Thursday, July 11, 2019

moon in 20"

During dusk last night (which lasts until almost 10pm) I had a look at the moon with the 20".  Wow!  I could not believe all the detail visible.  Crater chains, wrinkle ridges, craterlets everywhere, etc.  Used 205x & 333x mono.  Amazing.  The views removed any doubt that installing the 20" was a mistake -- I'll get much use out of its versatility.

Later on I used binoviewers.  My eyes were more relaxed though the field was narrower.  Five Plato craterlets, and the Alpine Rille was easy.  So much greyscale contrast.  Another key view, as I scanned along the outer limb: There was a prominent cone peak, looking like Kilimanjaro -- and the horizon along the other peaks and ridges did not follow an overall curve, but was peaked.  There were two large craters just before the horizon and I bet their impact caused the peaked deformation in the very curve of the crust itself.  I can't find any of this in my atlas...

I also had a look at Jupiter, which was HUGE in the field.  Very easy to see detail.  GRS was a fifth of the way through a passage: it was small, orange red, and was bifurcating the band it rode on.  There was a giant purple festoon in the equatorial area.  At full aperture the moons were disks and showed albedo (first I've noticed that).  With the 8" mask the moons tightened to smaller disks, and the amount of detail was slightly less though I didn't need to wait so long for seeing.

Around 11pm the marine layer moved in.  It will be clear the next few nights so I'm looking forward to more of this.

tech trek

Supported the Tech Trek on Tuesday night.  The sky was awful, with a few gauzy sucker holes, but it was enough to show the moon, Jupiter, Saturn (briefly) and some other things.  One of the students helped my collimate my 10" travel scope, and she learned quickly how to point it and find objects.  She spent the dusk looking at the moon on her own, then ran the scope when the other students arrived.  Later in the night I was able to find the Ring Nebula (amazing considering the conditions!), M4 -- which was a little too faint for most to see, and M13.  Stayed until 11pm.  Clara accompanied me, but she was bored -- next time I'll bring a scope for her to run on her own.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

hazy night

I intended to drive down to Pinnacles last night, since some forecasts showed clear skies.  But the satellites all showed significant water vapor pouring, and it seemed later in the night it would hurt the views.  Since I had a pretty long day already I decided to drive home.  It's a frustrating sort of sky: it's blue, and the sun seems bright and you can see stars at night, but the sky is milky making it a light blue, and you just know the sky is not all it could be.

Seeing was not all that good either.  I've not yet had a night where I could go to full 20" aperture from home; nonetheless I am happy with the clean and perfect airy disks I get with the 8" mask.  Just that the view is dimmer (see M5 below).

STF1881;AB;;203;205x: Blue-white and 3-4 delta mag fainter B star, dull blue color. Well separated.
14h 47m 05.35s +00° 58' 15.2" sep 3.5 mag 6.74,8.81 Sp B9.5V dist. 132.98 pc (433.78 l.y.)
H6 51; AB;;203;205x: Orange in finder scope. In main scope a wide separation blue B, 3 delta mag

BU 348;AB;;203;667x: Seems out of round at 333x and 677x, seeing too poor for 20". Marginal
15h 01m 48.92s -00° 08' 24.9" P.A. 108 sep 0.5 mag 6.13,7.49 Sp M0.5IIb
STF 1899;AB;;203;333x: Light orange and faint (on edge of visibility) blue star, wide separation
15h 01m 35.34s -03° 09' 50.5" P.A. 67 sep 28.3 mag 6.69,10.15 Sp K2IV+K0V dist. 109.29 pc (356.5 l.y.)
A bolide just appeared!  I was looking at M5 at 20" and was just putting the 8" mask back on when I saw it travel north from behind the high branches of the meridian tree, headed toward Vega, moving fast but slower than your typical meteor, then kind of holding its glow before a quick fade out.

M5: Looked at with 8" 333x for a while, stars nicely resolved with a dark background, kind of dim but many brighter stars resolved about the core. At 20" it was significantly brighter and the core resolved more stars and added a milky glow of unresolved stars.

STF1930;AB;;203;333x: light yellow bright A, very much fainter orangish B, wide separation. Near M5.
15h 19m 18.79s +01° 45' 55.5" P.A. 36 sep 11.1 mag 5.06,10.11 Sp F8V dist. 25.38 pc (82.79 l.y.)

