March 20, 2008
Last night the moon was shining through the trees, but I was able to observe the three large open clusters in Auriga---M38, M36, and M37 (M37 is such a stunning sight at 50x). While looking at M38, I was able to see NGC 1907 next door, but even in the XT8 it was only a patch of mist in the bright moonlight at 50x. I also noted nearby W. Struve 698, widely split at 50x and yellow-orange and white.
March 10, 2008
Despite finding my first Messier object (M13) at age 13, nearly 30 years ago (I wondered if I'd discovered a comet in my Edmund Astroscan), I have not yet made it through Messier's list in full. A few years ago, after I'd come to own optical aid again, I listed the ones I had missed. M63 was included in the list, but I checked that galaxy off on Saturday (March 8) night late, when I found it with a 100mm f/6 refractor from the backyard. There was M63, near a certain star, just where the nearby asterism pointed to it. In fact, even in the 100mm refractor, M63 at 75x was oval and its surface did not have a glow that was uniform across its face. I would say it was speckled. I noticed this only on the side nearest the star. I was only out for an hour, but I also observed M104, M65, M66, Gamma Leonis, Cor Caroli (easily resolved at 25x), Mizar & Alcor, and Xi UMa.
March 6, 2008
Yesterday morning, March 5, I caught the view of Venus, Mercury, and the Moon together. This is a snapshot with the Sony DSC-75. Please click on the image for a complete view (and to see Mercury better). (I took some video, also. If I can figure out how to post that, I will.)
March 4, 2008
This morning was cloudless. In the east, just before sunup, Venus shone above the trees. Just above Venus, and a little to the south, was Mercury. This was a similar configuration to the morning of December 20, 2004, the date on which I first found Mercury in the sky with my own eyes! But this morning, a little south and much higher in the sky but still in the same view, was the waning crescent moon. It was a lovely sight.