Monday, October 17, 2005

20051016 - Moon, Mars, and beyond

Session Name: 20051016.1950

Location: 59th & 6th, Entrance to Central Park, NYC
Site Classification: Urban
Date/time: 16 Oct. 2005, 7:50pm ~ 10:00pm
Tripod Mounted Binos: Takahashi 22x60

NELM -- No attempt

Weather conditions were not the best as clouds passed frequently when observing the rising Moon. Some thin cirrus clouds would catch the moonlight, impacting the field of view.

I set up on the NE corner of 59th and 6th sidewalk, just on the mouth of the road that leads into Central Park. Outside of the park, I really felt like a sore thumb sticking out. A man with tripod mounted binoculars pointed up to the buildings. It turned out to be a good session, and not bothered by any pedestrians in this really beaten path location. I did share views of Moon and Mars with 13 persons.

One woman, Gwen and her dog Mimi, remembered me from an early evening last year from a spot not so far away. We met one evening when Arissa and I were firefly hunting up on the hill that has our pet namesake, Firefly Garden. Arissa and I had just finished some library books about fireflies, so she was fresh and speaking of the facts. I spoke with her about the diversity of persons involved with many different interests that park offers: birders, lepidopterists (?sp?) and astronomers. She mentioned that she submitted and published with NY Times Metro section an essay of this meeting. Nice words to hear.

I concentrated predominantly on Moon. I wanted to get another shot of the limb maria and sketch a bit more of what I was seeing. The eastern limb is very much in favorable libration as I could see Mare Marginis, -Smythii, and -Australe. I practiced calling out the other maria by name to improve my knowledge of Moon.

While sketching, I was becoming more aware of details that I normally don't notice. For instance when sketching Proclus, I noticed how the rays wrap from about 9:30 to 5:00 (orientation in my fov) and that one ray extends into Crisium's north western quadrant. The maria and craters are no longer round circles but squarish, rectangular as result of foreshortening. My sketching skills still need a lot of improvement. My scale on objects is off and a lot of erasing and replacing. Over time.

About 2° to the ESE of Moon was the double STF100, zeta Psc. Placing Moon outside the 2:00 edge of fov, the double sat just inside. This is where the annoying light from moonlight on the clouds occurred. At times it was nuisance to observe. Couple that with the wind and the shaking ground from the subway passing beneath. I dealt with it. The 23" separated double is easily resolved; the A star was white for me but I was troubled with the B star. I kept seeing orangish, but when I got a good steady look at it, it was white-blue. Returning to it, I kept sensing orange if there was a slight shake. hmm.

Later I tried and found M57 around 9:15pm. A trail of stars which I use to find it were visible, but averted was needed to pick up the nebula. From Sheliak, a wide double of unequal magnitude, I follow a winding trail of 4 m8 stars up to the fifth one which is the nebula. From experience, if I can't see this trail of stars then I won't see the nebula.

While in the area, I also checked out the doubles of Lyra, epsilon- and zeta Lyr. I thought that delta Lyr was a double but didn't resolve anything that was close. In that fov, delta Lyr is distinctively yellow and much brighter than the surrounding field stars in the Tak 2° fov.

Just prior to leaving, I spent some time looking and showing Mars to the public. No detail detected. The disk was very apparent, and it is almost too bright for the bins, flaring a little bit. Wonder if holding a color filter to the EP will improve the view.