Nova Delphini 2013

Nova Delphini 2013 on August 16, 2013 Image: Andrew Dumont

Nova Delphini 2013 on August 16, 2013 Image: Andrew Dumont

A new “star” popped up late last week.  I didn’t get an opportunity to take a look until night before last. I was glad I did too!

First things first, this Nova was discovered by Koichi Itagaki (Teppo-cho, Yamagata, Japan), reported by S. Nakano (Sumoto, Japan) on August 14, 2013. Initially it was pretty bright at a mag. 6.8. By the time I got skies it was in the mag 4.5 range.

The moon isn’t helping because it is washing Nova Delphini out a little but this is still a BINOCULAR target! I’ve seen it in both the scope and binoculars.

If you have fair skies you can take a look (provided you can see the stars Deneb and Vega in the northern hemisphere). I’ve included telescope coordinates for those with telescopes.

If you don’t have a scope or don’t have the faintest idea how to use the one you might have access to other than set it up and point it. Here’s how to find it:

Two methods:

The first is how I found it with binoculars you can refer to a finders chart, and by the way the location marked is only approximate however the coordinates are correct.

Find Vega / Find Deneb both are easy and bright, now find Altair. Draw a line from Altair (the moon works too) to Deneb look along that line until you are across from Vega. It is the bright spot apart from those larger stars.

Another way is to to use a compass and orient yourself at:

Azimuth = 105°17′  and
Altitude 59°25′ .

That will put you right near it.

I did not get a camera on it due to less than desirable atmospheric sky conditions and a barn fire about a mile away (no animals were hurt) puring out smoke, but my brother Andrew, despite his own very milky skies did and the image above is his. Thanks bro!

Here is a very nice image from Efrain Morales via Flickr taken on August 16, 2013.

Like I said the moon is bothering things some, but if you get a chance try taking a look.

The Perseids!

The radiant for the Perseids.  Click for a expanded chart you can use to locate the constellation Perseus.  Credit:

The radiant for the Perseids. Click for a expanded chart you can use to locate the constellation Perseus. Credit:

One of the best meteor showers of the year is about to reach its peak. The Perseids is a shower not to be missed.

Meteor showers, in a nutshell, come from the debris trail of comets. As a comet moves through its orbit, it can shed bits of debris for various reasons from dust size on up. In particular when a comet gets close enough to the sun for it to warm slightly and become “active” and the volatiles and dust are streamed away creating the familiar comet tail from the comet tail. What remains is a rather persistent trail of debris. We see meteor showers when the Earth passes through these debris trails.

Not all debris trails are created equal in the amount of debris they contain as you might expect, nor does the Earth always hit the debris trail fully. Therefore some showers are better than others and sometimes a particular shower can vary from year to year.

A couple more things, meteor showers are generally named for the area they seem to come or radiate from (or near), hence the term “the radiant”.

We should define the terms meteor and meteorites. We get a little sloppy and use the two interchangeably, a meteor makes the streak we can see (aka falling star) and a meteorite is a meteor that makes it to the ground. By the way a meteoroid is the little (or big) chunk of iron or rock orbiting around in space. Don’t worry that much about it though not many will ‘call you out’ on it, I certainly won’t.

So the progression is: A meteoroid hits the atmosphere and creates a bright streak and becomes a meteor, most burn up, those that don’t and survive to the ground is a meteorite.

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The Perseids are Coming!


Arguably one of, if not the finest showers of the year even aside from the fireballs and when one of them comes along, the wow factor goes way up. Bonus city!

I’ll have more on the shower itself in a few days. For now this shower is perfect for that camping trip you keep putting off. I think this is going to be a good year too, the moon will set at 10:38 local time and it’s only about a third full so it shouldn’t be much of an issue. The weather would be the only concern.

If you have never seen a meteor shower before, I mean other than a few “shooting stars”  by accident, this is THE one to see!

Me? If I have the weather you just know I’m going to take the 13th off!  I am going to be situated in one of those lawn chairs you can pretty much turn into a cot. Oh yeah, nice and comfortable (that’s the key) I’m SO ready.



If you are awake and happen by here AND have clear skies – go outside and look towards your north or south depending on your hemisphere.  We are in the midst of a very nice display of the Aurora.

Too many clouds for me to see anything.

Super Moon


Edit: No moon for me.  Rain instead despite the forecast. I have to say, I like the weather guy on the news station I watch, he adds tidbits like the super moon, bright ISS passes etc.  So I’ll give him a pass.  That and the only bit of the state getting rain, an east to west swath about 40 k / 25 miles wide and maybe 75 miles long, located on top of my area.

I also just found out the B&I Lions play the Rebels next week.

Good questions, good answers.

The moon is quite striking, I got to do some looking at it last night. Scratched my sunglasses in the process bumping into the lens of the scope. They are still usable and yes it was worth it;  if you’ve spent much time looking at the moon through a scope you know what I’m talking about. Take a few minutes and give it a good look if you can.

This makes sense if you watch the video: Want to know what some of my favorite LRO images are? Boulder tracks. LOL.

