2000 Observing Sessions

January 16
Time: 20:00 - 20:30 EST
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Asteroidal Occultation Timing

Attempted to observe and time the occultation of a star by asteroid Pales. Recorded a negative observation as the actual occultation path shifted north by about 200 Km. It was an extremely cold night, with strong gusts and a temperature of about minus 20 Celsius. It was definitely the most uncomfortable observing conditions I have ever experienced in 18 years of observing!

January 20/21
Time: 21:00 - 00:30 EST
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Total Lunar Eclipse

Observed and photographed a total lunar eclipse. Follow this link for my pictures. Yet another very very cold night for observing - between minus 16 and minus 19 Celsius! My wrist-watch, which I had placed on my observing table to keep track of my exposures, froze and stopped working! After a few minutes of warmth it started ticking again!

(photo composite from three of my better photos)


March 13
Time: 22:00 - 23:00 EST
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Suffering from deep sky observing withdrawal symptoms after a cold and cloudy winter I decided to set up in the backyard and look for some brighter open clusters in Puppis and Canis Major. Fortunately I got a small "fix" of DSO (deep sky objects) and spotted 3 "new" open clusters: NGC 2360 (CMA), NGC 2414 (PUP), and NGC 2396 (PUP).

All three were quite poor due to low altitude and strong light pollution in the south-west.

March 31/April 1
Time: 20:30 - 01:30 EST
Location: Port Granby
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Arrived on site at 20:30 with Stephen Keefer and Wayne Yeo. Some cirrus clouds at first then clear. No wind, but it got quite cold. Surprisingly there was no dew. Spotted 18 "new" objects!! (all galaxies in Ursa Major).

NGC 3184, NGC 3972, NGC 3921, NGC 3888, NGC 3898, NGC 3780, NGC 3804, NGC 3738, NGC 3756, NGC 3718, NGC 3729, NGC 3631, NGC 3656, NGC 3549, NGC 3448, NGC 3445, NGC 3683, NGC 3683A.

Faintest object for the night was NGC 3804 at magnitude 12.9.

April 29/30
Time: 22:00 - 02:00 EDT
Location: Port Granby
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Arrived on site at 22:00. Mike D'Angelo had arrived shortly before, while John McDowell and Vincent Chan arrived within the next half-hour. We were greeted by a completely overcast sky, even though it was clear when each one of use left to drive out to the site!

We chatted and waited for about one hour and in the meantime a strong northerly wind slowly cleared the sky. By around 23:30 parts of the northern sky were visible, and around 23:45 we saw a very brief aurora. It lasted only 5 minutes and was comprised of only a couple of moderately bright rays in the north, shooting up about 30 degrees.

Once the sky cleared the wind did not let up, consequently it was a bit nippy. I observed a total of 11 "new" objects, all galaxies in Virgo, with the exception of Cr 285, an open cluster in Ursa Major.

NGC 4592, NGC 4642, NGC 4653, NGC 4666, NGC 4668, NGC 4808, NGC 4799, NGC 4701, NGC 4765, NGC 4713, Cr 285.

Faintest objects for the night were: NGC 4668 (mag. 13.1), NGC 4765 (mag. 13.0), and NGC 4799 (mag. 13.3.) I was quite amazed that such faint objects could be see from this site with my 10-inch. Mike D'Angelo confirmed my sighting of NGC 4668 (mag 13.1). Note that NGC 4799 (mag. 13.3) was actually easier to see than NGC 4668 because it had a higher surface brightness.

May 5 & 6 New Moon, mostly clear, but no observing due to hazy skies. Unseasonably hot, with daytime highs of 28 to 30 deg. Celsius!! There goes our last new moon period for viewing the Virgo galaxy cluster with no mosquitoes!!

May 13/14
Time: 23:00 - 00:30 EDT
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Casual Observing

Raymond Li, a friend from work, came by my place for some hands-on training with a Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, as he's planning to purchase one. We looked at M13 and M57, which despite the nearly full moon, were still easily visible in the 10-inch. We also looked at Mizar & Alcor, Albireo, Epsilon Lyrae (Double double), all double stars.

May 26 & 27 Last Quarter Moon weekend. Friday May 26 turned out to be clear at Port Granby. I did not make it to Port Granby because the weather forecast was uncertain and we still had clouds just before sunset. Mark Kapler, Steve Bevan, Stephen Keefer, and Vincent Chan, however took a chance and were rewarded with clear skies and observed until 03:30. Saturday May 27 was quite hazy with lots of cirrus cloud - no observing.

