Saturday, February 04, 2006

20060203 - Wrap up the work week in the park.

Session Name: 20060203.2040

Location: TotL, Central Park, NYC
Site Classification: Urban
Dates/times: 03 Feb. 2006, 8:40pm ~ 12:30am
Handheld Binos: Fuji 7x50
Tripod-mounted Binos: Takahashi 22x60, fov - 2.1°
Tripod-mounted Reflector: 'Harry 6', homemade 6" F/6 newtonian


Transparency/Seeing (1 worst - 5 best): 2/3
NELM: --
Conditions: Initially clear sky with patches of high cirrus clouds (milky way-like in the wrong part of the sky), mild temperature, and ocassional light breezes. Conditions deteriorated and packed gear around 10:30.
Observing party: Kin, Charlie, and me
Passersby: Carol & dog, Times Up! (better than a dozen riders), a few other pedestrians


Last night I arrived at TotL where Kin was already setup with bins. I setup the Tak bins while the reflector cooled down. Began to starhop across the sky starting with Saturn & the Beehive Cluster. I'm pretty impressed by these bins (22x60), was able to make out Rhea again, in addition to Titan. I haven't checked ephemerides but I am guessing that a *star* just north of Titan was Iapetus. I don't know if seeing these objects in small optics is common.

Shortly afterward I moved on to M41 on my way to M42. Just a quick stop since M41 is an easy hop from Sirius. I saw it the other day and not much changed :^) As for M42, I really was more interested in the Trapezium. The bins resolved the Trapezium. . At first glance, one may see a mickey mouse arrangement of stars, the center C star is brightest. The A star sits to the west of C and the B star is to the northeast of A. The A-B pair at 8.7" resolved cleanly. The Great Nebula appeared best with averted vision. Almost like the blinking effect with many planetary nebulae, Orion's Nebula undulated in size with direct and averted vision.

A couple and another guy had stopped by at this time. I showed to them these objects and Moon. Pretty prominent to the eye, Theophilus, Cyrillus, and Catharina were cramped almost center of the disk just east of the morning terminator. All them remarked about this feature. Posidonius was also conspicuous situated on the rim of Mare Seranitatis.

Kin left to join with Times! Up cyclists for the Central Park Moonlight Ride. He would return with his longboard not having met them. Times! Up would arrive around 11pm and stopped by to say hello as they typically do. A nice bunch of persons - makes one wonder that they the can upset the Law.

After the trio left, Carol stopped by with her dog. We chatted for a bit. I had been curious to know where she was from asking if she was from England. She replied UK and in conversation she spoke of the Welsh shores, so I am guessing she is west of Big Ben.

She asked great questions while pointing to different areas of the sky. She pointed out an arrangement of stars that hadn't taken notice. Betelgeuse, Aldebaran, and Mars formed a very shallow arc across the south western to western sky, the separation between the 3 looking pretty equal. If one wanted to they could continue the arc further east, though the separation was bit greater, to Saturn. I especially liked the 3 red objects lined in the sky.

Everyone was gone by now, I through Harry 6 up on to the tripod. I was after NGC 2841 in the knee of UMa. I have seen this galaxly before and consider it an easy object, at east that's the impression it left me when I last observed it. Last night, I didn't detect it in the 6". I was surpised, maybe the skies as they were going south at the this time. Still I thought this one would be easy - hmmph!

If I'm at the park, and the sky has gone for the bad, it is common to have a slow, leisurely wind down. This is when Kin returned with the longboard and Charlie would arrive shortly afterward from an event at Columbia University. We checked out a pretty interesting pari of raccoons munching out on some delicacies found in the nearby receptacle, no doubt. We would talk and talk and greet those that stopped by. The sky was not entirely covered yet, the Winter Hexagon still pretty bold. The waxing crescent would grow a halo and set behind the trees.

I've mentioned this many a time - but I do like these meetings under the night sky in the park. Clear skies or not, the good company, a friendly public, conversations, laughs and all is a fantastic way to wrap up the work week.