Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Central Park Observing - 30 Nov. 2005

Location: TotL - Central Park's Great Lawn (north end)
Date/time: Wed., 30 November 2005 (5:30p-8:00p)
Optics: 10x70 Fujinon's (mounted)
Conditions: winds var.-WNW 7-9 mph, temp. 54-49°F

Another evening spent nova hunting. The search area is still SALC 34N in Perseus which includes α, ι, κ and δ Persei. Conditions were clear, cool with the wind predominantly from the west. Tonight was the first night working with light blocking equipment. When the wind isn't gusting ‘The Plamp’ and the 12" reflector hold up nicely. They are keepers.

Transparency was consistent throughout the session. The binocular limiting magnitude (BLM) was close to 9.4. Start time was 6:10p. The area was covered in 1 hour and 40 minutes ending around 7:50p. A number of people stopped by to chat and I broke up the nova hunt a few times to show people objects in the binoculars.

James (who knew me from birding) stopped by and talked about an American Kestrel project he was working on so I passed on my email address to him in case he needed any assistance. Part of the project is searching for nests in the city. There are quite a few nests but few locations are known since these falcons (the smallest in North America) are pretty secretive when they want to be.

Mike stopped and asked to look at something, he's been around the site a few times before. I gladly offered to show him the Pleiades. This object in the 10x70's never fails to please. We talked a bit and I recommended a few things for him to look up on the net since he made the request. I thought for a bit and told him to look up ‘ice volcanos’ and ‘Cassini’ since he showed an interest in the planets. I also recommended Neil DeGrasse Tyson's excellent biographer ‘The Sky Is Not The Limit’. Thanks again Peter for introducing me to this book!

Later on Oakley and Harry stopped by. I've never seen them around TotL. Oakley is short and beautiful and has a remarkable pair of eyes. I couldn't actually see what they looked like in the dark but she was able to pick out 7 stars in the Pleiades including Pleione, 5 arc minutes from Atlas. When she saw the cluster in the binoculars she was amazed. She stayed at the eyepiece for quite a long time. A true connoisseur. Can Bogart with the best of them. Coming away from the eyepieces she saw in the stars the figure of a horse and described it fully. I'll need to take a look next time to see if I can see what she saw. Harry walked away with an image of a Unicorn. Power of suggestion?

Nova Hunting:

Stars Seen:

No stars needed to be added. The chart's limiting magnitude is 9.5 which goes just beyond the limiting magnitude of the Fujinon 10x70's. BLM for the evening was around 9.4.

Number of stars seen: 408 stars in 5°s of declination by 50 minutes of right ascension.


Tag said...

Hi Ben,

Missed you last night, I arrived a little past 8:30. Kin was skateboarding laps around the circimference of the lawn.

Sounds great that you had some interested - and pretty - company stop by, which you were able to share the sky with them. In spite of the visits, your search was conducted in a relatively short time.


Ben C. said...


I kept telling everyone that the big scope would probably be here since it was the first clear night in awhile and a New Moon.

When I finished the session I saw a huge cloud bank developing in the west and decided not to set up the scope and head back home for an early night.

Good to hear you made it out. The night was not crystal clear and it took work to get down to 9.4 in the bins.

I wonder if Kin was skateboarding while I was setup. The Plamp/reflector combination would've blocked the view if he was boarding couter-clockwise.


Anonymous said...

I took my time on the bike path along west side highway. Figured no one will show up cause they had that xmas tree lighting ceremony by the 'Rock'. When I got to 72st and riverside dr, I saw clouds coming in from the west. I think I missed B by 10-15 minutes. I was making my final Green Lawn lap when I saw some dude lugging a reflective ?radioactive? box.
I noticed Time Warner building switching their building lights off at 9pm. k