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Posts Made By: Dave Mitsky

March 19, 2003 10:15 PM Forum: Solar System Observing

Io Does Its Thing, 2003/3/19 UT

Posted By Dave Mitsky

After the ASH advanced astronomy class had ended I watched Io's shadow transit using the 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain at the Astronomical Society of Harrisburg's Naylor Observatory (see http://www.astrohbg.org/gallery/index.php?show=./visit/3b_17_inch.jpg&offset=0) on Tuesday night, March 18th.

The transparency varied from bad (i.e., mostly cloudy) to mediocre but the seeing was excellent. In fact, I was quite surprised at just how good it was. The shadow of Io was a sharply defined black spot that crept slowly along Jupiter's equator. I was able to push the magnification to as high as 404x (16mm Brandon) but 249x (26mm Tele Vue Ploessl) provided the best overall view. Other magnifications used were 162 (40mm University Optics MK-70), 202 (32mm U.O. Koenig-II), 216 (28mm Edmund Scientific RKE), 259 (25mm MK-70), and 381x (17mm Pro-Optic Ploessl). The size and brightness differences of the Galilean satellites were quite apparent.

The shadow crossed the CM at about 10:40 p.m. EST (3:40 UT). About 3 minutes prior to the end of Io's transit (4:01 UT) I could make out the shape of Io as it neared Jupiter's preceding limb. By 4:03 UT Io had pulled far enough away from Jupiter that I could see a gap. As the gap widened the fact that Io was casting its shadow on the cloud tops of its parent planet grew increasingly evident.

Dave Mitsky
Harrisburg, PA

March 22, 2003 09:38 PM Forum: Solar System Observing

A Sucker Hole Shadow Transit, 2003/3/23 UT

Posted By Dave Mitsky

I caught the tail end of Europa's shadow transit with the 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain at the ASH Naylor Observatory early Saturday night. The sky was mostly overcast but I did manage to get in a total of perhaps 5 minutes of good observing during the final half hour of the transit by patiently waiting for every sucker hole that came along. The shadow transit ended at 1:31 UT.

I utilized magnifications of 162 (40mm University Optics MK-70), 216 (28mm Edmund Scientific RKE), and 259x (25mm MK-70) to watch the shadow of Europa advance along Jupiter's equator towards the preceding limb.

Dave Mitsky
Harrisburg, PA

April 2, 2003 04:50 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

SN 2003cg, 2003/4/1 UT

Posted By Dave Mitsky

Despite the weather forecast a clear night materialized on Monday and my goal of viewing this recent supernova was realized.

I've done a fair bit of observing lately but haven't written up any reports. With any luck they'll be forthcoming. Be that as it may I'm posting a slightly modified version of the observing log that I sent to netastrocatalog this morning.

Dave Mitsky

Observer: Dave Mitsky
Your skills: Advanced (many years)
Date/time of observation: 2003/4/1 6:15 UT
Location of site: ASH Naylor Observatory (40.1 degrees N, 76.9 degrees W, Elevation 190 meters)
Site classification: Exurban
Sky darkness: ~5.0
Seeing: 6 <1-10 Seeing Scale (10 best)>
Moon presence: None - moon not in sky
Instrument: 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain equatorial mount
Magnifications: 162, 202, and 259x
Filter(s): None
Object(s): SN 2003cg, NGC 3169, NGC 3166
Category: Extragalactic star
Class: Subluminous type Ia supernova
Constellation: Sextans
Magnitude: ~14.0
Position: 10h14m, +03d28'
Description:
This recently discovered type Ia supernova was visible with averted vision. Its parent galaxy NGC 3169 and nearby NGC 3166, both eleventh magnitude Herschel 400 spiral galaxies, were easily seen. SN 2003cg was located within the glow of NGC 3169 - see http://messier45.com/cgi-bin/h400/i.cgi?n=3169&d=GX - making a sighting somewhat difficult. The supernova is situated 14" east and 5" north of NGC 3169's nucleus. An 11.3 magnitude field star lies almost due east. For more on this object, including images, see http://www.rochesterastronomy.org/snimages/

April 3, 2003 08:29 AM Forum: Solar System Observing

Great Seeing! 2003/4/3 UT

Posted By Dave Mitsky

A number of Astronomical Society of Harrisburg members who gathered at the Naylor Observatory - http://www.astrohbg.org/naylor_observatory.php - were treated to some extremely steady seeing on a very pleasant Wednesday night, 2003/4/3 UT. Those present were Bob Pody, Rob Altenburg, Ted Nichols II, Dave Gaskill, and yours truly.

