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All observing logs tagged with Europa

2006-07-13


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-07-13 13:00 UT
To: 2006-07-13 13:05 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 24.6C ...
Dew Point: 7.6C ...
Humidity: 34% ...
Wind Speed: 0.4mph ...
Wind Dir: North West ...
Pressure: 1025.3hPa ...
Notes:

Another very clear and warm day. Not a single cloud in the sky. Took the Solarscope out to do a sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2006-07-13 13:00 UT
To: 2006-07-13 13:05 UT

Just as with yesterday, no marks of any sort were visible on the Sun.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-07-13 21:25 UT
To: 2006-07-13 22:30 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
7x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 15.4C ...
Dew Point: 7.7C ...
Humidity: 60% ...
Wind Speed: 0.8mph ...
Wind Dir: North North East ...
Pressure: 1029.2hPa ...
Notes:

Nice clear night, less haze than last night. Very slight breeze now and again. Also felt cooler than last night. Decided to get the 905 out to have another look at Jupiter.

Bright satellite

Time: 2006-07-13 21:26 UT

While setting up the 905 to look at Jupiter I noticed a very bright satellite in the same general part of the sky. It was "above" Jupiter and was heading south to north in the western part of the sky. When I first saw it I would have said it was at least as bright as Jupiter but as it headed further north it faded rapidly.

Sadly, as normally happens with these chance observations, I wasn't really in a position to make careful notes of exact location and path.

At the time I suspected that it might be an Iridium flare but, after checking later on Heavens Above, it would appear that there was no predicted flare around that time. I'm left wondering what it was.

Update 2006-07-17: According to stella, a poster on the SPA's BB, what I saw was "classified surveillance satellite, USA 186, 05-42A".

Jupiter

From: 2006-07-13 21:30 UT
To: 2006-07-13 21:57 UT

With the 905 and the 6mm eyepiece all four main moons were visible with Ganymede on its own on one side of the planet and Io, Callisto and Europa grouped in a nice, neat triangle on the other side. TYC5575-473-1 was still close by but its position in relation to Jupiter was obviously different from last night.

The image was pretty good from the start. The main northern band stood out very well and had very visible signs of mottling. Interestingly the main southern band didn't stand out anywhere near as much and, at times, it almost appeared to be lighter than the surrounding surface. I've never noticed or seen this before — they've always appeared to be about the same shade to me in the past.

Around 21:47 UT the image started to boil a little and some of the detail was lost. Out of curiosity I decided to try the ND25 filter. I don't know if it was just my mind or my eyes playing tricks on me but, with the reduced brightness, I was sure I could see a hint of brown in the colour of the planet — almost like you see in many pictures of Jupiter.

By 21:57 UT the image was getting really bad so I decided to take a short break and possibly come back to look at something else.

Test of 7x50 binocular

From: 2006-07-13 22:10 UT
To: 2006-07-13 22:25 UT

A couple of weeks back, while at the RAF Waddington airshow, I picked up a cheap and unnamed 7x50 binocular. I mostly got them so I could throw them in the car and take them anywhere (and, at the time, mostly because I forgot to take a binocular to the show). Given that the skies were still too light to get any "serious" observing done I decided to try them out at night.

They turned out to be less than brilliant for astronomical work in that, towards the edge of the field, stars would appear slightly out of focus. Towards the middle of the field everything seemed fine. That said, because they're quite small and light they did feel very comfortable for just lying back and sweeping the sky.

Another bright satellite

Time: 2006-07-13 22:27 UT

I noticed another bright satellite, this time in the western sky, not far "below" The Plough. I saw it brighten a bit and then fade. I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention but I would estimate that it got at least as bright as Alioth.

Checking later on Heavens Above I suspect that it might have been Iridium 81 as that was predicted to flare around 22:18 UT. I'm a little concerned that the times are so far apart (at worst I probably noted the time down as being a couple of minutes late) but the other details given for the flare seem to match.

Update 2006-07-17: According to stella, a poster on the SPA's BB, this wasn't Iridium 81 but was, instead, "Terra, 99-68A".

End of session

Time: 2006-07-13 22:30 UT

Sky was still quite light and I really need to be getting off to bed so decided to call it a night.


