Angella Rodgers

Observing Log 6/3/2020 @ 22:00-7/3/2020 @ 00:30 – The Moon

Observing Log 6/3/2020 @ 22:00-7/3/2020 @ 00:30

Andrew Thornett, Alan and Angella Rodgers

Lichfield

  • Orion UK 10” Dobsonian Telescope
  • Explore Scientific 14mm & 9mm 100-degree AFOV eyepieces
  • Tele Vue Ethos 6mm eyepiece
  • Tele Vue Big Barlow x2

As a night with predicted cloud cover around 50%, this was a poor choice for astrophotography. A bright 10-day old moon meant that most of the deep sky was washed out, plus cloud quickly passed through obscuring faint objects as we tried to find them. It therefore seemed a poor choice for an evening of astronomy. However, Angella and Alan came around and the three of us spent a wonderful time observing the moon. Usually, we “experienced” amateur astronomers reject the moon but it such a wonderful object with so much detail. Tonight, we took the time to eke out more detail than I have seen before on the moon….not because I couldn’t but rather because I didn’t and after tonight’s experience I feel that this was an error on my behalf – I intend to spend far more time in the future getting to know our close celestial neighbour! I can see now why Patrick Moore used to spend so much time looking at it from his dark skies in Selsey with his 15” telescope when he could have looked at other things.

I also discovered tonight that I still adore my first love of visual observational astronomy – over the years I have done radio astronomy, astrophotography, spectroscopy, amateur telescope making, and all those are great in their individual ways, but getting out there with the telescope and eyepiece under the stars cannot be matched! Wow! Wow! Wow! I also love the Dobsonian telescope – so simple to use and set up, and such great stable views – although does need quite a lot of star-hopping skills but then I enjoy doing that too. No circuit boards to die, limited dependency on batteries (illuminated finders mainly and your torch!)

We also used good old-fashioned printed moon atlases tonight. In particular, we used two books tonight: (I) Thierry Legault and Serge Brunier’s New Atlas of the Moon 2006 which gives large labelled photographs of the moon day by day throughout its cycle and close-ups of particular regions, and (II) Antonin Ruke’s Atlas of the Moon 1990 – this latter very famous tome (mine is the much cheaper first edition) has vast numbers of labelled drawings of different areas of the moon.

We started our journey by identifying Phocylides and Wargentin craters – that make up a Ginger biscuit man shape (2 circles of slightly different sizes close together and easily picked out against other craters). We tried to identify both small craters between these two – but one was over side of moon so could not be seen.

From there we hopped to the ray crate Tycho, and followed the two parallel rays down to crater Bullialdus with its central peak which we could easily see. We then hopped to Gassendi and spent a lot of time on this crater. We could identify a breach in its side wall but had difficulties seeing all the features in its base that were visible on the photographs in the New Atlas of the Moon, even with the 6mm Ethos eyepiece. However, when I added in my 2x Big Barlow to give magnification 400x (1200mm focal length on scope) then they became visible and the view was amazing!

Wikipedia gives a description of the crater which accurately describes the view we saw, “Gassendi is a large lunar impact crater feature located at the northern edge of Mare Humorum. It was named after French astronomer Pierre Gassendi. The formation has been inundated by lava during the formation of the mare, so only the rim and the multiple central peaks remain above the surface. The outer rim is worn and eroded, although it retains a generally circular form. A smaller crater – Gassendi A – intrudes into the northern rim, and joins a rough uplift at the northwest part of the floor. The crater pair bear a curious resemblance to a diamond ring. In the southern part of the crater floor is a semi-circular ridge-like formation that is concentric with the outer rim. It is in the southern part where the rim dips down to its lowest portion, and a gap appears at the most southern point. The rim varies in height from as little as 200 meters to as high as 2.5 kilometers above the surface. The floor has numerous hummocks and rough spots. There is also a system of rilles that criss-crosses the floor, named the Rimae Gassendi. The fresh crater Gassendi A is adjacent to Gassendi to the north.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gassendi_(crater))

The rilles, in particular, could not be seen with 6mm eyepiece but became visible with 3mm eyepiece (6mm+2xBarlow). We weren’t going to stop until we saw those – so were very pleased with ourselves when we got them!

The main issue with 3mm eyepieces (6mm+2xBarlow) was that (even though the Ethos has 100 degree AFOV) the image shot across the field of view, giving little time to take it in before we needed to nudge the scope – the main failing of a Dobsonian telescope in my view.

From Gassendi, we dropped down to Copernicus, and thence to the Sinus Iridum, which stretches from the east at Cape Laplace to Cape Heraclides on the west. This required the 6mm eyepiece before we could start to see detail in the mountains around the edge of the sinus. What a view! Incredible! So beautiful and full of wonder. We could also see ghost craters within it, and this led to a discussion between us on the history of the moon, when one crater forms, gets filled with lava and then new craters occur within the same area without lava filling them.

