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Monday, October 31, 2016

BARN DOOR TRACKER

Location:  Side yard next to driveway, Little Lepreau, NB

Date Time:  October 30, 2016 2200-2215 hrs

Weather:  No wind, mostly clear @ 2200 hrs by 2210 hrs cloud covered most of southern sky, moving north, by 2215 hrs entire sky clouded over.   Cool 6C with a windchill and lots of dew.  Lots of mayfly looking bugs on the side of house.

Attendance:  Myself.

Equipment:  Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55 mm, Barn door tracker, all mounted on a tripod.

Objective:  To try out a new to me Barn Door Tracker which was acquired recently from a fellow member of the local astronomy club.  A great place to purchase astronomy related things.

Report:

  • After several weeks of almost continuous cloudy, rainy weather, it cleared just long enough for a nice viewing of Venus from Saint John, NB west at around 1900 hrs.  Its very bright and quite high up before dark.  Saturn was reported to be next to Venus at this time but a sighting of the ringed planet was not confirmed...not surprising as it was very much still light out.
  • Sky only cleared for a short time at around sundown, then clouded over again till around 2130 hrs.  By the time camera was set up, it was mostly clear with some clouds in the East and around the Southern Horizon.
  • First time using Barn Door Tracker.  It worked for short duration images but the longer ones showed movement in the stars, possibly from moving the camera when turning the screw.  A barn door tracker is an inexpensive, home-made tracking device that allows for longer duration images with less star trails.  An excellent option as electronic tracking device systems are very expensive.
  • Took a two minute image of the area of sky around Cassiopeia.  There were so many stars that come out in the image the actual main 'W' asterism stars of the constellation that are so bright and obvious when viewing naked eye are difficult to pick out in the image.  This is due to the fact that Cassiopeia lies in the narrow strip of Milky Way that stretches across the sky.
  • Ursa Major is down completely out of sight, behind some trees due North at this time.  This is important because there is a Comet C/2015 V2 Johnson which is under the Handle of the Big Dipper.  This area of the sky is best seen after 0300 hrs when it will be high in the north eastern sky and easier to view and image from the yard.  They are saying that this Comet will brighten significantly from its current extreme dimness.  
  • No satellites or shooting stars were seen.  

Note:  The Orionid Meteor shower has been happening over the last couple of weeks.  At the same time there has been significant solar activity on the Sun which has included a massive amount of Solar Wind which has caused a prolonged period of Auroral activity, of which I haven't witnessed any except for images on Spaceweather.com
Mostly due to clouds, no shooting stars have been seen for quite a while and there hasn't been any reports of a massive amount of meteors from the Orionid Meteor shower.


Images:


Light clouds lit up by light pollution from the East.  Lots of Messier objects and other interesting things in this region of sky.  Algol brightens and dims on an approx three day cycle.  At its brightest, its three times more bright than its faintest.


High up in the NE Cassiopeia is surrounded by so many stars its difficult to make out the 'W' asterism that stands out so easily to the naked eye.


Clouds moving in.  Moments later entire sky was clouded.



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