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

Finding Proxima Centauri.

  • Please log in to reply
12 replies to this topic

#1 GUS.K

GUS.K

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Moderators
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,188
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2014
  • Loc: Australia.

Posted 14 June 2021 - 03:52 AM

I Originally tracked down Proxima Centauri back in 2016, and had another go at it around mid 2018. I remember that when preparing observing charts for the area, there was conflicting information out there as to which star was actually Proxima centauri and to top it off, some charts showed a few stars which were not actually there. After both observations I remember feeling unsatisfied that I had actually seen Proxima. There was an 11 mag star close to the area but not shown on the charts except for one, an AAVSO chart from May 2018, but that chart showed two other stars (brighter ) which were not there. This last Friday I downloaded a new chart from the AAVSO and set out once again to see if I could Identify it. Once again, the location of Proxima conflicted with that shown on the chart. This time, the AAVSO chart showed Proxima  roughly 1 arc minute south east of were I could actually see an 11 something magnitude star, the spot were the 2018 chart showed it to be. There is a disclaimer at the bottom of the Proxima chart which states that due to it's high proper motion the star is no longer at it's charted J 2000 position. So that is the cause of the discrepancy. And like Alan in this thread here,  I was relying on information which is over two decades old now, and in the intervening years proxima's  high proper motion has shifted it to were I saw it on Friday night. It's the closest star to us at 4.25 light year's, variable with a mean magnitude of 11.2 V and situated in a dense star field 2.2 degrees south west of it's sibling pair Alpha centauri AB, with an orbital period of 550,000 years and is about 0.2 Ly's from the pair. 

As much of  a hassle as it was to track down, it was worth it to glimpse the nearest star to earth other than the sun. 

Here is a chart I made from a Wikisky image. Proxima's location is roughly were the X is. The circled object is proxima at the time the DSS2 image was taken and looks close to were the AAVSO chart for J2000 shows it. 

Equipment used was an 18 inch F4.5 Dob and 12mm ES 92 degree eyepiece and Coma corrector at 191x.

imgcut (2).jpg

 

 


  • timokarhula, maroubra_boy, Allan Wade and 1 other like this

#2 maroubra_boy

maroubra_boy

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,283
  • Joined: 08 Sep 2009
  • Loc: Sydney, Australia

Posted 14 June 2021 - 06:46 AM

Hey Ivan,

 

Thanks for the "current" 2021 chart waytogo.gif

 

Now is certainly a good time of the year to have a crack at it.

 

Did you by any chance see any colour to it?  Just a Hail Mary question because at mag. 11 it may be too faint to notice colour with your 18".

 

Alex.


  • GUS.K likes this

#3 GUS.K

GUS.K

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Moderators
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,188
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2014
  • Loc: Australia.

Posted 14 June 2021 - 03:38 PM

Hi Alex, no colour is seen even in the 18 inch. 


  • maroubra_boy likes this

#4 Allan Wade

Allan Wade

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,055
  • Joined: 27 Jan 2013
  • Loc: Newcastle, Australia

Posted 15 June 2021 - 03:20 AM

Nice observing Ivan. It’s a sweet thing to see the closest star to our sun, and probably something not many people have done. It’s high proper motion is what makes it a bit of a challenge to successfully observe.


  • maroubra_boy and GUS.K like this

#5 GUS.K

GUS.K

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Moderators
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,188
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2014
  • Loc: Australia.

Posted 15 June 2021 - 03:44 AM

Thanks Allan, were you able to see any colour through your 32 inch, and any chance you could confirm if what I think is proxima matches with what you Saw. I'm still not 100 percent certain if I'm looking at the right star, it's magnitude is about right, but another confirmation would help.



#6 Allan Wade

Allan Wade

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,055
  • Joined: 27 Jan 2013
  • Loc: Newcastle, Australia

Posted 15 June 2021 - 04:24 AM

I think you’re spot on. I determined Proxima Cent was 1 arc minute north west of its J2000 position, which seems what you’ve concluded as well.

 

I don’t have my notes with me, but from memory I don’t recall it showing colour. I’m using the 32” tonight, so maybe I’ll take another look if I get a chance.


  • GUS.K likes this

#7 GUS.K

GUS.K

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Moderators
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,188
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2014
  • Loc: Australia.

Posted 15 June 2021 - 06:32 AM

Thanks for the confirmation Allan. An AAVSO chart from 2018 I have also confirms the location were I have shown it on my chart.



