Home Forums RAC Main Forum General Discussion Observing tonight? Re: Observing tonight?

Dean Johnson

    I dressed as warm as I possibly could and I'm glad I did. The temps wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't for that darn persistant wind! >:(

    However, Captain Kirk and his dog Lucky beamed on down to the Flatin Farm frozen tundra and we had a great night.  Kirk is the first RAC member to make it to the Flatin Farm in the winter, but he is only the second to make two trips down here. That distinction belongs to Duane Deal.

    Venus started the show, then a good look at a beautiful Moon. Kirk let me use a wide angle 2' Meade 32mm ocular which I was very impressed with. We looked at the Great Orion Nebula, then got talking about double stars, so I showed him 54 Leonis. He liked that and told me about his trip to Arizona which was very interesting.

    I showed Kirk the starfield of 54 Leonis in my binoculars and noticed right away that it didn't look like it did on Wednesday night. A quick check of my observing journal showed me which 'star' was the dwarf planet Ceres, both on Wednesday night and tonight. It wasn't either of the two I thought it would be! 😮 It's nice to know now though, and I'll be following that object at least through the end of April. If you want to see it for yourself, 54 Leonis is bracketed by a pair of stars to the upper left and a pair of stars directly below. Ceres will be the one crowding 54 Leonis in the middle.

    We were treated to a BRILLIANT meteor at 9:27:25. It started above Coma Berenices, split Canes Venatici and ended just short of the last two stars in the handle of the Big Dipper. Kirk spotted it, called out "Wow, what's that!" and I caught the last second or so. It was easily as bright as Venus, mag. -4 8). I was very suprised to see something like that at that time of night. It will make the AMS fireball page.

    Saturn got our attention next. Titan well to the west with another moon about halfway in and two other "amateur moons" just off the ring to the east. Absolutely wonderful.

    Kirk pulled in M44 and he showed me how to work his scope. That was fun, then we jumped in his rig to warm up before we pulled a long observation on Comet Lulin after the Moon set.

    I could just barely see it, and that suprised me after how easily it showed Wednesdy night under worse sky conditions. Captain Kirk said he could see it if he used "averted imagination" ;D. I'll have to remember that one. Through the telescope and binoculars the tail was more noticable than ever. Quite the sight.

    We finished the night with looks at M41, the Coma Berenices star cluster and the Sombrero Galaxy in Virgo. By midnight, the breeze was still getting at us, even though we parked our rigs at right angles to help block the wind. Still four hours wasn't a bad effort and it was AGNFA!