1991 Observing Sessions

March 15
Time: 20:00 - 23:30 EST
Location: Kendal Recreation Area
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Arrived on site at about 19:45 with Otmar Eigler, Elizabeth Doucetter, and Stephen Keefer. The gravel parking lot where we ususally set up was very muddy. Very windy night with no dew. I observed 7 "new" deep sky objects: NGC 1662, NGC 2194, NGC 2186, NGC 2175, NGC 2174, NGC 1778, Basel 4.

Also saw Comet Levy (1990c). This is the same comet I observed back in August 1990. It's round and large at 100x, a bit smaller than M13, and about magnitude 9.8.

March 30/31
Time: 22:30 - 01:00 EST
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Asteroidal Occultation

Set up on the balcony at home to observe the asteroid Pallas (mag. 8.0) occult a mag. 8.9 star. David Luttmann was observing with me. We observed the asteroid approach the star and eventually the two became "one". I was only able to detect two objects about 8 minutes later. Obviously my observation was inaccurate because the event was only supposed to last 39 seconds. The seeing was particularly bad on this night, so this might have been the problem. This was the first time I had actually observed such an event, so it was quite interesting.

May 4/5
Time: 21:00 - 00:30 EDT
Location: North of Pontypool, Ontario
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

This was a scouting session to look for an alternate observing site north of Long Sault and Kendal. Through Tony Horvatin, we were able to obtain access to John Hare's farm, located north of Pontypool, which is just off Hwy 35/115. We had an unexpected "large" turnout, with the following people in attendance: Otmar Eigler, Elizabeth Doucette, Dave MacDonald, and Andreas Gada. Partly cloudy for most of the night.

I observed 2 "new" deep sky objects: NGC 3344 and 2859.

June 7/8
Time: 23:00 - 02:30 EDT
Location: The Farm
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Arrived at The Farm around 21:45 and brought my "Clapp Trapp" portable observatory. Walter MacDonald was already there, while Doug Clapp and Randy Hendriks arrive a little later. Partly cloudy through the night, with few mosquitoes.

I observed 8 "new" deep sky objects: NGC 6451, NGC 6530, NGC 6544, NGC 6545, NGC6553, NGC6558, NGC6569, NGC 6568.

June 8/9
Time: 21:30 - 03:00 EDT
Location: The Farm
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing
Still at The Farm. The triple planetary conjunction looks great low in the West. During evening twilight we noticed an aurora developing, which lasted for a couple of hours. Not particularly active, but still a great show. Here are a couple of pictures of the conjunction and aurora. Click here for more pictures of this aurora.

I also observed 2 "new" deep sky objects: NGC 6482, NGC 6574.


July 11
Time: 15:00 - 15:30 EDT
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Telescope: Bausch & Lomb 800mm
Activity: Partial Solar Eclipse

This was the "Great Solar Eclipse" of 1991. Many went to see totality in Mexico. I had to settle for a half-hour look at a 3% partial eclipse! Although very unimpressive, this was the first time ever I had seen anything eclipse the sun, so it was still interesting.

August 1
Time: 11:00 - 12:00 EDT
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Daytime Venus Observing

Observed Venus in the daytime with my telescope. It was mag. -4.4, 13% illuminated, and 48 arc-seconds in size. I measured it with my micrometer eyepiece and I came up with a size of 51 arc-seconds. I even took some photos, which did not turn out well. Inferior conjunction happened on Aug. 22. Venus was even easy to see in the view finder.

August 9 - 10

Starfest '91

Time: n/a
Location: Mount Forest, Ontario
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Arrived on site on Friday evening (Aug. 9) with David Luttmann. We had mostly clear skies both Friday and Saturday night, but on Friday night the transparency was not very good, so I did casual observing only. Saturday night it cleared up nicely around 23:30 and I was able to observe 2 "new" deep sky objects: Mel 186 and Cr 350. There was a short aurora on Saturday night. I observed a total of about 7 hours.

This was my 10th consecutive Starfest attendance!!!

