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June 30, 2002 - The Sun and a handful of stars...

Comments: Had a look at the Sun today. Since 08 left, there's not too much happening at the moment. Simple spots 16 and 17 have rotated well in. Normal amounts of granulation and faculae are apparent at both the eastern and western limbs. It's so quiet!

Ah, well... I'll check it out again. One of the most fascinating parts about solar observance is just how quickly things can change.

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The extreme heat here in Ohio makes for partly cloudy skies after sunset. I know as the temperature drops, it will clear more and more. But you know me. That duty and honor thing.... Work calls and I can't be out all night right now. (as much as i'd like too!)

But nowhere in the rulebook does it say that I can't just kick back here in the redwood chair and listen to the radio for a bit. Corona, a twist of lime, and the Summer Triangle are mighty fine companions.

And sometimes we all need a bit of company, don't we?

"I heard it all before. So don't knock down my door. I'm a loser and a user so I don't need no accuser to try and slag me down because I know I'm right. So go do what you like. Make sure you do it wise. You may find out that your selfdoubt means nothing was ever there.
You can't go forcing something if it's just not right.

No time to search the world around.... Cause you know where I'll be found.

When I come around...."
                    



June 29/30, 2002 - M57, M56, M27, M71 and NGC6940...

Comments: Woke up to a halfways decent sky. Despite working the night shift, I still dig being able to put in a little "sky time" before I head out. Like my morning walks, I find it stimulating and relaxing at the same time. And tonight I chose the 12.5....

First up is the "Ring"... Still not giving an outstanding presentation, because the sky isn't supporting it, I try aversion to catch the central, but there simply isn't enough contrast. But you know what? That tiny fine on that lays to the 4:00 edge comes in with no problem! What's up with that?! Waiting for a moment of clarity, and hoping to catch the braids proves a bit futile. Since my time is limited, I decide to head on down.

M56, Lyra's tiny globular comes next. This is where the dob shines! At low power the field about the M56 is stunning... Calling on the power reveals a concentration of unresolvable stars to the southeast edge, and aversion brings some of them forward. Far more pleasing is the northwest, where individual stars break away.

Running with my program, I head for the M27 next... A good friend once called its' appearance that of an "apple core"... And tonight his description is very just. It still bears that green phosphorescent quality that I so well remember... One thing tonight, that essence is missing. I sense no "movement".... It's flat. Perhaps the heat haze blocks the signature spectra.

Time to tackle the M71. This is probably the most unusual globular in the sky. Darn thing looks like a jellyfish under low power! Yeah, that would be the one.... No spine. Just a general haze until you up the magnification. The stars in this one are quite tiny... And for the most part simply appear as "grain". Simple aversion goes a great way on this, but only draws little pinpoints out. Look at them direct? And they are gone...

Now, I'm off to acquaint myself with some new field studies. There are many things in this area I've yet to explore, and an entire summer to find them. As always, learning the "field" is a priority. I do manage to get a less than satisfactory glimpse of two of my intended targets... But again, the sky foils my hunt.

No matter. I know where one very satisfying one is. That is why I visit with it often. Set against the black velvet backdrop of the Milky Way dust clouds, this profusion of stars fascinates me. It gives me something I need. It will take everything I throw at it and hand me back starlight. And when I visit with the NGC6940?

I feel all right....

"I heard me crying loud, all the way across town. You've been searching for that someone, and it's me out on the prowl. As I sit around feeling sorry for myself... I don't get lonely now. I've dried my whining eyes. I'm just roaming for the moment.... Sleazin' in my back yard. So don't get so uptight,  Cuz' I was only thinking of the night...

No time to search the world around, 'Cause you know where I'll be found....

When I come around."




June 28, 2002 - The Sun... At the Observatory...

Comments: What ho! One last chance for a peak at 08 before it completely rotates away. Nearing the western limb, my much observed "buddy" definately shows the effect of being seen on the "curve". Still completely, yet unevenly divided, 08 give a less-than-spectacular appearance spot-wise. But! It gives a tremendous presentation in terms of the Wilson Effect. Trailing tiny bits of penumbral field... like bread crumbs left for a trail and eaten by the birds, this giant solar "Gemini" will be gone tomorrow...

But, I'll remember you for some time to come!

*******************************************************

Catching a fast nap after work, I headed out to spend some "quality time" with a very small group of guests at the dome. Arriving well before dark, it was my great pleasure to meet yet another RCAS member! Bob had very proficiently opened things up and had the 10" pier-mounted Meade reflector up and ready to rock and roll. Shooting the breeze (and quite enjoying it too! ;) was a most pleasant way to pass the twilight time. While watching Venus, we started talking... Bob and I rather had a laugh at our unusual "engineering" techniques! As I explained how I circumvented the hassle of moving the dob in and out, and explained how the "Grasshopper" came into being, he got a very large smile on his face... seems I was "his kind of" person! And I soon saw why... Mounting a catadioptic scope on a fork mount certainly present more of a challenge with moving more than 600 pounds!

His solution? Simple enough... The mount actually became part of a garden tractor! How clever... and unique! (now... i wonder if we can squeeze a v-twin under the hood there somewhere? make it a "fast" telescope.... ;)

Curt and I began playing with maps, and it wasn't long before the guests arrived. Shaking hands and making introductions, I headed out to fetch the Tirion from the car. As luck would have it, I met Jerry on the steps. And I'll tell you now, folks... Jerry is one of the finest "tour" guides around. It wasn't long before we had the M57 in sight, and although the sky wasn't really quite dark enough yet, this magnificent scope at power brought braiding right out in the structure!

Now for that magnificent M13. Allowing our guests as much time as they wished at the eyepiece... and chomping at the bit to work on the dark dust lanes. I think no matter how many times I see the M13... and how many different scopes I view it through... I always marvel. The Rupp Observatory scope sets it down and walks it out. Complete resolution... No picture can even begin to compare with how it appears in the eyepiece!

While our guests go back outside, Jerry takes the time to help me learn how to manipulate the gigantic telescope over the top of the axis in a safe and proficient manner. This ain't the dob. Turned the wrong way, the floating mirror cell could dislodge itself... And I don't think I could run far enough if I did that! Not only is a he a great tour guide, but a patient teacher. Within minutes I have it lined up on the M51, and we call our guests back in.

While they explore the realm of galaxies, I go back outside to chat with Curt and Bob. With the 10" at our disposal, Curt makes a run on the southern skies and Bob hands me a pair of very fine binoculars. Wow! When you can pick the M22 out in this manner, it's impressive! (and i'm also very impressed with your skill at finding dso, curt... you're not lost. ;)

Returning inside after having wished our guests a pleasant evening, it was time to have a bit of play with the eyepieces and study out the M51 and companion galaxy... And time for a field hunt? You bet!

Now, unfortunately duty calls. That melon Moon is on the rise, and this kid has a fair share of work cut out for me over the days ahead. Guys? I certainly appreciate everything! You don't know how much I wish I could have stayed, but you can bet I'll be back.

