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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Holy Mackerel!

A Mackerel Sky nearly ruined our night under the stars with Ilana and Yossi, but we persevered until the clouds dissipated. In addition to clouds we had to contend with a first quarter moon, which is really bright under the dark skies of the desert.

We had a marvelous view of Jupiter as it set in the west, right next to the moon-illuminated dome of the Wise Observatory. I didn't get a chance to take a picture through the telescope, so you'll just have to take my word how cool it is to see Jupiter and its 4 Galilean moons sink below the horizon in the same field of view as the great dome of the observatory. Not far away (visually) was Uranus, although 1.4 billion miles separated it from Jupiter.

The Great Nebula in Orion shone brightly, defying the light of the first quarter moon. We tried to split the Pup again, but did not achieve our goal, despite using a power of 300x. This remains on our list of "must do" items this winter observing season.

Splitting the Pup: Sirius has a dim 8th magnitude companion just 11 arc seconds distant during 2011. It is affectionately known as the Pup, since Sirius has been known as the Dog Star for millennia.

We hope to see Ilana and Yossi again with their extended family for a family tour of the night sky from Mitzpe Ramon.

Yossi, Ilana and me after our observing session.

Keep on looking up!
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