Andy

Museum of the Moon installation in Derby Cathedral

Thanks to a tip off  at RAG on Friday we went on Saturday to Derby to see the Museum of the Moon installation in Derby Cathedral. It was an amazing amd moving experience. It is still on for a few more days, and is well worth a visit. Further details can be found at this link – http://www.derbycathedral.org/about-us/what-s-on/478-museum-of-the-moon.html

Angella and Alan

Trip to Jodrell Bank radio observatory 4/9/2019

Angella and Alan from RAG took me today to Jodrell Bank. We were accompanied by another of their neighbours and friend, Liam.

Jodrell Bank houses the Lovell Telescope (Mark I) and other radio telescopes and was the brain child of Sir Bernard Lovell.

I remember last visiting the site as part of a RAG trip around 10 years ago and following the planet trail (a scale model of solar system that involves running around trying to find the planets at scale distances from the Mark I telescope) with my son Rhys, who must have been around 6 at the time.

The activities available for visitors have increased significantly since then and more are planned for the future with a new visitor building about to be built.

Andy

Making base for HEQ5/EQ6 Andy & Alan+Angella from RAG 3/9/2019

Now that I am doing astrophotography, it is important that I create stable, mobile base to allow me to roll the mount in and out of the log cabin. The more that can remain set-up between sessions, the easier it will be to image – especially important in the UK as weather liable to deteriorate again quickly.

Angella & Alan came around today and helped me build a fantastic base – thanks Angella & Alan!

Andy

Microscopy of diatom in water from canal @ Samuel Barlow @ Alvecote

Alan and Angella took me out for lunch to the Samuel Barlow @ Alvecote – a lovely little pub next to the canal. Before we left, we took a water sample from the canal. The sample proved to be relatively sterile – I suspect due to oil from the multiple boats in local marina.

Andy

On analysing the specimen, this diatom could be seen, viewed through my Zeiss IM35 microscope. I concentrated the specimen first using a centrifuge. Otherwise the following are live unstained views. Colours on the diatom are due to refraction as the organism’s shell is crenulated, refracting light, and has depth making it impossible to focus precisely upon it, worse when magnification increased.

 

Photo x20 objective:

Photo x32 objective:

Video (various objectives):

https://youtu.be/HMyUq8tKuuw

https://youtu.be/QveTzCODOSM

 

Spectroscopy of Vega, Polaris and Deneb with Angella, Alan and Chris Ford 28-29/5/2019

Angela, Alan and Chris Ford came to my house tonight and did a brilliant job calibrating CCDSPEC spectrometer on Equinox Pro 80mm, and hand guiding it to obtain three spectra. Amazing for first ever try!

Andy

The team (Chris Ford, Angella, Alan, Andrew):

Angella controls the imaging software while Alan hand guides the scope:

Calibrating the CCDSPEC (Angella, Alan and Chris):

The image below taken with Samsung S7 phone hand held at eyepiece of CCDSPEC spectrometer shows compact fluorescent bulb with spectrometer slit and cross-hairs of illuminated eyepiece:

Compact fluorescent bulb spectrum:

Compact fluorescent bulb spectrum profile in RSPEC after calibration (after calibration shows angstroms of wavelength rather than pixels on x-axis):

Angella used the following graph to calibrate the spectrum of the compact fluorescent bulb – it shows known wavelengths of specific lines in the length (prepared using data in Wikipedia):

Vega (Angella and Alan) – the profile showing the Vega spectrum compared to that of reference library A0V spectrum shows close match with hydrogen Balmer lines:

Polaris (Angella and Alan) – much fainter and more difficult to obtain high quality spectrum tonight – nevertheless some significant lines can be seen to match on the rather noisy spectrum obtained tonight:

Deneb (Angella and Alan):

 

VideoPad

Thanks to Ed for bringing VideoPad to our attention at begginners’ RAG group. His super demonstration showed how useful it was. It was clear that this is a good replacement for the much lamented MovieMaker. I went home and tried out the free version. As ever with video software it is a bit tricky, especially when trying to make changes to something you have already done. I went back and inserted a title and then had to shuffle the clips to fill in the gap. Still I was delighted to be able to crop the clips and make a compilation.

I’m afraid my first attempt is not astronomical. Still you might want to see how it turned out. It is at – https://www.flickr.com/photos/belgrave-lakes/42912750590/in/datetaken-public/ . I now know that using the typewriter effect for the title is not good, as it makes for a blank preview image. To hook people in I would have been better with no title at all. Still it did what I wanted to.

So far I’ve not been nagged about upgrading to the paid version, but I am so pleased with it that I think I will do that eventually. I’m looking forward to trying out other features.

Thanks again to Ed for suggesting this software. I look forward to reading anybody else’s comments and tips when they have had a chance to try it out. I’ll let you know when I’ve done something a little more RAG orientated 🙂

Angella