Observing in Aska, for last time now

Last night I was observing again in Aska village, for last time now. That is a little bit unfortunate, because I have really enjoyed my time there, and I had just found a considerably good observing place there! Last night I went there (it it a cutting area and a sandpit about 1 km north of our accomodation) and I observed there SN2011fe, Z Uma, Messier 33 and Messier 34. In early evening, there were some clouds, but they went away after all. Then the sky was really dark (SQM at best 21.40) and it was good to make observations. There was some mist in the air though, and it got thicker and thicker, and I had to stop observing around midnight. And there wasn’t much aurorae in the sky, there was only some weak aurora arc low in the northern sky, but it wasn’t causing any interference.

Now the supernova of Messier 101 is getting fainter, it’s brightness was only 11.0 magnitudes last night. Z Uma is getting brighter, it’s brightness was 7.8 magnitudes. Scanned sketches will be coming later when I can scan those sketches.

Summary of obs session #13/11-12
Date: 28/28.9.2011
Time: 21.00-23.30
Place: Aska, Puolanka, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm
Objects observed: SN2011fe, Z Uma, Messier 33, Messier 34
Conditions: NELM: 6.6, SQM: 21.37, + 10 °C – -2 °C, partly cloudy, calm, aurora arc low in the northern sky, misty, humid air

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Severe geomagnetic storm

A strong CME has hit the Earth, according to Spaceweather.com. The storm has caused severe geomagnetic storm around the globe, thus it means also aurora borealis! That was the case also here in Puolanka, where I tried to make observation of the supernova SN2011fe in Messier 101 yesterday evening. When I arrived to my observing site, I noticed that the sky was very light and full of magnificent aurora borealis!

There were also some high clouds in the sky (because of the rain front that was approaching this part of the country), and the aurora and the clouds together made observing very difficult. I tried to locate the supernova, but I just couldn’t do it because of poor observing conditions. So it means that I wasn’t able to do any observations last night.

Anyway, here’s the summary from last night: Summary of obs session #12/11-12
Date: 26/27.9.2011
Time: 21.45-22.30
Place: Aska, Puolanka, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm
Objects observed: none
Conditions: NELM: 4.3, SQM: 18.29, + 3 °C, High clouds, calm, aurora borealis all over the sky

The Deep Sky -meeting 23.-25.9.2011

The attenders of the Deep Sky -meeting, © Jari-Pekka Savojoki

The traditional meeting of the finnish deep sky -observers was organized at the Tähtikallio observatory of Ursa in Artjärvi, Finland. The amount of attenders this time was about 30 people.

In Friday, there were not much anything happening, but the action really started in Saturday. During Saturday, we started off with the traditional last seasons observation/sketch -review with me and Linda Laakso, then we continued with Linda with the presentation of observing program for the next season (protoplanetary nebulas). After that, we had the section meeting, where the new sketching cards were introduced. Besides that, there was also some discussion about the future of the EDL -magazine of the deep sky section. Jaakko Saloranta has made a proposal of giving new life to the EDL magazine as a digital publication that would have 1-2 issues/year.

After the section meeting, we heard the lecture given by Toni Veikkolainen about open star cluster off the plane of the Milky way. Then Riku Henriksson gave us a status update of the Olympos -observatory project near city of Tampere, Finland. After Riku, the stage was ready for Arto Oksanen, who gave us very interestinf and fascinating lecture about supernovas and gamma ray -bursts (GRBs). Then we heard two minilectures by Jaakko Saloranta abut his observing trip to SW USA and about supernova remnants. The last but not liest showpiece was of course the traditional deep sky -quiz, this hosted by Iiro Sairanen. Also this time, as many times during recent years, Toni Veikkolainen was the one who the most, and thus he got the victory!

Weather was poor during the first night, only couple of stars were visible from the holes in the clouds. But the second night was something unbelievable! The sky was clear most of the time, and people could do some serious stargazing! The background sky was pretty dark (NELM 6.6, SQM 21.3) altough it has been much darker, at least according to Veikko Mäkelä.

People were observing with their own instruments, but also the gigantic Astrofox -telescope (with 91 cm primary mirror) was in use, and many people could see some fascinating DSOs with that. I was also there watching some objects with Linda Laakso. The objects we saw were Messier 27, Messier 15 (+ Pease 1), Messier 31 & 32 and Veil nebula (at least part f it). The objects I observed and sketched with my own modest refractor were Messier 1 and Messier 101 with SN2011fe. And to be honest, this was my first supernova that I have ever seen! The supernova was visible as a 10 magnitude star in the southern edge of the galaxy.

All in all, the deep sky -meeting was really succesful and memorable event, big thanks for all you who made it possible!

Summary of obs session #11/11-12
Date: 24/25.9.2011
Time: 22.30-05.20
Place: Tähtikallio observatory, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm
Objects observed: Messier 1, Messier 101 with SN2011fe
Conditions: NELM: 6.6, SQM: 21.32, + 6 °C, mostly clear sky, calm

Observing in Parainen 22./23.9.2011

I came to Turku last week and spent couple of days there. During my visit to Turku, I was lucky, and I could make some observations under dark skies of Parainen in the Archipelago of Turku! I had always known that my observing site (Stormälö) in Parainen is a really good place to observe, but now I would be able to get some numerical data from there with my SQM-L device!

The night was considerably dark and the sky was clear most of the time. Air was pretty warm, but it was quite windy.

Objects that I observed during that night were R CrB, U Umi and Messier 27, so I was also able to make deep sky -observing first time since February! I will add the sketch of Messier 27 later. This time I think I was able to see R CrB, it’s brightness was about 13,5 mag and it only glimpsed in the field couple of times.