Count on it...

"No time to search the world around. 'Cause you know where I'll be found...

When I come around."



June 27, 2002 - Well, the much needed rain has managed to gently water the grass... but not much else. And with it? The clouds... Just a fine evening to take a swim and enjoy the coming night. H has taken up a new hobby. We spent some quality time tonight just catching lightning bugs. (hey... he started it!!) H ate his, while I put mine in a jar. It's very pleasing, even if it is childlike... to watch the fireflies light up the night. And when we'd held their "glow" long enough?

Time to open the lid and let them go...

"Hang my head... Drown my fear... Till you all just

Disappear...

Black Hole Sun, won't you come? And wash away the rain? Black Hole Sun... Won't you come? Won't you come..."



June 26, 2002 - The Sun...

Comments: GRRRRRRRRRR! Sunspot 08 finally divided today... I happily set up the scope, anticipated the hole in the clouds... Had the camera ready.... Rock down on the spot... Film rolling.... Captured! Eat supper.... Grab tape... Off to report... Tape in the machine...

click. click click. click.

I don't know what I did... Probably have worn the darn thing out! But all I got was a bunch of squiggly lines and very poor image of 08. After that, I haunted my favourite sights to find one that shows the division... Looks like I'm one of a kind. (fancy that, huh? ;) For nowhere can I find a close-up or report on one particular area. So... to make a long, and rather irritating story short, here is an image from San Fernando Observatory...



But, even if the tape didn't work, there is nothing wrong with my memory... my memory... my... Where was I? Oh, yeah! The tape... No... Let's see... Oh! Right you are... The spot...

08 now has a clean, fine line seperating the umbral lobes. After final division, the northern most of the two doesn't hold quite the same mass as the southern. Still contained within the unbroken, and nearly unchanged penumbral region, 08 still has a complex beta-gamma field. X-ray flux information has stabilized greatly. Magnetogram information has remained fairly constant. Now I know that it is entirely possible for a negatively charged region to divide, and still carry that same negative charge! I've watched the data daily as the spot split apart, waiting for that one tidbit of information to spark between observation and known fact. From this information, I can hypothesize that actual division of the umbra regions may not be responsible for coronal mass ejections or solar flares, although it harbours the potential to do so. However! By doing some research on the actual coronagraph images, and very large coronal hole has opened up... and where do you think it's aimed? Darn right. 08. Once again, anything I say is pure conjecture... Based only on repeated observances of sunspot activity, and what data that I can relate to based on web information.

So, what have we learned over the last few days from 08?

It's cool.... ;)

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And the mostly cloudy day turned into an equally cloudy night. Sultry from a brush of rain... With only the occasional bright star peeping from behind the wall. Fine by me. A good night to simply do my laps, and kick back in the lawn chair. There's a cold Corona here, with a twist of lime, and I've a mind to listen to a CD or two... Just smile and name the stars when they drift by.

Tonight it's your turn to make the music...

"Stuttering... Cold and damp. Steal the warm wind... I'm tired, friend. Times have come, for honest men.. And sometimes far too long for space. In my shoes, I walk in sleep... And it's you I pray to keep. Heaven send Hell away...

No one sings like you anymore...."



June 25, 2002 - The Sun...

Comments: Still hotter than Hades here in Ohio, and the clouds are beginning to build. Today was my son Terry (i'm proud of ya', boy!) and Brooke's last day here. They've gotten a apartment much closer to work, and I wish them much happiness together. Although I rarely would see them, I shall miss walking past the closed doors and knowing that you're in there. Brooke? (you cutie...) I hope you continue on with your interest in astronomy (does this mean my magazines will appear again?! ;) ... and that they both know they are always welcome to stay here with me in the backyard. Always...

Things are going to seem pretty empty for awhile, but it will be alright. I was just getting used to having somebody around is all. And if I lose you, too? Well, there just won't be much point, will there? Now, put on that big, plastic PR smile, ~T... The one you know so well. Cuz' the Sun just appeared from between those grey clouds. Hey, the rain is on the way. But you know me...

Always gotta' take just one last look at you.

Sunspot 08 is still going through some magnificent changes. Almost divided now, the umbra region curls toward each other like yin and yan, turning within the single boundary of the penumbra. Research the data shows this spot still remains outrageous in magnetism, and produces very spiky, erratic X-ray flux data. According to SOHO and SpaceWeather, the once "twisted" beta gamma magnetic field has now become "complex" and harbours the potential for M-class flare activity.

Nearing the limb, 08 has perhaps two to three days to remain in view, and wouldn't it be totally cool if it managed to finish dividing before it sails away forever?! It certainly has been very interesting and a lot of fun to watch...

Rock on, 08!

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By the time night arrived, the thunder rumbled and the plants turned up their thirsty leaves to welcome the rain. What a tease... A few drops is all that fell. Guess I'll just sit here on the chair and admire the clouds. Work on the Staind song, "Epiphany" some more... Because no truer words were ever spoken.

It was grand while it lasted. Now, let's send a little "Soundgarden" your way...

"In my eyes... Indisposed, In disguises no one knows. Hides the face, lies the space... The sun. In my disgrace...

Boiling heat...Summer sweat... 'Neath the black the sky looks dead. Call my name through the dream.... And I'll hear you. Scream again...

Black hole sun... Won't you come? And wash away the pain? Black hole sun... Won't you come? Won't you come...."




June 24, 2002 - The Moon...

Comments: Sitting on the back steps holding the guitar... Waiting on the Moon... Just a curve of the Earth away it is moving out of the shadows of a penumbral eclipse. I smile to myself and I begin practicing my rifts, wishing my friends "Around The World" well... Tonight, the window of opportunity is theirs.

There is no need to look at my hands. For either dreaming or awake, I know the frets in my heart. My fingers know the dance. And from my throat comes the harmony... Sing with soul? I must have been... For when I look around me, I see that despite the heat my distant neighbors have found something to do outside in their backyards. And it seems that each song brings them closer... Shall I pass the hat? Nah, baby... Standing on a street corner with my open case at my feet waiting on a few coins is not my way. I play to soothe my own soul and to call Selene from the sky. Because, you see...

I ask for the Moon, but I reach for the stars.

The time passes quickly as I move through an eclectic mix of old and new. There is a certain beauty in diversity done with feeling. Like poetry that speaks of love and death within the same stanza... Like the written word. Read in one mood, it's meaning clear... Read in another? The context changes.

"O swear not by the Moon... The inconstant Moon, that monthly changes in Her circled orb... Lest that thy love prove likewise variable."

Thank you, Mr. Shakespeare. I know the time of the eclipse is past, but what I wait on is near. The fire in the distant woods bids me to lean the Fender against the deck railing. This is the moment I was waiting for...Moon rise.

Deep, deep orange, with all the maria etched so poignantly upon the surface, the tops of the trees reach out to hold her as she goes by. What beauty! I understand perfectly the mechanics of what makes it appear so, but that does not lessen the impact that it makes upon the night! Frozen at the edge of the field, I watch as Selene begins her shallow arc across the southern skyline... The breathtaking colors impressing themselves upon me deeply. Moved to share...


