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JimK
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Reged: 09/18/05

Loc: Albuquerque, NM USA
Quest for 100 Carbon Stars new
      #5391906 - 08/28/12 05:11 PM

I have decided to use my Questar in an adventure to see the 100 stars identified in the Astronomical League (AL) Carbon Star Observing Program (as identified here).

I enjoy working to complete a list or task, so I was looking for something appropriate for a 90mm Mak-Cass telescope, knowing that it is *not* a great scope for faint deep sky objects. In the past I had used an 80mm refractor to see the 100 objects in the AL Double Star Observing Program, but I did not wish to repeat it just to use another telescope, and then I came across this recently established carbon star program.

The carbon stars in the list seem bright enough for the Questar, and looking for them can be done when there is a bit of light pollution or when Luna is up, and when seeing is not the best for planetary detail or splitting of tight doubles. A low magnification (about 50x to 80x) should be all that is needed, with the option of using the internal Barlow lens if needed to see some fainter neighboring stars, hence eyepiece swapping should not be a bother. I prefer to star-hop, but setting circle use is also available. The Questar tracking will be useful when I make notes/sketches of each observation.

I tested this program concept in late July, and rapidly found that I needed a decent star atlas to make sure that I could find, and be sure that I had found, each carbon star. As I discussed in another thread on CN, I concluded that T. Taki's 8.5 Magnitude Star Atlas (available here, for free) would suit my needs.

I will try to post each month's results of my adventure in this thread, starting with August, because I have been inspired by the observations posted by others in this forum.


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JimK
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Reged: 09/18/05

Loc: Albuquerque, NM USA
Carbon Quest Report #1 - Aug'12 new [Re: JimK]
      #5396115 - 08/31/12 05:13 AM

During August, and very late July, I had 5 observing sessions and viewed the following 11 carbon stars using a Questar 3.5:

59 - RR Her = dim, somewhat red star
61 - SAO 46574 (in Her) = dim, somewhat red star
64 - T Dra = bright creamy pink star
65 - FO Ser = dim, somewhat red star
66 - AC Her = bright star, somewhat pinkish in color
67 - T Lyr = dim, but very deep red star
68 - HK Lyr = bright with a red tinge
69 - S Sct = nice red star, as a corner star in an "arrowhead" asterism especially in comparison to similar but white stars
73 - U Lyr = dim, somewhat red star
74 - UX Dra = bright with a red tinge that easily seen in comparison to nearby stars
76 - AW Cyg = dim, somewhat red star

The numbers correspond to the Astronomical League (AL) Carbon Star Observing Program listing.

I recently found that S Sct and U Lyr may be double stars that I could split, so I looked with higher magnification a couple of nights ago, but the moonlight interfered -- I'll try splitting them again next month, especially since the rainy season around here is ending. I also tried to look at V Oph, but the moonlight and slight haze made the background too bright to enjoy the view (so again, next month for this one).


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justfred
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Re: Carbon Quest Report #1 - Aug'12 new [Re: JimK]
      #5399528 - 09/02/12 12:06 PM

Outstanding report, Jim. If we can ever get some clear skies here in the Southeast I plan to join your quest.

Thanks,

Fred


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azure1961p
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Re: Carbon Quest Report #1 - Aug'12 new [Re: justfred]
      #5412066 - 09/09/12 06:23 PM

Not a Questar owner just a fan but...

The reddest star Ive yet seen through my reflector is a component of WZ Cassiopi. Its a Carbon, slightly variable, and too set off that red - its companion [some thirty odd arc sec away] is a vivid blue.

Dont know if its on the list but it has tinges of crimson in my 8" , cherry tones. Big aperture turns it orange unfortunately. Ill bet the Questar shows a deep red.

Pete

Edited by azure1961p (09/09/12 06:25 PM)


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JimK
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Reged: 09/18/05

Loc: Albuquerque, NM USA
Re: Carbon Quest Report #1 - Aug'12 new [Re: azure1961p]
      #5419325 - 09/13/12 02:22 PM

Quote:

The reddest star Ive yet seen through my reflector is a component of WZ Cassiopi. Its a Carbon, slightly variable, and too set off that red - its companion [some thirty odd arc sec away] is a vivid blue.

Dont know if its on the list but it has tinges of crimson in my 8" , cherry tones. Big aperture turns it orange unfortunately. Ill bet the Questar shows a deep red.

Pete



Thanks. It *is* on the AL list, and I'll check it out when CAS becomes more visible for me.


