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Posts posted by Ralphf

  1. 10/15/20


    Scan of the southern skies from western Japan. 


    Did some viewing from my semi-suburban balcony in southern Osaka Prefecture around 7:00pm local time with fairly clear skies. 


    Most notable, of course, was the Jupiter / Saturn pair, now curving down to the southwest slightly earlier with each passing night. The difference between my Vixen Ascot 10x50s and the Celestron 15x70’s was noticeable on Jupiter where the larger bins brought it all 4 moons, Europa to the lower right and Io, Ganymede and Callisto forming a diagonal from close in to the upper left. The 10x50’s couldn’t resolve Io in the glare of Jupiter. 

     Just off to the right of Jupiter was magnitude 5.58 HR 7327 and with averted vision, I do believe I was getting a feint glimpse of HD181033 in Sagittarius, listed at magnitude 8.28.

    Above Saturn, slightly left (eastward) was the Capricorn constellation with Alpha-2 Capricorni and Algedi clearly separated. As a relative novice I wasn’t aware that Dabih (Beta Capricorni) had a companion, Beta-2 Capricorni at just above magnitude 6. Whereas the former appears as a crisp orange, the latter is a fuzzier white. I had one of those, “you learn something new everyday” moment. 

    Further down towards the horizon, I was happily surprised to find, “The Persian” (Alpha Indi in the Indus constellation). I thought it had been lost to a large house that was built across the way about a year and a half ago. I wasn’t able to find any other members of that particular constellation but bright, twinkling Al Nair in Grus was almost in a line to the east of The Persian. 

    Finally, high up in the east, currently impressive orange Mars and a bit lower in the sky, Cetus’s Deneb Kaitos were both incrementally heading in my direction. 

    As Autumn is an excellent time for sky-gazing, I encourage everyone to take a peek, even if you only have a few minutes to do so. 

    • Like 3

  2. Goodricke1, Stu,

    Thanks for the comments. I seem to be a bit further south than most of info I find in English on the net. For example, each time Mercury becomes visible, the literature says it will be a tough find considering the Sun’s glare but the planet is pretty far above the horizon for a few days at my location. Perhaps it’s the same situation with the stars below Sirius?

    • Like 1

  3. Time: 03:40 + JST, Thursday 11/21/19


    Location: south Osaka Prefecture Japan


    Had a touch of insomnia and figured since I had to take the trash out in a few hours, I’d get it done earlier.  While outside I noticed clear skies to the south and west which is the direction my suburban balcony faces. 


    Got my 15x70 Celestrons and scanned around a bit. I decided to focus on the areas around Sirius which was blazing away as usual. 


    I don’t always have the best of luck with deep sky objects but M47 was especially prominent. Adjacent M46 was less so, but noticeable. Also came across M41 further below and M50 above Sirius. 


    I moved down to the Wezen - Adhara region on the back leg of Canis Major. Between those two stars was Sigma Canis Major. Here I noticed a small strand of stars I don’t usually see. The closet one to Sigma CMa was V381 CMa, magnitude 7.76 and a quartet of dots running southeast to northwest. These were HD 52463, HD52617,  HD52731 and HD52897. Their magnitudes range from 7.78 to 8.32. 


    I was wondering if it would be worth waiting for slightly pre-sunrise Mercury to rise in the east but a wall of clouds was forming in that direction. Returned to bed and, thank heavens, I was able to drift off to sleep. 

    • Like 10

  4. Just a quick note to say Ceres, magnitude 7.04, was easily seen in Celestron Skymaster 15x70 at about 10:30pm JST on 5/24/19 from southern part of Osaka Prefecture  

    Was between Chi Ophiuchi and Phi Ophiuchi and next to a trio of stars: HD148198, HD148351 (at magnitude 8.30) and HD148438. 

    Thanks very much to tip in this month’s Binocular Sky newsletter. 

    • Like 7

  5. Hi. Was up at dawn observing Mercury rising in the southeast and slowly swept my binoculars left. I was able to vaguely see a small triangle formed by Upsilon Ophiuchi, HR  6128 and HR 6137. That was the limit of view as sunlight was washing out anything else to the left of that. But I clicked on the adjacent HR6144 star in my Sky Guide app and it lists as being 6,900 light years away. When I checked the Ski Safari app, the same star is listed as 1,900 light years. I went online and found little info but, “In the Sky” web page it’s HR 6144 at 9 kilo years / 9,000 light years. Does anyone have any info as to why the huge discrepancies?


    Thanks in advance for your help. 

  6. Have only been in the hobby for about 3 years off and on, so this was somewhat satisfying:

    11/29/18 8 pm JST (Japan Standard Time)

    Confirmed sighting of Neptune for first time. Did it by star-hopping from Mars to Lambda Aquarii then west over to  h Aquarii which had star HD 218081 adjacent to it in an 8 o’clock position. Back to the right (east) to 81 Aquarii, a little above Neptune and then patiently waiting for my eyes to adjust to the only average seeing conditions. Finally, little blueish speck below 81 Aquarii appeared off and on, improved with averted vision. Did the above routine 3 times with same result. Maybe not the biggest astronomical news but a small, personal triumph in seeing the most distant planet in our neighborhood.

