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Thursday, July 12, 2018

OBSERVING REPORT FOR JULY 11, 2018

Location:  Front Deck, Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date Time:  July 11, 2018  2200-0035hrs

Weather:  Hazy conditions gave way to mostly clear skies, lots of dew, mosquitoes and moths.  No wind, a very warm 20 C at 2200 hrs.  A very cool 18 C where I could see my breath at 0030 hrs.  Hurricane Chris was passing just off the coast of Maine and Nova Scotia, which was causing some strange weather conditions of late.  Full force of hurricane was not felt here.

Attendance:  Mary, Grace, Bradley and David McCashion (Myself).

Equipment:  8" Meade LX 200 telescope with 13.8 mm and 32 mm eyepieces.  Cellphone camera with telescope adapter.

Objective:  To view planets in the southern sky.

Report:

  • Saturn was low in the south eastern sky at 2230hrs.  Rings were steeply inclined, showing nice separation between the planet and rings.  Airplane passed in front of the ringed planet as I was observing it.  Two moons were clearly visible with one much closer than the other.  We talked about how Saturn's' moons do not line up like Jupiter's' moons.
  • Jupiter was much higher in the sky, in the south west.  Three of its moons were oddly bunched up on the right side, in the eyepiece.  Belts were faintly visible, with hazy conditions causing mostly distorted views.  Imaged and videoed with cellphone camera attached to telescope and 32 mm eyepiece.





  • Mars didn't rise over the trees in the south-east till after 0020 hrs.  Dew on the equipment was an issue at this time, and I could see my breath, even though the thermometer was saying 18 C.  Mars was very bright and yellowish in color, which may be caused by a global dust storm that has recently enveloped the Red Planet.  Mary and I agreed we could see a brighter region on the NE limb, in the eyepiece.  Some slight discoloration across the disk hinted at features, but was very faint.  Imaged and videoed with cellphone camera attached to telescope and 32 mm eyepiece.



  • No shooting stars or satellites were seen.

Monday, June 11, 2018

GREAT RED SPOT

Location:  Front Deck and Front yard, Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date Time:  June 10, 2018 from 2200-0300hrs

Weather:  Mostly clear, slightly hazy skies, some breeze just after dark at about 2230 hrs to no wind  with fluctuating conditions (some passing clouds/haziness), very cool, no bugs.  Temperatures were 6C till around midnight, a very cool 5C at midnight and a bitter 4C after 0230 hrs that came with dew.  Strange weather conditions, but good for observing, as if it were warmer, bugs would be an issue.

Equipment:  Meade LX 200 8" telescope with 19mm and 9mm  eyepieces with yellow light filter.  Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55mm and 75-300mm lenses.  Images processed on Photobucket.com

Attendance:  Bradley H, David McCashion.

Objective:  To view Jupiter and Mars.  Mars approaching Opposition on July 27, 2018 which will see it become three times brighter than it is now.

Report:

  • Just after first dark, Bradley noticed that low in the Eastern sky a glow coming from a growing community west of Saint John.  Light pollution encroaching on an otherwise very dark sky area.  
  • Jupiter was viewed first with 19mm eyepiece with and without yellow light filter. Yellow light filter cut down the glare from Jupiter in the eyepiece, but didn't help with viewing the belts much.  Moons were nicely spread out, with two on one side, and two on the other side.

Imaged with Canon Rebel with 75-300mm lens.

Imaged with Canon Rebel attached to telescope at prime focus.



Imaged with Canon Rebel attached to telescope at prime focus.


  • Just after midnight, looked for the Great Red Spot on Jupiter and seen it for the first time in the eyepiece.  Stood out as a smudge on the lower belt that shook with the telescope, which means it's a feature on the giant planet.  The spot didn't turn out well in images, but did show up nicely in a couple cellphone videos taken through the 19mm eyepiece.  However, after downloading on YouTube, the quality doesn't seem to match the playback on the cellphone itself.




  • Observed and imaged double star Delta Corvus (Algorab).  This is the pointer star in Corvus.  Sky was particularly hazy at during visual observing through telescope.  A very faint second star was seen very close to Algorab.  


Images with Canon Rebel with 18-55mm lens.

  • Waited for Mars to rise in the East, above the trees.  Viewed in 9mm eyepiece and imaged around 0300hrs.  Mars disk was very big and bright with a lighter patch near one limb that might have been a polar cap.  Some differences in light brightness across the disk hinting at features coming into view, that cannot be seen with my equipment when the red planet is farther away.  It's a special time, every two years, as Earth approaches Mars in their respective orbits.  As it gets closer, features that are normally too faint for me to see, start to come into view.

