Cool and dry, which would typically also mean quite clear.  But there are massive forest fires in the Canadian NWT that are sending smoke high into the atmosphere and causing an over-all haze that has stretched from the mid-west all the way to the Atlantic.  The sky tonight is about as hazy as it might be for a typical summer evening, while the temps (predicted lows in the low 60s) are like early September.  Seeing is good.

UPDATE  – seeing is really good tonight.  Last few images of RX2133+51 had FWHM of about 1.8 arcsec – and that includes all the guiding error in 90-second exposures.  So the real seeing is actually much better, likely 1.5-arcseconds or less.


The South Dome telescope is taking spectra for the BRITE/Deneb campaign.  Starting tonight I’m monitoring RX2133+51 for the CBA.  It’s just bright enough to get good S/N (showing around 60 right now) in a 90-second exposure.  As the moon waxes towards first quarter it will be interesting to see (assuming this smoke haze remains) how the sky levels increase.

Software: PhotProc_X

So I finally have gotten PhotProc_X to work on my laptop – basically the first time I’ve tried running the IDL Virtual Machine.  It works fine – but the lack of any sort of command prompt meant I had to create a widget for parameter input, and some sort of visual indication of what the program is doing.  So at the current time it just uses a text widget to display where it is in the program and presents a message when completed.  I’m going to add a log file to the output; if the program crashes messages will be found there and a message will be brought up on the screen.  Since all these messages are presented in modal dialogs and thus block any interaction with the text widget used for output it makes little sense to have the text widget display more than just very basic “what I’m up to now” info.  The log file can save all the rest.  Other than that the program has been much cleaned and improved over the past few weeks.  With a few more tweaks to come – like making some of the image match input parameters visible – ability to save program startup parameters (part of both the log file and the csv file) among them.

Software: Mira 8.0

I re-upped support for Mira – and have installed Mira 8.0.  It has lots of smaller bugs, mostly just annoying.  But the UI can hang easily if there are lots of images loaded and one tries to use the slider to move quickly through the image stack.  M Newberry is working on them – but it sounds like the totally new Mira – versio 9, which will be fully 64-bit, might be just ’round the corner so I’ve volunteered to help Beta test.  Oh joy!

 In Praise of the CGE

The CGE in the North Dome is working really well, almost like it is trying to make me re-think replacing it.  Tracking tonight (great seeing, object at +50 degrees declination, nice bright guide star with 1-second exposure time) is around 0.7 arcsec in RA and 0.4 arcsec in declination.


I had to know it was too good to be true.  I finished up with the spectroscopy for the evening around 1:00am, closed up the dome, but continued the sequence on RX2133+51 from the North Dome.  Meridian crossing was around 2:00am – when I went out to the scope the skies were covered with clouds!  Oh well, maybe get some sleep (wrong or not!)



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