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JimK
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Reged: 09/18/05

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Re: Quest for 100 Carbon Stars new [Re: JimK]
      #5419337 - 09/13/12 02:28 PM

After my last session in my quest for carbon stars I have now learned of a need to improve my descriptions of star color. My eyes and brain have never been very good at describing the color nuances of many double stars, as many other observers have done, but I have noticed that carbon stars are not all the same color of red. So I did some reading on how others do it, and came to an approach for my future observing sessions.

I did not want to use the "paint store" approach of apple red, peach, watermelon, etc. and there are several interesting discussion threads in the CN forum for Double Star Observing. I also read of the Vatican astronomer Rev. John G. Hagen Color Index (HCI) and the Dutch astronomer Marcel Minnaert Color Scheme on a web page of Andrew James [on CN as andjames] (click here). Andrew also gives the idea of using "colorless" when a color is not obvious. The Bruce MacEvoy [on CN as drollere] web page on double star color (click here) advises on using the basics of brightness, hue (primary, prefaced with any secondary), and saturation (amount of mixing with white). Andrew emphasizes that the color saturation of stars is quite low, recommending that a 10% saturation be used as an upper starting point.

So I will try to describe the carbon stars I observe as:
- Very Bright
- Bright
- Somewhat Bright
- Faint
- Very Faint
and using the lightly saturated (~10%) hues of:
- Deep Red
- Light Red
- Orange-red
- Red-orange
- Deep Orange
- Light Orange
- Yellow-orange
or describing the star as "colorless" to me.

Of course, my eyeballs are different from other eyeballs and are not calibrated in any way, so my observing reports have no real scientific value, even though they may correspond somewhat to the stellar temperature classes K and M. Overall, this approach should allow me to better describe what *I* was seeing.
- - - - - - - - - -
And three more issues I learned: 1) higher magnification and/or a slight defocusing may make it easier to identify a star color, but it also reduces the intensity (saturation) of the color a little, 2) the eyeball color sensors (cones) work best with straight-on viewing (i.e., don't use averted vision), 3) with reddish stars, the longer one stares, the more intense the color, so look away for a bit, then return for a more accurate assessment.


Edited by JimK (09/13/12 05:27 PM)


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LivingNDixie
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Re: Quest for 100 Carbon Stars new [Re: JimK]
      #5439448 - 09/25/12 10:11 AM

Jim,
You are really getting through the stars! I am also working on the Carbon Star list with a 10in SCT. It is a fun list that I work on when the skies are good but the Moon is up and pretty bright. I have logged 10 stars so far!


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JimK
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Reged: 09/18/05

Loc: Albuquerque, NM USA
Carbon Quest Report #2 - Sep'12 new [Re: JimK]
      #5441086 - 09/26/12 06:14 AM

Area weather conditions allowed several fine observing nights that were both clear and dark. During September, I had 6 observing sessions and viewed the following 31 carbon stars (now totaling 42) using a Questar 3.5:

1 - WZ Cas = somewhat bright star, red, and a bit brighter than its eastern bluish companion (STT 254)
7 - W Cas = very faint star, seems to be red (blinking in/out), needing a Barlow lens to locate it
60 - V Oph = faint, somewhat red star
62 - TW Oph = somewhat bright star with only a hint of red (much city skyglow present)
63 - SZ Sgr = somewhat bright star with only a hint of red (much city skyglow present)
70 - UV Aql = dim, with a red tinge
71 - V Aql = bright, distinctly red star, especially in comparison to nearby white stars
72 - V1942 (in Sqr) = bright star with a tinge of red
75 - NSV 11960/HD182040 (in Aql) = bright, colorless star, even with Barlow & slight defocusing
(and yes, I am confident that I located the correct star)
77 - AQ Sgr = bright star, pale red in color -- nice comparison to nearby white stars
78 - TT Cyg = somewhat bright star, very distinctly red in a busy starfield
(using the Barlow lens, its faint companion star to the SW was also seen)
79 - AX Cyg = somewhat bright star, very distinctly red in a sideways kite asterism
(a nice double star, STT 393, is at the E end of the kite asterism)
80 - V1469 (in Aql) = somewhat bright star, pale orange in color (not red, and not white)
81 - BF Sge = faint, pale orange star - not many bright stars nearby
82 - X Sge = somewhat bright star, pale orange in color
83 - SV Cyg = somewhat bright, pale red star, maybe red-orange
84 - RY Cyg = faint red star in a busy starfield
85 - RS Cyg = somewhat bright, orange star, in a somewhat bright triangle asterism
(the triangle is the triple-star system BLL 47, as in observer R.S. Ball)
86 - RT Cap = bright, pale orange star
87 - U Cyg = somewhat bright, pale red star, especially compared to a white star to the ENE
(these two are the double star pair of BUP 183, as in the S.W. Burnham Proper Motion catalog)
88 - V Cyg = somewhat bright, reddish-orange star, the S (& bottom) star of a faint "kite" asterism
90 - SAO 106516/HD198269 (in Del) = bright, pale orange star, especially compared to a white star to the ENE
91 - NSV 13571/HD201626 (in Vul) = bright star, not quite white but hard to define
92 - S Cap = faint star, red in color
93 - V460 Cyg = bright star, pale red in color
94 - RV Cyg = somewhat bright star, red in color -- its (ESE) companion star is faint and colorless
(RV Cyg and the companion are the binary pair BLL 55, as in observer R.S. Ball)
95 - RX Peg = somewhat bright, reddish-orange star
96 - RZ Peg = faint, red star, part of a circlet asterism making color contrast easy to see
97 - RU Aqr = faint star, not quite red but not white either, above (N) a "parachute" asterism of stars
98 - ST And = very faint, deep red star, part of a triangle asterism of similar brightness white stars