2006-07-12


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-07-12 12:55 UT
To: 2006-07-12 13:00 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 27.5C ...
Dew Point: 11.8C ...
Humidity: 38% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1021.1hPa ...
Notes:

Warm, clear and calm day. Took the Solarscope out to do a sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2006-07-12 12:55 UT
To: 2006-07-12 13:00 UT

No visible sign of active area 899 today. No markings of any kind were visible on the surface of the Sun.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-07-12 21:20 UT
To: 2006-07-12 22:25 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Temperature: 21.4C ...
Dew Point: 12.2C ...
Humidity: 56% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1020.0hPa ...
Notes:

Clear night but with a good hint of haze about. Quite warm. The sky was still light but I decided to get the 905 out to have a look at Jupiter.

Jupiter

From: 2006-07-12 21:20 UT
To: 2006-07-12 21:56 UT

Using the 905 with the 6mm lens I had a pretty good view of Jupiter right away. All of the four main Jovian moons were visible, all on one side of the planet. Ganymede was furthest out and Io, Europa and Callisto were closer in to the planet, bunch up in a line that ran diagonal to the planet. Also close by, "above" Jupiter, I could see TYC5575-473-1.

Detail on the planet itself was pretty good with both the main bands showing some mottling and colour changes towards both the poles standing out.

I spent some time just observing, watching and waiting for very steady moments. At no time did the view get any better than my initial view but there were times when the image would deteriorate quite rapidly.

Starting at 21:43 UT, and given that the view was generally pretty good, I decided to test some of my filters to get a feel for what difference they made. The #15 yellow/orange didn't seem to given any improvement, neither did the #21 orange. In both cases they appeared to make it harder to make out any detail.

I next tried the #56 green filter and this appeared to give a slightly improvement. The contrast of the two main bands against the rest of the planet seemed to be improved.

Finally tried the #80A medium blue filter. This gave a very obvious improvement. The variation in the shades over the whole disc really stood out. Much better than with the other filters (or without a filter).

At 21:56 UT I decided to have a short break.

A Hedgehog, and end of session

From: 2006-07-12 22:10 UT
To: 2006-07-12 22:25 UT

During the break, while sitting with a drink and just admiring the sky, I kept hearing odd sounds on the lawn. While I'm used to hearing my cat playing in the garden while I observe, this was different. I kept listening and finally hunted down the source of the noises:

A Hedgehog

A hedgehog was having a wander around the lawn, probably on the hunt for something to eat. Sadly the only thing I had with me to take an image was my mobile phone, and it's not terribly good at taking pictures at night.

After being distracted by the visitor for some time I noticed that the sky seemed more hazy and was becoming quite washed out (probably due to the just-past-full Moon rising) so, given that and the fact that I needed to be up for work in the morning, I decided to call it a night.


2006-06-28


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-06-28 14:55 UT
To: 2006-06-28 15:00 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 22.9C ...
Dew Point: 10.5C ...
Humidity: 47% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1018.7hPa ...
Notes:

Today has been similar to yesterday in that the day has mostly been overcast except for a brief spell of broken cloud in the afternoon. During this brief spell of sunshine I took the Solarscope out to do a sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2006-06-28 14:55 UT
To: 2006-06-28 15:00 UT

Area 897 was more spread out when compared to yesterday (hardly surprising given that it has rotated further into view) and I could count 5 spots in the region. The darkening I noted yesterday wasn't evident today.

New area 898 has come over the limb and comprises of a single, large, circular spot with quite a pronounced penumbra.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-06-28 21:35 UT
To: 2006-06-28 23:34 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Temperature: 16.8C ...
Dew Point: 9.0C ...
Humidity: 60% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1019.1hPa ...
Notes:

Calm, clear evening with some thin cloud about. The sky wasn't very dark yet but given that I could see Jupiter from my usual observing spot I decided to get the 905 out and have a look.

Jupiter, including a transit event

From: 2006-06-28 21:35 UT
To: 2006-06-28 22:59 UT

Started out with the 905 and 6mm eyepiece. The image was awful. I could only just see the two main bands. The reason for this was probably down to the quality of the sky and also down to the fact that the 'scope hadn't had much time to cool down yet.

I could see all 4 Jovian moons (one of them was very close to the planet) and I could also see a reasonably bright background star that could have been mistaken for a 5th moon (later checking with Starry Night showed that it was HIP70714 ).

I then added the #80A Medium Blue filter to the 'scope and had another look. While this dulled the image a little it did also appear to improve the contrast. The two main bands stood out a little better, darkening towards the poles became obvious and in moments when the image was steady there was obvious mottling in the bands.

I'd say that tonight's view of Jupiter is the worst one I've had this apparition.

