Observing Run

Observing notes from Thursday, September 28, 1995

Like the Red Sea, the clouds parted for a beautiful day yesterday. I decided to cut my grass pretty late, and it got dark on me in the process. Every time I turned to the southwest, Jupiter and the crescent Moon would beckon to me. As the sky got darker, the brilliance of Jupiter reached a point that I could not resist. Of course a couple of neighbors walked over for a talk on yard work. I promised them that if they would let me put up my lawnmower, I'd show them some celestial delights.

First up was the Moon. They were totally amazed that my little telescope (the 80mm refractor) could see so much detail. They thought only NASA and the great observatory telescopes could see such things. After cruising the lunar craters for a while, we jumped a few degrees (and a few million miles) and took a tour of the Jovian system. Of course, Jupiter really dazzled them. We got pretty good detail in the cloud belts considering that it was right after sunset, and Jupiter was pretty low in the sky. Callisto, Europa, and Io were easy picked up. Ganymede was in front of Jupiter and I couldn't find it. I thought I saw a shadow, but the seeing wasn't good enough for me to be sure. Besides, I didn't want to wear out the patience of my new observers.

The next target was Saturn. That thoroughly impressed them. The rings are razor thin of course. We picked up two moons (Titan and ?). Thin rings are interesting, but you can't appreciate the full glory of Saturn unless the rings are wide open.

The next target was the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules (M13). I definitely enjoyed the view. Of course I needed a bigger scope in order for a deep sky object to impress beginners. But, it did get their attention, especially my narration of what kind of object it was.

I finished up by pointing out several constellations to them. I love "showing" the sky to people.

Later last night, I went back out for some more observing. I observed Saturn some more and showed it to Lynn (it's so hard to get her to the telescope). Then I jumped to the Double Cluster in Perseus (one of my favorites). Next came the Andromeda galaxy (M31) and M110. I just couldn't seem to distinguish M32. Then I jumped to the beautiful, contrasting double star, Albireo, in Cygnus. I love showing people this star(s). And lastly, I found the Dumbbell nebula (M27). This was the first time I've observe M27. I know, I know, I need to get out (in deep space) more often.

I finished up the night gliding along the Milky Way with my 10x50 binoculars (of course jumping among all the previous telescopic objects). All in all, it was a pretty good observing session. Particularly since the 'skeeters didn't eat me alive. I guess the cool weather lately is keeping them at bay.

If tonight is clear, I'm going to be out there again!!!!

Jeff Polston

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