1997 Observing Sessions

February 9
Time: 05:00 EST
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: n/a
Activity: Comet Hale-Bopp

Got out of bed early this morning to check on Comet Hale-Bopp. Easily visible to the unaided eye from my backyard. About 13 degrees above the eastern horizon. Looks like a large fuzzy star of about magnitude 2. No tail visible. In 16 x 50 binoculars there is a hint of a tail.

March 4
Time: 04:00 EST
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: n/a
Activity: Comet Hale-Bopp

Just a quick look at Comet Hale-Bopp from my backyard with the unaided eye. It's fairly impressive at about the same brightness as Deneb. Can't see any tail, probably due to high clouds and haze.

March 8
Time: 19:00 - 20:00 EST
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Hale-Bopp, Double Stars, Deep Sky

Saw Comet Hale-Bopp between 19:00 and 19:30. About 12 degrees above the north-western horizon. Very bright at about magnitude 0 to 0.5. There might be a slight hint of a tail, but it's not readily visible.

Double stars: Gamma Leonis was easily split at 100X. The gap between the stars is small, but clear separation. Both components are golden yellow. Unable to resolve O-Epsilon Lenois.

M95, M96, M65, and M66 are just barely visible in the 8-inch at 61X. M105 is not visible. Visual limiting magnitude tonight is 4.3.

March 12
Time: 19:10 - 19:40 EST
Location: Bruce's Mills Conservation Area
Telescope: n/a
Activity: Comet Hale-Bopp


This site is just north of Metropolitan Toronto. Very windy and cold (about minus 8 deg). The comet is about 15 deg. above the north-western horizon, about mag. 0.5 with a short tail. Not too impressive compared to Comet Hyakutake.

See more of my photos here.


March 23
Time: 22:30 - 00:00 EST
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Partial Lunar Eclipse


Observed and photographed the partial lunar eclipse (92% total) from my backyard. See more of my photos here.


March 27
Time: 21:00 - 22:30 EST
Location: Alliston, Ontario
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Comet Hale-Bopp

The site was just off a side road near a gravel pit. Guy Nason was also there. There were two bright flood lights near the pit that were rather annoying. At the beginning there were a few clouds in the north-west, exactly where the comet was. Then it got completely cloudy so we left.

March 31
Time: 21:00 - 21:30 EST
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: n/a
Activity: Comet Hale-Bopp


The Comet is now quite bright and is easily visible from the city. A small tail can also be seen. I took a series of photos from my backyard to document how bright the comet is. Here is one of those photos.

See more of my photos here.


April 1
Time: 19:00 - 21:30 EST
Location: Long Sault Conservation Area
Telescope: Meade 8-inch LX2 SCT
Activity: Comet Hale-Bopp


Arrived on site at about 19:00 with Walter MacDonald, plus four other people. It was very windy, cold, but quite clear. Took several piggyback photos of Hale-Bopp with my telephoto lens. The blue ion tail was also visible to the unaided eye with averted vision.

This is my best photo....
See more of my photos here.


April 5
Purchased a "previously enjoyed" Meade 10-inch LX6 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.


April 9
Time: 20:30 - 22:30 EDT
Location: Long Sault Conservation Area
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 & 8-inch LX2 SCT's
Activity: Comet Hale-Bopp

The site was packed with amateur astronomers who had come to view and photograph the Comet. Among the crowd were Sal Merola and Doug Clapp. My evening was plagued by equipment problems, which were compounded by the fact that I set up both 8-inch and 10-inch telescopes. While rushing to set up both scopes, and dealing with technical problems I forgot to open up the f-stop on my camera and took a few shots at f-8!!

The comet was awesome and looked something like this picture to the unaided eye:


On the same night there was a Toronto Centre meeting, so I called into the meeting, via cellular phone, and gave an update to the audience. Steven Spinney was at the lectern and simply held his cellular phone to the microphone so that my voice could be heard over the sound system.

