Observer's Archive Dec/04-Dec/05

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Mars - Dec 10, 2005 10:30pm - A frustratingly long stretch of storms and clouds have kept us from observing Mars for the last three weeks, but finally we had a break for a couple of evenings. Mars is now smaller than in late October and November, however there is still much planetary detail to observe and photograph.  Joe Carr

Mars - Dec 9, 2005 22:45hr PST - Last night I had to go out for the early part of the evening but when I got home around 2200hrs my little 6" dob was already waiting for me outside. Unfortunately the Moon, my real target, was already gone to the tall fir trees and a very thin veil of clouds covered most of the sky. Mars rested in the only clear patch in the sky. I didn't expect much but was pleasently surprised. It took my apodizing sceen and red a blue filters to tease out the detail. Violet clearing appears to be receding as detail was much more muted. I was using powers of 200-250X. Here is what I saw.  Bill Weir

Mars - Nov 17, 2005 20:15hr PST- For two months exactly I've been waiting for the opportunity to view and sketch this side of Mars. Weather and timing both conspired against me. On the night of Nov 17th I finally got my chance. I was hoping at best to glimpse Olympus Mons. I was delighted to not just glimpse it but actually be able to hold it relatively steadily in my gaze. To my surprise I was also able to catch glimpses of another white spot that to my estimation is Ascraeus Mons. The upper of the two is Olympus and the one to the bottom is Ascraeus.

Last night I managed another sketch of the area but couldn't see them. Early in the evening the temperature was dropping quickly and my mirror couldn't keep up. By the time things had settled, rotation had taken care of that area. It doesn't matter. That sketch fills in a little more detail for the "Great Mars Map Project"

The sketch was done using my 12.5" truss dob. A few modifications were done in Photoshop ie; curves and inversion. Bill Weir

Mars - Nov 17, 2005 8:30pm - This is the first chance we've had to observe Mars after a couple of weeks of storms tracking through our area.

Joe Carr


Mars & the Moon - Nov 14, 2005 5:30pm - taken from my back porch in Upper Fernwood as my neighbour calls it.  Fuji Finepix E510, night shooting mode.

Lori Prophet

Mars - Oct 29, 2005 - Last night despite the weather I went out to Pearson College. Why, because I said I would. Also it was the night of closest approach. You can't experience something unless you show up. I didn't set up my 12.5" but used the schools 10" dob. That homemade scope with its Chinese blem mirror performed very well. Mars was less of the Warrior God and more like a small child. For about two hours I played Peek-a-Boo with a small orange dot in the sky, as it dodged in and out of cracks in the clouds.

The attached two sketches are what I gleaned from the event. It's not quite the moment of closest approach but, like the saying goes,"better late than never". Syrtis Major and Hellas are prominent at the centre of the images. A large amount of dust was evident all over the visible side of the planet. With dark strips of the underlying Southern Hemisphere showing through it had the real appearance of a satellite image of a storm. South is up. Bill Weir

Mars - Oct 26, 2005 11:00pm - Although a storm front had just gone through our area, the stability was remarkably good this evening. Joe Carr Mars
Mars - Sept 25, 2005 - Mars as viewed through a 317mm Truss Dobsonian, fitted with an apodizing screen @317X magnification on Sept 24/05. The two sketches were done to show the rotational rate of the planet. The bottom one was done at 0730UT (0030 PDT) Syrtis Major is prominent close to the meridian. The top sketch was done nearly two hours later at 0915 UT, (0215 PDT). As can be seen Syrtis Major is well on its way to disappearing around the eastern limb. Bill Weir

M42 - Orion Nebula - Oct 11, 2005 - The murk had not quite cleared when I left the Astro Cafe last evening but by 3:00 am today it was beautiful and I set up in my backyard. Got some images using my latest acquisition, a 400 mm f5.6 Pentax K mount. Here is my first go at processing a stack of shots of M42. John McDonald

M31, Andromeda Galaxy & M32, M110 - Oct 3, 2005 10:30pm -  Taken from Astronomy Caf�.  This is about as deep as I've managed to image M31.  Using a variety of images taken with ISO 800 and 1600 is a well-known technique to tease out more detail near the core of this galaxy, while still showing detail in the outer reaches as well. Joe Carr

eta Ursa Major and M51 - Oct 3, 2005 - Last night at the Astronomy Cafe I tried a wide field image in the region of eta Ursa Major and M51. I wasn't sure M51 would be large enough to show any detail but there is enough to show the spiral arms and the link to the companion galaxy. It is so small in the full image that I have cropped and enlarged the section containing M51.  John McDonald

Andromeda Galaxy - Sept 26, 2005 - Here is a photo taken at the Astronomy Caf� last night. The conditions were a bit variable and Andromeda was in cloud some of the time, but I managed to find some clear periods.  John McDonald

1504x1004 pixel 368k jpg

Double Cluster in Perseus - Sept 2005 - Here is an image taken with the wide field photography set up shown in my online gallery web page.  John McDonald

1492x1044 pixel 660k jpg

Mars - Sept 25, 2005 - Mars as viewed through a 317mm Truss Dobsonian, fitted with an apodizing screen @317X magnification on Sept 24/05. The two sketches were done to show the rotational rate of the planet. The bottom one was done at 0730UT (0030 PDT) Syrtis Major is prominent close to the meridian. The top sketch was done nearly two hours later at 0915 UT, (0215 PDT). As can be seen Syrtis Major is well on its way to disappearing around the eastern limb.