BU943;AB;;203;333x: Light orange and a couple of possible Bs, both faint and wide, at right angles to each other. [NOT seen.  3" separation. 10.88 mag B, might be too faint if close to A star in the poor transparency with 8"]
15h 18m 22.64s +00° 56' 21.9" P.A. 92 sep 3 mag 6.66,10.88 Sp K1III dist. 178.25 pc (581.45 l.y.)

BU32;AB;;203;333x: Light yellow A and very much fainter B, wide separation.
15h 21m 02.00s +00° 42' 55.2" P.A. 22 sep 3.4 mag 5.53,8.78 Sp K2III dist. 73.37 pc (239.33 l.y.)

Eis1;AB;;203;333x: White A with wide and much fainter B. CDSA says: "Local, solar type double with BY Dra type variable."
15h 48m 09.46s +01° 34' 18.2" P.A. 353 sep 17.7 mag 7.53,11.90 Sp G8V dist. 21.29 pc (69.45 l.y.)

Skf 1311;AB;;203;333x: Cool. Bright yellow-orange star broken up by seeing and with a water vapor glow (sky is deteriorating). Much fainter B star hanging at edge of halo.
15h 50m 17.55s +02° 11' 47.5" P.A. 300 sep 74.8 mag 5.33,10.34 Sp G8III+K0 dist. 83.82 pc (273.42 l.y.)

Monday, July 1, 2019

a few doubles in Virgo

Was out the night of 6/30 with the 20", but seeing was not good so I masked down to 8" which showed really excellent airy disks.  It was a short night, ending at 11pm, as I needed to rest for a busy day today.  It was an interesting session with a number of close pairs.

STF1757;AB;;203;205x: Close, ~2", a dull orange, ~1.5 delta mag.  It was a brighter orange in the 20" but as soon as I saw the seeing I masked down.
13h 34m 16.38s -00° 18' 49.8" P.A. 143 sep 1.68 mag 7.82,8.75 Sp K4III dist. 26.56 pc (86.64 l.y.)

STF1740;AB;;203;333x: hair split equal white pair. Suspected elongation at 205x but needed 333x to split. 667x too much power given the conditions.
13h 23m 39.16s +02° 43' 24.0" P.A. 75 sep 26.1 mag 7.13,7.39 Sp G5V+G5V dist. 15.45 pc (50.4 l.y.)
STF1734;AB;;203;333x: Blue-white A, light orange B, half delta mag, close ~1.5". Nice!
13h 20m 41.57s +02° 56' 31.9" P.A. 173 sep 1.1 mag 6.77,7.29 Sp A3V dist. 135.5 pc (442 l.y.)

STF1740;AB;;203;333x: Easy wide white A and hint or orange B.
13h 23m 39.16s +02° 43' 24.0" P.A. 75 sep 26.1 mag 7.13,7.39 Sp G5V+G5V dist. 15.45 pc (50.4 l.y.)

STF1764;AB;;203;333x: Orange and 2x fainter blue, wide. Another equal wide pair to the south.
13h 37m 44.01s +02° 22' 56.5" P.A. 32 sep 15.9 mag 6.79,8.56 Sp K2III dist. 625 pc (2038.75 l.y.)

STF1777;AB;;203;333x: Light orange and blue-green B, large magnitude difference, ~3". Pretty.
13h 43m 03.71s +03° 32' 16.4" P.A. 228 sep 2.6 mag 5.55,8.31 Sp K1III dist. 73.1 pc (238.45 l.y.)

STF1781;AB;;203;333x: White A and slightly yellow B, ~2", half delta mag
13h 46m 06.75s +05° 06' 56.1" P.A. 197.8 sep 1.02 mag 7.89,8.10 Sp F8V+F0 dist. 46.38 pc (151.29 l.y.)
LDS3101;AB;;203;333x: Light yellow A and very much fainter B, 4-5 delta mag., B is just detectable at this aperture Well separated.
13h 46m 57.12s +06° 21' 01.4" P.A. 105 sep 488.5 mag 6.40,10.18 Sp G0-1IV-V dist. 31.67 pc (103.31 l.y.)
BU115;AC;;203;333x: Slightly orange and very wide separated, much fainter bluish star just visible. Did not notice AB 1.6" 10.4 mag.
13h 45m 20.87s +09° 03' 28.6" P.A. 169 sep 107.3 mag 7.53,13.18 Sp G5 dist. 54.67 pc (178.33 l.y.)

