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Top observations in 2021

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2 years 6 months ago #110874 by flt158
Top observations in 2021 was created by flt158
Hello, everyone here on IFAS.

My Williams Optics 158mm f/7 apochromatic refractor had quite a busy year. I had 61 observing sessions in all. It’s quite a rare for me to make it to 60. But some of these were extremely excellent sessions. 

As usual I shall inform you of these in reverse order. Dates are included of course. 

10. August 21: STT 1 in Cassiopeia is an uncertain double star, but what a super sight it is. Split splendidly at 140x. It also looked very good at 167x and 225x. Both stars are white. 

9. February 16: I was nicely observing an 11.3 magnitude orange carbon star in Taurus called TYC 660 420 when suddenly a very bright white light whizzed through my field of view at 167x! When I came in I discovered that the culprit was a 3.6 magnitude Italian satellite called Sky Med 2. It gave me such a fright! I looked away from the scope at the time and I could easily see it with my unaided eyes passing over me. I was nearly going to get Mulder and Scully on the phone! 

8. March 21: We all love Rupes Recta on the surface of our Moon. But for the first time ever I observed it Live (!) appearing on the Moon’s terminator. At 18.35UT the northern part of Rupes Recta was missing. At 18.55UT it was completely visible “hugging” the terminator. The Sword Handle was truly beautiful. It used 167x for this observation. I doubt very much if I will ever repeat such a feat again. 

7. August 11: I was with some of you in the Sugarloaf car park. Valerie came along and counted 6 Perseids. I was looking for some deep sky objects in Cassiopeia. Full celebrations were to be had when my refractor fitted no less than 3 open star clusters in the same field of view as the 4.2 magnitude star Kappa Cassiopeiae at 112x. These were: NGC 133, King 14 and NGC 146. There is also a dim double star called HJ 1033 in the middle of NGC 146. Positioned under a much darker (Bortle 5) sky, when compared to back home (Bortle 9), did great justice to this superb spectacle. There were so many faint stars easily observed.     

6. April 13: Omega Leonis is a true binary star. Magnitudes: A = 6. B = 6.7. Sep = 0.9”. PA = 115.6˚. By the way, those magnitudes have been corrected by the satellite Hipparcos. Sometimes Stelle Doppie can get it wrong. Fully separated at 225x, 280x and 320x. Both stars are pure white. But it somehow is not my favourite double of 2021. 

5. March 24: I had big celebrations for my 100th observed carbon star: BM Geminorum. What a delightful field of view. There are 8 reasonably bright stars surrounding BM Gem. But there was no doubt which one was the carbon. I described it as a very good and bright quite intense orange star. Little did I know over the years was I going to make it to number 100. My first carbon was T Lyrae that I observed in December 2000. 

4. April 2: HU 614 is an uncertain double star but the primary is a magnificent carbon star which is called UV Aurigae. The secondary is a good blue star. It was a night full of dew and I found it seriously difficult to star hop to. I had to be patient though, and my reward was deeply satisfying. At first I separated HU 614 at 112x. Of course I did increase the magnification up to 225x. It was only then when I was thoroughly blown away by the rich and intense orange carbon star with the beautiful and very strong blue star right next to it wonderfully split. Magnitudes: A = 9.2. B = 11. Sep = 3.5”. PA = 5˚. After 30 minutes it was time to put all my gear away fast. 

3. October 5: Case 32 (GSC 04015-00768) is the most faint single star I have ever observed. Its magnitude was 13.4. And I observed in my Bortle 9 back garden. In late December I was informed that it is indeed a variable star. It has recently brightened to 13.2. On the night in question (October 5) I required over 1 hour before it finally appeared at 280x! Case 32 is almost as dim as Pluto. 

2. November 2: My final carbon star in the top 10 is an absolute gem and it very much deserves to be my number 2 overall. CP Cassiopeiae shone at its near minimum of 10.3. And this made the star’s colour as burnt sienna ochre. It clearly was the most beautiful hue. I wonder if I will ever see such a shading ever again. My wife and I are fully agreed on this colour. We googled “shades” of ochre and came up with it. Of course reflectors, SCTs and ordinary refractors will show different colours when compared to my scope. But apochromatic refractors show purer colours. And I hope I’m not coming across as being arrogant. I just like being honest. 

