Well, it's not news to most of you, but having missed my chance on Thursday, the only other clear night, I headed out yesterday, travelling up hwy 6 to clear the cloud bank. I stopped about 10th concession and parked down a sidestreet where an open field gave a view to the west. Despite a valiant effort, on Saturday evening I failed for lack of a decent finder chart. The chart i had showed only stars too dim to see in the skyglow. Also, the stars i could see were off the chart.
I sketched the stars i could see so I could compare it to a star chart after returning home. Turns out I was seeing beta andromeda and triangulum. Fortunately, those stars can be used to make a pointer to the area with the comet.
Tonight, armed with a more complete chart, I tried again, this time headed for Millgrove to get west of the city.
I used my 25x100 binoculars. If I had known how bright it was, and that the tail would be so prominent, I probably could have found it on Saturday just by scanning the sky. I was searching for it as if it was a 9th magnitude comet in the GWS. (Those are really hard to see)
The nucleus is bright and star-like with a bright tail heading straight up, and widening. The tail was about 1 degree long, from what I could see in the skies I had.
After I found it, I took some references from nearby trees (it was getting low) and tried really hard to see it without binoculars. Even thought i knew exactly where it was, i could not see it. I would say there was just a hint of light in the region; I couldn't see any stars that low.
Anyways, i am happy to have it.
The software that I use for making my illustrations in the EH and at the meetings, and the software that I demonstrated at the most recent meeting is called Stellarium. It is a free, open source piece of software. Try it out yourself, and enjoy!
I stepped out this morning before the sun came up (seriously, what was I thinking?) and there was the moon. I took a few shots, just handheld with my 70-200mm zoom lens, and cropped the best one.
Well, you can plan for lots of things and control many events around you, but darn it - weather isn't one of them.
The skies ended up being clearer for most of the day than had been forecast. I was hopeful it would last into the evening for our Public Stargazing Event at Spencer Smith Park in Burlington. However a last minute check of the Clear Sky Chart before leaving home indicated it was going to be cloudy, but only for 3 hours - exactly during the time of our event. And wouldn't you know it, it was exactly right.
I arrived early to try and get a decent parking spot since it's often a busy location. On arrival, the skies were still clear. But on schedule, it started to cloud over just before 8. Undeterred, Bernie and I set up our scopes, followed a little later by Alec. We saw tantalizing glimpses of the Moon through some very temporary thinning, but nothing persistent. Other HAA members eventually joined us: David and Tanya, Steve, Ann, Mike - but wisely they didn't bother with their scopes. Even with our small set up, we still drew about 20 curious people over to inquire about our activities and ask about astronomy. One family had come from as far as Pickering. Lots of good questions and information flowed, but sadly no eye-candy for our visitors.
By 10 the park was very quiet and it didn't look like the sky was going to improve so we packed up early. While chatting about a coffee location, sure enough, it started to clear. And by 10:30 as we were pulling away, the skies completely opened up. Oh well, sometimes you just can't win. But at least it was a fun night and those who did visit found it worthwhile.
The HAA hosted a public stargazing night at T.B. McQuesten park in Hamilton on Sat 28 Jul 2012. We had great weather and clear skies to welcome a large crowd of interested and enthusiastic visitors. I didn't take a count, but it looked like we had between 200 and 300 people in attendance which would have made it our most successful night at this location.
More than 20 telescopes were set up for the large crowd to enjoy. Views of the Moon and Saturn were the primary views, but some other fainter objects were also shown even with the city lights all around us. Many of the scopes were from non-members who wanted to join in on the fun and some who sought help on using their scope. We even had one family who had just purchased a nice 6" SCT and it was seeing first light that night.
Jim had a table set up for people to see meteorites and get more info about the club. Alex and some of her friends were running around talking up the event to park patrons.
Thanks to everyone who helped with the event and those who attended. It appears everyone had a great time and we introduced the excitement of astronomy to a bunch of new people.
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