Quick observations from the yard of my apartment

Last night the sky got clear, and I set up my scope in the yard of my apartment in Sodankylä to make quick observations. This time I observed Z Uma (7.7 mag) , R Tri (5.4 mag) and Z And (9.0 mag). The brightness of these stars hasn’t changed much since last observation. I didn’t try to observe the supernova of Messier 101, because it’s already so faint that it’s difficult to do confident observations with my scope.

Observing conditions were quite good, the sky was clear, there was no Moon or northern lights disturbing. The only annoying thing was the light pollution around, but I could eliminate much of that by going in the shadow of on trash -bin shelter in the yard.I also got SQM readigs over 21, which is not bad in that kind of place!

Observing session: #19/11-12
Date: 29/30.10.2011
Time: 20.40-22.10
Place: Sodankylä, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm
Objects observed: R Tri, Z Uma, Z And
Conditions: NELM: 6.3, SQM: 21.08, +1 °C, clear sky, calm, no aurorae, no Moon


Observing in surprisingly good conditions in Kersilö!

Last night sky got clear, and I went to Kersilö to do some observations. When I arrived in my observing site, I was really happy to see, that the sky was really dark, and that there was no northern lights or Moon interfering my observations!

Last night I aimed my scope to the supernova of Messier 101, and this time I could see it! Then I got also confirmation to my assumption about the reason for it’s invisibility during last observing sessions, which was of course poor conditions (Moon in the sky, light background sky). Anyway, the supernova is getting fainter, it’s brightness was nearly 12 magnitudes.

I also observed R CrB, which was fainter than 12.8 magnitudes. Then I observed also R Tri, which is very close to it’s maximum (it’s brightness was slightly over 5 magnitudes). The last variable star for yesterday was Z uma, whose brightness was 7.7 magnitudes.

The last object for last night was Messier 15. With my 102/1000mm scope @67x this globular cluster was visible as round, fuzzy spot with bright and condensed core. The object appeared to granulated with averted vision, but only few single stars was visible.

Observing conditions were good during the whole observing session, although later during my observing session, an auroral arc started to rise northern sky, and about at 11pm, it started to get brighter and it affected the darkness of the background sky slightly. SQM was about 21.40 at it’s best, but it dropped to 21.15 because of increased auroral activity.

Observing session: #18/11-12
Date: 21/22.10.2011
Time: 20.15-23.15
Place: Kersilö, Sodankylä, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm
Objects observed: Sn2011fe, R CrB, R Tri, Z Uma, Messier 15
Conditions: NELM: 6.9, SQM: 21.38, +2 °C – -1 °C, clear sky, light SW breeze, aurora arc in northern sky, no Moon

Observing in Utsjoki

Last night (17./18.10.2011) I got chance to do observations in Utsjoki, the second northernmost village of Finland! I was having a holiday trip there in northernmost Finland and Norway, and I of course had my observing gear with me there. Last night it was clear sky in the evening, but the Moon was shining and there were some high clouds in the sky. Nevertheless, I could make at least one observation! I observed Sn2011fe, which is already getting faint, it’s brightness was below 11.7 magnitudes, and this was first time when I couldn’t even see it at all! I think that the unvisibility of the supernova was partly because of the poor conditions’ it might have been visible without the Moon.

But then just before midnight, thick fog started to rise from the river Tenojoki (which is the border river between Finland and Norway, the village of Utsjoki is situated by the river) and eventually it forced me to stop observing. The weather was actually surprisingly warm, the lowest temperature that night was only -1 °C, which is not bad when considering the fact that I was observing on the latitude N69.9°!

Observing session: #17/11-12
Date: 13/14.10.2011
Time: 22.20-23.45
Place: Utsjoki, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm
Objects observed: Sn2011fe
Conditions: NELM: 5.7, SQM: 19.72, +1 °C – -1 °C, some high clouds, calm, 73% moon at altitude of 16° in eastern sky. Fog was rising from the Teno -river before midnight and it forced me to stop observing.

Observing in Kersilö

Last night it was clear sky, and I went into my observing place in Kersilö to watch some stars! Observing conditions were good in principle (sky was clear and it wasn’t too cold and there was no aurorae in the sky), but the Moon was shining brightly and though it was ruining the darkness of background sky. Nevertheless, I observed Sn2011fe and U Umi. Both are getting fainter now, the brightness of the supernova was aroud 11,7 magnitudes, U Umi’s brightness was about 9,8 magnitudes. Also the Moon and Jupiter were very close to each other – a really beautiful celestial conjunction!

