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Thread: StarLog Observing Report - 5/5/2016 - Cloud Dodging

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    Default StarLog Observing Report - 5/5/2016 - Cloud Dodging



    According to the clear sky alarm, last night and tonight were supposed to be clear, but tonight was supposed to be the better of the two. I had a bunch of things I needed to get done around the house, so I opted to do them last night and save tonight for observing. Of course, last night was gorgeously clear and warm. Tonight, a couple of hours before sunset, clouds began to move in. I shook my fist at the sky but decided to wait and see whether or not the clouds would part by sunset.

    As it turned out, the clouds remained, but there were a few clear spots here and there. I had about given up on observing tonight, but around 9:45pm, I looked outside and saw more stars than clouds, so I went ahead and set up my scope in the driveway.

    The obvious first target was Jupiter. Even at 84x, it was soft and difficult to focus. Two moons were on either side of the gas giant, with Ganymede above Io, making a neat formation.

    Disappointed in the seeing, I turned next to Castor. Splitting the A and B components was easy at 84x, but the stars didn't come to pinpoint focus. Looking back up, I saw why: thin clouds had moved in, covering most of the sky.

    I found a sucker hole near Ursa Major, so I next aimed at M51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy. Both galactic cores were easily visible, but I couldn't make out any arm structure. I wasn't really surprised, but at least it was something to look at. I was tempted to pack it in, but I wasn't going to let these pesky clouds get the best of me!

    Finally, the sky seemed to be clearing a bit. Bootes was almost completely clear. I quickly pointed at M3. The sky was definitely improving. The globular came into sharp focus and all the stars were pinpoints. This was the first time I had viewed this globular with my 12", and I was impressed at the difference from the 8". I turned up the magnification as far as I dared - I barlowed my 11mm eyepiece, yielding 345x. Wow! The cluster nearly filled the field, and the cluster began to take on a 3D quality. The stars seemed to all be blue or white, with members visible all the way across the core, with the fuzzy core as an impressive backdrop. I quickly went inside for a minute to get my wife, and she was also impressed.

    Encouraged, Leo had cleared now, so I tried Jupiter again. This time, the image was a lot sharper. I bumped the magnification to 211x, and saw able to make out several cloud bands, festoons, and subtle shading differences among the belts. Unfortunately, the Great Red Spot was hiding on the back side of Jupiter.

    Looking around again, I noticed Mars and Saturn rising between a couple of houses. My scope wasn't in a position to be able to view them, so I spent a few minutes moving everything over a few feet, and then aimed at Mars. Of course, being so low in the sky, the planet was boiling with turbulence. But it was HUGE. I realized I still had my telescope set to 211x. Despite the atmospheric disturbances, I could still see a polar cap as well as a soft view of Addalia Planitia and Margaritifer Terra. Cool! I can't wait for it to rise higher in the sky in a few weeks.

    Saturn was still behind some houses and clouds were coming back, so I decided to pack it in for the night. It was a short evening, but I won't soon forget that view of M3.

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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 5/5/2016 - Cloud Dodging

    Nice report Tom. Thanks. Glad you scored M3. That's a good one!
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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 5/5/2016 - Cloud Dodging

    Great report Tom! I'm really glad you were able to finally get some quality time out with the Z12 and two of my favorites Jupiter and M3!
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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 5/5/2016 - Cloud Dodging

    Man, that's great, Tom! Good to hear the sky afforded a little observing time for you.

    Margaritifer? Is that like an aquifer only with margaritas? I need to get to Mars...
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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 5/5/2016 - Cloud Dodging

    Very good report with excellent descriptions. Thanks for sharing your evening.
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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 5/5/2016 - Cloud Dodging

    Good stuff. Glad you got some eye candy.
    Lately, all I get is doo doo.
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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 5/5/2016 - Cloud Dodging

    Nice report Tom.

    Glad that you had such a good view of M3 - I looked at it with 135x a couple of sessions back and really was amazed by the view, the first globular of the season.

    Here's wishing you more success on future (cloudless) nights...
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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 5/5/2016 - Cloud Dodging

    An excellent report Tom, good to hear you got some great viewing in!
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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 5/5/2016 - Cloud Dodging

    Quote Originally Posted by quincy View Post
    Good stuff. Glad you got some eye candy.
    Lately, all I get is doo doo.
    Thanks, everyone! I hear ya, Jim. In January, I logged 4 sessions. In February, only 2. Since then, I've only averaged one per month. It's gotta get better soon, right?
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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 5/5/2016 - Cloud Dodging

    Nice Report Tom. M3 is always worth a visit.

    Alec.
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