Saturday, October 21, 2017

saw many meteors (Crowes Landing)

After the movie ended, a groggy Rhonda noted on Facebook people talking about the meteor shower. She asked what that was about. I told her the Orionids were peaking. We checked her iOS app. About 20 per hour.

We suited up and headed down to the dock. Had to watch our step, trying to stay dark adapted, using only dim red light.

Viewed Pleiades with the loaner Orion Little Giant II binoculars mounted on my small metal tripod. A pretty view.

Beautiful sky. Fantastic seeing near the zenith. Fair transparency. Some clouds in the west.

Then we lay on the dock to watch the sky. Almost immediately I saw a short northbound meteor near Auriga. Soon we were racking them up. Some left glowing trains. The best was almost overhead, heading west. It was extremely bright, probably a negative magnitude. The long train burned for a few seconds. Probably 20 Orionids together. I also a couple of sporadics.

Looked at many constellations and stars including Capella, Cassiopeia, Perseus, Cepheus, Taurus and the Hyades and intense Aldebaran, Andromeda, Triangulum, portions of Pegasus, Gemini rising, Ursa Minor, the Big Dipper scooping up. In the west Lyra with Vega, Cygnus, Aquila with Altair diving down, and Delphinus leaping. I could clearly see six stars in the Pleiades. The gathering of stars, with 19, 17, IQ, and 16, on the right edge of Auriga were obvious to the unaided eye.

We spent a long time looking at Orion. The Meissa cluster was obvious. Over time all the belt stars emerged over the trees.

Dismounted the 15x70 bins and used them as we lay on our backs.

The Andromeda Galaxy (Messier 31) was spectacular, beautifully framed. The little smudge of Messier 110 was very obvious, at our 10 o'clock, a short distance from the centre of the big galaxy.

The Double Cluster was very nice. A little small though. Curiously, brighter naked eye. Perhaps it was that the binocular magnification revealed many stars of the Milky Way arm.

I looked for, and found, the open clusters in Auriga: large M38, small M36, and M37 well below. All were lovely. Was there a smudge to the right of Messier 38?

Looked for Messier 33, the Whirlpool or Pinwheel or Triangulum galaxy. Very nice. Definitely smaller than M31. Tough naked eye. NGC 752 was easy with the Mark I eyeball.

Viewed the Great Orion Nebula, M42, in the binoculars. Rhonda liked that a lot.

I was feeling cold despite many layers, jeans, shoes, a jacket, and gloves. Shoulda brought my winter coat. We grabbed the gear and headed to the house. Not before enjoying one more look, stars above, and reflected in the shimmering quiet water of Big Stoney Lake.

"... revealed themselves one star at a time."

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