"Clear skies? Must be full moon." A sarcastic statement but all too true this week! Many of our members found the lure of clear summer skies and warm temperatures too tempting to resist last night and again tonight (Friday and Saturday).
The ISS passed overhead both evenings. Tonight the seeing was excellent and I had a great view of Jupiter through John's "small but mighty" 80mm refractor. Kevin's 10" Dob. pulled in B86 and the adjacent globular cluster, NGC6520 and gave breathtaking views of M11, M22 and M15.
I tried taking some untracked, unguided photos of the Milky Way through Sagittarius.
Now, if we can only save some of these clear skies for new moon....
I had a great time out at Binbrook with the HAA gang on the 'members persied meteor night'. This was my first time out there in a really long time so it was especially nice to see everyone and catch up. For the first hour or so a few of us took pictures of the scenery with the moon, venus, mars and saturn. Later in the night we joined the the rest of the group who were already watching the meteors. I saw a few really bright ones with smoke trails and many numerous smaller ones. Since I had my celestron 15x70s with me I did a quick tour of the summer constellations. A few of the objects that were easily visible were M71 globular cluster, the coathanger asterism, M27 Dumbell nebula, M11 wild duck cluster, m8, m20, M16 and M17, and M22. M22 a bright globular cluster in Saggitarius was most impressive.
Venus and the Moon
Venus reflecting on the water
Relaxing under the Milkyway
On and off over the past several months I have been working on a collaboration with Paul Mortfield. This part of the sky is very murky with lots of dust shrouding the golden stars in the Milkyway. Hope you like it!
Click for image details and higher resolution:
Andrew Bruce's 12" Meade Lightbridge telescope under less than co-operative skies
An estimated crowd of 200 showed up for our scheduled August 11 Perseid Meteor Watch at the Binbrook Conservation Area in spite of the overcast skies. Telescopes were set up in the hopes of glimpsing brighter stars through the cloud cover. (I was able to catch Vega and Altair long enough to offer views of these to the public and I'm sure other fellow HAA-ers did likewise with their telescopes.) Some families brought their own telescopes and we were able to offer them advice on setting these up. As the skies darkened, John Gauvreau entertained the crowd with an excellent presentation on the Perseids, meteors, meteorites and comets:
A little late in posting, but I finally got some photos from the evening processed so now I can do a full report.
Wed Aug 11 was our annual Public Perseid Meteor Shower Night at Binbrook. Thanks to our Publicity Director Mario Carr, and various people for the interviews they provided, we had a great turn out. More than 250 people mad the journey to Binbrook despite a sky full of clouds, in hopes for clearings that would reveal the much anticipated meteor shower.
Some of the many people patiently waiting for the skies to clear. This and subsequent photos are long exposure (25sec) shots and then brightened.
The event was so popular that we more than filled the main parking area at Binbrook.
While waiting for darkness and clearing, John Gauvreau provided several interesting presentations for the crowds including a participatory demonstration with some of the many children in attendance. He also enhanced the anticipation by showing a piece of meteorite.
Never giving up, Jim and others continue to provide interesting info to everyone who came out.
Binbrook Perseids Night
A 15 sec exposure overlooking Lake Niapenco with special effects (someone waving their flashlight while I was trying to take the shot).
I'd like to thank the many HAA'rs who came out to help with traffic control, setting up scopes, and entertaining the interested public. While some of the public were disappointed by the lack of meteors, I didn't hear anyone complain which is a testament to how much they enjoyed the night, and the effort HAA members made to make people feel welcome and hold their interest. I'd also like to thank Binbrook Conservation Area and NPCA for allowing us to make the park available for this evening. And lastly I want to say thank you to everyone who came out to Binbrook. We hope you enjoyed yourselves and learned something while there. We're sorry the weather didn't cooperate, but next year the skies will be better (always the optimist). Remember that there are still a few nights remaining - just find a dark location and look up.
Happy campers at Starfest 2010
Two clear nights at Starfest at the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. Life for a Canadian amateur astronomer doesn't get any better than that. Well, except for Kevin Salwach. He won a telescope at his very first Starfest!! I'm thinking he may be back next year...
Last year's near miss by a tornado was almost repeated at this year's Starfest. The organizers had a trained Canwarn volunteer on hand and just as the Saturday night door prizes were to be given away, Malcolm Park (president of Starfest's host astronomy club, the NYAA, and the resident trained Canwarn volunteer) announced that a tornado warning had just been issued for the area. He asked the crowd for a decision on whether to go ahead with the evening's planned events or not. With a thunderous roar from the crowd and nearly unanimous show of hands, the night's activities carried on. (Nothing stands between amateur astronomers and a table full of amazing door prizes - not even Mother Nature!)
Door prizes at this year's Starfest ranged from gift certificates to a Meade 6" Lightswitch telescope. The only prize won by an HAA-er was a beautiful Maksutov-Newtonian telescope and that was the prize that Kevin won.
We met many of our old friends and made many new ones at this year's Starfest. There were a lot of new faces at Starfest this year. It's great to see such a big influx of newcomers to astronomy! The campground has put in a new, larger pool. (Much appreciated!) This summer's constant heat and humidity accompanied us to Starfest and made it uncomfortable (for me,anyway) to stay in the big tents for many of the talks. One of the campground's seasonal tenants made the mistake of putting their sprinkler out on their front garden and a few of us spent more than a few minutes standing under it with the pretense of admiring that garden. One of the park's more entrepreneurial residents operated a tractor ride/tour of the park that many of the younger kids were enjoying.
This year's list of speakers was as impressive as always with the highlight being David Levy. "Crazy" Bob Summerfield's 'Physics of Rainbows' talk was amazing, too.
Although my mount was giving me grief, I managed to get a couple of astrophotos:
Lagoon Nebula (M8) taken through 80 mm refractor.
Trifid Nebula (M20) taken with 80 mm refractor.
All in all, it was a memorable and fun Starfest and I'm already looking forward to next year!!
There has been much talk about the most recent coronal mass ejection from the sun, and the possibility that it might spark some aurora borealis, even this far south.
Encouraged by even this slim possibility of northern lights, Jackie and I set off heading north, leaving the lights of the city to the south of us. Sadly, (although not unexpectedly) we encountered light cloud and heavy haze that spoiled our chances.
Being intrepid members of the HAA though, means never returning home empty handed, or without a great tale to tell and a smile on your face. So, although we didn't see the aurora borealis, we did, at least, see half...
Not the aurora borealis, but close, photographed just south of Guelph.
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