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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jun 27, 2011 17:00:01 GMT -6
Chicago Astronomer Star Party Observation Session
28 June 2011
This has been long overdue for sky lovers everywhere....an evening of clear skies...!
The Chicago Astronomers will set up Telescopes Tuesday evening, the 28th of June 2011, at 8:00 pm by the Adler area - and will remain till about 11:00 pm.
Saturn will be our highlight of the evening and let's see if we can pick out that new supernova in the Whirlpool galaxy. There will also be two flyover passes of the ISS, with one at a very bright -3.5 magnitude.
There are no events in the area, but the the Taste of Chicago will be going on. Take heed.
It will be a nice warm evening and a great time to see our friends, fans and visitors. Look for our telescopes.
Stop by if free or in the area and share the skies with the Chicago Astronomers.
Chicago Astronomer Joe Founder, Administrator and Chief Astronomer
Telescope/Observatory Docent Facilitator Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum
Astronomy Instructor Instituto Del Progresso/IHSCA
Astronomy Program Instructor British International School of Chicago /Lincoln Park Campus
Resident Astronomer Chicago Park District Nature Oasis/Night Out in the Parks/ 606 Trail
As much as I want to see you guys and Joe's new scope doodads, I wanna do some serious observing more. 40 mins setup and teardown time for 2 hrs of observing and an early night just doesn't feel right to me tonight. I have a big target list and feel the need for a longer session.
We leave Thurs. to start our drive to Harbor Island, SC, so Wed night is out for me, which makes serious star time Tuesday feel even more important.
I am really torn, but after sleeping on it, I think I am gonna take advantage of the great skies and burned out street light, set up in Sunken Gardens, and stay until I start to fall asleep. If I had to pack up in the car for Horner anyway, I'd probably just head down to Adler.
Taste of Chicago is another factor weighing against...
Sorry to bail, but hopefully you all understand where I'm coming from on this. p
Oh man! I so wish I could be there tonight with you all. Instead, I will be spending quality time at home with my daughter this evening. My wife is doing contract work downtown this week for her former firm, and then they will all be going out to The Taste afterwards to celebrate one of her former co-worker's retirement. So, I will be house-bound this evening.
However, I fully intend to get some use out of this evening's clear skies. I will set up my scope in my back yard and FINALLY get a chance to try out my astro video cam. If all goes well, I will try broadcasting on NSN. Although, I don't know what I will actually be able to broadcast. My astro cam is only a planetary imager and not meant for deep space objects. By the time it is dark tonight, the moon will have already set and Saturn will be blocked by all the trees in my back yard. i just took a look at the 10pm-1am time period in Stellarium for tonight and there doesn't seem to be anything of note in my view from the back yard that will be bright enough for the cam.
Oh well, at least I'll be admiring the same skies as you guys tonight! Have fun, y'all.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jun 29, 2011 1:37:56 GMT -6
A very nice evening with fellow Astronomers, fans and visitors...
It's been quite awhile since the Chicago Astronomer crew had such a nice evening with clear skies and Saturn to entertain.
I arrived early to check out the area, considering that the Taste of Chicago was going on - expecting hoards of people and no parking spots. On the contrary...the Adler area was wide open and plenty of metered parking. I was surprised, but pleased... ;D
I met Chicago Astronomer Croman (Rich) first and we set up just west of the Adler. He brought his 10" Dob, quite a light gatherer. Soon, Chicago Astronomers Hillary & Paulie joined in...
...and early visitors, Jerry, Tom and Tim, rounded us out. We also had Chicago Astronomers Steve and Bill arrive a short time later. Full crew with Two Dobs, two refractors and a SCT.
While setting up, a Fire dept helicopter made a close buzz...
...and just a little bit after that, we scanned our skies for the first pass of the ISS...
...but it was not to be.
New Chicago Astronomer fan Mike, (far left), and his family stopped by to join in on his first star party. He really enjoyed himself and will be back for more. I attempted to target other objects for him, and did view M57, Vega and the double of Mizar & Alcor, but these damned lights just poured into the OTA something awful.
I swear, that the C11 is getting heavier each time I set up...
Some observations on the C11 and of the session:
The 90mm guide scope is working great. With the new focuser and slick rings, it did it's job well this session.
I did not polar align, and although the C11 tracked Saturn, I had to keep nudging it manually.
I need more counterweight on the shaft. I have on there now 29 1/2 lbs, but with all the accessories on the OTA, I have to really clamp down on the clutches, lest it pivot. I do have a 10lb weight that I need to adapt and use here, eliminating the other ones. The mount can carry and operate up to 69 lbs, I'm ok for now.
The temp difference between the outside and inside of the C11 OTA was only 1 degree...and that's good.
Our visitors commented and liked the ambiance music of the session. (Thank goodness for MP3s now. My cassette days are so over!)
All of the finderscopes are keeping their alignments well.
I thought about bringing the Astrobrella, to help block out the glaring streetlights, but it was windy earlier and didn't want it to fly into the lake. Although this location is great for foot traffic...it's lousy for DSO targeting.
Visitors have this inherent need to grab the telescopes when observing through and a constant firm instruction on the proper way to look.
