Neowise Comet 2020

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

  1. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Last night, observed Sirius, 8.6 light-years distant(51 million million miles), 5th nearest star, shining hotter & 23 times brighter than our sun, Sol. It is 1.8 times the diameter & 2.3 times the mass of Sol. It’s “radial motion” is towards us at 4.5 miles per second. But, it won’t hit us, because it has “proper motion” that has moved Sirius “to the side” at 1.5 times the width of our Moon in the last 2000 years. Tho “near” us, Sirius is still 550,000 times further from us than Sol is from us(~93 million miles). This brightest star in the sky appeared sweet in the Pentax lens. Yes, I love the rendition of brightest stars that the Pentax gives. The Pentax gives them a creamy smooth appearance, despite the gittery, multi-faceted look that the turbulent atmosphere adds. Also, love to stop the lens down, to see how stars look, as they would appear in smaller telescopes. Tried to see Sirius B, the dim orbiting white dwarf star, but couldn’t see it. Should be able to see it in the Pentax, but the glare from Sirius A is disastrous. Will keep trying.
    Went to Epsilon Orionis, 2000 light years distant, & equal to 40times the diameter & 300-800,000 times the brightness of Sol. It is the middle star in the “Belt stars” of Orion, the Hunter, & I went hunting for double stars nearby. SW of Epsilon I saw an excellent trio(quadruple?) of stars, but do not know if they are officially listed as a triple star. But, SW(?) of the “triple”, I saw a cute, but dim set of 2 fairly matched bluish(?) stars. I think it was Struve 731, about 5arcseconds apart. Yeah, with all the bright stars around, I did dote on these dim 8.5 & 9 Magnitude stars. I’ll try to figure its Position Angle & see if that agrees with the listing for Struve 731. Anyhow, as normal here in Washington state, the clouds rolled in & my time among the stars ended.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2021
  2. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Saw the companion star to Sirius A (brightest star in Earth’s sky) tonight, Sirius B, with the Pentax telephoto camera lens with its only 60power available eyepiece. At the camera lens’s widest aperture(5 inches), the spikey glare of Sirius A (9000 times brighter than Sirius B) blotted out Sirius B. However, stopping the Pentax lens down(like most camera lenses) gets rid of a lot of the spikiness of Sirius A. I could barely see Sirius B when I stopped the lens down to f/10 & only intermittently because of the Earth’s atmospheric turbulence. With some guessing, I’d say, the best seeing of Sirius B, was from f/11 to f/14. Even at f/16 I did see Sirius B, once. Stopping down further, I never saw evidence of Sirius B. At its best, I saw Sirius B as blue.
    3-13-2021, 4:40 AM PT:
    PS....Real proof that I saw Sirius B was, I’d consulted an old star chart in which I THOUGHT I might see Sirius B, about NORTHEAST of Sirius A. When viewing last night, I was a little concerned because I kept seeing Sirius B, not NORTHEAST, BUT EAST-NORTHEAST of Sirius A. Just now, I more closely re-checked the old star chart AND a new star chart....& they both indicated that Sirius B was EAST-NORTHEAST of Sirius A. Sirius B WILL BE NORTHEAST of Sirius A, but not till about 2026-2027 or so.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2021
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  3. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Went out last night to observe Sirius B, four hundred times DIMMER than our sun, Sol again. But, I never saw Sirius B through the turbulent air causing Sirius A to froth, at all the wider apertures of the Pentax lens.
    Went to the constellation Leo, to see the excellent double star, Gamma Leonis, comprising the shoulder of the Lion. Despite the turbulence, both these bright yellow-orange stars(some people see various tints of white, green, & red, also) give a bright light show, despite a distance of 130 light-years. The 2 stars are 275 & 72 times as bright as Sol, which explains their show-business attitude. Presently, both stars are near their widest separation(about 180 times the distance between the Earth & Sol), & is the reason I see them both with only the 60power Pentax lens. Decades earlier, it would have been hard or impossible to see them separately with the low-power lens. So sweetly done! I tried to see another dimmer double star, somewhere Southeast of Gamma Leonis, but I failed. In the area I was searching tho, I did see an even fainter double star, maybe 7 arcsecs apart. It was so faint, I thought I first saw a tiny nebulosity. But centering the star & touching up the focus resolved the dim double star.
    Then, I went to the Pleiades to look for double stars, which I had failed to split previously. First up, was Struve 435, North-Northwest of the center of Pleiades, about 1.5arcdegrees. Not sure if I even saw Struve 435 the first time, but this time I found it quickly. The brighter star was blue, with the seemingly very dim star, darker blue(?). I thought it had a Position Angle of 20degrees, but it was listed as 2degrees in old data. Then, I went to Struve 450, on the edge of the bright stars comprising the “ square bowl” of the Pleiades. Struve 450 I remember, because I didn’t see it as a double star previously! But with very gentle fingers on the focuser, I finally saw the dual nature of the double star. Yes, that second star was really dim under light-polluted skies, & explains why I didn’t see both stars the first time. I thought I saw a Position Angle of 290(?) degrees, but an old listing said it was 265degrees.
    I could have stayed up, but the rough skies were tough & I went home.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2021
  4. litesong

