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9/05/2017

KIC 9832227 The Coming Red Nova in 2022 in Cygnus?


KIC 9832227 The Coming Red Nova in 2022 in Cygnus?


Now that the Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 is over, some may wonder what is coming up next in the night sky that is different, unique and going to be an opportunity of perhaps a life to observe.  The double star KIC 9832227 found in the Constellation of Cygnus, in the Telrad circle below.
KIC 9832227 Double Star Cygnus
The truth is, until around 2013 astronomers did not know that this faint star was really more than one star. To quote from the National Geographic article published on January 6th, 2017 called How to See a Star Explode in 2022, LINK, it states:
In 2013, Apache Point Observatory astronomer Karen Kinemuchi noticed that the blips in brightness could mean that two stars were periodically blotting each other out. Subsequent investigations by Calvin College student Daniel van Noord determined that to be the case.
Based on the timing and depth of those periodic eclipses, astronomers determined that one of the binary stars is about 40 percent larger than the sun, while the other is just one-third the sun’s size.
But there’s more. For at least 15 years, the KIC 9832227 has been in the crosshairs of telescopes, including NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler telescope, which stared at the system for nearly four years.
Now, scientists know the stars are so close to one another that they probably share a common, gassy shell—meaning that as the system whirls, it looks more like an astro-peanut than two discrete points of light
KIC-9832227-2-orientations-two
The binary stars are about 1800 light years from earth and currently orbit each other at around 11 hours, with both spinning in synchromism with their orbit so the stars are always facing the same side towards each other.   This echoes what astronomer Romuald Tylenda had seen with the system V1309 Sco just before it unexpectedly went nova in 2008. Astronomers led by Lawrence (Larry) Molnar and his colleagues show that there is no third star involved in this system after reviewing over 30,000 image taken by the Calvin College Telescope.  From their observations we know that the larger star is 40% larger than our Sun, while the smaller is 1/3 the size of the Sun.
Based on the available data, Molnar and his colleagues are predicting that the two stars will merge in 2022 with a +/- of 7 months.   The system is currently at magnitude 12 in the Cygnus System, but when both stars merge, the resulting explosion will be called a Red Nova, something between a regular Supernova and a regular Nova LINK to Red Nova Wikipedia   The Virtual Telescope Project states on how bright this Red Dwarf Nova may be if it occurs. They state HERE (you have to click through their two pop-ups).
As a consequence of this kind of collision, the brightness of the system can increase of an order of magnitude of 10,000: considering KIC 9832227 is shining now around magnitude 12, at the outburst peak we could expect an object quite bright out there, easy to see by naked eye, even from light polluted cities.
That is good news if in 2021 to 2023 we can go out in a suburban backyard or a dark site, and really see this merger of two stars into one. V1309 Scorpii is a close Red Dwarf explosion that we were able to witness and observe and more on that can be found at this Wikipedia LINK.
V838_Mon_HST

Now of course this is science, and in science things can change as new information is studied, collected and analyzed. So it is with great hope and anticipation that we want to see KIC 9832227 explode in the 2021 to 2023 years into a Red Nova that we can see naked eye. Hopefully a few of you will take time from to observe this over the next several years so that when it goes, you can document it. I will be doing that with my sketching and I hope some astro-photographers will do it also. The AAVSO or the home of variable stars which this is, has a page for this system located on their website HERE.  I will post a more detail star chart next, and under that the references I used for this article. I hope some of you do indeed accept the challenge to document this event even if it doesn’t happen. There is always good that can come from it, and lets hope it happens in the June to October time frame here in the northern hemisphere.
KIC9832227_starchart (1)
Hopefully click to make it larger or go to this website to capture it yourself: LINK from the Virtual Telescope Project.
REFERENCES:
Sky&Telescope January 6th, 2017 LINK  Paired Stars in Cygnus En Route to Merger
National Geographic How to See a Star Explode LINK
Voux Magazine Article LINK
Bended Reality Article LINK
Engadget Article LINK 
Smithsonian Article LINK
Universe Today Article 

8/31/2017

New Home for my Blog

I've decided that due to some issues with Blogger, I am going to move my Blog over to WordPress and use their services as a Blogging site. It gives me more control over the site and how it is searched for and looked at.  So, if you want to follow it, here is the new address:

https://jaysastronomicalobservingblog.wordpress.com/

Here is a LINK to it using the URL above. It is still called Jay's Astronomical Observing Blog but now all of that is in one line with .wordpress.com above it.  I have a new sketching blog/website over there that I am almost done with so it will be easier to view, and the new blog has its own gallery of the images I post so that will be good. Hope to see you over there!

8/26/2017

Total Solar Eclipse August 21st, 2017



On July 11th, 1991, my wife and I observed a Total Eclipse from Hawaii that at its maximum eclipse lasted for 6 minutes and 53 seconds, one where there will not be a longer eclipse until June 13th, 2132. It was my second as I had seen one when I was 14 which occurred on February 26th, 1979.  My Dad had pulled me out of school and we had gone north to visit my grandparents and his brother who lived in Washington and we observed as we could with welder glasses the Total Eclipse up there. I have also seen several annular eclipses and have enjoyed them .

This year I had initially planned to go to Idaho to see this "North American Eclipse" (I find that a weird name since we have had other eclipses over North America or portions of North America in the past) which I will call the eclipse of August 21st, 2017, or eclipse of 8/21/17.  Anyway, my work load has been rather large this new school year, conducting various trainings and developing them for delivery at our school district and delivering them. As such, I didn't feel I could take time off based on the schedule so I opted not to go to Idaho. Yeah, a huge amateur astronomy fan NOT going to a major Astronomical event in his backyard.  Oh well, decisions.

