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Posts Made By: Dave Mitsky

December 17, 2002 05:55 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Two Lunar Sunrise Rays, 2002/12/17 UT

Posted By Dave Mitsky

On Monday night (2002/12/17 UT) I joined my friend Tony Donnangelo to observe the Babbage Lunar Sunrise Ray. Knowing Tony I was not suprised when he told me he had detected what may be an unreported ray in the crater Lacroix at approximately 02:15 UT. I had a look at the latter through Tony's 102mm f/8 Takahashi FS-102 apochromat using
a 5.2mm Pentax SMC XL (158x) and a 3.8mm Orion Lanthanum Superwide (216x). Upon closer inspection I could see a thin shaft of light more or less bisecting the 38 km sized crater. Then it was on to the much larger (144 km) Babbage. That ray was a bit past its peak. It had been predicted to occur at 1:55 UT but actually started much earlier, at approximately 00:00 UT according to Tony. Nevertheless, after a bit I noticed a pie shaped wedge missing from a shadow in the southwestern end of the crater. We then used the 5.2mm with a 2x Tele Vue Barlow to have a closer look at the Lacroix Ray.

Later I happened to notice that the 70 km long Mons Rumker was rather oddly illuminated. This mountainous area that is rich with lunar domes was highlighted so it appeared quite three dimensional. Another striking trick of the light was the way the "peace symbol" wrinkle ridges of crater Wargentin (84 km) were blackened yet at the same time accented by shadow. It was the first time that I had ever
seen this "filled to the brim" crater look quite that way. We also observed Saturn at 158 and 216x. The seeing and transparency were not the best but I was able to see the C Ring as well as cloud bands and the polar hood. Titan and two other satellites were visible.

Shortly before closing down at 3:20 UT or so we had a very poor view of Jupiter at 91x (9mm Tele Vue Nagler type 5).

Dave Mitsky
Harrisburg, PA

December 18, 2002 07:26 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Ganymede Occults Io, 2002/12/18

Posted By Dave Mitsky

There was a mutual event of the Galilean satellites this morning. From 09:12 to 09:16 UT Ganymede partially occulted Io. Io was reduced to 15% of its normal brightness.

I watched as Ganymede and Io drew close, seemingly merged, and then went their separate ways through my Orion ShortTube 80 achromat at 57 and 114x using a 7mm Tele Vue Nagler type 6 alone and with a 2x Celestron Ultima Barlow lens.

I also briefly viewed the just past opposition Saturn and the nearly full moon at 114x.

For more on this mutual events "season" see
http://skyandtelescope.com/printable/observing/objects/planets/article _774.asp and the recent article in "Astronomy".

Dave Mitsky

January 13, 2003 02:35 AM Forum: Solar System Observing

A Close Pair, 2002/1/12 UT

Posted By Dave Mitsky

Tony Donnangelo, Maura Smith, and I had a look at Ganymede and Europa after observing the Hesiodus Lunar Sunrise Ray. They formed a very close pair separated by a few arc seconds at most. We used his Takahashi FS-102 apochromatic refractor at magnifications up to 234x. There were definite size and color differences between the two Galilean satellites. After a much needed warm-up break we caught a glimpse of the GRS sometime around 2:30 UT as it approached the preceding limb.

Before Maura and I arrived at Tony's residence he observed a previously unreported triple sunrise ray in the crater Parry. The Hesiodus Ray by the way appeared similar to the several other times since 1994 that I have seen it, i.e., as a slowly widening dim streak of light that gradually illuminated the floor of Hesiodus

Tony and I also spent some viewing Saturn. The C ring was visible at the ansae along with a definite demarcation of the polar hood and two cloud belts.

Dave Mitsky

January 13, 2003 07:13 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

A Flare, a Ray, and a Close Pair

Posted By Dave Mitsky

On a bitterly cold Saturday (2003/1/11-12) night fellow ASH members Tony Donnangelo, Maura Smith, and I had a look at Ganymede and Europa after first observing the Hesiodus Lunar Sunrise Ray. We used Tony's Takahashi FS-102 apochromatic refractor at magnifications up to 234x. Prior to traveling to Tony's house Maura and I witnessed Iridium 54's brilliant -8th magnitude flare.

The two Galilean satellites formed a very close pair separated by a few arc seconds at most. There were definite size and color differences between the two moons.

After a much needed warm-up break we caught a glimpse of the GRS sometime around 2:30 UT as it approached the preceding limb. Early in the evening Tony observed a previously unreported triple sunrise ray in the crater Parry. Unfortunately, the event ended before Maura and I arrived at his residence. The Hesiodus Ray, by the way, appeared similar to the several other times since 1994 that I have seen it, i.e., as a slowly widening dim streak of light that
gradually illuminated the floor of Hesiodus. Other lunar features were noteworthy. Rupes Recta was well displayed as were Tycho, Clavius, Plato, and several other craters. Eratosthenes was striking. Tony and I both noticed an unusual aspect of Alpetragius. The central peak was extremely prominent which made the crater look dimpled. Also eye catching were the many isolated peaks on the dark
side of the terminator that were nicely illuminated.

