Ok... I know this isn't an astro-photo, but it is a shot of the night sky, and if you look close you will see a few stars near the top of the wide field shot. I was heading back from my brother's place in Waterdown (after spending about 5 hours driving from Tobermory) - the sky overhead was clear but hazy (not good for imaging and I was too tired to set up the big scope) - hanging over Hamilton was a cloud bank that seemed to just be parked - and what a light show it was putting on - so I pulled over and snapped off a few images.
It was a small turnout (not including the mosquitos) - but good company on such a nice warm summer night. The haze and mild wind kept me from doing any long exposures. I did manage to snap a few shots of M11 which I will post later. Despite the poor seeing conditions it was still worth the effort - especially since we got to see a number of very bright meteors streak across the sky.
Note from Ben:
Yes, it was a good evening of stargazing--good in that we survived to tell the tale! The coyotes were yipping and howling somewhere in the park not too far away, perhaps warning us of the impending attack by the blood-thirsty vampire bugs known by some as mosquitoes. Or perhaps the coyotes were laughing at us? At any rate, we fought back with insect repellent and did the best we could to swat the miserable creatures into oblivion, but in the end it must be said that they defeated us as we high tailed it out of the park before midnight. We may have lost the battle, but we will not concede defeat in the wider war. Mosquitoes, WE WILL BE BACK!
I checked the Clear Sky clock around mid day and it was indicating potentially fair conditions for the evening. So I decided to load up the car with my astronomy gear before heading off for various day activities with the hope of heading up to Binbrook upon my return to town. While I was out of town, I tried to check my email to see if there was going to be any observing, but I couldn't get in, however the CSC was indicating that conditions were improving.
I decided to head up to Binbrook around 10pm in the hopes of running into other observers. After checking the main gate and the various alternate locations, I set up at our Tyneside alt location. The air was still and you could feel some dampness trying to make its presense. It meant the mosquitos were likely going to be a nuisance - I was prepared for them.
By 10:30, I was set up with the 6" reflector, the binos, chair and table prepared for several hours of observing. Fortunately the sky was cooperating and the earlier clouds had finally vanished. To the north was the glow of Hamilton, but it was further ruined by an additional glow from a ball field in Binbrook. To the south however, was clear skies and a good view of Sagittarius and Scorpius. I decided to focus on all the Messier object around the teapot.
I started off with the easy and bright globular cluster M22 which I had seen before. Then scanned along the bottom of the teapot and picked up M69, M54 and with a little difficulty, M70. In my binos I could see the fuzz of M7 and M6 so I trained the scope on them to reveal 2 nice clusters twinkling away. Unfortunately the Jewel box was obstructed by trees nearby so I moved higher above the horizon to look at clusters M28, M25, M18, M24 and M9. I also enjoyed the paired cluster/nebula M21 & M20 (at least in the wide field of my scope). And of course the nebulas M8, M16 and M17.
Unfortunately by 12:30, the dew was getting bad, affecting my view finder, binos and even my reading glasses. Hercules was emerging from the Hamilton/Binbrook glow (they still hadn't turned off the lights at the ball field), and I could visually make out the smudge of M31. I swung the scope around to take a look, but by then even the eyepieces were dewing up and all I saw was a brighter smudge. If I needed any encouragement to pack up, that was it. While it was a quiet night without any fellow observers, it had been rewarding in it's own right - the most Messiers bagged in a single evening so far.
By 12:45 I was ready to leave, however I noticed that the car's engine light was on which gave me a bit of a scare whether I was going to be stranded for the night. Fortunately all the fluid levels were fine, so I chanced the trip home. I'm sure the trip to the garage is going to put enough of a dent in the pocket book to delay some astronomy purchases. But that will be a story for a different blog.
The HAA public night in Brantford was a success not only through the participation of the members, as listed in the post below, but also through the wonderful attendance of the people of Brantford who came out to share the evening.
