Sunday, March 21, 2021

A Comet, A Messier, & Two Planets Rising

 Location:  Prince of Wales, NB, Canada

Date Time:  March 21, 2021 0430-0652hrs

Weather:  It was a warm and hazy -3C, 67% humidity, mostly clear until about 6am.  That's when it went from no wind, to a slight breeze, from the north.  It turned very chilly after that.  Temps leaving Saint John were 5 degrees warmer.

Attendance:  David McCashion

Equipment:  Canon Rebel T3 attached to an 80 ED/APO telescope at prime focus and with an 18-55mm lens.  Images processed on Photoshop.

Objective:  To image two comets in the morning sky, and anything else that seemed interesting.  The comets were C/2020 R4 Atlas, in Aquila and 10P/Tempel 2 in Aquarius.


  • As soon as I arrived I attempted to image the Summer Triangle, rising in the East, but the images didn't turn out well because they were out of focus.  The stars were too faint to zoom in on, to obtain adequate focus.
  • Aligned scope on Regulus, which was low in the west at approx 0500hrs.  According to Richard Hinckley Allen, in his Star Names, Their Lore and Meaning, Regulus is a triple star system of 1.7, 8.5 and 13 mag stars, is flushed white and ultramarine.(Will at image at later date)
  • Searched for and found C/2020 R4 Atlas in Aquila, halfway between Altair and Saturn.  It's faint, approximately 10 mag.

ISO 3200, 50s, not cropped.

  •  Searched for Comet 10P/Tempel 2, which was reported in Aquarius.  Aquarius was just rising during morning first light, but the comet did not rise above the horizon before the sky became too lit.  While in Aquarius, searching for the comet, I found  and imaged the bright globular cluster M2, which was in the trees, low along the horizon.  The sky was lighting up fast by this time...approximately 607am.

ISO 3200, 30s, not cropped.

  •  Jupiter & Saturn didn't start rising over the treeline until after 630am.  They remain low in the south eastern morning sky.

f/4.5, 8s, ISO 100, focal length 33mm, image cropped.
  • Heard my first flock of Canada Geese of the year, around 615am, flying north along the coast.  Many other birds were heard chirping in the morning twilight, and some were even chirping and moving around before first light.  A sign of spring.
  • At 643am, as I was taking down the setup, I heard, then seen a bright bolide slowly sailing from west to south east, halfway up in the southern sky.  Its sizzled as it burned itself out, flying straight at Saint John, from my vantage point.
  • No satellites were seen, or any other shooting stars.















Monday, March 8, 2021


Location:  Prince of Wales, NB, Canada

Date Time:  March 7, 2021 1800-2130hrs

Weather:  Clear, no wind, -5.7 C and 57% humidity..

Equipment:  Canon Rebel t3 with 18-55mm lens and using small telescope at prime focus.  Images processed with Photoshop.

Attendance:  David McCashion

Objective:  To image two faint comets in the western sky, just after dark and to view and image a close pairing of Mars and Pleiades.


  • Arrived at dark sky site at approx 6pm.  The sun was supposed to set at 618pm, which it did, but it didn't get dark enough to start imaging for a faint comet till 710pm!
  • Comet C/2021 D1 Swan was reported to be low in the west at first dark, in the great square of Pegasus, about 5 degrees from Algenib, inside the square asterism.  Its last reported magnitude was 11.5, its distance from the Earth and Sun respectively are 1.677AU and 0.907AU, at observing time.

Single shot, 90 second, ISO 1600.  Not cropped.

  •  Comet C/2021 A4 Neowise was reported to be in Taurus, below the bull-face asterism.  Its last reported magnitude was 12.4.  It was 0.846AU from Earth and 1.161AU from the Sun at observing time.  This comet was very faint, much fainter than Swan.  I could not see it in the viewfinder, but it did show up in 120 second exposure images, that were ruined by a tracking malfunction.  The comet didn't appear to have a brighter central region.  It appeared more as a whisp of cloud.

Single shot, uncropped, 30s, ISO 6400.

  •  Mars and Pleiades were very close together.  Not close enough to get in the same field of view with the camera using the telescopes as a lens, though.


Single shot, uncropped, 15s, ISO 3200, f/3.5 and focal length 18mm.

