Wednesday, October 26, 2005

20051023 - Observing from TotL: Venus & Mars

TotL was bursting at one point. A number of the familiar faces, Alexander, Gabriel, Claudia, & John were joined by some new including Brett and the four police officers which parked right next to us. The police car was parked with headlights pointing in the direction of seated Ben and standing Kin.

Earlier in the day, I had the Tak bins with me. In the afternoon, I took the photos shown in the previous post and observed Venus. When I was setting up, a woman stopped and asked what I was looking at - hawks? I mentioned Venus and pointed to the area of the sky where it should be, nearly the same elevation as the Sun and just passed celestial South. Ipointdto a spot in the sk where the clouds served as better landmarks. I returned to my gear to complete setup and she announced she could see it naked eye. "A certificate for you!" and a high five with her as congrats. She said she sails at night and has good eyes. It was very easy to see once she showed me where to look relative to the moving clouds.

Through the bins, Venus looked great. No flaring and distinctly last quarter. If it had even the slightest of gibbous, I din't pick it up. I had to share the views with the passing clouds. Around 5:00pm, it became so cloudly that I packed up to go out to dinner with the family.

I would return about 9:00 or a bit later to observe Mars. I had the Tak refractor with me and I took the opportunity to allow it to cool down while I chatted among the crowd. Since the police car headlights were on I was in no rush. I thought they would leave. I didn't want to interrupt them to ask to turn down the lights, but later when they asked for peeks in the scope, I did ask. They turned them down with no problem.

Mars looked great where almost everyone was able to see two distinct dark markings on the surface. Looking more closely, one could pull out more details.

This drawing provides a snipping from Starry Night v. 4.5 to the left and a composite drawing from 2 sketches in my notebook. My drawing really needs more work because the dark, high spot (Syrtis Major) was more central than drawn here. I am anxious to get something up so I posted this knowing that it needs more work and does not really provide enough information. I may do more work on it to to correctly place these features,label them, and label directions. I observed Mars for a considerable period. The 10:49pm session offered the clearest views.

I used 3 EP combinations when observing Mars. Most time was spent with a Nagler 5mm, and shared equal time with a 2x-barlowed Nagler 9mm and a 3x-barlowed Nagler 13 mm.