Surprising Discovery In Sudbury

On Thursday, November 14, 2014, I went to Sudbury with my father, and the second day we were there, it was a gorgeous day. My father suggested I take the telescope out to observe the sun, and I did that.

The batteries had died, therefore I got the DC adapter, and plugged it into the car. I looked at the sun, and there were a few minor sunspots on the right side of the Sun. My father, and my aunt, saw the sun, and they were impressed. When my father needed help with some repairs, I centered the sun in the telescope’s eyepiece and, I went to help him leaving the telescope and car running.

My experience with tracking this past year was horrible. It never stayed in the center long enough to take any good photos. That is why it was a surprise to find that the telescope actually stayed in the center. Tracking worked because it was connected to a DC power source. When I stayed in Sudbury during the summer, I connected my telescope to an AC outlet, and it didn’t work as well as I wanted it to. Maybe it has to be connected into a DC plug to power the telescope efficiently.

Whatever happened, we need to do more research on this. If this is the case, then my problem is solved, and I can do all the imaging that I would like to do. I hope that is the case.


UPDATE: A few weeks ago, I tested my telescope’s tracking capabilities using my Pontiac G6 as its power source. Tracking did all right, but not as expected. I had the idea of imaging the Pleiades, but the clouds came in and quickly blocked the night sky. Therefore, I centered my telescope on Sirius. I timed the tracking, and Sirius reached the edge of the Eyepiece’s Field of View in less than 5 minutes. I think that might be the acceptable limit that my friend was talking about, nevertheless, I needed to do more testing. Good Night!


Armenian name of the Milky Way

Ancient Armenians had intimate knowledge of the night sky, and a unique mythology to go with it. Here is an article about the Milky Way in the context of Armenian Mythology.


Armenian name for the Milkey Way

The ancient Armenians had a refined knowledge of astronomy. The oldest known observatories are located in Armenia. Dated as early as 4200 BCE, Karahunj and the ca. 2800 BCE observatory at Metsamor allowed ancestral Armenians to develop geometry to such a level they could measure distances, latitudes and longitudes, envision the world as round, and were predicting solar and lunar eclipses about 1000 years before the Egyptians began doing the same. One can find all types of  monuments and petroglyphs, written manuscripts and astronomical terms created in the Armenian language thousands of years ago, attesting to the rich knowledge of astronomy by the ancient Armenians.

Every Armenian villager since childhood knows the name of the Milky Way. It can be translated as “the way of a man who had stolen the straw” or the “straw tief’s way”. This proper noun comes from the pre-Christian Armenian legend devoted to the god of fire – 

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Star Trails with my Telescope

On October 24, 2014, at 12:00 in midnight, I arrived at Glen Major to image the night sky again. This time I decided to bring my telescope with me for its tracking. It took me a long time to set up the telescope, for two reasons.

It took me a while to find a star to align with because my finderscope was out of alignment with my telescope. Some time passed before I found Vega, and align my finderscope to it. I then proceeded to align my telescope to the stars using the Skyalign method. It failed every time, even when I went onto different stars. I then decided to do a one-star alignment with Betelgeuse. It worked and my telescope was ready to do.

I attached my camera on the piggyback mount, and I set the intervalometer to image the night sky indefinitely setting the exposure at 15 seconds, f/5.6, and ISO 1600, and I let it image the night sky. After that, I go into my car to say warm.

I did some homework during that time as well. After that, I turned my telescope, and pointed it towards the Big Dipper. I took a few photos, and then decided to pack up. It got really cold that night, therefore I had to pack up fast. I packed up very quickly, and I went home. Here is the result of that night:

This video tells me that tracking isn’t moving as fast as it should, and that dew is going to be a problem in the coming days. Hopefully, I can correct that quickly.

Happy Observing!

Rosetta Will Make History

On November 12, 2014, the European Space Agency (ESA) will deploy the Phillae lander from the Rosetta probe to land on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This is a historic moment in space travel, because this represents the first time humans will have direct access to a comet’s material to study, and learn about the origins of our solar system, provided that everyone goes as planned.

For those who don’t know, Rosetta is a probe that was launched by the ESA on 2004. To get to its destination, it had to do many planetary gravity assist maneuvers, or swing-by’s, including a risky Mars swing-by nicknamed the “Billion Euro Gamble.” Along that time, it was mistaken to be an asteroid and observed two asteroids called 2867 Šteins, and 21 Lutetia. It was then put into hibernation for the rest of its journey to the comet.

