Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Report(s) from Geraldton, Western Australia

  • Please log in to reply
30 replies to this topic

#26 timokarhula

timokarhula

    Messenger

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 432
  • Joined: 30 Jan 2006
  • Loc: Sweden

Posted 15 February 2016 - 12:53 AM

By now, I have been observing 14 consecutive whole nights in the bush.  This was the last night before the First quarter Moon which happens tomorrow (read today).

 

After moonset, I was gonna take a look at IC2118 (the Witch-head nebula) close to Rigel, but which resides in Eridanus. While swinging my tube away from Rigel, I already saw with the 8x50 finder that this area was nebulous.  I had not seen the Witch-head before!  With my lowest telescope magnification, 38x (using a 32mm Erfle ocular), the Witch´s "mouth" was the most contrasty part and the "neck" on the other side could fit in the same field of view.

 

I SAW SIRIUS B!  My holy Grale had to finally surrender.  First I looked at Rigel and memorized the distance to its B-companion.  With my 10-inch Dob and 250x magnification (5mm Baader Hyperion), I saw a tiny dot which followed Sirius path in the sky, i.e. the PA was about 90º.  The separation seemed somewhat larger than Rigel´s.  According to Washington Double Star Catalog in Vizier, the separation was 9".6 and PA 83º in 2013.  What is the distance and PA today?  I knew only the rough distance of Sirius B but the position angle was unknown to me prior to the observation.  I could some of the time hold Sirius B with direct vision and it was hanging on Sirius A so this was without a doubt a real star and not an optical aberration.  Unfortunately, Sirius B was close to one of the secondary´s spikes which was somewhat disturbing.  The difficulty of Sirius B is due to the 10,000 times lower brightness that of Sirius A.

 

The dwarf galaxy Leo I was found without a map.  Just N of Regulus, I found with 38x - 76x power a large, foot-ball shaped glow.  Once you have seen Leo I several times, it is no longer a challenge.

 

I hunted down a few planetary nebulae using my MegaStar charts.  These were Minkowski 3-1 in Canis Major, Sanduleak 2-6 in Puppis, Henize 2-5 in Carina, Henize 2-7 in Vela and IC4599 in Scorpius.  All of these showed discs except He 2-5.  Henize 2-7 was within a funny 0º.6 long, straight line of stars.  The star row looked almost artificial and was straighter than Kemble´s Cascade in Camelopardalis.

 

With my naked eyes I found M5 in Serpens (close to a star) and glimpsed M12 in Ophiuchus.  M12 became my 39th Messier-object with my unaided eyes.  A new record?

 

With 250x, M5 was in principle resolved to the core.  Near M5 is a much more humble globular found, Palomar 5.  Using 50x power, I saw a faint, round glow.  With 150x it actually became smaller but its centre was better defined and its position was perfect according to MegaStar.  In front of Palomar 5 I saw some stars but they could have been ordinary foreground stars.

 

Antares B companion was a blue-green shimmering close to A.  It was lying on the other side of the main star compared to Sirius, that is, Antares B was preceding.  Great to be able to view both Sirius B and Antares B in the same night!  :)

 

The temperature was rising during the night and it was a balmy +28º C at 4:30 am. It was a sign that today is going to be hot.  Just half an hour ago (1 pm) my thermometer was showing +42º.9 C.  Dare I go outside?  :cool:

 

/Timo Karhula


Edited by timokarhula, 15 February 2016 - 12:58 AM.

  • FJA and nytecam like this

#27 timokarhula

timokarhula

    Messenger

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 432
  • Joined: 30 Jan 2006
  • Loc: Sweden

Posted 16 February 2016 - 03:37 AM

Already in the evening, I noticed that the weather pattern was unusual.  After my first experienced day of +45º C in the shades, the temperature dropped to +27º at 9 pm and thereafter started to rise again.  At 11 pm it was a shocking +36º C!  It was due to the changing wind direction from the northeastern desert.

 

When I was driving to my usual observing spot before midnight, I saw a light in front of me that I first thought was from a road-train but it did not come closer to me.  At my observing spot, I see a fire-brigade truck along the road and a larger bush-fire on the other side of the road!!  It was difficult to estimate the distance to the fire, it was maybe 1-2 kms.  I did not see the actual flames but only the orange, bright, uprising smokes from the fire.  I got very bad vibes from this experience!  My home town in Sweden, Gammelby, had to be evacuated during the biggest forest fire in modern times in Sweden back in August 2014.  I stood there and hesitated if I was going to take out the telescope or not from the car.  Would the fire expand and come towards me?  Could I then swiftly bring in everything in my car and drive away?  After half an hour of observations of the on-going fire, I decided that it was not a threat to me.  It was progressing slowly towards west and not due to north where I was.  Therefore, I decided to commence my 15th consecutive telescopic session in the "Outback".  I am mad, am I ? :p   Due to the light from the fire and smoke, the brightness of the sky was a mediocre 21.3.  Still, the southern Milky Way was beautiful (as always) and M4 was plainly visible naked eye close to Antares.

