Monday, May 01, 2006

Observing report 4.29.06

Despite perfectly clear skies all day, as I was driving out to the wilds of Virginia a bank of high, thin cloud rolled in from the west. This was the view from the observing site at sunset:

Plenty of folks turned up so we made the best of it. It was supposed to be our second chance at the Messier Marathon but I didn't even make an attempt because of the conditions. Many of the early objects were going to be lost in the sunset and the cloud bank wasn't going to help. (I later found out that one of our club members actually stuck it out and logged 84 Messiers!)

Also, I was operating on a major sleep deficit and knew I wasn't going to have much stamina. The problem with driving for an hour to your observing site is that you have to drive back when you're tired, on the Capital Beltway, with a whole bunch of drunk drivers on a Saturday night. Not to mention the deer. So, it's a bad idea to wait until you're really tired. My preferred method of staying awake is to drink coffee before I leave for home and crank up my iTunes sing along playlist. Although I've noticed that when I'm really sleepy, I forget to sing along.

So, basically, I took it easy and checked out Saturn, a few galaxies in Leo, and made another attempt at Comet Schwassman-Wachmann. The latter was sadly almost lost in the eastern light dome and high cloud (I feel a bit cursed trying to view this object). But I did get one sketch of the C fragment:

If I'd been able to stay up later when it was higher in the sky, I think I would have had a better time of it. Couldn't find the B fragment at all -- I didn't have any current charts with me. I took a quick peek at Jupiter before I packed up at about 10:30. I'm pretty sure there was a little moon shadow just starting to cross the disk, but the view was boiling in the low altititude, so I couldn't be sure.


At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Andrew said...

Hopefully,the skies will cooperate for you in May when the comet is suppose to be at it's brightest.
That is of course,if the comet manages to stay together that long.

At 3:44 PM, Blogger mark_smith said...

Sounds like you had a good night i havent seen the night sky in months.

At 5:10 PM, Blogger Kim said...

Yeah, I whinge a lot, but I probably have it pretty good compared to a lot of people.

At 6:26 PM, Blogger Tag said...

no all nighter?
i gotta admit I like the chatter when the skies become overwhelmed with clouds. the astro-speak and community cheer are totally enjoyable, though having energy helps out.


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