Mars imaged with Canon Rebel attached to telescope at prime focus.  Slight light patch along upper limb might be polar cap.  Changes in light across disk might be features.


  • Faint, fast shooting star was seen coming from Ophiuchus, passed just under and to the west of Jupiter, in the SW.  One satellite observed at 0300hrs moving south, in the SE.









Thursday, April 12, 2018

MESSIER SEARCH (Updated)

Location: Front Yard,  Little Lepreau, NB, Canada


Date Time:  April 9, 2018 2200-2300hrs


Weather:  Clear, bitterly cold, breezy at times, mostly no wind, -5C.  Next morning was clear and -10C.


Attendance:  Amelia, Matthew, and David McCashion.


Equipment:  Amelia's and Matt's     My 80mm ED/APO with 12mm eyepiece on tracking/goto mount, 8" Meade LX 200 with 32mm eyepiece with tracking/goto disabled, and Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55mm lens.


Objective:  Original objective was to do a Messier Marathon, but due to schedules/circumstances, there was only time for a short, evening Messier search.


Report: 
  • Venus was very bright, in a 'half moon' phase, and high up in the Western sky as it grew darker.  Full darkness didn't come till after 2100hrs!
Facing SSW, a 15 second exposure of ISS heading SSW @ 2058 hrs.

    Began Messier search as soon as it got dark enough to see Orion after 2100hrs.  Searched for the lowest M object we thought we could see in the western sky, M34, which was in the NW, close to a tree.  Actually seen the average open cluster through a tall tree, in the small scope.
      Facing NW, M34 is just left of the tallest tree. 
  • Searched for and found open clusters M44 (Beehive Cluster), M45 (Pleiades or The Seven Sisters), M35(bright, big cluster), M36(faint cluster), M37(average cluster) and M38(very faint cluster).  M44 being the most spectacular, actually popping out to naked eye visibility after 2200hrs.  It really popped out even more with averted vision.

  • Found M1, the Crab Nebula high up in the Western sky, in Taurus, near M35.  It looked like a dark hole in space in small scope.  In big scope it was a much bigger dark hole in space with barely visible strings of light crossing its face.  Very interesting object to observe.

  • The Orion Nebula, M42 and 43 were absolutely spectacular in the big scope.  The nebula shone brightly and filled the huge field of view of the 2", 32mm eyepiece.  The trapezium was clearly split.
  • Searched for the Flame Nebula and the Horsehead Nebula, near Alnitak, around the left side of Orion's Belt.  Could barely make out some very dark nebulosity, but nothing distinct could be made out.
  • At around 2200hrs, seen a Satellite near Polaris, heading NNW.
  • Searched for all the Messiers in Leo, which was high in the South at around 2250hrs.  Couldn't find them in small scope.  Was running out of time, as we needed to finish at 2300hrs, so couldn't continue searching.
  • We talked about all the Messier objects in the Virgo cluster and how a good star chart is needed to tell them apart.
  • Seen two satellites and no shooting stars.



     

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

OBSERVING BY THE BAY

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

Date Time:  March 26, 2018 2030-2200 hrs

Weather:  Slight breeze, no clouds, -3C with windchill of -6C.  Seemed much cooler.

Attendance:  Carla, Chris, Ed, Shawn, David McCashion, and five other visitors.

Equipment:  Chris's 10" Dobsonian, and my Canon Rebel with 75-30 0mm lens on tripod.

Objective:  To observe with friends.

Report:

  • Surprisingly, it was still light out after 2000 hrs.  Days are getting longer.
  • Chris was set up and viewing the Moon with five passerby's, when we arrived.  Chris does public outreach down at this beach on a regular basis and also streams live views, on his Facebook page Astronomy by the Bay, of the Moon and planets through his scopes, with his cellphone camera.  
  • Moon was very bright in the eyepiece, with Copernicus Crater standing out prominently near the terminator.  Many other craters stood out alarmingly and one huge mountain range, that seemed to pop out in 3D, on the terminator.  Absolutely fascinating!



  • Venus was lowering in the West, as we arrived.  When it got close to the horizon, Ed noted that it would make a nice picture.  Chris noted that it will be high in the evening sky all summer.