Bill Weir

Moon in daylight - Sept 23, 2005 8:34am - This image of the Moon was taken in morning daylight using a 400mm telephoto lens on my Canon Digital Rebel.  There is a wide range of colours in the image, and due to the stable early morning air, the image has excellent resolution.  The beautiful blue sky background sets off the lunar colours. Browse Joe Carr's online gallery to view this same image processed to further enhance the lunar colours.


Aurora - Sept 10, 2005 - An Aurora shot I took on the highway to Ucluelet. Canon G2 sitting on top of a utility trailer. You can see part of a small lake in the foreground.

Brian Robilliard

Sunspot 798 - Sept 11, 2005 at approximately 1:40 PM by John McDonald
Telescope: Meade ETX 90 with thousand oaks glass solar filter.
Eyepiece: Meade 4000 series 40 mm.
Camera: Nikon Coolpix 995 coupled a-focally with Scopetronix coupler.
Exposures: Camera set at focal length15mm, f4.3, 1/288 sec and focal length 31mm, f 10.3, 1/145 for the low and high magnification images respectively.
Sunspot 798 - Sept 11, 2005 - by Blair Pellatt  - Here is my latest effort at documenting the MASSIVE Sunspot 798. Last evening I detected some Aurora Activity near the constellation Auriga (which is now NNW of Victoria). Although the clouds soon covered them they where bright enough from my urban location to silhouette the clouds that where in the foreground. I could still see the star Capella through the bright patch (which confirms that they are aurora and not a jet's "contrail".)

Details of photo:
80mm F/6 "Semi-apo" Megrez
Nagler 16mm (handheld camera to lens)
H.P 635 (2.1mp) camera -auto focus/exposure
No 56 green filter
Sunspot 798 - Sept 10, 2005 2:27pm - by Joe Carr - This huge sunspot is spewing flares and large amounts of solar energy as it grows and morphs hourly.  Once the Sun rotates a bit more, this solar storm will point at Earth and will unleash lots of protons towards us.  Satellites and other spacecraft will be affected, and aurora are likely within the next few days.

Details: Meade LPI mounted on a Meade ETX-60AT refractor using an Identiview solar filter. 54 images taken over 43 seconds, stacked and Hard edge enhanced using Meade Envisage AutoStar Suite software. Exposure time 0.003 sec, gain-76, offset=0. Moderate contrast stretch.

Sunspot 798 - Sept 10, 2005 - by Blair Pellatt - This is fascinating when you can compare the changes from day to day.

80mm F/6 Megrez Refractor
Using eyepiece projection(I held camera to eyepiece)
Eyepiece = Nagler 16mm(Type 2)
Camera = HP 635 (2.1 megapixel)
Auto focus and exposure through an Orion white light solar filter,
and a #11 green filter at the eyepiece
Sunspot 798 - Sept 9, 2005 - by Blair Pellatt - (This is the giant) "X-Class" flare that occurred on Sept.7,2005. It will be a very interesting object to follow.  It's amazing what you can do with very "little" !

80mm F/6 Megrez Refractor
Using eyepiece projection(I held camera to eyepiece)
Eyepiece = Nagler 16mm(Type 2)
Camera = HP 635 (2.1 megapixel)
Auto focus and exposure through an Orion white light solar filter


August 26, 2005 9:58pm - Aurora over Victoria  - Six RASC members and I were treated to a rare event as we were observing from Cattle Point - an aurora over the city to the southwest.  There was just one green spire, but it floated and bobbed around the handle of the Big Dipper for over a half hour, then disappeared for good. We experienced the best observing conditions this year from Cattle Point. The Milky Way was nothing short of spectacular, especially considering our urban location.  Joe Carr
August 11, 2005 10:49pm - Perseid Meteor - Eight RASCALs observed the Perseids from our Jane's Farm location in Central Saanich .  Between 10pm and midnight we observed an average of 10-20 meteors per hour. Joe Carr managed to capture this image. David Lee also captured an image of a meteor from Island View Beach.
Pelican Nebula - July 31, 2005

I thought you might like to see this image of the Pelican Nebula I took a little over a year ago using film.
I used a 155mm refractor at F7. Exposure was 206 minutes using Kodak E200 slide film. Image was taken July 31, 2005 at June Lake, California. The slide was scanned and processed in Adobe Photoshop Elements.

