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All observing logs tagged with Tycho


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-27 12:35 UT
To: 2007-03-27 12:40 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 13.8°C ...
Dew Point: 9.6°C ...
Humidity: 76% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1014.2hPa ...

The day started out very foggy but cleared somewhat into the afternoon. When it was clear enough I took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.


From: 2007-03-27 12:35 UT
To: 2007-03-27 12:40 UT

No spots or other marks visible on the Sun.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-27 18:50 UT
To: 2007-03-27 19:45 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Temperature: 9.8°C ...
Dew Point: 5.5°C ...
Humidity: 75% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1013.7hPa ...

A reasonably clear but slightly damp and misty evening. Although I had to be elsewhere a little later on in the evening I decided to have a quick session observing Venus and, if there was time, a quick look at the Moon (especially given that Rupes Recta would be favourably lit).


From: 2007-03-27 18:50 UT
To: 2007-03-27 19:10 UT

I first lined Venus up in the 905 using the 25mm eyepiece and then swapped it for the 6mm eyepiece. The image was very indistinct and had lots of blue fringing. I then added the contrast booster and this gave an instant improvement (I can see this becoming a more or less permanent fixture on the 905) with Venus now obviously showing a gibbous phase. There was, however, still some red fringe.

As with my previous session observing Venus I added the #80A medium blue and this eliminated pretty much all of the fringing. Those two filters appear to be a winning combination, at least for something as low down and as high-contrast as Venus.

I then added the 2x barlow and even that wasn't a terrible view. While the image was a little soft there was pretty much no colour fringe to distract from the view. Once again it was very obvious that I was looking at a planet that was displaying a very distinct phase.

I kept observing Venus until around 19:10 UT and then, given that I obviously wasn't going to get anything extra out of the planet, I decided to move on to the Moon.

The Moon

From: 2007-03-27 19:15 UT
To: 2007-03-27 19:45 UT

While I had some time left I decided to have a quick look at the Moon and, in particular, Rupes Recta (something I used to observe a fair bit as a child, back when I was a member of the Lunar Section of the Junior Astronomical Society).

With the 6mm eyepiece (and keeping the contrast booster in place) Rupes Recta was immediately and obviously visible. Just as I remembered it gave the impression of being a large sharp cliff (something it really isn't). Close by I could see Brit and, in the wall of Brit, I could easily see Brit A.

I then added the 2x barlow and the view was still quite good.

Looking at the general area around Rupes Recta I noted that "wrinkles" to the West of Brit, along with other features in the area, give a very strong impression of the whole region being surrounded by the remains of a very circular ghost crater.

About ½ way between Brit and the terminator I could see Nicollet. Further on in that general direction, more or less on the terminator, I could see Wolf.

Pretty much touching the south wall of Thebit I could see a very small crater which I could make out on my map but which didn't have a name marked.

At this point I removed the 2x barlow and carried on using just the 6mm eyepiece.

Further south Tycho looked fantastic with its floor ½ in shadow and its central peak standing out in the sunlight. The shadow of the central peak was also very obvious.

Even further south I could see Clavius cutting into the terminator. Two very distinct craters were visible on its floor, one of which (the eastern most one) was throwing quite a long shadow. I could also make out Rutherfurd, just visible in the wall of Clavius.

Buried right in the terminator, down close to the south pole, I could just make out Newton.

At this point (19:45 UT) my time was up and I needed to call an early end to the session and pack up.


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-03 13:00 UT
To: 2007-03-03 13:05 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 11.1°C ...
Dew Point: 5.8°C ...
Humidity: 71% ...
Wind Speed: 3.3mph ...
Wind Dir: West ...
Pressure: 1003.9hPa ...

Mostly clear day. Took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.


From: 2007-03-03 13:00 UT
To: 2007-03-03 13:05 UT

Active area 944 was still visible and looked more or less the same as it did yesterday.

Location: Woodland Waters (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-03 20:10 UT
To: 2007-03-04 01:12 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Antares 905
Meade 10x50 Binoculars

Very clear and pretty cold night. Arranged to meet up with John Turner at Woodland Waters to observe the total lunar eclipse. I took along my Antares 905 and a pair of 10x50 binoculars and John brought his Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M mounted on an EQ5 mount.


From: 2007-03-03 20:10 UT
To: 2007-03-03 20:50 UT

After setting up I started out with a brief look at Saturn (given that the umbral phase of the eclipse wouldn't be starting for a short while). The first thing I noticed was that seeing seemed to be very steady. The view of Saturn in the 905 with the 6mm eyepiece was nice and sharp.

