I was seeing a Virgo star. Or was it Alphard?  In the south... Time was 9:07 PM. If the software was right, Spica was in the tree. And Leo was above? Yes. Craned to look. I spotted it, up high. Decided to start on Denebola.

SkyTools bug emerged. Grouped or sorted by constellation and the list went white. Had to flip the Night Vision mode off and on.

In the Leo group, I applied a check mark to all the entry (with the S key). Then showed them in the IA chart. Good, some close to Denebola.

Spotted a satellite in the Meade finder.

Tried to focus the finder. Used the Canon eyepiece rotation thing.

Turned on the tracking motor power pack. Heard the motor note.

Needed some eyepieces and the USB keyboard light. Headed inside briefly.

Noted a bit of drift. Rotated the mount a bit clockwise. Got back on target. Oops. I didn't have the RA lock on... So maybe the rotation wasn't necessary?

Installed the Celestron Plössl 26mm to start. Confirmed the view in the software, in the Eyepiece Viewer.

Denebola was bright and yellow.

9:18. Noted a somewhat bright star a third or a quarter of the field down, HR 4531 (a double by the way). Two faint stars between. The in-line star was the super-wide companion of β (beta) Leonis, Burnham 604, the D star. The other was Tycho 00870-0314 1 (at magnitude 10). A good starting point.

Centred. Aligned the finder scope.

Activated the finder scope in the software (turning off the Star Diagonal mode).

Noted another satellite. Was I seeing a constellation of artificial satellites.

Then a bright one, going a different direction, from right to left.

Spotted dwarf SSO Ceres in the chart. Near... Interesting. But no.

Considered a nearby target to split. Not 95 Leo... HD 103152 aka SHJ 132. Faint star! Wasn't sure. Wanted more power so I installed the baader planetarium zoom eyepiece. Studied for a long time - inconclusive.

Wasn't sure where I was with the ocular. Which magnification was I at? Didn't know when the index was. Didn't have any portable red light to shine on it...

Frustrated with the computer. Also confused by an incorrection entry to the list. I thought I had been careful but I had added the C companion to the observing list.

You've got to be kidding. ST4 said it was magnitude 13.3! That was hovering over C in the Interactive Atlas (though the Object Information screen said 11.5). Separation: 92 seconds of arc. [ed: Stelle Doppie says C is magnitude 13.27. Notably, reported 6 times (compared to 37) with the last entry from 2013.]

B on the other hand was 10.1 (or 9.8)... Sep 39.0".

Wait! I saw a very faint star pointing straight up!

9:38. Averted, it popped. Wide. Straight up, roughly north. North-north-east. The B star. Gotcha! Noted the two bright stars above including HD 103111 and SAO 99842. When I looked to the right, it popped. Barely visible direct. So faint. Really hard to get any colour. Added to the list and marked observed. Looked for C in the software, even fainter, to the west. B was almost pointing perfectly at the faint star above TYC 01441-1537 1.

Average seeing. It came and went.

I was unclear about whether B or C was the target from Haas's book.

Figured out where I was in terms of magnification by counting. I was in the middle, so 16 mm. I went one notch out, to the 20 mm. I could still see it.

Checked the gap to the roof. Considered the next target.

Sore. Crouching, not sitting straight. Wondered when I could take my next painkiller. Ah, overdue. Went inside. Took a Tylenol 1 and grabbed the Deep Red flashlight.

Started off to the next quarry. Found it. Easy!

9:52. Easy pair. HD 100600 aka 90 Leonis. HR 4456, HIP 56473, STF 1552.

Moved the chair more in-line with the eyepiece to stop twisting my body. Set the BigDOC to a better height. Much better. Much much better.

I had not seen the AB pair; it was C. 67". Mag 6 and 9. Extremely wide at 24 mm. Yellow and blue, I wanted to say. Faint C was to the 7 o'clock position, blue?. Through the middle of PPM 128353 and TYC 01438-2633 1. Jumped in zoom two stops. A split! Yeah. B was pointing around 6:30... Look at that. Got it. Sweet! Worth it. B was slightly fainter than A, maybe one mag; C was much fainter, maybe 3 or 4.

Felt a little cool. Grabbed a sweater.

