Observing

Observing and Imaging 17th September

Imaging

It’s been a sparse few months for imaging. As well as the short nights of the summer months I’ve also had a few problems with my DSLR, plus the roads around my house have all been fitted with tall bright LED lights (see photo below, showing how much bigger they are) rendering my light pollution filter useless and limiting me to subs <1min. To fight back I’ve invested in the new version of the IDAS filter which offers some relief, plus a second hand Canon 600d with the IR filter removed. Monday was my first chance to use it, and I decided to go for M31 for the purposes of comparison with previous camera and streetlights. After setup I had an hour to try it out and the results are quite promising- I think I’ve gained more from the new kit than I’ve lost from the LEDs. There are some further things that I can do to improve it (I think I can get away with longer exposures, plus I want to try and make a cooling unit for it)- but altogether I’m quite pleased. It’s 20x 180s exposures on a 130 pd-s, with guiding, plus dark, bias and flats.

Observing

Whilst the imaging rig was doing its stuff I went for some instant gratification with the Dob. Whilst the LED lighting has hurt the imaging it seems to be better for the visual. At a RAG meeting a while back there was discussion of how counting stars in Pegasus would give you a good indication of your light pollution levels. I went home and found I had a depressing big fat zero. Although the new lights are brighter, they are better directed and I can now see 3 or 4 (faint) stars. This realisation was a good start to an enjoyable session- transparency seemed pretty good, and I doubt there’ll be another session this year where it’s too warm for a jacket. From the observing log:

M71 – Struggled to get my eye in to start with and I found it a tricky find, but satisfying once in.
M15 – Really bright central core and with a ring of resolved stars around it covering around a quarter of the eyepiece at 220x
M2 – Was tighter and not quite so bright or widespread but still a nice view
M52 – Gorgeous open cluster- 30-40 bright stars and many much fainter ones. Tried it at 220x, 70x and 45x and the middle magnification was the best- really filling the view. Highlight of the night.
NGC7789 – Caroline’s Rose – Another nice open cluster- but quite faint, and I couldn’t really see the rose. Maybe it’s like one of those Magic Eye pictures.
M103 – A nice triangular shaped with a lovely red quite central in the Eyepiece.

Monday night’s a bit early in the week to stay up late, and the only downer was packing up as the skies were getting better still. At least I was heading to bed with a full memory card ready for the clouds and rain that have dominated the remainder of the week…

 

How to turn iPad screen red for observing sessions

Thanks to Damian for these instructions

Andy

 

  1. Settings
  2. General – accessibility shortcut on right at bottom
  3. Colour filters – tick on
  4. General – display accommodations
  5. Colour filters tick on
  6. Choose colour tint
  7. Touch finger on red crayon
  8. Increase intensity right up

Once set up the red colour can be turned on and off by clicking home button 3x in quick succession.

Observing 17-18 th October.

Swadlincote 17-18/9/18 Vixen 102 on heq5pro pro mount.

What 4″ of aperture in light pollution can do.

It is a constant source of amazement and pleasure to observe targets from here. We are surrounded by some nine streetlights , neighbours with security lights and no curtains. Using poles and dark throws has quartered off an observing area. It’s also on the hedgehog highway, they have been known to trundle past through the tripod legs.

The night started very favourably with Saturn below a low yellowish Moon. Mars was still wobbling. It was great to set up about eight and finish about two. Some beautiful targets. I haven’t done the research on their stories yet.

It’s often enjoyable just to look at them. I turned to Cygnus as it passed the zenith and again caught NGC 6811 , ” the hole in the cluster” . There was good dark sky action with M27, the blue snowball, Eastern Veil and even a core to NGC 7331.

Here’s a few targets off the beaten track.

Lacerta gives the most stunning background , set in the stream of the Milky Way. Of the open clusters , NGC 7209 is an old favourite. There are some pretty delicate pairs in NGC 7394 and NGC 7245.

Onto a few binaries here , the inline h ( Herschel)1735 being triple. I was very surprised to catch a tiny field star next to the pair of 8 Lacertae. 13 Lacertae is a ticklish challenge.

Then a Star Trek to the northern constellations. NGC 7510 in Cepheus is a wondrous cluster. There is a dusty triangle at low power, like fairy dust ! NGC 7686 gave a beautiful bright shape in Andromeda. I started on the Perseus binaries . Straight away theta Persei gave the most challenging tiny spec of a companion. ΟΣ 81 and DOO 7 I caught in the same view.