The shadow of the rings on the planet seemed obvious and I kept getting a good hint of the Cassini Division. Titan was easily visible and, off to the other side of Saturn, closer than Titan, there appeared to be another moon visible. Checking with Starry Night I suspect it was Rhea.

Total Lunar Eclipse

From: 2007-03-03 21:00 UT
To: 2007-03-04 01:12 UT

Having observed Saturn for a while I turned to observing the lunar eclipse.

At 21:04 UT I had the impression that there was less visible contrast between the highland and lowland regions of the Moon. This was especially noticeable on the side of the Moon that was heading towards the Earth's umbra. By 21:24 UT this loss of contrast had become much more noticeable and there was obvious darkening of the part of the lunar surface that was deepest in the Earth's penumbra.

At 21:30 UT the umbral phase started and, very quickly, it was obvious where the umbra was. To the naked eye it looked like part of the Moon had gone missing. Via the 905 detail was still visible in the umbra, it looked like a very dark gray shadow.

I noticed that Tycho had been fully consumed by the shadow at around 21:48 UT. I noted at this point that the umbra seemed very dark (much darker than I remember it looking during last year's partial eclipse), dark gray to almost back looking in places. I also noted at this point that the sky was obviously getting darker and that my shadow was starting to fade.

Around this time I started to take a few afocal images, via the 905, with my mobile phone. Few turned out that well but the following is an example of one of the better ones:

Total Lunar Eclipse

By 22:05 UT we were about ½ way towards totality and I was starting to notice a slight red/brown hint to the umbra. In the 905 the umbra showed no colour, still just a dark gray.

At 22:16 UT, via the 905 and with the 10mm eyepiece, I could see a star quite close to the Moon. This star hadn't been visible before so it seemed pretty clear that a lot of the Moon's glare had gone now. Checking with Starry Night it appears that it was 56Y Leonis (HIP53449, TYC261-384-1).

By 22:32 UT I was starting to see a hint of red/brown colour in the deepest part of the umbra when viewing via the 'scope. The redness was now very obvious to the naked eye. By this point it was looking like it was going to be a reasonably dark eclipse.

At 22:44 UT it was obvious that totality had begun. Although there was an obvious hint of redness to the Moon with the naked eye it wasn't that red. There was an obvious difference in brightness between the part of the Moon that was towards the edge of the umbra and the part that was deepest in the umbra. By now the sky was a lot darker — many more stars were visible, as were the more obvious deep sky objects such as the Double Cluster and M44. I could no longer see my own shadow and, unlike earlier in the evening, I now needed a light to be able to move around safely.

Mid totality was around 23:20 UT. On the Danjon scale I would estimate that the brightness of the eclipse was L2.

At 23:32 UT I observed a short and bright meteor head south of Auriga in the direction of Orion.

By 23:35 UT it was obvious that the brighter part of the shadow had "swung" around to the edge of the Moon that would exit the umbra.

By 23:58 UT the first bright patch was visible to the naked eye, totality had ended.

Around 00:09 UT I took a few more afocal shots of the Moon, via the 905, with my mobile phone. The best of the bunch is this one:

Total Lunar Eclipse

Around 00:17 UT it was obvious that the sky was starting to brighten again. M44 was still visible but much harder to see than it had been during totality. I could also see my own shadow again.

At 00:24 UT, with the Moon about ½ way out of the umbra, some thin cloud started to move in front of the Moon. While it didn't put a stop to observing it was a cause for concern given that thicker could cloud be seen towards the west.

Around 00:36 UT I watched Tycho emerge from the umbra. Also, around this time, I noticed a star pretty close to the lit limb of the Moon (the limb that had already emerged from the umbra). By the looks of things it seemed like it might actually be occulted by the Moon before the Moon was clear of the umbra. I decided to stay at the eyepiece and see how long I could follow the star.

Later checking suggests that I was watching 59 Leonis (HIP53824, TYC268-1064-1). From my location this star would not be occulted by the Moon but would come very close. Western parts of the UK would see an occultation.

At 00:39 UT I noticed that the objective lens of the 905 was starting to badly mist up (this might have started happening some time ago but it was now very obvious due to the glare from the brightening Moon).

The star was still just visible at 00:49 UT, although I now struggling to see it in the glare of the Moon. I carried on watching it for as long as I could and I lost it, very close to the Moon's limb, at 01:01 UT. It appeared to have been occulted (but see the note above).

