Neowise Comet 2020

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

  1. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Couple days ago, took the tripod mounted 20x80 binoculars to a nearby playground at 3:30AM to look for Neowise Comet. Lined up behind a basketball backboard to block the worst street light glare. Spotted Alpha & Beta Aurigae & extended a line from the stars to a really low spot on the NE horizon, but the trees were in the way. Took a few minutes & enjoyed Mars near the half moon in the south with the 20x80mm binoculars. Also, Venus showed nicely, I believe close to Aldebaran, towards the Hyades star cluster, but not actually in the cluster. Walking around the basketball court, I steadied another pair of binoculars against a basket hoop post to get a better view of the Hyades, Venus & the Pleiades..... fairly nice even in the light pollution. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw another “star” in a gap between the NE trees. Turning..... well how about that.... Comet Neowise was between the trees. I moved the 20x80 binoculars over, so I could view the comet between the trees. The comet had a tail that was about 1/4 the binocular view width. Without binoculars the tail would then be about two widths of the moon or 1+degrees in length. I tried my best to see any part of the tail longer than the said 1degree. But the morning brightening sky & light pollution washed away hope of seeing more of the tail. I observed the head of the comet. It was small & very tidy, not at all showing the shockwaves that Comet Hale-Bopp showed in the mid-1990’s. Yes, shockwaves.... because Neowise Comet was moving 50+ miles per second. But, those shockwave views had been with my big astronomical telescope. However, the 20x80’s did show a split in the tail of the comet, indicating two tails. I didn’t see any evidence of the curve that good Neowise Comet photographs are showing. Now, that Neowise is moving into the evening sky (hopefully higher in the sky), I’ll try to see more detail tonight.... hopefully.
    //////
    10PM PDT, 7-13-2020
    PS....Observed Comet Neowise with better view than morning observation, tho low near the horizon. Started with Saturn & Jupiter with the 53 power, 80mm terrestrial scope.Two Galilean moons were right & two 20 arcsecond apart moons were left, & closely aligned with Jupiter. The two close moons were 45 arc degrees to each other in their orbital planes & separating at “up to 50,000MPH”. Two equatorial Jupiter bands were nicely visible.
    The 53 power terrestrial scope is OK on Earth objects, but 900 million mile distant Saturn looked small, even tho the planet is almost 10 times Earth width AND the ring system is 21+ times Earth diameter. In essence, Saturn looked like a 5.28 inch ball with a 12 inch ring, as seen naked eye at 100 foot distance. Hey, its better than seeing the ball & ring at 1 mile distance, naked eye. Yeah, seeing Saturn is much better at 7000 feet with 300 power on a 13 inch long focal length Dobsonian with motor drive. But, the ring system was displaying well & wide.
    Comet Neowise, in the 53power spotting scope, showed its head best. Even tho the comet was traveling at 50 miles per second, I detected no evidence of shockwaves. The comet tail couldn’t be traced more than a degree, naked eye in the street glare & on the park table I was limited to. Moving the tripod-mounted 20x80mm binoculars among the park trees to help a little bit against the street & house light-pollution, I could see the comet tail better than the other morning observation. The tail stretched to almost half the binocular field, which would be about 35 arc degrees in the binoculars or about 1.5 to 2 degrees naked eye. I could see the slight curve of the tail. It’s been said the best Astro photographs show Neowise as about 6 arc degrees, naked eye.
    (Just saw a Neowise Comet photo with lots of processing & stacking, said to show tail extensions to 15arcdegrees. This photo & others show much tail details in both the individual tails.)
    Further observations, I’ll try to see Comet Neowise as soon as the sky darkens. Hopefully, catching it higher in the sky early AND as the orbit will rise, will help observations. Thirty years ago, we had a very good dark sky logging road at 1200 foot altitude, that had an excellent view to the low north, that was nothing but the North Cascades, going into Canada. But that road has been gated for decades.
    7-16-2020
    PS I...Observed Comet Neowise, Saturn & Jupiter yesterday night & the night before. Struggling against the light pollution, I have successively seen the comet tail extend. It is tough, but I’ve seen the tail as long as 2+ degrees(about 4 Earth moon diameters) AND also the 2nd much shorter tail. Could NOT see any of the rippling effect that excellent Astro images show. However, the comet head is nice in the binoculars, showing a tiny core that most photographs over-expose. I just wish if there were any shockwave effects around the coma to see, my non-astronomical optics would show them.
    In all cases, my 20x80 binoculars show the comet better than my 53 power 80mm terrestrial spotting scope. However, Jupiter & its moons are much better viewed with the scope. Hard to beat more power on objects with detail. Jupiter, as above & the last two nights, all four Galilean moons were visible.
    The night before last night was interesting, despite atmospheric turbulence.Saw all four moons as soon as I set up the 53 power scope. But, one of the moons was very very close to Jupiter AND moving toward Jupiter. In short order, that moon started “blending” with Jupiter. On occasion when the turbulence briefly subsided, I could see the moon. But, quickly the turbulence would “blend“ the moon & Jupiter. At one point, I never saw the moon again. Last night I saw all 4 moons. One moon was about 15 arcseconds from Jupiter. It was moving away from Jupiter, & I didn’t have to worry about it “blending” with the planet.
    7-18-2020
    Cloudy last night, so no Comet Neowise.
    But, tonite the clouds cleared some hours before observing time, so I got to see the comet again. Presently, the comet is about 67million miles from Earth, but only about 48million miles from the sun, so still inside the orbit of Venus. The comet should be heating pretty good. At its closest to the sun, it was inside the orbit of Mercury. That’s why there was talk that Neowise Comet might not survive.
    Observed Jupiter. Despite turbulent air, I saw Ganymede & Europa were very close to each other, I guess about 10arcseconds or a bit more. They were positioned at 45 arc degrees angle from each other & their orbits. In only about 20 or 30 minutes, they were even closer(8 arcseconds?) & vertical to their orbits. Then over 20 minutes(?), they started parting. It was sweet to see the interaction, despite the bad turbulence. On two occasions the turbulence stopped for a few seconds, the moons got steady(& brighter) & the distance between the moons seemed almost wide. Hey, I ain’t kickin’ for my $30 scope & tripod purchase.
