Monday, July 17, 2006

20060717 - Epsilon Piscium occulted

This particular morning I found myself awakening in the living room about 1 in the morning. I picked myself up sluggishly and turned to the windows to draw the blinds. There was a 21.5 day moon, almost last quarter rising above the New York skyscraperscape. Out of curiousity, and partially habit, I took a peek through the bins. I was curious to see if libration was favorable to see Mare Orientale on the western limb.

Instead I saw a bright star which turned out to be Epsilon Psc, a magnitude 4.27 reddish star easily seen in the bins. It looked to be right in the path of the sailing Moon and in not too long of a time. I checked Starry Night and TheSky6 planetaria software. The star points are so big in these apps that it is difficult to get an accurate time of the occultation's disappearance and reappearance. I had the same problem with PftP.

So I set up the Tak bins onthe tripod and watched the event through the bedroom window. The occultation disappearance was on the Moon's bright side, a waning gibbous traveling east in teh sky. As the Moon approached the star, really, really close, it became difficult to see that star. I was able to see it nearly pimple up on the limb, but this was difficult. I would lose sight of the star and re-gain it after a moment. There came a time I couldn't recover it.

I estimate the disappearance between 01:25AM ~ :26AM. This disappearnace was not a blink out. Not acquiring it as quickly as I was able to early resulted in the estimated time. It was just too dificult as I looked through a window and it was on the bright side. I didn't see or notice any significant flare and was just as surprised not to have seen it. I didn't think I would have seen it so close.

This was a work night. Monday morning it was, the wee wee hours. I was still feeling tired even when noticing this but with the bad skies we've had this season I thought why not. So I set the alarm for 2:00AM and woke up.

The reappearance was entirely different. The light snapped on and the star was big and bright after escaped from behind the Moon's dark side. The reaapearance happened at 02:10AM.

Altogether it was worthwhile. More than the occultation and admiring a mysterious waning Moon, it reminded me of the Pleiades graze & occultations Team TotL observed from Staten Island earlier this year.

Mysterious waning Moon because I don't often observe in the early morning hours. I don't get much of a chance to do all nighters and it seems that the parks close at 1AM for us. The only spot that really caters to the rising last quarter and waning crescents Moon is Carl Schurz Park. In spite of not the most closest and convenient spot to reach, it definitely is a place I like to experience sunrise in New York.