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Posts Made By: Dave Mitsky

August 17, 2002 11:08 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

That's One Very Big Sunspot!, 2002/8/17

Posted By Dave Mitsky

When the monthly ASH Excutive Board was over early this afternoon I set up the club's vintage orange-tube Celestron C8 to show the board members the huge sunspot that is currently traversing the sun's disk. Prior to leaving for the Naylor Observatory I had given the sun a quick perusal with my polymer solar shades. Sunspot (or AR) #69 was without a doubt the easiest "naked-eye" spot that I have ever seen. Through the Celestron SCT at 78x (26mm Tele Vue Ploessl) this mammoth sunspot was truly a sight to behold. Wow!

Dave Mitsky

August 18, 2002 03:49 PM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

The Very Swift NEA, 2002/8/18 UT

Posted By Dave Mitsky

Things were not looking very good last night in south central Pennsylvania for a successful observation of the NEA 2002 NY40. However, I was fortunate enough to have a hole in the overcast develop on Sunday morning around 6:00 UT. Using the ASH 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain, which is not the easiest instrument to do this sort of observing with by the way, I located 2002 NY40 in the constellation of Hercules at 6:18 UT and tracked it for over 20 minutes. Magnifications of 162 (40mm University Optics MK-70), 259 (25mm U.O. MK-70), 324 (20mm Meade Wide Angle), 381 (17mm Pro-Optics Ploessl), and 498x (13mm Tele Vue Ploessl) were employed. At 498x it was quite difficult to keep the asteroid in view for very long. :-)

I'd observed the rapid moving NEA 1996 JA1 with the same telescope 6 years ago but 2002 NY40 was much swifter, the fastest natural object that I've ever seen through a telescope other than the occasional meteor.

Afterwards a fellow ASH member put C/2002 O4 (Hoenig) into view using coordinates that I supplied to him. The transparency was not very good but the comet was nevertheless visible. At 118x (55mm U.O. Ploessl), 202 (32mm U.O. Koenig-II), and 259x Comet Hoenig did not appear to be appreciably different than my last view of it a week before at Stellafane. The coma was diffuse and poorly condensed.

I also was able to observe a number of denizens of the deep-sky through the 17" and its 5" f/5 finder - M57, M92, Stock 2, the Double Cluster, the Alpha Persei Association, Almach, M34, M15, M31, and Gamma Arietis - before the clouds returned.

Dave Mitsky

August 19, 2002 05:33 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

The Question Mark, 2002/8/18

Posted By Dave Mitsky

Yesterday afternoon at 19:15 UT I took another gander at the mammoth sunspot designated #69. The sky was hazy but that didn't stop #69 from being an easy naked-eye target through my polymer solar shades. The chain of spots preceeding #69 now resemble a question mark when viewed through a telescope, in this case a Celestron C4.5 Newtonian at 53x (17mm Tele Vue Ploessl). The temperature at the time was 38 degrees Celsius and the barometric pressure only 1000 millibars.

Dave Mitsky

August 22, 2002 06:32 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Wednesday Morning's Daystar, 2002/8/21

Posted By Dave Mitsky

I joined a friend to do some H-alpha solar observing yesterday morning from 14:55 to 15:25 UT. The temperature was rising quickly at the time and the seeing was beginning to suffer. We used his Takahashi FS-102 f/8 apochromat and Lumicon Solar Prominence Filter. Eyepieces employed were a 12mm Tele Vue Nagler type 4 (68x), a 10mm Tel Vue Radian (82x), and an 8mm Orion Lanthanum Superwide (103x). There was a wealth of prominences to be seen but nothing remarkable except a wispy, branching semi-loop on the leading limb.

When we switched to white light via a Baader AstroSolar filter the glory of Sunspot #69 was apparent. The penumbra of this monster exhibited great detail. Another large spot, #85, was visible at the trailing limb. This one had the classic "fried egg" look. A number of small spots were also present. We used the 10mm Radian, 8mm Superwide, and a 5.2mm Pentax SMC XL (158x) to make these observations.

I also took a number of prime focus and eyepiece projection shots (26mm Meade Super Ploessl) of the sun in white light and H-alpha with my Pentax K1000 SLR.

Dave Mitsky

September 17, 2002 03:19 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Lunar Flash Last Wednesday?

Posted By Dave Mitsky

A fellow ASH member was observing the moon last Wednesday (September 11th) with 20x80's and at 23:49 UT (7:49 p.m. EDT) noticed a fifth or sixth magnitude flash (similar to 41 Librae in brightness) about 10 degrees to the dark side of the terminator in the vicinity of Posidonius. Was anyone videotaping the moon at this time?

Dave Mitsky

October 1, 2002 08:11 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

A Four Asteroid Evening

Posted By Dave Mitsky

Despite rather poor transparency on Monday evening I managed to observe the four asteroids that are prominent this month using the Astronomical Society of Harrisburg's 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain at 162 (40mm U.O. MK-70) and 259x (25mm U.O. MK-70). I also loooked at a few deep-sky objects along the way (M34, M30, M2, and Eta Persei) as well as two planets.

I started with 15 Eunomia (magnitude 8.2), which was located in Pegasus (p.82, Uranometria 2000.0 volume I, 2nd edition). The next, 7 Iris (magnitude 8.3), was situated in Aquarius (p.103, I) and formed a faux "double star" with a ~8.5 magnitude field star. Moving to Cetus (p.120, II) I tracked down 18 Melpomene (magnitude 7.8) ten minutes later. The fourth and final minor planet of the night was the very first to be discovered, 1 Ceres (magnitude 7.6), which was also positioned in Cetus (p.140, II). Ephemerides for these "vermin of the skies" can be found at

I finished the night with Neptune and Uranus at 259x.

