Neowise Comet 2020

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by litesong, Jul 13, 2020.

  1. Dorean Clarke

    Dorean Clarke Active Member

    why do I feel happy when it rains o_O
     
  2. litesong

    litesong litesong

    1) Maybe you live in California that needs the rain to stop the wildfires? 2) Maybe, you’re dying in the desert of thirst & need water to survive? 3) Maybe you need your near-by dry river bed to fill, so you can swim? 4) Maybe, you don’t have binoculars & telescopes & don’t mind if the clouds seal you away from the rest of the Universe? 5) Maybe, you work indoors & not outside in the drenching, bone chilling, hand freezing, cold winter, or late fall & early spring rain.

    Me? Give me the stars to view. The rain clouds cleared for only a half hour the other night, but my big 20x80mm binoculars gave me temporary wondrous views of the Pleiades star cluster, the Double Star Cluster & the Celestial Starwriting & Handwriting of God in the constellation Perseus. Adding to the excitement, some small clouds intermittently passed between me & the astronomy visions, causing me to feel that I was in an airplane close to the clouds & giving a 3D affect to the views.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2020
  3. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Well......finally the rain stopped & I got observing last night. Driving to the park, I saw the gibbous moon was in the area of Zeta Aquarii. I said to myself, “oh, yeah, not only man-made light pollution, but I have to contend with celestial moon light.” Can’t you see how romantic a fella I am... specially as an old codger!
    Set up the Pentax scope & saw the bottom 2 stars of the “Square of Pegasus”. That’s good. I was prepared to do a long star hop to Zeta Aquarii. That morning tho, I had looked at the star chart & said maybe I can visually see other dimmer stars to make my way to Zeta Aquarii easier. Even in the moonlight, I could see Epsilon Pegasi & Beta Aquarii, which led me finally to see Alpha Aquarii with binoculars. Again with the binoculars, I shifted east & plopped onto the 4 star asterism containing Zeta Aquarii. Now, all I had to do was place the tripod mounted Pentax view in the same region I was seeing with the binoculars! Using the gunsights on the Pentax scope (which are really crippled in the dark), I looked in the scope that should have been close to the 4 stars....... couldn’t see anything, except for very dim stars unrelated to anything I hoped to see. Viewing up the length of the Pentax with the binoculars, I saw the 4 stars I wanted to one side. Reset the Pentax & viewed again. Still nothing. Used the binoculars again & reset the Pentax again. Still nothing. I was sure I was close, so did a search pattern. Finally, I saw a brighter star that I hoped was one of the 4 stars I was after. Did a search pattern again that took me nowhere. Returned to the brighter star & did another search pattern. I then saw another brighter star. Did another search pattern & found a 3rd brighter star & then found the 4th star. Then, I returned to the one I was sure was Zeta Aquarii. But, it was a single star, not a double star. I touched up the focus.... still a single star. Touched up the focus again. This time the “single star” looked...... slightly elongated. Touched up the focus again....still elongated. Twiddled the focus again. Still elongated. B-bb-but wait. The star gave a glimmer of separation.... or was it my imagination. Viewing longer & another glimmer of separation. Then I began relaxing & enjoying the view.... another glimmer of separation... & another separation. The longer I viewed the more glimpses of separation. Then finally, I got a long 4 second view of separation, with a tiny, tiny(very very tiny) clear dark separation between 2 stars!

    Yowsa. How’s about them apples!!! Just incredible. For 180 years, the 2 stars had been getting closer, until it reached its closest in 1972. For the last 2 decades, amateur astronomers were happy to separate Zeta Aquarii with 100 to 300 power, as the stars separated. Now without a telescope, just a Pentax lens with a rudimentary 60 power eyepiece, I split the star. All right! My first hopes with the Pentax & low powered eyepiece were to see 4 arcsecond separated double stars. Now I’ve seen two Double Stars under 3 arcseconds & I think Zeta Aquarii is about 2.4—2.5 arcseconds.

