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Posted (edited)


I often love to play youtube lectures in the background as i work on my home improvement projects, only problem with that is many times my attention gets so focussed on the computer screen that i fail to see paint dripping from my brush onto the carpet, that did happen!. Anyway, here's a great lecture from the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics which is just a couple hours drive from my home about the weirdest stars known, some fascinating facts here with a dose of humour.


Edited by Sunshine
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Really enjoyed this.  Thorne-Zyktof objects are fascinating!


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Very Nice...

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    • By alanjgreen
      Date: Thursday 8th March 2018 2150-0210am        Scope: 20” f3.6 Lukehurst Dob with Paracorr (fl = 2089mm)

      Waiting for a Sign!

      Signs were that I may get out for a session (after a two week barren spell). Skies were cloudy at 8pm and the cat came in a little on the damp side so I was a little disheartened.

      I got up and looked outside at 9-30pm and the sky was clearing so I started to get ready…

      Not a Good Start  

      Once setup and aligned, I decided to start with some comets. Using Sky Safari I found three well placed comets overhead:

            C/2015 O1 PANSTARRS

            C/2010 U3 Boattini


      I failed to locate any of them and so that was a depressing start.

      Time for a Nebula!

      I switched to planetary nebulas. Fitted the O3 filter and headed for the Eskimo in Gemini. Using both the Ethos6 (x348) and Ethos8 (x250) I could see the central star surrounded by a bright circular disk which was itself embedded in a dusty halo. The circle was bright with the E6 but harder with the E8.

      I headed over to the Medusa and was surprised by its size. I ended up with the Ethos13 (x150) where I could see the large curved leading edge. The actual finer detail was hard to tease out and I tried both the O3 and UHC to try to see more. I found the UHC best but this was a difficult target and I felt like I had not seen as much as I should have?

      Now onto the Owl. E13 unfiltered. A nice circular cloud was seen with the two big black eyes coming & going from view. I tried the UHC and it improved but I have seen it better.

      Six Supernova Anyone?

      Having spent some of my spare time (in the last two weeks) setting up a “supernova” observing list in Sky Safari. I asked the app to highlight my list and was presented with a clear galaxy hopping trail ready to be explored…

      I also made pre-prepared sketches of the SN galaxies and surrounding star patterns so I have something to refer to as I try to orientate myself with the sky region.

      NGC3158 & SN2018aaz – After checking my sketch, I quickly had the galaxy centred in the E8. It was a nice size but I could not see the three close in dots from my sketch. Switching to the E6 (x348) revealed more of the smaller stars and I matched the star pattern. Inside the galaxy halo I could see two dots. One of these could have been the SN?

      UGC5049 & SN2018pc – At my first attempt last month, I got this SN easily with the galaxy showing easily on that night. Two further attempts had failed to reveal even the edge-on galaxy! Tonight I could see the galaxy and sure enough there was the SN tucked nicely into the centre. SUCCESS  

      NGC2746 & SN2018iq – With the E8 loaded, I quickly located the galaxy next to a star. There was no sign of the SN until I swapped in the E6. SUCCESS

      NGC3367 & SN2018kp – I have had a couple of goes at this SN already with no success. My shed wall was obscuring my view on those occasions but tonight I seemed to drop lucky and I could get a good view of it. I tried with E6, E8 & E10 eyepieces. The star pattern was easily matched and I had learned a lot from my previous attempts too. I think I finally did glimpse the SN but it was only brief glimpses of a “second dot” in the right place within the galaxy halo. The halo was showing particularly well last night (maybe the extra magnification of the E6?). SUCCESS  

      NGC3384 & SN2018yn – I quickly located the host galaxy and then discovered that I had not made a sketch of what to look for! I made a star chart of what I could see ready for verification this morning instead. The galaxy was a good size and showed a nice halo. I managed to see a dot within the halo. Looking at the images this morning it seems more likely that I saw the core than the SN as the core is much brighter on the images.

      NGC3941 & SN2018pv – Onto the brightest of them all. I have seen the SN several times already and I must say that it was very hard to split it from the core last night (harder than on previous visits). Even with the E6, the centre looked more like a dual core. A “clear gap” was not seen. SUCCESS (almost)

      Oh well, four from six ain't too bad.
      Worthy of a Mention

      I spent the rest of my session taking in galaxies from Ursa Major down to Leo. Some targets worthy of a mention were...

      NGC3163+3159+3161+3150+3151 – Five galaxies in the FOV. All of them pretty easy to see. A group of three and a group of two. Ethos8 (x250). A very nice vista.

      NGC5350+5353+5354+5355+5358 – Another five galaxy view! This view had the bonus that two of them were interacting with each other. Great!

