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Posts Made By: Dave Mitsky

February 10, 2003 07:09 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

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

February 13, 2003 10:25 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Possible Lunar Sunrise Ray West of Clausius

Posted By Dave Mitsky

Date/Time: 2003/2/13, ~2:30 to 7:25 UT
Location: ASH Naylor Observatory, 670 Observatory Drive, Lewisberry, PA, USA (40.1 degrees N, 76.9 degrees W)
Instrument: 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain
Magnifications: 162, 202, 216, 259, 381, 404, and 432x
Conditions: Clear to partly cloudy, windy, dome temperature - 20 degrees Fahrenheit, relative humidity - 56%
Seeing: Variable

While observing the moon on Wednesday night, 2003/2/12 at ~9:30 p.m. EST (2003/2/13, ~2:30 UT), I happened to notice a possible lunar sunrise ray in an area about one degree west of the crater Clausius in Lacus Excellentiae. The ray, located at 42 degrees W and 37 degrees S, was a moderately narrow triangle when I first saw it. By the time I last looked at the moon at ~2:25 a.m. (~7:25 UT) the ray had broadened to the point that it was no longer recognizable as such.

Dave Mitsky
Harrisburg, PA

February 13, 2003 10:26 AM Forum: Solar System Observing

Possible Lunar Sunrise Ray West of Clausius

Posted By Dave Mitsky

Date/Time: 2003/2/13, ~2:30 to 7:25 UT
Location: ASH Naylor Observatory, 670 Observatory Drive, Lewisberry, PA, USA
Instrument: 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain
Magnifications: 162, 202, 216, 259, 381, 404, and 432x
Conditions: Clear to partly cloudy, windy, dome temperature - 20 degrees Fahrenheit, relative humidity - 56%
Seeing: Variable

While observing the moon on Wednesday night, 2003/2/12 at ~9:30 p.m. EST (2003/2/13, ~2:30 UT), I happened to notice a possible lunar sunrise ray in an area about two degrees west of the crater Clausius in Lacus Excellentiae. The ray, located at approximately 46 degrees W and 37 degrees S, was a moderately narrow triangle when I first saw it. By the time I last looked at the moon at ~2:25 a.m. (~7:25 UT) the ray had broadened to the point that it was no longer recognizable as such.

Dave Mitsky

February 25, 2003 06:46 AM Forum: Solar System Observing

1o2 (Io Occults Europa), 2003/2/24 UT

Posted By Dave Mitsky

On the night of 2003/2/24 UT Tony Donnangelo and I observed the end of the shadow transit by Io and the mutual event that followed immediately thereafter from the driveway of his residence. We utilized his 102mm f/8 Takahashi FS-102 apochromat and Orion Lanthanum Superwide and Pentax SMC XL oculars in that pursuit. It was cold and very windy and the seeing was only average at best but the transparency wasn't bad.

Io had completed its transit at 4:15 UT and was nearing Europa. Io's shadow was still visible near the preceding limb. As the minutes passed the shadow became a bite out of Jupiter's limb and the gap between Io and Europa narrowed until the two moons formed a peanut. Finally the two were as one, or in astronomical shorthand 1o2. The occultation began at 04:47 UT and lasted for three minutes. We watched for a short time as Io and Europa continued to separate and then turned the refractor westward to Saturn, which was rather disappointing due to its altitude and the seeing. After a few minutes I was on my way.

Dave Mitsky

March 7, 2003 12:24 AM Forum: Solar System Observing

Europa Makes an Appearance, 2003/3/7 UT

Posted By Dave Mitsky

After a week-and-a-half-long hiatus from nighttime observing I took advantage of a partly cloudy sky to view the emergence of Europa from the shadow of Jupiter on Thursday evening, 2003/3/7 UT. Using one of my "quick look" scopes, a Celestron C4.5 Newtonian, and a 7mm Tele Vue Nagler type 6 (129x) I was able to catch glimpses of the reappearing Europa through the scudding cloud cover beginning at approximately 01:17 UT.

