Sunday, August 28, 2016


Location:  Top of mountain in King Square on the lower westside Saint John, NB

Date Time:  August 27, 2016  2030-2120 hrs

Weather:  Partly cloudy, slight breeze to no wind, 17C and lots of mosquitoes.  After midnight it dropped to 8C.

Attendance:  Bobby Seely, Ed O'Reilly, David McCashion

Equipment:  Eds 15x70 binoculars.  My Canadian Telescopes 80 ED/APO mounted on a Vixen Alt/Az mount with a Camera adapter.  Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55mm and 75-300mm lenses, tripod.

Objective:  To view and image a rare Venus/Jupiter Conjunction that was reported to happen just after sundown, very  low in the west. 'Indeed, the 2016 Observer's Handbook of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada notes that on Aug. 27, Venus and Jupiter will be in conjunction in right ascension at 2200 GMT (6 p.m. EDT), with Venus passing 0.1 degrees north of Jupiter. But that's not the moment when the two planets are closest to each other. According to Belgian astronomical calculator Jean Meeus, that moment will come 31 minutes later, at 2231 GMT (6:31 p.m. EDT). And the separation will be measured not in angular degrees but in arc minutes. Sixty arc minutes equals 1 degree. From eastern North America, the two planets will appear closest — separated by just 4 arc minutes, or 0.067 degrees (only about one-eighth the apparent width of the moon).'

  • Shortly after arriving at the observing site, Venus was spotted low on the horizon just over the local paper mill.  There were slow moving clouds near the bright 'star', threatening to block our view of it. The pairing was very close together, approximately 6 arc minuites apart and only 3 degrees above the horizon.  We all seen Venus, but couldn't make out Jupiter easily.  Bobby and I thought we could just barely make it out, but the pairing were easily split in the eyepiece of the camera and in Eds Binos.  Bobby and Ed could see some of Jupiter's Moons but I couldn't see them through the camera view screen.  Jupiter was much fainter than Venus and being so close to the horizon hurt the gas giants brightness.  
  • At approximately 2100 hrs the planetary pairing ducked behind a passing cloud.  After this it peaked out once or twice for mere seconds at a time...and didnt appear again.
  • After 2100 hrs the sky started to darken enough that Mars and Saturn were easily seen in the SW in Scorpius.
  • No shooting stars or satellites were seen.
Camera with lens set at 75mm focal length, f/10, ISO 800, 1/6 second.

Camera lens set to 150mm, F/10, 1/6 second, ISO 800.

Camera attached to telescope at prime focus, Telescope F/6.25, 1/100 second, ISO 800

Camera lens set to 43mm, ISO 1600, 10 seconds, F/5.

Camera lens set to 75mm, ISO 1600, F/4, 2 seconds.  Image taken at 2109 hrs

Note:  A special thanks to BA Fenerty on the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) Facebook webpage for bringing up the term Appulse.  This refers to the moment in time where two planets pass very close to one another from another vantage point.  Much rarer than a conjunction.

Facebook is a great wealth for sharing astronomy related images and experiences!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Location:  Town & Country Campground, Sussex, NB

Date Time:  August 23, 2016 2100-2230 hrs

Weather:  Partly cloudy, no wind, lots of dew and 16C.

Equipment:  Meade 8" LX 200 telescope with 6mm, 12.5mm and 32mm eyepieces.  Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55mm and 75-300mm lenses.

Attendance:  Myself

Objective:  To view and image Mars and Saturn which were in the SW sky and to view and image Venus and Jupiter which  were reported to be in the Western sky, low just after dark.

As the Sun set, once again there were clouds on the Western horizon that blocked any possible viewing of the Jupiter/Mercury conjunction.

After dark, nearby streetlights and other bright lighting caused significant light pollution.  However, the impressive formation of Antares/Mars/Saturn stood out nicely in the SW, about halfway up in the sky.

Viewed Saturn through the big telescope with 32 mm, 12.5 mm and 6 mm eyepieces.  Image really started degrade as magnification increased mostly due to poor atmospheric conditions, I think.  At low magnification could see three Moons around the ringed planet with separation between rings and planet clearly visible.  Imaging Saturn was difficult possibly due to high level clouds.  Many images didn't turn out well.

Mars was viewed with same eyepieces.  No detail could be seen across face of the red planet in field of view, however in image, detail clearly seen across its face.  Mars is appearing smaller now than it did in the spring, when it was closer to us.  Its also much dimmer, now almost the same brightness as Saturn.

One shooting star and no satellites were seen.


Images with camera and lens set at 120 mm focal length.  Much light pollution. 

Saturn imaged through big telescope.

Mars with possible detail across its face imaged through big telescope.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Location:  Driveway, Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date Time:  August 19, 2016 0517hrs and 2128-2150hrs

Weather:  No wind, mostly clear, hazy, 15C both in the morning and in the evening.

Attendance:  Myself.

Equipment:  Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55mm and 75-300mm lenses on tripod.

Objective:  To view Orion in the morning, then to see Jupiter which was suppose to be close to Mercury just after sundown.


  • At 0510hrs morning twilight had begun but mostly dark out.  Orion was rising over the trees in the east.
  • In the evening around 2130 hrs, darkness had just begun, no sign of Jupiter or Mercury could be seen.
  • Imaged Mars Saturn and Antares in the SW.  Mars was very close to one of the stars of Scorpius.
  • Imaged the Coat Hanger near Sagitta, which was almost overhead, to the East.
  • Imaged a one day past full Moon as it rose from behind some trees at 2147 hrs.
  • One satellite and no shooting stars were seen.

