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  1. #1
    carnevali's Avatar
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    Default An amazing night of observation (long report, with surprises)



    I don't know where to start from, it was cloudy the whole day and then at dusk all the clouds cleared away. I had set up to look for Mars and Saturn just after sunset. I wanted to get both of them in the same field of view (about 2 degrees apart), so I took out the binos, the sharp 115-mm refractor and the short focal length 80-mm refractor. The planets looked beautiful together in contrasting colors, best captured at about 20-25x in 2" EPs (30mm on the ED80 and 38mm on the ED115). I found them first in the finder scope, as the sky was still illuminated by sunlight, so they were reasonably high above the horizon. Of course I also took a peek at the rings, at higher magnification. While waiting to spot the planets I took a look at Venus: she was glorious in just perfect quarter phase display. Since I had my wide field tools set up, I roamed the northern regions of Sagittarius, around the galactic center. That area is so breathtaking it's hard to describe, so filled with stars, nebulas and clusters. I don't try to identify anything there, I just let it in and enjoy it. Then it was time to bring out the 10" Dob and look for galaxies and globular clusters: M51, M81 & 82, and eyepopping views of M13 and M3 at 250x, bursting with dozens -maybe hundreds - of individual stars. I didn't forget M57, always an enchanting target. The double-double looks superb in the ED115, no other telescope can match it, but then a little surprise: I noticed a reasonably bright star (Mag 9 or 10) next to the double pair, I had never noticed it before. I thought it might be an asteroid perhaps, but didn't seem to move in a half hour. Will have to look at it again. The night continued on: M31 loomed large and ghostly notwithstanding the glare of the rising Moon. Then I brought in the Moon herself and noticed a bright star a few arcminutes away from the rounded side. I immediately wished I could be witnessing my first occultation ... but made the mistake of getting away from the scope to check out my sky-map software, which confirmed the upcoming occultation of a Mag 4.95 star. Unfortunately I didn't realize that it only takes 10 minutes for the Moon to cover 5 arcminutes: when I went back to the eyepiece the eclipse of the star had just then occurred, the star was gone! I'll be planning for such an event ahead of time in the future. Last of the night and best of show: Jupiter. After 30 years and hundreds and hundreds of tries, I finally saw the Great Red Spot! I haven't looked yet for confirmation that that's what it was, but it was so clearly visible that I can't imagine I imagined it. And better yet, the shadow of one of the moons was cast right below the GRS, a most impressive sight indeed. And there's more: Only a few nights ago I first noticed the thin "north temperate belt." Last night I saw TWO thin bands above the larger north equatorial belt. And for the grand finale and biggest surprise of all: I believe I've seen a thin band just north of the GRS, i.e., as if the south equatorial belt was trying to form again. Has anyone been looking at Jupiter lately? Any indication of this thin south equatorial band that I think I saw? Anyway, a spectacular night and a lot of fun! And thanks for reading this rambling report!
    Last edited by carnevali; 07-30-2010 at 02:28 PM.

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    Antonino Carnevali
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  2. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to carnevali For This Useful Post:

    admin (07-31-2010),ibase (07-31-2010),jrkirkham (07-30-2010),Original Mike (07-30-2010),powervolume (07-31-2010),WWPierre (07-30-2010)

  3. #2
    andyp180's Avatar
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    antonio,thanks for a great report my friend.
    i'm glad the clouds rolled away for you.it seems that there are alot of us
    getting lucky recently.
    here's hoping i get another good night soon!!!
    clear skies,
    andy

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    andy

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  4. #3
    ibase's Avatar
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    Wow Antonino, great report, was like reading a thriller, full of surprises and congrats for finally bagging Jupiter's GRS! May that especially good night of seeing be duplicated many times over!

    Best,

    Hernando

  5. #4
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    Nice report !!
    But I'm surprised you didn't wait for the "de-eclipsing" of the star...just as interesting from an astronomical viewpoint, and only happening a few minutes later.

    I usually spend some time with Jupiter in the mornings but I was just too tired last night to set up. But yes, I have been seeing more and more detail in the South lately.

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    Excellent report. These updates make me want to get out, the wekend is rapidly approaching.
    Rob
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    Hi Anotnino, great report. Am glad you had a great night.
    Balu.
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    I just like this emoticon![/FONT]

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  8. #7
    Dublin sky watch's Avatar
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    Hi Anotnino.
    Wow...thats a real interesting kind of night there.
    So many sights, I haven't even seen once yet..
    Thanks.
    Declan.
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  9. #8
    carnevali's Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses and feedback. About the de-eclipsing: yes, I had thought of waiting for it, but it had already been quite a long night with four telescopes and it was almost 3 a.m.. Typically I can only observe for 45 minutes before the high humidity at my location render my scopes useless. It was unusually "dry" from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., real luck, but dew was finally starting to collect on all surfaces, and so it was time to quit. If I did the calculation in my head correctly, it takes the moon 2 minutes to cover a distance of 1 arc-minute. Since the moon diameter is 30 arcminutes, it should take about an hour from occultation to de-occultation, is that incorrect?

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    Antonino Carnevali
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  10. #9
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    Yes, I think the math is right, it would have taken about an hour. Too bad about the moisture; if I had to quit by 3 am I'd not see much at all here.

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    Good report, very good about the detail on Jupiter. I don't know much about the bands, but tonight, I saw 4 dark bands, which is the most I'd ever seen.
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