Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Observing Report

Location: Saints Rest Beach, NB

Date Time: October 19, 2010 2300-0200hrs

Weather: -1 degree Celsius, very light breeze, high level wispy clouds.

Celestial Objects Observed: Moon(91% full), Jupiter and 4 Moons, Orion The Hunter, Cassiopeia, Taurus The Bull, Perseus, The Big Dipper, M45, M42, Capella, and Betelgeuse.

Report: The weather was cool and mostly clear so the observing conditions were favourable. The high level wispy clouds were not much of a factor, as when they covered the Jupiter-Moon conjunction, Perseus(location of Comet 103P/Hartley) was clear and vise versa.

Before the observing session, a sky chart was consulted for the whereabouts of Comet Hartley. According to the chart it was just east of the star Capella, which was halfway up in the sky at observing time. Did a protracted search for the comet with 20x80 binoculars. Observed some stars that could be a comet, but nothing that stood out enough for a confirmed sighting. Same could also be said of my next search for the comet with my 150 mm reflector with a 32mm eyepiece.

To have a successful sighting of a comet like this one, which is closest to earth today, and doesn't stand out amongst the background stars(with smaller scopes) one has to locate the area it is in and chart the background stars over a several day period. The star that moves is your comet.

Orion came up over the eastern horizon after midnight. It was very impressive as it hovered over Saint John, NB. Betelgeuse (Orion's left shoulder) was also observed. It showed up as a reddish disk.

Taurus was very prominent in the East as I started at 2300hrs. M45 also stood out very nicely, in the east.

Jupiter's weather belt showed up clearly as a faint red line that was in line with its 4 Moons.

The Moon was very bright and many of its craters and features showed up very well with the 16mm eyepiece.

Overall, this was an excellent session. Even though I didn't find Comet 103P/Hartley, the search did allow for a more thorough familiarization of the stars around Capella.

There were many very interesting things to observe on this night and some very nice pictures were taken. To see these pictures look to the preceding post.

Observing Pics for Oct 20/10 0100hrs Saints Rest Beach, NB

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pics From the Road

Date Time: October 12, 2010 0030hrs

Location: Prescott, ON

Weather: 2 degrees Celsius, no wind clear

Equipment: 20x80 Binos, Kodak EasyShare Digital Camera, Mount

Report: No Moon was up, so sky was quite dark. Orion showed up nicely in the SE, Cassiopeia was straight up and Jupiter's 4 moons showed up very nice with the binos. M42 resolved well in the binos as a bluish cloud with 4 stars in it of diminishing sizes. I'm pretty sure that Uranus is just above Jupiter and it shows up in one of the pictures. Observed the fairly large red disk of Betelgeuse.

Made an effort to find Comet Hartley, to no avail. It was just north west of Cassiopeia, last night, which put it almost straight overhead. This makes it very difficult to find with the binos. Hopefully, time and the weather will allow for a more thorough search with my 150mm reflector. With its Equatorial mount, it is designed to look straight up.

Picture Descriptions: From top to bottom. First two are of Jupiter. Last three are of Orion with the last one a close up of M42, The Great Orion Nebula.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

103P/Hartley 2

The weather has been not conducive for observing, to put it mildly. Constant rain and cloudy weather has made it a rare treat to actually get a glimpse of a star.

Besides the great show that Jupiter is putting on in the evening and most of the night, there is a newcomer comet 103P/Hartley 2 which is moving through Cassiopeia heading towards Perseus. It will be closest to Earth on 20 October and is not quite naked eye, but binos or a small telescope should pick it up. For more info and better directions to find this comet, look to these websites:

The next comet that I observe will be my first, so hopefully 103P/Hartley 2 will be the one. All that is needed is clear skies...


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