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1/29/2014

Observing January 24th 2014

I had the opportunity to get out on the night of January 24th, 2014 (a Friday) to get in an observing session. I arrived out at the Five Mile Pass area, well just southwest of that area and found that the roads were for the most part dry and very passable.  Some of our observing areas were not.  The first one was filled with mud, snow, and some dry patches. More importantly there were about 2000 nails scattered in the mud and dirt so I got lucky with no flat tire occurring, and opted for another site. I found that the road just across from that site was totally drive and usable and since neither myself or my friend Mat expected traffic out that far, I set up out there. I ended up deploying at set up the dew heaters and I am glad I did.  They were needed as the night bore on.

Here is the 14" set up on the road, some snow/ice on the side but the road was dry.  The mirror is cooling as I prepare to finish setting up. 


Below is the fourteen with the hint of snow/ice on the edge of the road. 


As I call it, magic time. Set up and waiting or Astronomical Twilight to fall. It is so peaceful, so calm as I transform from the cares of everyday life to the just focusing on the universe and what I observe in it. 


Caught a little glare it looks like to the right and flash activated on the iPhone5s but still a pretty picture of the evening in the winter, in the desert. 


More time in the desert. Snow/ice mix still there by the sage brush and mountains in the distance. The flatness of this area makes it a good observing spot. 


Well after getting set up, I got my bib's on for cold weather observing then my parka, my balaclava and I was set to go for the evening (oh yeah, the gloves count good also). Night fell and Mat showed up. He brought his 8 inch scope since his 16 inch now belongs to Richard who bought it.  Anyway, first object that night was SN2014J in Messier 82, the Cigar Galaxy.  This is a supernova, Type I, which exploded about a week before this observing session.  I made 4 sketches that night before dew took over and the paper began to roll up and I had to put the sketching material away and simply just observe.


1. Messier 82 in Ursa Major with SN2014J (Supernova Type I).  This was caused not by a giant star that had reached the end of its life,which is called a Type II Supernova, and had started to produce iron at its core causing a massive explosion of the star and ending its life.  It was caused by a white dwarf star, white dwarfs are what occur when at the end of a stars life that has a mass of 5 times or less than the Sun, when they throw off their outer shell as a planetary nebula (I sketched two of those this time) and their core's volume condenses down to about the size of the earth, while the mass remains that of about half of the Sun's.  See this article if you wish to learn more about white dwarfs.

      Anyway, white dwarf stars are common in the universe and as such they usually are very hot, taking billions of years to cool off before they become black dwarf stars.  In the case of SN2014J, a white dwarf caused the supernova explosion. There are several ways this can happen. It is important to realize that most stars in the universe exist with a companion star in what we call a binary system. One star goes through its life cycle quicker than the other and thus becomes a white dwarf, while its companion is still progressing through its life cycle. If the white dwarf is close enough to its companion star, it will steal mass from its companion star as shown in the top picture below. When the white dwarf approaches 1.4 solar masses (mass of our Sun), the heat and pressure becomes such that the white dwarf in seconds, transforms its carbon and oxygen into heavier elements, causing an explosion that is very bright and that rips the white dwarf apart.

The second way is when both binary stars in a system have become white dwarfs, orbit each other and because of gravity they eventually merge into each other. As they do this, again, the temperature and pressure becomes enough to cause the white dwarfs to explode in a very bright supernova explosion.



One of these two scenerios is what caused the Type Ia Supernova, SN2014J (the J means this is the 10th supernova found in 2014 since J is the 10th letter) to explode.  Here is my observation.

Messier 82 with SN2014J; January 14th,  2014.  7:55pm MST or 02:55 UT.  Near 5 Mile Pass UT; SQM: 21.52; 14" Dob with Type I Paracorr (white lettering); 7mm Pentax XW, 27mm TeleVue Panoptic as finder;  Antoniadi III; Cool, 21 degrees F;

I used the 27mm Panoptic as my finder and once on Messier 82, SN2014J stuck out really stuck out at 61x magnification, much like Chief Emerald L. would say, BAM! The SN was approaching the brightness of the 10th magnitude star to the southwest of the SN.  It did in my book just fall behind the 10.6 star which is the second one to the southwest of the SN in brightness.  So in this observation I would probably estimate the SN as a mag. 10.8 to 11.0.  It was discernible to me it seemed that the dust clouds in Messier 82 was impacted the luminosity of this supernova.  SN2014J appeared to be cloudy, or almost like a nebula was around it at times that seemed to dim it. This easily could have been my eyes though.  Messier 82 was its typical shape, with the dark lane in the middle observable with averted vision.  That dark division has 2 or 3 bright clumps behind it to the eastern side.  Fun observation.



2. NGC 2392 Eskimos Nebula a Planetary Nebula in Gemni.  January 14th 2014; 08:37pm MST or 03:37 UT;  SQM 21.53; Near Five Mile Pass Utah; 14" Dob; Paracorr Type I; 7mm & 5mm Pentax XW; Antoniadi II; Clear, cool 19 degrees F; Ultrablock NB and OIII filters.

I spent some time with the Eskimo and I did make a quick sketch of it above. The Eskimo was showing its outer ring with fringes on it and bright patches.  The inner nebulosity was uneven but spread out.  The central star was easily seen.  Filters increased the contrast and details.  At first I did not see color here but the PN eventually gave a slight grayish teal color.


 3. IC 418 was the last object I sketches.  Planetary nebula in Lepus.  January 14th, 2014; Near 5 Mile Pass, Utah; 14" dob; 7mm & 5mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type I; Antoniadi II; Ultrablock and OIII filters;

I made a boo bo on this sketch. I included a star above the central star on accident and didn't realize it until I had looked at the sketch to post it here. It wasn't seen, and it is there as I went to redo the sketch and that was going to be the original central star. Appears as a roundish or oval planetary nebula, with the central star visible. I did not see the rose color this night.



4. IC 443 SNR in Gemni. January 14th, 2014; 9:20pm MST or 04:20 UT; Near Five Mile Pass Utah; SQM 21.53; clear, cool, 17 degrees F; 14" dob, 27mm Panoptic, 30mm ES 82 degree; 35mm Panoptic; OIII filter and Ultrablock NB filter.

This is a very faint SNR in Gemni near Eta G. and I could detect this night slightly with no filter. The OIII brought it out the best and it  is brighter on the eastern side. I observed it as a   "   so to speak with two lines running down and a slight hook on the bottom (top in the sketch).  Three stars are evident and bright to me with three more evident near them.  I like this sketch much better than the one I did several years ago and feel this one is more accurate. I still have work to do on this one.

I also observed the follow objects visually this night: M44, M42, M43; M32 and NGC 2158; I got a glimpse of B33 or the Horsehead though it was very faint with the H-Alpha filter.  I also observed a couple of galaxies in Eridanus and then called it night.  Overall a fun and enjoyable evening observing and talking with my friend Mat.