If there are any left -over questions about the HAA, dobsonian reflectors, or astronomy in general, please feel free to e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For those looking for advice on buying an "electronic" telescope, you should contact Mike Spicer at DeBeneEsse2001@aol.com
We hope we will see you again!
I got back to Hamilton Thursday night after 3 nights and 2 days at Point Farms Provincial Park on Lake Huron with my wife Barb. Our camping experience started on Monday night with a violent thunderstorm complete with a waterspout off Lake Huron, howling winds and a large broken tree branch invading our campsite, and ended on Thursday morning with another thunderstorm as I madly stashed our soaking belongings into the back of the van for the long drive home. But in between, oh, in between was something completely different and unforgetable.
Tuesday night at around 11:30 I eagerly drove down to the beach, and decided to take advantage of the dark northern skies in and around Ursa Major. Before my session was over I had seen 9 galaxies and a planetary nebula, with 8 out of 10 objects being first time observations in a telescope! I felt a sense of oneness with the universe as the waves gently lapped up on the shore nearby and the glory of the summer night sky sparkled above me.
Wednesday night I planned to see if I could stay up long enough to observe the great occultation of the Pleiades. As I began my all night vigil at midnight, the sky wasn't as dark as the night before and began to cloud up shortly after I arrived. But not to be deterred, I aimed my Dobsonian to the northeast, which at that point was the only section of the sky that was cloud-free. I was treated to my first glimpse of the Perseus double cluster. After a half hour or so, the sky had cleared up. Over the next few hours I managed to observe 14 different deep sky objects, 13 of those being first time observations.
My favourite objects so far in the Point Farms night skies were M51 (the Whirlpool Galaxy), the double cluster in Perseus (NGC 869 and 884), the two companion galaxies to M31 (Andromeda Galaxy), and Brocchi's Cluster in Vulpecula (Beautiful and bizarre! Who put that crazy star cluster up there, anyway??). I also enjoyed my first glimpse of the Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius.
By 1:30 I was getting tired, and a little spooked. I think it was a combination of the strong breeze and the occasional unexplained night noises, the fact that this was my second night in a row being up late (I am not by nature a night hawk), and the fact that I was alone on a deserted beach at night, far beyond help should any bears be hunting for astronomers. I found myself glancing behind me every once in a while--I knew (or hoped?) there were no bears in the park. I did smell a skunk at one point and started to talk and sing outloud to ward off any impending attack of noxious spray. I soon got over my jitters, but I was starting to tire of hunting deep sky objects.
By 2 o'clock the moon was nowhere in sight, and I began to reconsider whether I could last long enough to catch an occultation. I could see Perseus clearly in the northeast, and my star maps assured me that the Pleiades were not far behind Perseus in the magestic march of the stars across the sky. After a bit of internal debating, I decided to pack up and head back to my tent. I had been quite keen on seeing the moon pass in front of the sisters, but thought more about the 3 or 4 hour drive ahead of me the next morning.
As I drove up the steep road to the campground, I was delighted to see the crescent moon appear as if from nowhere. I couldn't pass up the opportunity despite my fatigue, so I parked the van and got out my binoculars. A rustling in the grass beside the road startled me and reminded me of the invisible bears. I ignored the creature (whatever it was), and aimed my binocs at the moon, and gasped at what was revealed--the crescent moon with the Pleiades just to the left. I knew I couldn't wait another hour to see the first of the sisters getting occulted, so I just had to use my imagination to fast forward the scene in front of me. There was something awe-inspiring, something glorious, something majestic about the whole thing that stayed with me as I lay in my sleeping bag that night, and as I packed up in the rain the next morning. The sense of wonder at the beauty of the cosmos and the power of creation keeps coming back to me as I remember that unforgetable sight.
Bring on the next clear night!
With a busy workday ahead, I hadn't planned on catching the Moon/Pleiades occultation but an unscheduled pit stop at 3:16 this morning had me looking out the kitchen window. There, in glorious view, was the crescent Moon and several bright stars.