The numbers correspond to the Astronomical League (AL) Carbon Star Observing Program listing.

I also re-observed T Dra and U Lyr using a Barlow -- the companion star for T Dra was easily seen, but no luck in splitting U Lyr. I also tried to split S Sct, and I believe I glimpsed the very, very dim companion.

As I mentioned in a separate post, I have a hard time noting star colors and have tried to make my observations simpler yet consistent. I have also noticed difficulty in seeing the difference between a star colored orange and one that is pale red.

As I star-hopped to these carbon stars, I also came across the Wild Duck open cluster M11 in Sct (lots of stars), the globular cluster M9 in the south part of Oph (a typical, small fuzzball), and the Dumbbell Nebula M27 just north of Sge (large, prominent, even without an UHC filter). All unexpected but very enjoyable sights.


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JimK
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Reged: 09/18/05

Loc: Albuquerque, NM USA
Re: Quest for 100 Carbon Stars new [Re: LivingNDixie]
      #5441088 - 09/26/12 06:16 AM

Thanks!

Some of the brighter carbon stars, especially the more northern ones, can even be seen when Luna is up. But dark skies are better.


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JimK
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Reged: 09/18/05

Loc: Albuquerque, NM USA
Re: Quest for 100 Carbon Stars new [Re: JimK]
      #5441090 - 09/26/12 06:23 AM

As an update, I will using the following:

- Very Bright
- Bright
- Somewhat Bright
- Faint
- Very Faint
and using the lightly saturated (~10%) hues of:
- Deep Red
- Red
- Pale Red
- Orangey-red
- Reddish-orange
- Deep Orange
- Orange
- Pale Orange
- Yellowish-orange
or describing the star as "colorless" to me.

[So much to learn about colors...]


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JimK
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Reged: 09/18/05

Loc: Albuquerque, NM USA
Carbon Quest Report #3 - Oct'12 new [Re: JimK]
      #5495590 - 10/30/12 12:16 AM

Area weather conditions are getting cooler. During October, I had 4 observing sessions and viewed the following 14 carbon stars (now totaling 54) using a Questar 3.5:

2 - SU And = somewhat bright star, and the pale red color is readily seen compared to nearby white stars
3 - SAO 109003/HD26 (in Psc) = somewhat bright pale orange star
4 - VX And = somewhat bright star, and the red color stands out in a dark area surrounded by white stars
5 - AQ And = somewhat bright star, with a red color that is readily seen near dim white stars
6 - NSV 15196/HD5223 (in And) = somewhat bright star, not very much color (off-white or yellowish-white)
8 - Z Psc = bright, reddish-orange colored, no bright stars nearby
9 - V Ari = somewhat bright star, not red/orange, but not white (yellowish-white ?)
10 - SAO 129989/HD16115 (in Cet) = faint without much color, but not white compared to nearby white stars
(re-observed and then found very faint galaxy NGC 988)
(also saw a mag 13.2 star with direct vision to the N and a 13.8 star to the NNE using averted vision)
11 - UY And = faint star, not quite white compared to nearby (to NE) white star
(saw a mag 12.4 star to W and a mag 12.9 star close to NW, a very clear but cool {44F} night)
(re-observed & then saw bright core of galaxy NGC 1023, to SE & just to NE of a pair of bright stars)
12 - V623 (in Cas) = somewhat bright star, pale red when compared to nearby bright white stars
13 - Y Per = faint, colorless star, with a bright star "triangle" asterism to the N
14 - V466 (in Per) = faint, deep red star, with a similar brightness white star to the NE
99 - TX (or 19) Psc = very bright star, seen with naked eye, reddish-orange
100 - SAO 128396/HD223392 (in Psc) = somewhat bright, perhaps pale red (hard to judge)