June 3/4
Time: 23:00 - 02:30 EDT
Location: Port Granby
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Arrived on site at about 21:45. The site quickly filled up with a total of 9 people! In attendance were: Stephen Keefer, John McDowell, Daniel McDowell, Mike D'Angelo, Mike Cook, Mark Kapler, Abe Slomovitz, Raymond Li. With some many people this turned into a bit of a "star party"! The sky remained clear until about 2:30 when cirrus moved in, and the temperature got a bit nippy.

I observed 7 "new" deep sky objects: NGC 4733, NGC 4694, NGC 4660, NGC 4647, NGC 4607, NGC 4550, NGC 4551, all galaxies in Virgo.

The faintest object for the night was NGC 4607 at mag. 12.8. I was surprised that it was not very difficult to see, even at 62x. Around 1:35 we noticed a slight auroral arc in the north, but it remained inactive before fading away.

June 30 / July 1
Time: 23:00 - 03:00 EDT
Location: Port Granby
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Arrived on site at about 22:20, after battling heavy traffic from Pickering to Oshawa (due to the Canada Day long weekend). Also present were Stephen Keefer, John McDowell, and Mark Kapler. The sky was somewhat cloudy when I left Toronto and remained partly cloudy until about midnight. Initially it was warm (ie no jacket required!) but later the wind picked up and it got cooler). The wind was quite strong for a couple of hours, enough to shake my scope and make observing difficult. There were a few mosquitoes buzzing around, but it was not too bad. There was no sign of aurora.

I had the best view ever of M13 through Stephen's 16-inch Meade Starfinder Dobsonian. Using his 8.8 mm Meade Ultra-wide eyepiece, it was as if I was looking at a long exposure photo - truly awesome! The cluster nearly filled the entire field of view and was resolved almost to the core, with sharp star images.

At 2:15 I easily spotted Comet LINEAR 1999 S4 at low power. In fact it was barely visible in my 9 x 60 finderscope. The Comet was about 1.5 degrees north-west of M34 (in Perseus). It is a very nice comet, and although still faint and small, it is a "perfect" comet with a nicely defined nucleus and tail. I would guess the magnitude to be around 8, and the tail to be about one-quarter degree in length. The tail was fan shaped, but it was not very wide. In just one hour its motion was quite noticeable.

Although the sky appeared to be quite transparent, Stephen and I noticed that typical galaxies that should be visible from Port Granby were very difficult to see on this night. Magnitude 12 objects that are typically "easy" to see in my 10-inch were difficult, while magnitude 12.5 and fainter were very difficult to see. We suspected there must have been lots of moisture in the air, which was confirmed by significant dew all over our equipment.

I observed 6 "new" deep sky objects
: NGC 6196, NGC 6269, NGC 6487, NGC 6575, NGC 97, NGC 108. I could not see NGC 6195 (mag. 13.0), NGC 6263 (mag. 13.7, not even in 16-inch) and NGC 6504 (mag. 12.5). I left the site at about 3:30.

July 4 / 5
Time: 23:30 - 01:00 EDT
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Cooler daytime temperatures resulted in a rather transparent sky tonight. The plan for this session was to observe some brighter open clusters in Hercules.

I observed 3 "new" deep sky objects: DoDz 9, DoDz 6, DoDz 5. All are bright, but very poor, scattered, and loose. Not very impressive, yet easily visible from the city.



Then I accidentally stumbled across a neat asterism, which I now call the "MicroTeapot". As you can see from the picture here, it resembles a tiny version of the Teapot in Sagittarius. The Micro Teapot is in the same field of view as Xi Her (92 Her) and is located at 17h 57m, +29 deg 29 min.
This asterism may become known as "Markov 1" soon! Read about it here.

I also observed Mu Hercules, a double star easily split at 50x, whose companion star is much fainter than the primary.