Paulie & Hillary wore their Chicago Astronomer I.D.'s. Nice.
Police are great about our sessions and extend great courtesies to the crew.
Sometimes there is a difficult balance between actually targeting objects and interacting with the visitors. Sometimes one or the other gets ignored and I feel bad.
I always strive to improve and enhance the sessions, but sometimes it means bringing more stuff...and I already lug a van full. How I did it with the Chevelle is a mystery.
I wanted to webcam-image this session, but I know that I can't do that properly here.
I need to craft a new dew sheild. My old one no longer fits on the OTA...not with all the new accessories riding now...
We were all scanning for the first pop out of Saturn, already way pass the meridian. Visitors were the first to spot it and we all slew over to it in the midst of twilight...
Saturn always pleases and of course, all scopes for awhile draw a bead on the planet...
The second pass of the ISS this session promised to be brighter, higher and longer, (an astounding 4 minutes). It popped into view just over the Sears Tower and did not disappoint...
I managed to grab a few frames of the ISS...
This was a good one...
And...back to Saturn and our guests...
Now, I don't know what Hillary was up to here...
...but whatever it was, was exhausting....
I like Steve's 13mm Nagler eyepiece that matches the C11 nicely and just might get me one. The C11 needs just some slight tweaking in collimation, as the view of Saturn was a bit soft...but I will wait until I install "Bob's Knobs" and accomplish this later.
Our friends, fans and visitors really enjoy the opportunity to peek through a telescope, talk astronomy and see celestial objects first hand...
Paulie is doing what he enjoys best and using a webcam successfully in imaging Saturn on his laptop...
But had to leave for the Conway Observatory for an enviable all night session with the 16" SCT there....and taking Bill with him...
Bill and Rich were picking out other DSO targets this evening...
I would like to read their account of the evening here.
We enjoyed our time with our lovers of the night sky and many want to return when we come back out again...
I thank Young Song for taking the auxiliary pics here of this session...
She has a good eye and hope she joins as part of the Chicago Astronomer Support crew.
By 11:00 pm, it was time to pack up, although I had the go-ahead to stay as long as I desired from police and park security. But, I was tired and the C11 had started to dew up. With a dew shield, I was surprised that it didn't fog up earlier. The on-board gauge stated temps of 71 degrees and humidity of 75%! All of the bags and cases were soaked with dew...but It had a lot to do with the grassy area I was close to.
This evening was a success and the area conducive to public foot traffic. I will do another session Wednesday evening, but this time on the east side of the Adler...for some skyline glory shots while conducting our session.
A big thanks to Chicago Astronomers Bill, Steve, Rich, Paulie and Hillary for coming out and sharing this nice session with me...
Wow... What a night! Big thanks go out to Bill and Steve for helping me achieve my first viewing of the Ring Nebula. Who needs a GOTO scope with these two guys around? Question though.... Did you guys have a GOTO chip embedded somewhere on your body? The abilities of the senior astronomers in the group to star hop always amazes me!
With the rare clean and calm skies upon us, Hillary,Paulie, Tom and I met at Conway Obs for more starwatching Tues night/Weds morning.
Located just an hour from Adler, Lowell, IN provided jaw-dropping dark skies. The Milky Way was visible, stretching from southern horizon to a good chunk of the north. The teapot was steaming hot. The scorpion took over the south chasing Saturn away. Summer triangle was above us. The square of pegasus started to rise in the east.
Hillary and Paulie headed to the largest CAT I've ever seen. Paulie was shooting at globulars all without fancy GOTO. The Meade 16 was breaking them into city of stars. Just hot damn.
Tom successfully helped me setup Orion SVP GEM. We had the Orion 130mm f7 newt tracking on Hercules Cluster M13 all night. He also took his, I think, 1st astrophotos with his new Canon DSLR.
I fumbled a bit setting up my portable GOTO unit with SkyFi. Last time was in Oct 2010 at Indy Dunes. I took wide field shots with entry level Nikon DSLR thru Orion 120mm f/5 refractor. All single frame shots of about 2min.
M22 globular is bigger than M13.
Neat star cluster imbedded in Lagoon Nebula; cropped.
M20 red/blue Trifid; M21 star cluster; cropped. Just a binocular view above M8 Lagoon.
M17 the red Swan; cropped.
M27 dumbbell or apple core, way high toward zenith; cropped.
I looked at my watch; oh my, it is 3 A.M. !! Damn school night @#$%$# Oh my, Jupiter, ole luna and sunrise moving up fast.
I could barely stay up for work 3 hours later. But it was worth it....
Post by Paulie pchris00 on Jul 2, 2011 13:49:50 GMT -6
A couple of things quickly. I apologize for not posting sooner, and my camera has been acting goofy, and all of my images this week are fuzzy.
A Fun Chicago Astronomer Star Party
It’s been awhile since I was excited about a night of observing as I was all day Tuesday, but I just knew it was going to be a great night. I was anticipating a great session with Joe and the crew at Adler before heading back to Conway Observatory to observe with Chicago Astronomer Tom. Just before leaving for Adler I saw a message form Bill saying he was going to follow me back to Indiana for some deep sky imaging. Even better.
