Observing Report -- March 3, 2013

This was a busy-ass day, yo. Got up at 5.30am to make beer, only to find out that a server at work had gone down and its ILOM no longer works. A few hours later, I've convinced everyone that a trip to UBC would be lovely; I go in, reboot the server and we drive back. It's no 6000 km from Calgary to California and back like my brother does, but for us that's a long drive.

And then it's time to make beer, because I've left it mashing overnight. Boil, chill, sanitize, pitch, lug, clean, and we're one batch closer to 50 (50!). A call to my parents (oh yeah: Dad, you guys can totally stay here in May) and then its supper. And then it's time for astronomizing. Computers, beer and astronomy: this day had it all.

So tonight's run was mostly about trying out the manual setting circles. I don't have a tablet or smart phone to run something like Stellarium on, so for now I'm printing out a spreadsheet with a three-hour timeline, 15 minute intervals, of whatever Messiers are above the horizon.

How did it work? Well, first I zeroed the azimuth on Kochab (Beta UM) rather than Polaris, and kept wondering why the hell the azimuth was off on everything. I realized my mistake, set things right, and tried again. And...it worked well, when I could recognize things.

M42, for example, was easy. (It was the first thing I found by dialing everything in, and when I took a look there was a satellite crossing the FOV. Neat!) But then, it's big, easy to recognize, and i've seen it before. Ditto M45. M1? Not so much; I haven't seen it before, and I didn't have a map ready to look at. M35, surprisingly, was hard to find; M34 was relatively easy, and M36 was found mainly because I knew what to look for in the finder.

This should not be surprising. I've been tracking down objects by starhopping for a while now, so why I thought it would be easier now that I could dial stuff in is beyond me. It's my first time, and the positions were calculated for Vancouver, not New West (though I'm curious how much diff that actually makes).

There were some other things I looked for, though.

M51: found the right location via starhopping, and confirmed on my chart. But could I see it? Could I bollocks.

M50: Pretty sure I did see this; looking at sketches, they seem pretty similar to what I saw. (And that's another thing: it really does feel too easy, like I haven't earned it, and I can't be sure I've really found it.) Oh, and saw Pakan 3, an asterism shaped like a 3/E/M/W, nearby.

M65/M66: Maybe M65; found the location via starhopping and confirmed the position in my chart. Seems like I had the barest hint of M65 visible.

At the request of my kids:

Jupiter: Three bands; not as steady as I thought it would be.

Pleidies: Very nice, but I do wis I had a wider field lens.

M36: Eli suggested a star cluster, aso I went with this. Lovely X shape.

Betelgeuse: Nice colour. Almost forgot about this, and had to look at it through trees before I went home.