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Monday 22 Feb - Bookended by Potatoes

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I was popping out to the shed to use some metalworking tools and noticed the absence of clouds. The Moon was a serious drawback but I convinced myself that I should not keep using it as an excuse to leave the sope indoors and hatched the plan to revisit a Algieba with the SP102, but avoiding any electrical appendages to keep the setup time somewhat sensible.

It still took me 40 minutes to get to the point of looking at anything interesting... the actual scope bits are fairly well organised now but there is always something missing - specs, items of clothing, head torch or whatever. Polar alignment was done quickly using a tablet app and a guesstimate of where 'half past 3' was in the reticle.

Looking at the sky and the likely position in relation to silver birches I decided to have a crack at Tegmine first. Trouble is the Moon was in Gemini so all I could see with my naked eye was Castor, Pollux, Procyon and some of Leo, none of which seemed like good starting points. With the 10x50 bins I managed to pick out the Beehive Cluster and then spent a long time trying to get the scope to pick it up too... either that or else figure out what the scope *was* pointing at and go from there. After a lot of failed attempts I finally picked up the cluster in the 32mm Plossl and then used the setting circles to get to Tegmine. I must revisit the Beehive on a more suitable evening.

After reading other reports on here about Tegmine on here I wasn't expecting to split it and indeed I couldn't. After a lot of swapping eyepieces the best I managed was a sort of potato shape. There was another star close by but I gather that isn't part of Tegmine.

After burning a lot of time on Tegmine I then pointed the scope at Algieba. This was no trouble at all to find and then it split without difficulty in both the 9mm DeLite (111x) and 15mm SLV (67x) so I think I ought to try again with the ST80 at some point.

By now Orion was between the two trees so I decided to revisit Meissa. There was some definite hazy high cloud creeping across the sky so it look me a little while to find it, but once I was there the SLV and DeLite both showed the companion. Time was marching on but I thought I'd visit Sigma. The clouds were really starting to intrude now - at times I could not make out Orion's belt but after a few minutes things improved and I found Sigma. There were several stars on view but I really wasn't sure which ones were part of Sigma and whether I was doing well or badly so I think this one is best saved for another time.

With the Moon playing such an important part in the evening's session I thought it would be rude not to point the scope there. Sinus Iridium was looking good near the terminator and I think there was just a bit of residual shadow from the Appenines on the other side of Mare Imbrium. I could make out some shapes on the north side of the mountains. One day I hope to see Hadley Rille but I think I was just seeing the lower ridges near the Appenines. Moving South along the terminator and with the Moon Atlas on the tablet there was a very prominent crater with a central peak. I think this was Gassendi, a very elongated crater further South (Schiller I think) and finally... another potato shape - Hainzel

It was far less cold than of late and I was actually removing layers while I was outside. I was surprised at the amount of moisture forming on the scope and no doubt some of this was forming on the objective but this evening was going to be electricity free or not at all so the dew heater was not coming out to play. The Moon was indeed a serious impediment - especially when trying to find Tegmine which really should not be very hard to find. In the end I was outside a good deal longer than intended so it must have been a good session.

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5 hours ago, Pixies said:

I think a revisit to the useful diagram that @John so often posts.

Where does 'potato' come in the range?


I imagine somewhere between the middle two?

One of the middle two... but with stars of unequal brightness. Definitely no gap because a potato generally comes in just one part... a gap would clearly imply two potatoes.

Yes, that diagram is very useful and I'm not really trying to start an alterative terminology system :)


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