The pandemy of the new coronavirus gave me the possibility to extend the season from planned two months to more than half year period.
Many astronomical activities were performed between 11/01/2020 and 31/07/2020 on Madeira island. In the following I summarize activities with my personal participation as a representative of the Observatory and Planetarium M.R. Stefanik in Hlohovec, Slovakia and a member of Associação de Astronomia da Madeira. Step by step history of this stay can be found on https://www.facebook.com/stars.above.pontadosol.
Night time observing sessions for public
131 visitors on 26 events. The majority of them took place at the primary school playground in Lombada. In addition several special activities happened in other places. 6 trips to Paul da Serra to make observations for the public, to take nice photos and make visual measurements of variable stars, 2 astro-parties in Ponta do Pargo, 1 in Estreito da Calheta and 2 in Garajau. The biggest telescope in Madeira was discovered in Estreito da Calheta. 50 cm Newtonian on Dobson mount owned by german amateur astronomer. In Garajau polish amateur is observing with 40 cm Newtonian on GoTo Dobson mount. However the best optical telescope located at the moment on Madeira island is 14″ Meade in Madeira Optical Museum. The instrument is not used for observations, just form a part of 2000 showpieces in awesome museum. Fortunately Sergio, the owner, wants to install the instrument in good place and put it in operation.
2019 visual estimates of variable stars brightness in 71 nights. The estimates were performed by naked eye, the Zennox newtonian 76 mm telescope (installed in Madeira from my previous stay) and newly transported 203 mm newtonian on dobson mount.
For the science probably the most interesting is deep fading episode of symbiotic binary YY Her.
Also the observations of the Nova Sgr 2020 Nr. 3 are important. Practically impossible to made such observations from central Europe due to the low altitude of the object above the horizon.
In the winter the highlight was Betelgeuse and its unprecedentedly low brightness. After the seasonal gap I made one estimate on the morning sky in normal brightness.
Without doubt the most important event was the superoutburst of PQ And. I missed the previous one in 1988. So I saw this cataclysmic star first time from Madeira.
The visual observation number 70000 in my carrier was achieved during the stay on Madeira.
6 successful observation of green flash during the sunset. As a by product a lot of sunsets with no green flash event were recorded. Some nice timelapses were constructed.
Besides the attempts to record the green flash phenomenon the night time photos were taken from different location on the island. The typical targets were the Milky Way, zodiacal light, some conjunctions, penumbral eclipse of the Moon and geostacionary satellites. The selection of the best photos is available at http://var.kozmos.sk/photography/astrophoto/. The gallery of timelapses is accessible here: http://var.kozmos.sk/photography/timelapse/.
The reward for the patience in waiting for the flight home was the comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) in July. First time I saw it in morning sky from Casa do Arreiro. After the transition to the evening sky 3 observing sessions with public participation in Paul da Serra take place. And beautiful images were collected.
During the hot winter more then half of the nights had suitable conditions for astronomical observations. However the dust from Africa limited the air transparency during several nights. We experienced 2 times the “leste” phenomenon. The spring was rainy and long. The real summer conditions started just in July.
Visit at the place of the former UMA observatory on Achada do Teixeira.
Lecture about supernovae by Serbian astronomers in UMA.
Recovery of the Meade LX 200 on the UMA in progress.
Preparation and submission of the project proposal “MadAstra – Reviving the Observational Astronomy on Madeira”. There is only low probability that the proposal will be accepted. But the mere fact that group of six astronomers from different countries (Serbia, Portugal and Slovakia) was formed is a big step in the development of the astronomical research in Madeira.
3 times I take a part on the summer activities of Associação de Astronomia da Madeira in Casa da Arreiro. The Association owns the LHIRES spectrograph. Unfortunately there is no will to use it for scientific purposes even after my explanation of wide range of possibilities how to do it.
The meeting with the major of Ponta do Sol about the future of astronomical activities in Ponta Do Sol. Celia Pessegueiro promised to install the technology allowing the switch of of the illumination of the church in Lombada during the observing sessions and check the reason why some wind mils on Paul da Serra have strong white light sources instead of red ones.
Karol Petrik, the director of the Observatory and Planetarium M.R. Stefanik in Hlohovec, Slovakia – provided the equipment for the astro-photography.
Rodrigo Silva, local farmer and ecological sanitation freelancer – provided the accommodation for me and my family during the state of emergency and calamity. This incredible kind person was also helpful in organizing the observing events, storing and transporting the observing equipment and in many other ways.
Pedro Augusto, the founder of the Grupo da Astronomia on University of Madeira (GAUMA)– lives in Porto but we had 2 meetings is Ponta do Sol full of fruitful conversation about the past and the future of the astronomy in Madeira.
Laurindo Sobrinho, actual leader of GAUMA – the main contact person for me. He organized the working team for the project MADASTRA preparation and submission.
Fernando Gois, the president of the Associação de Astronomia da Madeira – gave me the possibility to attend the activities on Casa do Arreiro.
Ivo Perreira, Silvio Martins, José Nunes, members of the Associação de Astronomia da Madeira – helped me with the transports to Casa do Arreiro and back and showed me the capabilities of all available astronomical instruments.
Wojciech Sozska and his wife Renata, amateur astronomers provided transport and assistance in several events including the visit in Achada do Teixeira.
Uwe Hartfiel, german amateur astronomer – gave me the opportunity to observe in Paul da Serra with his 15″ dobsonian telescope. Also provided the best beer in the island.
Elder Pinto, former astronomy student – together we made the best trip to Paul da Serra. The Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) was spectacular and Elder’s accompanying as well.
Higino Farias, whales and dolphin spotter – provided barbecue and excellent binoculars for the comet observing event in Estanquihnos. This way Higino was aproved as a member of the team for observing events organization.
Celia Pessegueiro, the major of Ponta do Sol – thanks for kind and remarkably long reception in the city hall.
Elizabethe Andrade, the organizer of the Expo-Agrícola da Ponta do Sol – the principal source of food for my family.
Veronika & Janik, my wife and my son – hard to determine what was the most important contribution of my family team for the astronomical activities. Simply impossible to imagine the stay on Madeira island without them.