2003 Observing Sessions
Both January and February were the coldest on record
for the past 10 years. Went for days with temperatures
not higher than minus 15C. Snow started to accumulate on
the ground on Dec. 25, 2002 and stayed till nearly the
end of March (usually 20 to 30 cm of snow on the ground
at any time). Also, the entire winter was mostly cloudy
and whenever it was clear, the temperature was minus 15C
or less! Overall a miserable winter which lingered well
Set up in the backyard with the LX200 to take some
digital images of Jupiter with a Logitec Clicksmart 510
camera (CCD based). Had a difficult time coming up with a
method to mount the camera on top of the eyepiece, then
it wad difficult to position the camera in the light path
of the eyepiece, then it was quite difficult to focus!
The results were poor, therefore no pictures shown here!
There is lots to learn about the cameras software
setting and the image processing, and little time to do
Set up in the backyard with the
5-inch SkyWatcher, some clouds but then clear. More
clouds by 11:30pm, temp was minus 8C.
|April 3 - 4||
Ice storm!About 10 cm of frozen rain accumulated on
the roads then turned into a block of ice with the
strength of concrete! It took several days for the ice to
melt due to the below seasonal temperatures.
Set up the brand new 10-inch
SkyWatcher Dobsonian in the backyard in the early evening
and let it cool off till 10:30pm. Clear and cool (close
to zero deg C) and windy. The wind is making observing
somewhat unpleasant. The moon is nearly full.
Set up the brand new 10-inch SkyWatcher Dobsonian in the backyard in the early evening and let it cool off, however by 9:15pm I could still see tube currents and fuzzy star images! The weather is cool (+4C) but pleasant, no wind, but lots of hazy clouds. Moon is nearly full.
I adjusted the collimation of the scope in the daytime, but no noticeable improvement at night. Continued testing the scope.
Capella out of focus images show a perfect diffraction ring, and the in focus image with a 14mm Meade Ultra wide angle is quite sharp. The collimation is nearly perfect, but could use a final tweak.
Castor double star - Even at just 86X I can see a hit of a double star, then with the 3X Barlow (258X) the pair is clearly split with dark sky between the two stars. Pretty good!
Saturn and Jupiter - Used cheap 10mm
eyepiece plus 3X Barlow = 360X. The images are still
decent, even at such a high power. I was especially
impressed with Saturn where the Cassini division was
still clearly visible at such a high power. I suppose
good seeing and good optics made this possible.
A freak heat wave hit Toronto for just one day and the
temperature soared to plus 28C. But by the evening of
April 16 the temperature dropped like a stone to minus 5C
and we had some freezing rain!!
Set up in the backyard with the 10-inch SkyWatcher
Dobsonian. Clear, cool (zero C), no wind, no dew.
Pleasant but cool for this time of the year. The azimuth
(left-right) motion of the scope is poor because it
sticks. Looked at a variety of objects
(mostly galaxies) and observed two
new deep sky objects: NGC 4636 and NGC 4753 (both
galaxies in Virgo)
Arrived on site at 9:30 PM. Clear but extremely windy where we set up near the driveway. At around 10 PM we moved about 50 metres east, where the ground slopes downward a little, and there the wind was substantially less! Also there were Stephen Keefer, Michael Cook and Len Benschop. This is the first time under a dark sky with the 10-inch SkyWatcher Dob.
I observed a slew of Messier objects. M51, M81 and M82 are even visible through the 9 x 50 finder! Excellent view of M81 and M82 at 86X through the 14mm Meade Ultra Wide Angle. I also used the new B & L 10 x 50 binoculars and saw may Messier very pleased with these binoculars.
I observed 10 new deep sky objects: NGC 4900, NGC 4845, NGC 4904, NGC 4665, NGC 4600, NGC 4630, NGC 4586, NGC 4580, NGC4536, NGC 4527.
Quit observing at 3:35am and only
took 10 minutes to pack up the equipment!
Set up in the backyard with the 10-inch SkyWatcher Dob
around 7 pm. Since Jupiter was only 4 degrees away from
the moon, I was able to easily see Jupiter in the daytime
through the finder. Started observing around 10:30 pm,
mild (+11C) a little windy, the quarter moon is flooding
the sky! Observed a few brighter Messier objects, and
Set up in the backyard with the 10-inch SkyWatcher
Dob. The sky is clear and transparent, no wind, no dew,
+10C. Looked at Jupiter and some Messier objects. M85 was
barely visible (mag 9.3). I could not see M100, M98, M99,
NGC 4350, and NGC 4437. Bad allergies made my observing
eye water all night, making observing difficult. The
azimuth motion of the scope is terrible and small
movements are difficult because the base sticks. I have
to fix it soon with some ebony star laminate and magic
Set up in the backyard with the 10-inch SkyWatcher Dob. Cool night and quite transparent. Experimented with the OIII filter on M57 and M27. Given the fast f-ratio of this telescope (f4.7) views through the OIII filter are quite good and much better than unfiltered views. Previously I noted that on my 10-inch LX200 at f10 the views with an OIII filter become too dim. I also observed the Markov 1 asterism in Hercules.
Once again I was able to just see NGC 6207 (mag 11.6
galaxy very close to M13) at 86X. I confirmed this
observation by drawing the field of view and the galaxy,
then comparing it against an atlas.
