Monday, August 1, 2011

1475e 2011/07/31–08/01

1475e 2011/07/31–08/01 22:15–23:45 EDT Foxmead POD 8 28cmsc 10x50b
[Translation: Session #1475 on the evening of 2011 July 31–August 1. Began observations at 10:15 pm and ended at 11:45 pm EDT. Made from Foxmead POD observatory, sky conditions dark, using 28cm Schmidt-Cassegrain and 10x50 binoculars.]

I've tended to become very terse in my observing log. Because others may be reading these blogs, I'm trying to be a bit more verbose here.

When I opened the POD I discovered a little praying mantis sitting on the hinge—very extraterrestrial! Taking the shroud off the telescope I was stung by a wasp lurking underneath it. So much for wildlife!

I woke the telescope from its "hibernate" mode and had it point to Albireo to make sure alignment was OK. It was very slightly off so I replaced M57 in previous alignment with Albireo. Telescope seemed to be running more smoothly this evening, with less clicking and jumping. Since I haven't had an observing session in two weeks, I concentrated on my variable star program, taking up where I left off last time. I have a list of about 30 variables that I cycle through.

Variables: [click on image to magnify]

While  observing next star (T Cep) thin clouds began to move in, making variable estimates impossible, so I packed it in for the evening.

Vesta: During the day, I'd written an article for on this week's opposition of Vesta, which has just been reached and is currently being orbited by the Dawn spacecraft, so I had a look for Vesta in my 10x50s. It is passing through an area of Capricornus devoid of bright stars, so is very easy to spot at around 6th magnitude.

This was a warm humid night, with sparkles of heat lightning around the horizon. When the clouds moved in, they were totally invisible, only detectable by stars in my observing field brightening and darkening. When I came in, the moist air was condensing on the outside of the sliding door.

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