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Friday, February 23

Though it has been nasty weather of winter time, finally, I conducted a comet hunting session for the first time this month. It took 45 minutes to start the session after arriving at the observing site. The time needed for the preparation is 25 to 30 minutes in summer, but it is time consuming to wear clothes against cold protection in winter.

I aimed my comet-seeker at alpha Ophiuchi, Rasalhague, and began the session at 3:48am local time. The sky suddenly got bright at around 4am because ski resorts started field preparation for opening. The sky condition is poor even if it is cloudless in winter due to the light pollution from the ski fields. I my self is a skier, but I must say there are too many ski resorts around my observing site. I can remember more than a dozen of ski fields easily.

Jyoetsu Kokusai Ski Resort. The mountain in the background is Mt. Hakkaisan.

Matsudai Family ski field at night.

Returning to the comet hunting. The first deep sky object that came into the FOV was NGC6633, a splendid open cluster. The next was NGC6760, a ninth magnitude globular cluster. There was C/2016 M1 PanSTARRS 1.1 degrees north of the cluster, but I could not notice. NGC6760 looked an 11th magnitude globular cluster that I observe when the sky condition is good. Then, I was relaxed to observe a wonderful double star, theta Serpentis. The primary star looked yellowish and the companion light blue that moved like a creature by scintillation. After identifying some open clusters, I identified NGC6781, a planetary nebula in the constellation of Aquila. I completed the todayfs session just after NGC9634, a globular cluster in Delphinus, came into the FOV at 5:21am, 23 minutes after the start of the twilight.

It was breezing with air temperature of -5 degree Celsius and I was a little cold. I used a heater installed pants for the first time. It was an excellent product like the heater installed vest (see Comet hunting Wear).

Monday, January 28

I conducted the first comet hunting session this year on Monday, January 1. Air temperature was -10 degrees Celsius, the lowest record of all my hunting session. I aimed at M12, a globular cluster in Ophiuchus, and identified M10 and M14. No additional DSO was observed. Thin moon rose on the southeast at the time when I completed the session.

After that we had some warm days, but it had been chilly and windy for several days. I think there would be any clear sky this month from now on.

Ten years ago, the Italian binocular fan, Paolo Morini, asked me to write a report on my Russian Army Binocular 15x110. I wrote the original article in English, and it was translated into Italian by Morini and into Japanese by me, respectively.

The other day, he contacted me again and said he purchased the same binocular, but there was a difference; mine was the type PNB-1 while his was PNB-2.

He wanted to remodel his referring to mine, because the highest altitude his binocular can be trained is 60 degrees. Actually, I modified my binocular in 2016. I sent him the photos of my 15x110 binocular before and after remodeling. The reason why I needed to modify was that the weight of the main unit, i.e. the housing with the mount, was VERY heavy: 21 kg in total. I was afraid to get strained back when I place it on the tripod at the breast height.

Remodeled 15x110 binocular. The photo on the right Rigel Systems QuikFinder and the white dew cap (dangling) are atached.
Scales for an azimuth and an altitude are installed that make it possible to identify a deep sky object or a comet by combining with a digital map like SkySafari. I bought the grip rod at a DIY shop that makes it easy to move the binocular.

To solve the problem I remodeled the system so that the binocular housing and the mount can be set up separately. The housing is attached to GIRO ERCOLE Altazimuth Mount that is made in Germany via LBracket, and the original tripod was replaced with GITZO GT5532LS. The mount is attached on the tripod using the Losmandy Dovetail Plate. Using this system it is no need to worry about having strained back.

GIRO ERCOLE Altazimuth Mount

I will report on the detail of this binocular system at another time.

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