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All observing logs tagged with Mare Fecunditatis


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-05-01 20:10 UT
To: 2006-05-01 22:17 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Antares 905
Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Temperature: 8.9°C ...
Dew Point: 2.8°C ...
Humidity: 66% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1003.3hPa ...

Calm, clear evening. Still light when I first stepped out. Some high-level haze was visible but it seemed to be patchy and didn't look like it would cause much of a problem. Waxing crescent Moon (about 12% illuminated) in the western sky.

The main plan for the evening was to try and observe comet 73P-C Schwassmann-Wachmann 3. With this in mind I set up both the 905 and the 130M — the idea being that the former would be useful for locating the comet and the latter would be better for actual observing once I'd located it.

The Moon

From: 2006-05-01 20:14 UT
To: 2006-05-01 20:30 UT

While waiting for it to get dark (and while letting the 130M have plenty of time to cool down) I decided to turn the 905 on the Moon. I started with the 25mm eyepiece. Right away the earthshine looked very impressive, good enough to see plenty of features on the night side of the Moon.

Mare Crisium was fully illuminated with the terminator running through Mare Fecunditatis.

I spent a little time using different eyepieces and quickly running up and down the terminator, enjoying the sights of the various craters and mountains that could be picked out. I made no serious effort to do any real lunar observing as that wasn't the main point of the evening.

I then spent a bit of time trying to get a couple of images, through the 25mm eyepiece, using the camera in my mobile phone. Sadly the day-side of the Moon was always too washed out and none of the images were any good.


From: 2006-05-01 20:37 UT
To: 2006-05-01 21:00 UT

Next, while waiting for it to get dark enough to look for the comet, I decided to have a look at Saturn. I started with the 905 and the 10mm eyepiece. Right off the planet's shadow on the rings was obvious. The image was sharp but often unsteady. There was no obvious hint of the Cassini Division.

Next I switched to the 6mm eyepiece and there was a good view of the shadow of the rings on the planet. There was also a faint suggestion of banding on the planet's surface. The image wasn't as steady as previous sessions but, with the 6mm, I did start to get the odd hint of the Cassini Division in steady moments.

One thing that was very obvious was, when compared to the last couple of views I've had of Saturn with the 905 (2006-03-24 and 2006-04-03), the planet was looking smaller than I recalled.

Next, as a comparison test, I turned the 130M on Saturn. Using the 6mm eyepiece the image was (obviously) much bigger than with the 905 but it was also much softer too. At no point could I get as sharp a focused image as I could with the 905. I'd say that the 130M didn't give me any more detail on Saturn than the 905 did, perhaps even a little less. The image was, obviously, much brighter with the 130M.

I find it hard to believe that there'd be that much difference between the two, this suggests to me that I really need to give the 130M a good check-up and redo the collimation (it has been a long time since I checked the collimation).

International Space Station

Time: 2006-05-01 21:08 UT

Noticed a very bright satellite heading west to east, just below Leo. Watched it head down into Virgo and then fade. Given the look, location and speed I suspected that it was the International Space Station.

Checking later, it was the ISS.

Haze starting to form

Time: 2006-05-01 21:12 UT

Noticed that some thicker high-level haze was starting to form. This was causing a slight halo around the Moon and, looking over to Hercules, I could see that it was difficult (but not impossible) to see the Keystone asterism.


Time: 2006-05-01 21:18 UT

Watched a satellite pass south to north just west of Boötes.

According to `stella' on the SPA BB what I saw was a rocket body called Resurs 1-4.

First look for Comet 73/P-C Schwassmann-Wachmann 3

Time: 2006-05-01 21:27 UT

Despite the fact that conditions were less than ideal I decided to have a first go at looking for Schwassmann-Wachmann 3. Using the 905 with the 25mm eyepiece I started out at Epsilon Herculis and worked my way to the general location of the comet (actually, fragment C of the comet — that's all I was concentrating on this evening — mostly because I ran out of time and good conditions). With no effort at all I found the comet.

The general impression was that it was faint, fuzzy and conical shaped. With direct vision it was almost impossible to see but with averted vision it was easy enough to detect. At times there was a hint of blue/white colour to it.

Next I dropped the 32mm eyepiece in the 130M and located the comet with that. This time I could see it with direct vision and there was a very obvious hint of a tail — even more so when averted vision was used.

Still on the 130M I then switched to the 25mm eyepiece and then the 15 mm eyepiece but found that, the shorter the focal length I used, the worse the image became. The 32mm eyepiece was easily giving the best view.

At this point, using the 130M and the 25mm eyepiece, I made a mental note of the location of the comet in relation to the stars close by with a view to seeing if I could detect movement with a later observation.

Comet 73/P-C Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 with 10x50 binocular

Time: 2006-05-01 21:45 UT

I grabbed my Meade 10x50 binocular and quickly located the comet without any effort. It was very obvious — impossible to miss. When compared with M13 the comet appeared bigger and more diffuse.

