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Sunday, June 26, 2016

ASTRONOMY BY THE BAY

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

Date Time:  June 25, 2016, 2230-0030hrs

Weather:  Mostly clear, light breeze to no breeze, a surprisingly warm 14C, a couple mosquitoes and a fox was nearby.  Night before was 3C!

Attendance:  Carla, Wanda, Jennifer, Ed, Chris, 3 others names not known and Myself.

Equipment:  Chris's 11" Celestron SCT with a goto mount.  His 8mm, 13mm, 17mm, 32mm and a red light filter.  Chris's green light pointer.

Objective:  To view celestial objects with Chris who was set up at Saints Rest Beach for public outreach, which he does frequently.

Highlights: 

  • Ed and I used Chris's greenlight filter to show Jennifer around the sky.  We pointed out Ursa Major, Leo, Sagittarius, Scorpius, Cassiopeia, the Summer triangle,  Mars, Saturn, Venus and explained how to use The Big Dipper to find Arcturus and Spica.  Ed explained to Jenn and Wanda that Antares(near Mars) is so big that if it were in place of our Sun, its outer layer would reach to Mars orbit.
  • Was pleased when the Tea Pot of Sagittarius came into view from behind some haze at around 2330hrs, low in the South East.  Explained to Jennifer that this the direction of the center of our Galaxy, The Milky Way.  We have radio telescopes that are able to see through the heavy gases in that region of sky.  They have, over approx the last 10 years been able to see stars move around one spot.  This invisible spot is believed to be the center of our galaxy which is a black hole.  Check out this site for more fascinating information on this area of our sky... G2

One of my images of Sagittarius from last fall.
Objects Observed:  
  • Saturn-  Appeared huge in the eyepiece with Cassini Division appearing now and again with the unsteady atmosphere.  Two Moons were very close to the ringed planet.
  • Jupiter- Appeared huge in the eyepiece with storm bands appearing now and again with the unsteady atmosphere.  At 2215 hrs Europa was suppose to transit the huge gas giant.  Only three Moons were visible so it must have been in front of Jupiter while we were observing it.  Jennifer, Ed and I agreed that the Moon closest to Jupiter was much smaller than the other two.  We looked for the transiting moon across Jupiter's disk and Ed and I thought we could see it at times in one Jupiter's cloud bands, but unsteady atmospheric conditions made it so we couldn't confirm the sighting.
  • M13-Again was huge in the eyepiece, resembling a birdshot shotgun blast on a paper target.  Many dozens of stars were easily resolved.

One of my M13 images from last fall.
  • M22-Showed up as an evenly spaced, tight-nit grouping of dozens of stars of about 7 or 7.5 magnitude.  A nice image of this Cluster can be seen at this website messier-objects.com
  • Mars- Viewed with and without red light filter.  Ed, Chris and I all noted the crescent moon shape inside Mars's disk.  It was located in the upper right portion of the red planets disk and was definitely some kind of detail on its surface.
  • The Double Double Star aka Epsilon Lyrae-  Located in Lyra this was my first time viewing the amazing sight.  Both double stars were split, although just barely, with the ones on the bottom of the field of view splitting much easier than the upper ones.

Image from celestronimages.com

  • M27 The Dumbell Nebula was huge and bright in the eyepiece with the bottom portion much brighter than the rest.  Looked like a cloud frozen in time.  Averted vision was helpful in viewing this object
  • M81 & M82  These two galaxies, which just barely fit into the field of view were rather faint, probably due to light pollution which is normal for being inside a city while viewing.
  • M57  The Ring Nebula was huge and bright, which was largely due to Chris's very impressive scope.  This Nebula usually reminds me of a smoke ring floating in the sky, but in this scope, there is gaseous material inside the ring.  Never seen the Ring Nebula like this before!  Averted vision always helps with this object.
  • M51-The Whirlpool Galaxy was the last target of the night for Ed, Carla and I.  It was fairly faint in the eyepiece which was to be expected, but after viewing for a while, both parts of the merging galaxies appeared.  Amazing!  Could not make out the spiral arm, though
  • Several satellites were seen, mostly traveling either north south or south north.  No shooting stars were seen.
Note:  A special thanks to Chris Curwin who does frequent public outreach events at Saints Rest Beach by setting up is very impressive scope and allowing passer bys to view the sky through his scope.  Learn more by going to Chris's face book page, Astronomy By The Bay!


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