Stargazing: Virgo: Fairbanks, AK, USA: 2024-02-16 (publ. 2024-02-16)

The NWS forecasted clear skies this morning. I was still feeling rather burned by the last two failed predictions, but I got up a little early and checked the weather reports. GEOS radar and pressure were promising, so I headed out to the boat launch around 3:30am AKST.

It turned out to be a good choice, as the skies were clear. The quarter moon was brightening up the sky some, but it had just fallen below the horizon. Not the darkest skies I've seen out there, but workable. Here is a view to the south, reproduced as well as I could in Stellarium:

view to the south

view to the south (with labels)

After surveying the situation, and looking at my charts, I decided to focus on an area just to the east of δ Virginis. I've never studied Virgo before, but it was nicely positioned in a spot in between the city lights to the east and some vehicle lights to the west. My charts showed a few galaxies near 35 Vir, though not especially bright ones. With warmer temps (1 deg F) and my heated gloves, I decided to do a sketch:

logbook scan

logbook scan (smaller size GIF)

That is about a 5 deg FOV in the 12x60 binoculars. This time I tried to focus more on speed of sketching rather than getting the angles and spacing exactly right. Here is a reproduced view in Stellarium:

binocular view of area west of δ Virginis

binocular view of area west of δ Virginis (with labels)

Comparing the two, I don't think any of the three galaxies made it into my sketch. In any case, I didn't see any glow. But it was still fun and interesting — perhaps I'll try this spot again later under darker skies.

I tried to do a second sketch, but one of the lens fogged up, and then I had to pack up and go to work. Overall, it was a good stargazing session, and a good study of a new area of sky, and I am thankful to the Creator for the opportunity.

Recently this hymn "He Ransomed Me" got stuck in my head. Here is verse 3 and the chorus:

By and by with joy increasing
And with gratitude unceasing,
Lifted up to be with Christ eternally,
I will join the hosts there singing,
In the anthem ever ringing,
To the King of Love who ransomed me.

Hallelujah! what a Savior
Who can take a poor, lost sinner,
Lift him from the miry clay and set me free!
I will ever tell the story,
Shouting, "Glory, glory, glory!"
Hallelujah! Jesus lifted me.

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

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