By 01:04 UT the sky was now very bright again, only the brightest of stars were visible and I could no longer see the naked-eye deep-sky objects I'd been able to see earlier. I could also now walk around without the aid of a torch without any danger of bumping into anything.

I started to pack up during the final moments of the Moon exiting umbra and, at 01:12 UT, I watched the Moon finally move out of the umbra. Now cold and tired we finished packing up and called it a night.


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-12-11 19:50 UT
To: 2005-12-11 20:48 UT
Equipment: Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 4.6°C
Humidity: 82%

First reasonably clear night for quite a while. But, as seems to be happening lately, a bright Moon (in this case a day or so past 1st ¼) meant that deep-sky work was pretty much out of the window.

Because of this I decided to carry on with my long-term project to get to know the Moon again using just a binocular and a lunar map.

There did appear to be some thin, high-level cloud kicking about but at the start of the session none was obscuring the Moon.


From: 2005-12-11 19:50 UT
To: 2005-12-11 20:48 UT

The most striking feature when I started observing was the terminator running just west of Montes Jura, on the edge of Sinus Iridum.

Next to stand out really well was what appeared to be two peaks, on the night-side of the terminator, but catching the Sun. Checking my chart it would appear that what I was seeing was Mons Gruithuisen Gamma and Mons Gruithvisen Delta. Given how small these features seem to be (I read a figure of about 12 miles by 12 miles) I'm left wondering if I identified them correctly, but given the stark contrast of the peaks when compared to the darkness of the night-side of the Moon I suppose it's possible that I've got it right. I could see no other named peaks on my chart in the correct location.

Just to the north of the above, and into the day-side, I could clearly see a crater which, while shown on my chart, didn't have a name given (which seemed odd for such a visible feature). I'll need to check this further.

Another feature that stood out rather well was Mons Vinogradov. Nearby I could clearly see the crater Euler.

Around 20:24 UT I could see more thin cloud forming and heading my way. It wasn't obscuring the Moon yet but it looked like it could become a problem soon. By 20:26 UT it started to move in front of the Moon. At that time it wasn't thick enough to be too much of a problem.

The next thing I noticed, in the terminator, was the crater Kepler. Encke also seemed to be visible. Further down the terminator I could see Gassendi on the north "shore" of Mare Humorum. On the south "shore" I could clearly see Doppelmayer.

By 20:35 UT the cloud was starting to get thicker, making it harder to observe the Moon.

Noticed the crater König. It was quite a striking sight, apparently sat within a ray coming from Tycho. I followed the same ray and noticed it running by the side of Bullialdus and Lubiniezky. Agatharchides could be seen on the other (western) side of the ray.

I next noticed, in the mess of craters south of Mare Humorum, Hainzel and Mee.

At 20:48 UT, while making the above observation, the cloud got too thick to be able to see anything very well any more so I decided to call an end to the session.


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-11-15 14:18 UT
To: 2005-11-15 14:36 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Temperature: 10.0°C
Humidity: 68%

Reasonably clear sky, some cloud about. Decided to have a quick look at the Sun with the naked eye and with the Solarscope because a new sunspot had come into view.

Sunspot 822 with naked eye

Time: 2005-11-15 14:18 UT

Before setting up the Solarscope I used a pair of eclipse shades to have a look at the Sun to see if sunspot 822 was visible with the naked eye. It wasn't obvious at first but with a little bit of effort I could clearly see a small, dark dot in the correct position on the face of the Sun.

I think this is the first naked eye sunspot we've had since sunspot 798.

Sunspot 822 with Solarscope

From: 2005-11-15 14:28 UT
To: 2005-11-15 14:36 UT

Set up the Solarscope for a better look at 822. I could see one very large spot which appeared to have a reasonably large companion, both of them were surrounded by a sizable penumbra. Next to that I could see three small spots. Next to them I could see two more spots, again, both surrounded by a penumbra.

Did the following sketch:

Sketch of Sunspot 822

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-11-15 22:17 UT
To: 2005-11-15 23:32 UT
Equipment: Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Temperature: 4.8°C
Humidity: 79%

Cold and mostly clear night with some patches of thin cloud. Sky more or less washed out by a near-full Moon which was quite close to Mars.

Given that the Moon was washing out any chance of any DSO observing I decided to make the Moon and Mars the targets for this session.

The Moon

From: 2005-11-15 22:23 UT
To: 2005-11-15 22:51 UT

I initially lined the Moon up in the 25mm eyepiece and found that it was far too bright to look at. I could just see a hint of a terminator.

