Saturday, December 12, 2015

scanned for comet (Bradford)

Alarm went off. Ugh. Did not want to get out of bed. Reached over to snooze... nope. Don't be a lazy bum. Today you're not book-ended. Tomorrow's weather looked poor. This might be the last clear morning for a while... Suited up and headed to the backyard with the binoculars and the tablet Roy. Avoided lights to keep dark adapted and set SkySafari Plus into red light mode.

As I stepped out the front door, I saw that it was clear. But from the south-facing yard, I spotted hazy low clouds, thick enough to put a halo around Venus. Wispy tendrils slowly drifted through the region of Virgo above the bright planet while straight up was pretty clear. I took in Leo and as my eyesight improved, I could see more stars.

It was around a magnitude 4.5 sky. I could see ι (iota) Leonis (at mag 3.95) and σ (sigma) Leo (4.1) between Chertan and Jupiter.

While waiting for the thin cloud to clear, I took a look at Jupiter through the bins, steadied against a porch post. I could see 2 or 3 moons! A bright one to the left, a much fainter one between; then a faint moon far to the right. SS+ said they were, left to right, Ganymede, Europa and then Callisto way out.

I looked at Mars. Wow! Tiny but rich in colour, a hot ember against the black.

The sky was better over Venus. I hopped up a field or so to Syrma, surrounded by three stars, then moved up and left a field to υ (upsilon) Virginis (magnitude 5.1), φ (phi), HR 5342 (at 6.1), and HD 125817 (6.8). The planetarium app said comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina) was below and right of HR 5342, between it and Syrma. It said it was mag 4.8. At one point, with averted vision, I thought I saw something. I could not tag it again.

Perhaps the lingering cloud and low elevation was preventing me from having a definite sighting.

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I don't know why but I did not take the tripod out. That might have helped. Not fully awake.

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Hours later, I wondered why I did not take the barn door out!

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