#8 Allan Wade

Allan Wade

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,055
  • Joined: 27 Jan 2013
  • Loc: Newcastle, Australia

Posted 15 June 2021 - 10:18 AM

I observed Proxima Centauri tonight in the 32”. I took a closer look at its position and figure it is approximately 1’ 25” @283 degrees from its J2000 position.

 

It did appear slightly orange in colour relative to the field stars, and reminded me of the E star in the Trapezium which is similar magnitude and a similar orange shade.


  • maroubra_boy, GUS.K and Voyager 3 like this

#9 Tony Flanders

Tony Flanders

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Posts: 19,949
  • Joined: 18 May 2006
  • Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA

Posted 15 June 2021 - 05:15 PM

You're using the wrong tool for the job. A planetarium program would have shown you the sky exactly as it currently is, with ample stars both brighter and fainter than Proxima to frame it.

The first time I tracked down Proxima (with a 100-mm refractor) I used detailed chart A3 in Sky Atlas 2000.0, which has a little line with ticks showing its trajectory across the more fixed stars.
  • GUS.K likes this

#10 timokarhula

timokarhula

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 494
  • Joined: 30 Jan 2006
  • Loc: Sweden

Posted 16 June 2021 - 03:49 AM

I located Proxima Centauri in June 1996 with my C90-telescope from high in the Peruvian Andes.  I was using a MegaStar chart of the region showing stars much fainter than Proxima.  The star that I believed was Proxima was not seen but instead a 12 mag star slightly W of it (not plotted).  Back home I understood that the star I saw really was Proxima Centauri due to its proper motion since 1975 based on its position in the Hubble Guide Star Catalogue.  I did not notice the color of the star due to its faintness.

 

One year prior to that, I observed Proxima Centauri with a 17.5-inch telescope outside Perth, Western Australia.  The star was surprisingly difficult to locate due to the richness of the field but I could see the star's reddish color.

 

/Timo Karhula


  • GUS.K likes this

#11 Tony Flanders

Tony Flanders

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Posts: 19,949
  • Joined: 18 May 2006
  • Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA

Posted 16 June 2021 - 04:02 AM

One year prior to that, I observed Proxima Centauri with a 17.5-inch telescope outside Perth, Western Australia.  The star was surprisingly difficult to locate due to the richness of the field but I could see the star's reddish color.


Yeah, when people talk about looking for needles in haystacks, they're usually exaggerating. But the metaphor seems almost accurate with respect to finding this faint red dwarf in one of the densest parts of the Milky Way.


  • timokarhula and GUS.K like this

#12 GUS.K

GUS.K

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Moderators
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,188
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2014
  • Loc: Australia.

Posted 16 June 2021 - 04:04 AM

I observed Proxima Centauri tonight in the 32”. I took a closer look at its position and figure it is approximately 1’ 25” @283 degrees from its J2000 position.

 

It did appear slightly orange in colour relative to the field stars, and reminded me of the E star in the Trapezium which is similar magnitude and a similar orange shade.

Thanks for the observation detail Allan, I had another look last night as well, tried different magnifications and didn't notice any real colour. It seems slightly warmer white than the comparison stars on the AAVSO chart, but nothing else.

 

You're using the wrong tool for the job. A planetarium program would have shown you the sky exactly as it currently is, with ample stars both brighter and fainter than Proxima to frame it.

The first time I tracked down Proxima (with a 100-mm refractor) I used detailed chart A3 in Sky Atlas 2000.0, which has a little line with ticks showing its trajectory across the more fixed stars.

Hi Tony, I had Sky safari a while back, maybe I should get it again, or is there a better App.



#13 GUS.K

GUS.K

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Moderators
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,188
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2014
  • Loc: Australia.

Posted 16 June 2021 - 04:09 AM

I located Proxima Centauri in June 1996 with my C90-telescope from high in the Peruvian Andes.  I was using a MegaStar chart of the region showing stars much fainter than Proxima.  The star that I believed was Proxima was not seen but instead a 12 mag star slightly W of it (not plotted).  Back home I understood that the star I saw really was Proxima Centauri due to its proper motion since 1975 based on its position in the Hubble Guide Star Catalogue.  I did not notice the color of the star due to its faintness.

 

One year prior to that, I observed Proxima Centauri with a 17.5-inch telescope outside Perth, Western Australia.  The star was surprisingly difficult to locate due to the richness of the field but I could see the star's reddish color.

 

/Timo Karhula

Thanks for sharing your observations Timo. Definitely a difficult field, but there are a few good asterisms that help guide you to Proxima.. 


  • timokarhula likes 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