      M87+4478+4476 – A nice “curvy” trio of bright galaxies.

      Forever the Optimist

      Lets hope for a few more clear nights as the new moon approaches!


    • By Piero
      A very nice story about an amateur astronomer `Víctor Buso` who captured the first light of a supernova in the spiral galaxy NGC 613 in the southern constellation of Sculptor. 
      I particularly like how the article concludes with his quotes: “Sometimes I wonder why I do this, why I put so many hours and so much passion into this . . . Now, I have found the answer.” 
      More here: 
      https://www.nature.com/articles/nature25151   (scientific article about the following up dynamical model of supernova explosion and further analyses - this requires a subscription)
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NGC_613  : "On September 20, 2016, Argentinian amateur astronomer Victor Buso captured supernova SN 2016gkg in NGC 613, just as it was starting to erupt.[13][14] This was a type IIb supernova, a supernova that initially shows a hydrogen envelope like a type II supernova,[13] but later loses the hydrogen lines in its spectrum to appear like a type Ib supernova. It showed the double peak that is common to many type IIb supernovae, rising to around magnitude 15.5 shortly after discovery and then again about 20 days later. The progenitor star has been identified in Hubble Space Telescope images from before its collapse, and it is likely to have been a yellow supergiant."
      (NGC 613 frames from Víctor Buso)

      (NGC 613 image from the Paranal Observatory in Chile)

