Observing Report -- Sunday, December 30

Once again it has been a goddamned long time since I got out with the scope. The skies here have been cloudy for months, it seems, with very, very few breaks. Tonight was one of them, and I was itching to try out the new O3 filter I'd bought from the good folks at Vancouver Telescopes...went in looking for finderscope caps and came out with the caps and a new filter. (These folks are awesome, btw. They always have time to chat, and I've never been to a friendlier store. When I finally get the cash together to buy that 8" Celestron, I'm damn sure going there.)

We were over at my in-laws today, and as it happened I'd taken over the Galileoscope, attached to a photo tripod. It's not the most stable mount, but it does the trick. We set it up in their back yard and looked at Jupiter. I've got an old Kellner eyepiece that gives 28X, so we could see the two equatorial belts and, with careful squinting, all four moons. It was the first time my in-laws had seen Jupiter through a scope, and I think they enjoyed it.

The clouds held off while we drove home and put the kids to bed, and I headed out to the local park. The clouds were starting to move in, so I started looking in a hurry.

Jupiter: The seeing seemed quite steady tonight, and I was able to see a fair bit of detail. The GRS was transiting while I was there, which was neat. It was fairly easy to see (now that I know what I'm looking for). There was a long, trailing streamer (not sure that's the right term) coming off the GRS, and I swear I could see it was blue at times. (You can see a really great picture of it here; that guy's photos are simply amazing.)

M42: Viewed in a hurry, as I was afraid the clouds were rolling in. I used this as a chance to try out the O3 filter, and I'm definitely intrigued. I'd write more, but I really was in a hurry and didn't savour this at all.

M37 and M36: I have always had a hard time finding these; in fact, it was my second winter observing before I could find them. Now, I'm happy to know I can repeat the feat. The clouds rolled in bbefore I could find M38.

IC 405 (The Flaming Star Nebula): While looking at the star atlas I noticed this was in the neighbourhood. I found the star, and tried looking at it with the O3 filter, but could not see anything. Sue French says in "Deep Sky Wonders" that it responds well to hydrogen-beta filters, "but a narrowband filter can also be of help." Not for me, but again I was in a hurry.

Luna: Ah, Luna. The mountains of Mare Crisium, and Picard just going into shadow; Macrobius; Hercules and Atlas. The O3 filter made a fine moon filter. :-)

A short and hurried session, but fun nonetheless.