Sweet, sweet illusion...

Time to reflect? Like the still waters that capture that orange orb so perfectly... One touch to the surface is all it takes to scatter it on the waves of diffraction. I cannot answer riddles. All I am is all I am...

Only me. Standing here in the shadows of the night... Watching the stars appear one by one. A poet... A musician... An artist... A dreamer of dreams.

A stargazer...

"I'll give to you...
And it's a chance I'll have to take.
And it's a chance I'll have to take...
I go along,
Just because I'm lazy.
I go along to be with you...
And those moonsongs
That I sing you, baby?
Will be the songs to see you through.
I'll hear your song.
If you want me to...
I'll sing along.

And it's a chance I'll have to take."




June 23, 2002 - The Sun... Venus and the Moon... Trying Doubles...

Comments: Well alright, partner... Checking the SpaceWeather updates today for information, and what do I find? Sunpot 08 has developed a "twisted beta gamma magnetic field which could unleash an M class flare in the days ahead." You'd like the smile that bit of news gave me! (kinda' like i hadn't noticed there was something going on, huh?)

Watching for changes in 08 today proved to be very interesting. The part of the penumbral field that was extending itself ahead has completely broken away from the parent structure. The umbra itself has undergone unusual change, too! The central bright division has spread itself in an almost Y-like formation, and the twin lobes show continuing signs of split. Where yesterday they seemed to "curl" in a liquid manner, today they have solidified to a degree. Almost as if the area has continued to "cool" more... It has become coagulable in appearance.

Ahead of it, spot 05 has continued to degenerate. At one time, it was quite solid and regular, but has pulled itself apart in many fine grains, with the dispersion field remaining fairly constant. Leading spot 01, remains as ordinary as the first day I saw it, and it won't be long until it rounds the edge.

Now... Bring on the Night!

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Cruisin' the back roads... The day has been very hot. While passing through a small town, I noticed the temperature on the bank sign read 101 degrees at 7:00 in the evening. Small wonder the sky has that flat, metallic white sheen. Heat haze... Now, let's head on back and see how badly it affects seeing conditions.

Venus trembles and rolls. It's loss of sky position does not suit it well. Usually the trick of viewing before dark is enough to call out its' phasic nature, but tonight requires both the green and blue filter to "tone it down". Still appearing at slightly less that 50%, it's not hard to notice that it rises less and less in the sky each night before it begins its' fall back. So, there you have it. It won't be long until Venus quits this scene... Guaranteed.

Sitting down on the steps with the guitar, I seek some balance for awhile. Finally managed to pick up on some new rifts for "Epiphany" that fit in beautifully... and while working with Staind tunes, find that "It's Been Awhile" is also coming along nicely. And you know what? While working on Nickleback's "How You Remind Me" is when I see something moving in the south. It's steady progression is definately a satellite of some sort, and when I go back inside to check the info, I find that I've just seen the Hubble go past...

Fly on, kid. Fly on...

Waiting on the Moon to reach a decent alititude, I know that the near full phase is going to put a hurt on everything tonight. Hey, hey... Who cares? Like Grimaldi... It makes no difference. The 145 mile expanse is simply barren tonight. Riccioli fares far better. What little bit of the terminator that is left helps to reveal its' broken inner structure and odd features. Cardanus' dimpled form and central peak also do quite well... along with Otto Struve. Despite the haze, the edge holds quite steady. So with that in mind, let's have a go at some doubles.

OK, easier said than done tonight.

Thanks to seeing conditions, only the most major stars show through... Like all six of them. Do you want to hang it up? Or give it a shot? Hey, the night is warm and the music is fine. I'm a game player, if you are.

Starting at Vega, (one you can see! ;) I push it away out of the eyepiece toward Epsilon Lyrae. The "Double Double" has never been a navigational problem using just the eyepiece, and tonight it poses not problems in terms of split either. At 25mm, both matched sets seperate very easily and hold quite steady with just a minimum of "wait" time. Looks like a "go" to me, so let's work on it.

Zeta Lyrae is quite easily. Both stars are a creamy white and seperated by perhaps two magnitudes and very close to north/south orientation. Delta Lyrae presents me with much finer colors! The red on this one is very rich, highlighted spectacularly by it's blue companion. Beta Lyrae is also rather easy... Although the field is somewhat more complex. It's blue companion lies disparately somewhat to the south/southeast.

Now, let's see what we can do with Cygnus.

Well, I wanted a bit of a challenge tonight, and at 25mm, Delta Cygnii provides me with it. Just a bit of patience is all it takes. It is tight, and it is disparate, but the red B star sits on the shoulder of the primary blue/white. And let's see... Reversing directions means that puts it in the southwest, doesn't it?

Yeah. Cuz' it's walking out first...


"What moonsongs... Do you sing to me, baby? What sunshine do you bring? Who belongs... Who decides who's crazy... Who rights wrongs where others cling?

I'll sing for you. If you want me to..."



June 23, 2002 - After Midnight and The Moon...

Comments: The temperatures held on long after dark. While the young'uns danced round a bonfire, toasting marshmallows and enjoying the simplicity of youth, I watched the Moon rise from the quiet, blue waters of the pool. They retreated to the cool indoors, snatching my CDs of the Beatle's "Great White" album from my car, and leaving me to my restful exercise. I like it here. There is something quite relaxing about watching the Moon shimmer and reflect on the surface of the water. No matter how many times I swim toward it, it always remains just a bit out of my reach...

When I had finished, I lit the torches around the pool and called them to come take their turn. Pulling the redwood chair just outside the small grove of trees that surrounds the water, I sit myself down to watch them enjoy the "ring of fire". As they laugh and play, H continuously circles the outside... wanting so much to be a part of the "action". But Ranger is quite content to stay in the shadows with me, drying in the warm wind, and watching Selene move between silhouetted tree branches. One by one, the torches went out as they expended their energy. And when the last flame flickered and died?

All that was left was me... and the Moon.

The old Celestron had been out earlier that day in solar observance, and was waiting quietly for me to take my place behind the eyepiece to enjoy the cooler beauty of the lunar landscape...

Crater Schickard tried best to steal the show, with its' massive 135 by 150 mile expanse... soft, dark stains showing on the floor. But what caught my eye was the Palus Epidemiarum... and all the surrounding craters which are unnamed on my map. From Fourier to Vieta they stretch, with the emerging LaGrange behind them. Most beautiful... And so alive with detail!

At the southern most limb of the Moon, the bright and shallow forms of craters Zucchius, Bettinus, Kircher and Wilson assault the eye as the incredible rays of Tycho push toward them. Dropping north, I head toward Marian and Sharp to find them a bit over-illuminated, and less than pleasing. But there is one very bright spot here along the terminator. One that I wish to explore tonight... Schroter's Valley.

