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O.R. From Grimsby, ON - 02/17 & 18, 2002

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Posted by Glenn Muller on February 19, 2002 18:21:11 UTC

Two decent nights in a row! Decent means that if all your clothing doesn't actually cover your eyes, you can actually see stars. Galaxies even.
Ursa Major is finally high enough that M81 & 82 are snagable. Not only was this our first look at them but our first sighting of any galaxies. Smudges or not, we knew what they were and were suitable impressed. Fitting nicely, together, in the 25mm ep, they made a nice comparitive pair.

Moving to Castor, we were able to split the main "double" but this combo never seems to resolve cleanly. Perhaps that is due to them being multiple stars.

Saturn showed nicely, with a faintly detectable band just above (below?) its equator.

The Pleiades is an observer's playground with it's great variety of stars and patterns to draw the eye along. In the Feb.2002 issue of S&T, the binocular highlight is South437, an 8th magnitude double. By following two readily seen (in the ep) rows of stars, it is easily found. Looking like the puncture holes of a tiny spider's bite, the two minute stars of South437 are so well matched they actually jumped out at me before I knew what they were.

The Moon is making it's way through the 1st quarter and the shadows are adding relief to some excellent topography. In particular, the ridge running through Mare Serenitatis looked like a snake on a table top.

Timing is everything, however, and the clear skies of the past two nights are giving way to major cloud cover and, unfortunately, the odds of our seeing the Moon/Saturn occultation seem remote : ( Still, you never know.

Glenn Muller

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