Tony and I also spent some viewing Saturn. The C ring was visible at the ansae along with a definite demarcation of the polar hood and two cloud belts. Before calling it quits at approximately 3:30 UT we made a final check on the progress of the Hesiodus Ray.

Dave Mitsky

January 13, 2003 08:04 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

Re: Public observing and expensive equipment

Posted By Dave Mitsky

Yes, some minor damage on one occasion and a near disaster on another. What's really disheartening is the parents who think that their children are cute when they run amok.

Dave Mitsky

January 20, 2003 07:04 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

A Solar Arc, 2003/1/18

Posted By Dave Mitsky

I joined Tony Donnangelo and his Takahashi FS-102 apochromat briefly on a chilly Saturday morning (~14:35 UT 2003/1/18) for our first H-alpha solar observing session of the new year. The sky was quite clear but the seeing was nothing to brag about. We first used Tony's Lumicon Solar Prominence Filter with a 12mm Tele Vue Nagler type 4 (68x), a 9mm Nagler type 6 (91x), and a 5.2mm Pentax SMC XL (158x). A fairly large but limb-hugging prominence was visible on the trailing limb. On the opposite limb a prominence in the shape of a thin arc was rather striking.

After a bit we went to a Baader AstroSolar white light filter and the 9 and 5.2mm eyepieces to view the spread of moderately large sunspots such as 250, 254, and 258.

Dave Mitsky
Harrisburg, PA

January 20, 2003 09:09 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

A NEAT Comet and Some Shallow-Sky Imaging

Posted By Dave Mitsky

Last Saturday evening at approximately 23:47 UT I had the opportunity to observe Comet NEAT V1 with the ASH 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain at the Naylor Observatory shortly before high cirrus and the rising full moon spoiled the view completely. Magnifications used were 162 (40mmn University Optics MK-70), 209 (31mm Tele Vue Nagler type 5), and 259x (25mm U.O. MK-70). C/2002 V1 (NEAT) was fairly bright but was hard to see through the 5" f/5 finder scope due to moonlight and poor transparency. Its coma seemed asymmetrical and had noticeable condensation.

The comet was soon lost in cirrus clouds so Dave Lassiter and I turned our attention to his new Astrovid Color PlanetCam CCD Video System. Eventually we got all the bugs worked out and an impressively large image of Saturn appeared on the monitor. The seeing was rather poor but from time to time a sharp image of the planet ensued. The Cassini Division was easy to see as were the polar hood and two southern hemisphere cloud belts.

We pulled some tape and moved on to the Moon After Yule. The image scale produced by the 6477mm focal length classical Cassegrain resulted in a screen-filling image and slewing the telescope with the drive corrector proved tedious. I placed the camera in the 5" refractor and a much smaller and more aesthetically pleasing picture of the full moon flashed onto the screen.

The clouds had grown worse so our final target was mighty Jupiter. The Galilean satellites were displayed through the 5" but disappeared when I lowered the gain to show the NEB and SEB. After a few minutes I moved the camera back to the focuser of the 17". Even before I achieved best focus, which was somewhat difficult to do on all of the objects imaged, the GRS popped into view. It was pale but definitely pink in color. Unfortunately, there were no shadow transits or Galilean satellite mutual events to be seen.

We also did some old fashioned eyeballing of Saturn and Jupiter at 259x. The GRS was just about in transit of the CM (the transit time was 2:27 UT) while all this was going on and was clearly visible through the eyepiece but was not as striking as it was on the monitor.

Dave Mitsky


January 24, 2003 06:22 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Two New Lunar Sunset Rays, 2003/1/22 UT

Posted By Dave Mitsky

On the icy cold morning of Wednesday, 2003/1/22, at approximately 8:40 UT I noticed what might be a previously unreported lunar light ray in the crater Maskelyne F using the 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain (at magnifications of 162, 216, and 259x) at the ASH Naylor Observatory (76d53'4" west, 40d8'54" north - 2 miles northwest of Lewisberry, Pennsylvania).

My friend Tony Donnangelo was also observing that night but from his home using his Takahashi FS-102. We kept in touch throughout the night since we were curious whether a sunset ray would occur near the crater Stiborius (see http://www.shallowsky.com/moon/rukl67.html) at the time predicted. We both felt that the predicted time was several hours too early. As it turned out no ray materialized at the appointed time, although it appeared that conditions might be favorable for it to occur at the time we had calculated using the Lunar ToolKit program.

At any rate Tony called me to inform me about an unreported ray he was watching from his residence but he was unclear about where it was located other than it was near Maskelyne (Rukl chart #36). I happened to notice a very thin and faint ray in crater F while searching for the ray that Tony was watching. It turns out that Tony saw a ray in crater P. The next day he related to me that he was unable to see the one in F with his 4" Takahashi. So two new lunar rays were discovered that night while attempting to observe a reported ray that did not occur.