Aristarchus dominates the scene, but magnifying deeply on the area produces wonderful results. The shallow, open crater Prinz is well highlighted against the tip of the Harbinger Mountains. And Schroter's Valley is most unusual. Perhaps because it lays so close to the limb is why you get the effect of a "wrinkle" in the lunar landscape. It could be simply a trick of the lighting. Regardless of what makes it so, this thin, curving rille twists its' way quite wonderfully into my imagination tonight.

Capping up the 4.5 and putting it away, I return to the now quiet pool to close it for the night. The Moon shines so perfectly on the still surface, and I've a mind for one last swim. Sliding quietly into the water, I see it ripple... And it brings back memories of a past summer. A time when Mars kept watch...

Ah, I miss it.

"We'll be together some sweet day
When that day comes we'll never part...
When that day comes we'll never part...
Wait for me along the shore..."



June 22, 2002 - The Sun...

Comments: Temperatures reached near 100 degrees today in Ohio... And what's the first thing I want to do when I get home from work?

Check out the Sun.

Oh, my starz... You are right. It's designation is 08. Regardless of its' number, what it is doing is right next to incredible! The umbral region is dividing!! Now, perhaps you don't find that exactly exciting news. But, for me? That's totally cool! (even if it is hot... ;)

By luck of the draw, this is the first time I've actually seen a spot at the beginning stage of seperation. Normally, I catch changes a few days apart, and this is fascinating!

Like watching an individual cell through a fine microscope undergo mitosis...

Ordinarily, I do not reveal my photographs where I have magnified so heavily because of image quality... But, man! You gotta' SEE this!

Rather excited about catching the division, I started haunting the SOHO information... From magnetograms and coronagraphs to solar winds and GOES x-ray flux data! It was quite entertaining to watch the x-ray system for awhile, because the information literally spiked and fell to nothing. And the magnetogram? Check it out...



The huge dark patch near the 8 o'clock portion of the frame IS 08. And check out that info... That baby is pushing a major field at one quarter of a million gauss of negative magnetic energy! And trailing a field of equal positive energy... Simply amazing, huh? Checking out the data on solar flare predictions shows only a 20% chance of activity, and the coronal hole that is just before it spewing out solar wind is quieting down. But the coronagraph shows a splendid, huge rip in the photosphere over the same area! And yeah, I know that you're quite possibly tired of hearing about how much fun it is to watch changes in our nearest star. But this one spot is really bad!

And I like them "bad boys"... ;)

"And so I come most every day,
To watch the waves rise and fall,
And as I sit here on the sand,
This ocean makes me feel so small...
But I feel my lover by my side,
And it makes me follow my own heart."




June 21, 2002 - The Sun...

Comments: Ah, true Summer has arrived at last. And what better way to celebrate the Solstace than to look at the Sun?


SOHO photo


Still pretty quiet looking, isn't it? The 90+ temperatures here today do not lend themselves well to observance, but the three major spots: 01, 04 and 06 are still very grand. 06 is developing a curl in its' penumbral region, and should prove interesting to watch over the next few days!

So, what's this to do with Solstace? Today is the day the Earth reaches its' northmost "tilt". Perhaps you have noticed this, and perhaps you haven't. I can't help but know it! For there are two leaded, cut glass windows in the northern front of my house where the Sun only shines through for a brief period of time each year. Their beveled edges grab the sunlight in a spectacular prism and make rainbows on the wall....

And, of course, I told other people to look at their shadows today. It is perhaps something most take for granted, but the shortened shadows are a perfect illustration of the movements of the Earth upon it's axis. Besides... It's just fun to see how many full grown people you can get outside looking at the ground for what appears to be no apparent reason! Makes the rest of the world wonder what we're up to... ;)

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The high heat toasted the atmosphere and left the evening skies quite "muzzy". (a mixture of muddy and fuzzy... for those of you who actually do know the capital of wyoming, this will make perfect sense. ;) It made the almost full Moon look very orange... almost harvest-like... and the clouds were happy to cooperate and keep its sad face hidden most of the time.

That's alright by me. The water is warm, and the exercise feels quite good after a long, hot day....

"He went away so long ago,
On a maiden voyage far away.
A young man then I did not know,
His life was taken that same day...
And it was almost like he knew
He wouldn't see me anymore
He looked so deeply in my eyes, and said
"Wait for me along the shore..."



June 20, 2002 - The Moon...

Comments: The moment I looked into the eyepiece, the Southern Highlands caught and held me... What a rugged and mysterious place this is! The area around Tycho is so shot through with details that it staggers the mind. The myriad craters emerging along the terminator fill the eye and the imagination. With names like Montanari, Lagalla, Hensius, Wurzelbauer, Cicas, Capuanus, Mercator, and Konig... The entire region about the still shadowed Gassendi rocks!

But I am drawn back to the very southern most tip...

I am fascinated with Klaproth. It is a most ancient crater, stretching some 70 miles across the southern limb of the Moon. Its' southern wall reaches for its' partner, Casatus, who stands behind. Although its' wall has been broken, there is nothing "sharp" appearing to it... for the sands of time have built themselves up a gentle slope which reaches a height of 10,200 feet. At high magnification, they almost seem to spill over into each other....

Beside them, multi-faceted crater Newton also displays itself very well tonight, bordered by Moretus and Short. And who cannot venture to this place without listening to the songs of Clavius and Tycho? You see...

A "Highlander" at heart.

And I continue my exploration along the terminator, I find my own personal favourite. Here the sands lie still and unbroken. Caught forever in the circlet of the Juras Mountains, the calm grey sea of Sinus Iridum.

For I've a mind to swim in the "Bay of Rainbows" with you...

"I took a walk along the shore
To clear my mind about the day,
I saw a man I'd seen before
As I approached, he slipped away...
I knew his face from a time ago,
His smile stays with me ever more
His eyes, they guide me through the haze
And give me shelter from the storm...
As I walk I can feel him,
Always watching over me...
His voice surrounds me,
My Spirit of the Sea..."



June 19, 2002 - The Moon...

Comments: Yet another beautiful, warm night here in the heartland. Who am I to complain, eh? Just right for swimming, kicking back in the chair and watching H chase lightning bugs, and maybe... Maybe just a peek at the Moon?

I knew ancient crater Copernicus was going to be the "hot" spot for tonight. And I really do enjoy just gazing at the stepped walls and peppered landscape around this 60 mile radius of lunar geography. But, as always, I want the weird one!


So, I spent a bit of time watching watching the emerging walls of Klaproth and Casatus, on the terminator above Clavius. Clavius itself is a splendid, rich well to drink from... The interior pockmarked with many small craters, with Rutherford intruding on the edge. Gruemberger, Moretus, Short... The stability of the night made these smaller features, well... shall we say at bit more Simpelius to view?

It was most pleasant just to visit here with the Moon.... The radio plays my favorite songs. And I don't mind playing with the spectral set-up for awhile, picking at Arcturus, Spica, Vega and Deneb. The night world is full of rainbows and the smell of roses. Play "Creed" for me, will you?