    PS....At the 92 light-year distance (540 trillion miles) to the double star Zeta Aquarii, what I called the tiny, tiny separation between the 2 stars of 2.5 arcseconds is equal to a round trip to Pluto(about 8 billion miles). The 2 split stars of Zeta Aquarii were like seeing 2 lit light-bulbs individually at night, 1 inch apart at one nautical mile distance. I doubt the Pentax with the low 60-power eyepiece can do any better & is well beyond what I thought it capable(as well as my eyes).
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2020
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  4. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Good job and persistence.
     
  5. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Things were slow last night, except the dew fell fairly quickly fogging my optics & I went home. However, I started with Eta Cassiopeia. The bright gold star, next to the dim purple star is so sweet. Then, I tracked down a very nice Camelopardalis double star, during a 2nd attempt, about 5 degrees from the North Star. Tried to find other marked double stars in the area, but couldn’t. Will have to try later. However, the found D.S. was well worth my 2nd attempt. Hope to see it again.
    Withdrew & gained some inspiration by observing Gamma Andromedae. Despite the double light pollution from street lights & the waxing moon, I then, tried to search for DS’s in the star clouds of Perseus. Yeah, the light pollution sure killed the beauty of the star clouds. But, I was driving up the Star Road which is illuminated by Delta, Psi, Sigma, Alpha, & Gamma Persei, AND lo & behold, came across a dim, but sweet double star south-southwest of Gamma. Later, the Celestial Handbook showed it was Struve 331 of Magnitudes 5.5 & 6.5. I even got the Position Angle fairly accurate. The brighter star presented itself as a sparkly, pale blue. But the dimmer secondary had an intensity of dark blue that contrasted well with its brighter partner. (Update, 10-7-2020: Remembrance of Struve 331 seemed to be dimmer than I thought Mag. 5.5 & 6.5 stars should appear. Maybe, its all the light pollution. Maybe, I was unfairly comparing it with numerous bright stars in the immediate region. My warm acceptance of the Pentax camera lens as a telescope, is clouding my judgement that the Pentax lens is still a small to medium sized telescope of only 5 inches in diameter. In decades past I owned 8 to 13 inch telescopes & had viewed through telescopes as large as 41 inches.)

    Finally, my optics now dew-crested, I called it a night.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2020
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  6. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Oh, oh! The California fires are sending their smoke up to the Puget Sound again. Will cripple
    observations. But worse, I could feel the last smoke in my lungs. I said in earlier posts that the sun totally disappeared for some days & there were no clouds! My yearly bouts of allergies have been getting very slightly worse & that smoke ain’t helpin’ at all.

    PS... Tried to observe tonight. Arcturus & Vega (directly overhead) were the only stars showing visually & them, greatly reduced in brightness. Observed the Smokey Moon. Took a quick look at Mars. Didn’t even bother about Jupiter & Saturn. Tried to get to Gamma Andromedae, but no view. Came home. Oh, well.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2020
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  7. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Outside with smoke? Wear your COVID-19 or construction PM 2.5 mask.
     
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  8. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Ah! I do have a mask around my neck that I use, when occasional people are on evening walks, & want to see my celestial views. But, you bring up a good idea against the smoke. I’ll wear the mask on a continuing basis during the smoke. Thank you.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2020
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  9. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    You're welcome.

    Having the masks handy is a good thing. We were behind a flatbed diesel truck a couple weeks ago and the exhaust particulates gave my wife an extreme reaction. Pulling over and using the mask helped after some tense minutes.
     
