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Thursday, May 25, 2017

COMET C/2015 V2 JOHNSON

Location:  Front Deck, Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date Time:  May 24, 2017 2215-2400hrs.

Weather:  Cool, no wind, mostly clear, 7C, lots of dew, some bugs.

Equipment:  Canadian Telescopes 80 ED/APO with 19 mm eyepiece, camera adapter, Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55 mm and 75-300 mm lenses.

Attendance:  Ed O'Reilly in Saint John and David McCashion in Little Lepreau.

Objective:  To view and image Comet Johnson which is suppose to be in Bootes.

Report:

  • Set up telescope around 2215 hrs, before it was completely dark.  Viewed Jupiter, which was high in southern sky, above Corvus.  Cloud bands showed up clearly and it seemed like the atmosphere was very steady, for a change.  Jupiter did not swim in the eyepiece.

Jupiter showing clouds.

Jupiter and four of its Moons.
  • Waited till after 2230 hrs to look for Comet, so that the sky would completely darken.  Searched the area of sky between Izar and Delta Bootes for Comet with scope and 19 mm eyepiece.  Didn't take long to find it.  A fuzzy patch that wasn't completely circular which hints that this comet has a tail.  Comet also appeared to be dimmer than it was a few nights ago, when I last observed it.  Ed O'Reilly from Saint John, via Twitter, said he found it also, in his 8" Dob, and he thought it was fainter also.  His show, "The Sky Above" is on today at 3 pm on 107.3 FM community radio.




  • One shooting star was observed through the corner of my eye, just north of due east at approx 2330 hrs.  Appeared reddish.  Ed also seen a shooting star that appeared reddish.  No satellites were seen.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

ASTRONOMY BY THE BAY

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

Date Time:  May 20, 2017 2130-2343 hrs

Weather:  Windy, mostly clear to clear, 9C, threat of frost over night, no bugs.

Equipment:  Chris's 10" Dob with 13 mm eyepiece, my 80 ED/APO with 19 mm eyepiece and camera attachments.  Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55 mm lens.

Attendance:  Chris Curwin, Carla McCashion, David McCashion, and approx 7 others from the public.

Objective:  To observe with Chis down at the public beach so that passerby's and others can join in observing the night sky.

Report:

  • Took a long time for it to darken enough to see most of the stars.  Didn't get truly dark till 2230 hrs.
  • Chris showed many from the public Jupiter and four of its Moons.

  • Once it got dark enough Chris showed members of the public M13 and M57.  He also discussed the nature of the Massive Globular Cluster and Planetary Nebula which resembles a ghostly smoke ring.  A truly remarkable sight in a good telescope.
  • Shortly after this, I found Comet C/2015 V2 Johnson in eyepiece of my telescope.  Chris came and viewed it also, and we both agreed that we could see a faint tail.  Comet was fairly easy to find, above and to the right of Delta Bootes.  Brightish towards the center, medium sized with a little green showing.  Great telescope Comet that hopefully will brighten as it gets closer to Earth.  Closest approach is June 4.

  • Found M4 easily, next to Antares.  Its rising in the SE with Antares and Saturn.  M4 was faintish but very seeable in this small scope.  Saturn was very low in the SE and didnt appear till after 2315hrs.  Could just barely make out the rings in the eyepiece.


  • I seen one shooting star.  We searched for an International Space Station pass-over(tracked by Chris with his cellphone app) at 2201 hrs but none of us could see it.  We all agreed that there might have been too much light out to see it.
  • There were many satellites observed, including one spectacular multiple Iridium flaring one that passed through the northern sky from west to east.  As one observer named Matt said,  "It looked like a flaming torch."  It would brighten dramatically, then fade, then brighten dramatically again, over and over.  Incredible sight!
Note:
  • A special thanks to Chris Curwin for inviting the public to come share the night sky with his impressive selection of telescopes.  He does this frequently from Saints Rest Beach and even allows the public to image things, with their cellphone cameras, like the Moon through his telescope with special adapters and also just by hand held method.  He also is very knowledgeable about the night sky and its many wonders.  Thanks again Chris!  
  • Here is a link to his Facebook Page Astronomy By The Bay where he will let you know when he is going to be set up down at the beach.

Friday, May 19, 2017

OBSERVING REPORT FOR MAY 18, 2017

Location:  Front Porch Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date Time:  May 18, 2017 2200-2420hrs

Weather:  Breezy to slight breeze to no wind, some clouds to mostly cloudy, fog, humid, 10C.  Flashing from the north indicated possible lightening in that direction.

Attendance:  David McCashion

Equipment:  8" Meade LX200 telescope with 13, and 32mm eyepieces.  Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55mm and 75-300mm lenses.

Objective:  To observe a double shadow transit of Jupiter which was due to occur between 2445-0120hrs.  Also to view and image Comet Johnson which was due to be near a bright star in Bootes.