I've never compared the view of Jupiter in the 130M with that in the 905 so, at around 21:53 UT, I brought the 130M out and left it to cool off. A short while later (probably with too little cooling-off time) I lined Jupiter up in the 130M and used the 6mm eyepiece to have a look. The imagine was really terrible — much worse then the image in the 905. While the view was much brighter there was hardly any detail to speak of, almost as if it was impossible to get sharp focus.

I switched from the 6mm to the 10mm eyepiece and things looked a little better. This time the quality compared more favourably with that as seen in the 905+6mm but, even then, I'd say that the 905 won out in terms of detail that could be seen. It would appear that I need to give the 130M a good check-up at some point. While I did give the collimation a quick check when I brought the 130M out I guess I need to have it a really fine tweak some time soon.

I'm also seeing why planetary observers tend to prefer a refractor rather than a reflecting telescope.

Back at the 905 (with the 6mm), at around 22:19 UT, I noticed that the moon closest to Jupiter had apparently got even closer. Compared to when I started observing this evening it was harder to see it, the gap between it and the planet being obviously narrower. I stepped into the office to check what was going on and I confirmed that the moon was Europa and that it was due to start a transit of the planet at around 22:38 UT. My first ever transit of a Jovian moon! Annoyingly, when I came back out of the office, I noticed that some thin cloud had moved in the way and was dulling the view of Jupiter.

By 22:31 UT the image had improved again. I could just see Europa but it was impossible to see a gap between it and the planet — it looked more like a bump on the limb.

By 22:36 UT I had lost sight of Europa. From then until 22:59 UT I kept observing to see if I could detect Europa in front of the planet but I never got a hint of it. This was made harder by the fact that more thin cloud was moving in the way and significantly dulling the view.

Random sweeping of the Milky Way

From: 2006-06-28 23:00 UT
To: 2006-06-28 23:34 UT

To finish off the session I decided to use the 905 for one of the main purposes I intended: just sweeping around the sky and seeing what I can find. Using the 32mm eyepiece I started to have a random sweep and, almost right away, stumbled on The Coathanger (an asterism I first observed almost a year ago).

After spending some more time just sweeping around (mostly around The Milky Way in and around Cygnus) I decided to call it a night at 23:34 UT.


2006-06-08


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-06-08 14:05 UT
To: 2006-06-08 14:13 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 23.2C ...
Dew Point: 14.1C ...
Humidity: 57% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1024.4hPa ...
Notes:

Very clear and calm day. Just the odd bit of very high-level cloud around, also a slight haze in the sky.Took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2006-06-08 14:05 UT
To: 2006-06-08 14:13 UT

Area 892 looked a little less detailed when compared to yesterday with only 8 spots visible.

Area 893 also looked a little less complex too with just 2 spots visible (compared to yesterday's 3).

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-06-08 21:45 UT
To: 2006-06-08 22:55 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Temperature: 16.5C ...
Dew Point: 11.2C ...
Humidity: 71% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1024.1hPa ...
Notes:

Mostly clear night with some thin cloud around (I could, for example, see a pretty nice halo around the Moon). The sky was still very light but given that Jupiter was in a position where I could see it from my back garden I decided to have a quick session looking at it with the 905.

Jupiter, including a shadow transit

From: 2006-06-08 21:45 UT
To: 2006-06-08 22:55 UT

I got Jupiter lined up in the 905 using a low-power eyepiece and then I dropped in the 6mm eyepiece. Initially the image was pretty poor, moving around quite a bit and the visible detail was much less than previous views of the planet with the same equipment. That said, the 'scope hadn't had any chance to cool down.

As usual the two main bands were easily visible and there was obvious variation on the rest of the disc. I could only make out three moons (later checking showed them to be Europa, Ganymede and Callisto). Europa and Callisto were some distance out, either side of the planet while Ganymede was quite close to the planet.

Around 21:58 UT, in very steady moments (the image was rapidly getting better), I started to notice a very clear, sharp, dark spot near the north pole of Jupiter. My initial impression was that I was seeing a shadow of one of the moons (presumably the Ganymede). To be sure that this wasn't just an artifact I tried changing eyes, rotating the eyepiece and shifting the 'scope about to place the planet in a different part of the field of view. Nothing I did changed the image.

After watching this a bit more I grabbed my sketching box and, between 22:10 UT and 22:15 UT, I made the following rough sketch so that I could compare the view I had with some other source later.