So instead, I decided to take a few hours off from home, and take out my LS35 deluxe solar scope (no longer manufactured unfortunately) and invite neighbors to come over and steal a view. Yep, I was going to do an outreach event in my neighborhood.  Here is a picture from my backyard of the LS35s Deluxe Solar Scope.



Well, needless to say, I taught my neighbor how to use the solar scope and the TeleVue Solar Finder as I had a meeting that morning and wasn't sure what time I would get there. I had left it on the Tripod, and he had it set up but as is typical for someone the first time they use this type of scope and finder, he was unsure of getting the Sun in the eyepiece. I arrived at 10:15am and he was just out of having it centered in the eyepiece. I quickly centered it, using a 24mm Explore Scientific 68 degree eyepiece, and then put in a 12mm Agena Astro ED (I use the 25mm and 12mm Agena Astro ED for Outreach, they are very good eyepieces for this) and was pleasantly surprised to see three major predominances on the left edge/side of the sun.  I watched the moon make first contact and then began to share. 

Here are some images of the moon just after first contact as it began its journey to 91% with images through the leaves of this same image appearing. 







These are a few more images that appeared as the moon kept up its journey. Leaves are getting more refined and the shape of the eclipse is easier to identify.









The last picture and the third from the bottom are probably the best for showing the moon coming across the sun continuing the journey. 

These shots reflect about maximum of the journey near Salt Lake City with 91% of the Sun covered by the moon. These were taken by my neighbor Ken, a pilot for Delta who was home and he did a great job of capturing as we moved twoard 91%. At the time I was more concerned with letting as many people observe the eclipse then taking time for my own shot. I am grateful to Ken for getting these in and sharing them. 







Here as we get closer to what is totality in Salt Lake City, 91%, you can see extra fingers form between your fingers on your shadow on the ground. 



Below, the mount is showing eclipse shadows where it usually shows just a circle of light. 


Near 91% now as the leaves continue to show the change. The temperature dropped from 86 degrees F to 72 degrees F in our neighborhood as we got to 91%. This was measure by my neighbor Mr. Hanson who has a weather station on his home. 





Above shows about 2/3 of the turnout with people looking through the scope, my neighbors Cal and Ken were running my scope which was cool to watch. Lots of neighbors who couldn't travel to Idaho came over and looked through their solar eclipse glasses and through the telescope and enjoyed each other's company. I think of all things related to this, several items stick out. First, a teen girl who was just amazed you could look through a telescope and see the Sun with sunspots and prominence's easily seen while the moon is eclipsing it! Her excitement was contagious. Next, how something like this brings people together, whether in the path of totality or in their neighborhood with only 91% of totality.  A total eclipse is incredible, and a tremendous experience. I have seen two in my life and they are. However, it is the events above that often help us to come together down below. I think we need more events above in the world we live in. We have a Total Lunar Eclipse on January 31st, 2018 coming up LINK  and then on what will be my son's 30th birthday on April 8th, 2024 another Total Solar Eclipse LINK


7/25/2017

Sometimes the Monsoon Gets You

Well, sometimes in life, things just come together that stop you from observing. Two weeks ago tomorrow (Tuesday) I was at the University of Utah with some teachers that I teach and work with to learn about technology and education. I was walking from the South Campus Trax Station to the Marriott Library going down some cement stairs when a stair edge crumbled, I couldn't grab unto anything and down I went. I have  a very bad left knew from a surgery that led to a major infection of the left knee when I was 18.  So I went down hard on my right knee. I laid at the bottom of the cement stairs for a couple of minutes, not being able to move or put pressure on my right leg/knee. I looked around and sure enough, students were talking by, a few professors from the look of it, and they all just ignored me, though I know a few saw me and went about their busy schedule. I got up went on the tour and by the time I got back on Trax, my knee looked like a balloon had been blown up on the inside.

Getting home we went to the doctor, x-rays were taken, MRI done but luckily, my MCL was only pulled, my patella was not cracked or shattered and the swelling was from blood bursting into two bursa sacs in my knee.  Over the next week I had to take it easy, and my right leg is extremely bruised and the ligament is slowly coming around (that will take the most time).  So I am mending but not in time for new moon.  Wouldn't have mattered anyway. This July the monsoon from Mexico is in full swing and the afternoons and evenings are cloudy, rainy and filled with thunder and lightning. No getting out for me!

In have a few items I will be sharing over the next couple of weeks, items to help in going observing but no new equipment. I am content with what I have, well, maybe the two used scopes I picked up but we'll see.  I am finding as I get older, I am now down to just a couple of observing friends who go out with me. One is my good friend Alan, who is all for spring, summer and early fall and I always enjoy having him observing with me.  Jorge is another when our schedules match and so is Shahid. I have observed with Alan for over 6 years now I believe, and Jorge for 8 or 9 years and Shahid for over 10 years. Others come and go as their schedules allow, and they are always welcome. I am thinking that come Thursday night, I am going to head out to the West Desert, probably to either Pit n Pole or a new site I have just about 4 to 5 miles west and a little south of Pit n Pole, up a little higher so it is warmer and no dew and just take my Refractors and my Mount, eyepieces and maybe my sketching stuff and just see what the refractors bring in for me. It will be an easy set up and take down and I can take a look at the moon also. This is depending on that old monsoon again!

So there you go! That is what is up in my neck of the wood!

7/04/2017

2017 August 21st Total Solar Eclipse: To See or Not to See

WARNING: NEVER, NEVER look at the Sun with your unprotected, unaided eye! Use a solar telescope or approved solar glasses to view the Sun and the eclipse! 

The following is from YouTube from the 2015 Solar Eclipse in which Professor Brian Cox, Dara O'Brien and Liz Bonnin who was in a plane above the Faroe Islands beaming back the images.