Les Disher


July 30, 2005 - Spectacular Solar Flares have occurred over the last few days.  David Lee has captured some beautiful images through Victoria Centre's new  Coronado Solarmax 40.


July 17, 2005 - Antares Grazes the Moon

9:02pm - David Lee

From the deck of the Centre of the Universe we watched Antares appear as merely a glint in the evening sky right next to the Moon. As night approached it flickered in the atmosphere offering hints of orange. The view through the telescope was much more impressive, so I'm glad I was sensible and looked through the eyepiece as well :-).

 Antares' track by David Lee

Using images taken by Joe Carr, Guy Walton and my own, I've traced the path of Antares last night. I manually merged the images so registration can be improved but it does show the progress of the movement and how rapidly it moved.

8:50pm - Guy Walton

Tonight, I went up on Mt. Tolmie and set up by 8:15 PM. This photo was taken at about 8:50 PM. I was using my Orion ED 100 mm F9 refractor with 17mm Nagler Type 4 eyepiece and a Sony DSC-S85 digital camera mounted a-focally on the eyepiece.

My earlier photos using the ScopeTronix MaxView DSLR camera adapter did not show up Antares. When I started observing at about 8:15 I saw Antares clearly visible and not hidden by the moon and as things progressed it never was blocked by the moon as I thought it was going to. David Lee's plot of the path is much what I saw.

Mt. Baker from Mt. Tolmie
Guy Walton

Here is a photo of Mount Baker from where I was for the Antares graze.

8:41pm - Joe Carr

I was observing from Cattle Point. This image was taken at 8:41pm but I had the feeling I started too late. It shows Antares taken through my LX-90 using my Canon Digital Rebel at f/10 prime focus.

The Moon and the shoreline at Cattle Point
Joe Carr

It was a lovely evening at Cattle Point, so I had to capture the moment with a wide angle shot of the southern horizon, including the shoreline and the Moon.

July 3, 2005 - Deep Impact on Comet Temple - I was observing at the exact moment of impact with the 25" scope at Pearson College, through a thin crack in the clouds. It was twilight and the comet was barely detectable. I noticed no change. Then the clouds closed in and the party was over just after 2300hrs, or so it seemed. As I was heading out William Head Road I noticed that the sky had cleared around Virgo. The truck did a U turn all by itself. Back at the Observatory, I have never opened up so fast. The comet was easy to find and relatively bright. It was darker then so I don't know if that accounted for it appearing brighter or if it had to do with the impact. I was able to keep track of the comet until 0007hrs when it disappeared into the haze over the ocean.

That was fun. So, how did it look on TV? Score one for NASA.

Bill Weir

Planetary Conjunction - Venus-Mercury-Saturn - June 19-27, 2005.  Several members have observed this planetary conjunction from a variety of locations.  Charles Banville from Mt. Tolmie and Observatory Hill. Joe Carr, Bruno Quenneville, David Griffiths, David Lee, Malcolm Scrimger, Chuck Filtness, and Larry Danby from Observatory Hill (the old 16" site), John McDonald from Moss Rock and Observatory Hill, and Bill Weir from Metchosin and Observatory Hill.  Here are some photos taken to date, with more coming as this event unfolds over the next few days.

Photo by Malcolm Scrimger

June 19, 2005 - Charles Banville - Mt. Tolmie

June 23, 24, 25, 2005 - John McDonald
Moss Rock, Fairfield (23rd, 24th) & Observatory Hill (25th)

June 22, 2005 - Joe Carr - Observatory Hill

June 27, 2005 - David Lee - Observatory Hill


Jupiter, Great Red Spot, Shadow Transit - June 25, 2005 9:34pm - While the RASC members were struggling to view the planetary conjunction through the clouds this evening, Guy Walton pointed out we were missing another planetary show - Jupiter, the GRS and a Shadow Transit.

This image represents my best result so far to image Jupiter, and the first time I've successfully imaged the GRS.  The GRS is clearly visible on the right side of the upper band.  The shadow transit of Io is very apparent in the lower band as a distinct dark spot. The moon Io itself is also just visible in the lighter-coloured band (below the dark band the shadow is in) near the right edge of the planetary disk.

