My old buddies (3/1/2015)

My old buddies (3/1/2015)

ent to Dark Skies (a.k.a. Wet Skies) Saturday, the annual event that got itself pretty much rained out (even when it wasn’t raining, the sky was boilerplate). It was a real disappointment – none of the scopes were out, I couldn’t find an astronomer to geek with, and about all we got to do was go into a half-dome (canvas) planetarium and watch the pseudo-sky. I rather liked it still – I’m getting better with my constellations and picked Venus off the simulated horizon (heck, I’d looked at it enough over the last few months). Anyway, we looked at all the brave little tents, got some NASA swag, and pretty much came home at 7:30.

Was more hopeful tonight. Big nearly full moon with Jupiter trailing. Tried my second telescope improvement – replacing the bottom-installed wingnuts that secured the tripod tray with drop down stainless steel screws. Worked just fine and make setup a lot easier. Already, this Orion scope is becoming mine – I’ve been modifying it for my own needs.

Anyway, set up after dinner and caught the moon and Jupiter clearing the pine. Jupiter was its cool banded-and-mooned self (can’t wait until I get my scope extender to double my magnification). This should be sharp. Then JB and I took turns on the Moon. I can identify Tycho and Copernicus craters, and the Mare Crisium (my favorite lava sea). The craters were oddly magnificent – for a full-on sun reflection, they seemed to glow – JB said they looked like portholes. Just amazing.

We left the scope to go inside and watch the final episode of Downton Abbey. Figured I’d come out afterwards and have a look. When I did, a rude shock – the lawn chair was wet with beaded water. So was the scope. Turns out it had been misting for a full 90 minutes while I was away. The moon floated in misty silk, fine, but I had a wet telescope to set right. Fortunately, thank heavens above, I’m smart enough to replace all the caps when I leave it. Broke it down and brought it in, wiping it carefully dry. And Jane unloaded the tackle box and dried and set out everything – I don’t want the tools to rust. So, a little panic but no hurt. We’re good.

Damn, I still wanted to go more lunar tonight. Maybe in a few evenings.