    • Like 13

  7. 8 hours ago, Owmuchonomy said:

    Great report and I'm envious of your latitude.  I am quite surprised though that you don't have a hot bath on your balcony from which you could observe :wink:.  As a frequent visitor to Japan I have been lucky in finding such facilities, mainly in Ryokan.  As you and I know though, no cozzy allowed!

    Thank you for the reply, Owmuchonomy. I’ve noticed that my latitude gives me some extra benefits looking south when compared to info of what can be seen from the UK and Europe. I sometimes wish I were more northerly when the occasional typhoon comes skirting through here in late summer and autumn, though. 

    Yeah, a hot tub on the balcony would be great. It would give the neighbors something to talk about — the foreigner has finally lost it ?. 

  8. 2 hours ago, Stu said:

    Great read Ralph, some lovely sights and a real sense of atmosphere. Don't forget that tripod next time :)

    ps Are thick socks allowed? ;) 

    Thanks, Stu. Yeah, the tripod would have made things easier as time went on. I did lean the 15x70 on the balcony fence and horizontal laundry poles from time to time. Thicker socks are a must. At least I wore a hooded jacket and I (probably) have enough sense that had it begun raining, I would have gone inside. ?

    • Haha 1

  9. Dawn Session 12-30-17 JST


    Clear Skies at Last!


    AFTER NEARLY 2 weeks of cloudy to mostly cloudy skies, the weather forecasts and weather apps indicated clearing for several hours before / after sunrise. So, today being a Saturday, I could afford to climb out of bed at 4:30am and do some comparative viewing with my Celestron Skymaster 15x70 and recently- purchased Vixen Ascot ZR10x50 WP. I live in a suburban area halfway between Osaka and Wakayama, Japan and my balcony affords a view of the skies from the southeast to the southwest. 


    I started out gazing up at Jupiter and Mars which were in close proximity. Just above Jupiter was a clear, bright dot seen in both pairs of binos. This turned out to be a combination of Ganymede and Europa. In my sleepy state I had forgotten to bring out my tripod and didn’t feel like going back inside to get it. 

    At the 7 o’clock position just below Jupiter was Callisto. This was more clearly evident in the 15x70’s when I managed to hold them still for a few seconds at a time. Io was too close into the glare of Jupiter to make out in either pair of binoculars.  Between Jupiter and Mars, Zubenelgenubi. The separation between Alpha 1 and Alpha 2 Librae was clearly evident in both 10x50 and 15x70. Just to the upper left of Zubenelgenubi was an arrow-head-like semi-circle consisting of 6 stars, only 5 of which were evident in the Vixens, though there was a hint of the 6th with averted vision. The 6th, which the Celestrons plainly showed is 8th magnitude HD131009 — 1,700 ly away (that sort of thing always blows me away). So, there are times when the extra 5x of the 15x70’s IS noticeable. 


    Welcome to the Breakfast Show


    The main event of this session was catching a glimpse of almost simultaneously-rising Antares and Mercury. It was 4 degrees C when I began viewing but as dawn approached the temperature dropped another degree. It may or not be my imagination but the skies to the east and south seemed to sharpen. Just after 5:30am, my favorite star, Antares, peeked up over the hills to the southeast, sparkling red and blue. Soon after, slightly eastward came Mercury, at first, similarly sparkling with alternating colors before turning into a clear, whitish orb. What was particularly satisfying about this Mercury-rise, besides the fact that it’s been about 9 or 10 months since I last saw it, was the fact that the sky was still dark and I recently read that, “because Mercury is always close to the sun, it is usually only seen in the lighter skies of dawn or dusk and only rarely is it seen in darkness.” Cool - - a rarity!

    Around Antares, even as the sky continued to lighten, some of the main Scorpio stars were holding their own. Tau Scorpii to the south, sigma Scorpii to the northeast and i Scorpii to the northwest. Of course, higher up, Acrab, Dschubba and Pi Scorpii. 


    To the left / east of Mercury, Sabik was easily seen in both pairs of binoculars. Then, I noticed that further eastward from Sabik, 4th magnitude Nu Serpentis had pushed beyond the roof of the house next door and was noticeable in both binoculars despite the creamy color of the sky. Antares and Mercury were still naked eye sights but beginning to fade. I continued to scan this section of the sky for a time until I noted that Nu Serpentis had disappeared while using the Vixen 10x50s. Shifting back to the Celestron 15x70s it was still there. 


    It was nearly 6:30AM and quite light now. The crows that come to town from the nearby mountains every morning were cawing their approach. I directed the 10x50s at them and tracked a flock of five heading my way — and then, white planet Mercury appeared behind the 5 black birds in the otherwise silent surroundings. Pretty mystical ambiance but I had to get inside as my toes were aching from the cold. As you are aware, shoes are not worn indoors in Jap an but sandal-like slippers are used on balconies for such tasks as hanging laundry. So I was only wearing sandals for 2 hours in the cold. My arms and back were aching from holding the binoculars for the same time period (tripod you fool!) but it was worth it, IMHO.

    • Like 6

  10. It IS pretty cool to catch the ISS. Sometime last year, my Skyguide app alerted me to a flyby just around sunset. I spotted it in my binoculars and likewise switched to naked eyes as it flew straight up and over my house here in Japan.  Worth a gander IMHO. 

    • Like 4
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