8:37. Just spotted Venus naked eye. Estimated 10° up; Stellarium said 15. Pretty bright. Pretty easy to see. Looked for Mercury. There was some cloud to the west. Low to the horizon it was dense. Probably heading this way... Still Venus was very easy.
Sun was brilliant orange earlier. Clouds blocked it. Saw shadow rays from the sun.
Learned if I put the Sony into Hold mode, it pops up the time. Still unable to see Mercury. Considered doing stops and starts with the recorder so to get better time stamps.
8:45. Decided to eat alfresco in an attempt to spot Mercury. Venus was super easy.
9:10. Just spotted Saturn naked eye.
9:19. Not expecting a great night. A lot of high cloud, some overhead. Arcturus and Vega easy to see now. Saturn is easy to see, above and to the right of Venus. Had to dig a bit deeper to see Mars. Was looking too close. They seemed equal in brightness. Felt more humid.
9:25. Was going to use my "big" metal tripod for photos but I discovered that the Manfrotto hexagonal quick-release mounting plate was missing. When I took it off, I didn't put it back. That was stupid. Made the entire tripod useless. That just forced me to mount the camera piggyback on the telescope, with the eyepiece adapter clamp thing. Which, of course, would reduce trails... OK. So not a complete loss. Folded up the metal tripod.
Decided to go back to VOR on the recorder this evening as there was no one in earshot. All by myself. Less chance of embarrassing myself! Learned I could change VOR on the fly. Put the recorder in the little stand.
Put the red film on the camera LCD.
Oops. Forgot something else. Fetched the camera adapter from the house or car.
On camera, tried Fireworks mode. Manual mode. Put the ISO down to 400. Charged up the other battery...
The photo shows the view from inside the THO.
Kricky. Stopped photographing as clouds rolled in. It was humid. Really humid.
10:23. Noticed Arcturus was dimming in and out. Transparency looked bad. Wanted to try for M94 but noticed it was the same elevation as the star.
10:30. Checked some weather forecasts...
- Weather Network for Thornbury: 22°C. 101.03 kPa and rising. 78% humidity. Low wind at 2 klicks. Sunset at 8:36 PM (funny, I didn't realise it was so early). Sunday overnight: isolated showers, temp 20, wind 5, humidity 88, POP 30%, 1 mm of rain. Tomorrow: variable cloudiness then mainly sunny. Suggested I could do solar and daytime planets.
- Collingwood from Env Can: Currently 21.4. Dew point 18.4. 101.1 and rising. Humidity 83. Wind 4. Humidex made it feel like 28. Wow. Overnight: lightning symbol, 30% POP, low 17. Monday sun and cloud, afternoon thunderstorm. Wed/Thu: rain. Weekend looked good.
- ADDS: Looked clear in infrared. Stuff over Superior heading this way. Fast!
- Local measurements from the on-site Davis station: Wind speed 4.8. From SSW. Humidity 92. Pressure 101.07. Temp 20.5. House temp was 23.
- CSC showed 4 for cloud cover (60%) now and predicted 5 after midnight (50%) to 2 AM. Transparency was rated as "too cloudy to forecast." Seeing was rated poor now to average later. So, conditions were not great.
Dismounted the camera and mount. Overhead sky looked impressive. Milky Way was bright.
Turned off the VOR. I was not convinced it was working.
10:38. Realised an issue with the recorder... I had not finished transcribing the notes from the night before. So I wasn't sure what had happened. In particular, when I previously viewed M94. After some digging, I determined I was approx. 20 minutes ahead of the night before. Not great. But better than nothing.
Turned the roof. Spotted Canes Venatici. Started with the wide field eyepiece, 2" eyepiece, 36mm. Viewed Cor Caroli. To make sure I was on target. Lovely. Once again, M94 was very faint. Went to the 26mm. And a cloud went through...
Considered again this exercise futile. This time of year. The object was too low.
Clouds covered the Big Dipper. Obliterated Arcturus. Saw sky glow from Collingwood. Sky glow from Thornbury too. Only had a few minutes left. Clouds rolling in... Switched gears a bit. Used Stellarium to ID stuff inside sucker holes. The clouds had completely covered Ursa Major. Appeared to be coming from the north-west and moving very fast. Could not see anything in the west. Then found clouds overhead, blocking Lyra. Was trying to find a cluster just north of Lyra. Couldn't move fast enough. Stepped outside the THO and promptly bonked my head. Sheesh. Could see a couple of stars in Boötes. Clouds almost at Cassiopeia. Almost all of Aquila was blocked; Altair was winking in and out.
Noticed a very bright light on the south-west horizon. Shimmering a bit. Not moving. Someone's house light? Super bright.
When I saw that clouds had reached Andromeda, I wound it down. Brought up the lights. Turned the large door to the south. Probably better for prevailing winds. Squared the roof.
11:00. Portable weather station, the OneWorld, was wet, once again. Humidity 99, temp 19.3.
Closed the roof to clouds. Put the 'scope into a good orientation. The least stress is on the mount when the OTA is vertical, given the weight of the big mirror diag and 2" eyepiece. Put the front cap on. Turned off the tray light. Took the tray light battery pack with me, to freshen the batteries. Shut the controller off. Put the astrochair under the tripod (it fits very nicely). Grabbed the phone and palmtop computer.
11:06. Clouds everywhere as I walked to the house. A few stars poking through. The clouds must not be thick. Jupiter was up but orangey.
Grabbed the dark solar walkway lights so to recharge those batteries in the wall charger.
It was later, going through the photos, checking them more closely, that I found this one.
FujiFilm FinePix J20, 8 seconds, f/5.6, ISO 100, 0 step exp. comp., 9:45 PM
The focus is good. The stars and planets are sharp. You can clearly see Mars on the left, Saturn on the upper right, with Venus forming an almost perfect 90° right angle. In the original 3000 pixel wide raw image, I can see eta Vir is up and to the right of Mars.