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Thursday, April 12, 2018

MESSIER SEARCH (Updated)

Location: Front Yard,  Little Lepreau, NB, Canada


Date Time:  April 9, 2018 2200-2300hrs


Weather:  Clear, bitterly cold, breezy at times, mostly no wind, -5C.  Next morning was clear and -10C.


Attendance:  Amelia, Matthew, and David McCashion.


Equipment:  Amelia's and Matt's     My 80mm ED/APO with 12mm eyepiece on tracking/goto mount, 8" Meade LX 200 with 32mm eyepiece with tracking/goto disabled, and Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55mm lens.


Objective:  Original objective was to do a Messier Marathon, but due to schedules/circumstances, there was only time for a short, evening Messier search.


Report: 
  • Venus was very bright, in a 'half moon' phase, and high up in the Western sky as it grew darker.  Full darkness didn't come till after 2100hrs!
Facing SSW, a 15 second exposure of ISS heading SSW @ 2058 hrs.

    Began Messier search as soon as it got dark enough to see Orion after 2100hrs.  Searched for the lowest M object we thought we could see in the western sky, M34, which was in the NW, close to a tree.  Actually seen the average open cluster through a tall tree, in the small scope.
      Facing NW, M34 is just left of the tallest tree. 
  • Searched for and found open clusters M44 (Beehive Cluster), M45 (Pleiades or The Seven Sisters), M35(bright, big cluster), M36(faint cluster), M37(average cluster) and M38(very faint cluster).  M44 being the most spectacular, actually popping out to naked eye visibility after 2200hrs.  It really popped out even more with averted vision.

  • Found M1, the Crab Nebula high up in the Western sky, in Taurus, near M35.  It looked like a dark hole in space in small scope.  In big scope it was a much bigger dark hole in space with barely visible strings of light crossing its face.  Very interesting object to observe.

  • The Orion Nebula, M42 and 43 were absolutely spectacular in the big scope.  The nebula shone brightly and filled the huge field of view of the 2", 32mm eyepiece.  The trapezium was clearly split.
  • Searched for the Flame Nebula and the Horsehead Nebula, near Alnitak, around the left side of Orion's Belt.  Could barely make out some very dark nebulosity, but nothing distinct could be made out.
  • At around 2200hrs, seen a Satellite near Polaris, heading NNW.
  • Searched for all the Messiers in Leo, which was high in the South at around 2250hrs.  Couldn't find them in small scope.  Was running out of time, as we needed to finish at 2300hrs, so couldn't continue searching.
  • We talked about all the Messier objects in the Virgo cluster and how a good star chart is needed to tell them apart.
  • Seen two satellites and no shooting stars.



     

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

OBSERVING BY THE BAY

Location:  Saints Rest Beach, Saint John, NB, Canada

Date Time:  March 26, 2018 2030-2200 hrs

Weather:  Slight breeze, no clouds, -3C with windchill of -6C.  Seemed much cooler.

Attendance:  Carla, Chris, Ed, Shawn, David McCashion, and five other visitors.

Equipment:  Chris's 10" Dobsonian, and my Canon Rebel with 75-30 0mm lens on tripod.

Objective:  To observe with friends.

Report:

  • Surprisingly, it was still light out after 2000 hrs.  Days are getting longer.
  • Chris was set up and viewing the Moon with five passerby's, when we arrived.  Chris does public outreach down at this beach on a regular basis and also streams live views, on his Facebook page Astronomy by the Bay, of the Moon and planets through his scopes, with his cellphone camera.  
  • Moon was very bright in the eyepiece, with Copernicus Crater standing out prominently near the terminator.  Many other craters stood out alarmingly and one huge mountain range, that seemed to pop out in 3D, on the terminator.  Absolutely fascinating!



  • Venus was lowering in the West, as we arrived.  When it got close to the horizon, Ed noted that it would make a nice picture.  Chris noted that it will be high in the evening sky all summer.