    Anyhow, immediately thereafter, the clouds rolled in & observing came to an end. After putting scope, tripods & binoculars into the car, I looked up. In the last remaining patch of clear sky, the ISS satellite passed overhead! A good ending to a good (but short) session.
    7-19-2020
    Comet Neowise made an isosceles triangle with two brighter stars last night, Iota & Kappa Ursae Majoris (light pollution made them not so bright). Iota is about 47.3 lt-years distance, & a multiple star system. Kappa is a double star, including a debris field, discovered by infra-red telescopes. It is 358 lt-years distance.The stars & comet trio framed nicely in the 20x80 binoculars with 3.5 degree field. Actually, I think I saw the tail extensions better in a small pair of 8x42 binoculars. The sky appeared a bit washed out in the big binocs. Hey, I’ll take my 9x63mm binocs tonight. That’ll be a good complement to the big binocs. But, the coma head was much better in the 20x80’s. Again, tried to see any shockwaves, but that failed. But, I did see some unevenness in the tail, immediate to the head. At the end of my comet observations, the comet had moved, with the stars & comet forming a right triangle, instead of the isosceles triangle. Since I started watching Comet Neowise, it has moved from Auriga east northeast into Ursae Major.
    Jupiter was good again, all my nights showing the 4 Galilean moons in the 53 power, 80mm spotting scope. Two (Europa & Io?) were close & got closer until merging, over a 2.5 hour period. More often than last night, altho there was turbulence, moons showed nicely crisp. At times the gap between Europa & Io appeared large even as they got closer. I believe a sharp large telescope at high power would have showed at least some of the moons(large Callisto or Ganymede?) as disks. Unlike yesterday, the moons didn’t pass each other separately. But at 12:21AM, I could not see them as separated. With a big telescope & 300 power, they may have been resolved separately while passing, but I don’t know.
    7-20-2020
    Observed Neowise Comet again. Yes, it had moved east away from stars Iota & Kappa Ursae Majoris. The 3 points produced a long canted-over “triangle”. Was excited to use the 9x63mm binoculars as opposed to the small 8x42mm binoculars, in conjunction with the 20x80mm binoculars. Stars did appear brighter. As far as the tail of Neowise tho, I couldn’t see any further extension of the tail than with the 8x42mm binoculars the night before. I think the atmospheric conditions in the light pollution last night were a little “softer” than the night before.
    For the fifth or sixth night in a row, all 4 Galilean moons orbiting Jupiter were showing. All moons were spread around Jupiter & no close interactions occurred. Galilean moon velocities around Jupiter AND Earth moon velocity are as follows:
    Callisto, outer moon(1.17 million miles from Jupiter).....18,500 miles per hour
    Ganymede (665,000 miles from Jupiter).... 24,500 miles per hour
    Europa (417,000 miles from Jupiter).... 30,800 miles per hour
    Io (262,000 miles from Jupiter).... 38,900 miles per hour
    Earth moon(240,000 miles from Earth)..... about 2286 miles per hour
    Maximum “crossing velocity” of Io & Europa....38,900+30,800= 69,700 miles per hour
    Decades ago, I saw Io appear from behind Europa with my high power astronomical telescope. I could physically see both moons part from each other...at 69,700 MPH.
    The great Io AND Earth Moon velocity squared difference, is due to Jupiter being about 318 times more massive than Earth plus the difference of Io distance from Jupiter vs. Earth moon distance from the Earth.
    7-21-2020
    Last night, observed Comet Neowise, numerous arcdegrees almost directly south of the Big Dipper southernmost North Star pointer star. Neowise, firing out of the solar system, moves to near the distance from the sun of the orbit of Venus, after being closest to the sun, inside the orbit of Mercury. Went “cheap” last night & left the 20x80mm binoculars at home. I should have had the big binocs, I think.
    Anyhow, Saturn looked OK in the 53 power terrestrial spotting scope & Jupiter was a little better. Again, for the 7th or 8th time in a row, all four Galilean moons were showing. One on the close left of Jupiter, eventually moved further left & passed another Moon. The two moons seemed to “dawdle”, so they might have been Callisto & Ganymede. Maybe I can find out. UPDATE: The two moons were Ganymede & Io. So the slow movement of Ganymede is explained, being the 3rd most distant Galilean moon from Jupiter & slower. Io tho, orbits Jupiter faster. However, Io was fairly near its eastern elongation in relation to Jupiter. So much of the speed of Io was disguised, since its motion was much “towards the Earth” at the time.
    7-25-2020
    Been cloudy the last few days. Yeah, Washington state astronomy. Last night it clouded up, too. But, I looked out the computer room window to the south around 10PM & saw Jupiter between clouds. Hurried & quickly placed the 53 power terrestrial spotting scope in the open window, the tripod precariously perched on the frame. Quickly saw only 3 moons of Jupiter before the clouds rolled over it. Put the scope away. About 1am the next morning(early this morning), the sky was clear & Jupiter shined brightly. Tho sleepy, I set the scope up on the window sill & saw 4 moons of Jupiter. Two moons were very close on the right hand side of the planet. They were large, brighter, slower moving Ganymede & smaller, dimmer, faster moving Europa, passing south of Ganymede. The resolution of the scope & distance between the moons was good enough, the 2 moons did not merge.
    Obviously, I could not see Comet Neowise in the north. Could have even been cloudy in that direction. Most certainly, the trees blocked the view, too. I went to bed.
    7-29-2020
    Observations for the last 2 days:
    Comet Neowise in this light-polluted neighborhood is losing its visible tail as it moves passed the orbit of Venus & extends to 71 million miles from Sol. Photos still show the tail from non-light-polluted regions, tho. As it moved closest to Earth (not close tho), the comet head seems a bit larger & doesn’t have the more intense small central core appearance. Not near any bright stars, I’ll have difficulties telling it from dimmer stars with shakey hand-held binoculars, just to find it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2020
  2. litesong

