Looking Up

26°F outside tonight, but still no clouds.  Amazing.

Our friends Boaz and Charlotte came over tonight for the purpose of moon/stargazing.  Out came the LX50 again.

Spotting scope got quickly tuned in using a very twinkling Sirius low in the sky, and then we turned our gaze back to M42 in Orion.  I used the spotting scope to point at Orion’s sword, looked through the eyepiece, and focused.  Without budging the telescope, I was focused on the trapezium cluster.  Full moon tonight, so we could only make out 4 of the stars – but we could clearly see the M42 nebula clouds surrounding it.  We ended up going back to look at M42 several times through the course of the night.  It’s really amazing to look at something 1300 light years away and be able to see "detail" in it.

We also took a glance at the Pleiades again, as well as some more viewing of Orion’s various well-known stars: Betelgeuse and Rigel.  We ended the night wondering if a reddish object was Aldebaran or Mars, as these two bodies were fairly close to each other tonight.  I slewed the telescope over, and threw on the 26mm eyepiece (widest angle I have).  It was definitely not a point, but clearly a disc.  The 9mm eyepiece confirmed what I expected: Mars.