Saturday, June 24, 2017

June 24 – Open House at the Observatory

After some more rainy days, the weather on Saturday was sunny and not too warm for the open house and awards picnic at the astronomy club’s observatory.

In the morning everybody pitched in to clean the place up. I did some lawn mowing. They have two riding lawn mowers. This one is called The Stargrazer and the other, a green John Deere, is called the Green Flash.

I had never used on of these before so it took me a while to figure out all the controls.

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Around 2 o’clock, those of us that felt like it went on a short hike. We did a short section of the Bruce Trail and a side trail that makes a 4 km loop around the property.

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Tony, the hike leader, explained some of the geology of the escarpment.

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Out of the forest and across a field.

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Looking down on the house and observatory on the right, with a lenticular cloud high up on the left.

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Lots of puff balls on the field.

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A few flowers.

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Back into the forest along a creek.

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We passed by a few nice small waterfalls.

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We haven’t had a fungus picture in a while.

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We stopped to look at some pillars.

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And then back out on the road to return home.

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The view from the road down to Georgian Bay reminded me of the famous Windows background picture.

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Lots more people here now.

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While we were out, some kite flying was in progress. The guy is serious. He said some of his kites were in the $400 – $500 range.

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Some of us went into the observatory and put a solar filter on the scope riding on top of the big scope to check out the sun. My setup, to the right, look pretty tiny in comparison.

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We saw some sunspots and, around the edge, one very large prominence and a bunch of smaller ones.

Outside, others were looking at the sun with their own scopes.

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Next was the annual tradition, where Tony launches some of his model rockets.

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Everybody brought their chairs over to watch.

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People who were here for the first time, got a chance to push the launch button.

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I put my camera in high speed mode, where it takes 6 frames a second. Once the countdown got to one I would push the shutter button and it would fire off a burst until the camera memory filled up.

The small rockets were very fast. I could get the rocket ignition and then one frame of it part way up before it was too high.

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Jennie’s turn.

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Where did it go?

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The big ones were much slower to get moving, even though they had two much larger engines. I could get a lot more pictures of it in flight.

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Chute deployed.

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Coming in for a landing. This one was close by and easy to find. The wind carried some of the smaller ones a long way.

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The launch pad showed the effects of the rocket motors.

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One of the members taped a small camera, facing down, to this one.

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Afterwards we all gathered around to watch the video.

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Later we had an awards ceremony and then a prize draw. Jennie and I had not gotten a ticket so I asked for one. Jennie didn’t want one but a friend insisted so we got the last two tickets. It turned out that they drew Jennie’s ticket for the grand prize of a club hoodie jacket.

Next was dinner. Everybody brought something to BBQ and then had potluck contributions for appetizers, salads and dessert. We all ate too much.

At about 11 pm the skies got clear for about 2 hours. Some of us did imaging of objects in the sky and in between looked through the large scope with everybody else at interesting visual objects.

I took images of the Dumbbell Nebula. It is another star that blew off its outer shell.

Taking the images is only part of the process. This picture is made up of 6 5 minute exposures. Once you have the raw data the real art is combining and processing (photoshopping) the resulting image to bring out the details without overdoing it. I am still a real rookie at this part.

There are a LOT of stars in this part of the sky.

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A crop of the picture to get a closer view. You can see why it is called the Dumbbell.

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I am doing this post on Tuesday the 27th. On Sunday after cleanup just a few of us stayed until Monday. There was another short window of clear skies that night. On Monday we drove up to our cottage. Today I spent opening it up as it has not been used yet this year.