The comet as seen by Rosetta from August 1-6.

From January 20 until August 6, after waking up from hibernation, Rosetta began a series of orbital corrections to bring itself into orbit around the comet. On August 6, Jean-Jacque Dordain, ESA’s Director General said, “After ten years, five months and four days travelling towards our destination, looping around the Sun five times and clocking up 6.4 billion kilometres, we are delighted to announce finally ‘we are here’[.]”

Rosetta started it’s deceleration maneuvers by moving itself in two triangular paths, each closer, to the comet surface, than the previous one. After descending to 30 km, on September 10, it entered into an orbit around the comet. After reaching orbit, it began mapping the comet’s surface to find possible landing sites for Phillae. It found many landing sites, but the ESA eventually chose landing site J, now known as Aghika, to land Phillae on.

Today, at 9:03 GMT (4:03 am EST) Phillae will separate from Rosetta and seven hours later at 16:02 pm GMT (11:02 am EST), it will land.

To see the mission so far, and what the future of the mission is, you can watch this video.

In the short film, Ambition, the master tells his apprentice a story about the Rosetta Mission: “So many things could have gone wrong. A failure at launch, an error in the calculations, collisions, so many unknowns.” Thankfully, nothing went wrong, and today, Rosetta is at the comet. Hopefully, it will succeed in its next milestone, and Phillae will give us access to the secrets of the early solar system. Godspeed!


UPDATE: It’s confirmed that the Phillae lander successfully landed on 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.




Solar Viewing with Jim Chung

On Friday, October 10, 2014, I visited Dr. Jim Chung, who is an amateur astronomer, and a fellow Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) member, at his house. He invited me over so he could show me his solar filter. It is a glass based solar filter that lets in a safe amount of light to look at the sun.

Telescopes need a filter to look at the sun, because the telescope concentrates light. When you look into a concentrated sum beam, it would blind you. If you want to look at the sun, use proper protection!

I set up my telescope on his driveway, where we attached the solar filter, aimed it at the sun, and relished in the majesty of the sun. We saw a sunspot, and the filter worked perfectly. We set the telescope to track on the sun, and we went into his garage where he showed me his workspace.

I saw all the equipment he acquired over the years. It was quite extensive. There were lenses, diagonals, cameras, and many other objects. We returned to my telescope and saw that the scope has drifted greatly from the center, which means the tracking had failed. However, Jim believed that it works just fine, because there is a level of drifting that is acceptable for visual astronomy. However, it is unacceptable for astrophotography. Therefore, I wanted to get more information about making my telescope astrophotography-worthy.

I asked about auto guiders, and focal reducers. Jim told me about auto guiders and that alt-az telescopes (which is what I have), need a wedge to make it act like an equatorial mount. The wedge will correct for North-South drift once it was polar aligned, and the auto guider will take care of East-West drift. Jim soon showed me his the Alan Gee-Telecompressor mark 2 focal reducer, which he highly recommends. It seems like an interesting piece of equipment. We checked the telescope again, and the sun hid behind the clouds.

Therefore, we decided to call it a day. I packed up my scope, and thanked him for his time. In addition, Jim lent me his solar filter to observe the solar eclipse that came up. I thanked him and left his residence.

I had a great time hanging out with Jim. Since this happened over a month ago, my father and I were able to use the solar filter for a couple of events. My father was able to see the solar eclipse that happened on October 23, 2014, but he wasn’t able to find a good location to observe the eclipse from. A day later, I was able to image the large sunspot seen on the Sun. I hope to do more with the Solar Filter, but I will need to return it to Jim soon. Until I find a new one, happy observing!

Astronomical Events for November 2014

Hello everybody,

Here are the astronomical events occurring in the month of November: (All times are given in UTC format)

       Astronomical Events

  • November 1: Mercury reaches its greatest elongation at 18.7 degrees West of the Sun. It will have a brightness at magnitude -0.5. This is the best time to see Mercury in 2014, for observers in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • November 18: Leonoid meteor shower will peak at this time. It is best seen in the Altantic region. The moon will be in a waning crescent phase, which means the Moon’s light will not obstruct the meteor shower.
  • November 20: Asteroid 3 Juno will occult a +7.4 magnitude star. It is best seen in North-eastern US and Eastern Canada.
  • November 27: Moon will have its farthest perigee of 2014 at 369,824 km at 23:12.

Happy Observing!