Comet Jaqcues and a planetary nebula

Date: 23./24.8.2014
Time: 23:30-01:20
Observing site: Tähtikallio observatory, Finland
Instrument: C416/4064mm (16” Meade)

NELM: 5.3
SQM: 21.00
Darkness of the background sky: 3
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 3
Weather: Some haze in the sky, occasional clouds, calm, no Moon, pretty warm

Objects observed: C/2014 E2 (Jaqcues), NGC 6905

During the night between 23rd and 24th of August 2014 I had an opportunity to do some observing with the large telescopes of Tähtikallio Observatory, Finland. This time I was observing with the 16” Meade of Tähtikallio observatory. The targets that I observed were comet Jaqcues and planetary nebula NGC 6905.

Comet Jaqcues was visible as a round and fuzzy object. In the middle of the coma, there was a rather starlike central brightening. The brightness of the coma decreased gradually outwards. The visual diameter of the coma was about 5′. No tail was visible visually.

Comet Jaqcues observed with 16'' Catadioptric.
Comet Jaqcues observed with 16” Catadioptric.

NGC 6905 is a planetary nebula in constellation of Delphinus, the Dolphin. The nebula is know as the Blue Flash -Nebula. I made following notes of my observation:

@101x: small, round fuzzy spot, no details. @270x: oval-shaped nebula, long axis SW-NE -oriented. Central star visible with averted vision. Visual size roughly 1,6’x1,3′. The eastern part of the nebula seems to be brighter than other parts of the nebula.

NGC 6905 observed with 16'' Catadioptric.
NGC 6905 observed with 16” Catadioptric.

Weather during the night wasn’t optimal, there was some haze in the sky, and the sky wasn’t completely dark yet. Besides this, there were some occasional clouds moving across the sky. Eventually these clouds forced me to stop observing after I had barely finished observing NGC 6905.


Satellite observations 16.-17.8.2014

During last night (16.-17.8.2014) I was doing some satellite spotting in Turku, Finland. Below you can see a collection of the most interesting observations from last night. Nights are getting darker and darker also her up north. Last night last quarter of Moon was above horizon all night, but still NELM was about 5 and Milky way was visible weakly.

Iridium 21
Picture 1. Iridium 21

A bright Iridium -flare in the constellation of Hercules @ 21:42 UT. The flaring Iridium was iridium 21, and the brightness of the flare was about -8 magnitudes (picture 1).

Picture 2. SL-16 R/B, FIA Radar 2 (USA 234) anf NOSS 2-3 (E).
Picture 3. SL-16 R/B, FIA Radar 2 (USA 234) anf NOSS 2-3 (E).

After the bright Iridium -flare, I observed some other fainter, but still very interesting satellite targets. @ 22:25 there was quite intense traffic in the orbit (pictures 2-3), and I was able to catch three different satellites in one photo! I observed SL-16 R/B and FIA Radar 2 (USA 234) crossing their ways in the sky and also NOSS 2-3 (E) left it’s trail in the same photo.! Although there seems to be quite heavy traffic in the space, no collision happened this time because of the elevation difference of the orbits of the satellties 🙂

FIA Radar 2, aka USA 234 is an American radar imaging reconnaisance satellite of the new generation. The new generation of reconnaisance satellites is called Future Imagery Architechture, FIA. FIA Radar 2 was launched in April 2012 with launch code NROL-25. NOSS 2-3 (E) is a component of NOSS 2-3 (C-D-E) satellite triplet that has started drift apart since 2007. Now NOSS 2-3 (E) seems to be totally separated from it’s companion satellites. SL-16 R/B is a rocket body from a Soviet Zenit -rocket family.

Lacrosse 5
Picture 4. Lacrosse 5 (USA 182).

If you look carefully the picture above (picture 4), you can see a faint satellite trail. This trail was caused by Lacrosse 5. Lacrosse 5, aka USA 182 is an American radar reconnaisance satellite launched in 2005. This satellite has a unique brightness behaviour. Observers have reported, that sometimes it has totally faded away from visibility. This has been called the “disappearance trick” of the satellite. These fadings seem to be unique for Lacrosse 5, it hasn’t been observed with other Lacrosse -satellites. Sometimes it has also been flaring brightly according to some reports. This time Lacrosse 5 was an object of about fifth magnitude, and it’s brightness was even during my observation.

Satellite mystery solved!

Couple of days ago I wrote a post about mysterious satellite triplet, that I observed while trying to cathc a perseid meteors with my camera.