"Hold me now. I'm six feet from the edge and I'm thinkin'... Maybe six feet ain't so far down..."

Ah, I do love that rock and roll. And just dancing here in...

"The shadow of the Moon..."



June 18, 2002 - The Moon...

Comments: Not a bad night. Cloudless... reasonably stable... Lots of lunar landscape to look at. Started prowling around the terminator looking for selenographic goodies, and was totally caught by Plato. The Straight Wall stood out in stark relief, but I wanted what was inside. Dropping the magnification hammer of it was just the ticket, for the sky was in the mood to cooperate. Problem is... my eyes aren't. I was really trying, but the crazy things just keep losing focus on me. Maybe I should have filtered it down to keep my eyes from watering. I dunno. But I know I feel the need. The need for speed....

So, while the sky continued to darken? The Harley and I burned up the countryside. If your eyes water when your riding? No one cares. The wind dries it away. The last edges of sunset still hung around the horizon in golden orange tones. Can someone tell me where Jupiter has gone? For Venus looks mighty lonely...

When I got back, the scope was still sitting where I left it. H was more than happy to dance in the shadows of the Moon with me... Perhaps? Perhaps I'm more able to stay focused now.

The "Straight Wall" simply dominated the lunar landscape tonight. As the steepest of slopes on the Moon, rising at a 41 degree angle it runs for 75 miles and reaches a height of 1200 feet. It is a fine place to be... But somehow it holds no charm for me tonight.

I want to walk in the Highlands...


Yes, the "Straight Wall" is visible here at the bottom of the frame, but I am forever charmed by the mysterious "man" who keeps watch over crater Stofler. I know it is a ridge. And I know it is 5600 feet tall. But to me it looks like a dark wizard, who stands in his robe looking down across that 85 mile expanse of crater. He took my attention once upon a time, and you know what?

He's still got it.

Continuing on, I explore through the terminator. Tiny, odd shaped Davey bordered by its' small and intense craterlets. The Apennine Mountains are also very beautiful, with their peaks and valleys so well displayed in shadow. And then I find myself back again... Back where I started from.

Back to Plato, where I belong.

Head bent in earnest, I follow the line of the Alpine Valley... I find beauty in singular Mons Piton. I scour the grey lava bed of Plato itself, marveling in the tiny craterlets inside.

And there's a shadow on the Moon...



I look up to see the plane flying west. My eyes are quite focused now. But I think I've had enough for tonight. I've a mind just to kick back here in this old redwood chair...

And drink a toast to the Night.

"Shadow on the Moon...

Somewhere just beyond the mist, Spirits were seen flying... As the lightning led her way, through the dark..."



June 17/18, 2002 - The Sun... Venus and the Moon... Night Walking and Telescope Lessons... Asteroid Hebe and "The Wild Ducks"... Comet LINEAR WM1 Challenges Hercules...

Comments: Beautiful, temperate and sunny day here in Ohio. Looks like a good time to do some yard chores and catch some rays...

And sneak a peak at the Sun!

The major reason for observing the Sun today was to watch the progression of 9991 as it nears the limb for the Wilson Effect. And I was NOT disappointed! Not only does it display itself very well, with faculae surrounding the area, but the incoming edge holds a surpise as well!

Newcomer 05 has that great "depressed" look of what may be an active area! Not only is the Wilson Effect in full force here, but an amazing amount of faculae and dark granulation! Right now, this new group appears to be pretty dispersed, but it will be well worth a look in a day or two.

I like...

(my friends know the "M1"... my little clawed buddy who shares my office "space". i thought perhaps he would enjoy some sunshine as well, so i fashioned a corral from a piece of corrugated metal and placed him in the yard. while doing my chores, he happily explored his new universe... digging in the dirt, climbing on sticks and pinching blades of grass between his claws. i had set up the scope right by him to keep watch, and as i capped things back up, i noticed he was looking directly at me with his little orange/black eyes on the end of the waivering stalks. i don't know what possesed me, but for some reason i pointed right at him and made a noise. i don't know what i said in hermit crab language, but whatever it was, he dropped straight into his shell as quick as a wink and didn't come back out for hours! guess i best watch what i say around some critters, huh? ;)

******************************************************

As day passed into night, the skies became the "on again, off again" parade of sucker holes. But, seeing as how I was just born a minute ago, I didn't mind. Taking my friend Cor's advice to "Put your scope up and... Wait for the gaps!!!" I did just that. Patience has its' own rewards.

Green filtered Venus displays a beautiful 50% or less phase. How wonderful it is to see this tiny planet blazing itself onto the eyepiece much like the shrouded Moon above it. I know most find watching Venus kinda' boring, but hey! It's there. And I'm just killing time...

Cor was right. The gaps came and within them, steady and transparent sky. When Selene revealed herself it was truly a marvel to behold...


Well, you can see where my attention was drawn, can't you? When I see that deep scar of the Alpine Valley cutting across the lunar landscape, I am lost. Exploring its' 110 mile length and 1 to 13 mile width at every range of magnification I can throw at it! Tempting little Cassini with it's multi-lipped interior and grand Aristillus and Aurolycus... and to climb the rugged peak of 15,000 feet high Mons Hadley. How restful the expanse of Mare Serenitatis is... And then they arrived.

You are always welcome here in "the Backyard".

Steve, and girlfriend Heather, have brought their new catadioptic design 4" Odyssey telescope to learn. And, as always, it is my pleasure to help. He sets the scope up in a knowing manner in good company, for the 4.5 has already been "broke in" for the night, and the 12.5 stands covered and stabilizing.

Our first object? Why, the Moon of course! Basic astronomy lessons begin with learning to fine tune the finderscope... and that is what we do. "How did you do that?" soon becomes a catch phrase, and I can only smile to myself knowing how difficult it was to point a certain Vixen telescope sans finder. (at least i was standing up this time!) Finderscope set, we begin our journey at lowest power. While Steve learns "hands on", Heather and I also walk on the lunar surface and begin our talks about constellations, particular stars and movement of the sky.

I watch Steve put in the barlow lens and his highest power eyepiece and smile. "I lost it." comes next. Lesson number two, eh? The higher the power, the faster that field moves! And you have to be very, very precise. Patience, my friend. Patience and practice are what you need. Realigning the scope for him, so he may examine the lunar surface in detail, Heather and I continue to take what we can from between the clouds. Answering questions on star color, and what makes them so, we journey to Arcturus. When Steve comes to join us, I get a very pleasant surprise! For he can pick up that green "aftershine" that is a very specific signature of Arcturus' spectral qualities!! Excellent job...

Continuing on, we snatch at what targets may be achieved between clouds and "Moonshine"... and double stars be it. Mizar and Alcore, Polaris, Albeiro! Basic lessons in constellations, and how to tell which star is which... Trying to keep things "fair", I work with the 4.5 at 25mm. A hole opens up in Hercules and I head for a grand example... the M13. Blast! I finagled the Celestron in every way I know how, and sky position will simply not let me achieve it! So, out to the south field we go, to capture the M81 and M82. The moment I had them in the eyepiece, I knew it would be no good. A veteran would understand this, for the 81/82 were only the tiniest of smears thanks to the light. Poor example, ~T. Now use your head...