Report:

  • Was close to 2230hrs before sky got completely dark.  Shortly after this a shooting star swarm was seen, in the East, high above.  Some were faint, others were of moderate brightness.
  • Easily found Comet Johnson in 32mm eyepiece.  It was diffuse, brighter towards the center, had a thick, faint tail and was slightly greenish.  Was also very big.  Comet was much fainter than last time.  Took a much longer exposure this time to get the Comet to show up.



  • Set telescope up around 1800hrs to give it a chance to acclimatize, so that a better view of Jupiter could be had to see the shadows cast on its surface during the double shadow transit.  Viewed the gas giant intently with high magnification given with 13.8mm eyepiece and at lower magnification.  Storm clouds could easily be seen along with 3 of its Moons.  One of its Moons was right along the planets limbs.  After watching carefully for some time, could not see any hint of the shadows.  Even though, these are the two smallest of the observable moons, I must conclude that these shadow transits are difficult to observe.



Note:  I want to thank Ed O'Reilly for frequently mentioning my blog on his Thursday afternoon at 3pm radio show The Sky Above, with Edward O'Reilly  His show is played again on Sundays at Noon and can be found at Local University Radio, 107.3FM.  He often talks about astronomy related topics along with his signiture topic the weather.  Great show!  I try to tune in every week!










Monday, May 1, 2017

OBSERVING REPORT FOR APRIL 29, 2017

Location:  Front Porch and side yard, Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date Time:  April 29, 2017 2100-2330

Weather:  Mostly clear with some passing clouds, very windy increasing as evening went on, 7C.  Intermittent ground fog and haze throughout evening. Poor seeing conditions and no bugs.

Equipment:  Canadian Telescopes 80mm ED/APO with 12mm eyepiece on a Vixen Alt/Az mount.  Galaxy Neo S5 cellphone with cellphone adapter.  Canon Rebel with 75-300mm lens on tripod.

Attendance:  Rosana B, Emma B and David McCashion.

Objective:  To show our guests some night sky celestial objects through telescope.

Report:

  • Before dark, just after 2100hrs, set up telescope and showed Rosana and Emma the crescent Moon, in the west and bright Jupiter in the SE.  Both were amazed at the craters on the Moon and neither had seen Jupiter's four Moons before.  Imaged both Moon and Jupiter with Cellphone



  • Didn't get dark enough to look for Comet Johnson until after 2200hrs.  Found the faint comet with telescope exactly where heavens-above.com sky chart said it would be, above Eta Herculis.  It was faint, but see-able with brighter central region and a very long tail.  This is the first tail I've seen on a comet in a long time. Imaged Comet with Canon Rebel with 75-300mm lens from side yard.

Sky chart from Heavens-above.com




  • At 2238 hrs a very bright Iridium flare was seen going through Hercules from North to South.  Was twice as bright as Jupiter.
  • Wind picked up shortly after 2230hrs.  After wind picked up, wasn't able to see the Comet again in telescope eyepiece.  Possibly due to atmospheric disturbance or high thin clouds.
  • Viewed and imaged M13 to compare with Comet for an attempt to measure its brightness.  M13 was at least five times brighter.

  • Seen many satellites and one faint shooting star, in the east, from south east to the north.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

TWO COMET NIGHT

Location:  Front Porch, Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date Time:  April 24, 2017 2145-2320hrs

Weather:  Mostly clear to clear, 0C, no wind and no Moon.  Very dark skies.

Equipment:  Canadian Telescopes 80 ED/APO on a Vixen Alt/Az mount with 19mm eyepiece, 20x80 Binoculars on Tripod, and Canon Rebel Xsi with 75-300mm lens mounted on tripod.

Attendance:  David McCashion

Objective:  To view and image two Comets (C/2015 V2 Johnson and 41P T-K-G) which were in or near Hercules, in the North Eastern sky after dark.

Report:

  • Went out to search for Comets as soon as it got dark (well after 2100hrs), but a hazy, partly see-through cloud hung over the NE sky.  This threatened the chance for capturing the faint Comets.
  • After 2200 hours, the clouds in that area of sky dissipated, allowing for scan of NE sky.
  • Searched for Comet Johnson, with binoculars which was supposed to be between two bright stars above Keystone of Hercules.  Could not locate comet with binoculars.
  • Scanned the Hercules for the Great Cluster (M13) and found it with binoculars.  Very bright fuzzy patch that makes it easy to see why Charles Messier mistakes it for a Comet.  That's exactly what it looks like in binoculars or a small scope.  A bright fuzzy patch...but of course, this fuzzy patch does not move across the sky, it moves with the stars.
  • Scanned the area, with binoculars to the lower right about 7 degrees of Dracos head for Comet 41P but could not see it.
  • With a dark sky and no clouds, decided to image area of sky where Comets were suppose to be.  Used the very bright Jupiter (half way up in the sky in the SE) as a focusing target for camera.  Jupiter had an odd arrangement of its Moons at this time, with all four on one side...fairly close to one another.


