Star Log 2022-12-19 Evening (Fairbanks, AK, US)

Last night my family and I visited some relatives for a movie party. The skies were clear, and the location was about 20 miles outside of the Fairbanks light pollution. So, while everybody else watched the movie, I snuck outside for some stargazing. I did not have any astronomy equipment with me, so it was a naked-eye session. It was also -17 ℉ (-27 ℃), but fortunately I had brought most of my cold-weather gear, and I was able also to warm up in the Suburban when necessary.


I was able to see a slight glow for the milky way, which was neat — something I'm not able to see in town. I was struck by how beautiful Perseus is in dark skies:

Stellarium screenshot - Perseus

Stellarium screenshot - Perseus with lines

I am very grateful for Stellarium, but it simply doesn't capture the glow and radiance of it, as I see it with my own two eyes. If I forget about the Greco-Roman mythical image, then Perseus looks like an angelic figure to me, with wings, two arms, and two legs. Stellarium also doesn't quite capture the glow and beauty of the central portion of Perseus, below Mirfak, which stuck out to me.

Mars, Taurus, Pleides

Red Mars was brilliant tonight, and also I had a crisp view of six stars of the Pleiades. I tried to adjust the Stellarium settings as much as I could to match my naked-eye view:

Stellarium screenshot - Taurus

Stellarium screenshot - Taurus with lines

Delphinus, Cygnus, Lyra

Stellarium screenshot - Delphinus, Cygnus, Lyra

Stellarium screenshot - Delphinus, Cygnus, Lyra with lines

Toward the West, I saw six stars which looked to me to be in the shape of a flying saucer. I realized later these were part of Delphinus.

Cygnus was beautiful as ever. Stellarium doesn't capture well the brightness of the stars that wreath the tail and wings of Cygnus. This looks a little better, if I adjust the Relative Scale setting:

Stellarium screenshot - Cygnus with relative scale adjustment

While I was looking at Lyra, at approximately 6:26 PM AKST, there was a momentary very bright flash of light around 5 degrees NW (equatorial) of Vega (α Lyra). I didn't see a satellite moving before or after the flash, and I think supernova light usually lasts for much longer, so I'm guessing I must have seen a shooting star with the tail not visible.

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