Having a good day, started the day off watching the British and Irish Lions kick some Australian booty in Rugby. Oh sure it was a close score (21 – 23) but quite a few of the Wallabies were carried off the pitch. They play each other on the next two Saturday’s too I believe, good times.

Now I’m off to finish building my new ultra-light fishing rod, I want to test it out tomorrow. YAY!


gamma Delphinids Tonight

The map above shows the worldwide possible visibility for the gamma Delphinid shower. Greener color is better.  Credit: Geert Barentsen, International Meteor Organization via NASA

The map above shows the worldwide possible visibility for the gamma Delphinid shower. Greener color is better. Credit: Geert Barentsen, International Meteor Organization via NASA

If you live in the shaded area depticted in the map above you might be lucky enough to see a rather rare meteor shower called gamma Delphinids. gamma Delphinus being the radiant hence the name.

Or not. Let me explain, on June 11, 1930 a flurry of meteor activity was seen in Maryland and reported by three observers from the American Meteor Society. The whole shower lasted only 30 minutes. No other reports of meteors are recorded for that night – anywhere. Why? I can’t say for sure, one thing could be there was a full moon (99.5 percent illumination) that night in so it was bright reducing visiblity. Another factor could be June 11, 1930 was on a Wednesday, considering the finacial turmoil going on, the people with jobs were meaning to keep them and were more worried about keeping them and not staying up watching the sky and the ones out of work had more to focus on. No matter, but it is easy to see why doubt has been cast that the shower occurred at all.

Peter Jenniskens a Dutch and US astronomer and a senior research scientist at the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute and at NASA Ames Research Center and also an expert on meteor showers suggests the shower was indeed real and might be repeated 83 years later to the day, that’s tonight/tomorrow morning.

I’d be out there looking if it were not for the fact I have copious amounts of rain moving in (50 to 75 mm) so there is NO chance for me. If I were, I’d make myself comfortable in a reclining chair, looking to the East as the constellation Delpinids rises about 22:30 EDT and it is due East at 23:30 EDT not far above the horizon. The key word is comfort especially since this may or may not actually happen, but if it does and I could see it – cool! Oh and just for the record, the constellation Delphinus is within a few degrees of where it was 83 years ago so who knows?

I’d also probably put my camera out in a very dark location with no chance of a light flashing by and open the shutter and leave it for a suitable amount of time (like the whole time I’m out there) on a tripod (I’m just gloating because I found it LOL).

Here is a decriptive article by Robert Lunsford at the American Metor Society.

The AMS has a finders chart but sometimes it doesn’t show up for some reason, so here it is (credit: AMS via The Watchers) just in case.

What about Twitter?  Check out this NASA page for even more about the shower and Chat details.

Good Luck!!


Lunar crater Gassendi.  Image: Andrew

Lunar crater Gassendi. Image: Andrew

Here is one of Andrew’s moon image, this one shows the family of craters called Gassendi.

The main crater, Gassendi, is the larger circular formation. You can easily see the two cental peaks in the crater rising nearly 4,000 feet (1,200 meters). The crater itself is about 67 miles (111 km) in diameter. The crater is located on the northern part of Mare Humorum (Sea of Moisture) which was I believe on the list of possible landing sites in the Apollo program.  Here is Gassendi from the LROC the crater detail is amazing.

Specifically the crater is located at:

Longitude: 39.964° West
Latitude: 17.555° South

I annotated the image with the names of some of the more obvious Gassendi family members i.e: Gassendi A, Gassendi B etc. Some of the family are hidden in the main crater so not all of them show up well — click here for the annotated version.

The resolution is pretty good, especially considering these craters were not what Andrew was targeting, for example Gassendi Y is only 3km / 2 miles across.

Gassendi was a 16th century French astronomer who pioneered observtions with a refracting telescope.

Sinus Iridum


Andrew was practicing is moon shots with his new camera and shares a look at Sinus Iridium.

The name Sinus Iridum is Latin for “Bay of Rainbows” and is basically a lava plain of Basalt. It is a huge crater that formed on the edge of Mare Imbrium, measuring about 242 miles by 157 miles (400 km by 260 km). The flat floor is situated 600 meters lower than Mare Imbrium and is pretty much crater free except for a few small craters five-miles across and less.


Andrew stacked 14 of 84 frames to get this. The “seeing” wasn’t bad nor was it spectacular is what I take from that. When viewed at the right angle you can see registration marks but all-in-all it’s a very nice shot. I liked it enough to make a desktop background from it and the results were pleasing.



I am hoping to get the scope on Saturn tonight. Not sure which one, I have some sort of problem with my observatory roof and NO time to look at it today. Fortunately I have my little ETX 70, and that will work just fine. Going to do some lunar gazing too.

So what the heck is going on with the site?

The database backup from the old site has some syntax issues and is a different version from what I’m going to. That’s why I’m having so much trouble. I do have a couple of dumps of it so I’m working on things and support gave me some things to look for.

I need to do some other things today and yesterday got taken up with working on this problem before I knew where to look, so I ended up just spinning my wheels. Hopefully things will come together pretty soon, just not today. It would be nice if things would work out correctly with no hassles, but what would be the fun in that?

Bottom line:  It will be a while, besides change is good eh?  :mrgreen: