Monday, March 26, 2012

1508d 2012/03/26

1508d 2012/03/26 15:30–16:00 Foxmead E deck 8 ne 10x50b

Venus and crescent Moon in daylight. Venus is just 2 degrees above the narrow crescent Moon in full daylight. My article on has been picked up by Google and the Christian Science Monitor:
Temperature: 2.7°C 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

1507e 2012/03/19–20

1507e 2012/03/19–20 21:00–22:15 Huronia Airport 8 ne 10cmrr 28cmsc

Observing with members of the Midland Astronomy Club after giving a talk on my visit to Australia, and the upcoming annular eclipse and transit of Venus. Had a nice look at Jupiter through a 105mm refractor with a Vixen-spec objective, and helped a member set up and star test his 280mm Celestron HD on CGEM mount. Shirtsleeve weather, amazing for March!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

1506d 2012/03/16

1506d 2012/03/16 19:00 Foxmead W deck 8 ne

 Uploaded to the Weather Network, who posted it to their web page.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

1505e 2012/03/14–15

1505e 2012/03/14–15 20:10–22:00 EDT Foxmead POD 8 13cmrr

 Mars: 190x: Boring side again.

Venus: 108x: getting close to half-Venus (57%).

Jupiter 190x: 3 moons on one side, 1 on the other.

Deep sky: M42-3 @ 38x and 108x: Beautiful as always.
B33, Horsehead Nebula, seen at 38x with H-beta filter and averted vision. I located a pentagonal pattern of stars and navigate from that to find a faint darkening on a very very faint nebula. Occasionally the "head" would jump out at me, but I tink that was "averted imagination"!
Also M78 (bright after the Horsehead!); Rosette, Christmas Tree, and Hubble's Variable Nebulae with OIII filter (faint wisps of nebulosity); M50, M46, M47, M41. Mostly at 38x

Back to Mars: still boring.

Temperature = 4.7°C

Sunday, March 11, 2012

1504e 2012/03/11–12

1504e 2012/03/11–12 19:10–20:20 EDT Foxmead POD 8 13cmrr

Four planets in eight minutes! I observed Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Mars between 19:45 and 19:53, using the 8.8mm Meade Ultrawide in the 127mm triplet apo (108x). Mercury was a tiny crescent (9" 19%), Venus a larger slightly gibbous disk (20" 59%), Jupiter a large ovoid (35" 99%), and Mars a tiny disk (14" 100%). Seeing was poor; I'll recheck Mars later when it's higher.

The images in the apo are exquisite: perfectly sharp and with not superfluous colour.

Temperature = 6.0°C

 I wasn't able to resist the temptation for another look at Mars, so I went back out with my 5mm Radian eyepiece (190x) at 20:10. Mars had risen a bit and the seeing had steadied, but unfortunately the "boring side" of Mars was towards Earth. The polar cap was quite distinct, and I could see hints of shadings on the disk, but it wasn't very inspiring. The temperature is dropping really fast!

Temperature = 4.7°C

1503d 2012/03/11

1503d 2012/03/11 10:15–10:30 EDT Foxmead S deck 8 4cmrr

Sun: large loop at 1 o'clock, large hedgerow at 5 o'clock, small hedgerow at 7 o'clock. No flares, but main sunspot group looks to be in turmoil. Two new groups coming into view on f edge of Sun. Long twisting filament associated with these new groups and the hedgerow prominence at 5 o'clock. 33x.

Here's the latest SOHO image, inverted relative to PST:

Temperature = 7.1°C

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

1502d 2012/03/07

1502d 2012/03/07 13:30–13:45 EST Foxmead POD 8 13cmrr

As a birthday present to myself, I mounted the 127mm Explore triplet apo on the CGEM in the POD and observed the Sun in white light using my Kendrick Baader solar filter. There were 22 sunposts in 3 groups, for a sunspot number of 53. using the 25mm 70° Explore eyepiece, magnification of 38x. Image was crisp and colour-free when sharply in focus. Here's a white light image from Big Bear:

If the sky stays clear and the temperature warm, I hope to observe the cornucopia of planets which will be in the sky tonight.

Acronyms explained:
apo = apochromatic refractor
CGEM = Celestron German Equatorial Mount
POD = SkyShed Personal Observatory Dome

Temperature: 11.4°C

1501d 2012/03/07

1501d 2012/03/07 12:05–12:10 EST Foxmead S deck 8 4cmrr

 There is an brilliant extended flare winding like a snake through a sunspot group in Hα at 33x. Also a hedgerow prominence at 6 o'clock. Here is the most recent SOHO EIT 304 image:

This Hα image from Big Bear yesterday is actually closer to what I saw today. You can see the sinusoidal flare and the prominence just off the disk in the same direction:

Temperature = 11°C, gusty winds