Grasping for Photons

Observing notes from Wednesday, June 01, 1994

Just to prove that all is not lost, even in a severely light polluted (and cloud cursed) area, I did some star gazing last night from Microsoft's main campus (beside the volleyball court).

Using an 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain, my first target was Jupiter. All four Galilean moons were visible. Ganymede was right at the edge of Jupiter which was kind of interesting. And of course, the cloud belts were a delight.

By this time, security had picked me up on their cameras, and paid me a visit. I assured the guy that the device I was using was not a mortar or grenade launcher. I even gave the security dude a look at Jupiter...."cool, awesome.."...the usual comments.

My next target was the Ring Nebula (M57) in Lyra. The 9th magnitude "smoke ring" showed up surprisingly well. My third target was the Great Cluster in Hercules (M13). This globular cluster was awesome, Awesome, AWESOME!!! The gigantic ball of stars was beautiful. My fourth target was the Whirlpool galaxy (M51). The light pollution made this sight a disappointment. All I could see was the two nucleuses of the main galaxy and attachment,...nothing else. My fifth, and last target was the globular cluster M4 in Scorpius. It was resolvable, but barely visible because of the murk and light pollution of the lower southern sky. The alpha star Antares was its usual cool-orange self.

All in all, it was an enjoyable session of star gazing.

Jeff Polston

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