Observing session: #16/11-12
Date: 13/14.10.2011
Time: 21.00-22.45
Place: Kersilö, Sodankylä, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm
Objects observed: Sn2011fe, U Umi
Conditions: NELM: 5.0, SQM: 19.06, -1 °C – -6 °C, clear sky, calm, 97% moon at altitude of 30° in southeastern sky.

Second night in Torinkylä

I have had unbelievable luck, because it has been two clear nights in Sotkamo in a row! The second night was 1./2.10.2011. In early evening, observing conditions were really good, and I was getting SQM readings like 21.30-21.50! This time it was calm, and because of that, all moisture condensed very eagerly to all optical surfaces. That became as a problem around midnight, and in same an aurora arc had appeared in the northern sky. That arc started to spread towards zenith, and it really ruined the observing conditions, SQM reading dropped from 21.30 to 20.90. The degradation of observing conditions because of extreme humidity and aurora made me to stop observing about 15 minutes past midnight.

Anyway, during early night, I observed and sketched Messier 13 and 57.Messier 13 was stunning as always, it was easy to resolve Messier 13 almost to the core of the cluster. Messier 57 was visible as beautiful oval -shaped nebula, and the ring shape was obvious with averted vision.

Here’s the summary of the observing session:

Observing session: #15/11-12
Date: 1/2.10.2011
Time: 20.40-00.15
Place: Torinkylä, Sotkamo, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm
Objects observed: Messier 13, 57
Conditions: NELM: 6.8, SQM: 21.45, 0 °C – -2 °C, clear sky, calm, moist air, in early evening good, dark sky, aurora borealis in the end of session, I had to stop observing because they made the background sky too light.

Observing in Torinkylä, Sotkamo

Now I have temporarily moved to work in new area in municipality of Sotkamo, Finland. Yesterday evening I got a chance to do some stargazing here. Yesterday I was looking for a suitable observing place, and after all, I could easily find one. That place is situated close to village of Torinkylä in municipality of Sotkamo. The place is really dark, there’s no light pollution around. Only negative thing with this site is the fact, that trees are blocking the horizon almost in all directions up to 20°-30°. But this is forgettable, because the place is virtually free from any light pollution.

I had long planned to observe the comet C/2009 P1 (Garrad) and finally that became reality last night. The comet was quite small and compact. It’s nucleus was bright and star-like. The coma of th comet faded smoothly outwards from the nucleus. The comet was clearly elongated in E-W direction, and with averted vision I could see, that it had a very faint, eastwards-pointing tail.

Besides the comet, I also observd Uranus with my 102/1000mm refractor, 7×8 binoculars and with naked eye. I have seen Uranus before with telescope, but not with naked eye. So that was a new experience to me! With y refractor, Uranus was visible as a ~6 mag star with slight bluish tint. I can’t really say, that I could see the planet as disk -shaped, rather it was star-like than anything else. It was relatively easy to find Uranus with naked eye, you just have to know where to look. It wasn’t visible so well with direct vision though, but easily with averted vision.

During last night, I also observed R Tri (whose magnitude was 6.6, getting brighter), R CrB which I couldn’t see this time (the faintest comp star was 12.8, so it’s brightness was <12.8) and the supernova of Messier 101 (SN2011fe), whose brightness was around 10.9. This time I estimated it to be slightly brighter than last time (11.0 mag), but I think that last time I underestimated it’s brighness because of clouds, that were partly obscuring the view.

And in the deep space, I observed the familiar and famous neighbour galaxy to us, Messier 31 with it’s bright companions.

Observing conditions were relatively good, it was clear sky during the whole obs session, and it was pretty warm (~+6°C) but windy. The sky was also relatively dark, SQM was around 21.30.

Here is the summary of the observing session:

Observing session: #14/11-12
Date: 30/1.10.2011
Time: 21.00-23.30
Place: Torinkylä, Sotkamo, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm
Objects observed: SN2011fe, R CrB, R Tri, Messier 31, 32 and 110, C/2009 P1 (Garrad), Uranus
Conditions: NELM: 6.4, SQM: 21.30, + 11 °C – +5 °C, clear sky, windy