  10. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Sorry to hear about your wife’s breathing difficulties. A large sector of society isn’t paying attention to diesel fumes (& all the other air, water & land pollution). Millions are having shorter lives, breathing the pollution. From young children to older people who live in cities, & specially near freeways, during stop&go traffic, the effects are acute.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2020
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  11. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Observed last night with the California wildfire smoke coming into the Puget Sound & surroundings, reduced. Started with the Pentax lens on sweet Mizar in the Big Dipper. Then, I moved to constellations Pegasus & Aquarius to find some new double stars i hadn’t seen yet..... I thought! As soon as I looked at Pegasus, tho, I couldn’t see the most southern 2 stars of the Square of Pegasus! Ohh, the California smoke must be having more of an effect than I thought. I switched the Pentax to the 20power by 80mm binoculars. Got binocular views of Mizar, Cor Caroli Regis Martyris, & Gamma Andromedae. Then, I realized I’d never used the binoculars on those double stars. OK!
    However, the sky was terribly bright! The reason.....the nearly full Moon was coming up & washing the stars out. And Mars was within 3 arc degrees of the Moon! Oh, how about that! What is the Field of View(FOV) of the binoculars... 3.5 arc degrees. I swung the binoculars over & had the Moon AND Mars in the same view. VERY very nice! But, more was in store. I moved over a bit & got the Moon coming up behind an evergreen. With the binoculars there were wonderful 3-D views, both with the focus on the Moon or focused on the tree.
    Beyond that, the almost full Moon looked like it had a bite taken out of it. Swinging the center of view on the Moon “bite”, the binoculars gave a sharp view. I could see that the “bite” was comprised of a large elliptically shaped crater(due to the extreme angle on the side of the Moon).The “near” wall of the crater blocked any sunlight from illuminating the flat inside of the Crater, so appeared black. Plus, the “far” side of the crater ring was curved away enough that the far wall was also NOT illuminated, appearing to be black & unseen. Thus, the Crater on the “side” of the Moon, gave the appearance that a bite was taken out of the Moon. Adding to the effect, was the mountains of the “near” crater wall were uneven, appearing like little teeth, against the blackness beyond! Noting other “uneveness” on the Moon perimeter, I could see smaller craters & walls were also giving the Moon a “not round” appearance. I’ve seen the effect in decades past, but the described effects have never been so dramatic.
    On that successful Moon exploration, & with the Moon washing the sky, I retired to home. Missing, I should have tried for the binocular view of the Camelopardalis Double Star near the North Pole(if I could have seen Polaris). Also, there is another DS the binoculars should be able to split, altho that DS is about 4 times dimmer than the brighter DS. But, I should get those opportunities in days ahead.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
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  12. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Tonight, like the double star Zeta Aquarii venture in the 9-28-2020 post, I had a venture with double star Zeta Piscium. Zeta Aquarii, I tracked down quite well, altho “seeing” the double star as a double star was tough. Just finding Zeta Piscium, with the light pollution, was difficult. With the terrestrial tripod, I had a possibility of finding the star fairly easy, using star hopping angles across the sky nearly matching the azimuth & altitude directions of the terrestrial tripod. However, the tilted angle of the celestial sky didn’t match the axes of the azimuth & altitude close enough, & the star hopping directions were long. Thus I often went on wild goose chases across the sky, even tho I used the wider angle view binoculars. Finally, I did a number of sweep searches & finally found Zeta Piscium. The star looked sweet in the binoculars & I was very pleased! But, there was no way I could find the star with the higher powered Pentax & its narrower field of view. However, the planet Mars helped me, which was conveniently close! With the binoculars, I carefully traced my way via star hopping to Mars AND then re-traced my way back to Zeta Piscium. Then, I tried to use directions that coincided with terrestrial tripod axes to make the transfer to the higher power Pentax easier. Alas, I still couldn’t find my way from Mars to Zeta Piscium. Then, I got double lucky! I did find another double star....h634, that I had marked on my star charts from thirty years ago. With components 6 times & 170 times dimmer than the components of Zeta Piscium, my double luck was that I could get from h634 to Zeta Piscium....(just be swinging right on the TERRESTRIAL TRIPOD SWING. What a flukey piece of LUCK.
    Anyhow Zeta Piscium looked great in the Pentax & I even figured out the Position Angle of the two stars TO THREE ARCDEGREES, one of my closer guesses. Also, with the help of 3 disparate observations of color I read about, I figured the brighter component looked pale yellow & the dimmer component looked “grayish blue”.
    Anyhow, not only did I pick up the delightful Zeta Piscium, but I got to see h634, which led me to Zeta Piscium. All right!!!
    Also, observed the Moon & had a good time. One thing I observed, was a lava flow showed well on one of the Mares (flat plain) of the Moon, which you see often when close to the terminator(region between sun light & darkness). But, what I’ve never seen before, was a lava flow on that same Mare, but far out into the sunlit part of the Moon! That lava flow must be very thick & angled very much away from being flat!
    One thing noted....my past observations of galaxies, nearly always led me to avoid times of the month the Moon was showing. I most often observed the Moon in the early evening darkness, before it set. These new times of enjoying the Moon, teach me that I seldom watched the Moon in latter times of the night. Thus, I seldom watched the Moon with its surface illuminated from the side, normally allowed by latter times of the night. Its almost like observing a different Moon.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2020
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  13. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Out observing again. Tried Pegasus & Pisces double stars with which I had difficulties finding when I had astronomy telescopes. So I anticipated trouble. & I got trouble..... but some surprising successes. Started my star hopping at Gamma Pegasi, moving southwest. Rotated the tripod head to the right past 86 Pegasi with a fudge factor. Then, moving southeast(tripod head rotated down), I picked up two 7th Magnitude stars, & used them as “signposts”. Unfortunately, I used a star chart that did NOT show that one of those “signposts” was also a double star that I might have been able to resolve. I’ll have to try it another time(but clouds & rain are coming). Anyhow, I proceeded past the “signposts” to what I thought was double star 34 Piscium. I could NOT resolve it as a double star, tho. I’m now thinking it might not have been 34 Piscium. After spending a fair amount of time unsuccessfully, I was miffed & abruptly moved toward 35 Piscium. Starhopping & abruptness are NOT good companions. But, lo & behold, I plopped right on 35 Piscium, immediately seeing it as a 12 arcsecond double star. My “no tool“ estimate of the Position Angle was off by 10 arcdegrees, but that’s acceptable to me. Colors were pale blue & darker blue, but those determinations had a lot to do with their 4 times brightness difference. Now for the really fabulous end to the story. About 2.4 minutes behind 35 Piscium was 4 arc-second double star, 38 Piscium. HOWEVER, I sniffed. All I saw of 38 Piscium was a single star. Remembering my bout with Zeta Aquarii & the fine focus I had to apply to resolve that double star, I worked the focus again, which I thought I had done on 35 Piscium. Letting the telescope tripod vibrations settle down, 38 Piscium resolved into the cutest 7.5 & 8th Magnitude stars(about 4 to 6 times dimmer than naked-eye visibility), I have ever seen, with a tiny black gap between the diminutive duo. I looked & looked & looked at 38 Piscium. So, so cute! & both 35 Piscium & 38 Piscium in the same view!! Hope I can find more information on 35 Piscium & 38 Piscium.
    Then, I went to familiar Gamma Arietis, the two twin searchlights. After that, I tried a 3rd time to get to Struve 175 from Beta Arietis. Searched for a while but no success. Tried to go back to Beta Arietis & start another search for Struve 175. Trying to retrieve Beta Arietis with the cumbersome Pentax gunsight, I ran across another Double Star. It was Struve 196, which was a nice sighting. I got its Position Angle within 3 Arc-Degrees.....but still no Struve 175.
    Finally, the Moon rose enough to give a fair view, except not as sharp as the night before. Away home I went.