Kui66;AB;;203;333x: Light orange and two possible pairs, both very faint on the edge of detection. One closer but still visible, very wide. The other one third more wide [Not seen -- this is 0.8" and 3 delta mag.]
14h 14m 50.85s +10° 06' 02.2" P.A. 111 sep 0.8 mag 5.44,8.43 Sp K1III dist. 81.23 pc (264.97 l.y.)

STT281;AB;;203;333x: Very fine, but well split, huge delta mag, surprise!
14h 20m 20.85s +08° 34' 56.3" P.A. 166 sep 1.5 mag 7.71,9.69 Sp G5

STF1835;A-BC;;203;333x: Yellow A and slightly yellow B, wide. Did not notice BU1111BC, 0.3" 7.4/7.7
14h 23m 22.74s +08° 26' 47.9" P.A. 195 sep 6.1 mag 5.03,6.78 Sp A0V+F2V dist. 65.92 pc (215.03 l.y.)

STF1870;AB;;203;333x: Yellow A and very much fainter B, wide ~5"? 4 delta mag. B flashes to view with seeing
14h 42m 55.10s +08° 04' 34.3" P.A. 229 sep 4.8 mag 7.46,9.98 Sp F2 dist. 198.02 pc (645.94 l.y.)

STF1873;AB;;203;333x: Light orange and light blue, wide.
14h 44m 48.13s +07° 42' 04.0" P.A. 94 sep 6.9 mag 7.96,8.35 Sp G5III dist. 232.56 pc (758.61 l.y.)

A1109;AB;*;203;333x: Both stars light yellow, big magnitude difference, ~3-4 delta mag, about 2". Not difficult
14h 42m 47.60s +06° 35' 26.4" P.A. 89.4 sep 1.75 mag 7.44,9.44 Sp F8V

BU1443;AB;;203;333x: Light yellow-orange A and much fainter blue B, wide separation.
14h 30m 45.39s +04° 46' 20.2" P.A. 195 sep 55.7 mag 6.17,10.62 Sp gK4 dist. 212.77 pc (694.06 l.y.)

I had a look at Jupiter but it is too low to be of any satisfaction, sadly.

pinnacles 6/23

First dark sky trip since October. I really needed the outing, in spite of it being a work night and a 12:30am moonrise.

I brought my low-power instruments -- a 10" f/3.7 reflector on Springsonian mount (altitude motion at eyepiece axis, so can sit and sweep horizon to zenith with 2.4° TFOV), and a brace of binoculars: 15x70 4°, 7x50 12° , and 2.1x42 28°. The mount Jamie mentioned is a home-made Sky Window or table top binocular mirror mount, which I made following plans I found online. (There is an updated design for tripod mounting, which I will make since a table may not always be available at a dark site). I made the mirror yoke adjustable, so I could keep the 4" spacing between the binocular objective and the first surface mirror -- so I could use any of my binoculars with the mount. The viewing is very comfortable, and so steady that I feel I can see further and with more detail.

The battery in my dim red LED flashlight died early in the night, and I only had my too-bright red headlamp, so I gave up note taking or referring to charts. In any case, I find it difficult to write about wide field viewing. The view is so aesthetically pleasing, so dream-like, I end up resorting to more fanciful ways of describing what I see rather than the usual Dreyer description protocol. So the following are my impressions, from memory, and not in order. Fortunately, the sky was good enough to see many dark and bright nebulae:

Barnard's E (B143, B142, & LDN 688): I returned to this several times through the night, with each of the instruments. The 10" gave the most detailed view (especially wisps of dark nebulae being blown to the east off of B143, and being able to see LDN 688 as a fairly dark forked tendril). Yet even at 2.4° the complex filled the field, so there was mostly "dark." The best view was in the 15x70s, where there were enough stars glittering around to set-off the nebula.

