Observing report -- January 24, 2014...or, SUPERNOVAAAAAAAAAA!

Today I stayed home from work; my oldest son had come down with a cold, and it was a mitzvah to keep him from breathing on his friends. We had fun: we set up spy bases, extracted DNA from strawberries, and after supper I set up Ranger, the 8" Dob. I showed the kids Jupiter; even got brave and used the 10mm Plossl, which is a tiny hole to look through -- but they got it. Not like the old days...Then I asked them if they wanted to go back inside or see a star cluster. "STAR CLUSTER!" they fairly shouted, and maybe not just because it put off bedtime another 15 minutes. So I showed them M35, and they were happy (though it was fainter than they expected)

After they went to sleep I packed up Ranger (didn't want to be bothered by dew; good choice) and went to the local park. Another quick look at Jupiter to see how it was doing (damn good) and then off to Ursa Major for...SUUUUUPERNOOOOOVAAAA!

SN 2013J is -- was -- lighting up M82. It's been clear for a few days in Vancouver, but life has been busy. Not tonight, though. And thanks to new starhopping instructions from Astro Bob (seriously, he makes it SO EASY) I was able to get to M81 and M82 with no effort at all (not like last time). Couldn't see the SN at 30X, but damn if it wasn't there in averted vision at 46X, and obvious at 100X. First supernova!

Tried at 200X, and amazingly it held up. I checked with with the AAVSO chart; I got to 12th mag at 200X, but not 13th mag. Rough estimate for the SN itself was about 11 - 11.5...hard to be sure. (The light curve would seem to indicate I'm not completely wrong, so yay!) Maybe hint of mottling at 200X, but nothing definite.

It was really neat to look at it and think "The gold in my wedding band came from one of you...one of you shocked my sun into being, and my planet into coalescing..." And here I sit collecting your photons beside a busy road. Man, I love this hobby.

After that I tracked down M46 and M47. The last time I looked at M46, I really loved it; this time, not so much. Still, nice to be able to find it.

Then it was time to for the gusto...M1! Which I finally found, though in the barest barely-there way. O3 filter did nothing (not that I can remember if an O3 filter's meant to do anything.) Checking with Jeremy Perez' sketch I definitely had the right location, but I assure you it looked nothing like his sketch at all...mostly just like a large faint fuzzy cloud. Enough to say you saw it, but that's it. Still, brings me to 58 Messiers!

At this point I went back to Jupiter, which seemed shockingly clear to me. Held 200X; Callisto and Ganymede both seemed disks, not dots. And hte belts were very, very nice.

Home again to warm up -- which I've only just now acomplished.