1986 Observing Sessions

June 29
Time: 23:00 - 00:00 EST
Location: Long Sault Conservation Area
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

I have almost no details about this observing session, other than the actual observations. I observed 3 "new" deepsky objects: NGC 188, NGC 6939, NGC 6946.

August 8 - 9

Starfest '86

Time: 23:00 - 03:30 EST
Location: Mount Forest, Ontario
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Arrived on site on Friday evening (Aug. 8). Set up camp on the upper northern field with Walter MacDonald, Doug Clapp, Randy Hendriks. All four of us set up our brand new "ClappTrapp" portable observatories for the first time. (pictures coming soon)

On Friday night it rained all night. On Saturday I spent most of my time doing astrophotography, but I also observed 1 "new" deep sky object: NGC 6144. Had to quit at 03:30 because it clouded over.

October 2
Time: 20:30 - 23:00 EST
Location: University of Toronto, Scarborough
Telescope: Questar 12-inch
Activity: Comet Wilson

Went out to U of T's observatory in Toronto's east end specifically to look for Comet Wilson. After a careful search using the 12-inch Questar, I found what may have been the comet, but I was never absolutely convinced. The object did not quite look like a regular star, but it did not look like a comet either. When using averted vision, the object appeared to have a hazy fuzz around its "nucleus". Perphaps the hazy sky made it more difficult to confirm.

October - November
Time: as noted
Location: University of Toronto, Scarborough
Telescope: Questar 12-inch
Activity: Venus Inferior Conjunction

I embarked on this two-month project with Walter MacDonald using the University of Toronto's observatory located in Toronto's east end. The project was to follow Venus through inferior conjunction, which meant observing Venus during the daytime when very close to the Sun. We measured Venus' size with my micrometer eyepiece and took photographs. (photos coming soon).

My Observations:

Date Time Measured Diameter Comments
Oct. 7 16:49 47.78 arc-seconds  
Oct. 10 14:30 55.79 arc-seconds Took several photos
Oct. 18 mid-day 59.73 arc-seconds Took several photos
Oct. 24 mid-day 63.71 arc-seconds  
Oct. 30 - - Looked for Venus for two hours without success. We thought we had lost Venus in the Sun's glare.
Oct. 31 11:30 - Easily visible in the telescope's finder. I did not have my own equipment case with me so no measurements and no photos.
Nov. 2 14:11 - Took several photos, but no measurements. Also found Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter, all in the daytime! Mars and Jupiter were visible in the finder, but not Mars.
Nov. 4 early-pm 71.67 arc-seconds Took several photos.
Nov. 9 early-pm 63.71 arc-seconds Took several photos.

Actual Facts & Figures:

Date Magnitude Diameter Illumination Elongation from Sun
Oct. 10 -4.6 45" 19% 34 deg
Oct. 18 -4.5 51" 12% 28 deg
Nov. 2 -4.1 61" 1% 8 deg
Nov. 4 -4.0 62" 0.6% 5 deg
Nov. 9 -4.1 61" 1% 9 deg

October 30
Time: 20:30 - 22:00 EDT
Location: University of Toronto, Scarborough
Telescope: Questar 12-inch
Activity: Jupiter photography

Took several photos of Jupiter using the 12-inch Questar on Fujichrome 400. Also measured the planet using my micrometer eyepiece. I measured it's size to be 55.7" (longitudinally) by 59.7" (equatorially).

Year End Stats
No. of observing sessions (night time only) 4
Approx. telescope time 9.5 hours
"New" deep sky objects found 4
No. of comets seen 0
No. of auroral displays seen 0
Total deep sky objects observed by end of '86 286
Observing Frequency
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 2 0 0

Final Comments: A very poor year for observing. The reason is that I was studying very hard in the spring in order to get into university, then in the fall I was studying very hard in first year to stay in university!!  The Venus inferior conjunction project was a big highlight of my amateur astronomy "career".