Single shot, uncropped, camera using telescope as lens, 30s, ISO 1600.

  • One bolide seen out of the corner of my eye, to the north while imaging at around 9pm.  This was the most satellites I've ever observed during an observing session.  Picked up many in images, as well.  This is the first time I have had an issue with satellites passing through images.
  • Starlink launched more satellites today.  The train will be visible beginning at 428am tomorrow morning, according to  Another source for SpaceX Launches is at this link










Monday, March 1, 2021


Location: Lower Westside Saint John, NB, Canada  

Date Time: February 27, 2021 0630-0640hrs, March 3, 2021 0630-0650hrs  & March 4th, 2021 0615-0640hrs

Weather: Feb 27-Mostly clear, reddish twilight on eastern horizon, -9C, and a slight breeze. 

March 3rd-Mostly cloudy, with one clear patch in along the eastern horizon that ended about where the Planets should have been, -10C with reported windchill of -18C, a gusty 30-40km wind from the north, 90% humidity.  

March 4th-Mostly clear, very windy, from the north, -7C, 62% humidity.

Equipment: 20x80 binos with camera on March 4th.

Objective: To view Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury, which were supposed to be low in the eastern dawn sky.  

Report for Feb 27: Jupiter was very low, about 2 degrees above the horizon, but was the biggest and brightest by far. It was naked eye visible, with averted vision, against the brightening reddish sky. Mercury was a little higher and to the south. Saturn was higher still and further south and was by far the faintest, even in binos. Mercury and Saturn were not visible to unaided eye. I imaged these planets on January 10th, just before Mercury passed in front of the Sun and Jupiter/Saturn went behind the Sun, from our view point. In other words, the 3 planets which disappeared from the evening sky just after January 10th, have now reappeared in the Morning sky! See my Jupiter-Mercury-Saturn post for Janurary 10th for images. No images were taken. No Satellites or shooting stars were seen.  

Report for March 3rd: Every morning since Feb 27 has been cloudy. Scanned the part of the eastern horizon that was clear with binos, but couldn't see any of the planets. The clouds must have been covering them. Beautiful reddish sky on the eastern horizon. Wind were so strong it blew my tripod over. Too windy for imaging, so no images. Supposed to be clear tomorrow...

Report for March 4th:  Finally, a clear, beautiful morning to capture an image and view the newly reappearing planets.  Jupiter is much higher than it was at the same time of day on Feb 27th.  It is much closer to Mercury, as well.  Saturn is very, very faint, and just barely showed up in binocular field of view and in the images.  Strong, steady winds, from the north made imaging next to impossible.  Of four images I was able to take, winds ruined three of them.  Bitter cold.

A waning gibbous Moon was high in the west.

focal length = 120mm, f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/8th second.

Sunday, January 31, 2021


Location:  Prince of Wales, NB, Canada

Date Time:  January 30, 2021 1900-2100hrs

Weather:  Bitter cold, -10C, 60% humidity, no wind, at times breezy, mostly clear, some haziness around the eastern horizon when the waning gibbous Moon appeared, around 1945hrs.  Weather patterns had Arctic air from Greenland coming straight south, over our area on this evening, and for the next day or so.

Equipment:  Canon Rebel t3 attached to a Canadian Telescopes 80 ED/APO at prime focus.  Images processed with Photo Shop.

Attendance:  Myself

Objective:  To image three comets, in the magnitude 10/11 range, that were in the sky, before the very bright, 94% illuminated waning gibbous Moon was set to rise at 1945 hrs.


  • Set up the telescope, around 1920 and aligned on Deneb, a Pegasus star and Mars.  Mars was high enough to make imaging difficult.  It was so cold, I had to stop several time to warm up, which made imaging all the comets before the waning gibbous Moon rose impossible.

ISO 1600, 30s.  Un-cropped, enhanced.


  •  I searched for three comets and the first one was Comet 88P Howell, which was very low in the west.  The comet was reportedly magnitude 10, and I imaged that area of the sky, but the comet did not show up in 30 second exposure images.
  • Imaged the area of sky, well below Mars, for Comet 141P Machholz.  Just above the treeline, to the south west, the comet did show up, just barely in a single shot, 30s image.

ISO 1600, 30s.  Image cropped and enhanced.

