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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...

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

LUNAR X APRIL 3rd 2017

Location:  Front Porch, Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date Time:  April 3, 2017 1805-2334 hrs

Weather:  Mostly clear to partly cloudy with hazy periods, breezy to no wind, 5C @ 1800 hrs -3C @ 2330 hrs.  Not dark until after 2030 hrs.

Equipment:  Galaxy S5 Neo, cellphone/eyepiece adapter, 19mm eyepiece, 8" Meade LX 200.

Attendance:  David McCashion

Objective:  To view and image Lunar X which was supposed to be visible @ 1800 hrs, as the Sun was still up.

Report:

  • Set up telescope just after 1800 hrs and located the almost first quarter Moon high in the SSE sky.  Sky was nice and blue at the time.  Searched for Lunar X visually with 19 mm eyepiece and could just barely make it out as it was starting to become visible.  Took some images, but they didn't show it well.  Decided to wait till later in the evening to see if it would brighten.
  • At around 1900 hrs, went back out and looked for Lunar X, which was on the lower 1/3 part of the terminator, and it had brighten significantly.  It seems to off on its own, into the dark part of the Moon.  Took images with cellphone attached to eyepiece.




  • At approx 2100 hrs, observed Jupiter and three of its Moons.  Looked closely across the face of the huge planet for the fourth moon or a shadow, but neither could be seen.  Nice view of multiple cloud bands across the face.  Different thicknesses of the bands were noted.  Thin, wispy clouds moved in around this time and blocked much of the sky.  
  • At approx 2300 hrs,  sky was completely clear with no wind.  Sky was darker as Moon was low in the west.  Searched the area around Alpha Draconis for Comet 41P T-K-G visually with 19 mm eyepiece in telescope and no comet could be found.
Sky Chart for Comet 41P from skyandtelescope.com




  • No shooting stars or Satellites were seen.

COMET C/2017 E4 LOVEJOY

Location:  Front Porch, Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date Time:  April 3, 2017 0540-0605 hrs Local Time

Weather:  Clear, dark skies, no moon, no wind, -9C.

Equipment:  Canon Rebel Xsi with 75-300mm lens, 20x80 binoculars, tripod.

Attendance:  David McCashion.

Objective:  To view and image a recently discovered comet which was supposed to be in the low, eastern sky just before first light.

Report:

  • Scanned sky where Comet Lovejoy was supposed to be with binoculars, but could not confirm a sighting.  Looked over the area where it was captured in image, but still couldn't see it.
  • At the same time I was scanning, looking for the comet, Ed O was searching the same area of sky with his 8" Dob and 25 mm eyepiece in West Saint John, NB.  He confirmed a sighting: very near another star, greenish with a tail.
  • Imaged the area with camera and, after processing, the comet did appear, very close to another star, right where it was supposed to be according to star charts and matched Ed's description.
Sky Chart from skyandtelescope.com




  • No shooting stars were seen, but several satellites were seen.


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