Thursday, February 25, 2016

nice evining in the back

Had a nice session with the 12.5-inch (or should I say, 11.5-inch with the mask).  Val and I had looks at M42, M41, Sirius, and M45.  Apparently Sirius is involved with the Harry Potter books in some way, Val was excited to see it.  The ladder is quite high for her, I might need to attach a grab handle.

Later I came back out and looked at Sirius again, this time at 443x.  Sirius B popped out immediately, without my having to try.  Seeing was quite good and the diffraction shrunk so that there was a nice clean gap between the stars.  No interference from the spider diffraction spike.  It will be fun to track this star in the coming years to see it swing around and get closer together.

I had a look at a few other objects:

M44, The Beehive, Praesepe, open cluster in Cancer.  I know this one well enough to land pretty close to it with just the Telrad.  Most complete view in the 50mm finder, of course.  There were about 20 brighter stars scattered within a stretched diamond shape, with some faint cloudiness behind that.  The scope (101x FOV of 0.7 degrees) only showed about 25% of the cluster, with many bright stars, a few of which were red or orange.  Doubles scattered throughout.  Some of the fainter stars started to resolve.  Wonderful object.  It's about 600 light years distant; its age and proper motion are shared with the Hyades in Taurus, so they may share a similar place of origin.  The brighter stars are in the core and there are supposed to be fainter stars in a halo around it, but to me I did not see much of an outer halo -- perhaps another look in a dark sky will help.  This is one where I hope to find several galaxies within the cluster, perhaps my next time out with the 20-inch.

X Cancri, carbon star, was an easy hop from the Beehive to delta Cancri, then to the scattered field to the south east.  X was red in the finder and an easy find.  Lovely orange red; in the scope at 277x it was lonely in the field, with only two other stars on either side of the FOV.

Star HD93521 in Leo Minor was a rather ordinary star about 7th magnitude, slightly bluish.  It is an O type star. 

Lalande 21185 in Ursa Major was reddish orange, about 7.5 magnitude.  It is a red dwarf and only 8.3 light years away, and is approaching the sun: in 20,000 years it will be "only" 4.65 light years away.  Maybe by then humans can travel to it.  It was claimed to have a planetary system as early as 1951; since then no planet has been confirmed but if there is one it could only be the mass of Jupiter.

RU Camelopardalis, carbon star: I tried for this last week in the 8-inch but was blocked by my roof.  This time the 12-inch was in the right spot in the yard to see it, and easy hop from Muscida.  Red in finder, a nice reddish orange in the scope.

I started to feel a bit tired and packed it in at around 10:20pm.  I wish I stayed out longer: on my way inside I noticed Jupiter pretty high in the east--the seeing was pretty good and I bet Jupiter would have looked nice.  There is a double shadow transit late tonight from 1:30-2:30am, which I hope to catch if the weather cooperates.  I can sacrifice some sleep for it!

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