Observing in Ulvila observatory 31.3.-1.4.2013

Date: 31.3./1.4.2013
Time: 19:00-21:00
Observing site: Ulvila observatory, Finland
Instrument: C280/2750mm (11” Catadioptric)

NELM: 5,7
SQM: 20,28
Darkness of the background sky: 4
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 2
Weather: Clear sky, -2 °C, calm, snow still on the ground, faint aurora arc in the northern sky at low altitude

Objects observed: Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) (visual, sketching), NGC 5053 (visual, sketching), NGC 5466 (visual, sketching), SS Cyg (visual), R Cyg (visual)

When March was turning to April, I was doing some observing in Ulvila observatory, Finland. This time I observed comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS), NGC 5466, NGC 5053, SS Cyg and R Cyg. Observing conditions were OK, it’s not very cold anymore, the temperature was only 2 °C below zero. The nights are though getting shorter already, and the beginnig of the summer time means that the observing sessions are now starting even later.

The comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) was still visible, and it was now approaching the Andromeda galaxy. During this night, the apparent distance between the comet and the galaxy was less than 3º. I observed the comet with the large binoculars of Ulvila observatory (25×100), the binoculars have a FOV of 2º. The comet itself fitted in nicely in the field, but I wasn’t able to see both the comet and the galaxy in the same field. The comet wasn’t anymore visible with naked eye, but it was easy to see with the binos. The length of the tail seems to be about 45′ and it is pointing to position angle 340º. The coma is still very condensated, the DC is 8, the diameter of the coma is about 3′.

Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) 31.3./1.4.2013
Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) 31.3./1.4.2013

Besides observing and sketching the comet, I did also some deep sky -sketching. This time I observed and scketched globular clusters NGC 5466 and 5053. NGC 5466 appeared as a round, faint and fuzzy nebula. The cluster has pretty even brightness distribution. The cluster appeared to be granulated, some individual stars were also resolved.

NGC 5466 observed with 11'' Catadioptric
NGC 5466 observed with 11” Catadioptric

NGC 5053 appeared as a very faint and vague nebula, which was visible only with sweeping and averted vision. No hope of resolving any stars. I think this should have been visible better with my instrument, but the poor background sky darkness could explain the fact that it was visible only barely.

NGC 5053 observed with 11'' Catadioptric
NGC 5053 observed with 11” Catadioptric

After having done some deep sky -sketching, I observed also variable stars SS Cyg and R Cyg. Both stars are in their minimum brightness now, SS Cyg about 12.0, and actually I couldn’t even see R Cyg, so I made a negative observation of it, the magnitude of the star was <14.0.

Variable star observations:

Date Time Star Mag. Comp.
31.3./1.4.2013 02.53 SS Cyg 12.0 10.9/11.9
31.3./1.4.2013 03.12 R Cyg <14.0 14.0

Wonderful aurora display and comet PanSTARRS

Observed phenomena: Aurora borealis
Date: 17./18.3.2013
Time: 13:00-15:00
Observing place: Turku, Finland
Observing method: Photography
Technical information about photographing equipment: Camera: Canon EOS 1100D, lens: Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS, Samyang 8mm fish eye
Observing conditions: Clear sky, 32% Moon in southern sky, light pollution

Description: this time we decided to go to observe the comet PanSTARRS with Linda to the top of Luolavuori -hill (height 65m/213ft) in southern Turku. The hill is situated in the sub-urban area, and thus the sky is light-polluted. The positive thing about this place is the fact, that the horizon is totally open to all directions from top of the hill! The downside of this is, that you have to carry your observing equipment all the way to the top of the hill..

This is a new place to me, and I haven’t been making any observing here before. It means, that there are no marker points in the horizon to help me to locate the comet, but I was finally able to find the comet about 20:00. Also some other people had gathered to the site to observe the comet. They were only casual skygazers, and they seemed to have no idea, about how/where to locate the comet. I started to look for the comet, and when I found it, I showed the comet to those people! They were really happy to see the comet!

I also took some photos of the comet with my Canon EOS 1100D and Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS. This time I didn’t have time to make a proper observation about the comet, because of the intensive aurora storm and because of the public nature of this observing session.

About the same time than I was looking for the comet, bright aurora borealis started to flame around the sky! The aurora display started very quickly to become an aurora display of really great magnitude! I haven’t observed an aurora display like this in southern Finland since year 2003! In this display, all imaginable colours of the aurora were present, and especially red and blue were really intensive! We watched and photographed this wonderful natural display at least for an hour before going home..

Aurora borealis 17.3.2013

Comet PanSTARRS 17.3.2013

Observing comet PanSTARRS 15./16.3.2013

Date: 15./16.3.2013
Time: 19:00-21:00
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: L102/1000mm (4” Refractor), Canon EOS 1100D, lens: Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS

NELM: 6,0
SQM: 20,44
Darkness of the background sky: 3
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 2
Weather: Clear sky, -15 °C, calm, light sky (nautical twilight)

Objects observed: Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) (visual, sketching, photography)

Also this time I started the engine of my car and headed to my observing site in Parainen, where this time I set up my telescope (L102/1000mm) to observe the comet! This time I found the comet at 19:28. The comet became visible with naked eye at 19:39. The comet disappeared behind the trees in horizon at 20:02. This time the time window for observing the comet was much longer, about 30 minutes!

This time I photographed the comet with Canon EOS 1100D through 102/1000mm refractor and with Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS -lens. Besides this, I made also a sketch of the comet.

With my 102/1000mm refractor, the coma of the comet appears to be very condensed, but not totally starlike. The tail of the comet appears to be rather long, the length of the tail is about 30′ (visually). The PA of the tail is roughly 50°. The sky was still pretty light during the observation (nautical twilight).

Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) observed with 4'' Refractor at 2013/03/15
Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) observed with 4” Refractor at 2013/03/15

First observation of comet PanSTARRS!

Date: 14./
Time: 18:55-19:35
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: 7×18 binoculars

SQM: –
Darkness of the background sky: 5
Seeing: 3
Transparency: 2
Weather: Clear sky, -15 °C, calm, light sky (nautical twilight)

Objects observed: Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) (visual, sketching)

Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) is now visible also here in the high latitudes! In the evening of 14th of March, I went to my observing site in Parainen to observe the comet. I arrived at the site at 18:45 and started to browse the sky with my binoculars. I had no idea, where the comet would exactly be. After looking it for a while, I eventually found it at 19:36. At 19:42 I saw it also with naked eye! The comet disappeared behind the horizon at 19:53.

This was my very first time to observe this comet! When I found the comet, it was already at very low altitude close to horizon. This time the time window for observing the comet was very short, only 17 minutes before it disappeared below the trees in horizon. This time I observed the comet with my small 7×18 binoculars. With binoculars, I was able to see the star-like coma of the comet and a little bit of the tail. The tail is pointing approximately to PA 50°, and the length of the tail is visually ~20′. I was also able to see the comet as a faint “star” with naked eye.

The sky was still very light during my observation and the comet was at really low altitude, which made observing difficult. But the situation should get better later this month, when the comet is rising higher and it is visible for longer time.

Comet PanSTARRS observed with 7x18 binoculars
Comet PanSTARRS observed with 7×18 binoculars