Odd arrangement of Jupiter's Moons

  • After imaging, set up small telescope with 19mm eyepiece.  Found Comet Johnson easily, right were sky charts said it was.  Bright fuzzy patch that seemed to be bigger on one side.  Comet has a bright nucleus.  Viewed M13, nearby also to compare brightness.  Comet Johnson was about 1/3 as bright as M13.  Found Comet 41P right was it was suppose to be also.  Much fainter than Comet Johnson, almost unseeable in small scope.
  • This was my first time observing two comets in one night!
  • No shooting stars and a few satellites were seen.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

NEAF 2017 (April 9)

Location:  Rockland Community College, Suffern, NY, USA

Date Time:  April 9, 2017 1130-1710hrs

Weather:  Sunny, warm, slight breeze, 22C.  First leaves have started on bushes and some trees.
From the parking lot after the Conference.  First buds of the spring!
Attendance:  David McCashion and hundreds of attendees.

Report:

  •  Spent more time today checking out more of the booths.  Talked to Kelly Beatty from Sky and Telescope Magazine.  He used a globe of the Moon to point out where there is a very deep impact creator on the southern half of the Moon on the far side.  Its massive and very deep.
  • Talked to a gentleman from another booth who said he was working with Hubble Space Telescope and a Telescope in Chile to image a 26 magnitude asteroid which was going to eclipse a 15 magnitude star.  This asteroid is the target object of a New Horizons spacecraft flyby.  By studying the asteroid eclipsing the star image, experts hope to more accurately determine it's size.
  • Here are some more images from the Field House where booths of all sorts, astronomy related were set up.








  • After the Field House, went outside were there were multiple telescopes set up for solar observing and at least one was set up to view a daytime, crescent Venus.  Though someones, Coronado 90 Solar Max with 25mm eyepiece, viewed two filaments, two different solar activity areas across the face, and one bright prominence..  In someone's, 80 APO with unknown eyepiece, viewed a very thin crescent daytime Venus.  Looked at area of sky where telescope was pointed, but could not see it with unaided eye.  Talked to someone else who had scope set up observing the Sun all day, and he said he had different  people at the eyepiece all day, but didn't get a count.


  • A huge topic of conversation during the talks was the upcoming solar eclipse on August 21, 2017.  According to Professional TV Meteorologist and astronomy enthusiast, Joe Rao, who also gave a talk in the Theater, the best place in the US to see the Eclipse, weather-wise, was Mandras, Oregon.  He also pointed out another, very interesting fact that Carbondale, Ill is going to be host to two total solar eclipses within 8 years.  He said that any one place on Earth normally experiences a total solar eclipse once every 375 years.  Carbondale, Ill is on the crossroads of two total solar eclipse paths and will experience the phenomenon in 2017 and in the year 2024.  Below is an image of Joe Rao and the huge mural of the 2017 eclipse path across the US all of which were located in the hall adjoining the field house where all the booths were set up to the Theater.  Note the times of the start of the total solar eclipse for that particular area and the time zone.  Also note the duration of the eclipse for that area.  The duration of the eclipse is longer the closer you are to the center of its path.












  • Mr Rao also talked about an eclipse in 2016 when he noticed that the eclipse was going to cross the flight path of an airplane.  He contacted the airline and it decided to delay the flight by a half hour, so that the plane could enter the shadow of the Moon.  Mr. Rao was on-board for the flight, and a News crew filmed the whole thing and the episode has been nominated for an Emmy!  Could not find the news report, but here is a youtube video from one of the other passengers of the flight.
  • Caleb Weiss, ULA, Commercial Crew Program Manager gave a talk on the current state of Rocketry in terms of sending humans into space from the USA.  Currently all our Astronauts are flying out of Kazakhstan.  Mr. Weiss says that there is currently a rocket system that is almost ready to go and that they have four astronauts already picked for the first flight.  It will fly out of Cape Canaveral, FL in 2018, if all goes well. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

NEAF 2017 (April 8)

Location:  Rockland Community College, Suffern, NY, USA

Date Time:  April 8, 2017 0900-1830 hrs Local Time.

Weather:  Partly cloudy, windy, 13C.

Report:

  • Very nice day for the 'Forum'.  Lots of attendees and lots of great booths set up from everything from telescopes, to telescope accessories, to software for analyzing the light spectrum of stars.




  • One of the booths had Tom Field, who was giving a talk about a filter you can affix to a Canon DSLR camera lens to allow for light spectrum analysis.  The 'Star Analyser' costs $200 US and for more info check out his website at  rspec-astro.com
  • Here are some images of some of the booths.  Very rare to find so much astronomy related products in one place at a time.  Even the biggest astronomy stores (which are only located in big centers like Toronto and Montreal) dont have this kind of selection...or anywhere near this kind of selection.




A Planewave telescope, in my opinion, one of the most impressive telescopes present at the Conference.  This one was listed at $22,000 US!





  • More to follow...

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