    litesong litesong

    What one night will do! Went out to observe, starting with the crescent Moon. The Moon was contrasty which was very nice. But, the air was very steady. Went immediately to Sirius to see Sirius B....& did I! Even at its widest aperture(f/8, not the best Pentax camera aperture), I saw B. Not easily due to the spikiness of Sirius A, but I saw it once or twice among the spikes. Only stopping the Pentax down to f/9 or f/10 improved the view of Sirius B. But, the best views were at a lot of different apertures, from f/11 all the way to f/32. F/32 is the equivalent of a small 31mm telescope using a 60power eyepiece! & I saw Sirius B well! Stopping the lens down to f/40(equivalent of a 25mm scope at 60power), I only saw Sirius B twice, very briefly. Never saw Sirius B at f/45(equivalent of 22mm telescope). Probably should have seen, which aperture stop gave the longest lasting & clear view of Sirius B, but I was interested in all the apertures.
    Went to Mizar in the Big Dipper next. The 14arcsecond double star was very colorful at wide open aperture. But stopping the Pentax lens down to f/16 & f/22 gave the two stars a wide gap, despite the view of Mizar at only 60power.
    With clouds rolling in, I went to Cassiopeia & saw green & red WZ Cassiopeiae. The green & clear red color combination can truly catch you off-guard. Finally, the last stop was Eta Cassiopeiae, equally off-balancing, but the gold & purple stars were too lovely to leave.....till the clouds rolled in.
    3-21-2021:
    PS.....Have to say, that my calculations of theoretical small aperture “telescopes” below the size of 50mm AND their ability to see the dim & small star(sun) Sirius B, has come into strong disbelief from one amateur astronomer, when I posted the above information to an astronomical website.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
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  5. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Fifth repeat of my astronomy story over the last month & a half:
    Beautiful sunny weather almost all day yesterday. Thot I would observe the stars last night. I delayed going to the park tho, because weather got cloudy even as I set up the scope on previous past nights(thus this being the fifth repeat). Anyhow sure enough, a big cloud set moved in (did I say for the fifth time). So I said to the clouds, “Ha ha, ya won’t fool me this time!”

    Now comes the kicker. Twenty minutes later, I see that big cloud set moved strongly to the southeast....AND clear skies were all over the rest of the sky. I rapidly loaded the car, went to the park & set up the scope. Observed two stars(which I couldn’t split because the air was turbulent). I said to myself, “I’ll wait, maybe the sky will settle down”. Well, the sky took the hint.......& proceeded to cloud completely up. I said, “I’ll wait the clouds out.” The clouds got thicker. I went home. Yeah, I faked out the clouds the first time. But they still won the day(THE NIGHT).
     