Went up one more notch, 12 mm. Yellow, orange, colourless? Or orange? Pretty neat. Glad I saw that. [ed: From ST4, AB at 3.4" and AC at 67.0".] [ed: Smyth said "silvery white, purplish, and pale red."]

Nice. Yellow and red?

10:07. Viewed HD 101302. SAO 99718, HIP 56875, Struve 1565. Nice separation, ST4 said 21.7". The faint cohort was at 10 o'clock, so west-west-north. No field stars. Ah, tagged TYC 01440-0345 1, above, NNE.

Checked the spacing to the balcony overhang. Couldn't go for the next item in Leo...

10:24. I needed a break. Went inside for a bit.

10:42. Shifted to Virgo. Started tagging targets and once again SkyTools flipped into white mode.

Procyon as the starting point. [ed: Huh? I think I meant Porrima. Procyon in CMi was not visible.]

Could see what I was after... Tried to identify the field stars in the finder. Stoopid.

10:54. Realised I was on Spica, not Porrima!

Had to pull the blind down a bit...

I wasn't sure. I thought I was at 81 Virginis but the field didn't look right. Gave up on that one.

Now Spica was high enough I didn't need to grab the blind. Of course it was rising, currently in the south-east.

Star hopped to 72 Vir.

Didn't see a pair. Oh. Five magnitudes different. Wow. Kept trying... Nope.

Someone pinged me on TextNow. [ed: Sis. She thanked me for her astro book, delivered.]

Aimed at Heze aka ζ (zeta) Vir to begin a new star hop. Moved to HD 118036 aka SAO 139416, HIP 66212, STF 1757.

A very faint star. I did not see a double. I surmised it was a very tight pair. Indeed, SkyTools said less than 2 arc-seconds. Nutty. The software showed it was a quad but I did not see obvious additional partners.

Moving on...

Finally! Happily I found a nice pair. Nearly identical pair.

11:30. Both blue white. Nearly the same magnitude. Quite wide at the low power of the zoom. Attractive. West was to my 8 o'clock. The left star was brighter. On pointing: 7.1 and 7.3. From the OI box: 7.1 and 7.5. HD 116442 aka SAO 119909, HIP 65352, Σ1740.

Saw the mount jumping, obvious at higher magnifications. I need to do another tear-down. The motor was struggling. Like what happens with the manual adjustment, it jumps. Need to short it. Distracting.

11:37. Wanted a pair that would blow the socks off... Reclined in the deck chair and looked for a good candidate to finish up on. I picked stars with angular separations between 10 and 30 arc-seconds. Nothing fainter than mag 9. Noted something near Porrima.

Located γ (gamma) Vir. Lovely Porrima. Two touching equal gold stars. Started the hop... [ed: 3.0" according to Stelle Doppie.]

Nice! Blue and yellow.

11:50. A little bit tighter than the previous. Oriented nearly up and down. HR 4678 aka HD 106976, SAO 138704, HIP 59984, STF 1627. Mag 6.6 and 7.0 stars. 19.8". The faint companion was below, to the south-west. 6.6 and 7.1. Nice. Delicate. A bright star was down and right, about the 4 o'clock position, HD 107037.

Almost midnight. Decided to call it quits. It'd be midnight by the time I would be done. Started packing up. Noted everything to bring in, including the deck chair seat cushions and the astronomy adjustable-height chair.

Took to the couch to rest and review. Ditched the sweater.

12:10. Oh. Done recording. Remembered that clear out the Sony recorder... And that I'll need to pack the data cable.


I was going to say a short session but it was 3 hours. Didn't see a lot but I was still happy to split some more double stars - in a small 'scope, the 90mm. Checked off a few more from Haas's book. Got a bit of work done!

Wonderful again, with the blind up. Enjoyable. Curiously I noticed "backward" light pollution. I had to cup my hands about the eyepiece to reduce the reflections, from the wall and roof!

Rather nice conditions. Almost shirt sleeve. Low humidity (I had noticed very short contrails earlier in the day).

To do items:

  • Clear out old recordings on Sony digital device.
  • Need to add a bright obvious mark to the zoom ocular so I know where the detent index is. Glow-in-the-dark dot?
  • Need to pack everything up...
  • Fix the mount sticktion.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Glad to see you were able to get in some photons. Lovely evening for it.