-Tonight is an exceptional night. It is PERFECT observing conditions – cool, really clear… and FALL – my favorite time of year. So I got out my old Dob, aligned it, focused it… and swung it over to Jupiter. It’s easily the brightest thing in the sky right now (until the moon rises) plus I love looking at it! I love to imagine being on one of it’s moons and looking up at the giant planet in the sky. Anyways, I look through the eyepiece and instantly see the four Jovian moons… then I notice something different… a black spot. A very clear/distinct black spot on the disk of Jupiter. I realize it must be the shadow of one of the moons on the surface… freakin amazing! I’ve seen a million pictures of the same thing, but when you see something like this first hand, it never ceases to amaze. I LOVE astronomy!
-So I decided to do a little of my own sky object hunting tonight – as opposed to to using a guide (e.g. magazine, star chart, etc…) and just scan the skies for stuff I thought was cool. -It’s only been about 15 minutes and I’ve already seen some really cool things. I’ve ‘discovered’ a few double star systems – some with stars with very different colors. I’ve noticed the most copper-colored star I’ve ever seen in Sagittarius. I went to find it again and stumbled upon a huge globular cluster! Of course, I knew I would probably find something in Sagittarius – that’s why I started there – but I found some stuff at any rate! I’m not sure the name of it so I’ll have to look it up later.
Update: Turns out the object was M22 (from http://seds.org) “Messier 22 (M22, NGC 6656) is one of the brightest and remarkable clusters in the sky, and in particular of those observable from mid-northern latitudes. It was the first of these objects to be discovered. At 10,400 light years, it is one of the nearer globular clusters. At this distance, its 32′ angular diameter, slightly larger than that of the Full Moon, corresponds to a linear of about 97 light years; visually, it is still about 17′. It is visible to the naked eye for observers at not too northern latitudes.”
-I had actually stumbled upon a galaxy(?) earlier then ran inside to get a chart to identify it but by the time I got back, I had lost it :( -Seen a BUNCH of satellites and watched a couple planes fly over. The moon is starting to rise and it’s really bright and ruining my sky!
-Well, it’s a little after 9pm but I gotta go in. It’s getting a little chilly and the moon is really bright. Definitely a good night though. Saw a meteor and got a good look at the moon. I’ll come back out later in the month when the moon is new.