Dave Mitsky
Harrisburg, PA

March 8, 2003 07:35 AM Forum: Solar System Observing

AR 10296 Revisited, 2003/3/6

Posted By Dave Mitsky

I had another look at AR 10296 on Thursday morning, 2003/3/6, at 15:45 UT. It was easily visible at the prime focus of my Celestron C4.5 as well as through Mylar and polymer solar filters without magnification. At 53 (17mm Tele Vue Ploessl) and 82x (11mm Tele Vue Ploesl) another large sunspot was also seen at the trailing limb.

Dave Mitsky

March 13, 2003 12:13 AM Forum: Solar System Observing

Lunar Ray Southeast of Hind, 2003/3/10 UT

Posted By Dave Mitsky

Principle Observers: Tony Donnangelo and Dave Mitsky
Other Observers: Mike Snider, Joe Rossi, and Rob Altenburg
Date: 2003/3/10 UT
Location: ASH Naylor Observatory, Lewisberry, PA (76d53'4" west, 40d8'54" north)
Elevation: 190 meters
Seeing: mediocre
Transparency: variable
Dome Temperature: 30 degrees Fahrenheit
Instruments: 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain, 12.5" f/6.5 Cave Newtonian
Oculars: 17" - 32mm University Optics Koenig-II (202x) & 24mm Brandon (270x); 12.5" - 12.5mm orthoscopic (165x), 8mm Brandon (258x) & 13mm Tele Vue Ploessl with a 2x Barlow lens (317x)
Time: 01:55 UT


We observed this sunrise ray during a public observing session so it was not monitored on a constant basis. The ray, which was discovered by former ASH member Larry Smith in January, appeared as a narrow shaft of light stretching across the flat, plained area southeast of the crater Hind (Rukl #45), about 1 hour and 53 minutes before the predicted time of occurrence. It emanated from a break in a ridge located to its east. An elevated area located to the west of the break was high enough to be illuminated and gave the false impression of a second ray. To the north, the rim of crater Hind Z was prominently illuminated. By 03:15 UT, 33 minutes prior to the predicted time of occurrence, the ray had broadened appreciably.

Mike Synder imaged the ray using his Minitron color video camera, video monitor, and laptop computer. The ray was visible on the monitor but by then seeing and transparency had deteriorated so the image quality was poor.

Tony Donnangelo
Dave Mitsky

March 16, 2003 03:12 PM Forum: Solar System Observing

The Mercator Lunar Ray, 2003/3/13 UT

Posted By Dave Mitsky

Tony Donnangelo and I observed the Mercator Lunar Sunrise Ray last Wednesday night. Prior to my arrival Tony discovered another new ray in the crater Lubiniesky E. Here's Tony's report on our observations of the Mercator Ray.

Dave Mitsky


Observers: Dave Mitsky & Tony Donnangelo
Date/time of observation: 2003/03/13 01:25 U.T.
Site location: Hummelstown RD 3, PA, USA (40.26° N., 76.75° W.)
Site elevation: 479 feet (146 meters)
Site classification: Suburban
Instrument: Takahashi FS-102
Magnification: 158x(5.2mm Pentax XL), 234x(3.5mm Orion Lanthinum
SW)

The observing session began an hour prior to the lunar ray prediction of 01:37 U.T. With no ray yet occurring, I egan observing other features and noticed a new ray in crater Lubiniezky E. I called Dave Mitsky and reported my observation. Living only a few miles away, he arrived within fifteen minutes.

The edge of a cloud bank ran west to east at the zenith, making observing difficult. It was ~80 to 90% cloudy near the moon, totally cloudy to its south, and mostly clear to its north. I wouldn't normally attempt observing under those conditions; however, I had never seen this particular ray.

A break in the clouds occurred just 12 minutes prior to the predicted time, and Dave noticed a very small patch of light on the western end of Mercator's floor, which was otherwise totally shadowed. We increased magnification and resolved a short, somewhat narrow pie-shaped wedge of light ~9 Km. long. Our observation was as Jane Houston Jones had originally reported, confirming her sighting.