Unbelievable! Tonight I made an observation which to me is quite amazing. I was able to observe NGC 6207 in Hercules. This is a small faint galaxy about a degree from M13, and is only mag. 11.6 with a surface brightness of 12.9!! At 107x I was able to make it "pop" into view by scanning back and forth very slowly with my 10-inch. It was very very faint, could not detect its shape and orientation, but it was definitely there. I may have also been able to see it at 62x. To make sure I was not imagining things, I made a sketch of the starfield and location of the galaxy, then compared it to a detailed sky map, and sure enough, I drew the galaxy exactly where it was supposed to be!

July 22 / 23
Time: 23:00 - 01:00 EDT
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

I wanted to hunt down the remaining two DoDz open clusters in Hercules, and doing this from the city was easy as they are relatively bright. I also found an NGC object which is actually just two stars and not a true cluster.

I observed 3 "new" deep sky objects: DoDz 8, DoDz 7, and NGC 6933. Other previously seen objects were M15, which was visible in the 9 x 60 finder, and NGC 6934 a globular cluster in Delphinus.

Unbelievable! I once again was able to spot NGC 6207 from the city (see July 4/5 above). This is a small faint galaxy about a degree from M13, and is only mag. 11.6 with a surface brightness of 12.9!! To make sure I was not imagining things, I made a sketch of the starfield and location of the galaxy, then compared it to a detailed sky map, and sure enough, I drew the galaxy exactly where it was supposed to be! Of course it was barely visible and extremely faint, yet, I was able to glimpse it even at low power (62x).

August 24 - 27 Starfest 2000. This was my 17th consecutive Starfest attendance! I arrived on site at about 17:30 on Thursday, Aug. 24. This year I stayed on site (rather than the usual bed & breakfast in Mount Forest), and shared a nice big trailer with Walter MacDonald. The sky was clear on Thursday night, partly cloudy on Friday night, and cloudy on Saturday night. I left on Saturday night after the door prizes and announcements as it was cloudy with rain in the forecast.

August 24 / 25

Starfest 2000

Time: 22:00 - 02:30 EDT
Location: Starfest
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing


The sky appeared quite clear, but I was having great difficulty seeing galaxies of mag. 12.5 or fainter. I suspect there was lots of moisture in the air and that caused a loss of about 1 magnitude. My home-made heating element could not keep up with the heavy dew so I had to use a hair dryer a few times during the night to keep my corrector clear.

I observed 10 "new" deep sky objects: NGC 6928, NGC 14, NGC 7042, NGC 7280, NGC 7385, NGC 7386, NGC 7465, NGC 1055, NGC 936, NGC 941. [Not seen - NGC 7003 (mag. 13), NGC 26 (mag. 12.7).]

At left is my setup for Starfest 2000 (photo by Wayne Wu)


August 25 / 26

Starfest 2000

Time: 22:00 - 01:00 EDT
Location: Starfest
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

On Friday night / Saturday morning it was partly cloudy so we were limited to observing where the "sucker holes" were. The night was quite warm, but windy without dew. Even when clear patches opened up, it was rather hazy. I helped out Raymond Li polar align his new Meade LX200, the observed several of the usual summer Messier objects.

I observed 1 "new" deep sky object: NGC 6340, a nice galaxy in Draco.

That's me with Raymond Li looking at a
great dew cap he made out of a plastic
flower pot for his 10-inch LX200.
Here we are talking "shop" and looking
at some of my accessories.
Photos by Wayne Wu.


Around 1 a.m. it clouded over completely so I completely packed away my equipment, as rain was in the forecast for Saturday morning. Sure enough, we woke up to rain on Saturday morning, which stopped around 10 a.m.

October 4 / 5
Time: 22:45 - 00:15 EDT
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: none
Activity: Aurora

Extensive aurora covering half the sky (west - north - east and overhead), but not very active and just white in colour. At first it looked like high altitude thin clouds (cirrus), but a closer look revealed the typical motion of the northern lights. A rather disappointing display from the city.

October 21 / 22
Time: 22:00 - 03:00 EDT
Location: Port Granby
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Arrived at Port Granby at about 21:00, Spilios and Stephen Keefer were already there. Lots of clouds, especially in the west. Very windy and mild. By 22:30 still clouds floating around, very very windy , and much cooler. Around mid-night the wind died down and around 00:30 it cleared.

During this session I completed my Finest 110 NGC Objects List!! I observed a total of 11 "new" deep sky objects: NGC 1122, NGC 1106, NGC 1129, NGC 1198, NGC 1973, NGC 1788, NGC 1232, NGC 2237, NGC 2238 (Rosette Nebula), NGC 2261 (Hubble's Variable Nebula), NGC 2359 (my last in the Finest 110 NGC List).

