Close in before Close out (2/2/2017)

Close in before Close out (2/2/2017)

finally got a free evening with clear skies to test out my new Explore Scientific eyepieces (thanks, Mom!). I’d picked up a 24mm and was disparately looking for an 11mm (which finally came off back order). I’d borrowed the 24 from a CFAS friend and the high quality really shown over the comparable focal length eyepieces that had come with my scope.

Anyway, clear skies. Got home and got cleaned up after the bike ride. Set up the scope while dinner was cooking – got it leveled and sighted early, picking out the best location to view Southwest, to track the fall of the moon and the inner planets. Finally, once enough darkness fell, I went out and popped the eyepieces in and give them a whirl.

What a pleasure it was to use them. Venus was amazing – perhaps the best I’d ever seen her. And with a barlow lens and later a moon filter, I could marvel at the details of her featurless clouds. smiley Seriously, I could clearly see the cresent with its shadows cusping the spherical surface. Mars, yeah, I looked at and got a pretty nice view, but he’s falling away behind in orbitally and not really much to see these days.

But the moon!

Could see most of the East face in sunlight. The first thing I hit with the 11mm was the Sea of Crisis, my favorite lunar location. The two distinguishing craters, Picard and Pierce, were easy to make out. And with the barlow (usually an eyestrain) I could comfortably see them even closer. The Sage Bill Koestring was right – eyepieces make all the difference.

After about forty-five minutes of lunar roving, I aimed the barrel at the oak behind me – not to see how close I could see leaves but in readiness for Orion. I really wanted to hit M42 and see it with the improved eyepieces. And here’s the rub – because of one part concern over shifting an established scope (with everything piled under it) and one part laziness (because it’s equatorial, and hence heavy) I went back inside to do a little computer work. Finally, an hour or so later, the belt had risen over the tree edge and I could laser-line it. Settled in, popped off all the caps, inserted the 24 (figured I’d glide up on it) and tuned in.

Oh, it was there, all right. But it looked washed out and disappointing. I blinked. Had I fingered the lens? Looked up to eyeball the situation. A gradual haze was drifting in, that milky airbrushed atmospheric glaucoma that spoils so many evenings. I tried to burn through it with the 11 but no soap. With a partial moon up and haze all around, seeing had gone into the dumper. Shows over. Please disconnect the speakers and depart by the exits.

Still, it was a pretty good night. A little bright for stars, but fairly good for planets and the moon, top notch!