On Monday, August 26th, Jacob and I headed out to the Fred P. Lossing Observatory (FLO) in Almonte. The land is owned by the Mill of Kintail Conservation Area, but they let RASC Ottawa put an observatory there in slightly darker skies than we have in Ottawa. There is a gate with a lock, a warming room, and a couple of buildings with larger scopes in them. If you get trained on them, and pay a small fee each year, you can use the scopes. Otherwise, as just RASC Ottawa members, you can use the grounds to set up your own scope.
While Jacob and I wanted to do some observing, my main reason for going was another member in the club. He and his son (J1 and J2) had bought a new scope, a Celestron Powerseeker 127EQ, and were struggling to see much through it other than the basics. They had not yet managed a polar alignment, nor figured out starhopping, and were looking for an intro night from someone in the club. » Read the rest
Saturday August 24th was the proposed date of our monthly star party, and I confess, I wasn’t looking forward to it. I might even confess to hoping we would get rained out. The dates were set way back in March, and revolve around the dates of New Moon. But while I am the star party coordinator, I had to make some changes this year so that I wasn’t automatically the default event marshal too…too much commitment, too many days. So we changed things so that we only book 2 days a month instead of 4, 1 for the Saturday before New Moon and 1 for the Friday after New Moon. A much softer load on the need for marshals, and for me. And up until this weekend, I have had marshals available to cover the events, even if I couldn’t make it.
But this weekend is the height of the summer, lots of people are on holidays, and more importantly, the date conflicted with the annual big StarFest up near Collingwood. » Read the rest
A week or two ago, my wife’s grandfather (D) asked me about an object he had seen in the sky that had been unusually bright. Given the time, clarity, and brightness, I quickly confirmed it was Jupiter and its four moons, but it got me to thinking. Given his recent interest, had he ever had the experience of looking through a telescope? We’ve had the scopes up at the cottage repeatedly, and my mother-in-law’s family has looked numerous times, but I’ve never had it set up when my father-in-law’s side of the family has been around. So I suggested if we had a good night, maybe D could come for dinner and see Jupiter and Saturn.
Monday to Wednesday were out, and Thursday was uncertain, so we aimed for Friday. D brought his friend Z and the weather held. I would have loved to hear more about a friend of his who had passed away that week…97 years old, had served in a gun turret in a tank in WWII, and had driven it all over Europe. » Read the rest
I’m usually a “telescope-only” sky observer. But last Thursday, August 22nd, I was up at the in-laws’ cottage, and after a couple of previous nights of “no go” seeing, the night was still looking iffy. Clouds were rolling in from the West, and it wasn’t obvious if it was even worth setting up the scope. I’ve done the same before at the same location, and almost always, the clouds sock me in.
So I decided not to set up. Instead, I went and borrowed their simple terrestrial binoculars and gave it a go while sitting on the dock. I could see Jupiter and Saturn easily with the naked eye, but I couldn’t resolve the discs with the binoculars. While they are better quality design, they aren’t very strong (7 x 25 perhaps?), and they seem to be out of collimation. Everything I tried to resolve ended up having a skewed shape to it. » Read the rest
In my previous posts, I had the same three targets. The moon is easy (ISO24, 1/250s), although the fuller it gets, the more washed out if I don’t use a filter:
And I can see some single frames of Saturn are worse than others (ISO32, 1/10s):
But I was REALLY setting up so I could play with my camera centreing. As I noted in a previous post, the feedback from an online FB group was that my EP wasn’t centred. So I wanted to ensure 100% that I was centred last night. For one of my stars off to the side, defocused into a doughnut, I was clearly NOT centred (screengrab of Night Cap below):
But I moved the stars around a bit in the EP, and managed to get something a little more balanced:
And then BAM, I got this:
Only minor differences in positioning, no difference in my centreing over the EP. » Read the rest