The numbers correspond to the Astronomical League (AL) Carbon Star Observing Program listing.

As noted above for SAO 129989/HD16115 and UY And, stars fainter than magnitude 12.5 are routinely seen in the Questar, even with an altitude of about 25 to 30 deg above the horizon. Naked eye stars are generally seen to magnitude 5.9 (SQM=19.8 to 19.9). My elevation in Albuquerque is almost 6200 ft above sea level and the humidity in generally less than 10 to 15%, which is very different from many viewing locations. I suspect these are the reasons my telescopic limiting magnitude, for direct vision, of about 13.5 (instead of the ~12.5 that is generally expected for telescopes of this size). This also may explain why I sometimes get lost in the starfields, as I discussed in another thread on CN (here). A sky atlas program provided the star magnitudes for this analysis.

I still have a hard time noting the difference in carbon star colors.


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JimK
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Reged: 09/18/05

Loc: Albuquerque, NM USA
Re: Carbon Quest Report #3 - Oct'12 new [Re: JimK]
      #5544621 - 11/28/12 09:49 PM

I noted an error -- (now totaling 54) should have been (now totaling 56).

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JimK
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Reged: 09/18/05

Loc: Albuquerque, NM USA
Carbon Quest Report #4 - Nov'12 new [Re: JimK]
      #5544628 - 11/28/12 09:54 PM

During November, I had 5 observing sessions and viewed the following 24 carbon stars (now totaling 80) using a Questar 3.5:

15 - U Cam = somewhat bright star, deep red color
(part of wide binary pair BLL 12, as in observer R.S. Ball, with companion to NNW)
16 - UV Cam = somewhat bright star, perhaps pale orange color
(small, bright, open cluster NGC 1502 is to the NNE)
17 - XX Cam = somewhat bright star, yellowish-orange colored
18 - ST Cam = somewhat bright star, reddish-orange colored
19 - TT Tau = somewhat bright star, orangey-red colored
20 - R Lep (Hind's Star) = somewhat bright, distinctively orangey-red colored star
21 - EL Aur = faint, orangey-red star
22 - W Ori = very bright, orangey-red colored star (almost visible to naked eye - hazy that night)
23 - TX Aur = faint, pale orange star
24 - SY Eri = easily found, somewhat bright, red colored star
25 - UV Aur = very faint, pale orange star, needing 12mm (~105x) to see
(split the close double at high power [250x+], HU 614, as in observer W.J. Hussey)
26 - S Aur = very, very faint colorless star, needing 12mm (~105x) to see
(part of wide binary pair BLL 14, as in observer R.S. Ball, with companion to WNW)
27 - RT Ori = somewhat bright, pale red star
28 - S Cam = faint colorless star
29 - TU Tau = somewhat bright star, pale red in color
30 - Y Tau = bright star, orangey-red in color, brightest star of a "box" asterism
31 - FU Aur = somewhat bright star, yellowish-orange colored
32 - TU Gem = somewhat bright, red star, brightest star of a "steering wheel" asterism
(similar to the asterism for Pi Aqr)
33 - FU Mon = faint star, pale red in color
34 - V Aur = very faint, seemingly colorless star, but brighter than other nearby faint stars
36 - UU Aur = bright, reddish-orange colored star
(unable to see companion star, BLL 17, as in observer R.S. Ball, even using Barlow)
37 - BL Ori = somewhat bright star, pale orange in color
45 - RU Cam = somewhat bright, yellowish-orange star, the apex of a "parachute" asterism of equally bright stars

The numbers correspond to the Astronomical League (AL) Carbon Star Observing Program listing.