With binoculars in hand I went out to the back deck. Transparency wasn't great but the sky was clear apart from a thin band of cloud - which covered exactly what I wanted to look at. Anyway, as it slowly moved off it revealed a beautiful Moon with several craters in relief and plenty of detail on the dark-side thanks to Earthshine.
Through the binoculars, the departing clouds made it appear that the "Several" Sisters were draping the orb in a magical mist. It was certainly a magical combination!
Looks like the clouds over Hamilton are blowing away and skies should be clear by dark. A couple of us are heading to the Binbrook alternate site for some observing tonight. Probably be there around 9:30pm - it's on Tyneside Rd - if coming from Hwy 6 - turn onto White Church (heading east) - it's about 3 roads down - turn right (it's the only way to go anyway) and go about 2.5km - we'll be in a little parking lot on the left - if coming from Hwy 56 turn on to White Church or actually I think it's called Binbrook road from this side (heading west) - turn left on Tyneside (again - it's the only way to go) - same directions from here.
Update: The skies cleared - although there was a very slight shimmer when viewing Jupiter the visibility was otherwise good. Only 3 of us showed - so it was a quiet night except for the occasional passing car. I did some visual observing of Jupiter before turning my attention to imaging - capturing only 2 sets - starting with a few shots of the Ring Nebula in Lyra and then turned to M8 - the Lagoon Nebula. It is late and I have to work tomorrow - I will post the stacked and processed images to my gallery tomorrow evening.
For the Canada Day weekend, my wife and I headed off to Pinery Provincial Park with 18 friends for camping. Most of these folks had never camped before because they were fairly new visitors from China, where camping is virtually unheard of. They had also never looked into a telescope eyepiece before. On Sunday night I set up my 8" Dob on the campsite as dusk deepened and the nearly first quarter moon shone crisply high in the west. I felt like an ambassador to the stars as a queue quickly formed and my Chinese friends glanced at a sight they had never seen before. They were impressed. As the sky got increasingly darker, Jupiter was peeking conveniently through the trees, so we checked out the 4 Galilean moons lined up on one side according to their distance from the planet. Some of the campers could detect faint bands on the planet surface, others could not. My experience as an English as a Second Language teacher paid off as I was able to answer some questions in a way that most could understand. One woman had only been in Canada for a few weeks, and so had to have my answers translated.
Then we had our campfire, playing games, singing, and telling stories until after midnight. At around 12:45 a.m., ten of us headed down to the shore of Lake Huron in the dark, following a trail through the woods and across sand dunes, some holding flashlights, some with lawn chairs or telescope parts. I carried my telescope's optical tube, stepping cautiously over the occasional tree trunk and down sandy wooden steps in the deep dark with the light of flashlights flickering in front of my feet. Once at the beach we took in the summer night sky, which was hazy, but much darker than is possible in Hamilton. After our eyes had adjusted a bit to the dark, we checked out Jupiter again, now low in the southwest. Lyra was high overhead, so we observed the ghostly smoke ring of the Ring Nebula, M57. Not far away and also close to the zenith was M13 in Hercules. Finally at around 1:30 we checked out the Andromeda Galaxy, now rising in the northeast. The biggest 'wow factor' came from the Hercules globular cluster, which for many was the highlight of the star party.
We had an early wake up call the next morning in order to pack our tents and our gear for the drive back to Hamilton, so it was time to make our way back to the campsite. What a great way to cap off a weekend of adventure at the Pinery!
If it's clear tommorow night ( July 5 ), then keep an eye out on the moon. At around 10:02 pm EDT, the iss is predicted to pass across the moon. Depending on where in Hamilton you are, the iss will either pas across the moon, or miss it. Just thought I let you know.
Submitted by Kevin Fetter
This page is the summary of all blogs in order of most recently entered.To post, send an account request to:
|<< <||Current||> >>|