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Sunday, April 17, 2016

OBSERVING REPORT FOR APRIL 15, 2016

Location:  Lower West Side Saint John, NB, Canada

Date Time:  April 15, 2016 2120-2200hrs AST

Weather:  Very windy, Clear, 1C with windchill of -6C.  A long stretch of relatively nice weather has allowed for succesive night observing, which has been a rarity since last fall.

Attendence:  Ed O and Myself

Equipment:  Canadian Telescopes 80mm ED/APO on a Vixen Alt/AZ mount and Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55mm lens on a tripod.

Objective:  To view and image Mercury, the Moon and Jupiter.

Highlights:

  • Ed and I easily found Mercury over the Paper Mill, low in the West, showing up as a fairly bright star, just after evening twilight.  Ed commented on how high up it was.
  • A satellite was observed heading North through the Big Dipper.  Ursa Major was upside down and over polaris, high in the NNE.
  • Telescope was used to view the Moon.  
  • Jupiter was halfway up in the sky, in the SSE.  It was very close to a fairly bright star in Leo.  Ed and I both noted how close it was to the star, at first glance, through the telescope the star looked like one of Jupiters Moons.
  •  In the telescope, with 32mm eyepiece, three of its Moons showed up.  With higher magnification of the 4mm eyepiece the fourth Moon was very close to the gas giant.  Looked for a shadow on Jupiters' disk, but didnt see one.
Images:

Looking West at 2120hrs.


Note one of Jupiters Moons are very close to it, on the right side in the image

Cropped, close-up image of Jupiter


Thursday, April 14, 2016

OBSERVING REPORT FOR APRIL 13, 2016

Location:  Lower West side Saint John, NB

Date Time:  April 13, 2016 2100-2110hrs

Weather: Clear, breezy, 4C with windchill of 0C

Attendance:  Myself.

Equipment:  Canon Rebel Xsi with 75-300mm lens on tripod.

Objective:  To view and image Mercury which was suppose to be low in the West just after sundown.

Highlights:

  • Mercury was spotted easily, just above the paper mill, looking west, in the dusk twilight just after 2100hrs.  It showed up as an 'un-twinkling star', above the smoke from the factory.
  • After viewing and imaging Mercury, noticed a bright 'star' moving across the Northern sky.  Took a 5 second image of it as it faded in the NE.  Confirmed on Heavens-above.com that its indeed the International Space Station.  According to the website and partially confirmed by my observation, the orbiting space station was suppose to make a long pass over our location from 2100-2106hrs.  It was just going out of sight as the camera started taking the image.
  • Orion is now sitting low in the SW just after sundown.  It's brightest stars were just barely visible.
  • A first Quarter Moon was in Gemini.
  • Jupiter was shinning very bright in the SSE, fairly high up.
Images:
ISO 400, Shutter speed 1 second, F/5, Focal Length 170mm.

ISO 400, Shutter speed 5 seconds, F/4.5, Focal Length 75mm.



Wednesday, April 6, 2016

COMET 252P LINEAR AND MERCURY

Location:  Morning - West Saint John, NB, Canada

Evening - Prince of Wales, NB, Canada

Date Time:  April 5, 2016 0500-0615hrs and 2045-2050hrs

Weather:  Morning - Mostly clear, though many fast moving see-through clouds in Comets' direction proved challenging, -8C windchill -16C, high winds bitter cold.

Evening - Clear, light breeze to no wind, -5C windchill -9C.

Attendance:  Morning - Ed O and Myself.

Evening - Myself.

Equipment:  Canon Rebel Xsi with 75-300mm lens on a tripod.  Eds' 15x70 Binoculars.

Objective:  To view and image Comet 252P Linear which was reported to be rising in the SSE morning sky before dawn.

Highlights:
Morning

  • Comet Linear was reported to be in Ophiuchus, just above and to the left of the pairing of Saturn and Mars.
  • Ed and I both noted how bright Mars appeared.  Much brighter than Saturn.
  • We located the Comet easily with Ed binoculars, with both of us noting how big it appeared in field of view.  Ed thought he could see green in the comet where I just thought it looked like a very dark, sort of grayish hazy patch, next to a bright star.
  • During observing time Comet was at about 45 degrees elevation.   We both noted how high it was becoming.  The Comet is moving higher in our morning sky each day.
  • Neither of us could see Comet with naked-eye.  Needed binos to see it.
  • Could not see it through camera lens, so had to guess where to aim camera.  Of many images taken, Comet only showed up in two images.  These images only appeared after downloading on computer and then processing.  Comet then popped out in one image, next to a passing satellite.
  • This Comet has proven to be challenging to view and image for several reasons.  Our weather has been mostly cloudy, with heavy winds since it first came into view around March 31.  Also the Moon phase up until April 2 has been a major factor.  On April 1, it was clear, but the third quarter Moon was very bright and almost right on top of the Comet.  April 5 morning, though extremely cold and windy with some fast moving clouds, was the first decent chance to view it.
Evening:

  • On Hwy 1 west of Saint John, noticed Mercury pop into view low in the Western twilight sky.  Stopped along the side of the road in Prince of Wales and imaged it.  Appeared as a lone, un-twinkling star.
Note:  Comet 252P Linear was accompanied by another Comet, Comet 2016 BA14.  According to Space.com, 252P Linear came within 14 Lunar distances of Earth or 5.6 Million Kms, making it the 5th closest Comet to Earth.

Comet BA14 came within 9 Lunar Distance or 3.4 Million Kms.  This would make it the second closest Comet to Earth after Comet D/1770 L1 Lexell which buzzed Earth in the year 1770 at a distance of 6 Lunar Distances or 2.2 Million Kms.


Images:
Finder Chart from www.skyandtelescope.com



Region Comet was in during observing and imaging on April 5, 2016.



Path of Comet 252P Linear at time it was imaged, April 5, 2016 @ 0515hrs AST.

Path of Comet 252P Linear during close approach to Earth on March 19, 2016.  Image shows how close came to Earth.


Satellite passes above Comet during imaging.





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