Our second week showed some progress. We put both the SSP4 near-IR photometer and the FLIR mid-IR camera on scope, but we frustrated by the continued unsettled weather - see image. It's hard to go much IR work with clouds constantly in the way. However, a drying trend is forecast for the coming week, and eps is starting to move away from the sun's glare, so fingers crossed. We're still hopeful to be among the first to obtain new season eps Aur data prior to eclipse.
Dr. Bob's recent post makes one thing perfectly clear: Now is the time to start observing! The eclipse can start any day now and you'll want to get your baseline data in now. Epsilon Aurigae rises around 1am. Most so-called "normal" people will be sleeping, so that makes your observation even more valuable since we will have such little data. You wanted to be a real astronomer, here is your chance. You gotta sacrifice some Zzzz's like all astronomers,Read more
Several observers are reporting V = 3.00 in mid-August even though predictions that eclipse started in early August. Reviewing the past light curves indicates that ingress may have a slow and then a faster phase: in 1982 it took nearly 50 days to drop 0.2 mag, and then another 100 days to drop another 0.6 mags, visually. Translated to 2009, it may be late September before the star reaches eta Aur's brightness (~3.2). Patience.
- Assume they are lying to deceive you!
- Know they are bad observers, so their opinion is worthless!
- They could be, and probably are, completely crazy. How many variable star observers have you met? I rest my case.
In just a few days I'll be departing for my last scheduled observing run for this season at Georgia State University's Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) observatory located on Mount Wilson, CA (just to the North of L.A). In a similar spirit to my series of blog posts on observing at NASA's IRTF (preparing and conducting observations, what the data looks like, and what we hope to observe) I thought I would do the same for CHARA. Planning for the observing run consists of three stages: proposing, preparatory work for planning, and finally preparing the plan.
It's official - we passed into totality during January, perhaps a few days later than predicted. Nonetheless, you can enjoy the view of epsilon fainter than eta or zeta in the Kids asterism, all winter long (between snowstorms).
There is exciting news to announce soon, once publishers accept some epsilon Aurigae results that have been submitted. Stay tuned and keep up the observing reports!Read more
This Tuesday night Dr. Stencel and I have four-hours of observing time on NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) during which we will be observing epsilon Aurigae in the infrared (0.8-5.0 micrometers). I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to offer you a glimpse of what a observing run is like at world-class research facility.
Over the next couple of days I'll be providing details about our observing session. I hope to cover these topics:
- Why we needed the observing time and what we hope to see.
- What goes into getting observing time at a research telescope.
- How we prepare for an observing session.
- How the observations are conducted.
- What the data actually looks like.
- How the data is reduced.
Stay tuned.Read more
During the 1983 eclipse something funny happened in the infrared spectrum. In addition to the continuum from the F-star, additional absorption lines started to appear. This doesn't seem that odd until one considers that some of the spectral lines, carbon monoxide (CO) in particular, did not appear until after mid-eclipse. The high resolution spectra obtained during the ecipse also provided some other interesting details, but I'll let you read the paper to find out those tidbits of information. (As an interesting sidenote, the integration times for these spectra were very long. One spectra i particular took 670 minutes! That's a little over 11 hours to get a single spectra!)Read more