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Science Odyssey and International Astronomy Day

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visitor viewing the Mercury transit from the deck of the SCC Observatory 9 May

Yesterday was International Astronomy Day and the second to last day of Science Odyssey, which runs from 6 – 15 May. We had 5 viewing sessions at our SCC Observatory including a double shadow transit of Jupiter and the transit of Mercury. We had Steve Mairs from U Vic come to speak to us about star formation. Steve visited the SCC Observatory last night for our viewing session for Astronomy Day and spent about an hour chatting with youth who came to view the Moon and Jupiter. Although last night was less than ideal viewing conditions we still got some viewing done and had 17 people show up to view the skies.

Viewing Sessions to Launch Science Odyssey

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Charles setting up the observatory for viewing

Thursday night Scott, Bruce W, and I went up to the SCC Observatory and spent several hours viewing Jupiter and other wonders of the night sky. The viewing conditions were very good.

Friday morning, 6 May, David and Mike went up to the observatory and mounted the new Antares guide scope on the side of the main optical tube assembly of the SCC Observatory.

Friday night, the official opening of Science Odyssey (6 – 15 May), 8 club members set up their telescopes outside the observatory and I opened the SCC Observatory to view the double shadow transit of Jupiter. members all noted that seeing was challenging and, as James put it: “Members dug in among buffeting winds (albeit warm winds) to peer into The Jovian atmosphere.” David modeled the transit using astronomy software and was able to show us the shadow position to look for. We spotted Callisto’s shadow on Jupiter and Io transiting first with the observatory telescope, the shadow skirting the north polar region about 9 PM, with the Great Red Spot crossing the central meridian. The Antares scope proved to be lined up well with the OTA.

James reports:

“Neil carried out scientific research on the light pass of several different 2″ diagonals and we had opportunity to compare the views in James 11″ SCT Service Scope and Neil’s Shiny new 8” SCT with fresh Starbright XLT Coatings from the Celestron factory.

“We observed Jupiter and Moon’s, two shadow transits – there was a moon transit too not visible to us under the conditions –

Globular Clusters M3 and M13 – both beatifully resolved, Galaxies M82 (Neil),

M65, M66 (James ) and The Ring Nebula

Which appeared best in Neil 8” SCT.

“Just before departure Saturn and Mars arrived on the scene and we had tantalizing views of these distant world’s promising more detail to follow. We exited the Stargate at 12.50 am. A great night.”

Meanwhile Mike Bradley was photographing the event from his SunMoonStars Observatory:

“I could view the transit with my 5” Megrez and capture a movie for processing. Attached is the result from stacking 500 frames, taken at f20. As James said the seeing was not great and focus was hard to achieve. Thanks to the magic of stacking software the image isn’t too bad! The reddish cast to the image is because the camera has been modified for Hydrogen alpha, I’ll do some further processing to try to correct for this.”

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Mike’s preliminary photo of the double transit

 

Members will be back up at the observatory Saturday night for viewing. The SCC Observatory will be open to the public from sunrise on Monday, 9 May, for the transit of Mercury, which will last until 1140 AM.

Charles Ennis, President

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