This is a LOFAR II Report from Mike Jefferson, who has commented about the lack of flare and sunspot activity on the Sun these days. After all, we're near Solar Minimum at the time of posting.
Here's a graph of LOFAR II readings from October 21, 2008:
Thursday had an absolutely spectacular night sky. Even with the bit of light pollution in Grimsby, the Milky Way certainly was a fine sight to behold. Anyway that night was also my big chance to test out this nice little dedicated astro camera before the weather turned bad.
The technical Specs: http://www.qhyccd.com/QHY8.html
A nice review on it http://www.iceinspace.com.au/index.php?id=93,489,0,0,1,0
After taking the image below I am starting to realize that it is a really amazing camera for the price (well before the CAN dollar dropped) and is so much more sensitive and has way less noise than my
Canon 40D DSLR. The image below is a collection of 5min frames totalling 4hrs from home (orange zone/mag5.5- 5.7) I tried to stretch the image enough to show some of the really faint dark nebulousity. I also didn't have to do any noise reduction. My previous attempt at imaging this target was with my 40D from Cherry Springs dark site in PA (same 4hrs total) and I could not get this much nebulousity without having to fight a tremendous amount of noise and banding.
Larger version is here with all the details and size options on the right side.
I acquired the image in Maxim and stacked lights, flats and bias frames with Deep Sky Stacker (no darks were used). Guided with PHD. Ultimately I'll be trying to do everything in Maxim except for post processing which I do in PS.
Again just a camera and camera tripod - NO telescope and NO tracking tripod.
The following image is a stacking and post processing from 27 x 8sec exposures at ISO3200 taken with my 30mm lens.
The following image was taken using my 150mm APO - also taken without the aid of a tracking mount. This image is a stacking and post processing from 67 x 1.6sec exposures at ISO3200.
For the record, the previous image required:
less than 1 minute to set up
no polar alignment
less than 4 minutes to take ALL of the frames
and no more gear than my camera, a 150mm camera lens, and a standard camera tripod
Just think what we will be able to do in a few more years - ISO 102400 here I come!
A close up cropping from that same image:
I have a new favourite star. I came across it while panning the constellation Lyra to see if I’d habitually overlooked anything on my visits to M57 or Epsilon Lyrae (the double-double). As I skimmed south-west of Vega, last night, my scan was suddenly brought to a screeching halt by the reddest star I’ve ever seen.
How red was it? It was so red that I actually spent several seconds checking my optics, even to the point of re-cleaning my glasses, to make sure that its brilliant ruby-red colour wasn’t due to some chromatic effect.
I had found T Lyrae, a carbon star with a redness rating of 5 which on the scale of 1-5 is as red as they get. All carbon stars are variables, and T Lyrae is listed as an LB which puts it in the slow irregular class. This means that a regular period for its brightness fluctuations is not evident or that not enough data has been collected to discern what that period might be.
Regardless, with a magnitude range of 7.8 - 9.6, there will always be plenty of sparkle to set this fiery jewel apart from the surrounding field of dimmer white stars.
The coordinates for T Lyrae are RA: 18:32:20 DEC: 36:59:55
In late fall, Lyra becomes an early evening constellation so make a point to grab this one while you can.
Ann Tekatch reports that T Lyrae attained its maximum known brightness this past August so is expected to be in its dimming phase. Carbon stars get redder as they get dimmer so this will be an interesting star to keep tabs on (while we can). - GM
I just had another look at the light curve for this star, Glenn, and it's all over the place! Red stars are difficult to estimate and the data for T Lyrae seem to reflect that difficulty. My best guess is that it is dimming, but only time will tell. It'll be interesting to follow it and see what it does. - Ann T.
Steve mentioned in his report on our 15th Anniversary Dinner that Grant Dixon had sent greetings. I've posted them below:
Greetings to all my friends and members of the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers on this your 15th Anniversary.
I see you are having an Ontario version of a ceilidh and the heartbreaking part is that I can't attend. Moving to Nova Scotia was and is a great thing but it came at the cost of leaving some friends behind. If you ever manage to make it out here, I can't offer you the hustle and bustle of the big city -- but we do have three acres and 6.2 magnitude.
Fifteen years ago a small group of us sitting in Doug Welch's living room came up with the idea of the HAA. At that time, we were a group of friends who wanted to get together on a regular basis to pursue our love of astronomy and related subjects. We also thought we might attract others and expand our horizons. We hoped for a club that would grow and have a life of its own. In our wildest imaginations we never envisioned a club of such grandeur!
Over the years we took great joy in cultivating and nurturing the club. It was with great pleasure that we watched not only the membership but also our reputation grow.
Through fifteen years we attracted many new members, and they got involved in all aspects of the club. Gradually the club ceased to belong to the original group and took on a life of its own. The day that Glenn Muller took office as Chair was a great watershed as he had not been a part of the inaugural meeting. On that day I knew the club would prosper. It was like watching a child reach maturity.
I sit here with great pride thinking back. Being at the conception, being a midwife at the birth, and being there when it could stand on its own two feet was exciting; but most of all I was proud to be a member of the HAA.
