Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Dancing with the clouds

Image of Jupiter from SkySafari
Last night... was a fun night of observation. It was supposed to be cloudy and when I went in at 5 after putting the chickens up it was. Then I got a text message from Russ (Astronomy viewing buddy) suggesting it was clear and wishing he'd come out. I step outside and yes, clear as a bell. I'd been missing it! Curse words and exclamations. I grab my box of eye pieces and my red light and dash out to the telescope (now being housed in the shower house for quicker access and no cool down time). I get it pulled out and the chair set-up. Take off the cap and turn on the red dot finder and look up: Clouds. No, wait, clear. Clouds - clear - clouds - clear. The wind was pushing them through so fast. I'd move to a clear spot get focused and start star hopping then clouds. After 20 minutes of a strange mix of laughing hysterically and cursing I called it quits and go inside.

Normally, I would not have bothered with such a mixed night but we've had 10 days of pretty cloudy weather and with a few clear nights blotted out by the moon. I was desperate.
Sigma Orionis

Couple hours later, about 10:30pm, I saw Karen post on the FB about being outside viewing so I went out: totally clear. Curse words. Get eyepieces and make a dash for the telescope. Set-up. Sit down. Clouds. More curse words. Wait. Look around. Decide there is enough clear sky to stay out. I spent the next 2 hours, maybe 3 hopping away from clouds, trying to find a few things before being foiled. Lesson learned? If you're desperate and willing to dance with the clouds for awhile, there might be a reward.

I got a fantastic view of Jupiter in the 5mm EP. The cloud bands were crystal clear and I was able to easily make out 3-4 bands. Unfortunately no GRS as it was on the other side of the planet. I also had a good viewing of a couple of planetary nebula. NGC 1535, Cleopatra's Eye, was particularly good. It is a bright blue sphere and with the 5mm EP a bright central core is easily visible. Of course the moon was out so anything faint was out of the question. I ended the night with a great shot of Sigma Orionis, a 5 star (only 4 viewable) system in Orion. Not my photo but this is exactly what I saw. Very cool.

2 comments:

Loader Goddess said...

'Dancing with the clouds'! That is a beautiful phrase.

Daisyblend said...

It is a beautiful phrase. And "Cloud Dancer" makes a good Native American sounding nickname. =P

~K~