Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mars...bigger and brighter

Rita is finally out of the gulf, and heading NorthEast. She left our area with Triple digit temps and a lot of people on the roads. I am ready for cooler days and nights! The moon finally shows up later and gives us a chance to view Mars and other targets in darker skies.
Reviewed charts and planisphere, before setting up with my 10" Dob in the front yard.

The past couple of nights I have been viewing the SW sky first, before Mars comes up over the trees in the East. Sagittarius is still high enough. Venus is still bright in the West and Cygnus over head. And a quick swing to the North East I can view Cassiopeia and Pegasus. Focusing on Mars you will see a bright yellow orange globe. With the 9mm eyepiece I can still pick out some grey, not too sharp, features. Blue haze along the north rim. I did not see the SPC this last time. After taking notes with a sketch of mars I shifted to the Pleiades, then to the Twenty four day old moon. Saturn was near but not above the trees at 4 am.
Moving along the Moon's terminator, there were several Craters and a mountain range in great contrast . Copernicus was the largest crater with a view of mountains nearby. Another clear night tonight! The weather for this weekend looks a bit on the "CLOUDS MAY ROLL IN" side. And there is another soon- to- be Depression churning in the Atlantic.
I have a theory about out current weather patterns that has to do with our Solar Activity and the age of the sun. We have had continued Solar activity past the 12 year cycle into the rest period. Add Global warming plus plate shifting, plus changes in our Magnetic input/output.... we have more numerous Atlantic activity and stronger storms. There must be a formula in there somewhere!
Mars should be with us, in good viewing position for 90 more days. Still on top of my target list.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Sky after the meeting

After our meeting, a few of us stopped and observered the Moon, Antares and Venus from the parking lot.

One day short of full, the moon's glare hid a lot of the stars. The Moon is always a great target.
I have taken several Moon photos following this cold satellite that wonders our through our sky.

The night sky has not been clear as of late. Mars is a prime target on my list.
The Group's next event is on October 1 at the lake.

Waiting for next chance to set up and observe our night sky.

ISS pass tonight, look at Mars before Rita hits the coast.

Last night's ISS run was bright and long. It arced across a moonless sky starting at 7:57 pm. After the station disappeared behind some trees, I scanned for Andromeda and a few other targets with Binoculars. The ISS will make one more pass in our area tonight. Then will alter it's position on the daily trek around the globe. The County Fair is on for the rest of the week, so I have to contend with Search Lights breaking the view all night. We do have two more clear nights forecast, before Rita's Rage brings us clouds and rain for a few days. Mars is still in moonlight, but it is getting bigger and brighter. The Moon's Terminator is always interesting viewing along the line between night and day!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

ISS short run,Venus, an Asterism, a dim Galaxy

Last night was another very warm humid night in Texas. Binoculars in hand I turned off the football game and went out to the backyard. Venus was bright, just below my treeline in the West. At 9:08:30 pm the Station came up above the trees in the West, then disappeared at 9:09:30. Glad I didn't blink. A longer and Higher/Brighter run is due Tuesday night. Then one last run Wednesday night. Looking straight up, the Summer Triangle was still there. I got horizontal and moved the Binoculars from Altair toward Albireo. About one third the way is the Coat HangerAsterism. I moved to the front yard for a better look at our nearest Galaxy M31. Scanned and found Cassiopeia, then moved East. Tried viewing with the Binoculars. In the glow of the Moon light was the Box of Pegasus. Just wasn't dark enough to go up the twin lines to see Andromeda. I will try again Tuesday night, moon rise is 9:55. That gives a little more time to find our nearest Galaxy before Moon shine dominates the sky.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Another ISS Sighting - Expedition 11

The ISS made a short run through our sky last night (9/18/05) starting at 8:42 pm low in the NNW. A not to bright Station ran up the side of the Big Dipper then moved under Polaris. Expedition 11 then moved to the NE and at 8:44:38 pm, just passing Cassiopeia, the 2 man crew slipped silently into a darkening sky and disappeared. I usually position myself several minutes before the run starts with the best view over or through the trees. No Horizon at my house. Allowing time for my eyes to adjust to the night shadows. At one minute before it is due, I focus on the area of the flyby. I have been in areas where there is a Horizon. It is a unique event, to catch this dim moving star/object suddenly appearing out of the atmosphere, climbing and getting brighter as it arcs across the sky, to then suddenly disappear into the darkness. I have sighted / logged the station off and on, since the first unmanned Russian Zarya Control Module started circling the planet in 1999. The next Expedition 12 crew goes up from Russia this Month, September 30. With a commercial paying $$ passanger added there will be 5 on board for about 10 days after docking, before the Expedition 11 Crew comes home.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

A closer look at Mars

StarLog^^050917~Humid and hot, moonlit night/Using the 10" Dob, Observed the red planet
Moon in Aquarius/ Mars Magnitude -1.4
StarLog^^050926~Using the 10" Dob, Observed the red planet@ 23:00/ did multiple sketches
StarLog^^050927~Using the 10" Dob, Observed the red planet @4:30 am/multiple sketches

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Mars after midnight

First off I checked in with Slooh Robotic Telescope @ 4pm our time. All the missions were scrubbed! The Canary Islands get clouds too! It appears Clouds are a Global Problem.
Around midnight last night the Moon light filled the sky, Mars was finally high enough above the trees to view. There were a few scattered small clouds that moved in and out. In the 10" Dob, our fourth planet was bright golden yellow with a blue haze on the lower edge ( north). I did see a small bright white area on the top the globe, the South Polar Cap. Just below was a patch of dark area that took up about 1/3 of the top portion of the globe. In reviewing the Sky and Telescope's on-line feature guide, I am guessing this was Sytrus Major, or part of it. I will double check this again, when I log my visit. I started out with a 8mm-24mm zoom eyepiece. Tried a blue filter(which did not help). Finally went to a 7 mm Nagler eye piece. I did see more detail after my eye adjusted to the view, following the globe in the lens. I thought I could get a glimpse of Hellas Basin. I could not distinguish that feature. Need a darker sky for picking up more detail. I made a few sketches with notes plus, I did take a peek at Orion and the Seven Sisters before I covered the Dob and went in for the night/morning. I did not view the moon, way too bright.
I would have seen extra spots on the surface of Mars.
No telling what I would have thought they were!