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Short Session before the Snow


Hayduke27
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We have 3 days of snow in the forecast, and no clear skies for the rest of the week, so I stepped out to take advantage of the clear dark skies one more time last night.  I was observing using my Oberwerk binoculars.  I started out with the moon and Venus.  I love seeing Venus' phase, as it really  makes it stand out as a sphere.  The moon, being such a small crescent, was showing lots of shadow detail.  I got out the moon atlas and happily observed all up and down the terminator seeing how many features I could definitively pick out.  I saw many, but the one that stuck with me is the little Picard crater within the much larger Mare Crisium.  Didn't know there was a Picard crater, but so it is, and so I say live long and prosper!

 

Next I decided to find Neptune.  I quickly made my way there with a little star hopping and confirmed I was looking at Neptune using the nearby stars, but it was little more than a slightly blue little point of light.  Still, always cool to steal a few of those photons for my eyes!

 

Next I swung up to Pegasus, giving a nice view of Almach, with the contrasting stars, M32 with companions and of course, my old friend M33.  The skies were dark and all were quite clear and satisfying.  I jumped around in Cassiopeia for a while, looking at the many bright stars throughout.  I made my way up to Caroline's Rose and M52.  I found the Pacman Nebula as well, but with averted vision could only make out a very feint nebulosity.

 

Next I visited Perseus, again just appreciating the main stars in the constellation and taking my time to try to tease out the different colors in the stars.  This, of course, ended up in me being drawn into the double cluster.  This is always such a beautiful sight, and it was well appreciated once again.

 

I finished my night by putting away all of my toys and just staring up at the sky with unaided eye.  The milky way shown bright overhead, Cygnus, Lyra and Altair stood out very bright.  Hercules was still on the western horizon.  Delphinus was very clear and actually mildly resembling its namesake!  Cassiopeia and Perseus were very prominent.  It reminded me that I need to keep working on my constellation IDs.  After a couple hours, that was all I had in me and I retired to bed for a little warmth, still seeing the stars behind my eyelids.

 

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It depends on your skies, as the stars are relatively faint.  That being said, I'm looking at it with 82mm binoculars and it's easily observable, so I'd bet it's within your reach.  Try to find the 2 bright stars to either side that sort of frame it.  I usually start at Caph in Cassiopeia and then head north looking for those 4 bright stars, 2 on each side of the rose.  They are relatively easy to spot compared to the Rose.

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