Saturn had its moments through the 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain even though it is slipping closer to the western horizon with each passing day. Viewing Jupiter (162, 202, 216, and 259x), however, was a revelation. The GRS transit of the CM at 3:33 UT was one of the best that I've ever seen. The feature dubbed the "eyebrow" that abuts the GRS was plainly evident as were a barge in the NEB and the disruption in the SEB trailing the GRS. I counted 13 cloud belts and bands. If only the new Stellacam EX that ASH recently purchased had been working properly! (We also missed taping a great pass of the ISS on Tuesday night because of the malfunction.)

The GRS was clearly visible through ASH member Bob Pody's 60mm Unitron achromat and a 7mm Pentax orthoscopic. Before that I beheld M42, M37, and M35 through Bob's refractor.

Naturally enough the 12.5" f/6.5 Cave Newtonian did a fine job on Jove at 258x (8mm Brandon). A bit later Rob put asteroid 4 Vesta into view using the 12.5". Earlier I saw the fine binary star Epsilon Monocerotis and the variable star R Leonis thanks to Rob.

One of the many deep-sky objects (including NGC 2362, h3945, M42, M65, M66, and NGC 4565) that I observed with the 17" was the brightest supernova of this year, 14th magnitude SN 2003cg in NGC 3169 (162, 202, 216, and 259x). It looked pretty much the same as it did on Monday night. For more on this recently discovered subluminous type Ia exploding star see http://www.rochesterastronomy.org/snimages/

The temperature in the French Dome was a balmy 66 degrees Fahrenheit at the end of the session, a far cry from Monday night's low of 29 degrees.

Dave Mitsky

April 18, 2003 11:29 PM Forum: Solar System Observing

And the Real Discoverer of Neptune Was?

Posted By Dave Mitsky

Apparently an interesting episode in astronomical history needs to be revised - http://skyandtelescope.com/printable/news/current/article_935.asp

Dave Mitsky

April 25, 2003 08:01 AM Forum: Solar System Observing

A Brief Spring Session at Lewisberry, 2003/4/25 UT

Posted By Dave Mitsky

I spent about two hours at the ASH Naylor Observatory (http://www.astrohbg.org) last night (Thursday, 4/24). The transparency was poor, with high clouds covering a good portion of the sky periodically, but the seeing was very good indeed. Using the 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain I had a fine view of the Great Red Spot transit of the central meridian. The atmosphere was steady enough that I was able to use magnifications as high as 404x (16mm Brandon). Other magnifications employed were 162 (40mm University Optics MK-70), 202 (32mm U.O. Koenig-II), 216 (28mm Edmund Scientific RKE), 259 (25mm U.O. MK-70), and 381x (17mm Pro-Optic Ploessl). The GRS crossed the CM at 9:47 p.m. EDT (1:47 4/25 UT). A dark barge in the North Equatorial Belt followed about half an hour later.

Since the early night had not lived up to the forecasts, I didn't look at very much else but I did spend some time viewing Saturn (162 and 216x), Jupiter and M44 through the 5" f/5 finder scope, a few binary and multiple stars, and M67 (162x). I also witnessed a fairly bright flare low in the northeast at 10:48 p.m. (2:28 UT) from Iridium 80.

Dave Mitsky

May 2, 2003 12:53 PM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Jewel of the Andes

Posted By Dave Mitsky

Patricia Kurtz's excellent article on the 2002 Southern Skies Star Party at Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, appears in the new issue of Sky & Telescope (June 2003, pages 66-71). Two fellow ASH members, Tony Donnangelo and Ted Nichols II, and I attended this unique event last year. The article was originally slated to be published in Astronomy, where she had been an editor, but as many of us are aware, a shake-up in management occurred.

Dave Mitsky


May 7, 2003 08:50 AM Forum: Solar System Observing

Another Transit Bust

Posted By Dave Mitsky

Here's my Mercury transit tale of woe. I arose just before 5:00 a.m. EDT (9:00 UT) only to hear a less than inspiring weather forecast on the NOAA station. (There seemed to be at least a chance of catching the final half hour of the transit, all of it that was visible from Pennsylvania, judging by the forecast on Tuesday.) I packed up my gear and joined my friend Tony Donnangelo at the top of a hill just west of Hummelstown. From this vantage point we had a great view of the fog.

Well, at least we were able to watch the end of the transit as seen on Earth from a site in the Netherlands and mid-transit as seen from the SOHO satellite from Tony's house. BTW, low clouds prevented us from seeing the 1999 sunset transit.

