Monday, November 9, 2009

Random Observations on a (rare) November Night

The old Refractor back in it's starring role was out last night recently upstaged by a binoviewer powered Tele Vue Pronto, it was time for a little more aperture to work the double stars and some planetary detail. This was a random night with no "real plan" to speak of. I just went for it.

To be honest, I am not as proficient with the Fall sky as I am the other three seasons. The reason being is that for the past 20 years, the least amount of observing I do is in the Fall which is really unfortunate given what is available to look at. But then also the weather in Eastern Canada in November doesn't help. Luckily we are enjoying some very nice weather for a change. Traditionally though, that is rarely the case even well into December. Combined with busy schedules, it's not often I get out to observe in the Fall.

The object hit list was the usual and some very nice new double stars were spotted.

Gamma Arietis: A nice treat at moderate power for smaller telescopes and high quality refractors. A sort of "Goats Eye" as it has been called. Easy to find in light polluted skies in the constellation Aries. Located at RA 01h 53m 31.8s
Dec +19° 17′ 45.0″. Almost perfectly balanced in brightness at around 4.5 and 4.8. That one is a keeper.

Lambda Arietis: Low power required for this beauty. Although I think the Pronto might be better suited for it because it can attain real low power as opposed to the 1000mm Refractor. Nice contrasting brightness with a magnitude differential of 4.9 and 7.4 in the companion and some colour contrast. Worth a look. Located in Aries at Right ascension 01h 57m 55.7172s Declination +23° 35′ 45.82″

Struve 289 (33 Arietis): With a whopping separation of 28.6", use low power again but this one has a huge contrast in magnitude. Listed at 5.3 and 9.6 in magnitude difference, the companion won't be easy to spot. Try some more power to diminish the sky glow, but keep it low. Easy to find as it is grouped with 41 Arietis in binoculars. Located at Right ascension 02h 40m 41.0755s Declination +27° 03′ 39.394″

Uranus: Okay, this is not "new" per se. But I found it myself. Last time I looked at Uranus was with a go-to scope (and for good reason). Mississauga is badly light polluted and Uranus is located near Pisces, a constellation that is NOT visible to the naked eye. It took me forever, but I managed to located familiar star patterns in my binoculars. The shortfall of this old Refractor is it's barely usable finderscope. The original 6x30 finder is hopeless in located dim star patterns. Would have worked in a darker sky, but not last night. After finally located it, Uranus looked like a small bluish disk. No detail as expected. It was lower in the sky and high power up to 200X was out of the question. But still, it was nice to find on my own!

Theta Aurigae. 3.8 arc seconds with a magnitude of 2.7 and 7.2, this was the grand prize of the evening. But it's not easy to see. It requires stable skies but high power. I hinted at seeing it at around 111X but had to barlow the 9mm Nagler to 222X to really see it. And see it I did. The seeing held together, and with the Refractor collimated properly, the image was spectacular. With a nice colour contrast the companion just sat outside the brightest concentric ring so it showed clearly. Very easy to locate in the constellation Auriga as it makes up part of the constellation's pattern. Right ascension 05h 59m 43.269s Declination +37° 12′ 45.307″. In a strange twist though, we as in a group of us went looking for this in the spring and did not see it. Back then the old Refractor was not collimated...hmmmmm

Failed to see any companions of 41 Arietis. I will need darker skies for that.

Also last night:
Double Cluster
Almach (double star)
Gamma Delphini
Struve 2725

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