Jupiter with the naked eye

Time: 2006-05-01 21:55 UT

From the bottom of the garden I noticed, through some trees over the road from me, that Jupiter was up and looking very bright. Sadly, given the position, it was almost impossible to use either of the telescopes to have a look. Given that Jupiter is going to be rather low to the horizon for this apparition there's a good chance that I won't get to observe it (at least not from home) as it'll probably be obscured by the house most of the time.

Second look at Comet 73/P-C Schwassmann-Wachmann 3

From: 2006-05-01 22:10 UT
To: 2006-05-01 22:17 UT

After a short break I went back to the 130M with the 25mm eyepiece to see if I could detect any movement (based on the earlier mental note). It was instantly obvious that there had been movement in that time. Given the rate of movement I saw in such a short period of time I noted that it would be interesting to see how the location compared on subsequent nights (assuming, of course, that the weather plays ball and I get the chance to observe it again any time soon).

By 22:17 UT thicker haze had moved in from the west and it looked like it was more or less horizon to horizon. At this point I decided to call an end to the session.


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-11-17 14:28 UT
To: 2005-11-17 14:40 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Temperature: 5.0°C
Humidity: 60%

A very clear day today, no visible clouds. Decided to have yet another quick look at the Sun with the naked eye and with the Solarscope to see how sunspot 822 was getting on.

Sunspot 822 with naked eye

Time: 2005-11-17 14:28 UT

Just like yesterday, sunspot 822 was immediately visible — no effort was required to find it. It was a very clear, dark spot.

Sunspot 822 with Solarscope

From: 2005-11-17 14:33 UT
To: 2005-11-17 14:40 UT

As seen in the Solarscope, 822 had more or less the same appearance as yesterday. However, the biggest pair of spots now looked like they had merged — I could see no gap between them. This made them look even more like a Mandelbrot set. There also appeared to be more small spots between the big pair and the smaller pair of spots (I first counted seven and then managed to make out eight while doing the sketch that follows).

Did the following sketch:

Sketch of Sunspot 822

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-11-17 20:35 UT
To: 2005-11-17 22:53 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 0.2°C
Humidity: 64%

Very cold, very clear night. The Moon was just past full. Given that it was washing out the sky I decided to carry on with getting to know the Moon with binoculars.

General observing of the Moon

From: 2005-11-17 20:35 UT
To: 2005-11-17 21:30 UT

The first feature that really stood out, just a little in from the terminator, was the crater Langrenus. I could actually see the central peak through the binocular.

The next thing I noticed, north and east of Mare Crisium, is what looked like some sort of "channel" running SW to NE. It appeared to be a "slot" of shadow that seemed to cut into the sunlit part of the Moon, coming out of the terminator. I checked on my Lunar map but couldn't be sure what was causing it. I suspect it might have been something to do with Mare Anguis.

I then noticed that I could still clearly see the dark patches that I noted a couple of nights ago. I could count five "patches", they appeared to run round the "headland" that contains the crater Schröter. The last of the patches (working counter-clockwise) seems to be near or in Sinus Medii.

Noticed another crater with a visible peak that stands out well: Petavius. Also very visible, near Petavius, due to their floors being in shadow, are Hase, Adams and Legendre. The latter seemed to be almost touching the terminator.

Went back to Langrenus in Mare Fecunditatis. Near it I could easily make out Barkla, Kapteyn, Lohse, Lamé and Vendelinus.

Warm-up break

From: 2005-11-17 21:31 UT
To: 2005-11-17 22:01 UT
Temperature: 0.0°C
Humidity: 64%

Getting bitterly cold. Decided to take a warm-up break.

More general observing of the Moon

From: 2005-11-17 22:02 UT
To: 2005-11-17 22:26 UT
Temperature: 0.0°C
Humidity: 65%

Having warmed up a little I went back to viewing the Moon some more through the binocular. Spent some time working my way north from Mare Crisium. Cleomedes was very obvious, as was Geminus. I also thought I could make out Berosus, right in the terminator.

A quick warm-up break

From: 2005-11-17 22:27 UT
To: 2005-11-17 22:41 UT

Getting bitterly cold again — decided to take a short warm-up break.

Saturn, Procyon and end of session

From: 2005-11-17 22:42 UT
To: 2005-11-17 22:53 UT
Temperature: 0.0°C
Humidity: 65%

Came back out again after having warmed up but it was feeling very cold now. To the east I noticed that Procyon, in Canis Minor had risen above the roofs and, to the north of it and about as bright, I could see Saturn. Not too long now and it should be high enough at a reasonable hour that I can get the telescope on it.

I had a quick look at Saturn with the binocular. I obviously couldn't see any actual detail but I could see that it was very elongated when compared with a star.

By 22:53 UT the cold was really starting to get to me so I decided to call an end to the session.

Page last modified: 2013-04-09 09:19:19 UT
Dave Pearson <davep@davep.org>
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