Setting up under less than ideal conditions.
When we arrived about 2:45, Don Pullen and a growing army of HAA volunteers were hanging tarps on the pavilions to keep out the rain. Bill, Alexandra and I fanned out to help wherever we could and the next two hours were a blur of setting up canopies, moving picnic tables and unpacking as we tried to stay dry in a steady downpour.
The rain dampened spirits and many of us began to worry whether any members of the public would show up. As if on cue and right at 5:00 pm, Mother Nature eased up on the rain and the first people began arriving.
Our members entertained the public with a well-stocked kids' tent, views through various equipment set up inside the round pavilion, answers to astronomy and equipment related questions and even a a huge bubble wand.
Meanwhile, Don struggled to get the computer projector to run on power provided by a generator. He eventually had to give up and move the talks to the old pavilion which had apparently been double-booked by the park. Fortunately, the soccer team that was supposed to be there, had abandoned it. The projector was quickly re-located and the talks got underway.
At the end of the evening, after most folks had left, Jeff’s truck got stuck in the mud and sand down by the new pavilion. Don, Steve, John, Jackie and I pushed him out and his spinning tires threw mud everywhere – well mostly on Steve!
Rain-soaked, mud-caked and exhausted, the last few volunteers literally staggered into Tim Horton’s about 11:00 p.m. for hot coffee, cleanup and more than a few laughs.
In all of the years I’ve been associated with this club, I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of it. Under the worst of conditions and against dreadful odds, we came together and put on a show that put smiles on kids’ faces and had members of the public so enthralled they were reluctant to leave. Well done, everyone!
Report from Binbrook observing Sept. 19
The clear sky chart promised fabulous clear skies at Binbrook Conservation Area this past Saturday night. When I arrived, the sun was setting and the colours were spectacular. I couldn't resist taking a few quick shots before setting up!
Steve continued his sequential Messier Marathon by spotting at least one more object: M74. Joe, Vince, Doug and Darrell were also doing some visual observing with scopes and binoculars. Doug Black has put together a very respectable binocular stand and I had a chance to use it to look at the Andromeda Galaxy through his binoculars.
I’m afraid I didn’t do much observing (or socializing) because I was concentrating on guiding some astrophotos using a KWIQ autoguider, my CG-5 mount and an 80 mm refractor. I gathered images of M8 (Lagoon Nebula), NGC7000 (North America Nebula) and M31 (Andromeda Galaxy). While I was imaging M31, I encountered problems with the mount not tracking and that’s when I discovered that my battery packs were not up to the night’s demands – they were just as exhausted as I was!
Don was also imaging and had some pretty impressive shots of M45. I hope he posts them here. (hint, hint).
I’ve done some basic processing of the M8 images (stacking in Deep Sky Stacker, basic Photoshop stuff). The image consists of 5 three minute images at ISO400.
Lagoon Nebula (M8)
Below is Comet Christensen (C/2006 W3) in Aquila, within the cacaphony of stars that is the Summer Milky Way.
Equipment: Canon Digital Rebel 300D, Tamron 300mm f/2.8 telephoto lens on Super Polaris mount at ISO 1600.
Location: Spectacle Lake, Barry Bay, ON, around midnight September 15 --> 16, 2009.
Excerpt from an image which is a composite of 11 shots (11 X 65.18 seconds (on average)) = 11 minutes 57 seconds of total exposure.
Stacked and processed using DSS.
Comet Christensen (C/2006 W3) by Bob Christmas
Magitude of this comet is approximately 8.5.
This comet is moving southword through Auriga for the balance of September and part of October.
More info and finder charts here:
I'm back at my favourite dark sky "preserve" at Spectacle Lake near Barry's Bay, Ontario.
I arrived just before 5 pm Sunday, and I was bagged. But later on, when the night sky was clear, the adrenaline rush wiped away any tiredness.
And Sunday night was beautiful, despite the presence of high, hazy cirrus cloud.
Here is the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293), in Aquarius, from just after midnight (therefore Monday morning). This is a cropped version of a stack of 7 images (7 X 92 seconds on average) for a total combined exposure time of 10 minutes 44 seconds. Images taken with Canon Digital Rebel 300D with Tamron 300mm f/2.8 telephoto lens on Super Polaris mount at ISO 1600. Stacked using DSS. Another version will be posted later.
The Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) by Bob Christmas
1:12am Well, it's 1:12am and there are no moons. I gotta say, it looks pretty strange.
I can clearly see both Europa's shadow and Ganymede in front of Jupiter through my small but mightly 80mm scope, and a wealth of other detail on Jupiter. Still, pretty strange
1:25am I can't see Europa itself, which is also crossing in front of Jupiter. I can only see Europa's shadow, and Ganymede of course. Ganymede is so much bigger than Europa, so the limit of my telescope is somewhere between Ganymede and Europa. Europa also has a higher surface brightness, so it may be harder to pick out against the bright cloudtops of Jupiter.
2:05am I'm taking some photos through the eyepiece (afocal) just to show that there are no moons. I don't really know how much good a photo is of something that isn't there...
2:20am Wow! The photo actually shows the major bands and two little marks that are Ganymede and Europa's shadow. I'm not saying it's a great shot, but it's something.
2:35am Yeah, it's over. Io has popped out of the shadow and Jupiter again has a moon. I tried another photo and it barely shows Io. I suppose it is still partly shaded, and it is so much smaller than Ganymede. I just thought that since Ganymede showed up so well...
2:49am Exactly on schedule! Europa is coming off the limb of Jupiter. It is like a little pimple on the edge of the planet. Also, Ganymede's shadow is now visible on the other side of Jupiter from Ganymede itself, and it looks huge in comparison to Europa's shadow. It also appeared right on schedule. You could set your watch by this stuff (and people used to!) Don't you just love Newtonian physics?!
3:02am Show's over for this year. Well, for the next 10 years. Next time this happens it will be 2019. Right now, it's time for bed.
Time 2:08 No moons, but Ganymede is actually visible near the center of Jupiter.
Time 2:35 Io has appeared from out of Jupiter's shadow.
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