Dave Mitsky
Harrisburg, PA

February 6, 2003 07:47 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Some Good Tail, 2003/2/6 UT

Posted By Dave Mitsky

I had the opportunity to once again observe C/2002 V1 (NEAT) on Wednesday evening, 2003/2/6 UT (~00:15 to 01:01 UT), from the ASH Naylor Observatory (http://www.astrohbg.org) near Lewisberry, Pennsylvania. The VLM was a bit under 5.0, with moonlight and the skyglow from a nearby ski resort as well as from local homes and the cities of Harrisburg and York making a statement. The seeing was on the poor side. The dome temperature was 26 degrees Fahrenheit and the relative humidity was rather high for a cold winter's night, about 65%.

Comet NEAT V1 was barely visible through my Celestron Noble 8x42 binocular. A short tail was seen with my Celestron 20x80 binocular and a 5" f/5 achromatic finder scope mounted on the 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain reflector. Through the 17" Comet NEAT V1 appeared to have a very bright pseudonucleus and a tail that extended about 20 arcminutes. The best views were through a 45mm University Optics Ploessl (144x) and a 40mm U.O. MK-70 (162x). Other oculars employed were a 55mm U.O. Ploesl (118x), a 32mm U.O. Koenig-II (202x), and a 25mm U.O. MK-70 (259x). I was able to follow the comet's bright core until it was about 2 degrees above the western horizon.

Three other shallow-sky objects met my telescopic gaze: the moon, Jupiter, and Saturn.

The Lobster Claw, otherwise known as the crater Gutenberg, was nicely highlighted at 162x as was the area surrounding Mare Crisium. The distinctive feature near Cleomedes that I dubbed the Tomahawk years ago was easily seen. I also noted a feature that resembled the numeral 7 further north near the terminator but I was too lazy to go to the Asper Building to check just what it was the Rukl atlas. Earthshine was quite prominent and two areas, one bright
(Aristarchus), the other dark (Grimaldi), stood out dramatically.

Jupiter [162, 202, and 249x (26mm Tele Vue Ploessl)] fared poorly with the bad seeing.

I also spent a little time on some deep-sky objects: M31, M32, M110, NGC 7789, M78, M79, M46, NGC 2438, NGC 2467, NGC 2359, M42, and M43 using a 48mm Orion UltraBlock filter when necessary. I did some quick sweeps with my 2 binoculars, looking at Jupiter, Saturn, M42, M45, M47, Collinder 70, and NGC 2244.

The seeing was a bit better for my final object, Saturn (162 and 249x). I could see the Cassini division, the C ring at the ansae, two cloud belts, the polar hood, Titan and (I think) 5 other satellites.


Dave Mitsky

February 10, 2003 07:07 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

Videotaping the Heavens, 2003/2/8

Posted By Dave Mitsky

I helped a friend wring out an ITE DeepSky Pro video camera on Saturday night (see http://www.itetelescopes.com/products/cameras/overview.php?p=D_SkyP). The relative humidity was a miserable 65% and the temperature was -14 degrees Celsius or less. All told I spent about 5 hours outside imaging the moon, Jupiter, and quite a few deep-sky objects using the camera and a 12" Meade LX200 SCT working at f/6.3. Despite my many layers of warm clothing I was as cold as I've ever been while observing. The numbing chill served to make working the camera and telescope controls a frustrating experience at times. Frost covered the table that held the monitor and camera controller and the SCT was more than slightly sluggish by the end of the session.

Unfortunately, C/2002 V1 (NEAT) was too close to the horizon to image by the time we got everything working properly.

The Barrow lunar sunrise ray was visible through a 12.5mm orthoscopic eyepiece but not on the video monitor or the videotape upon playback. Another ray, one previously unreported, was visible just north of Barrow. Add this one to Tony Donnangelo's growing list of lunar ray discoveries. (Tony called me to inform me about this new ray.) One of the interesting aspects of Saturday night's moon was an X-shaped area of illumination on the dark side of the terminator. Before tearing down the LX200 we had a look at the Curtius ray. The moon was close to the horizon by then and the seeing was horrible but I believe I saw that ray too. And so I witnessed three lunar rays in one night, a record for me.

I did manage to image Io's reappearance from eclipse at 3:48 UT (2003/2/9 UT). Long before that we had watched Io being
occulted. Images of the moon and Jupiter were done with a lunar filter and the Sense Up control set at 2, the lowest level. At this setting Jupiter's equatorial belts were discernible but the Galilean satellites were a bit subdued.

At one point I happened to gaze overhead just in time to see a fine -2 magnitude meteor streak across the zenith on a southwestern trajectory.

Images of the following deep-sky objects were captured successfully: M31, M32, M35, M37, M42, M51, M65, M66, M81, M82, M103, NGC 457, NGC 869, NGC 884, NGC 2903, and Alcor-Mizar. We used the Sense Up control set at 96 for these images. Due to image scale and other factors the images of M37, M42, M82, M103, and NGC 869 were the most impressive to me. Some of the mages (M32, M81, and M82 for example) looked similar to those at http://www.lafterhall.com/avastellacamex.html

Dave Mitsky