Lost in Space (7/31/2016)

Lost in Space (7/31/2016)

ummer is a lousy time to be an astronomer. The skies are muggy-hazy and often cloudy. I haven’t had a chance to go eyeballing since mid-May. And I’ve got that new double-bracket for my spotters (laser and optical) – wanted to get them lined in.

Today was as good as it would be – somewhat clear, somewhat hazy, but doable. Set the scope up at dusk. Soon enough Mars showed up so I tooled the barrel around and got a visual on it. Then I got the optical lined. The laser was trickier – it’s got the pen mounted in two rings, so you need to futz around with the knobs to get the lineup you want. Eventually I did – could see the laser at 120X so that was pretty close. Spent some time looking at Mars but it wasn’t as good as earlier this year. I couldn’t make out the cap nor the dark discolorations. Sandstorms there or haze here, take your pick.

Figured out roughly were Sagittarius was – the pick for the night was M22. Here, the laser made it pretty easy – just compare the planosphere to the sky, identify the constellation, line it up with the laser and scan about. I saw something that might be it – a small cluster of stars. But I didn’t want to Lowell myself, seeing what wasn’t there. Rather, I kept scanning about, looking for something more definitive. Viewing was getting worse, what with the haze, the light pollution and shards of drifting clouds. And then I realized that the star I was anchoring my search off of might not be what I thought. Sure enough, I swung to look at it and saw cuphandles. It was Saturn. So I’m not sure if I was actually looking at Sagittarius or not now.

Kept at it until 10:30 but it’s a school night so off to bed. Maybe next time at the Geneva gun range star party, I’ll try to find it again.


p.s. I did catch a satellite in flight and tracked it for a bit, so that was a plus.