Broad Creek – May 25th, 2018

By Paul Sokolowski

  • Observing Location: Broad Creek
  • Date/Time: Friday, May 25th, 2018. Gate time at 7PM
  • Also Present: Jason Morton and Rob Bayne

We met at the gate at 7PM. As you can see from the pictures below, “gardening” was a little bit challenging. It always is in spring. The grass is basically waist deep and going to seed. Fortunately, the trustworthy weed whacker clears out our spot easily.

We were there rather early, owing to my obsession with the “gardening”, so twilight was a bit far away. But the 10-day moon was prominent, even in the daylight, so I started my night by aligning my Telrad and finder scope on the moon. Then, I spent some time using various eyepieces and magnifications to view it. As you would expect, the 10-day moon is pretty much washed out, even at the terminator. Still, any views are better than no views.

Twilight seemed to take forever. I didn’t look at a clock, but I think it was at least an hour after sunset before we were able to see any stars.

Venus was very high and bright. My eyes aren’t the best in the world, but it seemed to me to be phased at about 90% full. Unfortunately, that’s about all there is to say about Venus. Big, bright dot.

Jupiter, on the other hand was splendid. Despite being rather close to the moon, it was very clear. All four moons in view. Io on one side and the other three opposite. Bands very clear. We could also clearly see the red spot, though to my eyes, it was more orange. Used several different eyepieces but at all magnifications, it was just too bright. (At the end of the night, I tried some filters. More later.)

By then, there were enough stars for alignment. I used Capella and Arcturus. Unfortunately, when I then asked my “push to” to find M13, I kept getting encoder errors. Ugh. Too dark to figure it out, I’ll have to work on it at home. It’s becoming a recurring theme. Probably best to just suck it up and buy new encoders.

So, I went to M13 the old-fashioned way. Likewise, with M81 and M82. Disappointing, but that was expected with the moon. Nice to know that they are still there. Maybe.

Recognizing that deep sky stuff wasn’t going to be very productive, I decided to go back to Jupiter and try several filters. Ooops, the red spot is gone. That quickly, after only a couple of hours??? Yep. As I’m writing this, I found a feature on my Mobile Astronomy phone app where I can see a visual of the rotation of Jupiter. Sure enough, according to the app, the red spot moves across the face in roughly 4 hours. When we first saw it, it was already roughly half way across, so that makes sense. I tried various color filters and combinations. To my eye, the best view was with a yellow filter and a polarizing moon filter combined.

Around 10:30PM, some clouds moved in. We took that as a sign, and decided it was time to pack up and leave. So, we did.

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