Stargazing: Orion: Fairbanks, AK, USA: 2024-01-10 (publ. 2024-01-12)

We had clear skies last night, so I went to the boat launch after prayer service. This is roughly the level of visibility I remember for the naked eye, reproduced in Stellarium:

southern sky

Something than I can't reproduce in Stellarium is that it was bright skies toward the east in the direction of the city, but much darker toward the west. In any case, the sky felt much darker tonight with it being the new moon.

I decided to try out the PowerSeeker 127EQ reflector again. Unfortunately, the experience was not good. Pointing was nightmarish as ever, and for some unclear reason I am still getting poor clarity, and some weird effects with light spikes. I spent about an hour working with it, and then gave up and reverted back to a combination of naked-eye star gazing and using the binoculars freehand (without a mount). By that time it was past 9pm, which for me is very late (needing to be at work by 6am) but I couldn't bear to go home at that point, so I stayed out for another hour or so. Since there wasn't much time left to explore, I focused mainly on Orion, which was conveniently positioned.

It seems like, with my naked eyes, I could only see down to mag 4 or so. But with the binoculars (12x60 SkyMaster) I was seeing lots of stars, at least down to mag 9.5. The following Stellarium screenshots attempt to reproduce what I saw:

Orion's sword

Orion's sword (with labels)

Orion's belt

Orion's belt (with labels)

I didn't have time to do a sketch, but I wanted to feel like I had learned something new, so I explored the areas around β Orionis, poking out a little into nearby constellations Eridanus and Lepus. There were two groups of stars that caught my attention:

area near β Eridani

area near β Eridani (with labels)

area near λ Leporis

area near λ Leporis (with labels)

Here is a close up of Orion if you need some context:

Orion constellation

Orion constellation (with constellation art)

My brother bought me some heated gloves, powered by lithium batteries. I was rather skeptical at first, but I must say that they worked really great, at least at -16 degrees F. My fingers stayed warm the entire time, even while I was holding the binoculars. The only things I can think to complain about are (1) the red leds shine into my eyes while I am holding the binoculars, unless I twist my hands inward a bit, and (2) it feels a little disconcerting having large lithium batteries attached to your wrist. Hopefully they never catch fire or anything like that...

Here is some Scripture suitable for today's stargazing gemlog post:

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. [...] I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

— Revelation 21:10, 22-23 (NASB 1995)

This work © 2024 by Christopher Howard is licensed under Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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