The weather looked promising last night, and the ClearSkyChart was reporting good news. At around noon, I shot a quick e-mail over to a few of the people I’ve viewed with before, and was happy to get a quick response from Barry (who lives near Rattlesnake) that the skies were in fact clear. I cleared my calendar for the night, and packed up my gear.
I arrived at Rattlesnake at around 9pm, and was surprised to see 3 other people already set up. Apparently I wasn’t the only one with the great idea of stargazing tonight! By the end of the night, we had 9 people and telescopes: Sam (Dobs), Skip (SCT), Jim (SCT), Barry (SCT), Jon (Refractor), Denis (Dobs), Mohammad (Dobs), Marius (SCT), and Michael (Newt and Refractor). I’m pretty sure that’s everyone that was out there, and if you happen to stumble across this and I left you off – I’m sorry.
I hadn’t planned on staying out terribly late tonight (told Diann that I’d start breaking down my gear at around 1am), and with the sun setting at 9:15 that gave me only a few hours of actual darkness. By 10:15, you could just start making out the Milky Way overhead, and then we were greeted by the ISS passing over.
Last night’s viewing breakdown:
- Globulars: M107, M80, M4, M3
- Planetary Nebulas: M97, M76
- Galaxies: M104, M102, M101, M96, M95, M94, M64, M63,
- Planets: Saturn (with 6 moons tonight!)
Favorite objects of the night: M4, M94, and M101. M94 had a super-bright central core to it and on M101 I could just start making out the spiral pattern of the galaxy. I think it’s fair to say that my night viewing is steadily improving over time – I was also able to make out individual stars in most of the globulars I looked at last night.
64 Messier objects down, and 6 to go before I can file for my Astronomical League Messier Certificate. 46 to go until I hit all the Messier objects.