Friday, July 20, 1990

a splendid night (Muskokas)

Tonight, I looked at the Milky Way. Caroline and I tried to find the Big Dipper and, while it was partially hidden behind a tree, we could see the pan. Care tried to find the Little Dipper but it was pointing south. I showed her how to locate the little dipper by, first, sighting Polaris, the North Star, as the end of the handle, then looking for the curved, upside-down pot. She was able to find it.

Care then spotted a very, very, faint, high, rapidly-moving single point of light. I suspect it was a satellite. I shall have to read a bit more about finding satellites. I supposed it could have been an extremely high-altitude plane.

As I adjusted Care's binoculars, the Pleiades aka Messier 45 (M45) came over the horizon so I took a gander.

I found Andromeda, the galaxy, aka Messier 31 (M31) even though I was feeling a little disoriented. But I used Cassiopeia and Perseus/Pegasus (can't remember which) to help.

There were two bright objects, one blue (north), one orange (east), objects close to the horizon. The north, blue one was blinking. I suspected these planets, the orange one being Mars... Who knows? I should check about twinkling--does it mean a planet or a star?

While talking to Care I saw a rapid, brief meteor over her shoulder--off to the south. Later I caught a long, two second one, almost straight up. Not so surprising since there are 5 concurrent meteor showers presently.

The Milky Way was beautiful.

But tonight I wanted to be with Care and she had gone in for the evening.

A splendid night for observing.