  • Ed noted that Orion is moving to the west, in the evening sky.  This means that soon Orion will move behind the Sun in our sky, and thus be out of sight from Earth, till next fall.  In other words, it's a sign that summer is nearing.
  • Ed and I were discussing that it's now the time of year to do a Messier Marathon, where the observer spends all night searching for and observing all 110 Messier objects.  Late March, early April is the only time its possible to do this.  When the Moon gets closer to New, the sky will be darker and more suited to do this. 
  • We observed a bright satellite pass down the length of the Big Dippers Handle.  It stayed visible for a long time, and was travelling from South to North.
  • No shooting stars were seen.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

EVENING PLANETS

Location:  McPherson Beach, NB, Canada

Date Time:  March 11, 2018 2000-2020hrs

Weather:  Partly cloudy, icy outside due to recent snow squall, light to no breeze, 0 degrees Celsius.

Equipment:  Canon Rebel Xsi with 77-300mm lens on tripod.

Attendance:  David McCashion

Objective:  To view and image Venus and Mercury, which were supposed to be in the western sky, just after dark.

Report:

  • Venus was very bright, just over the horizon, with Mercury higher and to the North of Venus by about 5 degrees.  Venus was much brighter.
  • For most of the time, Venus was visible with Mercury behind the clouds which were moving south.  The two planets were only visible together, at the same time, for a few seconds.


Clouds were moving slowly to the left.


Sunday, February 25, 2018

PLANETARY LINEUP in the MORNING

Location:  Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date Time:  February 25, 2018 0430-0630 hrs

Weather:  Slight breeze, mostly clear with high hazy clouds fouling seeing conditions, -6C with windchill increasing with the dawn.

Attendance:  David McCashion

Equipment:  8" Meade LX 200 with 32mm and 19mm eyepieces.  Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55mm lens on tripod.  Images processed on Photobucket.com

Objective:  To view and image the planetary lineup of (from the East) Saturn, Mars and Jupiter.

Report:

  • Very nice line up of Planets in the morning, across the southern sky.



  • Jupiter was huge and bright at 0430 hrs and the skies were very clear.  Four of its Moons were on one side of the gas giant, evenly spaced out.  Its storm bands were easy to see in the 19mm eyepiece.  


  • Shortly after 0500 hrs a high hazy cloud covered the sky, fouling the seeing conditions.  They were see-through, though.
  • Mars was low, in the south, behind a big tree.  Its disk is almost big enough to see detail across its face, in better viewing conditions.  Also, it was behind the big tree, out front, and was difficult to view.  With approaching Opposition on July 27, 2018, the Martian disk will make a great target for observing and imaging.  When we get this close, every two years, the disk is big enough to see detail across its face, in backyard telescopes.  Also, this year, its disk will appear much larger to us than in 2016.
  • Saturn was very low, in hazy skies, behind trees when I tried to observe it with 19 mm eyepiece.  Could easily make out its rings, which were very much tilted.  
  • This was my first time observing these three planets in 2018!
  • No satellites or shooting stars were seen.  First light was at 0613 hrs.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

ROCKET LAUNCH!

Location:  Kissimmee, FL

Date Time:  Feb 6, 2018 @ 1545hrs EST

Weather:  Mostly to partly clear, humid and a little hazy on horizon, sunny, no wind, 27C.

Equipment:  Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55 and 75-300mm lenses, on tripod and without tripod.

Attendance:  Madison, McKenzie, Carla, Becky and Myself.

Objective:  To image and view SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket Launch, which was scheduled launch on this day at 1330hrs from the Kennedy Space Station on Cape Canaveral, FL.

Report:

  • We traveled from our Resort in Kissimme to watch the launch from Cocoa Beach, FL for the 1330hrs scheduled launch.  Many hundreds of people were parked on the side of Hwy 528 leading into Cocoa Beach because it offered an excellent view of the launchpad.  Unfortunately for us, the launch was delayed at the last minute and rescheduled for a 1545hrs launch.  Due to circumstances, we couldn't wait in Cocoa Beach and needed to head back to Kissimmee.
  • We arrived back at our Kissimmee Resort at approx 1500hrs.
  • At 1540hrs, I started watching the televised launch on NASA TV on our TV.  At 1545hrs the rocket launched on schedule.  I ran outside, with my camera and tripod, and there were many people in the yard looking for the rocket.  I seen it right away, in the North East direction, low heading up, like a candle flame that was rising.  It was only visible for about a minute, before it disappeared from view in some hazy clouds, looking like it was heading off to the East.  This created quite a buzz around the resort.  People were very excited about this launch.
Images:







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