Astronomy Log: 2019002

Date/Time: 2019/01/13 18:02 EST
Location: Springwater, Ont, CA
Temp: -12°C
Seeing: 4/5
Conditions: Clear
Telescope: Meade 2080 LX6 Premier f/10
Eyepieces: Meade 24.5mm SWA, Tele Vue 11mm Plössl
Filters: n/a

Prolog

My youngest son informed me that the only two remaining planets on his "Astronomy bucket list" are Neptune and Uranus. I noticed in the morning that the Clear Sky Chart was showing that the seeing tonight was supposed to be good, and it was going to be clear. So I suggested we bundle up, load our car up with our scopes (he has an 8" Dob) and head out to a field north west of town to see if we could bag these two planets (along with a few others).

Target: the Moon

It took me a long time to set up my scope. At -12°C, I was punished every time I had to take a glove off to put in a bolt or attach a cable on my scope. By contrast, my son has his Dob unloaded out of the car and was up and running in about 5 minutes! Regardless, once I got things running, I took in the Moon with my 24.5mm eyepiece. It was showing a beautiful waxing crecent and the detail visible was breathtaking. The transparency and seeing were both very good right after sunset. Unfortunately, they both deteriorated soon thereafter so the Moon was the best object of the night for me. Also unfortunate was that I didn't spend any time actually looking at anything on the Moon - I just observed the crecent shape (almost half, actually) along with Mares Frigoris, Serenitatis, Crisium, Tranquilitatis, Fecunditatis and Nectaris. The relief of the southern craters was also very apparent. Given the failure awaiting me, I should have just stuck with looking at the Moon.

Target: Mars

I had a quick peek at Mars. In the 24.5mm it was just a bright round disc that actually looked more white than red on this night. I didn't even bother to put up the power - I just moved on. I did use it to align my Telrad, though!

Epilog

I spent about 20 minutes setting up, about 5 minutes looking at the Moon, then 2 minutes looking at Mars and the rest of the time was spent working with my son to track down Neptune and Uranus - neither of which we were able to locate. Shortly after I got set up and going, the transparency of the sky fell out, and things got hazy in a hurry. It was very humid which was suprising with how cold it was. We were both unable to track down any helpful stars to hop our way to either planet. I focused on Neptune as it was setting shortly and my son worked on Uranus. In the end after about 30 minutes of searching, we both gave up due to the cold. We packed up, went back into town and picked up some hot chocolate and donuts. So the night worked out in the end! We both agreed that we'd come back to this observing spot - but only if it was warmer!