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Posted by Matthew Sullivan on March 25, 2002 01:54:38 UTC

Hi people,

Just got in from a quick 30-minute peek at a small handful of celestial treats through semi-transparent skies before heavier clouds started rolling in - our (Burlington, VT) first break from overcast evening skies in at least a week. I can only speculate it was a little reward from the Guy in charge up there for finally finishing off my taxes! :)

Since I could see the heavier clouds in the distance moving from west to east my observations through the 8x40 binoculars went in the same direction. In addition to this handicap, the moonlight shining down on high spotty clouds made things especially interesting. I struck out on all the faint fuzzies - the Double Cluster, the Andromeda Galaxy, M35 and M41 were nowhere to be found. The Pleides were a nice sight as was the extended Alpha Persei cluster.

Since the planets are bright enough to break through the clouds they made good targets. I could barely make out all four moons around Jupiter through a small break in the clouds. I spent a little too much time on Saturn trying to get a hint of the ring, though I couldn't quite hold the binos steady enough. If I had only thought to stop my pulse I could have had it!

The spectacle and the challenge of the night was M44, the Beehive Cluster in Cancer. This fantastic little cluster was just 5 degrees from a fat gibbous moon, but surprisingly I had no problem finding it. I could only count 12 stars instead of the 22 I can see on a good night. The high clouds near the moon were especially bright and made quite a spectacle moving rapidly across the field of view. I gazed at this area of the sky until on-by-one these stars disappeared under the thickening clouds. After a quick look at Arcturus I called it a night.


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