  • Ed noted that Orion is moving to the west, in the evening sky.  This means that soon Orion will move behind the Sun in our sky, and thus be out of sight from Earth, till next fall.  In other words, it's a sign that summer is nearing.
  • Ed and I were discussing that it's now the time of year to do a Messier Marathon, where the observer spends all night searching for and observing all 110 Messier objects.  Late March, early April is the only time its possible to do this.  When the Moon gets closer to New, the sky will be darker and more suited to do this. 
  • We observed a bright satellite pass down the length of the Big Dippers Handle.  It stayed visible for a long time, and was travelling from South to North.
  • No shooting stars were seen.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

EVENING PLANETS

Location:  McPherson Beach, NB, Canada

Date Time:  March 11, 2018 2000-2020hrs

Weather:  Partly cloudy, icy outside due to recent snow squall, light to no breeze, 0 degrees Celsius.

Equipment:  Canon Rebel Xsi with 77-300mm lens on tripod.

Attendance:  David McCashion

Objective:  To view and image Venus and Mercury, which were supposed to be in the western sky, just after dark.

Report:

  • Venus was very bright, just over the horizon, with Mercury higher and to the North of Venus by about 5 degrees.  Venus was much brighter.
  • For most of the time, Venus was visible with Mercury behind the clouds which were moving south.  The two planets were only visible together, at the same time, for a few seconds.


Clouds were moving slowly to the left.


Sunday, February 25, 2018

PLANETARY LINEUP in the MORNING

Location:  Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date Time:  February 25, 2018 0430-0630 hrs

Weather:  Slight breeze, mostly clear with high hazy clouds fouling seeing conditions, -6C with windchill increasing with the dawn.

Attendance:  David McCashion

Equipment:  8" Meade LX 200 with 32mm and 19mm eyepieces.  Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55mm lens on tripod.  Images processed on Photobucket.com

Objective:  To view and image the planetary lineup of (from the East) Saturn, Mars and Jupiter.

Report:

  • Very nice line up of Planets in the morning, across the southern sky.



  • Jupiter was huge and bright at 0430 hrs and the skies were very clear.  Four of its Moons were on one side of the gas giant, evenly spaced out.  Its storm bands were easy to see in the 19mm eyepiece.  


  • Shortly after 0500 hrs a high hazy cloud covered the sky, fouling the seeing conditions.  They were see-through, though.
  • Mars was low, in the south, behind a big tree.  Its disk is almost big enough to see detail across its face, in better viewing conditions.  Also, it was behind the big tree, out front, and was difficult to view.  With approaching Opposition on July 27, 2018, the Martian disk will make a great target for observing and imaging.  When we get this close, every two years, the disk is big enough to see detail across its face, in backyard telescopes.  Also, this year, its disk will appear much larger to us than in 2016.
  • Saturn was very low, in hazy skies, behind trees when I tried to observe it with 19 mm eyepiece.  Could easily make out its rings, which were very much tilted.  
  • This was my first time observing these three planets in 2018!
  • No satellites or shooting stars were seen.  First light was at 0613 hrs.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

ROCKET LAUNCH!

Location:  Kissimmee, FL

Date Time:  Feb 6, 2018 @ 1545hrs EST

Weather:  Mostly to partly clear, humid and a little hazy on horizon, sunny, no wind, 27C.

Equipment:  Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55 and 75-300mm lenses, on tripod and without tripod.

Attendance:  Madison, McKenzie, Carla, Becky and Myself.

Objective:  To image and view SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket Launch, which was scheduled launch on this day at 1330hrs from the Kennedy Space Station on Cape Canaveral, FL.

Report:

  • We traveled from our Resort in Kissimme to watch the launch from Cocoa Beach, FL for the 1330hrs scheduled launch.  Many hundreds of people were parked on the side of Hwy 528 leading into Cocoa Beach because it offered an excellent view of the launchpad.  Unfortunately for us, the launch was delayed at the last minute and rescheduled for a 1545hrs launch.  Due to circumstances, we couldn't wait in Cocoa Beach and needed to head back to Kissimmee.
  • We arrived back at our Kissimmee Resort at approx 1500hrs.
  • At 1540hrs, I started watching the televised launch on NASA TV on our TV.  At 1545hrs the rocket launched on schedule.  I ran outside, with my camera and tripod, and there were many people in the yard looking for the rocket.  I seen it right away, in the North East direction, low heading up, like a candle flame that was rising.  It was only visible for about a minute, before it disappeared from view in some hazy clouds, looking like it was heading off to the East.  This created quite a buzz around the resort.  People were very excited about this launch.
Images:







Friday, January 26, 2018

WAXING GIBBOUS MOON

Location:  Front Deck, Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date Time:  January 26, 2018 1900-2030hrs

Weather:  Clear, very light wind, bitterly cold -11C showing on thermometer with reported windchill of -16C.

