Astro log: Feb. 17th, 2010

Equipment: Orion Skyview 6 Deluxe EQ, using the 32, 25, 15, and 4 mm eyepieces.

New object observed: M94, M44, M67, M41, Saturn, Titan, Tethys, Phoebe Rhea

Previous objects observed: M81, M82, Mars

Possibly glimpsed (but likely not): M51, M65


It's been a brutal couple of months. The night of the 18th was the first clear night in about a month or so, and the first good night since December. There were a couple of "meh" nights in January, but they were hazy and/or cloudy enough that trying to go out was futile. I attempted a few tries, but it never worked out well enough to be worth noting as a night I went out.

Transparency was better than it has been for I don't even know how long. There have been quite a few nights where the sky itself is cloud-free, but there's so much haze you can barely see anything.

M81 and M82 were not particularly bright, but I was able to see them at least. I've started using them, when they're high enough in the sky, as a indicator as to how other things are going to go (i.e. if I can't even see them, galaxies are right out). M94 took some looking, but I was able to see a small patch of fuzz there. I tried M51 and M65 and may have briefly glimpsed both, but I'm uncertain enough that I'm not counting either as seen. I'll try them again when they have a chance to get higher in the sky.

M44 was pretty easy, of course. M41 wasn't difficult either, but M67 proved a little more challenging. Looking at it with the 15mm rather than 32mm eyepiece helped make it more obvious.

Mars was its usual light reddish self. Not able to distinguish much in the way of surface features, but seeing that night wasn't great. Saturn, despite being a not great seeing night, was very impressive. The rings were narrow, but very visible, and I saw three of its moons (should have also looked further out to see if any others turned up). Looking forward to getting it on a night where conditions are better and it's higher in the sky.

With this, I've now seen all of the planets (now that Pluto's been downgraded) except Mercury from my house. That won't be able to happen for a while, and I'm not entirely sure I'll be able to get Mercury from my house anyway.

UPDATE: I realized I managed to put the date in wrong here, and somehow misremembered one of the moons of Saturn that I saw. I clearly saw Rhea, not Phoebe. Not sure how I messed that up.

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