Observing Log 22-23/4/2917

Observing Log 22-23/4/2917

Andrew Thornett

Damian, myself, Bill Watson and Rhys observed from Rhys’ and my garden in Lichfield.

Ten inch Orion Dobsonian Telescope, 20mm and 9mm Explore Scientific 100 degree field of view eyepieces, 6mm Televue Ethos eyepiece, Televue Paracorr coma corrector, Telrad single power finder, Sky Safari planetarium software on Apple iPad.


Tonight is the predicted peak of the Lyrid meteor shower. Thin high cloud limited visibility.

Jupiter, Planet in Virgo, 22 Apr 2017, 22:53:31. First object was Jupiter. Four moons arrayed alongside. I could see six belts using the 9mm Explore Scientific eyepiece. Collimation in ten inch Orion Dob could do with being better so I cheated and used my Televue Paracorr to correct it pending doing the job properly at some point. The annoying thing about Orion scopes is that they don’t have easy to use hand-turned collimating screws which makes correctly collimating more difficult in the dark (UK Orion). Bill had never seen Jupiter before and was appropriately impressed and pleased! Always a lot of satisfaction in showing newcomers to our hobby the large planets.

TYC 1472-0330-1, Star in Bootes, 22 Apr 2017, 22:59:46. This is the end star of Picot 1, also known as Napoleon’s Hat (because it looks like one). This is an asterism rather than a cluster of related stars but us a pleasant star pattern previously mentioned by myself and Damian in our night sky talks for RAG. I have listed the star rather than asterism as the asterism does not appear on Sky Safari’s search list but the star does so you can use that to locate Picot 1 in Sky Safari.

Delta2 Lyrae, Variable Double Star in Lyra, 22 Apr 2017, 23:10:42. The radiant of the Lyrids.

Sadly high level cloud means that telescopic observing almost impossible by now. Therefore we pulled out chairs for naked eye meteor observing instead.

23:30 For the last five minutes we have seen a strange green-tinged line extending from north horizon to south horizon, from below pole star through the zenith and close to Arcturus. This is not a usual location for a flight path over my garden although a vapour trail is the most obvious explanation. It persisted for quite a significant period of time (30 minutes at least). We watched planes going overhead and none of them left s trail like this. We wondered what this was? In past, one of our members, Nick, saw a strange vapour trail and it turned out to be from a rocket launch. I wonder……

23:20 Cloud getting quire bad now. We have not seen a single meteor and very little on the PC by radio scatter. Looks like peak was two days ago (based on detection rates by radio scatter on my Yaesu with 5/8 aerial) and predictions of the peak being this evening online were wrong. Just goes to show that meteor shower predictions are not always accurate.

Hercules Cluster – Messier 13, Globular Cluster in Hercules, 22 Apr 2017, 23:39:28. Well done to Damian for finding this in the smog! In the 9mm ES it appeared as large fuzzy ball. With careful focusing, we could resolve streamers of stars.

Jupiter, Planet in Virgo, 23 Apr 2017, 01:20:46. We took a break to read through the night sky presentation for RAG next week (the talk after the guest speaker has spoken) – its brilliant! Damian has done a great job – and then Damian and I went outside to see if we could see the Great Red Spot. Success! Right in the middle of the belt – seen with 9mm Ethos eyepiece. Sky has become somewhat clearer now, although I still wouldn’t describe it as great – still misty.

We then spent 20 mins sitting outside looking for meteors, as this was meant to be a meteor observing session. The computer in the log cabin was now picking up meteors by radio scatter approx one every 4-6 minutes – a significant increase on pre-midnight levels. This is the famous rain on the front windscreen effect as the Earth turned into the meteor particle stream so that meteors were directly impacting our side of the planet. However, visually, I was the only one of us to see a meteor. I think it was probably a Lyrid meteor as it was in the direction from Vega in Lyra towards the Pole Star and seen briefly as it transversed Ursa Minor.

We packed away at 01:45.

The evening had not turned out to be the lovely clear sky with hundreds of meteors that we had hoped but we had some great views and it is always great to spend an evening under the stars, however poor the seeing or transparency!

Andy and Dame

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