  •  Imaged the area of sky, to the north east of Sirius.  By this time, the bright waning gibbous Moon had risen enough to greatly affect observing and imaging, but good images of that area of the sky were attained, but the comet was not discernible.
  • Then decided to image some nearby Messier objects, M46 and M47.  These deep sky objects showed up well, despite the glowing Moon nearby.
ISO 1600, 30s.  Un-cropped, enhanced.

ISO 1600, 30s.  Un-cropped, enhanced.

  •  By 2030 hrs, the waning gibbous Moon had risen enough to turn mostly white, and some hazy clouds seem to stay around it.
ISO 100, 1/50s.  Cropped and enhanced.

  •  Several satellites were seen, going in every direction, with one image picking one up.  No shooting stars were seen.











Sunday, January 10, 2021


Location:  Lower West-side Saint John, NB, Canada

Date Time:  January 10, 2021 1730-1830hrs

Weather:  Breezy, from the north, -1.5C, mostly clear, and 71% humidity.

Equipment:  Canon Rebel t3 with 300mm lens.  Images processed with Photo Shop.

Attendance: David McCashion

Objective:  To view and image a close pairing of Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn, just after sundown.

Report:  When Jupiter first appeared, after sundown, around 1740hrs, it was only approx 5 degrees above the horizon.  Mercury and Saturn never were never visible to me either through the camera view-screen or with the unaided eye.  

Only after processing images did I notice that the first image I took at 1750hrs captured all three planets, two of which were almost too low to capture.  Saturn went below the treeline about two minutes after taking this image.

Altogether, I took nine images and only captured all three planets in the first two.  The second image didn't turn out well due to windy conditions disturbing the camera.  The two images below are the same image, one with text to label the planets.  Image is cropped and enhanced to show the dimmer planets better.

ISO 100, 1.6 sec, focal length 250mm, f/5.6.









Wednesday, December 23, 2020


 Location:  Lower West-Side, Saint John, NB, Canada

Date Time:  December 23, 2020 1745-1805hrs

Weather:  Gusty 25km/hr winds from the north, -4.7C, humidity 69%, mostly clear except for considerable clouds around the western, northern and southern horizons.

Attendance:  David McCashion

Equipment:  Canon Rebel t3 with 18-55mm and 75-300 lenses.  Image processed for text on Photoshop.

Objective:  To view and image Jupiter and Saturn, two days after the historic conjunction on Dec 21, 2020, when they were 1/10th of a degree apart.  

Report:  This conjunction was an amazing sight in the evening twilight!

A long stretch of cloudiness(almost a week) prevented viewing and imaging this amazing conjunction on Dec 21.  This was when the conjunction was at its closest.

I would estimate that the planets were about one half of a degree apart at observing time. 

Shortly after this image was taken, clouds covered this area of the sky for several minutes.  When the planets reappeared, it was through increasing and decreasing cloudiness and haziness.

Also noteworthy during observing time was a close pairing of a young waxing gibbous Moon and Mars.  They were about 5 degrees apart.

Single shot, 3 second ISO 400, f/5.6.

Monday, December 14, 2020


 Location:  Saint John West, NB, Canada

Date Time:  December 14, 2020 0120-0153hrs

Weather:  Slight breeze, mostly clear through observing time, which was the only break in the clouds in days.  Cool, 2.3C, 99% humidity.

Attendance:  David McCashion

Equipment:  None.

Objective:  To view as many Geminid meteors as possible, during a short break in the cloud cover.


The sky cleared from 0120 to 0153am.  It was mostly to completely cloudy before and after observing time.

I faced mostly North East, towards Ursa Major, and South East towards Leo.  Seen 20 Geminids.  All observed meteors were Geminids  There were no sparodics.  This included 1 bolide at 0125 hrs, which descended slowly down through the handle of big dipper, straight into uptown Saint John from my vantage point.  The bolide was easily twice as big and bright as Venus, and appeared to wobble and slow down as it dropped.

Most meteors were fast, short/medium period of about 1 mag brightness, brilliant white color.  Some had yellow ting.  A few were very short period, were very fast and fainter.

There was a meteor grouping around Ursa Major at around 0130 hrs, then another grouping to the south of Leo at around 0145 hrs.  Seen two Geminids around Orion, through the oncoming clouds.


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