July 2015

Shallow Sky Object of the Month: V1427 Aql

Original article appears in GuideStar August, 2015.

Finder chart

Finder chart

V1427 Aql –What is this?

By Bill Pellerin, GuideStar Editor

Object: V1427 Aql
Class: Not sure
Magnitude: 8.0 to 10 (depending on who you believe)
R.A.:  19 h, 13 m, 59 s
Dec:  00 degrees, 07 minutes, 32 seconds
Distance:   3000 ly to 18000 ly
Constellation:  Aql
Spectral: G5
Optics needed: Small telescope

Why this object is interesting:

This object was brought to may attention by the book Annals of the Deep Sky by Jeff Kanipe and Dennis Webb. So, in this issue we have an interview with Jeff Kanipe and an object of interest identified by Jeff and his working partner Dennis Webb.

There is some controversy about what this star really is. If it is a low mass star, similar to our Sun, it is entering a phase of its existence prior to becoming a planetary nebula; if it is a high mass star it is on a path to becoming a supernova. If it’s a low mass star it’s about three thousand light years away; if it’s a high mass star it is about 18000 light years away.

The star is metal deficient (lacking chemical elements heaver than helium). So, as you might guess there is plenty of hydrogen and helium, and there are traces of oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen. This collection of elements would be unusual for similar G class giant stars. Also, the bipolar structure of the envelope surrounding the star is typical of a protoplanetary star.

Understanding what this star is requires knowing the distance to the star. Once that is known, the status of the star will be determined because its mass can be determined.

Otherwise, we have to wait for the star to identify itself as a low-mass end-of-life star by becoming a planetary nebula or as a high mass star by becoming a supernova.

The item about this star in Annals of the Deep Sky begins on page 20 and ends on page 24, so there’s a lot more information in that book.

Columbus Star Party a Rousing Success!

The most photographed dob in the world

Hello everyone!  

The July 11 star party at the Columbus site was a rousing success. We had quite a large crowd braving the heat for some clear skies, including several newcomers who met me at the Whataburger to follow me to the site. Many brought their own scopes. Some others just hung out and looked through my 16" and also other users' scopes. A number of users were in their private observatories as well, and even Larry Mitchell and his 36" made an appearance.  It was a great night, with nearly no clouds to be seen after dark. A sincere thank you to everyone who came out. The experience really reminded me why I signed up for this job. It was great to see all the new people coming out to learn more, and all us veterans more than happy to help out. 

Quick housekeeping note: one thing I forgot to mention to the newcomers is that you are supposed to fill out a log report regarding your site usage every time you go to the site.  There's a box on the field near the power outlets that contains the form... but if you don't remember to do it when you're there (like this time), you can fill it out later on our website at www.astronomyhouston.org. Just log in to your member account and click on "Create Observatory Log Report" on the right hand side under Member Features. 

See you all out at the site next month!

Stephen Jones

Great talk, Dr James

Members with Dr. Renee James

Members of the Houston Astronomical Society pose with Dr. Renée James, Sam Houston State University, before her talk Straddling the Line: Confessions of an Astronomer-Writer.

Trained as a stellar spectroscopist at the astronomy department of the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. James later switched gears from determining the chemical abundances of metal-poor stars in favor of exploring interesting connections in astronomy and the history of science. She has written extensively for both Astronomy and Sky and Telescope magazines and was awarded the Popular Science Writing Award by the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society. She recently authored Science Unshackled: How Obscure, Abstract, Seemingly Useless Scientific Research Turned out to be the Basis for Modern Life (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014).

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