Dob? Damn Skippy...

I think it took me two minutes to put the M13 in the eyepiece. If you can't call it out of the sky with the little one? Then call on the power...

From that point on, we began exploration with the simplicity of the dobsonian design. One that was to become immediately appreciated. We start our walk back over the previous targets. You say you want to look at the what?! The Moon? Oh, my... Don't say I didn't warn you.

Laser retinal scan activated...

Aiming the scope back at Albeiro, the purpose was to show how much more the "larger" eye can see... Then Heather calls to me to "Come look!". Way to go, girl! By using reflex, and following the example of where the 12.5 was "pointed", she found Albeiro on her own! Now, that's progress!!

Tipping the dob into the expanse of the Cygus portion of the Milky Way, I let them take turns "driving" as we continue to learn constellations and star hop. When Steve calls to me for confirmation, I go to the eyepiece... Brocchi's Cluster! All right!! Now, you guys are getting the hang of this....

As the clouds close off that portion of the sky, the Moon sinks well below it's own cloud line and the neighboring obstructions. Let's go back out to the south field and walk the 4.5 again! Say hello to the less grand, but equally fascinating cousin of the M13... the easy-to-find M4. And while we've a clear "hole" here? Then let's look at tripartate example of open cluster and nebulae in the M8. The open vista of the field helps to well illustrate sky movement as our talks continue. Heather's eyes are enormous in the dark... Wide with the innocence of being tired. Enough for tonight? Come now, let's put the toys away. I shall always be here for you...

I wave them goodbye as I pull the dob back into the garage, sleeved and ready for some fan time. As for me? I'm going to head in for a cup of coffee and see what's new in the world... Prep my notes... Wait on the sky to shift...

*****************************************************

The Moon has been long gone. Even H and Ranger have succumbed to the late hour. Only the dob and I are left to walk the night together...

Taking advantage of the opening to the south first, we run to the M11. Ah, man... What a beautiful field of stars. The 32mm wide field eyepiece delivers the deep, concentrated wedge of the "Wild Duck" cluster in magnificent pinpoints of sheer starlight. There are colors here... amidst the tiny blues, some field stars sing their songs in yellow and orange light. Asteroid Hebe is what I have come here for, and I check my notes and the sky. Hebe will be above the M11 shining at magnitude 9. Going to my fine finder chart, I try to transmute what I know, and what I've marked as to what I can see. Tiny Hebe is no match for Eta Scuti... And below them, the "Wild Ducks" forever fly across the night.

Listening to music, and feeling nostalgic, it is time for Hercules. I feel shaky somehow... statically charged. The doorway of opportunity has come, but will I step across the threshold? Open the door for me, and right or wrong... I will walk through it.

At lowest power I am astonished. So much time I have spent here, with my head buried in studies. Tonight I am alone in the field... But I am not alone. The immense strength and power of the M13 dominates the center of the field of view. Round it dances the stars... Teasing resolvability and calling on my observational powers. Caught between two bright and distant suns, the "Great Hercules Cluster" tries its' best to distract me, but I know what I have come here for.

And it is here...

At one edge resides tiny galaxy NGC6207, and at the other? Caught near that southern-most bright star is Comet LINEAR WM1...

Traveller? My soul reaches out for you.

"Long ago... Feeling lonely, feeling sad. She cried in the moonlight. Driven by a world gone mad, she took flight...

"Feel no sorrow, feel no pain. Feel no hurt, there's nothing gained... Only love will then remain." She would say.

Shadow of the Moon..."




June 16/17, 2002 - The Sun... The Moon... M11 and Asteroid Hebe, M13 and Comet LINEAR WM1... NGC6207, NGC6194, NGC6196 and NGC6197...

Comments: Yard party? The beautiful weather today certainly makes it worthy. It is time for yet another one to move on. Amidst home-made coconut cream pies and delightful smells coming from the grill, we laugh and talk. James? I shall miss you...

When the last of the "kids" drift away, only the Sun and I are left. As always, I find a certain peace in my observations...

One the incoming eastern edge of Sol sits 01 and 02. Yes, the numbers have changed, but the face remains the same. These are rather quiet sunspots, much more dispersed in appearance than their grand predecessor 9901. And you know what? The crazy thing has went and changed over the last two days! Care for a look?

No, it's not a galaxy. It's simply a reverse image of 9991. Even filtered, the light from the Sun drives my camera crazy! The image isn't great, but it does help to illustrate what we looked at just two days ago. As you can see, a single umbra region has now broken away from the mass of the changing penumbra... It's once "even" outline now has a forward curl. Of course, my very amatuer attempts at photography won't break any world records, but to be able to record and watch changes in our nearest star in such a simple fashion is quite rewarding. Who knows? Maybe even one day I'll get it "focused"... ;)

******************************************************

The clarity of the sky held, and with it came the Moon. How lovely to see you again, Selene! Mare Crisium, Posidonus... the Caucasus Mountains! What a peaceful place the lunar surface is...

From the deep well of Albategnius, to the engaging dimples of Aristoles and Eudoxus, the soft grey and black shadow play along the terminator keeps me occupied. Usually I find "walking the edge" to be the most fascinating area, but tonight I am quite taken with the gentle curve of three craters.

Young Theophilus, at 65 miles in diameter, with its' 22,300 foot central peak... Cyrillus, with a similar size at 61 miles in diameter, with its' pear-shaped notch in the southwest wall... And Catharina! So close to its' predecessors in diameter at 64 miles. What a great set of three these similar craters make...

So, for the time being, I danced in the shadow of the Moon. Watching the stars move overhead, and calling out as the ISS graced the western horizon. Time for me to catch a nap for a few hours, and let Selene move on. It has to be gone for me to do what I am going to do...

Hercules awaits.

****************************************************
When I uncovered the dob, I started by taking advantage of the excellent sky position of the M11, and kept my "red light" time to make my mark for Hebe to a minimum. Tomorrow night could be a very exciting night astronomically! Now, let's put some "Blackmore Nights" into the walkman...

And rock the night.

So, partner... You asked me to see just how deep the 12.5 could go. And, oh my... You set at task before me! This time I truly pushed it to the edge.

Starting at the absolute glory of the M13, I do not linger long. The purpose of my sleep will be destroyed, along with my ability to grasp tiny faint objects. I push it away to go southeast. Confirmation of Comet LINEAR WM1 and its' position are what I want first, and it is oh-so-close to the M13! Where it once spoke in a loud voice, WM1 is a whisper. It could very easily be mistaken for a faint planetary nebula, but I seen none on the charts. Besides! If I were incorrect, then it wouldn't have moved, would it? And move it has... Pushing the scope, and pushing the envelope. There is a very distinct chance that the comet will be in the same field of view as the M13 within a matter of hours... (aieeee! chopping block! i've gone and done it again... i'm laying my neck on the astronomical chopping block... have at it, boys. just make sure that ax is sharp. ;)

Now, let's walk the line.