Attendance:  Madison, McKenzie, and David McCashion.

Equipment:  Meade LX 200 8" telescope with x0.6 focal reducer and without.  One 32mm eyepiece.  Canon Rebel Xsi using telescope at prime focus.

Objective:  To view and image a Gibbous Moon, which was in Taurus on this evening, between Aldebaran and M45.

Report:
  • Before observing time, at 1830hrs, was in the backyard and noticed the International Space Station fly across the low southern sky, from west to east.  Confirmed this on Heaven-above.com.  It also flew over at 2006hrs, but I didn't see notice.
  • Madison and McKenzie were amazed at the small 'circles'(craters) and large 'grey areas' (Mare, or Seas) on the brightwaxing gibbous moon.  Copernicus crater stood out nice, close to the terminator.  Many small craters stood out noticeably in the big gray seas.
  • The girls asked to look at a star, and asked why is that star blinking?  It was Sirius, which was twinkling as it was rising from low in the SE sky.
  • We looked at the double star Alnitak in Orion.  They were impressed by all the stars they could see in the field of view.
  • Attempted to view Sirius, but it was partially blocked by a tree.
  • Viewed Betelgeuse and Pleiades.  Explained to Madison that this is called the Seven Sisters because, at one time many hundreds of years ago, people could see seven stars there.  Now we can only see six that form a dipper like asterism to the unaided eye.  Through the eyepiece, Madison counted twenty-five stars.
  • No shooting stars, and only one satellite was seen which was the ISS.
Images:

Without focal reducer, ISO 100, 1:400th Second.


With focal reducer, ISO 200, 1:250 second.




Tuesday, January 16, 2018

COMET CAPTURED! (Updated)

Location:  Side yard, on driveway behind house, Little Lepreau, NB

Date Time:  January 16, 2018 1900-2200hrs

Weather:  No wind, bitterly cold, mostly clear, lots of frost on telescope, -11C showing on thermometer with no reported windchill.  Winter storm forecast for tomorrow.  Predicting 15 cm of snow. (Update:  I measured 17 cm of snow, in the backyard, whereas Ed, from Saint John, NB, took eight measurements and found an average of 18.5 cm of snow had fallen in Saint John.)

Attendance:  Myself.

Equipment:  Canadian Telescopes 80 ED/APO on Vixen mount with 19mm eyepiece.  Canon Rebel Xsi attached at prime focus with adapter.  Images processed on ArcsoftMediaimpressions.

Objective:  To view and image the south-eastern sky from Canis Major to Taurus.  Also, to continue looking for Comet C/2016 R2 Panstarrs, which is suppose to be NW of the head of Taurus.

Report:

  • Objects imaged:  Rigel, Alnitak, Mintaka, M78, Aldebaran, Several images of sky NW of Taurus head, Sirius, M50, M47, M46 and M48.
  • Ghostly, half-circles showed up in many images on this night, and in some of the images from two nights ago.  These may be a camera issue which produces image artifacts.
  • Confirmed the Comet image from Jan 14.  The blueish smudge moved significantly since two nights ago.
  • Always interesting to see how much reddish gas there is around Orion's Belt.  It seems to be just outside of our ability to see with unaided eye.  It doesn't take much of a time elapse image to draw this gas out in images.
  • No shooting stars or satellites were seen.
Note: On this evening, at approximately 1910 hrs Atlantic Time, hundreds of people reported seeing a very bright meteor streak across the sky, above the Detroit, MI, USA area.  I was outside at the time, but looking South East.  Didn't noticed anything from the western direction.  At that time, though, my view of the Western Horizon was somewhat blocked.

Images:









Ghostly circles possibly do to camera artifacts.



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