Now, I have to say that I have seen two total solar eclipses in my life and they are amazing events, if you see them with others you know and with a few who know something about them.  Having said that, since I live here in northern Utah, the center line is not that far away and it is really tempting to go up to Idaho, to the Rexburg area or to Camas National Wildlife Refuge (LINK) to view the event in a very natural setting. What is now making me rethink my decision is the amount of people who are going to be heading up there. News reports are estimating up to around 500,00 people in eastern Idaho for the event, and all sites, public or private being extremely filled with people. I-15, the interstate highway that leads from Salt Lake City up to Rexburg and Idaho is under major construction LINK and delays going up and coming back to the Salt Lake area could be horrendous.  We could be talking 6, 8 or even 10 hours for the drive up. 

So that leaves me wondering if I just may sit this one out. I'll set up my Lunt Solar Telescope and watch the eclipse go to 91% from here in the Salt Lake area or out at my favorite dark sky observing site. I am leaning toward that, perhaps loading up the 17.5" and going to my dark sky observing site, setting up everything including my Lunt LS35THaDX deluxe model and my Twilight I Mount and observing the solar eclipse the best I can, and then really connect with nature and the universe by observing that night. 

I believe the closer we get, the more I am leaning toward taking that path for my solar experience this time. As beautiful as they are, totality will last about 2 minutes to 2 minutes thirty seconds and it is over. I get as much joy and fun chasing down deep sky objects late in the summer sky. Might go to Wolf Creek Pass that night as well.  No matter, right now I am leaning to a night of observing (just so you know, a total solar eclipse happens at new moon, the darkest time for deep sky observing since there is no moon). Please realize I may end up going, or as I am thinking today, I may stay local and enjoy what the sky is here or if the monsoon is in, I may just work that day and take an early lunch and see if I can see anything in my Lunt Solar Telescope. I bring my point of view up here since I know there will be others facing the same decision I am, and others who just simply cannot get to the path of totality and view the eclipse. There are still opportunities that day and that is the point I want to make. 

FIRST CONTACT

Now, for those who go, there are some major milestones when you observe the eclipse that you should know. When the moon first touches the Sun, this is called First Contact. It will look like the following image. It is the sign that the eclipse has begun. 



The Partial Eclipse is the next stage, and the moon will be moving over the Sun and begin to take a Pac-Man bite out of the Sun as this image shows. 


If your lucky, in this stage between First Contact and Second Contact, and if you have trees around you, you may see eclipse shadows from the leaves in the trees around you. I saw this affect during the annular eclipse on May 20th, 2012 from southern Utah. 



Also, right before the point of Second Contact, IF you are really lucky, and to be honest, here in Salt Lake City or around it, with our 91% we may see the affect known as Shadow Bands. As the moon approaches a couple of minutes before totality, these wavy shadows appear as shown in this YouTube video from the partial eclipse in the U.K. in 2015 




SECOND CONTACT

The next phase is Second Contact and happens a few minutes before totality. Animals and birds around you may change their behavior. Birds may stop singing and if you know bird calls, you may hear night birds begin to sing. 
Towards the end of this phase you may observe the phenomenon of Baily’s Beads. These are distinct balls of light visible at the edge of the Moon’s circumference.
Baily’s Beads are caused by the Sun shining through the lunar craters, mountains and features on the surface of the Moon. These beads will flicker off one by one until one solitary point of light remains. They look like this starting on the far right and moving to the far left. 



Another image of Bailey's Beads: 




When only one light remains, this is known as the Diamond Ring effect. This effect last just seconds but produces one stunning single burst of light. It is really something you will remember if you see it. My first total solar eclipse I missed it, but I did nail it the second time I saw one. Once this is gone totality begins. Here are a couple of images of the Diamond Ring effect. 







TOTALITY 

Totality occurs when the Moon covers the entire surface of the Sun. At this point in time, only the Sun’s corona is visible (see below). The skies darken a little further, about like when the full moon is out.    
The temperature will drop, typically 10 degrees or so and animals and birds become silent.  
If the Sun’s solar activity is strong, the corona will blast out from all sides of Moon.  If it is weak, it will follow the direction of the Sun’s magnetic path. This stage lasts around two minutes. You will not want to use your solar glasses or telescope during this period, but be ready as when the Sun emerges, you will need to be on the solar telescope or back on with your solar glasses. Here are two possible views but remember, EVERY eclipse is unique and comes together differently. 







THIRD CONTACT

The fourth stage is much like the second and first but in reverse. The Moon is now moving away from the Sun. As the Moon moves off the Sun, (GET YOUR GLASSES BACK ON NOW) you have another chance to view the Diamond Ring for the first time if you missed it, or again if you did not. Baily’s Beads now reappear after the Diamond Ring, which after that a thin crescent of the Sun appears, gradually getting bigger as the Moon moves away. Shadow bands may be observed once again and we are back to the partial eclipse stage. The skies start to lighten and birds and animals return to activity.

FOURTH CONTACT

This is where the Moon leaves the Sun and the eclipse is now over. The last shadow of the Moon on the Sun disappears ending the eclipse. Some people will stay around to observe this. Most will be gone by now. 

There you go. The stages of the eclipse and the items to look for. In order: First Contact (Moon touches the Sun), Shadow Bands, Bailey Beads, the Diamond Ring, Totality with the Corona, then the Diamond Ring, Bailey Beads, Shadow Bands and Fourth Contact. 

If you brave the crowds, traffic and obstacles, I believe you will have a wonderful experience, a life remembering experience. If you go wherever you are, please be careful, please be courteous, there are enough mean and ill spirited people in the world, be better than that. Be kind so everyone has a great experience.  Don't retaliate if someone is mean, pity them, and just move on. If you can't go, then look for Shadow Bands if your relatively close and see if you can spot them. Take an photo with your phone if you have leaves in the area of that affect. Always, and I mean ALWAYS protect your eyes with the appropriate safety equipment for observing the Sun.  If you can't go and stay, or opt to go out and see a partial eclipse to observe that night, realize your not alone. I think most amateur astronomers and people will enjoy and be with you. 

