Saturday, September 5, 2009

Observing and some musings.

So now we are back to good old "boring" Jupiter with just a transit of the Great Red Spot. Oh the horror of not seeing missing moons! But seriously, always looking forward to seeing the GRS! I'm taking full advantage of the clear skies even though the Moon is in howling mode so despite the extra sky glow, I am not sitting still. After the summer we have endured in the Greater Toronto Area, we'll take what we can get.

So Poppa and I headed out to Saddington Park again, me with the Antares 105 and the Pronto and Poppa with the William Optics Zenithstar 80.

The Comedy of Errors:

It seems that I need to forget at least something. Otherwise it wouldn't be me. Now normally I forget something small like a red flashlight or a power cord. Other times I forget something a little larger and more essential like the battery or perhaps a chair or whatever. On occasion I will forget something critical, like that time I was a third of the way up to a dark sky site two hours out of Toronto, and I realized I forgot half the telescope (forgot the Dob base). Tonight it finally caught up with me again. I was suppose to have the big Antares 105 out on the SP mount, but forgot the counterweight and shaft. Oops. Nice going champ...Is this a piece of your brain?

Pronto to the rescue:

Lessons learned from the previous disaster of forgetting the Dob base, the Pronto was ready to go on the AZ3 mount. I don't like this mount a lot because of the limited movement and no tracking, but what good is the SP mount with no counterweights? Live and learn, or rather, live because I will forget something regardless. I also employed the iPod software "Starmap Pro" which was very, very pleasant to work with. What I loved is the detail of the charts, but also, it has a nifty "log" feature so I can type in what I have seen. It has a night mode where everything turns red, but the silly keyboard function blinds you when you want to log something in. That's something that needs to be fixed.


Not the steadiest night but I have seen worse. Jupiter showed the GRS very nicely in the W/O, but the Pronto also got it, with some degree of difficulty, but it was there. I also brought the Cambridge Double Star Atlas and the Sissy Haas book with me knowing that it was not a great night with the Full Moon out. I did look at Albireo and Alpha Herculis just to warm up. With the help of the Atlas I decided to go after two double stars in Aquila because of it's location in the sky and that I was using a mount I don't really like.

15 Aquilae. Now here is one for the SUG! Contrasting yellow and blue. Super easy to find and only requires about 20X. Using the Pronto with a 24mm Panoptic produces some nice wide, low power views, so this double star was fabulous even in moon soaked skies. So yes, keep the power down on this one folks!

23 Aquilae. This one is tough. I have to list this as probably, although I am convinced I saw it. The magnitude differential and close separation at 3.0" makes this difficult. Larger aperture would have helped (and I had it but you know what happened!) so I will have to return to this double star again to make sure. There has been an update on this double star.

The Starship:

We did some outreach tonight. A few people came by and Poppa and I quickly put our scopes on Jupiter for people to look at (no sense showing them a maybe double star at this point). Curious lookers are not intimidated by the Pronto. I like to refer to it as my little Starship. People seem to back off when the larger scopes are out, but they find the Pronto is easy to approach. I am not surprised. Those who look for the first and don't know me love the Pronto. Those who know me well tend to love to make fun of it (Tasco Tonto, Cursed Cloud Attractor and so on). But Jupiter gives them that chance to look beyond this world. However, one individual was a bit odd after pulling up in his RV (this is a public day use park remember) and asked us what we were looking at. I said Jupiter but he had convinced his wife that was a satellite. We invited him over to look at it and at first he declined which was very odd. He finally looked and was amazed. Not sure what he will tell his wife, and I hope Corporate Security doesn't boot him out. Very odd fellow.

Then we packed it in and that was our evening. Thinking I will go out on Saturday night too just to double check that star.



  1. Hey you, 15 Aquilae is one of my all time favorites my northern friend! Love the names of your pronto. It is really very strange at times some of the reactions we get doing outreach.

    Keep writing these "real" reports -

  2. Loving your reports Marc. We still have to have our Virtual Double Star Observation session with the SUGster some night. I think my Cambridge is feeling neglected lately. Love that 15 Aquillae too.
    I'm always surprised when people just don't want to take a look through the telescope. How could you not want to? Well at least you finally got him out of his RV.
    Great posts..