Friday, April 24, 2015

Lyrid Metor Shower 2015

Location:  Little Lepreau, NB

Date Time:  April 22, 2015 2100-2355hrs

Weather:  Mostly clear with a few clouds, 4C, no wind.

Attendance:  Myself

Equipment:  Canadian Telescopes 80 ED/APO on a Vixen Mount with 19mm, 12mm, 4mm eyepieces and a 2xBarrlow, tripod mounted Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55mm lens and a lawn chair.

Objective:  To view and image as many Lyrid shooting stars as possible and to find some Galaxies around Leo.  Also to try out my new Rigel red dot finder scope device.

Report:  Sitting in my new lawn chair, seen six Lyrids over the course of the evening.  They were faint, slow moving as shooting stars go, few and far between and scattered across the entire sky.  Didn't get an image of one, but did see many satellites, including one extremely bright Iridium Flare.

My new Rigel red dot finder scope for the telescope was attached for the first time earlier in the day.  Set up the telescope in the front yard and aligned the scope and finder on Venus.  After this it worked great and made it much easier to find things in the sky in the eyepiece.  Viewed a very slender Crescent Moon and Venus.  Venus was in a half Moon phase.

Spit double stars Mintaka in Orion and Algieba and Regulus in Leo.  High magnification helps a great deal when splitting double stars.

Viewed the Europa transit, just before it crossed in front of Jupiter, then watched it disappear in front of the giant planet.  At that time only three Moons could be seen on the left side of the planet through the eyepiece. Observed with high magnification 4mm eyepiece in 2x Barlow and still could not see Europa in front of Jupiter.  Could see storm cloud belts though.

Searched around Leo for Galaxies and found M66 and M65.  Increased magnification brought out an elliptical galaxy with bright centers and one curving spiral arm...albeit rather faint and hard to clearly see.

Many twenty-five second time elapse images of the sky were taken and no Shooting Stars could be seen in the images but a couple of satellites were captured.

Arcturus and the handle of the Big Dipper.

From the left:  Orion, a crescent Moon and Venus just above Taurus.

Faceing south, Leo with Jupiter to the right.

Satelite going below the Big Dipper.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

NEAF 2015

Location:  Rockland Community College, Suffern, NY

Date Time:  April 18, 2015 0930-1745hrs

Weather:  Sunny, clear, 28C and no wind.

Attendance:  Hundreds of people.

Highlights:  In the talks the main theme seemed to be that the new human lift spacecraft, Orion, is undergoing its final testing and will be ready soon to launch humans into space.  This is huge news because as of right now the US has no way to send humans to space.  The US and Canada rely on the Russian Soyuz program to send our astronauts up to the International Space Station four times per year.

An interesting side note...the Orion rocket system has an escape option for the astronauts, where the Shuttles did not. It also has much more powerful rockets which will allow it to escape Earths gravity and they have just recently, successfully tested its new heat shields.

Dr Ken Kremer gave a very interesting talk on Orion and answered many interesting questions from the public.  William Gerstenmaier, NASA associate Administrator for Human Space flight gave a very informative and entertaining speech titled, "The Need for Human Exploration".

NASA plans to first test Orion, unmanned in Earth orbit, then send it around the Moon unmanned.  After that its going to send humans around the Moon, then NASA is going to set its sights Mars.  Gerstenmaier said that even though there are serious concerns that need to be addressed, there is nothing stopping us from sending humans to Mars.  One of the biggest concerns is for peoples health without gravity...bone density decreases.  The only medicine known at this time is excersise.  Also, space radiation is also a concern, but can be addressed with proper shielding.

NASAs' Asteroid Redirect Mission is the most exciting thing in the works right now, in my opinion.  The plan is to send robotic spacecraft to an asteroid and either capture an entire asteroid, or, touch down on a very large one and remove a huge boulder.  Then the spacecraft will return the object to a Moon orbit where it will stay.  There the Orion shuttle will send astronauts to land on, collect samples then return to Earth for further study.

One ongoing theme amongst the people giving talks was their admiration for amature astronomers and the desire to have them work closer with professionals.  Also, Gerstenmaier and Dr Kremer both said that they hope amateur astronomers can help promote NASA so it can gain enough support to help pay for more exploration type missions.

Matt Penn, Associate Astronomer from National Solar Observatory at Kitt Peak gave a great talk about the upcoming solar eclipse that will traverse across the continental US on Aug 21, 2017.  There is a citizen science project called The Citizen CATE Experiment which seeks 61 amature astronomers on the eclipse path on eclipse day to image this event with the exact same equipment.  If successful, this will yield some never before seen data of the Sun's corona!

Christopher Go, 'Renowned Astro Imager', who discovered Jupiters' "Red Spot Jr." in Feb of 2006 gave a very informative talk on astroimaging.

J. Kelly Beatty, Senior Editor for Sky & Telescope Magazine gave a very informative update on the New Horizons mission, which included a new color photo from the spacecraft.  It showed that Pluto has a kind of orange-reddish hue with its largest moon Charon, being a different, darker shade.  In other words, it appears that these two worlds are different colors!  Stay tuned!  We will see much more in the next few months coming up to the fly-by in July!
First color image of Pluto and Charon taken from New Horizons website

One hour per inch diameter ginding plus one hour per inch diameter polishing.  So, sixteen hours to finish an eight inch mirror.

Solar Observing.

Discovery Plate for Pluto.

Clyde W. Tombaugh, discovered Pluto on Feb 8, 1930.

