Tonight the sky was very clear, so I was finally able to take that second Mars picture (to compare "during storm" and "after storm") using my 6" SCT on my GSO mount.
After I had taken 3 Mars videos and the planet was going behind an antenna, I said: "well, let's do some visual". A clear sky on a Saturday night, that's not too common. I gave Mars it's due, and a while later since the moon was up there, although I've not been much of a lunar observer, I gave it a go.
So tonight, I brought my Baader zoom, tried a filter I had gotten for Mars (Orange #21), and wow, that thing does increase contrast on the moon, enormously. It's a pink moon, but very contrasty. Still, I swapped for the Moon & Skyglow filter, and framed the whole moon. It was nice, almost full. I glanced at the whole disk for a while, then I saw a crater that I thought was pretty. I wondered what it's name was.
So I thought: well, it's probably a good time to finally use that S&T field map of the moon that I got several months ago. So I brought it in, and started comparing what I saw with the map. I could see Tycho (my "Orion" of the moon, the one feature I knew) easily on the eyepiece but couldn't find it on the map... Until matching some features showed me how I had to rotate it, and then I found it. Clearly marked, but buried in the middle of lots other stuff.
So I zoomed in a bit on Tycho and from there I started to "crater hop" towards the pretty thing I had seen.
I ended up walking around Mare Nubium, and zooming even more. I saw lots of stuff, craters, a "K" that took me a while to identify on the map, and then it seemed kind of obvious. I saw many craters, even a few eyepieces dropped there by some aliens, a Konig and a Ramsden. It must have been aliens because those were not anywhere near any Apollo landing site.
By the time I got to Mare Humorum, I had already screwed my Barlow to my Baader zoom, to have a little deeper zoom range, and I was zooming in and out as if I was a lander pilot.
There it was, the "pretty crater" I had seen was called Gassendi. I observed some more, and started to wonder about Apollo landing sites. So I checked the map, and saw where Apollo 11 was, with Apollo 17 very nearby. Mare Tranquilitatis was the place, I had to re-fold the field map, and turn on the Baader thusters to zoom out to a higher orbit. I located the the sea, and started digging in.
I saw quite a bit down there, going to lower orbits seemed to slow down time, cause it took me a while to finally get to the Apollo 17 landing site. I kept getting distracted, sightseeing. Later I headed for the nearby Apollo 11 site, and on the road I had a little trouble checking what I saw against the map, but I finally arrived to the Apollo 11 site, just in time because a ton of clouds had come in, making observing difficult, and were about to block even the moon.
I was impressed by:
#1. How much different it is to observe the moon with a map, vs without. The map makes all the difference in the world. Now you are exploring, navigating. It's a whole different experience, much improved.
#2. How much calm, serene, the experience was. Time slowed down, the lower the orbit the slower time got. Of course, mechanics of the Baader zoom and the manual GSO mount really lend themselves towards the "cockpit experience". I felt like using a joystick while peeking through the window of a lunar lander, everything was easy, focus, movement, seeing. That's what made it so relaxing. Even when the clouds came, I could still observe for a while before they obscured it all.
For me it's not like that with DSOs. All the struggle to detect them. All the attention and alertness to catch a glimpse through averted vision, It's often a struggle to find them, and a struggle to "see" them (from my bortle 8 skies), to the point that now I don't use my 10" dob much, and instead mostly do EAA for DSOs, having left visual mostly for just the planets.
Meanwhile, observing the moon can be so Zen, I had no idea.
Edited by Adun, 23 September 2018 - 12:18 PM.