Thursday, December 12, 2013

1549m 2013/12/12

1549m 2013/12/12 06:00–06:15 EST Foxmead E window 3 ne

I looked for Comet Lovejoy in a hazy predawn sky. I could see Arcturus and Alphecca, but couldn't make out the Hercules keystone, and didn't see the comet. I was rewarded with a nice Geminid meteor, though.

Tempertaure = –11°C

Saturday, November 30, 2013

1548m 2013/11/30

1548m 2013/11/30 07:25–07:35 EST Foxmead E window 3 ne

 Comet ISON: If many people saw what I saw this morning, we may have many false reports of comet sightings. I was up at sunrise again this morning, and was greeted by layers of clouds down close to the horizon. About 10 minutes before sunrise (predicted for 7:35 a.m. here), these clouds were lit up by the Sun just below the horizon, creating a beautiful pink solar pillar:

 I saw one of these during my "dawn patrol" for Comet McNaught seven years ago, and they actually put my photograph of it on the cover of the RASC Journal. By the actual time of sunrise, the pillar had faded.

This pillar, as its name implies, was perfectly vertical, while the comet, had it been visible, would have been at a 45° angle to the horizon and off to the left of the sunrise point.

All that's left of it is that fan shape above and slightly to the right of the Sun.

Temperature = –4.3°C

Friday, November 29, 2013

1547m 2013/11/29

1547m 2013/11/29 07:30–07:50 EST Foxmead E window 8 10x50b ne

Comet ISON appears to have survived its close encounter with the Sun. I scanned the horizon just to the left of the rising Sun, but saw no sign of it.

Temperature = –13°C

Thursday, November 28, 2013

1546m 2013/11/28

1546m 2013/11/28 06:00–08:00 EST Foxmead E window 9 10x50b ne

Looking for Comet ISON under excellent conditions. I easily observed Saturn and Mercury rising. There were clouds close to the horizon which blocked the Sun at Sunrise, but I still was unable to see the comet. According to Starry Night and SOHO, it was about 2° to the right of the Sun and slightly below the Sun, with its tail almost parallel to the horizon, so the chances of seeing it were slim. It is now very bright on SOHO's LASCO C3, much brighter than Antares in the same field, and should be entering C2 soon. I'll try again during the day and at sunset.

Temperature = –9° C 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

1545m 2013/11/16

1545m 2013/11/16 06:05–06:15 EST Foxmead E window 3 10x50b ne

Looked for Comet ISON, but dawn twilight and low mist prevented my seeing it. I could see Spica and Porrima, but the comet in between them eluded me, though once or twice I suspected a faint streak of light with averted imagination. Earlier (around 05:30) the setting 14-day-old Moon lit up the horizon haze and blocked my view. The Moon will make it difficult to see the comet for the next few days.

Temperature = –2° C 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

1544m 2013/11/14

1544m 2013/11/14 05:35–05:50 EST Foxmead E window 8 10x50b ne

I observed Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) for the first time with 10x50 binoculars. It is much brighter than I expected, slightly brighter than HIP62421 (magnitude 6.2), north of which it is just passing . It is almost as bright as Chi Virginis (magnitude 4.6) to its west. This is much brighter than predicted by Starry Night (magnitude 8.2). I thought I could just see a faint tail to the northwest with averted vision. This is very promising! While it is not yet visible naked eye, it is getting close to it.

Temperature =  0.8°C

Sunday, November 3, 2013

1543d 2013/11/03

1543d 2013/11/03 07:00–07:15 EST Foxmead E window 9 ne

Attempted to observe partial solar eclipse on a beautifully clear morning. The Sun was visible at first peeking through the trees on a distant hillside. By the time the Sun cleared the trees at 07:15, the Moon had moved off the Sun. Observing with a Baader solar filter.

Temperature = –3.9° C

Friday, October 18, 2013

1542e 2013/10/18–19

1542e 2013/10/18–19 19:00–20:15 EDT Foxmead E window 8 ne

Penumbral lunar eclipse

At maximum eclipse, at 19:50, there was a very slight shading visible around 5 o'clock on the Moon's face.

Temperature = 5.7°C

Monday, October 14, 2013

1541m 2013/10/13–14

1541m 2013/10/13–14 03:30–06:15 Foxmead E window 9 7x50b

Looking for Comet ISON (C/2012 S1), which is near Mars and Regulus this morning. I checked several times with 7x50 binoculars, and was able to see the stars in the chart below, but the comet was too faint, less than magnitude 7.3. I will need to try again another morning with more aperture.

Temperature = 3.2° C

Friday, October 11, 2013

1540n 2013/10/11–12

1540n 2013/10/11–12 00:30–01:05 Foxmead POD 9 28cmsc

Jupiter triple shadow transit

I started observing when Jupiter was very low (altitude 7.0°) so the seeing was poor, and there was a lot of atmospheric chromatic dispersion. As time went past, the seeing gradually became better, and Callisto's large shadow on the South Polar Region became evident, looking  like a bite out of the disk. Finally, Io's shadow became clear at 01:03.

I had deliberately not checked the shadow positions before going to the eyepiece. On checking afterwards with Starry Night, it turns out that I had missed Europa's shadow completely! What I thought was Europa's shadow was probably a dark barge in the North Equatorial Belt. Oh well, two out of three isn't bad! Most of the observations were made at 175x. The seeing was not good enough to tolerate 255x.

 [Starry Night reconstruction @ 01:03 EDT]

While Jupiter was rising, I also observed the Orion Nebula @70x, and Castor and 38 Geminorum at @255x. 38 Geminorum B had a definite violet tinge.

Temperature = 4.3°C

1539e 2013/10/11–12

1539e 2013/10/11–12 21:35–22:25 Foxmead POD 9 28cmsc

Aligned on Fomalhaut and Capella.

