Last night started out with clouds, but a clear sky was supposed to eventually come my way.
Generally, if I don't set up a telescope around sunset, I'm not very likely to take one out later -- after it's gotten dark. In last night's situation, I didn't judge the sky as clear enough until nearly 2am. Well, what to do? I really didn't feel like taking a telescope out, but I didn't want to waste an opportunity either . . .
Such nights are perfect (for me) for some binocular observing. There's no need to take out a tripod and mount. All I need do is step out and observe 'stuff'. It had been a while since I had a 'serious' binocular session -- possibly even more than a year. The sky was dark and clear! The temperature was a comfortable +10 degrees F. The only real decision to make was which pair of binoculars to make use of.
I decided to go with the 'big' ones, a pair of 25x100s. Now, living under a dark sky has some advantages. For binocular astronomy I don't really need to dress very warmly. The general binocular plan calls for stepping out onto a porch and looking for various objects, followed by returning inside to log what was seen and deciding on the next object or the next set of objects. Charts, etc. can stay inside. This approach keeps the binoculars from ever getting cold enough (they're not outside long enough) to dew up on all the trips back into the warmer indoors. There's no need to change out of my sweat pants and tennis shoes. There's no need for a hat and gloves. I'm simply not outside for any 'long' stretches of time.
Inside the house all lights are kept off. While inside I use only my adjustable "astronomer's" flashlight to see by. So I never lose much of my dark-adaption. While outside there's not need for any lights of any kind. Starlight and natural air-glow provide sufficient light to see by.
This isn't an observing report, so I won't list each object observed, nor provide any descriptions. I will give some idea of the session though. All things totaled, I observed 78 deep-sky objects -- 57 Messier objects and 21 non-Messiers. All Messier objects from 3hr RA through 14hr RA were observed with a lone exception. By the time I had gotten to M83, the sky showed signs of clouding up. The thickest cloud managed to cover M83's location.
The non-Messiers observed were mainly those found near the various targeted Messier objects.
I was free to spend as much or as little time inside and outside as I wanted -- as long I avoided anything that would compromise my dark-adaptation.
By session's end, I was walking on a layer of frost when outside, but never once did I have any problem with frost (or dew) forming on the binocular's objectives and/or eyepieces. I suppose years of experience have helped in gaining an understanding of how to aviod such issues.
Unlike some of my earlier sessions, I heard no Great Horned Owls this time, but there was a distant, brief, 'whimpy' bark at one point in time. It didn't quite sound like a domestic dog. Other than that, there wasn't much to take note of.
So, why a *Clear Nights** posting? Well, it just seems that we don't hear about them very often -- at least not here on *Cloudy Nights**. Sometimes a person can get the impression that few of us actually go out into the darkness and look up. There's just so much focus on equipment -- buying it, selling it, replacing it, making comparisons, looking for solutions to problems, providing answers to questions, giving excuses for not going out, etc.
After your next *Clear Night** session, how about sharing a little about your experience? Perhaps one such posting every couple of months could be "doable" -- just to give others a taste of what some of your sessions are like.
I look forward to reading about your experiences.