Set up in the backyard with the 10-inch SkyWatcher Dob. Warm (+18C), no wind, the sky in not very transparent, some clouds floating by, pleasant night. I installed handles to side of the mount and these work very well for moving the entire scope. Observed three double stars:
Alpha Herculis cannot split at 30X, clearly split at 86X, but much better at 120X. Significant magnitude difference between the two stars. The brighter star is orange, the other is white.
Epsilon Lyrae At 120X it is just barely split, but cannot really see much black sky between each pair.
52 Cygni This is the star thats in the middle of the Veil Nebula (NGC 6960). Clearly split at 86X but difficult. Large magnitude difference between the two stars. Cannot see the Veil Nebula, even with the OIII filter.
Spent quite some time hunting down NGC 7048 (Planetary
Nebula in Cygus), but I had already seen this object. Can
only see with the OIII filter.
Arrived on site around 9:30 pm, clear, some light wind, no mosquitoes, very little dew, the sky seems very good (perfect night!!). Also there were Steve Bevan, Gil Tennant, John Ruta. Set up the 10-inch LX200 (I took my time and it took about one hour!!), ready to observe at 10:30, but twilight wont end till 11:30. Took some digital photos of the site while there still was a little light. I had a cold starting (runny nose) so I was not feeling very good, and I actually got worse during the night.
I observed 7 new objects: Pal 5, NGC 5928, NGC 5980, NGC 5984, NGC 5957, NGC 5964, NGC 6012.
Also looked at several of the better Messier objects through the scope and through the 10 x 50 binoculars. M33 was clearly visible through the binoculars.
Looked at M27 and M57 with the OIII
filter, but the view is much too dim! Better without the
filter (thats because this scope is f10).
Blackout started at about 4 pm Thursday, Aug. 14
Largest blackout in North America.
Set up the 10-inch SkyWatcher Dob in the backyard and
observed for a few minutes before the nearly full moon
rose. The sky is quite dark (relatively speaking) and the
Milky Way is visible, although its not quite as
pronounced as at DRAACO. It was absolutely amazing seeing
such a dark sky from the city!! I looked at M13 and NGC
6207 through the telescope. NGC 6207 (mag 11.6) was
clearly visible amazing!
Arrived on site around 1 pm on Friday, Aug. 22, just in time for my presentation at 3 pm in the small tent (Effective Deep Sky Observing).
I was supposed to arrive on Thursday
afternoon, but because of the house inspection I could
not go, also on Thursday night thunderstorms were
forecast. I camped (I actually slept in the
minivan) near the small tent with Peter Lukic, Raymond
Li, and Walter Macdonald. Wayne Louie and wife were there
on Friday night only.
Mostly clear, a little haze. Cool with dew. Spent part
of the night showing objects to various people through my
telescope. I had some time for searching for new objects
and I accidentally found B93 and
B92, two dark nebulae near M24. These are the
first dark nebulae I have ever seen, after 21 years of
observing!! They clearly look like holes in
the sky and even match the shape outlined in Sky Atlas
2000. I also found NGC 7137,
a galaxy in Pegasus. Found 3 new objects.
High cirrus clouds at twilight in the west and east,
otherwise clear, cool, no wind, some dew already at
twilight. Around mid-night, some clouds and haze, and
lots of dew! I observed 5 new
objects: NGC 6058, NGC 6146, NGC 6173, NGC 6166, NGC
Very bright and extensive aurora, but very brief
(about 15 minutes) around 7 PM. I only saw the tail end
of the aurora around 8 PM and I saw a fainter red glow in
the north-east, plus lots of fainter white activity in
the north. Apparently a bright red aurora was clearly
visible from downtown Toronto.
Tonight was first light for the Celestron NexStar
114GT. The scope was behaving very erratically - failed
auto-align, hand-controller lockup, missed goto slewing,
etc... - which I later determined were caused by
insufficient amperage from my AC adapter. I was using an
AC adapter that supplied 500 mA, but the scope requires
Second night of testing the Celestron NexStar 114GT.
The auto-align worked well tonight and the goto placed
all targets within the 25mm field of view - I am
impressed! There still were a few oddities: one goto slew
completely missed the object, but found it after
re-trying. and a hand-controller lockup. Also, the
two-star align always fails and when trying to choose
stars only stars that start with the letter A thru F are
listed (this is a known bug and Celestron is supposed to
fix it). The optics show crips images towards the centre
of the field of view, but star images were rather
elongated (coma) starting about half-way out from centre.
Not very happy with the optics, however when using a
higher power eyepiece (like a 10mm) the coma goes away.
Third night out with the Celestron NexStar 114GT. The
auto-align worked well again, however goto accuracy is
off tonight. Objects always end up just outside the 25mm
field of view. I guess I did not align the scope very
well! Also, I checked the tracking, and a star at the
center of a 12mm reticle eyepiece drifted outside the
field of view in about 3 minutes! The drift was mostly is
RA (motor too slow) but also a little in Declination. I
am quite disappointed about the terrible tracking.
|Year End Stats||
|Final Comments||Not a very productive year
in terms of observing sessions or number of deep sky
objects observed. However, I acquired three new pieces of
equipment and I had lots of fun observing with them. I
guess the highlight of the year was the blackout in
August - too bad it was just past full moon!
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