Photo taken using a Meade LPI through a Meade LX-90 SCT Joe Carr

Moon Halo - June 18, 2005 - Anyone else notice the Moon halo on Saturday night? I just got my prints back. I got a bit artsy with this shot, using my fisheye attachment on my 28mm lens. I know some of it is cut off but I wanted to get the Big Dipper in the shot. I took this from down by Taylor Beach in Metchosin. Bill Weir
Jupiter Double Shadow transit - June 8, 2005, 10:38pm PDT - I saw that last night also from out here in Metchosin, at Pearson College. It was a spur of the moment idea after noticing that this was to occur. Too bad the lousy seeing spoiled the event. Early on the two shadows appear merged as an elongation, until they finally split. It was sort of like splitting the Double-Double. My favorite moment was when Europa was in mid-egress appearing stuck to the planet's side with the two shadows far to the other side. There were moments when Io was actually visible on the surface. My view was using my 12.5" dob with an apodizing mask. Without the mask Jupiter was a blur. I've attached a series of sketchs that give my impression of the event. The final one was through a sucker hole just before packing up. Both shadows were off the surface by then.  Sketch by Bill Weir
Jupiter Double Shadow transit - June 6, 2005 10:02pm at the Center of the Universe using the 16" telescope and a Celestron Neximage imager.

Viewing the double transit tonight was sketchy but Joe Carr, some Centre of the Universe guests and myself watched Jupiter appear and reappear out of the clouds. The seeing was poor but again I put the Neximage webcam on the 16" to see what it could capture. The video was murky as it was on Monday night. The Registax software made some sense of the mushy viewing conditions. You can see the moon Europa off to one side with two shadows on the opposing side. Io's shadow is next to Europa's. I'm not sure of the order of the shadows, though the Sky and Telescope web article describes Europa's shadow appearing first. The exposure of the planet is quite different than for the moons so I did have to dodge Europa so you could see it better. Image by David Lee

Jupiter double shadow transit - June 9, 2005, 11:04pm - David Lee and I rendezvoused at the Centre of the Universe as twilight faded. We had a mission: use our webcam planetary imagers to capture the double shadow transit. Clouds dogged our efforts, but at the appointed hour, the clouds thinned enough to allow David to image using the 16" CU telescope and his new Celestron Neximage, and I imaged using my 8" LX-90 SCT and my Meade LPI.  The two shadows are clearly visible side by side in this image.   Photo by Joe Carr

Jupiter - June 6, 2005 10:02pm at the Center of the Universe using the 16" telescope and a Celestron Neximage imager.

In spite of the poor seeing last night I couldn't resist experimenting with the Neximage imager I just got from Brian. The webcam actually received first light the previous night but I was having problems with my mount so off I went to the Centre of the Universe. The 16" telescope was already cooling when I arrived at 8:30pm. We waited until it got dark and then got Jupiter in the telrad. Jupiter was swimming in a pool of turbulence, certainly not the night for serious imaging. The selective processing of the Registax software worked it's magic in moments bringing out more detail than in the original video capture. I can see there's great potential here and why most amateurs have chosen the webcam route for planets. Thanks Ian and the rest of the staff at the Centre of Universe for some time on the 16".  Photo by David Lee

April 9, 2005 - Saturn - At the Centre of the Universe, evening twilight revealed Saturn in all her glory.  The crowds were light, so RASC Volunteers quickly found Jupiter, lots of Messiers, and even Comet Machholz.  Photo by Joe Carr
Feb 16, 2005 - Bill, it actually looks like you captured two "X" patterns!

David Lee

This feature was described in David Chapman's letter in the Nov/Dec '04 SkyNews magazine (page 5).  David also predicted the reappearance of the feature on Feb 14/15, 2005.

Lunar X Feature - photo by Guy WaltonFeb 15, 2005 -The Lunar X Feature - This is the 1st time I used my digital camera on a telescope. Telescope is my new Orion 100mm ED. The 'X' is there too.

Guy Walton

Lunar X Feature - photo by Bill WeirFeb 15, 2005 -The X Came Back - Well it did. It was fun noticing it progress. I noticed the first illumination of the very center at around 2030hrs. By 2115 there was a full X but it wasn't really bright for about another 1/2 hr. I took this shot around 2230hrs hand holding my wife's Canon Powershot S50 up to a 7.5mm Speers WALER in my 6" dob. By this time I noticed that the NE arm of the X had started to elongate and fracture along the edge of the crater it illuminated. By 2300 I had lost the view in the tall trees.

The total view was also highlighted by the Binocular view of the Moon in the same FOV as the Pleiades. The tiny X was visible with the 10X50s.

Bill Weir

Dec 18, 2004 - X Marks the Spot - Bill Weir observes and  photographs the "X" feature, as described in David Chapman's letter in the Nov/Dec '04 SkyNews magazine (page 5).

Bill's Full Report

C/2004 Q2 Comet Machholz - is high in the sky right now, but fading fast in the coming weeks, so have a last look!

Comet Machholz C/2004 Q2- observing reports & photos from our members.


Comet Machholz C/2004 Q2 - photo by Joe Carr


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Observing Highlights 2013


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