Upper Sunvex Parry Arc 19.4.2014

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Observed phenomena: Halo phenomena
Light source: Sun
Origin: High clouds (cirrostratus)
Observed halo forms:

  • 22° halo
  • Parhelia
  • Sun pillar
  • Upper 22° tangent arc
  • Circumzenithal arc
  • Supralateral arc
  • Upper Sunvex Parry arc

Date: 19.4.2014
Time: 20:05-20:30
Observing place: Ulvila, Finland
Observing method: Photography
Technical information about photographing equipment: Olympus μ 1030 sw

During Holy saturday of 2014 (19th of April) only an ordinary 22° halo was visible in the sky of Ulvila. But later in the evening, I was able to see something spectacular! I observed a bright and well -developed upper 22° tangent arc, and I thought that could there be a possibility, that a Parry arc would appear inside the curved tangent arc? After some gazing, another arc really started to develop inside the bowl of tangent arc! And there it was, my first ever upper sunvex Parry arc! And it was very well developed and bright, and it appeared in high clouds! These guys are really rare sights in high clouds! What a wonderful way to end an otherwise quite booring halo day! Thank you Mother nature!

Observing 29./30.3.2014

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Date: 29./30.3.2014
Time: 21:00-02:00
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: N250/1200mm

NELM: 6.4
SQM: 21.25
Darkness of the background sky: 1
Seeing: 3
Transparency: 1
Weather: Clear sky, calm to light breeze, no Moon, no snow, humid air, -4 to 0 °C

Obects observed: SS Cyg, R Tri, R Cas, T Cas, NGC 4567-8, NGC 6229

After a wonderful night in Parainen, I went again for observing in Parainen during the following night! During this observing session, observing conditions were nearly as good as they were last night. Only problem during this night was condensation of moisture to all optical surfaces. Otherwise conditions were good: sky was clear, and it was nearly calm all the time. Sky was dark and Moon was absent!

I started this night by observing zodiacal light, which was well visible in the NW sky. Observing zodiacal light is a popular pursuit nowadays in Finland, because now everyone know what to expect and how to observe this phenomena! So now we know for sure, that zodiacal light can be observed at latitude 62, or even higher! My observing site is located little bit north of latitude 60.

Zodiacal light observed 29./30.3.2014 from Parainen, Finland

Zodiacal light observed 29./30.3.2014 from Parainen, Finland

After observing zodiacal light, I went on observing some further-away targets, meaning variable stars and deep sky! First, I tried to observe Leo I, a dwarf galaxy in Leo, near Regulus. I gazed at the right spot, I sweeped around it and tried to catch it with averted vision. Nevertheless, this time I have to make a negative observation of this target. I just couldn’t see it. Sometimes I could see glimpses of something, but I’m not sure that I really saw the dwarf galaxy. I also tried to observe NGC 3115 in Crater, but I decided to give up on it because it was just at too low altitude.

After two not so lucky observing attempt, I decided to observe something I could surely be able to catch! I observed an interacting pair of galaxies, NGC 4567-8 in constellation of Virgo. This pair of galaxies is easy to find, it is located very close to Messier 58 and 59. The galaxies appeared as small, fuzzy elongated patches. This pair of galaxies were connected at their northern edges. The opening angle of the galaxies was about 60 degrees southwards. It was quite easy to separate the galaxies visually. The apparent visual diamater of the galaxy system is about 5′. This one is a really interesting target!

NGC 4567-8 observed with 10'' Newton

NGC 4567-8 observed with 10” Newton

After this pair of galaxies, I aimed my telescope towards constellation of Hercules. In the northern part of this constellation, lies a small globular cluster, NGC 6229. For some reason, I had never observed this target before! At my ocular, this object appeared as a small, round, fuzzy spot. The cluster was not resolved. There isn’t much to see of this object with instrument of this size.

NGC 6229 observed with 10'' Newton

NGC 6229 observed with 10” Newton

After doing some wandering in the realms of deep space, I returned to our own Milky way to do some variable star observations. I observed dwarf nova SS Cyg also this night, and it’s brightness seemed to be same than last night, 8,6 magnitudes. I observed also R Tri, R Cas and T Cas. All of these stars are now close to their minimum brightness, and it would have been impossible for me to observe these stars with my small refractor. R Cyg was so faint, that it wasn’t visible at all with my instrument!

After observing these stars, I decided to go home and get some sleep. I think I just had one of my best observing experiences during this season! Observing conditions were only inch away from being perfect and I could observe many interesting targets! I could also enjoy the wonderful atmosphere of nights of early spring here in Southwestern Finland!

Now it’s April and nights are getting quickly shorter, and phase of the Moon is also getting bigger. It means, that is observing season is soon over. But there are still some observing opportunities in late April and early May!