Rough sketch of my view of Jupiter

After doing the sketch I popped into the office and fired up Starry Night to check what I was seeing. It confirmed that I was seeing a shadow and that it was the shadow of Ganymede. My first ever Jovian shadow transit!

Around 22:30 UT some thin cloud moved in such that my view of Jupiter got a lot worse. The amount of visible detail was reduced and I could no longer see the shadow. By 22:39 UT the cloud was still hanging around and the image had deteriorated even more. I also noticed that the air suddenly felt quite damp and that a thin layer of dew was forming on everything.

By 22:50 UT the cloud had finally cleared and the view of Jupiter had improved again (although it didn't seem to be as crisp as it had earlier on) but I still couldn't make out the shadow any more. At 22:55 UT, given that I still couldn't make out the shadow and that I needed to get to bed soon, I called it a night on the session.

Checking the following day, using the "Jupiter's Moons" tool on the Sky & Telescope website, I've now further confirmed that it was Ganymede's shadow. The times given for the event are:

  • 21:18 UT Ganymede's shadow begins to cross Jupiter.
  • 23:08 UT Ganymede's shadow leaves Jupiter's disk.

This would explain why I was unable to see the shadow towards the end of the session: it would have been very close to the edge of the planet's disc and I would probably have been unable to resolve it that close with the equipment I was using.


2006-03-03


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-03-03 04:50 UT
To: 2006-03-03 05:40 UT
Equipment: Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: -6.5C ...
Dew Point: -9.0C ...
Humidity: 83% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 996.4hPa ...
Notes:

Woke up early and the sky was clear so I decided to head out with the 10x50 binoculars to see if I could spot Pojmanski (C/2006 A1).

Search for Comet Pojmanski (C/2006 A1), plus Venus and Jupiter

From: 2006-03-03 04:50 UT
To: 2006-03-03 05:40 UT

Using the Meade 10x50 binoculars I had an initial look for comet Pojmanski (C/2006 A1). Spent 5 or 10 minutes scanning the right area of the sky but failed to find it. This probably wasn't helped by the fact that the eastern horizon was rather murky (this was made obvious by the fact that Venus wasn't very clear when I looked at it).

I had a short break and then tried again but failed a second time.

Having failed to find the comet I had another quick look at Venus. Even in the binoculars I'm sure I could see a hint of a phase.

Before finishing I decided to have a quick look at Jupiter, currently in Libra. It was quite low to the south. In the binocular Europa, Io, Callisto and Ganymede all seemed to be visible. Also, just south of the planet, I could see Nu Librae.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-03-03 14:00 UT
To: 2006-03-03 14:05 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 6.0C ...
Dew Point: -7.4C ...
Humidity: 38% ...
Wind Speed: 6.3mph ...
Wind Dir: North West ...
Pressure: 995.8hPa ...
Notes:

Quick check of the Sun with the Solarscope to see if there are any Sunspots.

Sunspot count

From: 2006-03-03 14:00 UT
To: 2006-03-03 14:05 UT

The Sun appeared totally unblemished, just like yesterday.


2005-06-06


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-06-06 21:35 UT
To: 2005-06-06 23:00 UT (approximate)
Equipment: Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Naked Eye
Notes:

No moon. The sky was still quite light when I first ventured out. Very clear sky and the atmosphere seemed quite steady.

Jupiter

Time: 2005-06-06 21:35 UT

Viewed Jupiter using the 10mm eyepiece. Image seemed very steady. All four moons were visible, two were very close together (Europa and Io), so much so that at first I thought I was seeing double.

The two main bands were very obvious and appeared to have a very mottled look to them. I also thought I could detect a very faint band towards the South of the planet. Made a sketch of what I saw.

The Summer Triangle

Time: 2005-06-06 22:10 UT

Still not very dark, it was only just obvious that Mizar is a double with the naked eye. The temperature was dropping quite a bit and my breath was misting things up quite a lot (spectecles, eyepieces, etc...).

I guess that the Summer Triangle doesn't get a mention in many logs (who does log constellations and large naked-eye asterisms?) but it seemed worth a note because it's really nice to see this asterism rising before midnight (local time, UT +1) again. Ok, so it does mean that darkness is almost non-existent for me, but it does give that nice feeling that summer is well on its way.

Izar Almost Occulted by Satellite

Time: 2005-06-06 22:20 UT

While scanning the sky with the naked eye I happened to notice a rather bright satellite. As I followed its path it was interesting to watch it almost occult Izar in Botes. I'm not sure that it actually did occult it from my position, it came so close that it was hard to tell.

