Friday, April 17, 2009

Tight Split Night at Houge Park

I was at the SJAA's in-town public star party last night, at Houge Park. Early on, the skies were partly cloudy, but improved to "milky" as the night wore on. Transparency was clearly down, but little by little, the deep stuff began to show up.

I started out giving the public views of Saturn through my 10" f/5.7 CPT Dob. The seeing came and went, but when good, the views were outstanding. Lot of the public came by, there must have been over a dozen telescopes set up, and the fun people were having was obvious by the laughter and raucous buzz of voices.

I was very surprised to have very definite views of M65 and M66. Next door, another 10" had bright views of M81 and M82. The Sombrero (M104) showed up as an elongated streak, with one side clearly brighter than the other (the dust lane being the dark side). M13 and M3 were poor representation of their usual selves this night....

Someone was asking about double stars, and mentioned Porrima, which I had talked about in the beginning astronomy class. With a 7mm eyepiece in the scope, I was very surprised to see it cleanly split for long stretches of good seeing. Porrima is increasing in its separation, to
0.9" in 2010. A 6" AP running over twice the mag I had showed an amazing view, clean wide separation, nice round stars, and airy disks.

I moved on to Izar, which was interestingly more difficult that Porrima, due to the greater difference in magnitude of the components. Porrima is an almost equal double, while Izar is at magnitudes 2.3 and 5.

All in all, it was a fine night. I thought the tight split of Porrima stole the show.

The crowds thinned out after 11 P.M., and by midnight we were packing up to leave.

More observing tonight, with the gang, out of town.

Clear skies,


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