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Thursday, July 24, 2014

OBSERVING REPORT FOR JULY 21, 2014

Location:  Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date Time:  July 21, 2014 2200-0130hrs

Weather:  12 degrees Celsius, clear, no wind, some dew.  Excellent viewing conditions, but lots of bugs.  Could see M31 naked eye with averted vision.

Equipment:  8" LX200 Meade telescope, 19mm, 9mm and 4mm eyepieces.  CT3000 Planetary Imager, Canon 450D with 18-55mm lens.

Attendance:  Carla M, Andrea M, Becky M, and Myself.

Objective:  To view, image and show Mars and Saturn to our guests.  Saturn was in Libra.  Mars was in Virgo.

Report:  Aligned the scope on Spica, which was just below Mars.  Used Goto to direct telescope and it worked, even though Mars and Saturn could be easily located with the naked eye.  The goto was a little off, but it did get close to M8, M71 and M31.  Tracking worked very well.

The massive star Acturus was directly west during this observing session, above Mars.  It actually shows up in one of the images that shows Saturn and Mars together, looking west.  Here is an image of Acturus that shows how big it is compared with other stars, including our Sun.  This image was found on the universitytoday.com website.

Started with Mars, which was low and almost due west by 2200hrs.  With the 4mm eyepiece, Mars showed as a large red disk with lighter and darker shades of red shimmering across the disk.  Took many images with planetary imager, as per conversation with Paul O and Mike P at the COW Star Party.  Employed their advice in producing and processing images.  The result was my best image yet of Mars.  Didn't have much luck in the processing part though.  Stacking helped but the wavelet option didn't do much.
Saturn was in Libra which was in the south west at observing time.  Used the Goto function of the telescope to center it.  Saturn was spectacular, it showed crisp detail on disk and rings which were at about a 20 degree angle to Earth.  One moon stood out clearly.  Becky, Andrea and Carla also viewed Saturn through the telescope and 9mm eyepiece and were amazed.  Becky and Andrea seen Saturn for the first time through a telescope.  Becky said she had no idea that you could see Saturn so big and clear in a telescope!  Took 347 images of Saturn with Planetary imager attached to telescope at prime focus.

After viewing Saturn, pointed out The Big Dipper and Cassiopeia to Becky and Andrea.  As we observed, many satellites flew by.  All heading either north to south or south to north.

After this, images of the sky around Sagittarius and Cassiopeia were taken both with the 450D and 18-55mm lens, and with the 450D attached to telescope at prime focus.  M8 The Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius and M31 were taken with telescope.  By this time, 0100hrs dew was a major factor.  The camera and lens had to be brought inside to dry off several times.  The image of M31 did not turn out well due to trouble focusing.

Many satellites were seen and a few faint shooting stars.


An out of focus image of M31.




M8 The Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius.  It was taken with Canon 450D attached to telescope at prime focus.

Mars, 140 images stacked.

Saturn, 347 images stacked.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

COW STAR PARTY 2014

Location:  Mactaquac Provincial Park, NB, Canada

Date Time:  July 18-20, 2014

Weather:  Mostly clear but very hazy.  Warm to very hot 30 plus degrees Celsius by day, 10-13 degrees Celsius by night.  Some dew.  Generally it was felt that the viewing conditions were terrible for the most part.

Equipment:  Approximately 30 telescopes including my 8" Meade LX 200.

Attendance:  Approximately 50 SJAC and RASC members.  Approximately 150 public attendees.

Objective:  To allow the general public to view celestial objects though our telescopes.  Also, share observing stories and experiences with fellow amateur astronomers.

Report:  On Friday night set up scope on manual to observe Saturn.  The hazy sky greatly affected image in 12 mm eyepiece.  Our camping neighbors came over to view Saturn and two of its moons in both the 32 mm and 12 mm eyepieces.  Everyone expressed amazement at Saturn's rings and were very interested to hear that Saturn has 62 moons that we know of.

On Saturday night watched a movie that was put on by Adrian B.  It is called Fundy Tides and was filmed by a French film crew.  Approximately 70 people attended. Mike P, Chris C, Don K and others were in the show which was filmed at Fundy Park summer 2013.

Around midnight started observing with Paul O, Ed O, Mike P, Chris C, Bob.  We observed many deep sky objects in various big scopes till the Moon came up around 0245hrs.  Viewed M92, the Dumbbell Nebula, NGC 2368 and the Moon.

Has a great conversation with Paul O and Mike P about astro-imaging.  They suggested that I use my planetary imager in video mode to get more frames to stack.  This leads to more clear images.

Ed O, Mike P and I searched for Comet Catalina, which was low in the west around 0200hrs.  Mike and I thought that we seen an object that wasn't a star, but it was very hard to confirm it was a comet.

Two shooting stars and one satellite were seen.

Here is a link for Images of COW Star Party which were taken by Chris L.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

OBSERVING REPORT FOR JULY 12, 2014

Location:  Little Lepreau, New Brunswick, Canada

Date Time:  July 12, 2014 2100-0100hrs

Weather:  15 degrees Celsius, partly cloudy, humid, lots of dew, slight to no breeze.

Equipment:  8" Meade LX200 SC telescope, Canon 450D DSLR camera, CT3000 Planetary Imager, 32 mm, 12.5mm and 9mm eyepieces.

Attendance:  Grace W. and Myself

Objective:  To view, image and show Grace the full Moon and Saturn.

Report:  Was set up almost an hour before sundown.  As the sun went down, a very reddish full Moon could be seen through the trees to the SW.  It took a long time before the Moon rose above the trees, by about 2220hrs it could be seen still slightly reddish and Saturn and Mars stood out well to the SW.  Mars was more to the west and went down about two hours before Saturn.  It was a great night to view Saturn.

Showed Grace the Full Moon, Mars and Saturn, in that order with the telescope at manual and a 32mm 2" eyepiece.  Grace was very impressed at Saturn especially...and was even more amazed when I stepped up the magnification.  The rings were very much opened up and visible with clear separation.

One of Saturn's moons, Titan was clearly visible to the lower left in the eyepiece.  It did not show up in the images however.

Mars just looked like a bright red star at low magnification, but with the 12.5mm eyepiece the disk became very much visible.  It seemed hazy with darker shades of red kind of shimmering.  It clearly looked like a planet though...the first time for me.

Many images of the Moon and Saturn were taken with the Canon 450D(with12.5mm eyepiece) and then with the Planetary Imager at prime focus.

No shooting stars and one satellite was seen.

This particular full Moon was the closest to the Earth for 2014, which made it the biggest full moon of the year.  It was so bright that the Big Dipper (in the NW) and Cassiopeia (in the NE) were very much dimmed and difficult to see.

Saturn imaged with Canon 450D and 12.5mm eyepiece

Saturn imaged with Canon 450D and 12.5mm eyepiece

Copernicus Crater imaged with Planetary Imager

Moon Imaged with Planetary Imager

Moon Imaged with Planetary Imager
Super Moon imaged with Canon 450D at Prime Focus

Super Moon imaged with Canon 450D at Prime Focus

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