    litesong litesong

    I’m going to make a separate post, just to bump this thread, letting people know that Comet Neowise & my observations of Jupiter & its moons near opposition are still on-going.
    7-29-2020
    The last 2 nights have had nice interactions between the moons. On 7-28, Europa & Ganymede moved close. At one point, I could no longer split the difference between E & G with the 20x80mm binoculars (5-6 arcseconds?), as E sizzled by G(line of sight). With the 53 power terrestrial scope, E & G remained separate altho even closer, during the whole passage. It was sweet, because the atmosphere became very steady, giving the 20x80mm binoculars & the scope the best sharpness & resolution I have ever seen from them. Despite the light-pollution, the 20x80mm binocs, gave a 3-D appearance to the moons & Jupiter, against a fair dark sky(best to be expected). I loved the viewing. Wish such atmospheric sharpness was available all the time.
    Last night’s observation, had Europa & Io racing each other toward Jupiter in their orbits. Europa came around its western elongation & started moving toward Jupiter first. Io, in a faster closer orbit around Jupiter, came to its western elongation second. But, Io, with its greater speed over a shorter distance, was able to beat Europa to Jupiter easily. Also, Callisto was at its western elongation, showing the wide 1.2 million mile orbital distance(minus Jupiter’s 45,000 mile radius) between C & J. All by itself, the Callisto-Jupiter gap was spectacular to see. Coupled with Io & Europa racing to Jupiter, it was awesome to see such activity.
    On top of all that, the wide angle 20x80mm binoculars showed a nice field of dim stars in the Jupiter region, as J wanders the sky.
    Oh, yeah. As I was starting to pack up for the night, it was nice to see Mars in the eastern sky. Since I’ve seen Mars decades ago with the big scopes, it sure wasn’t an overwhelming sight with the tiny 53 power spotter. The atmosphere in the east seemed turbulent, too. But I must say, Mars was really red last night... very nice. I’ll try to observe Mars, as Earth gets closer to Mars till October 2020 opposition, & see if I can see the Mars ice cap. Oh that’s funny. Never thought of the terrestrial spotter as Mars icecap capable. Maybe it isn’t.
    7-31-2020
    I forgot to post my observations for last night. Comet Neowise is losing its tail fast with the 20x80mm binoculars & bad light pollution here. However, there was a star pattern of slightly brighter stars near the comet than normally were in the region of the comet the past 10(?) days or so. Focusing the 20x80s as sharp as possible on one of those brighter stars & then moving the binocs to the comet really helped. The previous night I could not say I saw the very small & intense core. But last night, I saw the hazy coma around the comet plus a brighter haziness nearer the core. On occasion I did spot the intense center of Neowise.
    Jupiter observations showed 3 of the Galilean moons. Io was behind Jupiter. Waiting about 50 minutes, I kept looking intently for the apparence of Io, not only from behind Jupiter, but for its emergence from Jupiter shadow. Yes, the opposition of Jupiter ended last week & Jupiter is casting a shadow as seen(not seen?) from Earth already. I did see Io as it dipped out of the shadow in the blackness of space. & it did brighten in the matter of a small part of a minute. The little 53 power spotter is working fairly well.
    Yes, our Earth Moon takes an hour to go INTO eclipse & also come out of Earth’s shadow as the 2200 mile diameter Moon orbits at about 2000MPH. But, 2100 mile diameter Io is traveling 37,000(?) MPH. So, Io exits Jupiter’s shadow in about 1 minute. How about them facts!
    In addition, Io exited Jupiter’s shadow & within the hour, Io & Europa passed each other. It was quick with these two moons, because their crossing velocities were probably in the order of 50,000 MPH. It was SO QUICK, that incoming temporarily covering Earth clouds..... made me miss the crossing. Yeah, the Earth clouds covered Jupiter & when the clouds uncovered Jupiter, Io was 20,000(+?) miles past Europa.... & gone. Oh, well.....
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
    BillLin likes this.
  3. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    In my area , if I use my powerful binocs , I can see 17 stars.

