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Cloudberry

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  1. @mark81 Thanks, Mark! Don't let my inspiration go to waste then, find a bit of time and get out there!
  2. Some space images do feel somewhat unsettling, but this particular one actually comforts me, makes me feel like I know where I am. It's like looking around after waking up, gives you a sense of where you are and what you are. Also feels like an exploration opportunity and makes me want to read sci-fi books.
  3. @Starwatcher2001 @Stu1smartcookie Thanks, I tried to write an immersive read and convey the feeling of wonder I had, so I guess it turned out good. @Kon Thanks, the weather has been bad before the observation and the entire time since then, crazy luck that was. @callisto Thanks Mark, glad you liked it.
  4. Hey, welcome to the club buddy Super quality images. Horsehead nebula is definitely my fav!
  5. Hi everyone! I'm Cloudberry, but you can call me Cloud for short. I bought a pair of 15x70 binos half a year ago, and have since then used them for a bit, broken them, abandoned them for months and finally, last week, I got them fixed. So now I'm hyped about pointing my binos at the night sky and discovering the workings of the universe. I love reading observation reports, discussing them, and also writing about my own observations. So hopefully we can bounce some thoughts and ideas off of each others here. That's it from me for now, make sure to check the post I made about the planet parade I observed the other day and I'll talk to you soon!
  6. Hey @Philip R, glad you liked it. Felt ready to break the silence after months of lurking around the forum.
  7. Last week I've finally got my Opticron Oregon 15x70 binoculars repaired - they've been collecting dust since March when they took a graceful fall from the tripod. So when the skies opened up yesterday night I was ready - binos on the tripod, window open, sky chart and sketch book at hand. And let me tell you - this was one of my best stargazing sessions. What I expected to be a quick glance at the night sky turned into a mind-blowing exploration of the outer Solar System, which until now I've only seen with naked eyes. I'm listing the observations below along with the sketch that I made while observing. And by the way, all the underlined words are links, with extra info. Alright, let's get going! Jupiter I saw it as soon as I opened my window - it was hanging in Aquarius, appallingly bright and very physically present. Two things really struck me when looking at it "zoomed in". First, I saw four little white dots forming a horizonal line on both sides of Jupiter, as if piercing it. From left to right these were: Europa, Ganimede, Io and Callisto. The first two were both affected by Jupiter's brightness, Ganimede still prominent, being the biggest one of the bunch, and Europa only visible with eyes squinted. And second was that Jupiter was a circle. Up until now all space objects (excluding Sun, Moon and hazy dispersed things) looked like dots to me. Even the bright-red Mars looked like a dot, but Jupiter had a white-yellowish body with an outline! I tell you, I really took my time eyeing this little 140 000km wide circle. Saturn A little to the East from Jupiter, in Capricornus, was another little dot, which to my absolute bamboozlement resolved into a disk in my binoculars. Like a little sandy-brown UFO it hung among the stars, mesmerising and enchanting. 15x magnification didn't show me neither the moons of Saturn, nor the separated rings with their coveted Cassini division. But the joined outline of the planet with it's rings looked like what it's meant to be - a planet with rings. And I don't think I will ever forget this celestial pictogram. Neptune After checking Neptune's visual magnitude, which is 7.9, I started star-hopping left from Jupiter: σ Aqr -> Hydor -> φ Aqr -> 96 Aqr. From there I leaped to three YBS(HR) catalogue stars that were poking right into Neptune. Visually, it was a simple dim dot, akin to myriads of stars that don't have a proper name. But don't get an impression that I was disappointed - I was actually stoked to see it, given that it is the furthest planet from Earth visible with my astronomical equipment. I was however surprised that it lacked colour, which I expected to be much more blue. It was instead white, with a veeeery subtle blue tinge. So subtle in fact, that I would've probably mistaken it for a star if I focused on it by chance. Still, I was happy that I have finally met my childhood's favourite planet, the big blue one. Uranus Now this one was a real challenge. First, the Moon's yellow waning crescent was quite close to Uranus. It was not as bright as a full Moon, but still somewhat blinding through the binos. Second, Uranus was hanging at a low altitude, where the sky was yellow from city lights. Third, it was by then 4AM and the sun was about to peek above the horizon - it was only two weeks since summer solstice. And the cherry on the cake - noctilucent clouds were scattered all over Aries, where Uranus was located. I was also quite sleepy, but decided to give it a go nevertheless. I tried star hopping eastwards from the Moon, but soon figured out it's really hard to do when you only see one star. So this idea was scrapped. Then I zoomed in on Uranus in the SkySafari app on my phone (no, they don't pay me), used the accelerometer mode to estimate the planet's position in the sky and pointed my binoculars roughly in that direction. And now for the good part. In-between noctilucent clouds I somehow noticed a vertical pair of stars: π Ari (below) and 40 Ari (above). They were both at least of apparent magnitude of +5 , which was well within the capability of my 70mm binos, but because of the sky brightness, the stars looked extremely dim. Nevertheless, left of these two I spotted another couple, also vertical and sitting closer to each other: ρ2 and ρ3 Ari. And finally, after getting a reference from the app, I made a leap of faith to the right and there it was - Uranus, with ο Ari sitting just right from it. To say I was happy to see the 7th planet would be an understatement. The planet and ο Ari have the same m of ~5.8, but Uranus stood out from the surrounding stars due to it's colder hue. But after the whole ordeal, I was not as much affected by the looks of Uranus, as I was by the peaceful perfection of the entire view before me. In dawning summer skies, covered with ethereal noctilucent clouds, all planets of the outer Solar System lay in front of me, embodying the boundary between Us and the vast Nothing of the Universe. The birds were welcoming the rising sun and I could finally go bed, feeling so at home here, next to our ☉ P.S. I say all planets of the outer Solar System because Pluto was also there, next to Saturn. Though it's m was +14.3, so I'll have to write about it some other time. P.P.S. That night all of the outer planets were aligned in what people call a planet parade. P.P.P.S You might have noticed the Andromeda Galaxy on my sketch. I observed it too, however the viewing conditions were entirely against anything DSO-related, so it's a topic for another write-up.
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