No great aperture here (4″), no great magnification , going from x42 to x77 with one at x182. Next time out it’ll be trying out the Baader astrometric eyepiece, to verify some separations and ensure the capture of those elusive faint multiples, under ,

clear skies ! Nick.

Perseids-ish – Apologies photos now added!

First an apology – for some reason the system wouldn’t let me upload any pictures, I thought I just gave up, but it’s published the post anyway!

My weekend went a bit pear-shaped so I ended up trying to get some Perseid images last night. I only saw one, and my very last shot of the night picked up a very faint one heading straight from the radiant near the double cluster, please excuse the awful coma, on 10th.

Persied 2018
Persied 2018

This appears to be an ion trail from a meteor that sneaked through between shorter exposures on the 14th

Having much more luck with the Graves Radar setup, thanks to Peter hill for his inspirational talk which encouraged me to take the plunge!

I ahven’t been as sophisticated in my counting of events – my brain isn’t up to checking several thousand screen gabs, so yes there are multiple counts in there as well missed counts from meteors arriving before the previous one finished, space debris and the ISS on multiple occasions.  My assumption is that all these errors are effectively random and don’t affect the overall profile significantly.

These are my hourly counts, all peaking about 6:00am – UTC/GMT.

This is the average of the above graph, easier to see the overall daily pattern:

And all the data in a row, to show how the peaks rise and fall:

 

All data as a single series
All data as a single series

 

And an example of some detections:

event20180812032157
event20180812032157

Perseid meteor observing in Sorrento, Italy

Although virtually no cloud or precipitation, unfortunately our observing was badly affected by severe light polluition from the mamy hotels, globe lights, cars, scooters and poorly screened street lights.

The hotel came to the rescue allowing Rhys and I to observe from the normally locked roof terrace. Although a lot darker there than elsewhere the Milky Way was only just visible around Cygnus and I had great difficulty finding Hercules due to the light pollution.

Over about an hour around midnight 12-13/8/2018, Rhys observed three meteors and I saw one.

So we managed to observe some but certainly it was not spectacular.

Jupiter was incredibly bright- see photo below together with enlargement of the planet – this is 8x digital zoom on my Samsung S7 smartphone.

Andy

Jupiter over Sorrento:

View across Bay of Naples as we attempted to observe meteors earlier in evening:

Cracking tight binaries.

It’s always a pleasure to be out under dark and still skies. Saturn excelled taking x320. Mars showed an ice cap and some dark markings. I was keen to try out the 150 f8 refractor on some super close binary stars. It’s very little use to stare these out . Often averted vision or moving the field of view works. Drawing helps enormously, the eye becomes relaxed as it works to account for the view.

First up a recalled visit to a difficult triple. Struve 2872 in Ophiuchus. The companion split apart , not shy at .8″.

Some stars hold special allure , one being Lambda Cygni. This showed a bright and clean split at .9″.The high magnification holding the splendid view. Still in Cygnus, Otto Struve 410, gave a better .9″ split.

Next a favourite tester , 36 Andromedae, now opening up to an easier 1.2″.

Very pleased to get these fine splits. I had taken the 6″ doublet apart to clean a few fungi on the surface. Fungi can live in the air space. They secrete acid , eating both coatings and glass, a big lump of glass, returning it to the cell, I noticed some markings on the edges. There are 4 linear marks to line up the objectives and a cheerful note of the manufacture date , 31/01/11. It’s somewhat comforting to think that someone took a little care.

A thick rubber ring edges the front of the doublet. Snucking this in evenly gave the correct alignment when the tightening ring was applied. There are push/pull collimation screws / hexbolts on the cell. A quick check with a Cheshire , Barlowed laser and star test showed everything true.

Of particular interest has been the first light reports of the new SW 150 pro ed on Stargazers lounge. This is the next up from the 120pro. However it does not have the same glass bring an ed front element instead of the FPL 53. At £1600 it’s a lot of scope , similar in weight and size to the C6r. However I was happy to pay £300 used and put £100 Crayford on board.

I’ve had many sub 2″ binaries with the 200 f6 Orion Optics Newtonian. However it does benefit from the single straight across secondary vane . This gives good clean stars without spikes, easier for splitting.

Awaiting more clear skies and a continuing look at the bright Vesta , Comet C/21P Giacobini-Zinner and the Perseid meteor shower (12-13th August)

Nick.