    I vividly remember the sky at 8000 ft in Colorado. Sigh.
     
    BillLin likes this.
  4. litesong

    litesong litesong

    It is often repeated that the farthest object seen astronomically with naked eyes is the Andromeda galaxy, which is 2.6 million light years distant. Andromeda is easy to see, even near towns with fair light pollution conditions. However, one fellow has reported seeing the galaxy M81 naked eye on top of 14,240(?) foot Mt. Evans in Colorado. M81 is said to be ~ 11.74 million light years distant.
    Doesn’t sound like that much difference. However, light fall-off decreases at the square of the distance. If M81 is similar to Andromeda absolute brightness, then the light fall-off would be the square of (11.74/2.6) = 20+ times light falloff. Yeah, getting above the atmosphere really helps.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020
    BillLin likes this.
  5. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Hey! Cloudy tonight, so no observing. But, following Comet Neowise on the Internet star chart, I see that it is in-line passing near Galaxy IC 3516.... oh, just a 15th Magnitude galaxy, 4000 times dimmer than the naked eye can see. However, decades ago, trying to re-define the structure of the Galaxy Local Group & its gravitational connections to the Virgo Galaxy Super-Cluster, I plotted thousands(?) of extra dim galaxies on my Sky Atlas paper charts, that already had lots of dim celestial objects. Well, I had plotted IC 3516 on the paper charts. Yeah, Comet Neowise is now passing in-line, one of the gravitational lines that my theory included.... which could include IC 3516.....Ugh!
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020
    BillLin likes this.
  6. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Last night’s Neowise viewing, with the comet at 77 million miles from the sun & about 60+ million miles from the Earth. Fortunately, the comet was still close to those brighter stars, this time on the east side of them. Those brighter stars I believe are stars in the Coma Berenices constellation, also piled in among excellent groups of galaxies, that I have observed in decades past. Needless to say, with the small spotter scope in the light pollution, there was no chance to see the galaxies. Hopefully, some good astronomical photographs will show the comet AND GALAXIES, together. Could still see the good coma around the head of the comet. On occasion, I still saw the small but intense core. Thank you brighter stars!
    Only 3 Jupiter Galilean moons were showing, Europa being behind Jupiter & in Jupiter’s shadow. Like the other night’s Io appearance, Europa brightened in black space to the side of Jupiter, as the moon exited the shadow on the left side. Also, Io was on the left side too, about 150,000 miles away. Eventually, Io & Europa would cross, but I didn’t wait 3 or 4 hours for that event. Again, it would have proved the incredible scores of thousands of MPH the moons track to move hundreds of thousands of miles in the Jupiter system. Really, really spectacular.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2020
    BillLin likes this.
  7. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Has been cloudy, so no observing. For those who have access to extra power binoculars, spotting scope, or astronomical scope, all of high quality with tripods or Dobsonian supports, August 10th going into the 11th, will have the moons of Jupiter, all close to Jupiter. During the course of the night, 3 of the 4 moons will be either passing in front of or behind Jupiter, occultations, & coming out of eclipses. It’ll be a night of lots of Jupiter moon moving, dodging, hiding & razzle-dazzle. With high powered eyepieces, you may be able to see moons as round disks, moon shadows cast on the clouds of Jupiter & even have the ability to see moons against the clouds of Jupiter, even tho the contrast differences between the moons & Jupiter clouds are very low.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2020
    RedylC94 and BillLin like this.
  8. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Great observation of Comet Neowise tonight! The other night I couldn’t find it. Only when I got home & re-examined the star charts, did I figure I was looking slightly in the wrong area. Tonight I hoped to do better. Still had a hard time. Kept widening my search pattern AND modified my directions from my star hopping. With a final widening of the search pattern to a region I hadn’t tried, & a focus sharpening of the smaller binoculars, did I catch what I thought might be the comet. If I was in a place of little light pollution, I would have readily seen it as the comet with the smaller binoculars. Star hopping carefully with the tripod-mounted 20x80mm binoculars, then I easily saw the comet. Presently, Comet Neowise is as far from Sol as the orbit radius of Earth(92 million miles) AND 92 million miles FROM the Earth. The comet coma is seen as getting smaller, BOTH because it is getting farther from the heat of the sun to melt it, & because it is farther from the Earth. I detected no evidence of the center core.
    Here is what made the comet observation Great: while observing the comet intently, a Perseid meteor flashed thru the field of view(FOV) of the 20x80mm binoculars. While observing comets, I have never seen a meteor burn through the eyepiece. I’ve seen satellites & even seen tiny meteors in the eyepiece, while observing other celestial objects, but never while observing comets. & this meteor was a strong one. Not a blinding flash like would be possible, but a strong meteor view, all the same. SWEET!!!
    Jupiter viewing was OK. Only 3 moons were visible, Europa being behind Jupiter. But, the moons that were visible seemed a trace brighter than other nights I’ve observed.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020
  9. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Cloudy this early evening, so looks to be no observing tonite.
    Last night was the razzle-dazzle night. I began observing Jupiter, when it wasn’t very dark. All 4 Galilean moons were showing, two on either side of Jupiter. Ganymede passed Europa. Should really say Europa passed Ganymede, since Europa has a faster orbital speed. A very nice passage indeed. Plenty of gap between the two moons, at least with good optics & steadying atmosphere. Even at their closest, I could easily see space between the close moons, even with the 20x80mm binoculars. One thing about the binoculars: if you work to get both tubes focused sharply, the binocular gives a wonderful, solidity of view, unmatched by one eyepiece & one scope tube. The moons of Jupiter seemed so tiny, yet so 3-dimensional, they looked like glistening touches of light, ready to be plucked from the inky blackness of dark space.... at least as dark as light pollution can make the sky.