Last, and here I go again. If you get out, enjoy the experience. Treasure it, soak it in, remember and document how you felt, what you saw and what you enjoyed. Listen if possible to nature during this time and see how nature responds to this event. Last feel connected to the wonderful universe in which we have our being. It is a wonderful thing to experience a Total Solar Eclipse, but it is equally wonderfully to get to a dark site, to observe, to feel and listen to nature there. It is equally fun to get connected in your backyard. It is truly wonderful how this hobby reminds us how truly amazing nature, and our universe is.  I hope you get out and enjoy it in your own way and in your own style.  

6/21/2017

Animation of Kepler Catching Massive Star Shock Wave or Shock Breakout

This is over a year old, and I am sure some will have seen it. As you know, I love supernova and am fascinated by the end of a massive star's existence when it goes supernova. Back in March 2016, NASA Ames published an article LINK sharing that Kepler had captured two shock break outs from two massive stars. " By closely monitoring the star KSN 2011d, located 1.2 billion light-years away, Kepler caught the onset of the early flash and subsequent explosion." KSN 2011d, is roughly 500 times the size of our sun and around 1.2 billion light years away. This means this was a Type II Supernova Event.  I love this animation and thought some might like viewing it and then reading about it. If you have a chance to observe SN 2017eaw in NGC 6946 you could imagine in your mind a star going supernova similar to this animation.


6/16/2017

Deep in the Heart of Spring: Observations from May 22nd to the 24th, May 27th 2017 and Upgrade from a 12" to a 16" or 18"?

Deep in the heart of spring means galaxy work for me. In this case, deep into the heart of Virgo.  This mean 44 objects observed and sketched over a 3 night observing period.  As usual, I will bombard you with images of the drive out, the observing locations and know I do this for a reason. John Muir once stated:

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
Muir also stated:

In God's wildness lies the hope of the world - the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware. 
Now my main observing site is out in the boonies, that is for sure, and during the week there are very few people there. Weekends, the ATVers and Trailers show up for the weekend. That is why I go on the weekend. When I go, and I have stated this before, it is a somewhat spiritual experience. I go and leave the cares of the world behind me, the cares of my day to day life, and there, in what is left of nature and wildness, I do indeed find more than I seek.

What do I find? Yes, I find many deep space objects of course, but I find more. I find humility by realizing that the mountains around me will far outlast my life, my worldly legacy and that in truth, who am I to ever think I am more than what I am? In truth, both the location and gazing up at night I find humility.  Messier 51 is going to FAR outlast my slow and eager life so it is better for me to seek to be more humble, more patient with others, more forgiving and more understanding. To value family first, friendships and that means people over gold or monetary things, thinking of Thorin's quote after the Battle of Five Armies.

This humility thus brings healing to my soul. It rights my course, providing direction to my course, and a hope that indeed, perhaps some of us, in our own lives can touch others and perhaps share this love of nature, this love of the universe with them. Doesn't matter I guess because it has healed my wounds, given more than I have ever sought, and made me enjoy the magic of the day and the night.

So when I share my pictures, realizing I am sharing a sacred thing with you. I am sharing one place, and I do have others, that I go to receive more than I seek and to have my wounds, those wounds that daily civilization brings to each of us, healed and forgotten. Peace I believe is the final thing I have found. Inner peace, and the peace that with time, I too can be better, I too can improve even until the day comes when I no longer drive these roads, walk these locations, observe through a telescope and am taught here. The day when I leave this life.  See that is another gift. The gift to accept myself, to seek to improve and to be better.

This journey to observing is symbolic of my journey in life, to find and discover things about myself, how to improve, to be and remain humble, focused on family first and other people, and to bring a continually growing peace to me as I journey through life.

I have given up on driving out on the Pony Express Road that Tooele County tore up several years ago. It is too rough, too slow and too hard on my telescope and equipment. I now go pass Five Mile Pass on State Route 73 to where it intersects with State Route 36.  Then I drive down SR 36 to Vernon and to my exit to the Wasatch National Forest Land. The distance from Five Mile Pass to the intersection with SR36 is 14.71 miles.  The distance from that intersection to the turnoff to the Pony Express Road in Faust is 15.03. Total distance is about 30 miles on a completely paved road where I can drive 70mph according to the speed limit 😏 Using this route it takes me 40 minutes to get to my turnoff to drive out to FR005 that I take to go way out to my observing location.

The Pony Express Road from Five Mile Pass to the intersection of SR 36 is about 13.42 miles.  On this road I can sometimes do 40mph and other times do 30mph depending on the grading. It's gotten bad this year so 30mph is more common.  This road now takes about 30 to 35 minutes to drive back on, my telescope is battered around, I lose collimation drastically and my car suffers.

So I have decided to take the extra 10 minutes to drive on paved roads to get to my turnoff to the Vernon Reservoir and Benmore on FR005. I have done this five times now and my collimation only needs a tweak when I get out to the site and assemble the scope. Good enough reason not to take that overly rough Pony Express Route! That and it is easier on my car, I get much improved MPG and it's easier on my, the drive.




Here is SR36 driving down towards Vernon with the Sheeprock Mountains in the Distance. 


Another view, farther north on SR36 shortly after turning off of SR 73. 



Had to pause to to get Mt Timpanogos in the far background in her majesty. Link to the Legends of Mt. Timp. 


Man, those Sheeprock Mountains are looking good! Snow up top still in late May! 


Well, they still exist! Found this racing after me near Vernon! 


FR005, the 11 mile road out to where I want to go! 