Region West of Alnasi (Gamma Sgr, tip of teapot spout): The is one of those views the Springsonian was made for. Enough aperture to partially resolve the two globular clusters (NGC 6528 & NGC 6522), and with enough of a field to make the Milky Way blaze and the dark nebula pop. The Milky Way in this area glows in sheets of varying intensity, rippling into the dark nebula B295. There's a small, very dark nebula to the east of NGC 6528, B298. I can't find an astrophoto to do it justice. 

Also in the Springsonian: Seeing Antares, M4, & Delta Sco in the same field, panning up to IC 4604 the Rho Ophiuchi Nebula, then over to follow the streaming flag of B44.

A random part of the sky with the 10x50s; a group of bright stars shaped like a dot-to-dot picture of a spiral galaxy. Coming upon two large dark nebula in the 15x70s in northern Cygnus. The Dumbbell Nebula in the 15x70s. All of Markarian's Chain in the Springsonian, a triangle formed by M84, M88, and M87, with more galaxies sprinkled throughout (I didn't count as I was sharing this view with our hiker guests).

Darn it, I forgot to look at the Veil!

As for the moon, I enjoyed looking at it too. I needed to move the Springsonian about ten yards since the moon was being blocked by a tree. But because I can view at horizon I could see it shortly after its rise. By now the sky was beginning to haze up, but it was great to see the moon at a different lighting angle than usual. Stayed on it for the better part of an hour before turning in.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

more doubles

A good night and better seeing; 7/10 and 3/5 transparency.  I adjusted the Webster sling in hopes it would solve the astigmatism, but no go.  Rear fan still vibrating.  Stars seem more still without boundary layer fans.  Rings outside of focus, mess inside.   8" mask almost throughout.  Getting the hang of star hopping using the hand controller; a very useful skill.

STF 1723: 20" 205x: Light yellow and light orange, 1.5 delta mag, well split.
13h 08m 13.49s +38° 44' 20.2" P.A. 12 sep 6.4 mag 8.67,10.08 Sp G2IV-V dist. 73.05 pc (238.29 l.y.)
STF 1692 = Cor Caroli: 8" 205x: Cream white and light canary yellow.  Well separated, 2 delta mag.
12h 56m 01.67s +38° 19' 06.2" P.A. 229 sep 19.3 mag 2.85,5.52 Sp A0pSiEuHg dist. 35.2 pc (114.82 l.y.)

STT 261: 8" 205x: Light yellow-white equal pair, ~1.5".
13h 12m 02.02s +32° 05' 07.9" P.A. 338.3 sep 2.61 mag 7.40,7.64 Sp F6V dist. 72.52 pc (236.56 l.y.)

STF 1768: 8" 205x: Very tight pair, a little more than hairline split, ~2 delta mag.  8" 333x: white and dull blue, ~1", Nice!
13h 37m 27.70s +36° 17' 41.4" P.A. 93.9 sep 1.67 mag 4.98,6.95 Sp A7IV dist. 60.9 pc (198.66 l.y.)

STF 1769: 8" 333x: Wide separated blue stars, half delta mag.  2+1 system?  1 delta mag fainter star quite more widely separated. [Sextuple system; I missed the 1.6" AB, need to re-observe; saw the AC pair only -- the fainter star noticed may be part of the system.]
13h 38m 01.95s +39° 10' 41.0" P.A. 45 sep 1.6 mag 7.91,10.42 Sp G5 dist. 46 pc (150.05 l.y.)

S 634
: 8" 333x Pair of orange stars of equal magnitude widely separated at either end of the FOV.  There are two faint blue pairs closer in to one of these. [The orange and the blue are the pair; though it's a surprise since the two orange stars look identical, may have formed together?]
12h 11m 22.93s -16° 47' 27.1" P.A. 302 sep 4.7 mag 7.17,8.79 Sp G6V dist. 32.34 pc (105.49 l.y.)

Since I had covered this part of the sky the night before, I moved to someplace new: Libra

Hld 20: !! 8" 205x: Orange star but no companion.  20" 333x Seeing distorted but a much fainter orange star seen as a point outside the diffraction, 5-6"; very fine!  Put 8" on @ 333x and can't see the B star!
14h 45m 57.78s -15° 27' 34.4" P.A. 249 sep 4.7 mag 6.48,10.10 Sp K1III dist. 444.44 pc (1449.76 l.y.)

