22 February 2010

Last week's observing

We had a mighty fine time last week! A whole string of clear nights; we took the 'scope out the backyard and decided to work our way around Orion and Canis Major (and a couple of other fine things).

47 Tuc, and it really was beautiful.

In Orion, I checked out Rigel - which it turns out is a double star, and I could indeed see the very faint blue companion star. I also looked at the other three corners of Orion - Betelgeuse, which was really red, and I forget the names of the other two corners. Then there's Eta Orionis, which is really a triple but only the AB pair are visible, and even then very close: they look to be touching. The Trapezium, of course, is glorious; and the nebula of M42, even from the light-polluted backyard, is always a happy-Alex-making sight.

I enjoyed looking around Canis Major. Of course, there's Sirius - almost bright enough to be blinding in the scope. The delightful H3945 is an orange and blue double, pretty widely spaced apart. But even more awesome - and perhaps my new favourite object - is Beta 324: two pairs of doubles, perpendicular to each other. They just look amazing. Then there's M41, an open cluster; c121, another cluster; NGC2362, a tight cluster with a single very bright star in the center (Tau Canis Majoris); and yet another open cluster in NGC2360.

Mars is particularly marvellous at the moment. It's still getting up a little too late for easy casual viewing, but it's getting there. It's far enough north that when we were out and looking, we had to drag Ptolemy through the entire house (the courtyard looks south) to check it out. But it was worth it: a great big red disc. Glorious.

I think that basically covers it. I was pretty out of it the first night, despite J's attempts at jollying me into it. The next few nights I got more into it, which was great.