More of FR005 as it meanders. Rougher area here due to water running off at times. 


There are those wonderful Sheeprocks getting closer! 


Real close now to turning right! 


Where you turn right! 


Turned right on FR090 and heading to the first left or FR006


FR006 my favorite off road road and it is in pretty good condition! 


My turn off right after a cattle guard to Juniper Grove, my favorite site. 


My favorite Juniper! 


Beautiful! I've arrived and the healing has already began! Looking south. 

One of the things I love about spring in Utah in the wild, are the wildflowers and Juniper Grove had a lot of them! 






Lupin above 





Indian Paint Brush 



More Lupin up close. 


Site looking Southeast 


Site Looking North. 


Pan of site. 

I set up the 17.5" dob and collimated it using my passive Catseye Tools (later confirmed and checked with my Howie Glatter Collimator).  


17.5" Star Catcher set up 


17.5" Star Catcher looking south 


Closer view of 17.5" Star Catcher Looking South 


17.5" Star Catcher, my home made observing chair, my 2017 Outback. 


Side/Front view of 17.5" Star Catcher 


Coolin the Engine . . . 


Getting Closer 

Again, my favorite time came, twilight as I and the world transitioned from day to night. My friend Allan showed up and set up his refractor and we talked and enjoyed the quiet as evening slowly moved in. The Belt of Venus as usual, showed its various colors and soon, the sun set behind the Sheeprock Mountains and a final check of collimation using the Howie Glatter TuBlug and Laser (in case you don't know, Howie Glatter passed away on June 12th, 2017 after a short and fierce battle against cancer).  

Everything was good and as darkness continued to slowly slither across the valley below, and up to our observing site, and coyotes began their evening serenade, I enjoyed several quick views of Jupiter. 

As with more recent blogs, the observing instrument is my 17.5" dob with a TeleVue Type II Paracorr and then the eyepiece as noted. Here is the core information: 

Date: May 22nd or May 23rd 2017 
Telescope: 17.5" f/4.4 dob Star Catcher 
Coma Reducer: TeleVue Paracorr Type II
Location: FR006 Juniper Grove
Conditions: Antoniadi II all night above 20 degrees 
SQM -L Reading at 12:20a.m. 
Southeast: 21.88; South: 21.92: Southwest: 21.93; West: 21.93; Northwest: 21.89; North: 21.84; Northeast: 21.69 (LP SLC Metro area); East: 21.73


Once it was dark, now unfortunately about 9:45pm or so M.D.T., I turned the 17.5" to Virgo and found M87 quickly.  I had a specific target here tonight, I wanted to nail the jet if at all possible. I began with the 22mm T4 Nagler and thought I could catch a glimpse with averted vision. So next, I put in the 14mm Pentax XW with my Paracorr Type II and saw the jet a little bit more. 


1. Messier 87 Elliptical Galaxy in Virgo; May 22nd, 2017, FR006 Juniper Grove; using the 14mm Pentax XW.  Jet is observed in the inner core region which is bright and makes it hard to discern. 


1a. Messier 87 Elliptical Galaxy in Virgo; 17.5" with 7mm & 5mm Pentax XW.  Jet is more easily observed and held with direct vision.  Outer halo is detectable as is the stellar core region. I was happy that right off I was able to capture this. 


2. NGC 4193 (large spiral) and NGC 4216 (small spiral upper left) galaxies in Virgo.  May 22nd, 2017, 10:05pm MDT; 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW.  

Actually two galaxies for the price of one. NGC 4193 is above a small triangle at mag 11. Large diffused outer halo with a bright inner core and a stellar nucleus.  NGC 4216 is smaller and more condense but fainter outer halo. Bright inner core with  a stellar nucleus also. Spiral arms observed. 


3. NGC 4654 and NGC 4639 galaxies in Virgo.  10:39pm MDT; 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW; 

NGC 4654 has a bright even surface brightness laying NW to SE, sliver of light.  Some spiral structure is see and a bright bar is hinted at. 
NGC 4639 is a round companion of NGC 4654 with a bright inner core, a bar is evident with averted vision and some spiral structure observed. 




4. NGC 4866 a galaxy in Virgo; May 22nd, 2017; 11:24pm MDT; 22mm T4 Nagler and 10mm Pentax XW; 

Bright galaxy that is easy to locate and lays E to W mostly.  Elongated and has a bright inner core. There is a a foreground star on the galaxy just to the W to SW side of the core. Some get excited when they observe this thinking they have discovered a supernova! It isn't. Fun galaxy. 




5. NGC 3066 & NGC 3065 Spiral Galaxies in Ursa Major on May 23rd, 2017 at 1:25am MDT; 22mm T4 Nagler & 10mm Pentax XW. 

NGC 3065 is in the center and NGC 3066 is to the right and slightly down (diagonally) to the right corner.   NGC 3066 is bright, has a faint hint of a core and is round. NGC 3065 is round, with a distinct outer halo with a bright inner core and a stellar nucleus. 


6. NGC 3818 Elliptical Galaxy in Virgo. May 22, 2017; 09:45pm MDT; 22mm Nagler T4 and 10mm Pentax XW. 

Typical Elliptical Galaxy. Lays East to West with a faint outer shell and a bright inner core. 





7. NGC 3822, 3825, 3817, 3819 & 3820 galaxies in Leo/Virgo (Hickson 58).  May 22nd, 2017, 10:30pm MDT; FR006 Juniper Grove; 22mm Nagler T4, Pentax XW 10mm; 

I have labeled in the first sketch the galaxies so you can easily identify them. The bottom is the acutal sketch with nothing added.  NGC 3822 is larger than NGC 3825, is elongated South to North and is bright in the core region.  NGC 3825 has a faint outer halo with a bright inner core. Hint of some structure in the 10mm Pentax XW.  NGC 3817 is more oval in shape, with a bright inner core and is elongated NNW to SSE. NGC 3819 is a small oval in its shape with a bright inner core region. NGC 3820 is hard to detect. Averted vision is the way I got it and it is a very small oval shape. This is a fun grouping to observe in the spring and is also known as Hickson 58. 


