1992 Observing Sessions

January 7
Time: 20:00 - 21:00 EST
Location: Morningside Park, Scarborough
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Comet Zanotta-Brewington

This is a park in the east end of Toronto where the Toronto Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada typically holds city "star parties" for its members. On this night there were about 8 people in attendance. I went out specifically to look for Comet Zanotta-Brewington, but did not see it.

It was located just 2 degrees north-west of M15, and was supposed to be around 8th magnitude, but there was no trace of the comet. Perhaps its low altitude above the western horizon and the heavy light pollution obscured it from visiblity.

March 28/29
Time: 20:00 - 05:00 EST
Location: Long Sault Conservation Area
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Messier Marathon

This was my first attempt at a Messier Marathon. The other "runners" were Stephen Keefer, Otmar Eigler, and Elizabeth Doucette. It was a very windy night, with a low temperature of about minus 5 deg. C. It was so windy at at one point all my notes and charts were blown off my table and all over the parking lot! Fortunately I was able to run fast and retrieve all my papers.

Stephen and I observed from 20:15 to 05:00, while Otmar and Elizabeth quit earlier in the night. I found 100 Messier objects, plus another 4 "new" deep sky objects, while Stephen found 99 Messier objects. For more details follow this link. (look under the 1992 entries).

The "new" objects found were: NGC 3384, NGC 3389, NGC 4402, NGC 4186.

May 29
Time: 23:00 - 00:00 EDT
Location: The Farm
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing
   
Arrived on site at about 20:30 with Walter MacDonald. The sky was clear until we started observing at about 23:30, when cirrus started moving in from the west and south. Then by 00:30, cirrus was all over the sky making observing impossible.
Pictured is my portable observatory (a.k.a. "The Clapp Trapp) with its RA panels folded down and the roof off. Also pictured are the following observatories: Otmar Eigler's (brown), Doug Clapp's (white), Walter MacDonald's (red). Observatories at The Farm


June 14/15
Time: 10:00 - 01:00 EDT
Location: Scarborough, Ontario
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Partial Lunar Eclipse
   
For this partial lunar eclipse I joined Steve Spinney on his driveway, located in eastern Scarborough (Toronto) because I did not have a clear view from my own backyard.

This was a dark eclipse. Around first contact (23:30) I could not see the eclipsed part of the moon through the telescope!! At maximum, during which the moon was about 65% in the Earth's shadow, I still could not see the eclipsed portion of the moon throught the telescope.
June 14 , 1992 Partial Lunar Eclipse


July 4
Time: n/a
Location: The Farm
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Arrived on site at about 18:30 with Walter MacDonald and Randy Hendriks. The sky was clear till about 20:30, then it clouded over and we had thunderstorms during most of the night. Went home the next morning.

August 22/23
Time: 21:30 - 00:30EDT
Location: Mount Albert, Ontario
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing
   
From Paul Smith's home in Mount Albert, about 1 hours north of Toronto. The intention was to do deep sky observing, but a beautiful aurora lit up most of the sky. It was quite bright and very active. Here are a couple of pictures I took.


Aug. 28 - 29

Starfest '92

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

Arrived on site on Saturday at about 10:30. I could not attend on Friday because I was away on a business trip and only arrived back home late on Friday night. However, I did not miss out on any observing because Friday night was cloudy anyway. On Saturday night it was only clear from 21:00 to 23:00, then it got cloudy. I did not do any observing.

September 25/26
Time: 21:00 - 00:30 EDT
Location: The Farm
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

FarmFest '92. I did not document when I arrived on site or who else was there. But I did observe 9 "new" deep sky objects: NGC 6907, NGC 6912, NGC 697, NGC 680, NGC 678, NGC 691, NGC 694, Steph 1, NGC 4236.

October 25
Time: 20:00 - 23:00 EST
Location: Kendal Recreation Area
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

I did not document when I arrived on site or who else was there. However, I did note that the temperature was a chilly minus 7 deg. C, which is quite cold for this time of the year. I observed 10 "new" dep sky objects:

NGC 744, Cz 8, Bassel 10, Tr 2, Mel 20, NGC 1444, NGC 1496, Berk 11, NGC 1582, Berk 68.

November 7
Time: 18:00 - 18:30 EST
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: n/a
Activity: Comet Swift-Tuttle

Spotted Comet Swift-Tuttle from my balcony with 16 x 50 binoculars. The Comet is brighter and larger than M13, which is only a few degrees away. Based on M13's magnitude, I estimated the Comet to be 5th magnitude. It's size was about 1.5x that of M13.

November 8
Time: 18:00 - 19:30 EST
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Comet Swift-Tuttle

With the 8-inch telescope at 62x the Comet is large with a bright nucleus. It can also be seen in the 8 x 50 finder. The coma is very diffuse, large and bright. No sign of a tail. I did a careful comparison of th Comet and M13, and the Comet's size is about 1.5x larger with a magnitude of about 5.2 to 5.5. I also tracked and plotted its motion over the course of 1 hour.

December 9
Time: n/a
Location: Kendal Recreation Area
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Total Lunar Eclipse

I did not see the total lunar eclipse due to cloudy weather, but it was an adventure trying to find clear skies. The weather forecast for Toronto was a definte "cloudy", but further East clearning skies were expected. I left work early on that day to get a head start driving east since the beginning of the partial phase was at 16:59. While packing the car it was snowing lightly, but once on the highway I could see a clearing trend towards the east, and in fact I saw the full moon rising low in the east. This gave me lots of hope!

I was headed to Oshawa to meet up with Walter MacDonald, but due to traffic I was rather late and by the time I got to Walter's house, he had already left because it was still cloudy in Oshawa, too. Not knowing where he had gone, I decided on my own to go to Kendal Recreation Area. When I got there it was still rather cloudy, but once every few minutes a tiny hole appeared in the clouds and I could see the eclise was in progress. It was so cloudy that I did not even bother setting up my scope.

After a half-hour, noticing that the clouds were still quite thick with no sign of clearing, I decided to drive north on Hwy 35/115. I drove for another half-hour with absolutely no clearning skies anywhere in sight. At that point I turned around to go back home as totality was nearing the end. The next day I found out that Walter had taken the same path as me, except I was lagging behind him by about half-hour! I believe people in Belleville and further east got clearing skies just in time for the eclipse.

Year End Stats
No. of observing sessions 12
Approx. telescope time 25.5 hours
"New" deep sky objects found 23
No. of comets seen 1
No. of auroral displays seen 1
Total deep sky objects observed by end of '92 480
Observing Frequency
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1 0 1 0 1 1 1 2 1 1 2 1


Final Comments: Talk about a futile year for deep sky observing! Three weekend trips to dark skies this year were clouded out! And the total lunar eclipse was a wash-out, too! At least I got to see one comet, one good aurora, and a partial lunar eclipse!