 

Observing 28./29.3.2014

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Date: 28./29.3.2014
Time: 00:00-02:00
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: L 102/1000mm

NELM: 6.4
SQM: 21.21
Darkness of the background sky: 1
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 1
Weather: Clear sky, calm, no Moon, no snow, dry air, -3 °C

Objects observed: SS Cyg, Messier 5

In the end of March I finally had a chance to do some deep sky -observing again! In the night between 28th and 29th of March I headed to my observing site in Parainen. Observing conditions during that night were perfect: the sky was absolutely clear, the Moon was absent and it was calm and the air was dry, so there was no condensation problem as usually is the case! It was also pleasently warm, temperature was only 3 degrees below zero! During this winter we haven’t had much winter at all, and that has been the case also during March 2014. During mid March, there was snow on the ground for couple of days, but in late March all snow had melted away!

During this wonderful night I observed dwarf nova SS Cyg and globular cluster Messier 5 in Serpens. This time I noticed SS Cyg to be in outburst, and it’s brightness was about 8,6 magnitudes.

Messier 5 is a famous globular cluster in the constellation of Serpens, and more precisely Serpens Cauda, the Head of the Snake. I observed this cluster with my 4” refractor. With my instrument, the cluster appeared as a bright, concentrated cluster, which gets brighter towards the core. The cluster is resolved nearly to the core. There is a relatively bright star in the western edge of the cluster. The apparent visual diameter of the cluster is roughly 10′. This is a great target for visual observations, also with smaller telescopes!

Messier 5 observed with 4'' refractor

Messier 5 observed with 4” refractor

Tähtipäivät 2014 was organized in Inari, Finland

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The traditional popular astronomy event, Tähtipäivät (literally: Star days), was organized in village of Inari, Northern Finland in 21.-22. of March 2014. The event was organized by Ursa astronomical association (the national astronomical association of Finland) together with a local astronomy club Ochejohka Ursa. The theme of this event was Nieida käreg in Sami language or Neitokäräjät in Finnish. Nieida käreg means The Pleiades, which is the famous star cluster in the constellation of Taurus.

The venue site was called Sajos, which is a recently build conference center in village of Inari. The building is also the parliament house of the Sami parliament, which is the parliament of the Sami people, the indigenous people of Northern Scandinavia.

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Sajos -building, the venue site

One of the main goals of Tähtipäivät events is to popularize astronomy and promote hobby of amateur astronomy. Thus, the programme of this event consisted of popularized lectures given by both professional- and amateur astronomers. Besides the scientific part of programme, also lots of artistic performances were included in the programme, especially in the evenings of the event. The participants were able to enjoy musical and theatrical performances! Also the nature itself organized it’s own performance: a nice display of Northern lights or aurora borealis was observed during the first night of the event!

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Astronomer Esko Valtaoja giving lecture

The traditional Stella Arcti -awards were also granted during the second evening the event. Stella Arcti is an award granted by Ursa astronomical association as a recognition of important discovery made by amateur astronomer(s) or as a recognition of significant achievements within the field of amateur astronomy.

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Panel discussion of saturday evening

This year the award was granted to Antti Henriksson for his discovery of a new halo form, sun pillar’s circumzenithal arc or Henriksson’s arc. Henriksson made his discovery in Kittilä, Finland 18th of October, 2013. Stella Arcti -recognition of honor -awards were granted for Marko Mikkilä for his discovery of another new halo form, 32° arc, in Nivala, Finland 8th of July 2013. Stella Arcti -recognition of honor -award was granted also to a group of observers (Esko Lyytinen, Markku Nissinen and Harry Lehto) for their discovery of a convergence phenomena of the debris tail of comet 17P/Holmes. Marko Mikkilä, Markku Nissinen and Esko Lyytinen had already got the proper Stella Arcti -award for their earlier important discoveries.

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Stella Arcti -award ceremony of saturday evening

In my opinion, the Tähtipäivät 2014 -event was a memorable and very succesfull! The event reached many people and visitors had came all over the Finland! At least more than hundred people visited the event during the weekend! It was fun to participate the event, and I’m sure that I will travel to Inari and other places in Northern Finland again in (hopefully not so far) future!

Thoughts about January and February 2014

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Hello everyone!

Early 2014 (January and February) have been extremely busy time for me. I’m currently working on my M.Sc. thesis, and it should be finished in March-April. Besides this, I have had many other urgent projects going on.

From astronomical point of view, early 2014 hasn’t offered me much. There was a supernova in Messier 82, but I just wasn’t able to observe it. I have also fallen off my variable star observing program. I hope that I could start observing again at least in late spring 2014 before white nights of summer.

During this winter we pretty much haven’t had winter at all here in Turku, Finland. In December, we had snow only for a week, but then it all melted away. In Janary we had snow and cold temperatures, but it ended in mid February, when it started raining and snow melted all away! Currently when I’m writing this, we don’t have any snow on the ground here in Turku, and it’s like +5 C, so not very arctic..

Because I haven’t had much opportunities to observe anything, there isn’t much to write about. Hopefully I could make some observations in March and April again, and then I would have something to write about..

But nevertheless, good early spring for you all!