BU 106: 8" 333x: Close, 1.5-2", half to one delta mag, off-white stars. [AB seen; three additional pairs seen.]
14h 49m 19.09s -14° 08' 56.3" P.A. 6.8 sep 1.95 mag 5.61,6.62 Sp A1pSrCrEu dist. 72.94 pc (237.93 l.y.)
BU 119: 8" 667x: Too much power, too dim and seeing too choppy.  8" 333x perfect, clean and well split ~2" near equal, slightly orange. [AB]
15h 05m 31.91s -07° 00' 48.8" P.A. 273.9 sep 2.32 mag 8.09,8.76 Sp G0 dist. 47.6 pc (155.27 l.y.)

STF 3091: 8" 333x White with very much fainter wide blue B. [AB,E seen; missed AB 0.5"]
15h 16m 01.56s -04° 53' 52.3" P.A. 46 sep 41.3 mag 7.30,12.00 Sp F8V dist. 62.54 pc (204.01 l.y.)

STF 1899 8" 333x White with very much fainter wide blue B. 
15h 01m 35.34s -03° 09' 50.5" P.A. 67 sep 28.3 mag 6.69,10.15 Sp K2IV+K0V dist. 109.29 pc (356.5 l.y.)
BU 349: 20" 333x, B star easily seen despite diffraction.  Can only see with 8" 333x after first having seen it in the 20", and even then need averted vision to bring it out.
15h 08m 57.33s +01° 41' 21.4" P.A. 38 sep 3.3 mag 7.59,10.94 Sp F1V dist. 88.65 pc (289.18 l.y.)

BU 348AB: 8" 333x, suspect elongation.  8" 667x, definite elongation.  8" 447x, best/cleanest view, clearly elongated.  20" 667x & 447x, view is too messy
15h 01m 48.92s -00° 08' 24.9" P.A. 108 sep 0.5 mag 6.13,7.49 Sp M0.5IIb

Jupiter: 8" 447x & planetary filter: No purple festoons in equatorial band; replaced by a ochre colored mess.  Dark rust colored S tropical belt, and a thin line of a band in the southern zone.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

battling astigmatism

I'm not completely sure where it's coming from, either the fans/thermals or the mirror sling, but I'm determined to replace both on the scope.  The astigmatism persisted all night, and I could only use the 8" mask to mitigate the effect.  If I can't use this scope at full aperture, what's the point?  So I'll spring for the Glatter sling (to replace the poorly designed Webster sling, which has no means of automatically adjusting for mirror height) and to suspend a boundary layer fan over the primary.  Orders to be placed today.  Must needs.

Otherwise it was a satisfying night with the 8" mask.  Seeing 6/10, Transparency 3/5.  I'm surprised I'm enjoying it so much.

Dubhe = BU 1077: I used this as my second alignment star, and thought I saw a fine point in the 23mm reticle very close to the primary.  I tried other various combinations, with the mask, high magnification, low, 8" and 20", and with a Wratten #12 filter -- I kept thinking I saw a Sirius B like fine point.  However given the amount of astigmatism I've been having I rather doubt it.  So I'll leave this one to be observed later.
11h 03m 43.84s +61° 45' 04.0" P.A. 337.6 sep 0.8 mag 2.02,4.95 Sp G9III dist. 37.68 pc (122.91 l.y.)

STF 1758: 8" 205x: Nice near equal pair, slightly yellow, ~5"
13h 32m 51.51s +49° 08' 24.3" P.A. 290 sep 3.3 mag 8.70,8.95 Sp G0 dist. 77.04 pc (251.3 l.y.)

Bgh 50: 13x80mm Finder split.  Wide pair, 2 delta mag, dull white.  Viewed 8" 205x, no apparent other doubling.
14h 04m 45.95s +25° 49' 03.9" P.A. 32 sep 97 mag 7.00,8.90 Sp F5+K0 dist. 44.01 pc (143.56 l.y.)
NGC 5466: Globular Cluster in Bo├Âtes.  Invisible with 8" 205x, but at 20" 205x it was very faint and fairly large (about 60% the FOV).  A few brighter members scattered but mostly a mist of very faint blue stars, just barely resolved.  Stopped by this one while star hopping to other doubles.

