Thursday, September 25, 1997


I was working late last night, and was able to take breaks out in my backyard peeking through my 8" f/7 dob. Jupiter was only occasionally steady enough to see any detail in the bands, although the moons were a nice sight. If it had been steadier, I might have confirmed a shadow transit between roughly 10 pm and 11 pm... but the planet looked like it was underwater most of the time.

I did have some nice low power views of Saturn though. Seeing the planet, with its ring sharply defined against a sprinkling of stars, was very enjoyable. I was looking at the distribution of Saturn's moons, around 11:30 pm, thinking how nicely they formed a crescent around the planet, when I began looking very carefully, and found I could see 5 moons. Here, in ASCII art is an attempted diaghram...

--0-- x
x x x

This observation was from my backyard. The two moons on the left were quite dim. The one on the left, below the ring, was just visible and blinking in and out.

Is it unusual to pick up 5 moons from a suburban backyard?

One thing I have found, when observing time is limited (mine, by my current work schedule), the bright objects are the ones I tend to look at.

Also, following up the comment about the background stars in my view of Saturn...

I also peeked at M15 and M2. I was using my 19mm Panoptic, which nicely resolved both globulars. I had one of those moments of amazement when looking at M15 and thinking how relatively close the field stars were compared to the tight ball of light centered in my FOV. The whole view suddenly took on a 3-D feel.

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