    PS...I have stated that 35 Piscium & 38 Piscium are “close” in the sky. It is thought that 35 Piscium is 250 light-years distant. (Added note: If the distance be true, it would mean 12 of our solar systems out to Pluto, would fit between the two 12” double stars). From two sources, 38 Piscium Is considered to be 50 light-years distant.(Added note: since 38Piscium is closer than 35 Piscium & the two stars of 38 Piscium much tighter, not even 1 of our solar systems out to Pluto would fit between the stars. Only 1.5 trips to Pluto would fit). Despite 35 Piscium being 5 times more distant than 38 Piscium, 35 Piscium strongly appears brighter than 38 Piscium. 35 Piscium is 50 to 100 times more luminous(more?) than 38 Piscium. Now, I’ve mentioned how “cute” 38 Piscium appears in a telescope. Yet, it appears that 38 Piscium is only slightly less or more luminous than our own star, our own sun, Sol.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2020
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  14. litesong

    litesong litesong

    The other day, late afternoon clear skies caused me to set up the Pentax & B&L optics to see Gamma Andromedae. But, clouds rolled in quickly & wiped celestial observing the rest of the night. I mention this, because the next night, the same thing occurred. Clear afternoon skies, followed by clouds into the evening, wiped out all celestial viewing. So, Washington state weather is playing me.

