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Top observations in 2021

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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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11 months 5 days ago #110874

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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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11 months 4 days ago #110879

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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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11 months 4 days ago #110880

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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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11 months 4 days ago #110881

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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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11 months 4 days ago #110882

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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.
If a telescope can fit into your backyard it's too small. If you can't move it, it's too big." -- John Dobson
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11 months 1 day ago #110890

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Replied by flt158 on topic Top observations in 2021

Hello Keith. 

Would you believe S Aurigae is on my list?
I hope to observe it soon for the first time. 

We will always remember you for your absolute sensational observation of RS Ophiuchi for the rest of our days. 

Happy New Year to you, Keith!

Aubrey. 
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11 months 22 hours ago #110895

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Replied by Until_then-Goodnight! on topic Top observations in 2021

A very Happy New Year to you!

While I'm a bit late to the party as I've been sick as a dog for the past week, I've very much enjoyed reading your favourite observations from 2021. 

In terms of my own list, I have selected six from 34. 

Those six are:

 An observation of a 'Petavius' from 21st November. I sketched this lunar crater at 250X . During this time the crater floor was covered in darkness, with only a hint of its central peak illuminated. Following the observation I discovered that 'Petavius' is part of the 'Lunar 100'. I was unaware of the Lunar 100 list prior to the observation, but I decided I would embark on trying to sketch each feature from the list over the coming years from that observation.

Number 5 was the splitting of Iota Cassiopeiae. The joy from this observation came from having to work for the 'B' component. For example, it wasn't until the seeing improved later in the evening that it revealed itself at 139X. I pushed the magnification to 250X and the colours of all three stars were lovely.  So, thanks a million Aubrey for that suggestion - it was a great call!

Another double star observation made it onto my list in 2021.  Again I've our double-star aficionado to thank for it. This time it was STF 45 / HIP 3045. Like my observation of Iota Cas, I was made work for this one. It was a mad night, and I captured the feeling of splitting it here:

www.irishastronomy.org/kunena?view=topic&catid=21&id=101974

A special thanks goes to Finbarr for helping me to find STF designations in Stellarium - thanks Finbarr!

Number 3 on the list was an observation from March 25th when I sketched M81 and M82 from my back garden. This was my first time to see these galaxies in an eyepiece, and I was taken aback by the contrast in shapes.  Observing them at 37X and 139X meant both galaxies were in the same field of view - gorgeous sight - I can't even imagine what they must look like under a dark sky.

My second favourite observation(s) from 2021 was on the night of the 11th and 12th of August: The Perseid Meteor shower. Observing it from the Sugar Loaf and Trooperstown was something special. There was great fun to be had all round. Then at Trooperstown I managed to see M31 and the Double Cluster with the naked eye. I also managed to sketch the shower for a small period of time, but it was one of those occasions to simply sit back and enjoy the show. 

Top of my list comes from February 18th. I had set up my scope in the front garden to observe 'Perseverance' and 'Ingenuity' land on the surface of Mars. While I couldn't see the rover land on the 'Red' Planet, I was live streaming the event on a tablet next me. My wife and I shared those few exciting minutes as Perseverance touched-down. And to watch and listen to the amazing team in NASA describe that remarkable achievement live while I looked at Mars through the eyepiece was incredible. 

So that's my lot for 2021. Here's to many clear nights we'll share together in 2022.

All the best,

Darren.
 
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Last edit: 10 months 3 weeks ago by Until_then-Goodnight!.
10 months 3 weeks ago #110903

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Replied by Fermidox on topic Top observations in 2021

Super list Darren. Thanks for your reports in '21, and your excellent sketches too. That was a nice idea to follow the Perseverance landing 'live' as it were, and the Lunar 100 project will keep you busy for quite a while I'd predict!

Clear skies for '22.

Finbarr.
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10 months 3 weeks ago #110905

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Replied by Until_then-Goodnight! on topic Top observations in 2021

Very many thanks for your words Finbarr. I thoroughly enjoyed viewing your photos, and reading your updates on various objects throughout 2021.I particularly loved how you framed so many of objects in your images . And congrats again on 'bagging' more comets last year.

Clear skies, 
Darren. 
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10 months 3 weeks ago #110906

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Replied by flt158 on topic Top observations in 2021

So glad you are back with us, Darren. 

Your list of 2021 observations are utterly marvellous. 

I'm particularly pleased that both Iota Cassiopeiae and STF 45 made it on your list. 
And of course we all remember Mars too. 

Clear skies for 2022 from Aubrey. 
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10 months 3 weeks ago #110909

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Replied by Until_then-Goodnight! on topic Top observations in 2021

Great to hear from you Aubrey, and I'm delighted to be back contributing this great forum again.

One of things I'll remember from 2021 was you reaching your 100th Carbon star. What a great achievement that was. 

I wonder what's in store for us all over the next 12 months. 

Clear skies, 

Darren. 
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Last edit: 10 months 3 weeks ago by Until_then-Goodnight!.
10 months 3 weeks ago #110910

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Replied by flt158 on topic Top observations in 2021

Hi Darren. 

Please stand by for another report from the last 2 clear nights. 

Aubrey. 
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10 months 3 weeks ago #110911

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Replied by Until_then-Goodnight! on topic Top observations in 2021

Looking forward to it my friend!
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10 months 3 weeks ago #110915

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