    After much work, finally found Comet Neowise. Yeah, its getting dim with the 10x50mm binoculars & light pollution. But, with careful star hopping with the 10x50’s, was able to follow the same path with the 20x80’s to get to Comet Neowise. The comet is a fuzz ball in the light pollution.
    Was going to stay up for more shifting moons of Jupiter. But I was running out of gas & didn’t want to stay up till 3AM. I finished my observing by splitting the Zeta Ursa Majoris double star. Very nice, in both the 20x80’s & 53 power terrestrial scope. The 20x80’s easily split the 14 arcsec stars, even tho the brightness difference between the stars was 4.7 times. The 53 power scope showed the colors fairly accurately. The brighter showed a nice white, which corresponded to its spectral A2 rating. I saw the dimmer as blue with a dusky cast. Experts with better scopes have seen the star as whitish-green or emerald. I’ll re-examine the star again, to see if my opinion “blue with a dusky cast” may need to change.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
  10. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Well.....Dragged out my....ooolllddd camera lens.... to replace the 53 power terrestrial scope. I got it decades ago.... an old screw-mount lens..... manual stop-down aperture. No electronics, just a tube. Now the good news. It’s a Pentax Super-Multi-Coated(SMC) 1000mm f/8 of 125mm clear aperture(9-14-2020 UPDATE: Just discovered that the “old” 3 element Pentax 1000mm f/8 lens[my lens?] was later updated to 5 lens Pentax 1000mm f/8). Altho the lens tube is all strong metal, that 125mm lens is really heavy, with the weight balance very much forward towards the lens front. Also, decades ago, I got one eyepiece for it, with the standard Pentax screw-mount. It beats the 53 power scope. Seems to give 60 to 70 power. Not sharp at f/8, but the big lens gets good & sharp once its stopped down to f/11 & f/16. Jupiter, viewed at this low power, looks pretty good. Have seen the Great Red Spot. The Galilean moons, at times of no turbulence in the Earth atmosphere, look pin-point sharp. Also, moon shadows when landing on Jupiter clouds, also look good, tho very tiny. Double stars appear well superior to the 53 power scope. A very nice feature, which I attribute to multi-coatings on the Pentax lens, is that star colors may be accurate. One feature, not ever encountered with any telescope I have used, is that bright individual stars, when viewed at wide-open f/8 (which I’ve stated is fuzzy & not sharp on planets), can look sharp under certain conditions. Even when de-focused, the star image, tho larger & de-focused, takes on a character of varying colors of shimmering, longer pointy spikes & sharpness. Never enjoyed viewing individual stars too much, but the spikey light show from the 1000mm f/8 lens, has captured me. I’ll view lots of bright stars now, just to see the quirky razzle dazzle.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020 at 11:49 PM
    BillLin likes this.
  11. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Well, now that the Pentax 1000mm lens is showing itself better than the 53 power Bausch & Lomb terrestrial scope(most often mentioned on the “Coronavirus will end” thread), I’ll probably continue on this Neowise Comet thread(tho I don’t know where Neowise is now). We’ll determine what this low-geared(low power eyepiece) Pentax 1000mm camera lens can show, as far as a visual instrument.
    Had the Pentax lens out looking at Earth’s Moon the last few nights. When I was into astronomy with the big Newtonian scopes, I was after galaxies. We went to the mountains for dark skies. So nights with a bright moon were mostly avoided. But, I enjoyed the moon, the times I watched it. But, I saw things on our Moon the last 2 nights, I’ve never seen. Large Moon craters often have a central mountain peak. Was looking at one crater that had the sun shining on it, at a very low angle. Therefore, the surrounding higher elevation ring mountains of the crater blocked the sun from illuminating the crater low plain, which was pitch black. Now, often you can see the very highest part of the central mountain top. With the Pentax, this one crater showed two very close central peaks!! Just very very sweet! As a visual subject, the Moon is contrasty. The Pentax shows the Moon at high contrast, compared to all my other astronomical scopes. Very subtle details are seen. In the past, I didn’t care to view far from the terminator (the “line” between sunlit objects & darkness). But the Pentax shows vast details far from the terminator. Also, the Pentax, with its manual aperture stop, can readily adjust Moon brilliance to bring out aspects of the many lunar features,
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020 at 12:15 AM
    BillLin likes this.
  12. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Looking forward to tonight’s observation.... If I can get a bit of shut-eye between now & then. A number of Jupiter moon actions going on right now.... in the daytime. Even if I could find Jupiter in the daytime sky, I think the dimness of the moons would make them impossible to see. Ganymede is passing Io now because Io is coming towards us in its orbit around Jupiter & not showing its lateral motion (which we can’t daylight see due to its dimness.... maybe in Europe, Africa or India, where its dark).
    Anyhow tonight, Io will begin gaining on Ganymede. Ganymede will begin transiting Jupiter first, later followed by Io’s transit of Jupiter. Even as the moons transit, Io will still gain on Ganymede & sometime during the transit, Io will pass Ganymede. I may have mentioned because of the low power of the Pentax lens, I have yet to see a moon in transit, because of the low power & low contrast between the moons & Jupiter clouds. If I hope to see a transit, maybe tonight will be the night, since both moons will be very near each other during Io’s passage by Ganymede. Here’s hoping. Also, after Io is transiting Jupiter for 1.5 hours(?), Io’s shadow will also transit Jupiter. & of course, Io’s shadow will gain on Ganymede, too. However, Ganymede will end its transit of Jupiter BEFORE Io’s shadow catches Ganymede.