      (NGC 613 image from Hubble Space Telescope)
    • By alanjgreen
      Date: Tuesday 13th February 2045-0130am        Scope: 20” f3.6 Lukehurst Dob with Paracorr (fl = 2089mm)
      [It was Pancake day, so I just had to add a Culinary spin to my nights observing]
      Get out the Ingredients (Earlier)
      1.Create a new “observing list” in sky safari which contained the 5 SuperNova (SN) and 1 Nova targets.
      2.Make “identification sketches” for each of the SN with galaxy and nearby star patterns on small pieces of paper based on before/after images from the web.
      3.Consider Dob position in the shed = Big Dob was still positioned at the front of the shed aiming back north for Ursa Major & Polaris.
      Prepare the Pancake Mixture
      I headed outside at 2030pm with my eyepieces and SN sketches. I removed the AstroSystems Scopecoat from Big Dob, inserted the ParaCorr2 and set about collimating the scope using my Glatter tools, making a few small adjustments to get everything centred in the TuBlug.
      Time to roll back the roof...
      The final task was to perform a 2-star alignment to setup the Nexus “push-to”.
      Fuzzy Comet Pancakes
      As it was still quite early, I decided to begin with some Comets and using Sky Safari I worked my way through the brightest comets in the sky above.
      C/2016 N6 (Panstarrs) was out of range
      C/2010 U3 (Boattini) – I set about searching for the mag 15 comet. I centered up the push-to with the ethos13 (x150) inserted and then moved to ethos10 (x200). I could not find the comet for definite. There were two possible glimpses (1) I did spot a small fuzzy blob near a patch of stars but failed to re-find it (it did not tally with the Sky Safari location but it was close) (2) I thought I saw a tail cutting through the fov (this was the same experience that I had on Sunday when searching for the same object) but the scale of the tail seemed too long and wide to be true. I will keep trying but could probably do with some better conditions.  
      Galaxy Ring Pancakes
      M81 – starting with M81. E10 (x200). It showed with a bright core with a large dusty area surrounding it. Black patches were seen to both sides and above (maybe some arms on a better night?).
      M82 – The view was pretty good (better than Sunday). The galaxy was very bright at x200 and stretched out over a decent width. The black dart intersecting the galaxy was clear in direct vision.
      Sauteed Supernova Pancakes
      UGC5049/SN2018pc – with the ethos8 (x250) inserted I centred up on UGC5049. The galaxy was a faint streak at the edge of the fov. Straight away there was a faint dot visible within the dusty streak! The star pattern matched my sketch and therefore I notched up a success.
      NGC2746/SN2018iq – The galaxy was easily found and centred. The SN is tight in but was coming and going as the galaxy drifted across the fov. I switched to the E10 (x200) and the galaxy got brighter, I could see the SN near the centre. 
      NGC3941/SN2018pv – I had seen the SN on Sunday, so back for another visit. With the E10 the bright SN was hard to split from the bright core. With the E8 a clear separation was seen and so another success.
      My other supernova targets were out of range (due to the shed walls) so I went back to galaxy observing to pass some time while I waited for the earth to spin hoping that targets would come around into view later in the evening.
      Caramelized Ursa Major Galaxy Pancakes
      M108 – E10. The galaxy had a long broken shape with a bright patch off to the left. The core is not in the centre.
      M51 – The E10 revealed nice circling arms which could be traced with averted vision. The first arm curved out into space and the second arm curved around the top. The bridge was not obvious at all but with some concentration a faint wisp of arm could be followed out toward ngc5195. The core of 5195 seemed to be outshinging the core of M51.
      M106 – Looked good in the E10. Big and bright. No arms.
      3990+3982+3972 – A nice triple galaxy in the fov. One big side on, one long thin edge on and a smaller side on made for a nice galaxy combo.
      3898+3888 – Little and large side on galaxies. A nice pairing.
      3913+3921 – Another pair of side on galaxies
      2841 – nice bright side on galaxy
      More Sauteed Supernova Pancakes
      NGC3367/SN2018kp – NGC3367 was located under Leo and I had a short opportunity to get it over the shed wall (not with the whole mirror). I quickly matched the field stars to my sketch and saw a bright dot coming from within the area of the faint galaxy. I switched between the E10 and E8. At one point a saw two dots within the galaxy dust and tried to draw two lines showing the dot orientation compared to the field star orientation. These don’t seem to match the images when I check this morning. The core appears as a bright dot so it seems more likely that I was seeing the galaxy core rather than the SN. But checking an image from 10 Feb, the SN has brightened but I cant say I had success at this point.  I will try again…
      One last Savoury Zenith Pancake Mix
      M101 – Initially a large dusty mist. After a few seconds it started to form into a meaningful structure. I could see the outer arms (containing bright NGC paches). The inner core filled the x200 fov. I could make out three swirling arms. I started to sketch them out on paper. If only the conditions could have been a bit better (Grrrr).  
      Conditions seemed to take another dip as I watched the galaxy detail seemed to dip away. I decided to take a quick snap tour…
      Keenan system – As recommended by @mdstuart, I headed for NGC5216/5218 and was rewarded with two bright galaxies with dust halos. They looked like a pair of “eyes”. I will have to return on a better night…
      4605 – lovely bright edge on galaxy. A clear M82 rival!
      Cor Caroli – A lovely bright double. One big white star and one small yellow star. I love this double as it seems to look a different colour depending on the aperture of the scope you are using or maybe depending on your aging eyes (I don’t know) but tonight it was white/yellow (for me).  
      Whale – One of my favourite galaxies. It fills the fov at x200.
      Silver Needle – very long edge on galaxy. Quite dim.
      Cocoon galaxies – A nice “angular” pair with bright cores and dimmer halos.
      M3 – To finish a bright globular cluster. Plenty of resolved stars at x200. Lovely.
      Now I’m stuffed after all those pancakes...
      By now, the sky has brightened considerably. I had been watching the sky reflections gradually move up from the horizon towards the zenith. Its time to pack up for the night. Just two hours earlier I had seen M101 naked eye averted (with my glasses on) shows how things can change.
      Oh No! Time for the washing up
      I close the roof and switch on the light. Thermometer says -2 but my toes say that its colder than that! The UTA of the scope is covered in ice as is the upper shroud – I fetch a towel to wipe it down...
      After securing the roof and switching on the dehumidifier, I head back to the house and my favourite “hot water bottle”!
      I did manage three supernovas so you have to be pleased with that!
      Clear Skies, Alan
    • By alanjgreen
      Magnitude 12.7 supernova ( 2018pv ) found in NGC3941
      2018pv (= AT2018pu), TNS discovered 2018/02/03.631 by Masaki Tsuboi 
      Found in NGC 3941 at R.A. = 11h52m55s.700, Decl. = +36°59'11".60 
      Located 4".1 east and 0".8 north of the center of NGC 3941 (K. Itagaki image) (Giancarlo Cortini image) (K. Itagaki image) (Manfred Mrotzek image) (K. Itagaki image) 
      Mag 12.7:2/9, Type Ia (z=0.003100) (References: ATEL 11278)
      data from
    • By alanjgreen
      Just grabbed an hour out with big dob (20").
      I had it positioned in the shed for Ursa Major ready for the SN attempt.
      Conditions were not the best, it was a bit windy and the sky had lost some of its early blackness. There were of course some early tube currents in the scope to contend with too.
      I started with the ethos10 (x200) and the galaxy appeared with an elongated core (due to the SN being in close to the centre), the galaxy had a small dust halo surrounding it.
      I dropped to the ethos8 (x250) and split the core from the SN with a clear gap.
      I dropped to the ethos6 (x350) and the split was easy!
      I could not split the core from the SN in the ethos21 (x100).
      Returning 30 minutes later, I did split the SN from the core with both the ethos10 (x200) and the ethos13 (x150) but they were pretty tight splits coming in & out.
      Should hopefully be easier on a better night.
      Good luck, Alan

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