1. June 10: Well - my number 1 observation is of course the Partial Solar Eclipse. It was my seventh overall. My first PSE dates back to 29th April 1976 when I was at school. This 2021 was my second PSE observed with my William Optics 158mm apo refractor. But it was the first time I was able to observe it freely from our home – right in front of the garage door on our street in fact. Valerie was with me from about 10.15am. The daytime temperature was 24˚C. So just short sleeves required. I managed to see 1st contact at precisely 10.01 local time using image projected on an A2 pad. Even though there was some cloud for about half an hour between 10.30 to 11.00, constant blue sky was on the way from 11.00 until 2nd contact at 12.18. The eclipse had ended then. But what an utterly brilliant spectacle it was throughout that Thursday morning. My ancient 28mm 1.25” RKE eyepiece had no problems providing the view of this excellent eclipse. We were handing out eclipse glasses to our neighbours as they passed by. We have only 3 left. To see the total blackness of the Moon covering 28.58% of the Sun was truly spectacular and most memorable. 

So there you have it - my top 10 of 2021.  

I’m sorry to say that other beauties didn't make it. STT 215 in Leo, 6 Cassiopeiae. Psi Cassiopeiae and STF 45 just didn’t make the cut. 

Of course I wish you all clear skies in 2022!

Please provide you own top observations of 2021 whenever you wish, my friends. 

And let’s have some new contributors too.  

Happy New Year from Aubrey.       
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2 years 6 months ago #110879 by Paul-Byrne
Replied by Paul-Byrne on topic Top observations in 2021
The highlight for me was observing the Perseids from Trooperstown, we did not get the entire night, still there were many hours and plenty of meteors under perfect skies.
It was also good to see John Flannery again, it had been a while.
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2 years 6 months ago #110880 by flt158
Replied by flt158 on topic Top observations in 2021
Thank you, Paul, for giving us your news of the Perseids. 

Darren was counting them on 11th August. 
I believe he saw 16 meteors. 

Have you any idea how many you saw over Trooperstown roughly?

Best regards from Aubrey. 
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2 years 6 months ago #110881 by Fermidox
Replied by Fermidox on topic Top observations in 2021
Fine list Aubrey. The PSE on 10th June was also my highlight - though my observing conditions were less favourable than yours. It was literally raining as the eclipse started but I managed to get a 5-minute window near maximum - sometimes those lucky breaks can feel more rewarding than a clear sky all the way through!

Comet Leonard in December was reasonably impressive through binoculars in December, but I failed to spot it after it moved into the evening sky. Comet 67P was also a satisfying target ticked off from the bucket list. Also observed 9th mag C/2020 R4 in April.

Clear skies for Mars' approach to M35 on 26th April, while Mercury was a fine evening sight on 24th January. Some pleasing alignments of Jupiter, Saturn and Venus with the Moon also; the one on 12th July involving Venus and the lunar crescent being particularly scenic. Mercury and the Pleiades were visible in the same binocular fov on 3rd May; impressive.

I didn't catch any fireballs on camera this year - except a possible glimpse in clouded skies of the bolide on 28th February, which was visible as far west as Galway and of course resulted in the Winchcombe meteorite. I had some email contact with the discoverer, Rob Wilcock, and a very amiable chap he is indeed. His family have really showed great altruism in donating the full find to the researchers.

Nova Cas erupted on 18th March; reached mag 5.2 and is still being studied by the pros; fine views also of mag 6 Nova Her in June. And then the superb part played by Keith Geary in breaking the news of recurrent nova RS Oph outbursting in August, wonderful stuff.

Oh of course the IFAS Christmas astronomy quiz was another highlight :D :D

Clear skies for 2022.

Finbarr, Limerick.
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2 years 6 months ago #110882 by flt158
Replied by flt158 on topic Top observations in 2021
Thank you, Finbarr. 
Your list is most impressive. 
Clearly you are both a great comet and supernova observer as well as other spectacular phenomena. 

Please keep up your good work in 2022. 

Clear skies from Aubrey. 
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2 years 6 months ago #110890 by Keith g
Replied by Keith g on topic Top observations in 2021
Thats a nice list of highlights guys, and thanks Aubery for alerting me to CP Cassiopeiae, I must seek to find this one soon, I have both apo binoculars of 100mm and 120mm size aperture, I would love to compare the colour seen through these of that star.

For me personally I have just one highlight of the year undoubtedly, is the memory of standing alone on top of a cliffside carpark looking out over the sea staring dumbstruck at my dslr screen having realised I had just discovered the outburst of the recurrent nova RS ophiuchi after many years trying to catch it. It was worth it !

I also stumbled upon a beautiful sight of finding a variable mira star S Aurigae, it's crimson red colour was magnificent at then magnitude 9.0. 

Keith.
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