To combat the brightness I added an ND13 filter to the eyepiece. While the image was still quite bright it was far easier to look at for any period of time.

The surface of the Moon looked very two dimensional, the only features that stood out right away were the ray systems, the ray system of Tycho being the most striking.

After a short while I noticed what I'd describe as "dark patches" in and near Sinus Aestuum. They looked like large, more or less circular, darker patches when compared to the surrounding terrain. Initially I thought it might have been a problem with the filter, eyepiece or the 'scope itself but a simple tap on the 'scope (to make the image move) confirmed that what I was seeing was a lunar feature and not some effect brought on by a problem with my equipment.

Roving around a little more I noticed a reasonably prominent darker area towards the south eastern limb. Checking on a Lunar chart I'm pretty sure that what I was looking at was Mare Australe. I switched to the 15mm lens, with the ND13 filter attached, and carried on looking. The impression I got was that I was seeing part of a dark ring that surrounded a dark circular area (heavily foreshortened, obviously). It reminded me a little of images I've seen of Mare Orientale — it wasn't, I double checked.

At 22:51 UT an area of cloud moved in front of the Moon. One nice thing about this is that it was thin enough that you could still easily see the Moon and, better yet, it gave the Moon a double halo effect that had a hint of "rainbow" effect about it. The cloud cleared again at 23:04 UT


From: 2005-11-15 23:21 UT
To: 2005-11-15 23:32 UT
Temperature: 4.2°C
Humidity: 80%

Decided to move on to Mars. Lined it up in the 130M with the 25mm eyepiece then quickly went to the 15mm and then 6mm eyepiece, centering as I went. There was no obvious detail visible and the image was very unsteady. What I could see right away is that the planet appeared much smaller than it had when I looked at it near the closest approach.

At 23:24 UT a load of cloud moved in. Decided to give it a short while to see if it would move away again.

End of session

Time: 2005-11-15 23:32 UT
Temperature: 4.4°C
Humidity: 80%

Cloud was now more or less horizon to horizon so decided to call an end to the session.


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-06-18 21:25 UT
To: 2005-06-18 23:00 UT
Equipment: Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M

Very light sky plus Moon just past first quarter. The reason for venturing out so early was that this was the first clear night I'd had for a while and I'd just acquired 6mm and 15mm eyepieces from Scopes'n'Skies and I wanted to give them a try out as soon as possible.

Jupiter & 6mm eyepiece

Time: 2005-06-18 21:25 UT

Tried the 6mm first. Jupiter showed up quite nicely. Based on first impressions and a quick at-the-'scope comparison I found that the 6mm gave a more pleasing image than the SkyWatcher-supplied 10mm with the supplied 2x barlow. Made a sketch of what I saw with the 6mm -- noted that I could see a faint star quite close to Jupiter (it obviously wasn't a Jovian moon as they were obvious and the star itself was in the wrong location for that).

Tried the 6mm with the 2x barlow. It was hard to get good focus with this combination. While the image was obviously bigger I couldn't see any obvious increase in detail on the planet -- but I was fighting a warm 'scope, a light sky and a lack of collimation (I must get round to this).

Jupiter & 15mm eyepiece

Time: 2005-06-18 22:16 UT

Jupiter looked excellent in the 15mm eyepiece. Although I could only see the two main bands (no hint of the mottling that I've seen on previous nights but see above regarding what I was working against) the image was bright, crisp and clear.

The Moon

Time: 2005-06-18 22:31 UT onwards

Finally got round to having a good look around the Moon for the first time since getting the telescope.

The first thing that really stood out was the top of the rim of the crater Reiner being highlighted even though the bulk of the crater itself was behind the terminator. Quite an amazing sight. I spent some time trying to have a go at sketching this but after a couple of false starts gave up. I need to do some more practice and, more to the point, I should probably plan my observing of the Moon ahead of time and make up a template or two of what I want to look at.

Spent some time taking in the ray systems of Copernicus, Kepler and Tycho.

With the 15mm eyepiece I got an excellent view of Aristarchus, Herodotus and Vallis Schröteri. With the 6mm the view was even better. Vallis Schröteri looked very detailed. I could also clearly see what appeared to be two small craters in what looked like higher ground to the North of Aristarchus. I noted that these craters appeared to be shown on my Moon map but they were not named.

Iridium Flare

Time: 2005-06-18 23:00 UT (approximate)

After packing up, while heading back into the house, noticed a rather bright Iridium flare high up and around due South.

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Dave Pearson <davep@davep.org>
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