Orion rising in the morning.

Mars very close to a star in Scorpius.

High over-head, to the SE after sun down.

Moon rising in the East, shortly after dark.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Location:  Front Yard in Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date Time:  August 15, 2016 2200-2230 hrs

Weather:  Partly cloudy, no wind, high humidity, 18 C and a few mosquitoes.

Attendance:  Myself

Equipment:  Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55mm lens on tripod.

Objective:  To capture an image of Mars and Saturn in the SW sky, after first dark.  Also to look for Perseid's Meteors


  • While driving home, at approx 2100 hrs, noted was how early the sky darkens now.  By 2100 hrs the sun is now down and quite dark.
  • A very large Gibbous Moon was 93% illuminated and so bright, it cast shadows on the ground.  It seemed low in the southern sky, not even higher than the big tree in front yard.
  • Mars appears to be moving to the east against the background stars, rather rapidly.  A string of cloudy weather recently makes it more noticeable when it finally clears and appears.  Conversely, Mars and Saturn, together, appear to be moving farther west in the evening sky as the days go on.  This is all due to the Earths', Saturns' and Mars. orbit around the Sun.  As we pull ahead of the two planets on our inside track around the Sun, the outer planets appear to move across the sky from, from our perspective.  Have included in the image section a July 11, 2016 image taken at 2323 hrs of the south western sky.  When compared to the image taken on Aug 15, 2016 at 2210 hrs, it clearly shows how Mars is moving closer to both Saturn and Antares.
  • With all the rainy weather, there has been many spectacular rainbows this summer.  The rainbow in the images section was taken Aug 13, 2016 at 0632 hrs in the western early morning sky.  Many people have been commenting on the rainbows this summer.
  • Could only see two stars in Pegasus, which indicates a limiting factor of 2, which is terrible viewing conditions for deep sky objects.  Poor conditions were mostly due to the very bright gibbous Moon.
  • Imaged constellations Ursa Major, Cassiopeia, Pegasus, and parts of Andromeda and Scorpius while looking for shooting stars.
  • Images Polaris and one corner star of the Big Dipper while trying to capture Perseid's as well.
  • No satellites or shooting stars were visible to the naked eye, but, in an image, one shooting star appeared above Ursa Major.
Dubhe is one of the bowl stars in the Big Dipper.

Shooting star appeared in image.  Didn't see this during observing time.

July 11, 2016 @ 2327hrs

South western sky August 15, 2016 @ 2210 hrs
Mars passing under Saturn on August 19, 2016
Mars passing inbetween Antares and Saturn August 23, 2016

Mars passing to the left of Saturn and Antares.

By the 2nd of September Mars is moving much farther to the East of Saturn and Antares.

Sunday, August 7, 2016


Location:  Mactaquac Provincial Park, New Brunswick

Date Time: Aug 6, 2016  2200-0200hrs

Weather:  No wind, 20C, lots of dew, cloud covered sky from 2330-0100hrs.  Lots of cloud activity.  Could see 6 stars  in Pegasus which is very good seeing conditions, when it did clear off.

Attendance:  Ed O'Reilly, Stephen Tomkins, Ted Dunphy, one other, Myself

Equipment:  80 ED/APO telescope on Vixen Alt Az mount with 15mm eyepiece, Canon Rebel Xsi DSLR camera with attachment for telescope and 18-55mm lens with tripod.  Eds 8" Dobsonian with 25mm eyepiece.  Teds 16" Dobsonian with 9mm eyepiece.

Report:  ISS flew over across the northern sky shortly after observing began.  Took a quick image through telescope, but with manual tracking the normally straight line came out looking like a lightning bolt.

Imaged the Coat Hanger cluster near Sagitta.  Was surprised to see different colors in the stars in the image.  Through the eyepiece the night before all of its stars appeared to be the same color.  The cluster spanned across almost the whole field of view when using the telescope as a lens.  Hence, the image didn't need to be cropped.

While imaging the Northern half of the sky, noticed many Perseid meteors streaking across the sky.  They were medium speed, either bluish yellow or just yellow, some very bright and short others dim and long.  All but one left a smoke trail.  Altogether, seen 12 Perseid's and 2 sparadics over the observing period!  It has been widely reported in the media that there is going to be a major outburst of shooting stars when the Perseids peak on Aug 11-12.  Maybe twice as many shooting stars than normal.

After imaging, used 15mm eyepiece in telescope to view the Andromeda Galaxy, The Perseus Double Cluster and Mizar and Alcor.  Seeing conditions were so good when it was clear, all three were easy naked eye objects.

Around 0130hrs Ted located M10 and M12 in Ophiuchus with his 16" telescope.  Ophiuchus was in the south western sky at this time.  The two globular clusters looked similar, both being of almost equal size and brightness.  Many star could be seen across the face of one of them with lesser across the face of the other.  The seeing conditions were so good that the clusters could be seen through the finder scope.  Thanks to Ted for sharing!

As Ted was searching through Ophiuchus, Ed found M92 in Hercules with his 8" telescope.  Again M92 closely resembles the other globular clusters with many stars across its face.

Many satellites were seen, with most of them moving either north south or from the south north.  One Iridium flare was seen by several of us.

ISS through the telescope with a very unsteady hand.

High overhead to the SE at around 2330hrs.

Coat Hanger through the 80 ED/APO telescope

Note how large the Andromeda Galaxy is.

Andromeda Galaxy through small telescope.

Perseus Double Cluster through small telescope.

Mizar and Alcor through small telescope.


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