Update: A poster called stella on the SPA 's forums, having read the above, was kind enough to figure out what I'd seen. Here's the detail:

I have identified the satellite that you saw on June 6.

It was the very large Chinese Long March rocket that was used to launch two satellites (Shiyan 1 and Naxing 1) on 2004 April 18.

At 22:18:50 U.T. it passed very close to Izar as seen from your site near Grantham. It is called 2004-12C and has catalog no. 28222, so you can predict future transits using "Heavens-above".

M13

Time: 2005-06-06 22:47 UT onwards

Decided to have a go at looking at M13. Started out with the binoculars. Located a reasonably fuzzy looking star forming a shallow triangle shape with two other stars in about the right location. Working on the assumption that I'd found M13 I familiarised myself with the field in the binoculars and then moved onto the telescope.

Using the 25mm eyepiece I positioned the telescope on Eta Herculis and then slowly moved the field to the right location. This took a little time to get right, I'm still getting used to working out how "push" directions relate to what movement you see in the eyepiece and, for some reason, I find this even harder when the object you're looking for is near the Zenith.

Finally M13 came into the field. With the 25mm eyepiece the first impression I got was that I was looking at a faint but obvious "splodge", not unlike looking at a rather faint comet. There was no hint of any individual stars, just a large cloud-like structure.

Switched to the 10mm eyepiece. Initially it looked just like it did in the 25mm eyepiece, only bigger. However, after staring at it for some time, and using some averted vision, the image seemed to start to flit from being the cloud-like structure to one of a large structure made from 1,000s of tightly-packed stars. A really incredible sight!


2005-04-21


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-04-21 20:00 UT
To: 2005-04-21 20:30 UT
Equipment: Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Notes:

93% waxing Moon.

My first observing session with the motor drive fitted to the EQ2 mount. What a difference it makes! No more need to play catch-up with anything that I'm viewing. It's so nice to view something, look away from the eyepiece to make notes, and then go back to the eyepiece to find that the object is still there.

Jupiter

Time: 2005-04-21 20:00 UT

Sky still reasonably light but needed to try and catch Jupiter before it disappeared behind the house (garden is on the North side of the house).

The two main equatorial bands were easily visible and, as noted in a previous observing log, in moments of very steady seeing they both seem to take on a faint mottled effect.

Callisto, Ganymede, Europa and Io all visible (made sketch of their positions).

Saturn

Time: 2005-04-21 20:30 UT

As with a previous observing session the shadows from the rings on the planet and from the planet on the rings are obvious -- this gives the planet a very 3D effect. Again, in moments of very steady seeing I thought I caught a glimpse of the Cassini Division.

There's a very obvious "smudging" effect that seems to go away if I use the 10mm with the 2x Barlow. I noticed this in a previous observing session too. I don't think it's a problem with the eyepiece or the 'scope. I'm wondering if it's down to Saturn being very bright in the eyepiece and my eye isn't coping too well with it. Might be time to look into a filter or two.


2005-04-16


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-04-16 20:20 UT
To: 2005-04-16 21:15 UT
Equipment: Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Notes:

After a couple of quick sessions with the 130M in the week or so prior this was my first "proper" observing session with the new scope (as in, I took the time to keep notes).

First quarter moon.

Atmosphere rather unsteady. Dew kept forming on everything and the eyepieces kept misting up whenever I went near them.

Jupiter

Time: 2005-04-16 20:20 UT

Viewed with 10mm eyepiece.

Both of the main bands were visible but rather faint. In moments of steady seeing the bands seemed to take on a faint "mottled" appearance.

Io, Callisto, Europa and Ganymede all visible.

Saturn

Time: 2005-04-16 20:54 UT

Viewed with 10mm eyepiece plus 2x Barlow.

Very obvious seperation between the rings and the planet. Saw a faint hint of the shadow of the rings on the planet and there was an obvious shadow of the planet on the rings. No obvious detail on the planet or in the rings although, in moments of very steady seeing (very rare), I thought I could see a hint of the Cassini Division (although this might have been wishful thinking).

Mizar in Ursa Major

Time: 2005-04-16 21:15 UT

With 10mm eyepiece it was very easy to split Mizar and Zeta Ursae Majoris.


Page last modified: 2013-04-09 09:19:19 UT
Dave Pearson <davep@davep.org>
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