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  1. #1
    carnevali's Avatar
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    Default Want to participate in an observation project?



    The quasar Markarian 421 is very easy to find with a short star hop in Ursa Major, and it’s part of a kite-like pattern of stars that stands out in the finder scope or low-power eyepiece. It's bright enough to show up easily in an 8" scope and possibly 6" (I'll check on this as soon as the clouds move away). Its brightness varies and in the past it reached a peak magnitude 11.6. Typically it's Mag 13.5, but I've been seeing it way too easily lately. I wonder if it's reached a new maximum. To check on this, I've found an AAVSO map of nearby stars with their magnitudes, so we can estimate the magnitude of the quasar by direct comparison, or photographically. Finding the quasar is easy, just follow the directions given in "Catch a light 500 million light years away" recently posted in the Astronomy Reports forum (sorry, I don't know how to link it). By the way, it's apparently possible to contribute this kind of data to the AAVSO: check the last section on this link: AAVSO: Markarian 421, Winter 2004 Variable Star Of The Season
    (You can also download the star-magnitudes map in that section, clicking on "e-scale map".) I’ll be checking the magnitude at least once a week as a long term observation project. If anyone would like to work on this project together (10” or larger scope, but 8” might do, or smaller with camera) we could compile data and it would be more useful (averaging data and/or beating the clouds by observing at different locations). It would only take 10-15 minutes a week. If not, you may still want to take a peek at this easily visible quasar!
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    Antonino Carnevali
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  2. #2
    carnevali's Avatar
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    Forgot to mention: if indeed this Blazar is undergoing an outburst, I could also observe it with our 21-meter radio telescope. Its typical radio output is at about the sensitivity limit for our telescope (about 0.5 Janski), but if it were to become brighter it should be possible to detect the increase.

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    Antonino Carnevali
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  3. #3
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    I'd love to try this, but those are pretty brain-stressing directions. I'll give it a shot though on the next clear night. I've got my hands on a 10" SC right now and low to moderate light pollution.
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  5. #4
    carnevali's Avatar
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    I realize that it's difficult to follow directions without looking at a star map. It should be easy though if you get a star map of Ursa Major, down to Mag 7, and then read the directions again. Finally, looking a the more detailed maps or photos that I attached, the identification should be no problem, EVEN if it is indeed a dim object.

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    Antonino Carnevali
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    I have Starry Night Pro 5.0 and Stellarium. I'll study your directions a bit and give it a go.
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  7. #6
    carnevali's Avatar
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    Update: I've posted one more chart to "catch a light 500 million light years away," so it shoud be easier to find your way there.
    P.S. If you have a go-to scope, I guess you could just enter Markarian's 421 coordinates (11h 04m 27s, 38 degrees and 12.5'). But that would nt be as much fun!

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    Antonino Carnevali
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  8. #7
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    I'm gonna give it a shot this weekend if it clears up and try and get some pics.
    Name: Jason
    Member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada - Mississauga Centre & Stjörnuskoðunarfélag Seltjarnarness (Iceland)

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  9. #8
    carnevali's Avatar
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    Default

    A picture would be great, Jason. But I hope that at least you'll get to see it. Good luck! Or, as they say in Italy, In bocca al lupo!
    P.S. Remember to try averted vision if you don't see it directly.

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    Antonino Carnevali
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  10. #9
    carnevali's Avatar
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    Default

    Oh, but if the aperture is not enough then a picture will be the only way. It should work though, and all you need to have in the frame is 51 UM (and the other nearby star, for identification), since the quasar is so close to it.

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    Roger that. I'll be using the 10" f/4 SN and if I cant do the photography on that I will use the 5" for photography.
    Name: Jason
    Member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada - Mississauga Centre & Stjörnuskoðunarfélag Seltjarnarness (Iceland)

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