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  6. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Went observing tonight....& for the SIXTH time in LESS than 2 months, as soon as I set up, the clouds started moving in. & I’ve had very few attempts at observing for 4+ cloudy months. Anyhow with clouds moving, I quickly saw Sirius A & B in Canis Major, & the companion star to Rigel in Orion. As quickly, I went to Betelgeuse in Orion, but not to see Betelgeuse. South-southwest of Betelgeuse about half a degree is a double star, Struve 817. I quickly saw the double star. With the thin clouds & light pollution, I guessed they were separated by 16arcsecs(really 18,8arcsecs), were dimmer than 8th Magnitude, & could not tell which was brighter. They were Magnitude 8.68 & 8.93. My guess of Position Angle was 60 degrees, but 73 degrees is more accurate. I guessed they were similarly white. But their spectrums are A(white) & F(yellow-orange?). Well, with those wrong guesses, the clouds really started playing with the sky. I had a few glimpses at the clouding Moon(not quite full), called it a cloudy night & went home.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2021
  7. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Returned to Struve 817, the double star, last night, due to a question on an astronomy forum:
    /////////
    Out observing last night & returned to Struve 817. Could tell the blue color cast that occurs to Struve 817 while including red Betelgeuse in the view. I think under dark skies, the cones in our eyes responsible for color production get “fatigued”, leaving an excess of blue for other objects in our eyepiece FOV.
    Being that I use the Pentax camera lens, I stopped the lens down whlle viewing STF 817. I could still see STF817 at f/32(equivalent to a 30mm optic), but could not see it at f/45(equivalent to a 21.3mm optic).
    ////////
    Clouds were moving in the western sky, so I moved to Arcturus in the eastern sky. Thirty years ago, I marked a double star(STF1825) near Arcturus, that I could not split the star twice previously with the low 60 power Pentax lens. The same occurred last night under mostly turbulent skies. I saved my star chart space by NOT giving the double star magnitude differences on my charts less than 3 magnitudes, which I had NOT given to STF 1825. So I thought I should have a chance of splitting it, even with 60power. So, I knuckled down & concentrated on accurately focusing. The rack&pinion focuser on the Pentax telephoto lens is rudimentary. Fortunately, the integrated 90degree prism AND eyepiece came with a fine tuning focuser. Delicate turn by delicate turn & with pauses in the turbulent air, I thought I glimpsed the secondary. Again, focusing carefully I got longer glimpses. I guessed the Position Angle at 170degrees, the primary was K & the secondary was cooler still? I’ll have to find out......

    PS.......Washington Double Star data shows 4.2arcsec separation, brightness difference between the primary & secondary of 6+ times, & a Position Angle of 154degrees, some data of which may indicate my difficulty in splitting them.
    The Primary is a possible X-ray source & the secondary may be a spectroscopic double star, according to an old USNO report.
    Most observations see Struve1825 as hotter than I have indicated.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2021
  8. Dorean Clarke

    Dorean Clarke Well-Known Member

    Normal people have no idea how beautiful the darkness is.
     
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  9. litesong

    litesong litesong

    I’ve been in mountain darkness while using my astronomy telescopes to observe galaxies, nebulae, & stars. While in the dark, I’ve even had a black bear thumping around in the area. Even with good correctable vision, I always wanted the ability to see even more without a telescope. Always envied the nocturnal animals who could see so much more than humans in the dark. If I became blind now, I would truly despise the darkness. But, as an amateur astronomer, we have to have the ability to “turn our Sun, Sol off——go into the night”, so we can see the rest of the Universe.
     
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  10. litesong

    litesong litesong

    I never said why this thread ended. Not sure, but I may have mentioned my back & arthritis hindered my ability to mount the Pentax lens on the tripod AND generally, I had to be careful with my hands & back NOT to drop the Pentax. My arthritis really started bothering me again, in March 2021. By April, I no longer trusted by hands to handle the Pentax lens safely, without the increasing possibility of dropping it (which was always a possibility). Long story short, recently I’ve found a medication that controls my arthritis pain, more than any medication I’ve found over the decades. My hands still cannot handle the Pentax lens safely. We’ll see if the new med will allow my hands to handle the Pentax lens safely.
    Also, I need better equipment to mount the Pentax really securely. I’ve been using the Pentax lens with a tripod I had for general photography, but not meant for the heavy Pentax, AND elevating at astro angles. But, my hands & back can’t handle heavier & more complicated astro gear.
    Anyhow, whether I can return to astronomy or not, I hope people who followed (& new people discovering) this thread, can feel a bit of the real world awe available to the amateur astronomer.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2021
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