    PS....Oh, oh! Been wonderfully sunny this afternoon, just like the last two days. But, for the 3rd day in a row, clouds are scheduled to come in & wipe viewing again. Already, I see large clouds gathering in the Southwest, where our weather comes from. What! Three days of sunny afternoons....each followed by clouds? Well, I’ll teach them clouds something! I ain’t goin’ ta do nuthin’ to load telescopes in the car....till dark & the sky is still clear. So clouds.... take THAT!!
    PS....Half an hour later: So the clouds answered & are already moving in & covering the sun. So the clouds told me what for!!
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2020
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  15. litesong

    litesong litesong

    After a sweet warm cloudless day today, the skies have clouded up. But, last night was excellent for double stars that I DIDN’T see because I got off the trail some days ago. Starting at Alpha Persei as before, I moved up the Star Avenue as previously, on my altitude axis. Continuing, I again came to Struve 331, the sweet 12” Double Star. This time instead of turning left, I proceeded to Tau Persei, an excellent triple star worth much inspection. However, my target was double stars in Camelopardalis. From Tau Persei, I rotated 90degrees & moved left on my azimuth axis. Piloting through dim Perseus star clouds, I moved into dim Camelopardalis star clouds.... & continued. Finally, a double star swept into view. It was Struve 396, 6.5 & 8 Magnitudes, 20” of separation & not as bright & cute as Struve 331. BUT, I did have it on my star chart (plus I had marked it some 30 years ago). Struve 396 told me I was very close to my objective stars. With a quick turn to the northwest, I piled into the stars I wanted. Bright 4.5+ Magnitude Double Star Struve385 was nice, except I could not resolve it into two stars(didn’t expect such). Also, dimmer 7 & 8 Magnitude Struve 389 was near. But I couldn’t resolve that DS either, altho it gave strong evidence that it was close to splitting. Proceeding east, I came to Pi 97, 6 & 8.5 Magnitude star of 55” separation. Farther east, I tried to find dim 8 & 9 Magnitude Struve 445, but couldn’t. Tho dim, I have a chance to be able to resolve it with my low 60 power Pentax. Also, Kemble’s Cascade(KC) is in the area I’ve been searching. I believe the next time I work into this region, I’ll use my 20x80mm binoculars & hope I can cut through the light-pollution to see KC.
    Camelopardalis is normally a tough constellation with dimmer stars & fewer double stars. However, this little tidbit of Camelopardalis actually crosses the centerline of the Milky Way, & is full of double star possibilities. So I’ll try to poke around this area & search for other double stars.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2020
  16. Dorean Clarke

    Dorean Clarke Active Member

    Keep us posted @litesong. I've been following your journey. :)
     
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  17. litesong

    litesong litesong

    My back is out right now. Between the Washington state clouds & my back, future “Adventures of litesong in the sky” might not have recent future postmarks. Maybe I’ll have time to find distances of double stars & calculate Earth-Sol solar system measures between some star systems. Actually, I think I’ll use Astronomical Units(distance between Earth & Sol) straight up. That may (or may not) add extra intimacy of distance information between double stars......yes, it will add extra “feel” to double star systems.
    11-16-2020
    PS....My back gave way again but this time another part. That is good. Hate it when the same area goes out consecutively.
    Also, major clouds continue to stop Washington state astronomy.
    PS I.....Clouds continue to squash amateur astronomy in w.Washington, now for weeks(3?).
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2020 at 5:44 PM
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