As with others, I was unsure how the parking situation on Solidarity Drive would be, and arrived early to find Rich and Joe already there. We had plenty of time to set up our telescopes and equipment at a leisurely pace, discussing the arrangement of the various finders on Joe’s recently modified C11, webcam astronomy, International Space Station flyover details, and other things. I even brought out my 60mm refractor to check out a blank solar disk. Soon Chicago Astronomer Steve and arrived, and my friend Jerry rode the Blue Line down to join us. Anticipation was building among astronomers and passersby wondering why so many of us were out with telescopes.
Before sunset, we had a couple of interesting fly-bys, one a biplane coming up the southern lakefront, and a Coast Guard chopper that swooped down over North Lakeshore Drive. Our first ISS flyover was at 8:32, but the twilight was too bright to pick it up as it crossed 21 degrees over the northern horizon. Still we had quite a crowd looking for it. Even though I didn’t see Station, I waved anyway. There would be a good flyover after 10 PM.
There has been some discussion on the C.A. boards lately about webcam astronomy, with Joe and Rich experimenting with it recently. I have a couple of webcams that I’d like to try, but for now I have a cheap Meade CCD camera that can record either still planetary and lunar images or video. I wasn’t going to record anything, but knowing that with a large crowd on site, showing Saturn live on my laptop screen would go over well while visitors waited to see it in other telescopes. When things were slower, though, I popped in an eyepiece for viewing, because nothing compares the photons reflected by those glorious, icy rings hitting directly to your retina.
Saturn, of course, was a hit, but many people wanted more. When I heard Joe talking about Mizar and Alcor, I was quick to slew over to the double star. I really wanted to show M57, but there was so much light pouring down the tube of my Dob that I don’t think anybody but Bill and I saw it.
As the second ISS pass approached, I started packing away my equipment. So many times I have to leave Adler star parties early to go to work, but this time I was leaving to spend the rest of the night observing. I told Tom when he started his astrophotography class that I would try to join him after the class ended for extended observing. Tuesday was my first chance to get out there when the class was over, so I felt I owed it to Tom to be back as early as possible. (And, of course, I wanted to get under a dark sky with a big aperture scope). I parted ways with Joe and the guys, and Bill followed us back to the Hoosier state for a few hours of great observing.
Late, Hoosier Dark Sky C.A. Session
One of my biggest hopes for the Conway session was to be part of a Chicago Astronomer team imaging the M51 supernova using the 6” refractor at the new Hunter Astrophoto Lab. When we arrived, however, Calumet Astronomical Society President Chris Brownewell and another Tom were working to adjust the polar alignment on that telescope. Hillary, Tom, and I showed Bill around the observatory before getting down to some deep sky viewing.
I opened the roof for the 16” observing deck while Bill and Tom staked out spots on the concrete pad below. I admit I went with some easy targets, but the point was to be viewing for as long as possible, not tracking down especially faint fuzzies and star hopping. Here are what I remember targeting in the 16” telescope:
M57- Low and high power views, and with a light pollution filter. This ain’t no faint smoke ring out here.
M8- The M42 of summer, looking great from binoculars to high power eyepieces. I regret not trying to filter it.
M70- One of three easy globular clusters along the bottom of the Teapot.
M69- Between M70 and M54.
M54- The easternmost of these 3 globs. Nice and compact; my favorite of the three.
M4- The Antares glob. Just by being so close to my favorite star, it should be my favorite globular. It’s a very loose cluster, though, an I’m fond of tight, spherical globs.
M31- First time I’ve seen it in the 16”. Felt like I could reach right across those 2.5 million light years.
Jupiter- Best look yet at the Jovian system this summer. SEB was definitely back in full force.
I was also observing from the ground with my 6” Dob, and my 16x50 binoculars were passed around more than a few times. Three and a half hours flew by like mere minutes. At 3:30 AM it was time to start shutting down for the night. By the time we were ready to leave 20 minutes later, Luna surprised over the northeastern treeline. Twilight was already washing out eastern stars, so I think we exploited the night almost to the fullest.
Thanks to Bill, Tom, and Hillary for hanging out well past their normal bedtimes. For a session that sprung up kind of at the last minute, it was a good one. Both at Adler and at Conway Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I had rather short observing lists. That’s okay, because spending time with friends was the most enjoyable part.
One of my biggest hopes for the Conway session was to be part of a Chicago Astronomer team imaging the M51 supernova using the 6” refractor at the new Hunter Astrophoto Lab.
Never feel you owe anything to me not able to get to Conway. We all need extra time for astronomy and we don't have better things to do, so I know you will be there when you can.
I didn't know you have M51 supernova in mind that night. Did you try for it? Well, next time we use the 16" we can do DSLR AP with it if the 6" is not available for some reasons or simply just want to use the larger scope for comparison. Do you know if there is a t-adapter for the 16" for DSLR
Indeed observing with friends is more enjoyable and thank you for sharing your equipment and knowledge. . . and the physical work hauling up and down the stairs or ramp at Conway.