June 27/28
Time: 23:00 - 00:30 EDT
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Photography

The purpose of this session was to test the motor drive of the LX6 telescope. The shots below are at prime focus (f6.3) on Kodak Royal Gold 1000, guided with a Bausch & Lomb 800 mm SCT with a 2.5X barlow and a 12.5mm eyepiece. Each photo is just 3 minutes and has been digitally processed to remove as much of the bright sky background as possible. I think these are pretty good shots given the heavily light polluted location! (and the fact that I am not much of an astrophotographer!!)

M13 - Globular Cluster M57 - Planetary Nebula


June 28/29
Time: 23:00 - 02:30 EDT
Location: Long Sault Conservation Area
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Arrived on site at about 22:00. Mike Cook, Al Paglieri, and Rob Underhill were also there. The sky was not the greatest due to haze. I was having a hard time seeing galaxies in the mag. 12 - 12.5 range. Saw only 1 "new" object for the night (NGC 6070, G, Ser). Left the site at about 03:00.

July 5/6
Time: 23:00 - 03:30 EDT
Location: Long Sault Conservation Area
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Arrived on site at about 22:00. Mike Cook and Mike D'Angelo were also there. I kept busy during this session by observing what I thought were 10 new objects. But as it turned out, because my observing list was not quite up to date, I had previously seen 8 of them, leaving me with just 2 "new" objects for the night!

These were NGC 6118 (G, Ser) and NGC 6247 (G, Dra). The latter galaxy (NGC 6247) was a dim mag. 13.5, yet I saw it with my 10-inch at 117x and averted vision. The observation was confirmed in Mike Cook's 12-inch LX200.

Morning twilight started at about 03:45 so we packed it in and headed home.

August 7 - 9

Starfest '97

Time: n/a
Location: Mount Forest, Ontario
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Although it was clear on Thursday, August 7, it was very hazy so I did not bother to set up my telescope.

On Friday, Aug. 8 it was still hazy, but the sky gradually cleared through the night. I observed from about mid-night to 04:00. The 10 "new" objects I observed were:
NGC 4650, NGC 2655, NGC 2715, NGC 2403, IC 348, NGC 1624, NGC 1605, NGC 2126, IC 2149, NGC 2192.

On Saturday, Aug. 9 it was still hazy, warm, with a few clouds. Windy with no dew. I observed 12 "new" objects between mid-night and 04:00 (still hazy by 4 am). They were: Berk 87, IC 4996, NGC 6996, Cr 421, Cr 419, Cr 428, NGC 7031, IC 5146, Cr 463, Stock 5, Stock 6, Mrk 6.

September 30 / October 1
Time: 23:30 - 04:00 EDT
Location: South of Parry Sound
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

My wife and I rented a cottage about 20 minutes south of Parry Sound, on Otter Lake. The vacation was strategically scheduled around new moon, of course!! Out of 6 nights I only had 1.5 clear ones. The rest were very cloudy and rainy. The sky was very dark, but I had a limited view due to trees, and only towards the north.

During this session I observed mostly galaxies in Camelopardalis. The 19 "new" objects observed were: NGC 1569, IC 342, Be 10, UGC 2855, NGC 1485, NGC 1530, NGC 1573, IC 334, IC 381, IC 391, NGC 2146, NGC 2146A, NGC 2314, NGC 2256, NGC 2258, UGC 3730, NGC 2441, NGC 2523, NGC 2551. By 04:15 it had clouded over.

Here I am on the deck of the cottage with my 10-inch SCT.
Parry Sound '97


October 1
Time: 22:00 - 00:00 EDT
Location: South of Parry Sound
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Still from the cottage south of Parry Sound. The temperature was just above zero with no wind, and lots of dew. Observed 3 "new" objects before the sky clouded over around 00:30. Views of IC 289, NGC 7454, and Tom 5 were hampered by high clouds and haze.

Year End Stats
No. of observing sessions 14
Approx. telescope time 32.5 hours
"New" deep sky objects found 47
No. of comets seen 1
No. of auroral displays seen 0
Total deep sky objects observed by end of '97 708
Observing Frequency
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
0 0 5 2 0 2 1 2 1 1 0 0


Final Comments: Come Hale-Bopp surely got me out observing more frequently at the beginning of the year, but distracted me from deep sky observing. Fortunately I was able to make up "lost deep sky observing time" later in the year. A pretty good year for observing!!