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Great Winter Skies

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#1 Tony Flanders

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 11:58 AM

As someone in a different thread remarked, it's always nice to emphasize the positive. So here goes ...

We had unusually clear skies here in Boston, MA, after the Sunday rain that wiped out all our lovely snow (sob). And a good thing, too, because those were the last few days when Venus was readily visible before inferior conjunction. I viewed it both during the day and right after sunset three days running.

However, it was pretty chilly on Monday and Tuesday, with lows in the single digits and highs in the teens (F). That wouldn't be a problem in and of itself, but it was also quite windy, making it challenging to manipulate small objects such as eyepieces and pencils.

More to the point, Monday night, when the skies were glorious, was so windy that telescopic observing was out of the question; even my sturdiest scope would have been shaking all over the place.

Tuesday was somewhat less windy, but it clouded over around 9 p.m.

But last night everything came together. The temp was a balmy 25F and no wind at all -- some of my all-time favorite observing conditions. It's cold enough so that snow doesn't even think about melting and getting messy, but warm enough to stay toasty all night if you dress even halfway carefully. The transparency was pretty good, though undermined by the 65%-lit Moon, which didn't make for great deep-sky observing.

But the real surprise was the seeing. Winter seeing tends to be bad, but last night I had my best-yet view of Jupiter during this apparition -- and that through my measly little 70-mm refractor. It didn't hurt that the Great Red Spot was transiting the meridian, nor that the GRS is now darker than it's been for a decade.

Sadly, my backlog of work is too big for me to spend a really long time outside, but I spent a delightful two hours -- an easy investment when using a 70-mm refractor -- and came back indoors thoroughly refreshed.

#2 BoldAxis1967

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 01:48 PM

Balmy 25F + no wind + good seeing + GRS + 2 quality hrs = Touchdown!

LB

#3 spencerj

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 02:11 PM

I am just a bit further north. I was out Tuesday and Thursday for about an hour and a half each night. On Tuesday, I used my garage as a wind shield. It cuts down on the sky that can be seen, but I had great views from Orion to Jupiter. The seeing was much better on Thursday and the weather was fantastic. I will take 25F over mosquitoes any day.

I wish I had setup my M703, but I didn't have enough time to really get it cooled down plus I didn't want to deal with my CG-5 and power. I had to settle for the TV102 consolation prize. The GRS was perfectly placed and very obvious in the great seeing. It is definitely a darker shade than the band this year. In general, detail just kept popping out in the all the bands. A couple of great impromptu sessions in what is turning out to be a tough winter.

#4 BigC

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 02:45 PM

The POSITIVE:it warmed up to above freezing!! :)

And it was POSITIVELY cloudy in all directions at 9p.m. ,then it snowed lightly overnight.

#5 davebuechler

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 04:09 PM

Glad you started this thread and it is next to "Lousy Winter Skies" Interesting to see which will get more response.

Minus 3.5 degrees in KY earlier this week but was able to sneak in a quick look though bino's under some very nice transparent and dark skies. Two nights later we also has about 25 and was able to spend several hours touring around with my 4" refractor again very good transparency and good seeing.

Christmas night was also exceptionally clear with good seeing and although the seeing wasn't great on New Years Eve, the transparency was very good.

So this being January 10th. I have had at least 4 sessions of 2-4 hours with my 4" plus a couple of quick peeks through bino's just this year!

Great winter skies with more to come!!!

#6 hfjacinto

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 04:11 PM

We had a great days last week, COLD as HECK but I was able to get a few images.

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#7 hfjacinto

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 04:12 PM

And the moon

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#8 hfjacinto

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 04:15 PM

On the 4th I captured a beautiful crescent.

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#9 hfjacinto

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 04:16 PM

And when it was cloudy I reprocessed some of my other images (here is one the North America nebula)

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#10 payner

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 05:40 PM

Beautiful photographs, I especially enjoyed looking at your moon shots. Glad everyone has enjoyed the viewing opportunities this week. I'll wait until it's in the upper 20s, at least.