I had my best view ever of the Orion Nebula through Steven Keefer's 16-inch Dobsonian using his 32mm Meade Super Wide Angle eyepiece (2-inch) and OIII filter. Both parts of the Veil Nebula are also quite amazing using the same equiment noted above. Steve also has his 6-inch achoromat refractor, which gave excellent views of Saturn and Jupiter at 200X.

October 29
Time: 00:30 - 03:00 EDT
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

On Saturday afternoon (Oct. 28) I purchased a Lumicon OIII filter, based on the great views of Oct. 21/22 through Stephen Keefer's 16-inch Dob and OIII filter. This observing session was mostly to evaluate the filter.

On this night my urban location had a limiting mag. of 4.9 under crisp skies. The OIII filter provides great views of M57, M27, and M42. All become much brighter when viewed through the filter and show a little more detail. M78 does not show any improvement, and I still could not see the Merope nebula (in the Pleiades) - these are reflection nebulae, and I later found out that an OIII filter does not help any with these types of objects. The Rosette Nebula was still not visible even through the filter, perhaps due to my light-polluted location. Based on these limited observations, I am quite pleased with the OIII filter and strongly recommend it.

I saw 3 "new" deep sky objects: NGC 2141, NGC 2017, and Cr 62 (all open clusters).

There were many reports of a huge auroral display, however, I did not see any aurora from my backyard.

October 29
Time: 21:00 - 23:00 EST
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

This session was used to further evaluate the OIII filter from my light-polluted backyard
Veil Nebula - not seen even with OIII filter.
M27 - Great with OIII filter. Don't see much more detail than without, however it's much brighter.
PK72-17.1 - not seen even with OIII filter.
M57 - Great with OIII filter. Don't see any more detail than without, but it's much brighter.
M76 - Visible even without OIII filter, but it is much brighter with the filter.
M1 - Barely visible without filter. The OIII filter only improves the view marginally.
NGC 7662 - Spotted without filter at 62x. The OIII filter helps a little, but only marginally. This is a bright planetary nebula to begin with. It has a fairly large disk.

December 3
Time: 00:30 - 02:00 EST
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: Meade 10-inch LX6 SCT
Activity: Deep Sky Observing

Set up in the backyard to try out the OIII filter again. It was quite clear but rather cold (minus 9 deg. C). No wind, and lots of frost.

M42 - With OIII filter M42 is much brighter, but I cannot see any additional nebulosity.
Rosette Nebula - I spent a lot of time trying to see it with the OIII filter, but no luck from my light polluted skies.
Hubble's Variable Nebula - Cannot see it, even with OIII filter.

I also observed 2 "new" deep sky objects, both open clusters in Monoceros: NGC 2254 and NGC 2251.
At about 1:45 I was observing Jupiter when by conicidence I saw Ganymede's shadow just on the edge of the Jupiter.

December 25
Time: 11:30 - 14:00 EST
Location: My Backyard
Telescope: none
Activity: Partial Solar Eclipse

This event sure was a nice Christmas present, especially because the sky was absolutely clear all day! The daytime high temperature was around minus 10, and there was so much snow in the backyard that I could not even set up my telescope. I observed from inside the house, looking through a window. I used "solar eclipse" glasses (the ones that came with Astronomy Magazine). I also set up my binoculars to project a large image of the sun on an indoor wall.

Start time 10:58 am EST
Max eclipse 12:34 pm 48% of sun eclipsed
End time 2:10 pm  
Just before maximum eclipse, it occurred to me that I could easily tape the solar glasses to the front of my video camera's lens to capture some images. I did just that and here are some of the images: capture images. Not the greatest quality because I was filming through a window, but it shows quite well what the eclipse looked like.
Year End Stats
No. of observing sessions 18
Approx. telescope time 47 hours
"New" deep sky objects found 78
No. of comets seen 1
No. of auroral displays seen 2
Total deep sky objects observed 826
   
Observing Frequency
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2 0 2 1 1 2 2 2 0 4 0 2
Final Comments:
2000 was an amazing year for observing. Went observing much more frequently than other years and it was the fourth best year in terms of newly observed objects. This year I also completed my the RASC's Finest NGC's Objects list.