Monday, May 9, 2016

1569d 2016/05/09

1569d 2016/05/09 07:08–14:55  EDT Foxmead observatory 9 28cmsc

Transit of Mercury

As usual, missed first contact by a few seconds, but had a fine view of second contact with 279mm SCT @70x with Kendrick Baader filter. Seeing poor but transparency good. Temperature = +1°C.

No sign of "black drop" at second contact: just a clean crisp tiny black disk against the Sun's limb.

Michael Watson has just posted a nice image of Mercury and the sunspot group near the centre of the disk:
Michael Watson's image

09:00–09:10: Mercury is now well onto the Sun's disk, but the seeing has deteriorated badly, with vast ripples across the face of the Sun. Temperature = +4°C.

10:00–10:10: I can now see the two small sunspots about half way between the large suspot group and Mercury. Temperature = +6°C.

12:55–13:05: I've had a number of visitors drop by to view the transit: Lorna Bolden, Pam and Allen King, Dave Wilkins, and Gord Michener. Plus, of course, my wife Louise and our cat Furr. Mercury has now moved over, closing on the opposite limb of the Sun. Temperature = +9°C.

04:25–14:55: Third contact at 14:37:55, Fourth contact at 14:41:05. Again, no black drop seen. Temperature = +10°C.

Michael Watson's collage of the transit sums it up beautifully:

Sunday, February 7, 2016

1568m 2016/02/06–07

1568m 2016/02/06–07 06:05–06:45 EST Foxmead SE window 3 ne 10x50b

More window observing! At first I could only see Mars and Saturn, then Venus rose in the southeast. There were thin streamers of cloud close to the horizon, making Mercury impossible to see with the naked eye. Finally I got my 10x50s, and was able to spot it 4.5 degrees below and to the left of Venus. By then Jupiter was in hazy cloud to the west.

Friday, February 5, 2016

1567m 2016/02/04–05

1567m 2016/02/04–05 03:45–04:00 EST Foxmead SE window 3 ne

We're sleeping in David's room because the bed is more comfortable for my aching back. I woke to see out the SE window that the sky had cleared. I could see a bright object but couldn't figure out what it was. When I got up and went to the window, I could see Corvus riding in the southern sky, with Spica to its left, but something brighter further left in Libra. I thought it might be Saturn, but on checking Starry Night found that it was Mars, now much brighter than the last time I'd seen it about a month ago. It's now magnitude +0.5, but still with a tiny 7 arc second disk, so it looked very much like a star.

When I looked again a few minutes later, the sky was overcast again.

It's always a pleasure to see the "Spring" constellations in the "Winter" sky, a sign that winter will soon be over and the nights will soon be warmer.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

1566e 2015/07/01–02

1566e 2015/07/01–02 21:45–21:50 EDT Foxmead W deck 3 ne Louise Gervais

Close conjunction (34' separation) of Jupiter and Venus.

Friday, June 26, 2015

1565e 2015/06/26–27

1565e 2015/06/26–27 19:00–20:30 EDT Gillett Farm 3 13cmrl Katy and David Gillett

Helping Katy assemble, test, and observe with her new SkyWatcher Heritage 130 Newtonian refleector on tabletop Dobsonian mount.

"Assembly" just involved installing the red-dot finder and balancing the tube in altitude. Collimation was slightly off, but a small adjustment of the main mirror with my Cheshire eyepiece put it right. Then we went outside and set up on a garden wall. I aligned the finder on a distant tree branch, and we were in business. The sky was hazy and still quite bright, but Katy was thrilled to locate and observe the Moon. She discovered the reality of the Earth's rotation as the Moon moved through the eyepiece. With quite a bit of daylight, she was able to practice focusing and changing eyepieces.

The scope lived up to its reviews in SkyNews and Sky & Telescope: excellent optics on a smooth, easy-to-use Dobsonian mount.

Temperature 18°C

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

1564m 2015/04/03–04

1564m 2015/04/03–04 06:00–06:45 EDT Foxmead W windows 9 ne

Total lunar eclipse, beginning stages observed. The Moon set in clouds at 06:43.

Monday, January 19, 2015

1563e 2015/01/19–20

1563e 2015/01/19–20 17:50–17:55 EDT Foxmead W windows 9 ne

Another nice naked eye view of three planets, Mercury, Venus, and Mars. Mercury is now quite a bit lower in the sky and harder to see, and Mars is getting lower too.

 Temperature = –11°C