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Thursday, November 25, 2010

We Welcome Rebecca and Yair

We welcomed Rebecca and Yair from Tel Aviv to our "observatory in the hills" above Mitzpe Ramon. We had a beautifully clear night with temperatures in the high 50s (F). We began early, around 6:00 PM, to get some dark sky observing in before the 17 day old moon rose at 8:00.

After a quick tour of the night sky with green laser pointer we set our sights on the beautiful Double Cluster in Perseus, followed by M31 in Andromeda. We anticipated where the moon would rise and got a spectacular view of it in the telescope as it rose above the hills in the east, seeing it as a great yellow egg outlining the hills in the foreground. We saw the gem-like double star Alberio and then moved on to Jupiter, the King of Planets. Switching to the moon I decided to try out the bino-viewer and we were treated to a great space-walk view of the lunar surface in 3D. At that point I couldn't resist training the scope with bino-viewer on Jupiter. It looked like a painted ping-pong ball hanging in space. It truly is much easier to see planetary detail with two eyes rather than one.

We shared hot drinks and marveled at how bright the moon is when it rises into a truly dark sky. That's why the Indians never attacked the fort during a full moon! Since our observing location is near the edge of the Machtesh, we wandered over to the unprotected rim where we got a good view of the giant crater by moonlight.

Rebecca at the helm of the 4-inch William Optics refractor.

Rebecca immediately took to operating the focus and slow motion controls of the telescope. I think she will soon need her own!

Thank you, Yair and Rebecca, for allowing us to take you on a tour of the night sky from Mitzpe Ramon.

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