|Tonight was not ideal, but fun none the less. The sky was mostly cloudy
and the ground fog came in and out. Sometime the stars were nice
pinpoints, but most of the time they were fuzzy spots in the sky.
Still, I waited patiently for the moments of clarity. My goal tonight was one object: Machholz (Comet C2004 Q2).
I was in luck. The sky was clear throught all of Taurus and with
the help of Starry Night Pro, I knew exactly where to look. Machholz is
currently 4.2 magnitude so if the sky was darker, this would be an easy
naked eye object.
I started by finding it with the 40mm wide field (70 1.5). It was
beautifully bright. I thought I could make out a tail, but in the glow
of Portland and the brightness of the hazy sky, I may have been
imagining it. I was facinated to see the comet so bright in the poor
seeing conditions. This would be a spectacular object in a dark sky.
I'm hoping for a good look at it on January 7th (near new moon night
and a Friday to boot!)
The moon was a 3/4 gibbous tonight but didn't rise until after I
had an extended look at Machholz. Once it did rise, everything was
pretty much gone. The moonlight in the clouds and haze along with the
glow of Portland just made the sky worse. Still, there were clear
patches here and there so I continued to look.
The moon drew my attention since it was 3/4 and had a nice
terminator accentuating various parts. So I threw on the moon filter
and spent an easy hour on the moon. Gradually going from low power to
high power, I maxed out around 300x and scanned the entire surface.
Because I had no intentions of looking at the moon tonight, I did not
have any maps or software available to guide me through what I was
observing. So I decided to take pictures to examine later.
Here are a few of the pictures.
My camera does not like taking the close-up shots. It can't see
through the eyepiece very well. It seems like it requires deeper eye
relief in the eyepieces in order to take better shots. I don't know.
They aren't too bad though.
Lastly, I looked at Saturn. I was able to get a very nice 300 power
view of it. Storm bands, shadows, 3 dimensional planet, and a clear
Cassini division. Only a few moons were visible. Titan, Tethys and
Rhea. That view lasted maybe 10 or so minutes before the fog and clouds
left me with a fuzzy rice shaped barely distinguishable planet.
Oh well. There are good nights and there are bad nights... then there are night like tonight that are a mixture of both.