Dave Mitsky

October 9, 2002 06:14 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Megameet XI, 2002/10/5 Part I

Posted By Dave Mitsky

After spending Saturday afternoon at the North Museum in Lancaster participating in the Celebrate Space weekend ( and then watching Penn State defeat Wisconsin I made the hour long drive from Harrisburg to the impressive Pulpit Rock observatory (

I hadn't been to this Lehigh Valley Amateur Astronomical Society event (, which was formerly held in September, since the advent of the Black Forest Star Party in 1999. This year the date of Megameet had been moved forward a month. Since I was in a hurry to make it to the Hamburg site before the gate closed, I took my serious "grab-and-go" scope, the 101mm Tele Vue Genesis sdf.

When I arrived at 01:00 UT I found a good sized crowd. I set up near my friends Mike Aulenbach (LVAAS) and Dave Brown (BCAAS). The sky was clear for almost the entire night with average transparency and seeing. The VLM was a bit better than 5.5 at the zenith. (Gotta love those blankety-blank billboards along I-78!) It was windy throughout the night and it did get slightly chilly but on the positive side there was a minimum of dew.

One object that I happened to observe with the Genesis sdf was NGC 404 (Mirach's Ghost). It was the first time that I had used the Tele Vue refractor on this E0 or SA(s)0- galaxy. Moving Mirach (Beta Andromedae) to the edge of the field of view (or completely out of the FOV with sufficient magnification) makes NGC 404 a fairly easy, if not particularly visually impressive, target.

I also observed NGC 7293, the Helix, which is rather easy with a 4" aperture given a fairly dark sky and a narrowband or line nebula(r) filter. (I've logged the Helix, or more properly the Helical Nebula, with a 8x42 binocular from dark sites such as Cherry Springs State Park.) Of course, the view of NGC 7293 was a just a wee bit better through Dave Brown's 20" Starsplitter Dob.

October 9, 2002 06:16 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Megameet XI, 2002/10/5 Part II

Posted By Dave Mitsky

The two bright segments of the Cygnus Loop, NGC 6960 and NGC
6992, were easily detected, along with the less prominent Pickering's Wedge, through my O-III filtered Genesis. My 35mm Panoptic produced a field of viewed that allowed the entire Veil Nebula complex to be seen at once but, as one might expect, I prefered the view through Dave's 20" telescope.

Somewhat to my surprise NGC 1499, the California Nebula, was visible through my 4" scope using a borrowed H-beta filter. This was the brightest site at which I've had success seeing this fairly elusive target.

I viewed Saturn through the LVAAS 8" f/15 Spacek refractor as well as a 7.1" Astro-Physics Starfire apochromat and Mike's 18" Starmaster Dob.

The bi-lobed planetary nebula NGC 2371-72 looked quite good through Mike's 18" while the ansae of NGC 7009 (the Saturn Nebula) were presented very nicely indeed through Dave's 20".

M42 showed copious detail through the larger reflectors on the observing field but we had no luck with B33, the Horsehead Nebula.

Other celestial objects viewed included M2, M31, M32, M33, M35, M44, M45, M110, NGC 869, NGC 884, NGC 2158, NGC 6826 (the Blinking Nebula), NGC 7331, Stock 2, and Jupiter.

All in all the night was a very pleasant one. It was good to be back at the Rock.

Dave Mitsky

October 10, 2002 09:11 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Observing the Sun at the North Museum

Posted By Dave Mitsky

As part of the Celebrate Space weekend
( at Lancaster's North Museum members of the Astronomy Enthusiasts of Lancaster County held telescope clinics and conducted solar observing sessions last Saturday and Sunday. I brought my trusty 80mm f/5 Orion ShortTube 80, a Mylar filter, a "homemade" Baader AstroSolar filter, and two pairs of polymer solar eclipse shades along with photographs of the
sun and other celestial bodies that I've taken over the years.

On Saturday afternoon the AELC had a total of five telescopes set up to show museum goers the sun. In addition to my ST80 there was a 5" Astro-Physics Starfire with a Daystar 0.5 Angstrom H-alpha filter, an A-P Traveler, an Orion 6" Newtonian, and a Celestron C90 catadioptric
spotting scope. The next day an 8" SCT and another 90mm cat stood in for the A-P Starfire and the Orion Newtonian.

AR 10139 (Sunspot 139) was easily visible on both days through my eclipse shades. On Saturday Dan Good's H-alpha filtered A-P Starfire revealed dark filaments in the chromosphere and a couple of notable eruptive prominences. I was able to demonstrate to my fellow AELC members just how much better the Baader filter material is than Mylar by swapping filters on my ShortTube 80. On Sunday the Schmidt-Cassegrain gave us good close-up views of the large sunspot.

Saturday afternoon proved to be an appropriate astronomical warm-up for Saturday night's Megameet at the Lehigh Valley Amateur Astronomical Society's Pulpit Rock Astronomical Park

Dave Mitsky
Harrisburg, PA

October 15, 2002 07:48 AM Forum: Film Astrophotography - Imaging and Processing

New Photographs on DVAA Home Page

Posted By Dave Mitsky

Some new shots (as well as some older ones) have been added to my section of the DVAA members astrophotography page. See if you'd care to have a look.

Dave Mitsky