8. NGC 3876 and NGC 6734 galaxies in Virgo. May 22nd, 2017, 11:45pm MDT;; FR006 Juniper Grove, 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler & 10mm Pentax XW, Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 3876 is a rather faint and small galaxy, somewhat elongated with a bright core.  
NGC 6734 is a really faint, think galaxy with an even surface brightness. 


9. NGC 3914 Galaxy in Virgo. May 23, 2017 at 12:15am MDT.  FR006 Juniper Grove. Antoniadi II; 17.5" dob; 22mm Nagler T4; 10mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr. 

NGC 3914 is a rather bright galaxy with diffused patch of light. The envelope is ill defined and elongated NE to SW.  


10. NGC 3952 a galaxy in Virgo; May 23rd, 2017 at 12:30am MDT; FR006 Juniper Grove; Antoniadi II; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler; 10mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr. 

NGC 3952 is a faint galaxy that sits East to West. It is an edge on galaxy with a bright core and some possible structure. Fun. 




11. NGC 3976 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo; May 23, 2017, 12:45am MDT; FR 006 Juniper Grove; Antoniadi II; 17.5" dob; 22mm Nagler T4; 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 3976 is a bright galaxy with a mottled appearance. The edges are ill defined and suggest spiral arms. Bright inner core with what I want to say is a stellar nucleus. 




12. NGC 4030 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo. May 23, 2017; 01:00am MDT: FR006 Juniper Grove; Antoniadi II; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler; 10mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr; 

NGC 4030 is easily seen in my 9x50 Stellarvue finderscope. The galaxy lays NNE to SSW and is very bright, and lays between two bright field stars that are just east and north to south line between the 2 stars.  The outer halo is very bright, grainy, mottled that hints at and shows spiral structure. Inner core is very bright. Great galaxy to view! 

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Night of May 23rd to May 24th, 2017
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This night saw me returning out to FR006 and I got out late. With the memorial day weekend coming, some trailer campers and ATV riders got out to the sites earlier than I did.  I ended up at my second favorite site, FR006 Top of the World. It is at the end of FR006 as you have to go through a gate to continue on the road.  


17.5" dob Star Catcher set up, and waiting for me to collimate with my Catseye Collimation system 


17.5" from my table and looking south. It really ended up being the best night of the year, SQM-L over 21.92 and Antoniadi I all night. 


Closer view. 


Looking South, some cirrus to the southwest that later went away by sunset. 


Here you can see the gate in the upper left.  Nice wide open field here. 


Lupin! 


Looking North. 


Looking North to North-East.  


Looking in zoomed North-East. 


Zoomed in south view. 


Looking east with Mt Timpanogas just over the Juniper near center. 


Better view of Mt. Timpanogas and the other Wasatch Mountains looking east to northeast. This is where the light dome of Salt Lake hits up to around 25 degrees. 


Looking North to North-East


While there a man and his adult son came and asked if he could park his trailer there to claim the location for memorial day. It didn't interfere with the view at all so sure! They were nice and we had a nice chat. The dad works for a gun safe company and he showed me video they made of one of their gun smiths being dropped from about 200 feet and then having a car dropped on one from that height. The safe held! That was how he spent his work day before driving his trailer out. During the week I never had anyone out there, but with the huge snow pack up in the mountains people were looking for alternatives to camp. So my location was picked.  


My setup. 




This is where I sleep. There is a sleeping bag self inflated air mattress under the 2" memory foam. I will use either a sleeping bag rated to -60 degress F (so say -25 degrees F) or a nice wool blanket. This night I used my army wool blanket which is on the left side. On the right you can see my CPAP set up and ready to be connected when it is time to sleep.  I'll use the end part to store my eyepiece cases while I am observing, then I put them away in the front seat. 


Ready to collimate. 


Collimated with Catseye and now I'll check with my Howie Glatter collimation laser and TuBlug when it darkens. 


Sun is setting! Time to enjoy the evening, the set up and some dinner. 


Twilight begins. 


I'm in twilight but the Sun's rays are still reaching out. 


It is clear here, sky is darkening and I am ready to go. Just finish checking with my Howie Collimation tools which are in the black Pelican Case on top of my observing chair. 


Love this shot! 

Key information for this night of observing: 

Date: May 234th to May 25th 2017 
Telescope: 17.5" f/4.4 dob Star Catcher 
Coma Reducer: TeleVue Paracorr Type II
Location: FR006 Top of the World 
Conditions: Antoniadi I all night above 20 degrees 
SQM -L Reading at 1:30a.m. 
Southeast: 21.89; South: 21.93: Southwest: 21.93; West: 21.93; Northwest: 21.90; North: 21.85; Northeast: 21.69 (LP SLC Metro area); East: 21.72





1. NGC 3065 Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major; May 23rd, 2017; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5: dob; 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 3065 is a nice round spiral galaxy with a bright inner core region.  No structure was evident but still a good view. 


2. NGC 4123 (large central galaxy) & NGC 4116 (upper left) spiral galaxies in Virgo. May 23rd, 2017; 09:30pm MDT: Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler; 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 4116 is a rather bright and elongated galaxy that is elongated NNW to SSE. It is bright on its major axis showing a bright core and a bar.  There is mottling hinting of structure. 

NGC 4123 is a large galaxy that has a diffused outer halo, small inner core, some mottling and averted vision with hints of arms. 


3. NGC 4045 a galaxy in Virgo.  May 23rd, 2017, 09:45pm MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 10mm Pentax XW; 22mm Nagler T4; Paracorr Type II. 

