Old 01-05-2014, 05:53 AM
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ZeroID (Brent)
Lost in Space ....

ZeroID is offline
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Auckland, NZ
Posts: 4,950
A Visual evening, Mars, Saturn

Weather has been abysmal for anything astro for the last two months or so but last night popped a sudden sky clearance so I did something I haven't done for some time, pulled out Skeletope II on the Dob base onto the front driveway. My targets were to have a good look at Mars and Saturn, something I heven't had the opportunity to do for a while.

Seeing was ok up towards the zenith, transparency was not so good anywhere, a legacy of the recent weather pattern leaving high thin mist across the sky and aggravating the low horizon LP.

Mars first in NE at about 45* over the CBD. Still a lot of LP to deal with but Mars was bright. No finder on the scope so laid down on the ground and sighted the OTA then scanned around with 20mm GSO SV. Very bright, quite small and very hard to distinguish any features. Tried a few other EPs, 15mm, TMB 9 & 6 and even a 12mm Plossl. Managed to see some dark markings but very difficult.

Shifted over to Saturn which had appeared low East. Same situation with poor seeing but managed to see the ring shadow on the planet and the major seperation in the rings intermittently. Best EP was the TMB 9mm but again the 12mm Plossl gave slightly better definition although it was hard to keep up with tracking.

For a change moved over to Eta C Neb. I had forgotten how magnificent that was in the 20mm SV in the big scope. It fills the whole view and a bit. Very high in the Sth and I was able to explore the dust lanes and dark areas for quite a while. Transparency still less than ideal but improving. Moved around the area following the various small clusters in the region, Wishing Well, Sthn Plieades down to the Cross. Out to OMega Cent glob, what a sight ! Very clear, beautiful grey ghost amongst the diamond stars.

I'd been out for about an hour or more now, 9:30ish so switched back over to Mars. A lot clearer now, better seeing as it was higher and the air quality had improved. 6mm TMB gave me some surface features which I'll have to look up and try to identify. TMB 9 and 12 plossl best options although the 2 x barlowed 15 and 20 mm GSO SV's didn't do too badly.

Then back to Saturn. Again this had moved up out of the worst of the LP and seeing was better. Same result and exercise with EP's but picked up most of the moons which again I need to verify and also some banding on the planet itself. Best EP again the TMB 9 but tried all options.

Ended the night a happy chappie about 10:15pm. An unexpected evening, quite warm, no bugs and some good viewing. If it holds for tonight I may load the 10" f5 onto the EQ6 and try some planetary video on Mars, Saturn will be too low for another month or so for me. I have better East views from the driveway than the Ob.

But taught me a lesson. I need to get more familiar with the sky again as after a long hiatus with little chance I have lost some navigational skills.

Fingers crossed for this evening

P.S. Spotted three nice meteors as well

Last edited by ZeroID; 01-05-2014 at 06:35 AM. Reason: Meteor note.
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