Deep sky: M45, M31, M32, M110, M34, Double Cluster.

 I knocked over the power bar, unplugging the mount, and had to realign, on Capella and Altair. Goto inaccurate, so I replaced Capella with Fomalhaut.

Uranus and Neptune as tiny disks at 70x. M31 and Aldebaran.

Getting cold, so came inside to warm up before Jupiter transit.

Temperature = 6.2°C, wisps of cloud.

1538d 2013/10/11

1538d 2013/10/11 16:20–16:30 Foxmead POD 9 28cmsc

I woke the telescope up after a long hibernation, nearly two months. It pointed to within 2 degrees of Venus, close to greatest elongation east. I synched the alignment on Venus, then slewed to the Moon, which was perfectly centred. I synched on the Moon. I tried to locate Mercury (also at greatest elongation east) but couldn't see it. Got rid of cobwebs and wasp nests in preparation for the triple shadow transit on Jupiter tonight.

Temperature = 20.2°C, deep blue sky.

Friday, August 16, 2013

1537e 2013/08/16–17

1537e 2013/08/16–17 20:30–22:40 Foxmead POD 8 28cmsc 10x50b

Aligned CPC1100 first on the Moon, then on Saturn, then slewed over to Venus, all at 70x. Mosquitoes were voracious, so I decided to go indoors to let them disperse.

Back out around 22:00, looking for Nova Delphinus 2013. I aligned the CPC more carefully on Altair and M27, which was very nice despite the bright Moon. Then I slewed to NGC 6905, a small planetary nebula, which was just visible in the moonlight. I observed it last 11 years ago. From there I starhopped to the Nova, which was shining brilliantly at around magnitude 5.4, as I later estimated using 10x50 binoculars. To confirm this, I had the scope go to the coordinates of the nova, and there it was again. This is the brightest novae in many years.

By then I was getting cold, so I parked the scope and closed up the observatory. The bright Moon and a slight haze in the sky made any further observation impossible.

Temperature: 14°C–9° C

Monday, August 5, 2013

1536m 2013/08/05

1536m 2013/08/05 05:10–05:50 E-facing window 9 ne

A wonderfully clear bright morning! I rose at 05:10 and immediately spotted Jupiter. Mars was more difficult against the brightening dawn sky. Then bright Mercury cleared the trees at 05:12. When I looked again at 05:50, the slender crescent Moon was well above the trees, and I could just make out Mercury above it. Jupiter was still visible, but Mars was lost in the sky's brightness. Starry Night makes a nice composite of all these events as of 05:50:
Temperature: 9°C

Thursday, May 30, 2013

1535e 2013/05/29–30

1535e 2013/05/29–30 22:18 W facing window 8 ne

Bright meteor seen through living room window, about 0 magnitude, just below Regulus. Very foggy and humid outside.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

1534e 2013/05/26–27

1534e 2013/05/26–27 20:50–21:10 EDT S of 1177 Wainman Line 9 ne 10x50b 

Triple conjunction of Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter.

It was a bit more transparent tonight. I spotted Mercury with the 10x50 at 20:59 and with ne at 21:04. The three formed a near-perfect equilateral triangle tonight.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

1533e 2013/05/25–26

1533e 2013/05/25–26 20:50–21:15 EDT S of 1177 Wainman Line 8 ne 10x50b 

Triple conjunction of Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter.

Transparency not as good as last night. I spotted Venus at 20:32 with 10x50b, and Jupiter almost immediately after: much closer than last night. Mercury was much more elusive, especially since I hadn't checked its position with Starry Night. Finally I could see them all naked eye at 21:12. As last night, Jupiter had a definite disk in the 10x50s.

Temperature 12° C

Friday, May 24, 2013

1532e 2013/05/24–25

1532e 2013/05/24–25 20:50–21:10 EDT S of 1177 Wainman Line 9 ne 10x50b

Triple conjunction of Mercury, Venus, and JupiterObserving from my car at the turn-in to the old house foundation S of my driveway. Here's how it unfolded:

20:50 sunset
20:54 Venus spotted naked eye
20:55 Mercury spotted in 10x50b
21:03 Jupiter spotted in 10x50b
21:04 Jupiter spotted naked eye
21:07 Mercury spotted naked eye

Beautiful rising Full Moon in the east.

Temperature = +4°C

Monday, April 22, 2013


Louise and I remounted the CPC 1100 in the POD, after bringing it indoors just before we left for Santa Barbara on February 3.

Temperature = 12.1°C (12:25 EDT)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

1531d 2013/04/14

1531d 2013/04/14 19:00–19:05 EDT Foxmead W deck 8 10x50b

Jupiter in daylight with 10x50b, using the waxing crescent Moon as a guide, 3 degrees away. Easily visible in binoculars but not with unaided eye. About 1 full hour before local sunset. I tried to spot Jupiter earlier in the day, but clouds interfered.

Spring is coming really late this year. This morning we woke to a snow-covered landscape. It's mostly gone now, and there feels to be a little warming in the air.

Temperature = 4.3°C

Thursday, March 14, 2013

1530e 2013/03/14–15

1530e 2013/03/14–15 19:30–20:18 EDT Foxmead W deck 8 ne 10x50b

Looking for Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) in evening twilight below 3-day-old Moon. I did not manage to see it because of the brightness of twilight and Moon, and the slight haze on the horizon.

Temperature = –6.3

Thursday, February 21, 2013

1529e 2013/02/21–22

1529e 2013/02/21–22 18:40 PST San Antonio Creek Drive Santa Barbara CA USA 9 ne

Mercury in twilight over UCSB campus.

Temperature = 15 degrees