Image of the Northern Lights as seen from the International Space Station,

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Observing Report for April 13, 2015

Location:  Little Lepreau, NB

Date Time:  April 13, 2015 1800-2200hrs

Weather: Mostly clear with some fog coming off the Bay of Fundy, 4C, no wind to slight breeze, lots of dew.

Equipment: Meade 8" LX 200 telescope with 6mm, 12mm 19mm eyepieces and 2x Barlow, solar filter, focal reducer, piggyback attachment for camera, Canon Rebel Xsi with 75-300mm lens, remote shutter control, green light laser and Eds' 10x70 binoculars.

Attendance:  Ed O and Myself.

Objective:  To image the Venus/M45 conjunction and the Comets Swan F3 and Lovejoy in Cassiopeia.

Report:  With solar filter attached, from the deck, the Sun was observed.  Approximately 16 individual sunspots could be seen with a group just coming over the SE limb and another huge group in the SE.  Some of the sunspots were simply huge!

The scope was moved down to the driveway so that both the Venus/M45 conjunction and the two Comets could both be observed from the same place.  This wasn't easy, because both things were low in the sky at this time with many obstacles like trees, power lines, and buildings to try to avoid.

The scope was aligned on Aldebaran which was low in the west.

It didn't get dark until after 2100hrs.  At this time, several images of the conjunction were taken.

After this, many images of the sky, to the North East of Cassiopeia were taken.  Lovejoy was easy to find, but even after many attempts and scouring the processed images, Comet Swan F3 could not be located.

One shooting star and several Satellites were seen.


Location:  Little Lepreau, NB

Date Time:  April 12, 2015 1830-2330hrs

Weather:  Mostly clear, 3C, no wind.

Attendance:  Ed O and Myself.

Equipment:  Tripod for 20x80 Binoculars, Eds' 10x70 binoculars, 8" Meade LX 200, with focal reducer, 6mm, 12mm, 19mm, 32mm eyepieces and 2x Barlow.  Canadian Telescopes 80ED/APO on Vixen Mount. Green light laser pointer.

Objective:  To view and image the Venus/M45 conjunction, locate comets Lovejoy and Swan F3 in Cassiopeia and to find some galaxies in Leo.

Report: Long before dark we seen Venus shining high as a bright star in the west.  Set up 80ED/APO and viewed it with 19mm and 12mm eyepieces.  With the 12mm eyepiece the star turned into a gibbous phase disk.

It didn't get dark until after 2100hrs.  We both watched the International Space Station pass over, from the NW to the NE.  Very bright, slow moving star was easy to see at 2119hrs.

After it got dark, it was then that we realised that both the Venus/M45 conjunction and the Comets were too low in the sky to view and image from where the Meade LX 200 was set up.  It was decided to move the smaller 80 ed/apo and the tripod mounted 20x80 binoculars down to the driveway where both celestial bodies could be seen.

From the deck with the small telescope, Jupiter, M45 and M42 were observed.  Jupiter had only 3 moons showing, and viewed the Great Red Spot for the first time at 2124hrs.  The belts showed up great with the 6mm eyepiece.

From the driveway we observed the Venus/M45 conjunction in the west,and found Comet Lovejoy over and to the east about 4 degrees from Cassiopeia with the binoculars and the 80ED/APO. It was easy to find with binoculars, although it has dimmed from earlier this winter.  In the binoculars a very faint, but large tail that was pointing straight up, in almost a fan-like way.  The small scope did not pick up the tail.  It looked like a, kind of dim, gray fuzzball in both the binoculars and telescope.  The green light laser was used to help find the comet with the small telescope.

We did and exhaustive search for Comet Swan F3 which was suppose to be near Lovejoy, to the east of Cassiopeia.  After many attempts with the binos, small telescope and laser pointer, we could not find the faint mag9.5 comet.  Curt, from SJAC also attempted to find it from his home and could locate it either.

Jupiter was again observed from the driveway, this time it had 4 Moons, with one of them extremely close to the gas giant.  Could not see the great spot this time.  Right next to Jupiter was M44, the Beehive Cluster.  Many stars could be seen with the 12mm eyepiece.

Ed and I did a search for galaxies just below Leo which was high in the SE sky at around 2200hrs.  We found M65 and M66 close together in the same field of view with the 19mm eyepiece in the small telescope.

At least two satellites were seen and one shooting star.  No images were taken on this evening.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Nova Sgr 2015 No. 2

Location:  Dipper Harbour to Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date Time:  April 6, 2015 0500-0600hrs AST

Weather:  Some clouds to mainly clear, -15C, no wind.

Equipment:  Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55mm lens, 20x80 binoculars and tripod.

Attendance:  Myself

Objective:  To view and image Nova Sagittarius 2015 No.2 which was reportedly brightening.

Report:  The Moon was one day past full, very bright and high in the SW sky.

Clouds covered the bottom half of Sagittarius when I arrived at Dipper Harbour.  Took a couple 30s and a couple 20 second time elapse images of Sagittarius and the Nova popped out immediately.

Looked with just naked eye for about a half hour and I could not see the Nova naked-eye, even with my eyes dark adjusted.  Set the binoculars on the tripod and the Nova popped out easily.  Estimate that it was at least 2/3 as bright as the main Sagittarius kettle stars.

Did a Comet Lovejoy and Comet Swan Search.  Both were in Cassiopeia at the time of this report.  I thought I seen Lovejoy in the binoculars, but it was very faint.  Could not see Comet Swan.  Did get Lovejoy in the images, to the north of  Cassiopeia.

On arrival back in Little Lepreau, around 0600hrs, noticed that Sagittarius can now be seen, just over the treetops from Little Lepreau Basin.

No Shooting Stars or satellites were seen.

This is the search area where Comet C/2015 F3 Swan.


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