Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Chasing Mercury's Rainbow

This evening I traveled down to Newgale, though I had to wait about half an hour for the clouds to clear off.

In that time  I had the car park to myself, not a soul around, only the gentle breaking of the waves to keep me company. The sea was calm, the darkening sky was mottled with slow moving dense black cloud, a perfect setting to contemplate the Cosmos.

Finally the clouds gave way to the denim sky.....I spotted  Mercury hanging ghost like way out to the North West, towards St David's.

I trained the Schmidt onto this tiny spot of light. My 20mm Erfle eyepiece revealed a small shivering mass of rainbow colours...  no phase was detected!  Time to try my luck with the 9mm Ortho.

The 9mm eyepiece revealed even prettier rainbow colours, red, yellow and a lovely greeny blue....but still no phase detected!

Really I was pushing my luck as the planet was very low down on the horizon, but given the low altitude I hadn't realised detecting the planet's phase would be so difficult.

The little Schmidt had tried it's best, but Mercury had other ideas. At one point I thought I detected a slightly gibbous phase, though I reckon this was wishful thinking on my part!

After about ten minutes of observing, the clouds were back....  time to pack away the telescope.

Even though tonight's session was cut short, it was well worth the effort to get out and about in the county.

Clear "rainbow" Skies


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