My Observing Log: July/August 2006

11:30 p.m. 1 July 2006 PDT (2006–07–02–0630 UT)

I've been trying to catch the GRS and Oval BA on Jupiter for a few nights, but I've been thwarted by either the timing (the GRS transited either too early, while it was bright out, or too late, when Jupiter was setting or had already set). Tonight was the night I would be able to catch it, and Oval BA, too, which is reportedly fast catching up to the GRS.

Alas, the seeing simply did not cooperate. I was able to make out the GRS confidently in moments of fair seeing, but the rest of the time, the seeing was simply too poor to make out much detail at all. The fact that Jupiter was now not high over our house may have been part of the problem, and I moved Opus around the backyard in an attempt to obtain better image stability. Despite my efforts, I was never able to get more than a possible hint of Oval BA. I was pretty sure I'd seen BA previously (in June), but I wanted to catch it close to the GRS. I wonder if anyone has any figures for how close their longitudes are.

1:30 a.m. 3 July 2006 PDT (2006–07–03–0830 UT)

I brought Opus out to see if I could make out 2004 XP14, an asteroid that passed close to the Earth (and is still close as I write this), with a perigee passage at around 9:00 PDT. I had a lot of trouble, mostly due to the light pollution. Uncharacteristically, it took me a few minutes just to find the right star field in the eyepiece. I wasn't using PleiadAtlas; that might have been part of the problem. :)

I started look along the track at around 1:30 PDT, and it wasn't until about 2:10 that I think I saw it. It blinked into visibility for a couple of seconds, vanished for a minute or so, and then blinked back in again. At first, I thought I was just imagining it, but apparently others shared this experience. It must have a somewhat irregular shape. I'm still not sure I saw it, but it can't be ruled out based on what I recorded.

11:55 p.m. 24 August 2006 PDT (2006–08–25–0655 UT)

Took Opus out to do a bit of sight-seeing. I started with M11, which I had trouble seeing before, because at the time, it was still low in the east-southeast, where there is significant amounts of light pollution. Tonight, when I started observing, the Wild Duck Cluster was no higher, but it was out to the southwest, where the light pollution is much less severe. I was impressed by how far stars extended from the central concentration. There was a small tuft of stars to the southeast of the main group that I didn't realize was there, and I was also able to make out some streaks within M11 of lower intensity. Does anyone else see these?

I also took a look at R Scuti. This is a variable star of the RV Tauri type, in which the pulsations (the period of R Scuti is about 140 days) vary from low amplitude to high amplitude over the course of a few years. Might this possibly mean that there are two natural modes of oscillation for the star, which are close to one another, and that the difference between the frequencies of these modes is that of the variation in amplitude? R Scuti ranges from magnitude 4.4 to magnitude 8.7. It's currently on the bright end of that; I'd guess in the range of magnitude 5.3 or 5.4.

Last up was NGC 6712. This is an eighth-magnitude globular, a few degrees south of M11 and R Scuti. It was very faint as seen in a 5-inch SCT in suburban Santa Monica, but it was detectable, and seemed to reveal a slight north-south elongation, with perhaps a pair of faint tendrils extending on the northern edge, one to the northwest, one to the northeast. This globular is one of many currently being consumed by the gravitational effects of the Milky Way.

Copyright (c) 2006 Brian Tung