 

I concentrated on southern planetary nebulae.  These have many designations but I choose their Henize (He) catalog numbers here.  My targets were;  Henize 2-8 in Vela (faint, stellar), ESO 259-10 in Vela (star with haze), IC4637 in Scorpion (small, bright, fuzzy disc, with a faint halo?), He 2-200 in Scorpion (slightly fuzzy star), He 2-207 in Ara (diffuse small disc, central star? visible), He 2-220 in Scorpion (bright, stellar), He 2-224 in Ara (stellar, two very close field stars) and He 2-246 in Ara (bright, stellar, three faint, close nearby stars).

 

As usual, I tried for a faint globular cluster again.  This time it was Palomar 3 in Sextans, a 13.9 magnitude globular. My Uranometria charts were inadequate to locate this one, so I made a hand-drawn chart with nearby fainter field stars.  This was perfect because I got sight of Pal 3 with 50x magnification already.  Using 150x, I saw its centre much better.  Since Palomar 3´s stars are of 18 magnitude and fainter, I had to enjoy my view of the hazy glow only.

 

They talk about "tropical nights" in Sweden when the temperature does not go below +20º C.  What shall it be called when it does not go below +30º C?  It was still +32º when I ended my obserwing night by seeing Mercury below Venus in Cap / Sgr and finally got some sleep, despite the growing heat in the morning.   [Today, it got +44º C at noon, again.]

 

/Timo Karhula


Edited by timokarhula, 16 February 2016 - 03:46 AM.

  • FJA likes this

#28 timokarhula

timokarhula

    Messenger

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 432
  • Joined: 30 Jan 2006
  • Loc: Sweden

Posted 16 February 2016 - 01:24 PM

My planned 16th in a row and last observing session with my telescope in the "Outback" got an abrupt end before it even got started.  Just when I had been driving beyond the airport and was leaving the city, the road in front of me was closed!  The man with the stop-sign asked me where I was going to and I tried to explain the closest farm where I observe.  He said the road was closed due to the bush-fire this night.  Apparently, the fire had turned around and went across my beloved observing site right now!  I was there less than 24 hours earlier and I could then not first decide if I dared to stay at the place and observe or not.

 

https://au.news.yaho...-brief-respite/

 

Disappointed (but I also was relieved, in one way!), I had to return home.  This was an "Act of God" :p which I could do nothing about it.  Back home, I see clouds and smoke fill the sky from the bush-fire.  That means I can say -Thank You and Good-bye to my extremely long, continuous row of clear night skies and extremely lot of observations.

 

I was going after breaking 100 hours of effective observing time here but I seem to reach only 98 or 99 hours.  But I broke the 300 new Deep-Sky objects barrier!  In just 15 days, I observed as much as I normally do back home in Sweden in almost three years!!  Wow, this astro-trip went far beyond my expectations.

 

I hope that all you dear readers have enjoyed my "blog" and have been inspired of my observations with just an ordinary 10-inch telescope but under a fabulously dark night sky in Western Australia.  I actually look forward to come home to my cold, snowy, cloudy Sweden this weekend!

 

Cheers!

 

/Timo Karhula


Edited by timokarhula, 16 February 2016 - 11:58 PM.

  • FJA, JimMo, Astrojensen and 1 other like this

#29 areyoukiddingme

areyoukiddingme

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4317
  • Joined: 18 Nov 2012

Posted 17 February 2016 - 12:20 AM

Thanks for for a wonderful thread. I recently visited family in Albany (the Southern part of the state) where the seeing is also excellent, and the weather much more comfortable. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to get out of the back yard. Now I'm motivated to try much more when I return!


Edited by areyoukiddingme, 17 February 2016 - 12:20 AM.


#30 FJA

FJA

    Sketcher Extraordinaire

  • *****
  • Posts: 6488
  • Joined: 17 Nov 2004
  • Loc: South coast of England

Posted 06 March 2016 - 08:12 AM

Your observing session write ups are always a great read Timo. I am going to Australia for the 4th time later this month, and I now have some extra objects to add to my observing lists!  :waytogo:



#31 timokarhula

timokarhula

    Messenger

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 432
  • Joined: 30 Jan 2006
  • Loc: Sweden

Posted 11 March 2016 - 07:31 AM

Hi Faith!  Great that you can visit Oz again soon.  March and April are the only months when I have not studied the southern skies in detail.  I have seen the skies naked eye only on the first days of March (in 1995) and last days of April (2004).  I have been fortunate enough to scrutinize the southern heavens during the rest of the months.

 

It will be a long time (months) before I have analyzed all my observations from Down Under.  I will certainly inform you all if I find something unexpected, unusual or if I need some other fellow observer's observations to compare with.

 

Yesterday, our local astronomy club in Västerås, VARF, had our annual general meeting and we had invited the professor emeritus in theoretical astrophysics from Uppsala, Bengt Gustafsson, as the guest speaker.  When he was signing his new book for me about black holes he asked me if I was that guy who had recently seen so "deep" in Australia.  Apparently, even this famous scientist has been reading about my astro-adventure  (I had written this thread in Swedish sites also)!

 

/Timo Karhula


Edited by timokarhula, 11 March 2016 - 07:41 AM.

  • FJA, nytecam, areyoukiddingme and 1 other like this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics