Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Quiet Night

Session name: 20061030.0830
Image of moon during this observation period. Photos are taken with Canon Digital Elph handheld to the Tak eyepiece.

Last night was a quiet night.

I arrived at TotL meeting Charlie who was already there. As I approached our turf I didn't see any of his gear. I shrugged and he picked up on this gesture where he held up his bins hanging round his neck. So you're going to be the tripod for Halloween

I brought the Tak bins and Harry. It was too breezy for Harry so I kept the Taks mounted most of the night. While I was fumbling trying to spot C/2006 M4 (SWAN) in the handheld Fujinon 7x50 bins, Charlie steered the Tak bins right on to it. Again the stars were washed out and I lost my bearings having to rely on Draco's Lozenge again and then navigate down to zeta Her up to epsilon Her. I never did see the comet in the handhelds. In the Taks it was obvious. No tail just a round condensation. The brightness was even and broad across then the illumination dimmed farther from the center.

It wasn't long before the comet set below the trees. From where we typically observe at the middle of the top of the lawn our northwestern horizon is obstructed by trees, one that rises to probably 30° or better. We could have moved east but hey! we saw the comet and got a quick sketch of it. Missed M13 behind the trees which serves as a convenient, comparative object for size, brightness, and character.

Instead we turned to the 8d 19h Moon. Once again it fascinated me and everyone else that took some looks. There were some new faces and dogs that stopped by. These bins can provide a nice view and pretty good with detail for the casual observer. The moon's phase also helped where Copernicus straddled the morning terminator. Under this illumination there is little hint that this crater splashes the landscape with ejecta. To the north Plato stood out well as an easy landmark to guide their observation about an outer ring one can trace with the Alps, Caucuses, Appenines, and the eastern edge of Carpathian mountain ranges. We could see the Alpine Valley interrupt this rough looking landscape/ the inner ring can be traced with the stuttered range of Mons Teneriffe and the lonesome peaks, Mons Pico and Mons Piton.
Our focus leaped just south of the lunar equator using the crater trio: Ptolemaeus, Alphonsus, and Arzachel to find crater Thebit. Once there we could see Rupes Recta between Thebit and Birt. Later we'd look at this spot with the 6"reflector Harry using 74x magnification. Thebit's cascading craterlets on the successive northwest rims were apparent and Rupes Recta was just easier to observe.

Lastly, another popular crater was observed very close to the southern limb. Clavius had completed its emergence into daylight and carrying the craterlets arcing across its floor. Rutherford appears as the largest of these on the southern rim while crater Porter is counterpoised on the northern side.

The sky was pretty much clouded except for a general area around the moon. I did hop to Uranus coming up from Fomalhaut but it was not easy because of the clouds hiding the stars I needed. Since Harry was grounded and the cloud cover was over most of the sky, I decided to pack up early.

Usually I feel a lull from those dark sky trips but a brief interlude at the bright statued location on 6th & 59th helped to ease my return to TotL.