These four galaxies are the most difficult ones I've ever chased. You simply cannot look at the M13. You must "restrict" the field of view in order to capture them, and by doing so also makes navigation more difficult. I do the best I can by using the 26mm and the barlow lens. This gives me "field" and buys me just a moment more "drift time".

Less than a degree northeast of the M13 lay NGC6207. A stellar nucleas and a faint halo caught in a cup of stars is what you see. By centering it up, and dropping the 9mm in, I catch a sense of smear... As if the small spiral is more concentrated toward on side than the other. Using extreme aversion, when I move it back into the center, the side with the most concentration displays only a hint of a spiral arm. If you drop back to only the 26mm, you can put the M13 and NGC6207 in the same field... But you have to push that great globular out to the edge! For its' distraction will tear you away from this soft-spoken galaxy... It's a tough one.

But things are about to get tougher...

Shifting west/southwest of M13, it is time to take on the hardest ones I've ever encountered. NGC6194 is nothing more that a tiny, dim circle of light that I cannot focus. It is no bigger than the field stars around it! You would almost swear it was a planetary nebula.

Bumping up about a half a degree to the northeast calls up a pair. Again, NGC6196 is barely distinguishable as a galaxy! Caught at the tip of a chain of stars, it is nothing more than a soft point of light which I cannot focus. Companion galaxy, NGC6197, fairs only slightly better by offering me an elongated appearance. These babies produce even less light than the faded LINEAR, and it would be easy to mistake them as cometary.

So, there you have it. This is a galaxy challenge guaranteed to both excite you and give you a headache at the same time! They are bad, they are faint, and damn... they are small. They are at the edge of what I can do with the 12.5.

Fair enough?

"In the shadow of the moon, she danced in the starlight... Whispering a haunting tune to the night... Velvet skirts spun 'round and 'round. Fire in her stare. In the woods without a sound. No one cared...

Through the darkened fields entranced... Music made her poor heart dance. Thinking of a lost romance..."




June 15/16, 2002 - M13/Study Field and Comet LINEAR WM1... M11 and Asteroid Hebe... Rockin' In Cassiopeia...

Comments: OK, I dislike working the night shift. Going to bed in the afternoon is not natural for me, but the sounds of thunder and the steady beat of the rain made for easy sleep. And when I awoke?

There were stars...

So, maybe this does have some advantages. The Moon has dipped all the way to the western horizon, and the sky is as clear and clean as it can only be after a storm front has passed. H very much approves of the fact that the 12.5 and I are heading out to the south field... Although he makes me mighty nervous with his game of "tag"! (Come, now... Can you imagine over 100 lbs. of pitch black german shepherd running full tilt by you? Each time he passes, the game is to jump up and brush my shoulder. I keep waiting on the mis-step that will take us both to the ground!) Laughing at his antics, I set the dob up well away from any trees. Smart dog. As soon as he sees me take out my stuff, he knows to go find somewhere else to get into trouble. ;)

First up? M13 and the ongoing call for structure. It's rather hard to pay attention to one particular feature when all those stars come bursting forward at you! Straight out of a sound sleep, and into the realm of photons... Awesome! Focusing my attention toward the southeast side, I see them again. Man, I'm telling you... This is a tough call! Are these dark "dust lanes"? Or are they simply "breaks" in the chaining structure? Three is what I see... They cross one another in an almost pinwheel-like fashion. But, is that configuration a results of the random positioing of the stars? Whatever it is, it is most definately there... And will provide many nights of excellent contemplation. Look for yourself! And tell me what you see...

Now for some serious study!

For those who know me on a personal level... Well, you know I've been in Hercules for more than just the M13. For one particular person? The answer to your question is 13.8 tonight, partner. (I'm having trouble with the IC... too much "on the threshold" seeing conditions.) I continue to push through the field to improve on the quality of my notes, and I'll be... What in the BLEEP is that?! Laughing out loud, for I know cometary signature anywhere, I make note of the position. Guess what? Comet LINEAR WM1 is back in town, boys... ;)

Off now to open cluster M11... What can I say besides it is absolutely breathtaking in a large dobsonian? The resolvability of the "Wild Duck" cluster should be well within the capabilities of a mid-range telescope. This ultra-bright wedge of stars is intensely pleasing... And I'd love to stay and visit awhile, but my time is limited. What I am after is field... Asteroid Hebe is cruising through this area and I'd like to identify it in this field of moderately bright stars. There is a tiny little wink that I'd almost stake money on as being Hebe, so let's make a mark on the map and check it out next time.

Cuz' I want to be sure.

Now, let's go climb in that rocking chair with Cassiopeia! It's been a rather long time since I hopped on the Queen's lap to look for those splendid open clusters.... The worst part of it is that I'm having trouble remembering their designations! What position we were in? Well, I never quite forget that... But concentrating on numbers in Hercules has blown my bell curve for the night! I recognize the "angel"... and as I push to the east, I remember the "star clouds". Smiling to myself, I still feel that electric tingle return whenever my mind drifts a wee bit.

Too bad I have to go... ;)

"Are we having fun yet?"



June 14, 2002 - The Sun...

Comments: Hey! Guess who decided to come out a play today? You got it. Sol...

Very quiet at the moment, all the different cameras aimed at our nearest star show basically the same thing. It's having itself a rest. But, there always seems to be a least one character hanging out there somewhere, doesn't it? And this one's name is 9991.

This particular one is a perfect example of a "normal" sunspot. The single umbra, while very large, is deep black and contained in a solid mass. The penumbral region is perfectly dispersed around it, with a slight concentration at the edges. This is your "basic" sunspot.

But just how basic is it?

Stop to consider that a sunspot is an area visible on the surface about 3,600 degrees cooler than the surrounding photosphere. Like a gigantic "scab", sunpots occur where the Sun's magnetic field has emerged through the photosphere, and stopped some of the rising magnetic energy from reaching the surface. Big deal? Then think again! The Earth's combined magnetic fields never produce even one gauss... Yet just one of those "normal" sunspots can reach as high as 2,500 gauss in magnetic field strength! Beneath them lay gigantic "plasma hurricanes"... Drawing all that magnificent energy back toward the core with speeds of up to 3,000 miles per hour!

So what does THAT mean? Basics, dear Watson... Basics. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. What goes "in" one side comes "out" on the other... Causing a self-generating sunspot cycle. Who knows? Perhaps that big, nasty monster we watched move across recently is the one that caused this one!

Now, keeping our super magnetism in mind, it is small wonder the incoming spot, 9998 displays the Wilson Effect so easily! For when it is on the limb, the distortion that we can observe is readily apparent... And this "newcomer" is no exception!

And then? Then it clouded back up and rained again, of course...

"It's not like you to say sorry. I'm always waiting on a different story. This time I'm mistaken... For handing you a heart worth breakin'. I've been wrong. I've been down. Into the bottom of every bottle. And these five words in my head scream...