I posted a mail about this satellite to the Seesat -e-mail list, and with the help of Leo Barhorst, Cees Bassa and Björn Gimle I was able to identify this! This satellite was Yaogan 16, a Chinese spy satellite triplet, similar than American NOSS -triplets were. Apparently the use of these satellites is also similar.

Thanks for Leo Barhorst, Cees Bassa and Björn Gimle for identification help!

140812-13_unid_sat_1 140812-13_unid_sat_2



Thunderstorm of the night of Perseids, pt. 2

It would have been enough for me to just see the thunderstorms of last night, but there was more to come! Last night (13.-14.8.2014) Mother Nature put up yet another wild thunderstorm show! I just thought that the previous night’s show was absolutely awesome! Wow, I’m totally speechless…

[gallery type=”rectangular” ids=”5925,5926,5927,5928,5929,5930,5931,5932″]

Mystery satellite triplet during Perseid night

I observed this mysterious satellite triplet in the night between 12th and 13th of August 2014 @ 21:26 UT in Turku, Finland, while trying to observe Perseid meteor shower. These satellites were moving upwards in the constellation of Aquila. First two of them were flaring and then fading, then the third one flared and faded away in similar way. When flaring, they were easily rivaling Vega!

So far my attempts to find out the identity of these satellites have not been successfull. I first suspected some NOSS satellite, but I couldn’t find any good match with Heavensat program. So this one remains as a mystery so far! If someone of you would have any idea about this satellite, I would be happy to hear!

Light curves from observing season 2013-2014

Here are some of the best lightcurves that I was able to obtain during last observing season, 2013-2014. I was observing mostly some brighter Mira stars but also representatives of few other variable types. All observations have been made visually either with 4” refractor or 10” Newton -type reflector. Observations have been mostly made in Turku, Finland, but also in some other locations.

R Cas
R Cas

R Cas is a Mira -star in Cassiopeia. During last season I observed the brightness of the star to reach it’s maximum, little bit less than 6 magnitudes, and then decline back to minimum, about 11 magnitudes.

T Cas 2013-2014
T Cas

T Cas is another Mira -star in Cassiopeia. It has a characteristic double-humped maximum, but I wasn’t able to observe it during this season. Instead, I observed the star getting fainter during Autumn and the reaching it’s minimum in spring 2014.

T Cep
T Cep

T Cep is a Mira -star in Cepheus. It was very fun and rewarding to follow the ascent of it’s brightness, which peaked in 6 magnitudes in late April 2014.

Omi Cet
Omi Cet

Omi Cet, a.k.a Mira, is the prototype of it’s class, the Mira stars. Omi Cet is a bright naked eye -object at it’s maximum, but it have to be observed by means of  a telescope in it’s minimum. I observed this star during the course of it’s descent towards minimum. It reached it’s minimum light around Christmas 2013.

R Cyg
R Cyg

R Cyg is a Mira -star in constellation of Cygnus. I observed this star around it’s maximum from late July to early November 2013. The maximum waa around August-September 2013. This time the maximum was little bir less than 6 magnitudes.

SS Cyg
SS Cyg

SS Cyg is a dwarf nova -type cataclysmic variable, and it is among the brightest of it’s class. When in outburst, the star reaches magnitude 8, and then descents back to minimum light, about 12 magnitudes. During the season 2013-2014, I was able to catch this star in outburst twice.

V339 Del
V339 Del

V339 Del aka Nova Del 2013 was the first nova that I have ever observed in my life! And what a spectacukar nova it was! It was among the 20 brightnest novas ever observed! The nova appeared in the sky around mid August 2013. It reached it’s peak brightness around 16th of August, then it was as bright as 4,8 magnitudes, and it was also visible with naked eye in a dark place! During the course of Autumn 2013, the star was gradually getting fainter, and it also platooed during September 2013. During the platoo-phase, it’s brightness was descending only very slightly. This object was one of the highlights of the season!

R Leo
R Leo

R Leo is a bright Mira -star in Leo. During the season 2013-2014 I observed this star to ascent from it’s minimum to maximum, and then back to minimum. It peaked around December 2013, then it was as bright as 5 magnitudes.

R Tri
R Tri

R Tri is a Mira -star in Triangulum. I was able to witness a maximum of this star, about 6 magnitudes in December 2013.

Z Uma
Z Uma

Z Uma is a semiregular variable in Ursa Major. It has a pleasently large amplitude for it’s type, which makes it easy to observe. I observed the star to reach it’s maximum in January 2014 and the descent back to minimum.