This galaxy is rather small, yet fairly bright due to its compactness.  It is elongated slightly West to East.  Grainy envelope which is brighter in the inner core region with well defined edges.  NGC 4045a is right next to it, small, faint with an even surface brightness. 





4. NGC 6946 Fireworks Galaxy in Cygnus/Cepheus; May 23rd, 2017, around 10:45pm; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler (bottom with 14mm Pentax XW) and 10mm Pentax XW with Paracorr Type II.  

The galaxy is easier to see above 45 degrees though the arms took averted vision to see and then once observed, the came in via direct vision providing some details by combing both methods. SN2017eaw was easily observed as shown in both sketches (higher magnification up top, lower magnification on the bottom sketch).  I estimated it as 12.8mag while the Rochester Supernova Site had it imaged in at 12.9 magnitude. Either way still rather bright and easy to view in the larger size dob. This SN was discovered by Patrick Wiggins who lives in Tooele and is a founding member of the Salt Lake Astronomical Society and has devoted his life to the organization, to doing outreach with the public to increase their awareness of astronomy and loves to fly and skydive as well. Congrats to Patrick on finding this wonderful supernova! 




5. NGC 4073, 4139, 4077, 4066 galaxies in Virgo; 5/23/17, 10:05pm MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW, Paracorr Type II. 

This is a fair cluster of galaxies that are not spectacular but are fun overall to observe. 

NGC 4073 is moderately bright with a slight elongation West to East, maybe WNW to ESE. Has a bright core with stellar nucleus. 

NGC 4139 is a very faint, elongated SW-NE galaxy with a small bright core. 

NGC 4077 is rather faint, lays N-S, with a star attached on the northern end. 

NGC 4063 is a really small, and really faint galaxy that is elongated slightly N-S. 


6. NGC 4129 Galaxy in Virgo. 5/23/17, 10:25pm MDT; FRoo6 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm Nagler T5, 10mm Pentax XW, Type II Paracorr. 

Rather small galaxy with well defined edge with bright streak in the core and a bright outer halo. Elongated E-W. 





7. NGC 4168, NGC 4164, NGC 4165 galaxies in Virgo.  5/23/17, 10:38pm MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm Nagler T4; 10mm Pentax XW, Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 4168 is a classic elliptical galaxy.  It has 3 shells to its halo. The outer shell fades into the cosmic backgroun. Then a brighter shell that is more dominant and finally a bright inner core region, with what I want to call a stellar nucleus.  

NGC 4165 is a rather faint, small and more round than oval shaped galaxy that is diffused. 

NGC 4164 is a very small, very faint galaxy that took averted vision to hold it in view. 



8. NGC 4273, 4277, 4281, 4270, 4259, 4268 galaxies in Virgo.  5/23/17, 11:40pm MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22 T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr; 

NGC 4259 is a rather faint galaxy with a relatively high surface brightness and is elongated NW - SE. 

NGC 4268 is a moderately bright and slightly elongated galaxy laying SW-NE with a bright core region. 

NGC 4273 is an excellent bright, well defined oval with a bright non-stellar core. Possible bar in the core region? 

NGC 4277 is a moderately bright, small galaxy that is round and is next to NGC 4273 

NGC 4281 is the largest and brightest galaxy in this group and is oval in shape. It has a well defined edge with a bright and elongated core. 

NGC 4270 is relatively bright, elongated WNW-ESE with a bright core and a stellar nucleus. 

A fun group to observe and sketch. 


9. NGC 4294 & NGC 4299; 5/24/17, 12:15am MDT: FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 4294 is the largest galaxy in the field. It is very elongated SSE-NNW and is very bright along its major axis and brighter near the core.  The central portion is wider than the extremities and this galaxy is center in the sketch. 

NGC 4299 is a face on spiral galaxy (lower right in the sketch) and is irregularly round with uneven brightness, brighter on its southern side. Fun pair to observe with detail to eek out!


10. NGC 4197 galaxy in Virgo. 5/24/17; 12:30am MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob, 22mm Nagler T4; 10mm Pentax XW, Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 4197 is a flat streak in the eyepiece, with well defined edges, an even surface brightness and is elongated NE-SW. 


11. NGC 4200 Galaxy in Virgo; 5/24/17; 12:47am MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" Dob; 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW, Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 4200 is a very small, very faint galaxy with an even surface brightness and uneven edges. Not much here. One time visit. 


12. NGC 4206 (edge on spiral upper left center of sketch) and NGC 4216 (edge on slanted spiral bottom right in sketch). 5/24/17; 01:05am MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler; 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 4206 appears flat though well defined.  It is a flat streak oriented N-S and is very elongated with a bright core and a stellar nucleus.  Fun! 

NGC 4216 has a sharp bright core with a stellar nucleus.  The envelope is bright with well defined edges that taper into two faint points. Best two objects of the night! 



13. NGC 4215 Galaxy in Virgo; May 24th, 2017, 1:20am MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob, 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr. 

Small galaxy with a well defined edge with small bright inner core and a stellar nucleus.  Fun object. Lays N-S. 



14. NGC 4224 & NGC 4223 Galaxies in Virgo; 5/24/17; 01:35am MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5 dob, 22mm T4 Nagler; 10mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr; SQM-L observations: SW 21.92, S 21.93; SE 21.89.  

NGC 4224 is a moderately bright (upper center in sketch) galaxy, broad in the middle and bright along its axis.  Well defined edged and the galaxy is elongated ENE-WSW with a bright but small inner core and a stellar nucleus. 

NGC 4223 is on the bottom right and is elongated N-S, perhaps more WNW-ESE with a bright core.  Extensions are large and are seen using averted vision. 