The area had an unusually early cold snap (low 20s F/about -5C) for this far south, so I had to prevent frost from forming on the corrector during the observing sessions. I used a dew heater on the dew shield, then wrapped it in metal-coated plastic bubble wrap, as I posted in this CN thread (click here. Although the insulation/heater adds the complexity of wires, (battery) power, and vignettes the north/upper part of the Finder view a little, it has allowed me to observe for a few hours in these temperatures. And when bringing the telescope in/out of the house, I first cover it with a pillow case to ease the temperature/moisture transition.

I am still trying to describe the difference in carbon star colors, with difficulty.

During these observations, Jupiter was a pleasant, very detailed view to also enjoy, especially the dark belts.


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JimK
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Reged: 09/18/05

Loc: Albuquerque, NM USA
Carbon Quest Report #5 - Dec'12 {final} new [Re: JimK]
      #5579477 - 12/19/12 07:33 PM

Initially I was going to say that during December, I had 3 observing sessions and viewed the following 13 carbon stars (now totaling 93) using a Questar 3.5:

38 - GY Mon = somewhat bright, pale orange-colored star, near many similar brightness stars
39 - RV Mon = bright orange star in a field of many bright and faint stars
40 - V614 (variable 614 in Mon) = bright star, pale red in color, the bright apex of a small "parachute" asterism
41 - RY Mon = somewhat bright, orangey-red star in a field of many bright and faint stars
42 - W CMa = bright orange star, as the brightest of several nearby bright white stars
43 - RA CMi = somewhat bright, seemingly colorless star
44 - BM Gem = faint, orangey-red star
46 - NQ Gem = faint, pale orange star
47 - RU Pup = somewhat bright star, orangey-red in color
48 - X Cnc = bright star, orange-colored, without many stars nearby
49 - T Cnc = bright star, red-colored, without many stars nearby
(re-observed and saw the mag 13.2 companion star of the binary pair BLL 27, as in observer R.S. Ball)
52 - VY UMa = bright orange star in rather sparse starfield
56 - RY Dra = bright, red-colored star, in rather sparse starfield

The numbers correspond to the Astronomical League (AL) Carbon Star Observing Program listing.

Red and orange carbon star colors are still giving me difficulty in trying to describe them.

I was thinking of delaying the remaining stars in my quest until February, but I changed my mind after playing with a planisphere. So I recently had an early morning (3:00 to 5:30) observing session and viewed the last 7 carbon stars using a Questar 3.5:

50 - Y Hya = bright star, pale orange in color (brightest in a field of faint stars)
51 - U Hya = very bright, deep orange-colored star (only faint stars are nearby)
53 - V Hya = faint, red-colored star, the dimmest of a large "triangle" asterism
54 - SS Vir = somewhat bright star, orangey-red in color
55 - Y CVn (La Superba) = bright reddish-orange star, stands out in a sparse starfield
57 - SAO 157721 (in Vir) = somewhat bright star, but not quite white and no apparent color
58 - V CrB = bright orangey-red star

So with frost forming on my plastic paper protectors and all around me, I was finished, then brought the equipment inside, and went back to bed for a nap.


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JimK
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Reged: 09/18/05

Loc: Albuquerque, NM USA
Re: Quest for 100 Carbon Stars {Summary} new [Re: JimK]
      #5579478 - 12/19/12 07:34 PM

I have been successful in my quest to see 100 carbon stars using a 3-1/2 inch Questar. All were located using starhopping (no setting circles) and I found a good combination of charts and finder capabilities to ease the location discovery process, which I shared on CN threads. For the most part, only one eyepiece was needed (a couple of faint stars in Aur required a shorter focal length to bring them out of the background sky). I learned how hard it was to describe star colors, and decided to use the basics of brightness, hue (primary, prefaced with any secondary), and saturation (amount of mixing with white) -- thanks to Bruce MacEvoy. Overall, I had 24 observing sessions amounting to about 36 hours of observing time for these 100 carbon stars over a five-month period.

It was worth it to me. The ease of setup/teardown, the convenience of tracking, and the wonderful 3-1/2 inch optical package, all combined to allow for enjoyable observing. Perhaps others will decide to use their Questar in pursuit of various deep sky objects -- I hope so.


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azure1961p
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Re: Quest for 100 Carbon Stars {Summary} [Re: JimK]
      #5617939 - 01/11/13 08:18 PM

This is no small feat and you have my total respects. Reminds me of a website I was at today:http://www.astroscience.org/abdul-ahad/ruby-star.htm

I still enjoy star hopping but the GOTO is fun too but you simy see more in gems of context and generally everything when navigating star fields by hopping.

You completed an awesome task!

Pet


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