September 1
Time: 21:00 - 00:00 EDT
Location: Kendal Recreation Area
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing
   
Arrived on site at about 20:45. Stephen Keefer, Phil Bardoul, Bill Barker, and Bob (last name?) were there. A brief aurora started around 21:15 and lasted about half-hour showing some bright rays. I took just two photos on Kodak Gold 400. Some dew and cool at minus 5 deg. C.

I observed 8 "new" deep sky objects: NGC 7296, IC 1434, NGC 7245, IC 1442, NGC 7235, NGC 7261, NGC 7281, Tr 37.

I got home around 01:30 and the aurora was visible again (even from the city), so it was quite bright. It was very extensive and formed a corona at the zenith. It was mostly white and was changing patterns slowly.


September 7
Time: 01:00 - 05:30 EDT
Location: The Farm
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

FarmFest '91. Arrived on site at 21:00 on Friday, Sept. 6. Walter MacDonald and Doug Clapp were there, as well as lots of people from the Kingston Centre, and the Belleville Astronomy Club. I was using my "Clapp Trapp" portable observatory so I was shielded from cars driving in and out of the site.

On Friday night we had partly cloudy conditions through the night, but I managed to observe 7 "new" deep sky objects: NGC 7817, NGC 7798, NGC 7753, NGC 7292, NGC 7339, NGC 7625, NGC 7673. Quit at 05:20 because morning twilight was getting too strong!

On Saturday night (Sept. 7/8) we had only 1 hour of clear sky right after sunset then it clouded over for the night.

Clapp Trapp with roof off, 8-inch inside With roof on
Observatories at The Farm With R.A. panel down


October 13/14
Time: 21:30 - 00:30 EDT
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Comet Faye, Deep Sky

Set up on the balcony to hunt down Comet Faye 1991n. Spotted it after a long search. Difficult to locate (especially from the city) because it was lying in a area of the sky devoid of brighter stars (it was in Pisces). The Comet was low in the sky, and very very faint, but it was exactly where predicted. Found at 62x, but the best view was at 100x. It appeared round without a tail.

Also observed NGC 404, a magnitude 11.9 galaxy in Andromeda, whose high surface brightness make it visible even from the city. It was seen without too much trouble at 100x. And also M110 (NGC 205), one of M31's companion galaxies. It is much larger than NGC 404 and has a magnitude of 10.8. I could see it without averted vision at 100x. Then I tried NGC 925, a mag. 12 galaxy in Triangulum. This large galaxy was just barely visible at 100x, although it was just a tiny slight brightening in the field of view. Next I tried NGC 891, a large mag. 12.2 galaxy in Andromeda, but it was not visible at all. It was an interesting experiment to see how faint I could see on this night, from the city with an 8-inch scope.

November 8/9
Time: 20:00 - 00:30 EDT
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: n/a
Activity: Aurora Photography
   
This was a HUGE BRIGHT aurora. Nearly as good as the March 12/13, 1989 aurora. This one was very bright and very extensive at times. It started at about 20:00 with a bright red glow in the south-east (yes, south-east!!) all the way up to the zenith. There was lots of colour, like red, green, and white. At times the green was so bright that it was comparable to a fluorescent tube sign you can see hanging in store windows! Here are some of my pictures.
   
December 27
Time: 21:00 - 23:00 EDT
Location: Kendal Recreation Area
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Arrived on site at about 21:00 with Stephen Keefer and Bill Barker. The sky was not very clear, it was actually hazy. Observed 1 "new" deep sky object, NGC 1084. Left around 23:00 because we could hardly see the Milky Way.

Year End Stats
No. of observing sessions 14
Approx. telescope time 40.5 hours
"New" deep sky objects found 37
No. of comets seen 1
No. of auroral displays seen 3
Total deep sky objects observed by end of '91 457
Observing Frequency
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
0 0 2 0 1 2 1 3 2 1 1 1


Final Comments: A good year for observing. Lots of observing sessions, lots of observing hours, two great auroral displays, but not too many "new" deep sky objects.