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March 11, 2016 March 11, 2016

Posted by orionrising in Observing.
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Had a quick observing session tonight with just the eyes. As it is early spring, the Big Dipper was standing on edge with the ladle end down; I mainly focused on the distinct hexagonal formation made from the constellation Auriga. It’s not a perfect hexagon but slightly skewed. Its brightest star, Capella, was a very bright and distinct yellow. Also noticed that Orion was setting in the Southwest; the Winter constellation will set at around 9 or 10 pm and later will not be visible in the night sky as Spring progresses and changes into Summer. I missed the opposition of Jupiter three days ago but if it’s clear the next few days I might take a look at it again with the scope. Mid March (as is Mid Autumn) is a great time to stargaze as the weather is balmy enough to be comfortable, but all the bugs and other creatures haven’t arrived yet.

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February 3, 2016 February 4, 2016

Posted by orionrising in Observing.
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Did some impromptu observing when I came home today after class. It was unseasonably warm tonight, a balmy five degrees. The sky was mainly clear but it was a bit gusty at times.

Only had a few minutes so I whipped out the binoculars, as they are the fastest. Noticed that Orion was already starting to set. Spring is almost here and the winter constellations are starting to set earlier. The big dipper was raised on its side, ladle up.

Using the binoculars I scanned some of the star fields near Mizar and Alcor, the double star formation forming the highest point of the big dipper’s handle. Then moved on to the next major star on the right, Alioth.

Sweeping the binocular field westward, I soon fell upon an interesting formation of stars in┬áCassiopeia, near epsilon cas. It’s quite striking in my 10 x 50s. The cluster of stars seem like a perpendicular rack. See the figure below, which illustrates this interesting formation.

stellarium-002

 

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