15. NGC 4235, NGC 4246 & NGC 4247 galaxies in Virgo.  5/24/17, 02:05am MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW, Type II Paracorr. 

NGC 4235 is a relatively bright and rather large, edge on galaxy laying SW-NE. It has a bright halo and this is brighter in the core region.  Lays above a triangle of stars. Nice view! 

NGC 4246 is a faint but moderately large galaxy and is slightly elongated E-W.  The galaxy has a low surface brightness. 

NGC 4247 is very, very faint and is round in shape with a very low surface brightness. 


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Night of May 27th, 2017, FR040 Harker Canyon. 
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I have given enough pictures so basically this is the same view as Top of the World with more Juniper's to block any light from SR 36.  Sorry, a new location that I am using from time to time that I really like so I am keeping this site close to me. You'll have to observe with me when I go there to know where it is.  The name I have for it is like my other sites, based on an actual experience there, and you can figure out why I call it Elk Crossing. I only spent about 3 hours observing before going home. 

Date: May 27th, 2017 
Telescope: 17.5" f/4.4 dob Star Catcher 
Coma Reducer: TeleVue Paracorr Type II
Location: FR040 Elk Crossing  
Conditions: Antoniadi I1 all night above 20 degrees 
SQM -L Reading at 12:30 a.m. (right before I left) 
Southeast: 21.89; South: 21.93: Southwest: 21.94; West: 21.94; Northwest: 21.9; North: 21.85; Northeast: 21.67 (LP SLC Metro area); East: 21.72





1.  NGC 4241 and IC 3102 Galaxies in Virgo.  May 27th, 2017, 10:05pm, FR040 Elk Crossing; Antoniadi I, 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler; 10mm Pentax XW, Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 4241 is a really faint and oval shape galaxy (center of sketch) with a low surface brightness and some brightening near the core region. 

IC 3102 is the better visual galaxy.  It is semi bright galaxy with a small bright core and possible extensions I sketched in hinting of arms on the end of the galaxy. Nice object!



2. NGC 4260, NGC 4269 & IC 3136, Galaxies in Virgo. 5/27/17, 10:30pm MDT; FR040 Elk Crossing; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm Nagler T4, 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II. 

IC 3136 is a small and faint galaxy that is elongated SSW-NNE and has an even surface brightness. 

NGC 4260 is a WONDERFUL galaxy to observe with a faint outer halo giving way to a brighter found inner core with a stellar nucleus.  Arm structure is easily seen in this one.  

NGC 4269 is a moderately bright and rather small and round galaxy with a low surface brightness.  It has a bright and round inner core. 


3. NGC 4261 & NGC 4264 Galaxies in Virgo. 5/27/17, 10:55pm MDT; FR040 Elk Crossing; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW, Type II Paracorr. 

NGC 4261 is a very bright, very large elliptical galaxy that is oval to almost roundish in shape and lays NNW to SSE.  It is sharp, with bright concentration and a very bright and large core that goes to a quasi stellar nucleus.  This elliptical is quiet on the visual front but very active in the x-ray and radio spectrum. The reason for this is for its 400 million mass central black hole with has a  800-light-year-wide spiral-shaped disk of dust fueling it (Link to Wikipedia on NGC 4261). Hubble has a fine image of the center of this galaxy, Link

NGC 4264 is a moderately bright, and rather small, and round galaxy with a weak concentration of light. It is just down and to the right of NGC 4261. 


4. NGC 4267 a galaxy in Virgo.  5/27/2017, 11:20pm MDT; FR040 Elk Crossing; Antoniadi I, 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW, Type II Paracorr. 

NGC 4267 is a very large lenticular galaxy and is very bright and roundish to oval in shape, more roundish.  There is a sharp concentration that increases gradually to bright inner core to a stellar nucleus. 


5. NGC 4296 & NGC 4297 galaxies in Virgo. 5/27/17, 11:45pm MDT; FR040 Elk's Crossing; Antoniadi I, 17.5" dob, 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW, Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 4296 is a rather small, faint galaxy with a bright core and is elongated N-S.  Best view is south of the core.  

NGC 4297 is really, REALLY small and faint, and round in shape. Just off of NGC 4296 which is larger. 


Not a bad couple of nights. 32 objects sketched and recorded and 14 more that I recorded my observations on in Sky Tools 3.  Now to sneak out on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday night of this coming week! 


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Do I upgrade from a 12" to a 16" or 18" dob? 
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So on this trip I had a friend with me on the night of August 23rd to the 24th. He is a long time observing companion and friend, and I have observed with him since he was 18.  He is now 28 so that is 10 years. Shahid is a wonderful observing companion, we focus on our objects, go for a couple of hours and then usually take a break to relax and talk and rest our eyes and bodies.  Shahid still uses his Zhumall 12" solid tube dob which has a very good mirror and gives excellent views.  Shahid was wondering if the differences in his 12" was worth upgrading to a scope like my 17.5", or basically to a 16" to 18".  

We went to M51 when it was at zenith and compared the views. I'll have to post the sketch I made later as a comparison, but my 17.5" Star Catcher nailed M51. It was extremely bright, with two arms clearly evident with mottling and dark and light points in the arms. The core was stellar and the arm between M51 and NGC 5195 was also clearly evident with streaks and patches of light embedded. 

Shahid's 12" gave a very good view of M51, but definitely not as bright, the arms were harder to detect and there was no structure in the arms. The bridge was about 1/4 of the way to NGC 5195 with no specific detail there. In both cases you could see stars imposed on M51 but the 17.5" showed more of them. When done looking I believe Shahid's reply was he was basically no longer on the fence, but was going to upgrade to a 16" Meade Lightbridge. 

So yes, aperture in truly dark skies makes a significant difference in what you view and see. Shahid was there also when I captured my SQM-L readings and witnessed them.