1990 Observing Sessions

April 19
Time: 04:50 - 05:05 EDT
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: n/a
Activity: Comet Austin

Work up early this morning to look for Comet Austin. Walked to the park next to our house for a better horizon. Using 16 x 50 binoculars, the Comet was seen in the same field of view as Beta Andromedae. It was quit faint, small, with no tail visible. M31 was just a few degrees north and it was hardly visible. I estimated the magnitude of the Comet to be about 3. Conditions were poor: Comet's altitude was just 8 degrees, there was some moonlight interfering, there was some haze, and morning twilight had already started.

July 21/22
Time: 23:00 - 02:30 EDT
Location: The Farm
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Arrived Saturday afternoon with Walter MacDonald, Doug Clapp, Randy Hendriks, Otmar Eigler, and Dave MacDonald. Left on Sunday afternoon. Had to deal with cirrus clouds on & off all night. I observed 4 "new" deep sky objects: NGC 6441, St 23, NGC 1502, NGC 1501.

July 28/29
Time: 23:00 - 01:30 EDT
Location: Long Sault Conservation Area
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Aurora observing

Arrived just before 23:00 and was greeted by a very bright aurora! Seven other people were there, including Brian E., and David Aylsworth. The aurora was very bright, covered the west, north, east, overhead, and went as far south as Aquila! At this time it was not very active and it looked more like white clouds. Can't do any observing because the aurora is just too bright.

At 01:00 the aurora became extremely active. The colour is only white, with all the rays converging around Albireo in Cygnus. The display was made up of just about every possible aurora feature - rays, flames, glow, pulsating arc, and pulsating spots. The most active aurora I have ever seen.

Went home around 02:00 because the aurora is just too bright to do any observing!

August 14
Time: 22:15 - 22:30 EDT
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: n/a
Activity: Comet Levy 1990c

From my balcony with 16 x 50 binoculars and 800mm Bausch & Lomb spotting scope. The Comet's nucleus is large and bright, while the coma is large and diffuse. With the spotting scope I cannot see a tail.

August 17 - 18

Starfest '90

Time: 22:00 - 23:00 EDT
Location: Mount Forest, Ontario
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Arrived on site Friday evening. Friday was cloudy on & off so I did not set up my scope. But I saw Comet Levy easily with the unaided eye. It was quite bright with a very short stubby fan tail. I went home on Saturday evening because of overcast skies. I encountered thunderstorms on the way home!

August 19/20
Time: 21:00 - 00:30 EDT
Location: Kendal Recreation Area
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Comet Levy 1990c Photography

Arrived on site at about 21:00 with Guy Nason. Comet Levy is easily visible with the unaided eye, and is much brighter than M31. I estimated its magnitude to be about 3.0 to 3.5. Very bright & big nucleus, the tail is faint and fan-shaped. Took several black & white photos on Kodak T-MAX 3200.

Comet Levy 1990c. Delphinus is to the right. Comet Levy 1990c, close up.
   
August 24/25
Time: 22:00 - 00:30 EDT
Location: The Farm
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

FarmFest '90. Arrived on site around 21:00 with Walter MacDonald, Doug Clapp and Randy Hendriks. Set up for photography but had some equipment trouble. Comet Levy is very good. Took 3 exposures then at 00:40 it clouded over.

August 25/26
Time: 22:30 - 04:30 EDT
Location: The Farm
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

FarmFest '90. Started by taking some piggyback exposures around 22:30 on T-MAX 3200. Then did some visual deep sky observing, including Comet Levy. I observed 3 "new" deep sky objects: NGC 1514, NGC 1758, NGC 1750. I even had a quick look at M42 while still low in the east. Quit at 4:20 because an aurora was making the sky too bright!

October 19/20
Time: 22:00 - 00:30 EDT
Location: Long Sault Conservation Area
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Toronto Centre star party organized by Steve Fraser. There were a total of six people present. The seeing on this night was very good, probably one of the best nights I've ever experienced in terms of atmospheric steadiness. However, the visual limiting magnitude was only about 5.

Observed a few previously seen deep sky objects, I got the best view of Mars ever in my telescope, and saw a very bright fireball. It was about mag. -6, lasted a couple of seconds, and left a brief train. Observed 1 "new" deep sky object: NGC 1579.

November 17/18
Time: 21:00 - 00:30 EST
Location: Long Sault Conservation Area
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Arrived on site at about 20:00. There were about 7 other people there, including Brian E. I observed 7 "new" deep sky objects along with other previously seen ones. The new objects were: NGC 7039, NGC 2420, NGC 2371, NGC 2372, NGC 2339, NGC 2304, NGC 2355.

Year End Stats
No. of observing sessions 10
Approx. telescope time 25.5 hours
"New" deep sky objects found 15
No. of comets seen 2
No. of auroral displays seen 2
Total deep sky objects observed by end of '90 420
Observing Frequency
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
0 0 0 1 0 0 2 5 0 1 1 0


Final Comments: A very poor year for deep sky observing, probably because I spent more time than usual doing astrophotography (unfortunately I don't have much worthwhile showing!). A couple of comets made this year interesting.