    I’ve been seeing double stars(DS) with the Pentax, much better than with the 53 power terrestrial scope. Mizar looks wonderful, altho I still see the two stars as white & the other as blue, not the emerald or green that others see it. Tho the two stars are only 14 arcsec apart(~ 120th the width of Earth’s 2100+ mile Moon), the stars are 83 light-years away. At that distance, 5 of our solar systems out to Pluto(~40 billion miles)would fit between the stars.
    Another DS seen was Alpha Canus Venaticorum or Cor Caroli Regis Martyris. Excellent observers have seen the stars “yellow & faun”, or no contrast or have seen the pale companion as olive blue or copper. I see them as white & blue. Anyway you have it, a very pretty DS.
    Also, saw Kappa & Iota Bootes.... two double stars each, within the Field of View(FOV) of Pentax low power eyepiece.... very nice. Outside the FOV, I also noted a dim(about 50 or 60 times dimmer than the human eye can see) double star, maybe 30arcsec apart. Sweet grouping of DS’s.
    Saw the famous Eta Cassiopeiae, a double star I tried unsuccessfully to see with the 53 power spotting scope. Since I couldn’t see the dimmer component (I should have been able to see it), I couldn’t tell which star was Eta Cassiopeiae in the fairly crowded star field. Some have seen the pair as yellow & red or “topaz & garnet”. I, as others have observed, saw it as gold & purple..... PURPLE..... yeah, purple. Sweet, sweet double star.
    An advantage of the Pentax lens is the ability to stop the lens down & examine stars at many brightness levels. You really can make many different observations with the flick of the manual stop down dial!!! Even stopping the lens down to the equivalent of 20 or 30mm aperture gives examinations well worth making. I’m hoping that the ability to stop the lens down, will enhance my ability to split stars.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020 at 4:54 PM
    BillLin likes this.
  13. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Oh, well. So much for amateur astronomy plans. First, Earth’s waxing Moon was near Jupiter. Set up the Pentax anyhow, since the Moon’s brightness might “stop down my own pupil, which might “help” observations. First, Ganymede began its Jupiter transit. But, then small, thin Earth clouds appeared in the sky. Even BEFORE the clouds covered Jupiter, the atmosphere became turbulent. Jupiter looked like you were looking at it under a thin flow of water. It really did appear that you could see the flow of the turbulent air. Plus, Jupiter was getting lower in the sky & that just made the turbulent flow worse.
    Anyhow, before the turbulence occurred, I had observed Eta Cassiopeiae again. Just a sweet sweet double star(DS).
    Also, I saw the triple star Iota Cassiopeiae, which for the first time only, I was able to successfully “star hop” to. With the low power Pentax, I split the farthest(7 arcsec) star from the primary nicely. Without higher power tho, the closer star(2 arcsec) to the primary remained merged. This experience makes me hope, I can split stars to 4 arcseconds or a bit smaller with the Pentax single, low power eyepiece. Generally, you need stars of equal brightness to get the best split. We’ll see in the future.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2020
    BillLin likes this.
  14. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Last night’s observing was really good, altho Jupiter’s moons weren’t exciting. Io went behind Jupiter & I wasn’t observing 4+ hours later when Io came from behind Jupiter AND came out of eclipse by Jupiter’s shadow. Jupiter is gaining on Saturn, & they are getting closer, Jupiter moving faster on its inner shorter orbit.
    On a greater note for the evening, I saw Gamma Andromedae double star(DS), 10arcsec split(1/180th the width of the Moon), beautiful yellow & blue colors.... or so I thought previous to last night. Last night with the Pentax, the brighter “yellow” star really was golden as many others report (yellow with a sheen of red or orange). AND the “blue” star really was greenish blue as many report. The Pentax is really giving different observations than my big astronomy “light buckets” used to present. While observing Gamma Andromedae, 5 or 6 satellites passed by the star, most passing left to right, but two passed, right to left. Might these be some of the satellites, Elon Musk put into orbit?
    Later, I returned to Kappa & Iota Bootis, just to see the Double Double stars again.... & that dim but cute 9th(?) magnitude double star, outside the field to the northeast(?). Oh, oh, oh! From Burnham Celestial Handbook, there is another double star about 1 to 1.5 degrees to the southwest(?), 7.5 & 8 magnitudes, 5 arcsec apart!! Zowey! Got to return to K & i Bootis!! With the low power Pentax, 5 arcsec will become tight. However, the dim 7.5 to 8 magnitudes may help to resolve the stars....if I can find the DS in the first place.

