Sunday, 29 July 2012

Tonight's 87% Moon reveals the Moon Maiden...


On my bookshelf sits a small little blue book titled "Peeps at the Heavens"

This book was printed in 1911, by the Reverend James Baikie F.R.A.S

One of the highlights in "Peeps at the Heavens" has to be on page 41, where the Rev Baikie talks of the Moon Maiden ........ and I quote:

"But perhaps the most interesting of all the faces is that called the "Moon Maiden," which is shown in plate VIII. It can only be seen with the telescope, and only when the Sun happens to shine upon it in exactly the right way. 

I have only seen it twice myself in twenty- five years.; but perhaps some fine night you may get a chance to see  this face of the Moon Maiden, with her long hair floating behind her, looking out from the cape of the Bay of Rainbows across the Sea of Showers."

Plate VII  "The Moon Maiden"
Well tonight I managed to catch a glimpse of that most beautiful of maidens....


Tonight's Lunar viewing was timed just right, the clouds stayed away, and the gap in our tree line framed the 87% illuminated waxing Moon perfectly.

I quickly opened the side windows of the observatory, trained the Tal's finder onto the lunar orb, and focused the 15mm Kellner. 

I was greeted with very steady seeing, and many lunar features stood out beautifully.  

Oddly I noticed that Proclus's ejecta rays had a hint of rainbow colour in them, what would cause this I don't know..!

I then headed South.....

After a couple minutes of viewing Clavius and it's surrounding companions I moved again Northwards...towards the Sinus Iridum...and then I saw her... the Moon Maiden....!

She was unmistakeable,  as the Rev Blaikie said "looking out from the cape of the Bay of Rainbows across the Sea of Showers"

I managed to take some pictures and a small video for posterity. 

The images hint at the presence of the Moon Maiden, though the naked eye views where outstanding....

I enjoyed another five minutes of lunar gazing.... and then the dreaded clouds returned!!

The Moon Maiden.... looking out to sea....



As the Rev Blaikie mentions .... "I have only seen it twice myself in twenty- five years"

I wonder when I will see her again.... ?


Friday, 27 July 2012

Lawn astronomy, the Summer Triangle & Where's my Teapot.!

The Summer Skies..  
Thanks to the recent warmer weather (at last!!) Wednesday evening was perfect for some Lawn Astronomy.

Out came a blanket and a good sized cushion to prop my head against.

I made myself comfortable by lying on the warm garden path, and with my 7x50 binoculars beside me I began my tour of the Summer Triangle, and it's surrounding companions.

I spent a while bino viewing Deneb, though I was soon mesmerised by the bright lights of the surrounding star fields, it was time to venture along that Milky expanse....

It is always wonderful to see the Milky Way, ethereal and ghostly, as it snakes its way towards our Galactic Centre.

Last night's view of our Galaxy was particularly magical,  I spent ages just simply drinking in the galactic photons. They renergised my astro batteries beautifully.

As part of my astro tour, I stopped off at Aquila, and was able to capture Altair and it's companions of Tarazed and Alshain in the same field of view of the 7x50's.

Delphinus
Delphinus had not long unsnagged itself from the big tree at the end of our garden. The ugly little dolphin made a lovely binocular image...

Now it was time to see Collinder 399 the Coathanger asterism.  This little asterism is always worth a good long look....

Next stop M57, or what I thought might be M57..!

I know the 7x50's are pushing it, but I thought I caught a glimpse of that most wonderful of planetary nebulae....  but really I think my brain was filling in the astro gaps...!!

Vega: the harp star






Off then to Vega, what a beautiful star, so bright so white.

So lovely hanging there at the zenith, like the bright light atop a Christmas tree..




It was great to be actually observing again. The apalling weather these past few months has really tested the patience of many an astronomer in the county.

Due to the ever growing trees, this is the extent of my Southerly viewing.

I can 't believe that July is nearly over, and that I still haven't seen the Teapot this year.

I really wanted to see the Teapot from our garden, but as you can see from the above picture, I have no chance...!!!  it's sadly lost somewhere in the neighbouring trees...

I'll just have to go astro-mobile one night soon and catch me that Teapot......

Maybe it's time to grab the tent and go for a nighttime walkabout up on the Preseli Hills of Pembrokeshire.....

Fingers crossed for more of this wonderful weather....

Nearby.. a lone dog howls..

The Full Mackerel Moon will be upon us on Monday,  nearby I can hear a dog practicing its lunar howling! Up above, the slow moving clouds...