Dave and I were able to observe the ray again at 1:55 U.T. It now appeared slightly broader and longer. At 2:15 U.T., we made our last observation. It continued to grow broader and longer. The clouds now completely covered the moon, and we ended our observing session.

March 16, 2003 03:15 PM Forum: Solar System Observing

The Lubiniezky E Lunar Ray, 2003/3/13 UT

Posted By Dave Mitsky

Observers: Tony Donnangelo and Dave Mitsky
Date/time of observation: 2003/03/13 00:40 U.T.
Site location: Hummelstown RD 3, PA, USA (40.26° N., 76.75° W.)
Site elevation: 479 feet (146 meters)
Site classification: Suburban
Instrument: Takahashi FS-102
Magnification: 158x (5.2mm Pentax XL), 234x (3.5mm Orion Lanthinum SW)
Moon's age: 9d 22:04, 67% illuminated
Object: Lubiniezky E (crater)
Size: ~40Km.x~40Km.
Lunar ray coordinates: 26.75°W., 16.75°S.
Rukl chart #: 53

Description of crater: None was found. It appears to me to have a flooded floor, a considerably disintegrated wall, and a flat, featureless interior.

The edge of a cloud bank ran west to east at the zenith. It was ~80 to 90% cloudy in the path of the moon, totally cloudy to its south, and almost totally clear to its north. Waiting for holes, most only lasting seconds, made observing difficult. I normally wouldn't attempt to observe under these conditions; however, there was a lunar ray predicted to occur in the crater Mercator, which I had never seen. My observing session began an hour before this predicted occurrence. No ray was present in Mercator at this time; hence, I began observing other features. I immediately noticed a possible ray in Lubiniezky E. Within a minute, clouds covered the moon. To be sure of my sighting, I waited for other holes in the clouds. Surprisingly, when possible, seeing was very steady. I called Dave Mitsky and reported my possible sighting. Living only a few miles away, he arrived within twenty minutes. I also called The Astronomical Society of Harrisburg's Naylor Observatory, located ~18 miles further southwest. Members present said it was totally cloudy and no observations could be made.

Craters Bullialdus and Lubiniezky were prominently illuminated. The rims of craters Lubiniezky A and E were illuminated. The segmented wall structure of crater A was evident, particularly on the western side. The floor of crater E was in total shadow.
The ray appeared as a very narrow, very dim, shaft of light extending the full length of the crater floor through a visible opening in the eastern wall. The very flat, featureless floor gave the ray an interesting appearance of being very smooth and even. The ray was visible when I first started to observe, so would have begun some time earlier; however, I don't think much earlier.

At 1:15 U.T., Dave and I were able to observe the ray again. It now appeared slightly cone shaped and brighter. By 1:30 U.T., the crater's floor was completely illuminated, except for the northern most area, and the ray was no longer recognizable as such. It may still have been detectible, only if you were aware of its previous existence. At 2:15 U.T., it became totally cloudy, and we ended our observing session.

March 17, 2003 07:15 AM Forum: Solar System Observing

A Sunny Weekend

Posted By Dave Mitsky

AR 10306 and AR 10314 - see http://science.nasa.gov/spaceweather/images2003/17mar03/midi512_blank.gif - made for some interesting solar viewing over what turned out to be a sorely needed warm and sunny weekend. Early Saturday afternoon I set up the ASH 203mm f/10 Celestron C8 SCT with a 26mm Tele Vue Ploessl (78x) and an Orion full aperture aluminized glass solar filter after the monthly ASH excutive board meeting so everyone could have a look. On Sunday afternoon my Celestron 114mm f/7.9 C4.5 Newtonian, 17mm Tele Vue Ploessl (53x), and Celestron Mylar solar filter did the honors. AR 10306 was an easy naked-eye object using my polymer solar eclipse shades.

Dave Mitsky
Harrisburg, PA