Please accept my congratulations on the first successful 15 years and my wish for many, many more years to come. Happy Birthday HAA !
Jim, Jackie and I arrived early, too eager to wait until the suggested posted time of 8:30 or 9:00! When I got there about 8:20, Jim was already set up, aligned and looking at Jupiter. I set up my CG-5 and EON80 refractor, but found that the new star diagonal I'd bought would not fit properly into the telescope. (A lesson to all you newcomers - always check out new equipment *before* an observing session. Apparently I haven't learned that lesson yet!)
The night was not lost, though, as we enjoyed spectacular views of the moon and Jupiter through Jim's scope. I also had my first view of NGC1502, near Kemble's Cascade. A beautiful cluster of double stars best viewed at moderate power. As soon as the Pleiades rose above the trees, Jim slewed his telescope over to them. Very nice at low power! A number of Messier objects followed and we finished up the night with hot chocolate at Tim Horton's.
The HAA, founded in 1993, celebrated its 15th anniversary with a buffet dinner in our own section of the Mandarin restaurant on Upper James Street in Hamilton on October 17th, 2008.
By 7:30 pm everyone had taken seats, drinks had been ordered and Mike Spicer got us started with instructions about how the Mandarin buffet works and some advice on how to optimize our visit by surveying the food first and then filling our plates. It's like planning ahead for an evening of astronomy - checking charts for Iridium flares and space station passes, selecting targets for the time of year and only then doing your observing.
52 club members and guests attended our dinner - we were filled up to overflowing! I was especially pleased to see 2 youngsters at the meal, although Alex is starting to look pretty grown up. Of course, my menu had to include at least one chicken ball with red sauce, although the buffet was loaded with plenty of dishes that weren't Chinese food. After dinner we pushed back a bit from our tables for the door prize draws, including a pair of binoculars donated by Khanscope, a laser pointer donated by Camtech and several beautiful baskets and other prizes prepared by Brenda Frederick.
Mike Spicer as outgoing Chair made some Astronomy book presentations to incoming and outgoing council members and gave pin recognition to some club supporters at the 'Royal+' level for their financial benificence in the past year. Don Pullen had crafted some humourous certificates phrased as acknowledgments of world records. They were very entertaining and thoughtful. I received an award for fitting the most aperture and greatest number of astronomers into a VW - which may actually be a world record. In keeping with my now-recognized ability to pack a lot of stuff into a small place, I managed to bring 8 plates to my table plus an extra piece of cake.
While Mike Jefferson cut our anniversary cake which sported a copy of Kerry-Ann's APOD image of Binbrook's summer sky and John Gauvreau checked power cords before his presentation, Ann Tekatch read a congratulatory letter from Grant Dixon, one of the club's founding members who regrettably has moved to Nova Scotia. She has posted the letter in this blog for you to read. Jim Douglas from Binbrook Conservation Area and representatives from administrative groups were presented with a plaque and prints of the now-famous APOD photo of the Milky Way over Lake Niapenco, in appreciation of their commitment to providing dark skies for public observing.
John's delightful talk captured not only the history of the club, but its reason for being and its current healthy state. He summed our history up by saying not only is there a common thread of astronomy in the HAA but also camaraderie and a lot of food. It was great to know that memories of the event were also being captured in photographs and on video. They will be treasured at our future anniversary celebrations.
The restaurant closed at 10 pm but we were allowed to stay until almost 11 pm when the clear skies outside called an end to our celebration of 15 years as Hamilton's only active astronomy club! There was only one piece of cake left after the meal (but it's a big one); we will share it at the council meeting on Wednesday at Jim's.
I continue with my experiments in afocal astrophotography. This is the moon taken with my DSLR, but photographed with the lens on the camera and held up to my binoculars. Yup, that's right, I held the camera in my hands and pointed it at my binoculars. You can try this yourself and amaze your friends. I took three shots and this was the best of the three. Afterwards, I converted it to a black and white image (that gets rid of the obvious chromatic aberation) then I adjusted the contrast and cropped it to fit on the blog properly. Just some quick and easy astrophotography! 15 minutes ago I was on my deck with the binos and now here is a picture of the moon on the blog. Who says you can't have fun with the full moon?
The afocal moon through my binoculars
Late this afternoon I stepped outside and although there were no signs of halos or parhelia (sundogs) there was a beautiful circumzenithal arc. I ran in for my camera and by the time I returned it had faded considerably. I had time for one photo and then it was gone.
The circumzenithal arc appears high in the sky, and you really have to crane your neck up to see it. Perhaps for this reason, it is often overlooked. Les Crowley, the British meteorologist known for his study of atmospheric optics, describes the circumzenithal arc as "an ethereal rainbow fled from its watery origins and wrapped improbably about the zenith."
An atmospheric treat; the circumzenithal arc over Hamilton.
I have posted some of the best images I took at Spectacle Lake Lodge, near Barry's Bay, ON, the week of September 21 thru 24, 2008.
-- Bob Christmas
Some images from the HAA Public Night in Brantford
I stepped out early to take images of the setting moon with my new EOS 50D:
and as it passed behind a communications tower:
This is a blog of recent observing sessions, meetings, happenings within the HAA. Feel free to contribute!
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