November 5, 2011
Six Am Trek: Marvelous Mars And What's That Star?
COLOSSAL WOW! Just came in (7:38am) from an hours worth of observing!!! MARS IS SPECTACULAR RIGHT NOW! So exciting, observing is SOOO amazing! OBSERVING IS AN EPIC LIFE! I got up at 6 am for Sophy's doggie mother nature call and yikes I could not stop looking up. Too the right in the south west Orion is absolutely magnificently placed for observing with it's vivid bright stars. Too my left Leo was roaring along with Mars too the right and above Regulas. Wow what a show! There is a very vivid white star poping up in the early morning, it is being affected by the rising atmosphere and it moves so rapidly it glitters. Catch it if you get a chance in your scope. Leo triple galaxy was a nice treat also this morning. Very nice objects to hunt and capture in my scope.
After rolling out my 12 inch dobsonian 'Ambrosia' I moved it too Regulas, wow what a sight. Then to Mars and wow what a planet to observe in this size of scope, Ambrosia was doing a beautiful job showing me that planet. I started out getting it in my finderscope using my 26mm eyepiece, then I threw on my Antares 2x Barlow, then moved in just a little with my 25mm.
After that I decided to play with my filters and eyepieces. My eyepieces I used were my Meade 9.7mm and Orion 10mm eyepieces. Then my planetary filters. Mars isn't quite close enough to really dig into the landscape as great as you can with Jupiter (pm planet right now) but the filters provided some cool contrasts. As the dawn's light started to grow I just threw on my Anteres ND25 Moon filter and that darkens the background sky.
Now, onto the mystery star. I could not figure out what that star is. I know the skies, i've been observing it for 12 years and I should know, ever puzzling. Venus is up at dusk, rule that out. Saturn is up at dawn but it is a twinkling white star. Rule that planet out too. The only logical reasoning is a star but it is unclear to me because my experience and observing books, maps and Starry Night program tells me Arcturus could be the only star big enough to be it. But the star is orange. So after some research it is Arcturus.
Why the unclearness? Atmospheric turbulance is affecting it. When it is close to the horizon atmospherics will interfere with your view of it, happens to even the best telescopes. According to star catalogues Arcturus is classified as orange whitish. The atmpsheric conditions can make any star appear white. So I'm going to keep an eye out on it as the weeks progressed.
So I had quite the learning and adventurous time trying to figure that out, in my observing experience I have not had that happen. So it was really fun, and puzzling trying to figure it out. If your out early before dawn take a look at it, very interesting. But yet .. it's SO WHITE so i'm still 5% puzzled.
This morning was a fun observation session and you can bet I will be under the stars tomorow morning enjoying them all over again. What a great way too start a day!