The Sweep (3/29/2015)

The Sweep (3/29/2015)

t’s been a busy period here, one full of frustration. Right now I’m wrapping up an evening sweeping everything I can identify – clear night, finally. The last thing I want to look at is the moon, currently hiding behind grandfather pine.

Anyway, my barlow lens arrived a week and some back, which doubles my existing lens (giving me 120X, but I’m begriming to realize that isn’t all that it sounds). Still, the day it came, cloudy. The next day, cloudy. And cloudy cloudy cloudy. Finally, while coming home from the club Wednesday night, I saw that the moon was up and the high clouds not bad (sucky, in other words, but beggars and choosers and all that). So I finally got a look at the moon just as it dove into the trees. Not bad. Pretty impressive.

Friday I went with the wife and my mom to see James Webb, noted astronomer (but not the guy that new space telescope is named for) (little inside joke, there). We went over to Emery Riddle in Daytona to see him – they have a bank of roof telescopes and a big mother under the dome, but, of course, cloudy. Still, they did what they could with movies and games and 3-D Mars images, so it wasn’t bad. Webb was a very entertaining speaker and we had a great time – even bought a CD of his music.

For yesterday it was finally clear but I was bushed from a dispatchers gig, as detailed HERE. Crashed at 11pm, dead to the world. But the clear skies website said tonight would be pure; nice and clear and vast, with a full moon riding overhead at midnight. Set up at dusk, got all lined up, and got ready.

So, played with the various lenses. Ran a combination of lenses and filters at Venus – sharp and clear (not much to see there, though). Got a peek at the moon before it went behind grandfather, spotting out my favorite sea (Crisis, naturally). Then over to Orion, well up to the south and quite accessible. Got a look at my favorite nebula. I’m starting to realize that super magnitude comes at a cost. When I backed down, I could actually see a little better and enjoy it more, so there is that. Swung over to Sirius and tracked down Adhara, reportedly a double star but I couldn’t make it out. I also swept the Milky Way between Sirius and Procyon at lower mags, getting some real stunning star fields. So far, its rather depressing that the only thing I can reliably hit is M42 (the Orion Nebula). But a look out that way is always breathtaking.

One item of note – while scanning out towards Capella tonight, I was settled in watching and something streaked across the lens. I didn’t think it was a meteor – too regular. Went inside and check my software – could have been Iridium 8, making a pass about nine o’clock right through that stretch of sky. How about that – caught a satellite!

So I’m getting better at setting up and sighting in. I think I’m going to need an adjustable chair to make this a little more comfortable – right now, I boost up on a low lawn chair and hope for the best. But viewing is fun – going to have to try a run to Geneva soon, so see what things are like without lights around.

Okay, time to spell check this and get it to Facebook – the moons almost out of the trees and I’ve got the filters up and ready.