Star Log 2022-11-16 Evening (Fairbanks, AK, US)

Fairbanks is still in a high pressure zone with clear skies, sunny days, and cold nights. So last night I gave stargazing another try, late in the evening. This time I tried out the boat launch area on Chena Pump road, and I found the site to be very ideal, with less obstructions in all directions, some privacy away from the road, and dramatically less light pollution. It is still possible to see the glow from the city lights, but only in about 1/5th of the sky towards cardinal east. But the rest of the view was a glorious display of God's celestial creation.

With less obstructions and light pollution, it was pleasant to spend more time just looking around with the naked eye. I feel that it is important to have a good grasp of the orientation of the celestial sphere lines relative to the horizon, so you can understand how the constellations are rotating and moving across the sky. If you turn on the equatorial grid lines in Stellarium, you can see that Cassiopia and the Big Dipper move along opposite sides of the same small circle near the north star (Polaris). So, it is easy to visualize this circle in the sky if you have a good view towards the north.

equatorial grid towards the north

In constrast, the constallation Orion is on the celestial equator, so it comes up at cardinal east, sets at cardinal west, and (from my latitude) only rotates a little relative to the horizon.

equatorial grid towards the south

I tried looking at Jupiter using my new Plossl 6mm eyepiece, but I still couldn't see any detail. I think partly it was due to the color scattering in the refractor, since I could see a lot of color shifted to the edge of the planet. Also, I saw some signs of what appeared to be atmospheric disturbance distorting the image. I tried my new neodymium filter, but that didn't seem to help.

I lost some additional time playing around with my telescope mount, which is missing a thumbscrew on one leg. (I've ordered more thumbscrews.) I also had to go back in my vehicle often to warm up, since it was -2 °F. Between that, and needing to be at work at 6am, I only ended up with enough time to do one sketch. I picked that interesting hexagon-like shape about 0.5° south and 1.5° west of Aldebaran in Taurus:

location of target in Hyades cluster

logbook sketch of target in Hyades cluster

similar view in Stellaris

I've drawn it before, but it was a better view with the darker skies and the wider FOV from the new eyepiece.

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