Dave Mitsky
Harrisburg, PA

May 15, 2003 08:44 AM Forum: Solar System Observing

Class Night at the Naylor Observatory, 2003/5/14

Posted By Dave Mitsky

I drove to the ASH Naylor Observatory (click on
Naylor Observatory at http://www.astrohbg.org ) last
night to help out with the spring introductory astronomy class. The
class had already done a bit of solar observing with our old
orange-tube 8" f/10 Celestron C8 before I arrived. Although the sun
was getting fairly low in the sky I took a quick look and saw three
smallish sunspots.

I sat in on the class until the sky began to darken. I was aware
that a rather rare shadow transit by Callisto was underway and went
out to see it through our 12.5" f/6.5 Cave Astrola. The shadow was
clearly evident through a 15mm Edmund Scientific RKE (138x).
Callisto and Io were closing in on a mutual occultation (see
http://skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/planets/article_771_3.asp
for further information) that eventually occurred at 12:11 a.m. EDT
(4:11 UT 5/15).

As the students started to filter outside I trained the C8 on Jupiter
using a 13mm Tele Vue Ploessl (156x) and then opened the French Dome.
The transit was displayed quite nicely at 202x through our 17" f/15
classical Cassegrain and a 32mm University Optics Koenig-II. After
the students all had had a turn I increased the magnification to 259x
(25mm U.O. MK-70), but the view was a bit soft given the seeing. A
28mm RKE (216x) provided a great view a bit later.

We began looking at the 13-day old moon and other objects with the
12.5" Cave, the C8, and our 10" f/7 Cave Astrola. I swung the 12.5"
to Saturn and then the 17". A few double stars (Mizar, Castor, and
Algieba) were sprinkled in as well.

Callisto's shadow reached the CM around 9:00 p.m. EDT (2:00 UT 5/15).
Bob Young, the class instructor and the club's resident lunar expert, and I
spent a few minutes on the moon (not literally mind
you) as some clouds began scudding through. Reiner Gamma
( http://web.tiscali.it/no-redirect-tiscali/themoon/reinergamma.htm )
was a standout feature.

So on the first semi-clear night in some time an enjoyable
evening of observing occurred despite the bright moonlight and occasional clouds.

Dave Mitsky
Harrisburg, PA

May 19, 2003 12:33 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

NEAF 2003 Part I

Posted By Dave Mitsky

As it turned out I attended this year's Northeast Astronomy and Telescope Show (http://www.rocklandastronomy.com/neaf.htm) on Saturday, May 17th, and not Sunday. Thus, I was not able to hear Stephen O'Meara's talk but I did get a chance to talk to him at the S & T booth. I told him how much I had enjoyed _Seeing in the Dark_ by Timothy Ferris (Stephen was one of the amateur astronomers profiled in the book) and asked him for his impressions of the night when he was the first human being to see Comet Halley through an eyepiece during its 1986 apparition. (Stephen recovered the comet visually in 1985.)

My friend Tony Donnangelo and I got rolling before 5:00 a.m. and arrived at the Rockland Community College Field House in Suffern, New York just before 8:00 a.m. When Tony and I finally got our turn at the Tele Vue sales table we both bought 3-6mm Nagler zooms. Tony also bought a 7mm type 6 and an 8mm Ploessl. I upgraded my 2" diagonal with the purchase of an Everbrite mirror. After spending lots of money we spent some time talking with Uncle Al Nagler and admiring the new Tele Vue products: the NP-127 apochromat, the 41mm Panoptic, the 20mm Nagler type 5, and the additions to the Nagler type 6 line (2.5, 3.5, and 11mm).

Tony and I also spent some time at the Pentax booth looking at the new Pentax XW and XO offerings. The XL line apparently is going to be phased out by the even more costly XW line, which consists of seven 70 degree AFOV oculars ranging from 3.5mm to 40mm. The 30 and 40mm XW eyepieces are very expensive, each costing $549. The 44 degree AFOV 2.5 (6 lens elements in 3 groups) and 5mm XO (5 lens elements in 3 groups) oculars are similarly very salty. I believe the price was $320. The eye relief was paltry but the rather unusual long and flat barrel top allowed me to put my eye very close to the eye lens of each of them.

The 30mm 1rpd 80 degree AFOV eyepiece that has caused some controversy on sci.astro.amateur of late was rather interesting. I found John Hopper's version of the tale rather englightening.