Regards,

Juha

Two planetaries in winter sky

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Date: 23./24.12.2013
Time: 21:15-23:10
Observing site: Ulvila observatory, Finland
Instrument: C/280/2750mm

NELM: 5.0
SQM: 20.57
Darkness of the background sky: 3
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 2
Weather: Clear sky, windy, +3C°, no Moon, no snow

Objects observed: NGC 2022, IC 2149

In the night between day before christmas eve and christmas eve, I went to the Ulvila observatory to do some observing. This time Moon wasn’t glowing in the sky, and there was no snow on the ground, and thus the background sky was relatively dark. That made me thinking about deep sky observing, especially because I hadn’t been doing that for a while.

During this night, I decided to observe two planetary nebulas, that are well located in the winter sky in this time of year in northern hemsphere! This objets were NGC 2022 and IC 2149.

NGC 2022 is a small planetary nebula in constellation of Orion. In the constellation, this object is easy to find, it is located just about 1,5° degrees SE from Lambda Orionis. I observed this object with the 11” Celestron of Ulvila observatory. I wrote following notes from my observation: @69x: a very small and faint nebula @367: rather small, round, diffuse nebula, no central star or internal structure O III didn’t improve the view much.

NGC 2022 observed with 11'' Catadioptric

NGC 2022 observed with 11” Catadioptric

The other target of the night was IC 2149, a very small but excessively bright planetary nebula in constellation of Auriga. About this target, I made following notes: @69x: bright, stellar object @183x: very small and bright disk, no more stellar @367x: bright, small, oval-shaped disk, the long axis of the oval is oriented in direction NNW-SSE. No central star or internal structure visible. This object appears as a very bright glowing disk with OIII, but it doesn’t improve the view much.

IC 2149 observed with 11'' Catadioptric

IC 2149 observed with 11” Catadioptric

So far, this winter has been unusually mild here in Finland. This year we didn’t have white christmas, at least not here in Southern Finland. It has also meant, that the weather has been very cloudy and rainy. But I was lucky to do at least some observing also in December, although the weather hasn’t been very favourable. And even now when i’m writing this post, there isn’t any snow on the ground, but according to the weather forecast, it should be getting colder, much colder, at least temporarily..

 

Observing comet Lovejoy

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Date: 30.11/1.12.2013
Time: 20:00-21:10
Observing site: Turku (Uittamo), Finland
Instrument: L102/1000mm

NELM: 5.3
SQM: 19.51
Darkness of the background sky: 4
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 1
Weather: Clear sky, -6 °C, calm, no Moon, no aurorae

Objects observed: C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy), R Lyr, mu Cep, rho Cas, Psi 1 Aur, eta Gem

Unfortunately comet ISON didn’t survive it’s close contact with our Sun, and now all that is left of it is just pile of gravel and sand! So ISON is officially dead now, R.I.P. ISON!

But whereas ISON might be dead, there’s another great comet visible in the northern sky! This comet hasn’t got as much media attention as ISON did, but it easily equals comet PanStarrs from spring 2013! This comet is comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy), and it’s well visible from northern latitudes, especially in morning sky!

I observed comet Lovejoy during the night between 30.11/1.12.2013 in Uittamo district of Turku. The comet was at low altitude (altitude only 13º), but I could still easily locate it with my humble 7×18 binoculars. With my small binos, the comet appeared as a dim, fuzzy “nebula”. I observed it properly with my 4” refractor @25x. The coma of the comet appeared as a round and diffuse “nebula” and there is a distinct central brightening in the center of the coma. The tail of the comet is excessively faint, and it is only visible with averted vision and sweeping. The tail is pointing to position angle ~340º. The length of the tail that was visually visible in these conditions was about 15′. Degree of condensation of the comet is about 7.

Lovejoy is already a fine comet easily visible with modest amateur instruments, so it’s worth of your attention! I’ll later write a post about how to find comet Lovejy!

Comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) in 30.11./1.12.2013

Comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) in 30.11./1.12.2013

November things

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November 2013 is soon over, and I haven’t made any post to this blog during this month. So I thought, that I’ll make this post to summary few thoughts about this November from astronomical point of view.

Few words about observing conditions: mostly this November seemed to be quite a crappy month, it has been mostly cloudy, but there has also been few sunny days and also some clear nights! In November, we had some random snow showers in 24th of November. That day it was cold and very windy, and we had some isolated snow showers. Albeit the snow showers, much of snow didn’t pile up on the ground. After that day, there was an extremely thin and discontinuous layer of snow, but it all melted away after two days, when it was raining.

And then something about observations: in November 2013, I made 52 variable star observations, which is one more than in October! This is very surprising fact, considering the poor observing conditions during November! In November, I made also my personal observing activity record of this year, during this month I made more observations than ever before this year!

In november I didn’t do much other observing besides variable star observing. Nevertheless, I observed and sketched comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) in the last night of November (31.11./1.12.2013).

Comet ISON appears to be disintegrated at least to some extent. Currentlt the condition of the comet is still unclear, but I’m sure we will know more in the first days of December. I haven’t been able to observe the comet so far, but I will try to observe it in December, if it hasn’t disintegrated totally!

So, that was November 2013, and only one month of this year is remaining..I’m expecting that month to be really interesting astronomically!

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