Best,
Randy

#11 davebuechler

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 07:25 PM

Are you guys imaging remotely? That's about the only way I would image in Minus 3 degree weather! That or a permanent set up (OBS). I know my DSLR loves the cold but I don't. My cut off for AP is at 20F, but will observe anytime the skies permit!
Kudos! Nice photos

#12 hfjacinto

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 07:31 PM

Dave,

All those were done from my home or at Jenny Jump (Hope, NJ). The moons were at 5*F and 12*F, Jupiter was as 2*F.

I dressed really warm. Here is me at Jenny Jump 2 winters ago, I did visual that night.

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#13 davebuechler

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 08:05 PM

Wow, that's dedication! Nice job!

#14 Seldom

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 10:38 AM

We had a great days last week, COLD as HECK but I was able to get a few images.

Nice to know there are times when a snowball does have a chance...

#15 rlmxracer

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 12:19 PM

Yeah it got pretty cold here last night in So Cal. I think it was 50 brrrr :roflmao:. You guys are hard core going out in those temps. Glad you were able to get some time in with all the bad weather you've had. Clear skies to you.

#16 OrdinaryLight

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 01:32 PM

Tony, I'm about 20 miles north-west of you and also caught part of the GRS transit Thursday night and watched for about an hour. This was only my second time seeing the GRS.

The first came early in the morning on Wednesday the 8th when I also got my first ever views of Mars and Saturn. Jupiter was about to be lost in the trees to the West, Mars was somewhere around 40º, and Saturn was just clearing the trees to the East. That was easily my most exciting viewing session so far and was completely unplanned. It wouldn't have happened if something hadn't woken me up around 4AM and the refractor wasn't so easy to carry out the door. It took longer to get dressed for 5ºF then to get the gear ready but so worth it!

#17 GeneT

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 03:50 PM

You guys really take some great photos!

#18 hfjacinto

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 05:36 PM

Ok today is raining, and 60*. My wife is out with her girlfriends and I'm going out for a beer at 7, so with a little time to kill, I reprocessed Comet Hartley from 2009.

Thanks for looking

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#19 Astrodj

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Posted 12 January 2014 - 12:50 AM

I agree, it is nice to focus on the positives. I like the final comments you made the most. It never fails to amaze me how "refreshing" it is to spend a little time under the stars.

I had the first clear night in weeks tonight and after family obligations I was able to sneak out for about 10 minutes with just my eyes and some old 10x50's I keep by the back door. I have to get up in 5 hours for work so that is all I really can afford to spend outside by myself. The few minutes I am spending here on CN are minutes I have to be up and inside for anyway.

That 10 minutes was great. M41, the Moon, M45, M42, etc...

Priceless!

#20 Sonomajfk

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Posted 12 January 2014 - 01:56 AM

I went out last night as well, but didn't expect much with clouds moving in and rain due by morning. I grabbed the little 70mm I got for Christmas and spent a peaceful hour looking at the moon, Jupiter, and Orion as clouds moved in. Then a beautiful ring around the moon as I gathered up my stuff to go inside. Just sat and watched for a few minutes more. Always some magic looking at the night sky.
John.

#21 joaoba

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Posted 12 January 2014 - 09:49 AM

We've had clouds for a week or so, but yesterday it snowed sideways for about an hour, then cleared beautifully around 9PM. I stayed out to watch Io pass in front of Jupiter, then watched its shadow as long as I could stand the cold. Also caught a few cluster in the big dog, and split a few stars in Orion. It was a great night despite the cold.

#22 hfjacinto

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Posted 12 January 2014 - 10:00 AM

Supposed to be clear tonight and around 30* so I am going to the local community college around 7PM so some lunar and bright objects.

#23 payner

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Posted 12 January 2014 - 04:02 PM

Hey, that sounds like a nice evening brewing. I hope you get to enjoy the evening under the stars.

Best,
Randy

#24 OrdinaryLight

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 07:16 AM

Last night we had rain but this morning I looked out the window at 4:45 and saw it was clear and 32ºF so I went out to spend about an hour enjoying Mars and Saturn until the sky brightened with the dawn.

#25 Illinois

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 07:52 AM

Love open clusters in Winter. Many open clusters in Puppis, Monoceros, Auriga, and Canis Major. Some everywhere as M45, M44, M35, etc. M93 is real nice open cluster!






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