Conclusions: SQM reading was better than 21, which means that Stormälö is really a very good observing place!

Summary of obs session #10/11-12
Date: 22./23.9.2011
Time: 22.00-00.15
Place: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm
Objects observed: R CrB, U Umi, Messier 27
Conditions: NELM: 6.6, SQM: 21.22, + 15 – 10 °C, mostly clear sky, windy

Observing in Aska village 19./20.9.2011

I was able to do some observing again in 19./20.9.2011 in village of Aska, 20 km north of Puolanka town. This time sky was clear, but the Moon was still in the sky. Also there was some cloud front coming from the west, and there were some high clouds in the sky. Nevertheless, in early evening, I got SQM readings of ~20.8, and the sky was quite dark before the Moon started to rise. This time I was observing R CrB (which still was below the limiting magnitude of my telescope, it’s brigthness was <11.1),R Tri (6.7 mag) and T Cas (11.7), the latter two were new stars to me.

Summary of obs session #9/11-12
Date: 19./20.9.2011
Time: 22.10-01.15
Place: Aska, Puolanka, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm
Objects observed: R CrB, R Tri, T Cas
Conditions: NELM: 6.0, SQM: 20.72, + 3 – -2 °C, mostly clear sky, some high clouds, calm, 57% Moon in the sky at altitude of ~20° in east

Clear sky…at last!

Weather conditions have been very poor here in northern Finland. I’m currently working in Kainuu region, in municipality of Puolanka. Last night sky got clear, at last! I have been waiting for this so long time!

During last night (17./18.9.2011) it was mostly clear sky, altough some clouds occasionally were interfering. About 75% Moon was shining in the south eastern sky, and there were also some weak aurorae in the northern sky.

My observing place here in Puolanka municipality is one B&B place in village of Aska, about 20 km north of Puolanka town. This place seems to be a considerably good observing place, because there are not any major light pollution sources near by, and the keepers of the B&B place seems to be very conservative about energy consumption! 🙂

Last night I was observing mostly variable stars, but I was also looking the Moon and the Jupiter.

Summary of obs session #8/11-12
Date: 17./18.9.2011
Time: 22.30-02.15
Place: Aska, Puolanka, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm
Objects observed: R Cyg, Z Uma, Z And
Conditions: NELM: 5.3, SQM: 19.35, + 2 – -3 °C, mostly clear sky, calm, 75% Moon in the sky at altitude of ~25°, weak aurora borealis in northern sky

Observing in Sodankylä and looking for a dark sky site

It had been a long cloudy period here up north (and before that, long, long light summer), but then in friday evening sky got clear (and the sky is already getting dark enough to observe), and I was finally able to make observations! This time I was observing in Sodankylä town, because I had to be working again in the next morning. I made observations from the parking lot of my apartment, which is situated in sub/semi-“urban” place. There are some severe spot type -light pollution there, but otherwise the site is ok. I noticed, that it is possible to escape the lights by going behind one trash bin shelter, where I could observe without losing my dark adaptation. This time I observed R Cyg, whose brightness had dropped to 12,0 mag.

Observing conditions were actually surprisingly good: it was mostly clear sky during my observing session, NELM was around 5,1 and SQM was 20,35! That isn’t a bad reading at all considering the observing place!

So, the conclusions are, that it is possible to make some observations from the parking lot of my apartment, and that after all, it isn’t at all so bad place!

Summary of obs session #6/11-12
Date: 2/3.9.2011
Time: 23.45-00.15
Place: Sodankylä, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm, naked eye
Objects observed: R Cyg
Conditions: NELM: 5.1, SQM: 20.35, astronomical twilight, humid air, + 5 °C, mostly clear sky

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It seems that my working period here in Sodankylä gets a little longer, and thus I wanted look a real, good dark sky -observing site near Sodankylä where I could make observations. I had been looking for a certain large gravel pit about 21 km north of Sodankylä, 2 km south of village of Kersilö. Last night I had an exceptional chance to go and test that siten. I went there very early, and I noticed that the place resembled much my observing site in Parainen! 🙂 In that place, horizon is very open to every direction, and there aren’t any major sources of light pollution.

I arrived the site in early evening, it was still civil twilight, and I could see two owls flying silently over and around me while they were hunting! That was a really stunning experience, owls are such mighty birds! And besides that, I could also hear swans calling in a river close to my site.

Last night, when I was there for first time, I made observations of observing conditions (I actually made 5 observations in total) and then I also tried to observe R CrB, but I couldn’t see it and I had to make a negative observation. It’s brightness was less than 10,7 mag.

Observing conditions last night were not so ideal, during early September, we get still only astronomical twilight here up north and that causes the sky to stay still a little light (especially in the north). Also there were aurora borealis last night, which partially affected negatively to observing conditions. Nevertheless, I have to admit, that the aurora show last night was really stunning and awesome, especially after long and light summer! Also air was very humid though the night, and that also had a negative effect to observing conditions. Around midnight came the clouds, which interrupted my observing, and I had to leave. When I left my observing place, the aurora show was in really magnificent phase, and I could see the aurorae sparkling from the holes in the clouds before entering car and leaving the site.

Conclusions are, that this site is a really good, dark observing place! And it takes only 20 minutes to drive there, and I’m pretty sure, that I will be visiting that place many times while I’m staying here in Sodankylä!

Summary of obs session #7/11-12
Date: 3/4.9.2011
Time: 21.45-23.50
Place: Kersilö, Sodankylä, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm, naked eye
Objects observed: R CrB
Conditions: NELM: 5.1, SQM: 19.56, astronomical twilight, aurora borealis, humid air, + 1 °C, clear sky in early evening, cloudy in midnight