Star Gazing 2023-02-21 Evening (Fairbanks, AK, US)
God gave me an unexpected opening in the clouds last night, which I had not forseen from the NWS data or forecasts. There were thin, scattered clouds, but it was clear enough that I decided to head down to the boat launch, at about 8pm AKST. From the GOES images, it looked like clouds might roll in any minute, so I decided not to waste time loading up and setting up my telescope, but instead I just brought the binoculars, as well as an old hunting scope I found.
It turned out I had mostly clear skies for about 1.5 hours, up until around 9:45pm. In retrospect, I think I did have enough time to do something with the telescope, but it still was a good experience with the binoculars and naked eye stargazing. I had a good view of Gemini, Orion, Taurus, Perseus, and Cassiopia, towards the south and west:
overview Stellarium screenshot
overview Stellarium screenshot with constellation art
The Pleiades looked beautiful in the 10x42 binoculars, with a lot of stars visible in and around the main stars. This Stellarium screenshot helps but doesn't really capture the beauty of it:
overview Stellarium screenshot: Pleiades
About 9pm, I had an unexpected interruption when somebody drove up next to me with bright lights, asking for information. After a minute or two, he asked me what I was doing. With the heavenly dome glittering about me, I couldn't imagine a better opportunity to praise and glorify the Creator of the Heavens, and soon we were chatting away about astronomy, Creation, faith, grace, heaven and hell, and a few other subjects. He took a look through my binoculars at Orion's belt and sword and was appropriately impressed by the great view of Orion's nebula.
The clouds started to thicken up about 9:30pm, and the stars were dimming rapidly, so I decided to head home.