STF 1812: 8" 205x: Is it a 2+1 system?  Main pair 2.5 delta mag, pretty wide; there's a third, fainter pair about 4x the other separation.  [AB is STT 277, 0.2" not seen.  AB,C seen, and yes there is another pair AB,D 7.88/12.10 72.4"]
14h 12m 26.68s +28° 43' 02.3" P.A. 108 sep 14 mag 7.88,9.45 Sp F2V dist. 1000 pc (3262 l.y.)

STF 1816: 8" 205x.  Wide, very faint B; how thought was binary?  [I got this one wrong!  Very close separation now, at closest approach; 1.6" at discovery.  Need to retry when the 20" is fixed.]
14h 13m 54.63s +29° 06' 19.5" P.A. 100.3 sep 0.35 mag 7.43,7.75 Sp F0+A2 dist. 113.38 pc (369.85 l.y.)

STF 1850: 8" 205x Very wide, 1/2 delta mag.
14h 28m 33.29s +28° 17' 25.9" P.A. 262 sep 25.1 mag 7.11,7.56 Sp A1V+A1V dist. 349.65 pc (1140.56 l.y.)

STT 289: 8" 205x: Noticed a very much fainter star emerge with averted vision then could hold direct.  Very fine, well split.  8" 410x: Tried to bring out the B star with higher magnification, but oddly it disappeared.  Curious.  20" 410x: B star easily seen though the disks are bloated, seeing not good.
14h 55m 58.63s +32° 18' 00.3" P.A. 109 sep 4.8 mag 6.20,11.10 Sp A2V dist. 95.79 pc (312.47 l.y.)

STFA 27: 8" 205x.  Bright star with many nearby faint star.  Didn't bother trying to figure out which are which. 
15h 15m 30.16s +33° 18' 53.4" P.A. 78 sep 105 mag 3.56,7.89 Sp G8IIICN-1 dist. 37.34 pc (121.8 l.y.)

STFA 28: 8" 205x.  Bright A star does not seem round.  B star is a tight equal pair.  Pretty set. [Aa,Ab is CHR 181 0.1", and I'd be shocked if I actually detected it.  STFA 28 is technically the bright star and the tight pair; the tight pair is Ba,Bb = STF 1938, 7.09/7.63, 2.2"]
15h 24m 29.54s +37° 22' 37.1" P.A. 171 sep 108.2 mag 4.33,7.09 Sp F2IVa+G0V dist. 34.69 pc (113.16 l.y.)
STT 298: 8" 205x.  At zenith, but worth the effort to slew to.  Another great 2+1.  The tight pair [AB] is near equal and split a little more than a hairline.
15h 36m 02.22s +39° 48' 08.9" P.A. 188 sep 1.21 mag 7.16,8.44 Sp K2V dist. 22.31 pc (72.78 l.y.)

Ku 108: 8" 205x. White A and reddish B stars.  Wide, 2 delta mag.  [Need to try this with the 20": BC = RAO 18 9.74/11.00 0.4"]
15h 27m 40.35s +42° 52' 52.9" P.A. 319 sep 40.7 mag 7.55,9.74 Sp G5 dist. 32.13 pc (104.81 l.y.)

STT 296: 8" 205x: Very fine but well split, ~2", yellow-white A, reddish B, 2 delta mag.  [AB seen]
15h 26m 26.56s +44° 00' 13.2" P.A. 274 sep 2.2 mag 7.83,9.09 Sp G5 dist. 87.95 pc (286.89 l.y.)

STT 301: 8" 205x: Another wide mag difference, ~4 delta mag.  B is faint but well split, ~5".
15h 46m 13.64s +42° 28' 06.3" P.A. 27 sep 4 mag 7.50,10.38 Sp K0 dist. 216.45 pc (706.06 l.y.)

WNO 47: 20" 205x.  Did not see faint B star in 8", so switched to 20".  Wide split and faint; nothing too special visually, but intellectually, per CDSA: "Local, high CPM, low mass double, AB: ps = 13,70 AU (2000).
16h 04m 56.79s +39° 09' 23.4" P.A. 280 sep 70 mag 6.66,12.86 Sp K0V dist. 14.52 pc (47.36 l.y.)

I tried for Jupiter at the end of the night, as it had just cleared the meridian tree -- but it was too low for this scope to reach it.  The 20"s mirror is much lower than Big Blue's, so it will struggle with planets.  I guess that's what my 8" f/7 is for.