    My final observation was star hopping to Gamma Arietis, in the constellation Aries. Yeah, star hopping to 4th magnitude Gamma Arietis. It was nice to have the brighter Alpha & Beta stars to get me to Gamma with all the light pollution!!! Boy, is Gamma Arietis special. Both components are of equal brightness AND color, a steady pale to medium blue. & at the low power, tho 7 arcsec apart, they appear quite close. The amazing sight was, they appeared to be jewels that you could pick up & put in your pocket.The Pentax presented them, as if there wasn’t 164 light-years separating them from you!!! Experimented with stopping the Pentax camera lens down. What stopping down appears to do, is rid stars of the outer sparkle that turbulent air gives to star images. Also, the sky gets progressively darker. Stopping down further, the sparkle goes completely away, leaving an image pattern that is circular. Of course, it is NOT the actual star circular disk showing. As I said in another post, I think it will help to resolve double stars. We’ll see. Anyhow, what an amazing sight to end the night!! (UPDATE: Refer to 9-10-2020 observation in relation to this speculation. I resolved 2.85 arcsec Epsilon Bootis. Wonderful observing session below at 9-10-2020!)

    PS.... Clouds have moved in & no observing tonite. Now, I’m chomping at the bit, to find what will be a fourth double star in the K & i Bootis circle.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020 at 5:02 PM
    BillLin likes this.
  15. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Got some Astro viewing in last night. With the low power Pentax, those small sub-five arc degree double star splits are.... incredibly tiny. With the old astronomy telescopes, I remember the one arcsec tough double star split I had, but that was with 200+ power AND better eyes than I have now. Had a 4.4arcsec split last night with the Pentax 60 power, I thought was tough. The brightness difference of 4 times between the stars probably had something to do with the toughness.
    Hey, I saw that 4th double star in the region of Kappa & Iota Bootis!!!! I’m glad it was as wide as 5.5arcsec tho, because I could have missed finding it, if it had been a closer double star. Yes, I was checking various stars to see if they were double stars. Sure don’t want hundreds of stars you have to check, if you’re looking for double stars in an area. After checking a dim isosceles triangle pattern without success, the next right triangle pattern I checked showed the double star. Very very small(& cute), yet it was a big success for me with the low-powered Pentax camera lens scope & light pollution.
    Yes, so far I’m having a good time with Pentax, doing something it wasn’t designed to do. & occasional people have also enjoyed the Pentax, as they walk by & get curious. Yeah, I got my mask. Sometimes, even if I don’t stop down the lens, the double stars can be fairly sharp..... & pleasant to look at with good color. I’m hoping to use the Pentax on the terrestrial tripod(which, if you remember, won’t show directly overhead) in both Cygnus & Lyra when they display later & lower in the sky. Lyra has numerous double stars AND even double-double stars! The famous Epsilon Lyrae double double, I shouldn’t be able to split the two pairs of close double stars. Hope to be able to completely split a few other double doubles in Lyra..... if I can find them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020 at 5:06 PM
    BillLin likes this.
  16. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Tried observing the stars last night. There was some wind tho. Shaking telescopes make for terrible seeing. Even worse, the high altitude turbulence even affected the visibility of stars which are already reduced by light pollution. AND even degrading more, air pollution from distant fires is pushing into western Washington. At first, I thought smoke from the California fires was coming into the Puget Sound. But late last night, I saw that less common easterly winds from eastern Washington fires was carrying smoke over the Cascade Mountains to western Washington.
     
