Jun 24, 2011

Para Sailors and Antelope

Last two weekends at the observatory ...

Sounds like the start of a joke. Two Friday nights ago was clear in town, but it kept spitting rain on us up at the summit of Pine Mountain. The play of light and shadow on the mountains was stunning. Click on any photo for a larger view.

Black clouds like the one in this photo kept spitting on us Friday night.

Shadows of clouds and dapples of sunlight .

Here's looking east from Millican Valley

The 32" dome and looking to the east. Some of these peaks
were once under water. Pine Mountain sits on the eastern
edge of the Great Basin.

You can see rain moving across the Moon.

Didn't run into any gangsta cows, but these guys sprinted across the road in front of me.


The Moon came out and dried up all the rain ... no, not really. The Moon was out though. A waxing Moon, moving toward full.


The Moon above Orson Bradbury

It was damp, but I got off some shots of the Moon. Viewed it, Saturn, the Ring Nebula, Alberio, M80 and M4 then got my first glimpse of the season at the Owl star cluster under Casseopeia, one of my two favorite objects to gaze at.

The blue color is because it's not fully dark yet.
Doesn't get so in these parts now until after 10:00 p.m.
Took this shot through the 10" dob.

Took this through my 8" dob with moon filter on.

Saturn. If you enlarge this photo, you'll see a bright dot to the
left of Saturn, which is its moon, Titan. It rains natural gas
on Titan.
Dew started dripping off Orson Bradbury, so I packed it up. Didn't want the mirror or my eyepieces getting all wet. The clouds came back anyway.

Two Saturdays ago ended up being the clearest night of the year so far. Clear as a bell. But Moon. Bright, bright Moon. Moon washes out objects. Some to the point where they can't be seen at all. Most are degraded -- less spectacular than on a dark night. I happened to stumble across either M19 or M62 in Scorpius, however -- a small gobular cluster I hadn't discovered yet.

Cranky Al let me play with his 2 inch eyepieces on Saturday and we were quite excited to get the 12mm Nagler eyepiece on Orson Bradbury for a great view of Saturn. Orson didn't like the eyepiece, however, and refused to focus. Al and I were quite disappointed. Ah well. Orson does a phenemonal job at some of the clearest views and everyone says so. It's through my telescope I get the best shots of the Moon. I <3 Orson. So maybe I'm biased. And now I know not to waste my money on mega expensive eyepieces for it. I do still want an oxygen filter though.

We viewed the supernova in the Whirlpool galaxy in the 24" on Saturday. It's really bright. Bright as a star in our own galaxy which is just astounding as it's 23 million light years away. It'll only be so bright a few more months then it will fade. But wow. These next two weeks the Moon is out of the way. So, I hope we have clear skies, because I want to see that again.

The para sailors returned. You can see them better if you enlarge the photo. There's one above the peak and another, center but to the right edge.

This photo was taken a week later. The hang gliders join the
para sailors.

Taken a week later with the beautiful clear skies.
Para sailors to the upper right of photo.

Miranda Hardy asked me what kind of camera I use. Believe it or not, it's an inexpensive Sony Cybershot. I play around with the settings and I play around with the filters and eyepieces on the telescope, experimenting to see what gives me the best results. Some experiments on Friday didn't turn out at all. I never post those. Trying things out is basic science, however. I enjoy figuring things out for myself. That's why I refuse to have a goto system on my telescope. I want to read star charts and learn the sky. I want to find the object. I don't want a computer doing it for me. Then folks think I'm all brilliant when I find stuff. lol Only, this is my 4th summer doing this. Most of the major objects I have no trouble finding as I've found them hundreds of times before. A few like to be coy. I call them my nemisis objects.

Last weekend we had full Moon. Aooooo! Friday started clear as a bell. It doesn't get fully dark until after 10:00 p.m. here now. Just started to get a nice, dark sky and the moon rose. Almost full moon. Then what happened? It went behind clouds that started to roll in. Went crappier after that. Saturday it rained, rained, rained.

Moon rise. The moon was large and orange and beautiful.

Almost full moon. Taken through the light blue filter. Using zoom.

Taken through the green filter doubled onto the moon filter.