Astronomy Saturday

This was first published on December 1st, 2008, republished January 12th 2019 after website move.

Moon, Venus and Jupiter setting. (click for larger image)

Went out to Cottonwood Springs campground in Joshua Tree National Park yesterday so that Catherine could try out her new telescope. We packed both Catherine’s and Elizabeth’s 8 in Dobs together with my 12 in into the minivan together with camping gear and food for 4 people. There were a few other astronomers out there that were holding star parties for groups and dueling green laser pointers were in evidence.

It was pretty windy prior to sunset but the winds died down shortly after sunset and we had some reasonable observing. Transparency was very good although seeing was at best average – luminosity of nebulous objects was very good. Right at sunset there was a thin crescent moon together with Jupiter and Venus. Catherine just enjoyed pointing her telescope at random objects while Elizabeth settled down to completing more of the Messier list from “A Starhopper’s Guide to MESSIER OBJECTS” by Lenore (ISBN 0-913399-57-4). This book by Lenore Freeman is a great starter’s guide to star hopping (thanks Jane). We dueled to see who could find things the fastest, after finding something she would come over to my scope to confirm the view was the same and we had a lot of fun. When there was a particularly long star hop we would use Sky and Telescope’s Pocket Sky Atlas to provide a little more context.

She viewed the following:Andromeda: M31, M32, M33, M110 (I also did M34 and M76)Cassiopeia: M52, M103Cetus: M77Cygnus: M29, M39Gemini: M35Lyra: M56, M57Orion: M78 (she had done M42 and M43 back in March but we looked at them again in all their glorious nebulousness)Pegasus: M15Pisces: M74which was a pretty good total for a few hours.

After the girls had gone to bed I browsed around Auriga but the wind started to pick up and so I packed up the scopes and was done by 11pm. The wind rattled the tent all night and packing up the scopes for the night before retiring proved to have been a wise decision. This morning we headed back home early in order to meet commitments here in Pasadena. This evening the moon, Venus and Jupiter were setting over the tree in the neighbors yard and I captured the image above using the D50 on a tripod (200ASA, 80mm, 1sec, f# 4.5).