    BillLin likes this.
  17. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Oh, oh!!! Had GOOD OBSERVING (& TRACKING) LAST NIGHT, despite the smokey conditions from eastern Washington blowing over to the west side. The tracking led to good observing. As I’ve stated, this terrestrial scope (without finder scope) & terrestrial tripod cripples functioning & celestial observing. But, I got the hang of star hopping without a finder scope(lucky too)....just with the Pentax scope itself. My first large star hop with the Pentax, I actually got to the first star I wanted to get to(at least, I thought it was the right star), which was an amazing accomplishment in itself. Then, I rotated my motion & headed in another direction(at least, I thought it was the right direction).... & kept going in that direction. Finally, a star hove to in the narrow eyepiece field. I tightened the tripod, & took my hands off the the scope & let the vibrations settle down. AND LO & BEHOLD, the star resolved into two stars, 6 arcsec separation, Pi Bootis, just as it was supposed to be!! Man, I doted on that double star for a long time. Success is its own reward.
    Finally, I set sail for another double star.... hopefully. Got to an intermediary star. Then, a rotation & a slight offset from my present star, & pushed off in a direction, hoping the right one. Away I sailed...& sailed...& sailed. A brighter star appeared. Tightening the tripod, & letting the scope stop vibrating. Hum & hum again. Twiddled with the focus. Maybe, it was a double star. Stopped down the Pentax aperture.... Yes, it was a double star....7arcsec Xi Bootis with the right magnitudes & Position Angles & everything. Again, viewed Xi Bootis for a long time, like Pi Bootis. Very very nice.
    Finally, I returned to a double star I had failed to resolve as a double, a week before, Epsilon Bootis. Again, I’m not instantly seeing the double star split. Epsilon Bootis is only 2.85arcsec separation, so the low power Pentax is at its limit. Then, I see a glimmer very slightly offset from Epsilon Bootis.... could be a diffraction pattern.... just really too low a power. Then I see the glimmer again. Again, it could be a diffraction pattern. Then, the glimmer solidified & a little star is very very near to Epsilon Bootis. But, I can see Epsilon Bootis as a double star. Then, I stopped down the lens. The glare from the bright star reduced, the sky darkened & the fainter component really did become excellently visible! Just a sweet sweet victory for the low-geared Pentax!
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020
    BillLin likes this.
  18. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Well.... My observing wasn’t good last night. But, then a miracle happened. Started with the 20x80mm binoculars. Worse than getting my old eyeballs in tune with ONE telescope eyepiece, getting old eyeballs in tune with TWO binocular eyepieces is much worse.....& that is with the binoculars I used to delightedly see galaxies 30 years ago. Anyhow, lots of focus twiddling last night...& eyes to eyepieces alignments, placements & adjustments. Tried to resolve Pi Bootis with the binoculars. Of course, that never happened. Poked around in Cassiopeia, but only got a maybe result on one double star there. Then, I went to Alpha 1,2 Capricorni, lower in the southern sky. Altho Alpha 1,2 are third magnitude stars, the light pollution & imported eastern Washington smoke, made them “eyeball invisible”. I cast the tripod-mounted binoculars up to where I thought they were & found Alpha 1,2 easily (later I sought Alpha 1,2 with the Pentax & never found them). Nothing hard there, but the 20 power binoculars gave a nice view of Alpha 1,2 & surroundings, which surprised me because of the smoke. Then, I noted a star still lower & further south. I shifted down to it, Beta Capricorni. AND almost immediately, noted other stars, lower still & farther south. Shifted lower & even further south. I discovered Rho, Pi & Omicron Capricorni. Now I realized if I had been using the “field of view restricted” Pentax (which is already considered low power), I would NOT have followed down to Beta, & most certainly NOT down to Rho, Pi or Omicron. Anyhow, examining the trio of stars, Omicron Capricorni is a nice double star, presented cutely with the 20 power binoculars. Very nice. I consulted the star charts, but the smoke was really getting bad. I ended my viewing with the successful binocular Omicron Capricorni viewing. Later, the star charts showed I should have some double star explorations in the Capricorn-Aquila constellations. One I see as a possible Double Double Star opportunity! The double-double may just get inside the field of view of the low-powered Pentax. But, being on the field of view edge, I don’t think one of the double stars will show as a double. Could be a tough double star split, even in the center of the field. We’ll see....

    PS..... Just thought of an idea. In the light-polluted sky here, I can use the tripod-mounted 20x80mm binoculars to find celestial objects AND then place the Pentax on the tripod to make detailed observations. The problem is, can I dis-mount the 20 power binoculars & mount the Pentax lens AND still maintain the same view point, not moving the accurate tripod aim. First, will the binoculars & Pentax actually point to the same area as far as up & down. If they don’t, the game is over & is lost. If they do point to the same up & down point, then I have to get the left-right position accurate, which I really can’t do. BUT, IF THE UP & DOWN POINT IS ACCURATE, all I have to do is rotate the tripod left or right & hope I recognize the binocular area, even tho I’ll be looking at the scene at 3(+?) times more power.
    Anyhow..... thank you for the idea. If I hadn’t been writing in this thread, I wouldn’t have had the idea. Thank, you, Bill.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2020
    BillLin likes this.
  19. litesong

    litesong litesong

    I have stated how the E.Washington forest fire pollution has affected the celestial observations. But I just walked outside, & saw a swirl of smoke just 100 yards away.... not just an overall Smokey sky. Yeah, that swirl of smoke was generated a 100 miles away!! My wife just said she read one report stating, our Puget Sound is suffering the worst air pollution in the WORLD. WOW!!!! The West Coast states are on FIRE!!!
    9-12–2020
    PS...... No celestial observing last night.....not because of clouds, but the thick smoke wiped out the stars. Just went outside this morning into the “Smokey fog”. Looked up & the sun was dim... & pink! It wasn’t a pretty pink tho.
    PS.... Later, the smoke even blotted out the SUN!!!..... & its cold, tho it is still summer.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020 at 4:37 PM

Share This Page