Star Gazing 2023-02-14 Morning (Fairbanks, AK, USA)
The forecast predicted a brief partial clearing of the skies in the mid-morning, and due to the dearth of other opportunities, I decided to take a gamble on it. I arrived at the boat launch about 4:30am AKST. The temperature was -16 deg F, there was no moon, and wispy clouds were covering somewhere around 30-50% of the sky. When I first arrived, I was able to quickly recognize the constellation Leo toward the south, and also the top of Gemini, though this part of the sky was obscured later in the morning:
Stellarium screenshot toward the south
The sky was dark toward the south, but the stars were dim and twinkling, so I guessed that clouds must be overcoming that area. In the opposite direction, there was a bit of light pollution, but Cassiopia was fairly low in the sky, so I decided to aim in that direction.
I had to get the telescope assembled (I'm finding it is impractical to carry it out the vehicle fully assembled). I had a lot of trouble again with this issue of the polar alignment column falling back, instead of leaning against the adjustment screw like it is apparently supposed to do. I found I could get around this problem by having the scope mounting brackets attached further back on the scope tube, which gave more forward weight. This worked, by also made the scope kind of jittery and unbalanced. I have to look more into this problem later.
I knew targeting would be very difficult, due to two problems: (1) the targeting scope on my PowerSeeker 127EQ is very close to the tube, which would make it impractical to use with my thick winter hood on; (2) I still do not have a practical way to use the slow-rotation system on the EQ mount. On the latter point, I figured out that the telescope is supposed to come with a pair of cables to attach to that system, with knobs, but the person who gave me this telescope somehow had overlooked or lost that equipment. I've ordered some new ones but they have not arrived yet. So, anyway, I just picked a random area of the sky somewhere near Cassiopia, and did a sketch of that:
I took a brief look at Stellarium later but have not been able to figure out yet which stars I was looking at. But I think it was a little below and to the left of Cassiopia.
I was running short on time (work at 6am) and also getting rather cold. My truck was low on gasoline and so I couldn't keep it running warm the way that I normally do. But not counting the setup and teardown, I was able to do some star gazing from about 5:11am to about 5:35am. It was not a great session, with a lot of difficulties and discomfort, but in the end I learned some things and was glad I went.