Are we having fun yet?

Yeah yeah yeah.... No. No.
Yeah yeah yeah.... No. No.

Are we have fun yet?"



June 12, 2002 - Venus and the Moon... M13, M5 and Comet Ikeya/Zhang...

Comments: Putting in my laps when I noticed Venus had made its' nightly appearance, and with it the slim crescent moon. I pushed for a few more rounds and decided to go have a look.

Earthshine was most apparent in the eyepiece, but the iluminated portion was less than graceful. The leading edges of Cleomides, Geminus, Burkhardt and Masala waivered and rolled. Venus didn't fair much better, for the atmosphere must have been very turbulent.

Seems we'd do well to stick with objects a bit more on the zenith tonight, so let's have a sip of wine and wait on skydark.

Spent some time trying to pick resolution of of the M13 with the small scope, but it doesn't hold a candle to what the 12.5 can do. Nevertheless, the M13 holds simply the brightest core of any globular the 4.5 can achieve. Magnification begins to pick it apart at the edges, but simply cannot resolve out the areas needed to study. Still, it is very fine. The nucleas extremely bright and satisfying...

Moving on the M5, I prize it for the unsual structure in the small scope. The 12.5 resolves it, so you lose that odd, bloated quality. It looks almost as if it has tried to pull itself into another shape, and just gave up... Deciding it was OK to be globular after all. It is far more transparent in appearance than the M13... The core far smoother and less concentrated. Apparent size is about the same... Yet, they are so different.

Tired from pushing the exercise envelope, I thought to just hang it up... And for some reason, I just wanted to see if I could still find Ikeya/Zhang. I know you're bored with hearing about it... Heck! I'm bored with finding it, too... But it has been great fun following it for as long as I have. It won't be long until it's entirely gone, and I don't need it in my life. Any more than it needs me...

Or do I?

"Never made it as a wise man. Couldn't cut it as a poor man stealing...

And this is how you remind me.

This is how you remind me...

This is how you remind me... Of what I really am. This is how you remind me... Of what I really am."



June 11, 2002 - The ISS and Endeavor... Lazy Stargazing...

Comments: The lightning flashes and the thunder rolls... Yet, the storm skirts around. Still very hot and partly cloudy after then Sun went down, I opted to uncover the pool and be lazy tonight.

While doing my laps, I watched hundreds of tiny Venus, Arcturus, Spica, Vega, and Ursae Major stars shimmer across the water. Flipping over for a slow backstroke, I just relaxed... Looking up and thinking. And here it came... The ISS! I had read earlier about it, but really hadn't looked at the times. Wow! You should see how bright this fellow gets! And minutes later? Endeavor sailed by, too...

It was kinda' nice, just floating there. Watching the constellations come through, and mankind orbiting around our planet. I thought for a moment about getting out the scopes, but nah. I am a lazy stargazer tonight. One who is perfectly content to sneak a Corona out to the edge of the pool...

And just watch the cosmos float by.

"It's not like you, to say sorry. I'm always waitin' on a different story. This time I'm mistaken... For handing you a heart worth breakin'. I've been wrong. I've been down... Into the bottom of every bottle. And these five words in my head scream... 'Are we having fun yet?'

Yeah yeah yeah... no no.
Yeah yeah yeah... no no."



June 10, 2002 - A Bite Out Of The Sun...

Comments: They said it couldn't be done from Ohio. The maps said it wasn't going to happen here. But the numbers? Ah! The numbers never lie, do they?

All I needed was a clear horizon.

And that was as tall an order as a ship and a star to steer it by! Ohio's ninety plus days means chances are slim that you're going to get sky around the five to seven degree area. But you know what? I truly am one of the most patient people you know... And I firmly believe that if opportunity knocks?

You gotta' be there to answer the door.

Off to the hill. It overlooks Owl Creek and the surrounding flat lands in a very quiet fashion. Actually, I suppose some would call it a knoll... And they'd be right. But here on the plains, anything slightly higher than a house qualifies. I set up the Celestron with the solar filter over a half hour in advance. When shadows are long, it's not easy to aim using my fashion, and I didn't want to stress the situation out by waiting until the last second. Hey... I even polar aligned! (now, ain't you proud of me? ;) For I could somehow see myself at the eyepiece when the "play" ran out. Horizon found. Sun in eyepiece. Camera charged. I am ready.

Do you know how l o n g thirty minutes can seem when you're waiting?! I kept tracking the Sun and talking to the Canadian geese I tried to kill the other day. (they've quite forgiven me, cor... ;) I kept my back to the west, so I'd resist temptation to look directly at the Sun... And even more so, because I didn't want to see those clouds wafting in. A look at the watch. A look at the eyepiece. A glance at the sky....

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

The minutes crawl by... And the clouds push on. I sample the Sun through the camera... and find out that not enough light passes through at sunset to show through the telescope and solar filter. Oh, man... My heart fell. Picking up the camera, I tried capturing the image straight through the filter. Again, a "no go".... Tick, tock. Three minutes to go....

A band of cloud passed over the Sun, while I capped up the 4.5... They were right. I'll never see it from here. Oh, well... Huh? Easy come... Easy go...

And then the door opened.

Dropping stately down through the bright orange clouds was an even brighter white Sol... With a "bite" taken out of the edge!


Ah, now... How is it I knew you could never disappoint me?

I shouldn't have been looking at it naked eye... But I did. My own repeated lessons to others have been abandoned in the joy of the moment. But, neither am I a fool. (arguable point, here...) Holding the camera directly in front of the Sun, I watched through the LCD screen as it blazed its' image onto the film... And as the clouds softly veiled it?

I looked again.

Magnified by the atmosphere, the huge disc of Sol did its' very best to defy the atmosphere. I cannot describe how very beautiful it looked. Deep orange, almost hurting the eye. Tendrils of smoke blown across its' face... And a brilliant horned edge would show briefly through the grey...


And then it kissed the trees...

Did I chase it? You know I did. Like someone you don't want to leave behind, but know you must. Laughing and running down the hillside along the edge of the field where the new shoots of corn stick up their brave green fingers. I ran after that cinnamon disc with the bite taken out of it. Watching it turn dustier and darker as it fell into that final horizon.... Smiling and waving...

Sending the chakra west.

"It's not like you didn't know that... Said I love you, and I swear I still do. And it must have been so bad... Because what hurt me must have damn near killed you.

And this is how you remind me...

This is how you remind me of what I really am."


June 9/10, 2002 - Jupiter and Venus... Mizar and Alcore, Cor Caroli, Albeiro, Polaris, Dubhe, Porrima and Ras Algethi... M13, M92, Epsilon Lyrae, M57, M56, M29, NGC6819, NGC6866, M39 and NGC6940...

Comments: Aaaaah... Here it go. Looks like another "Starry Night" in Ohio! Cloudless blue sky means time to hop on the Harley and hunt up an old friend. Belly full of "Echildas Cancun", we ride to the Observatory. He just doesn't get how I can be so excited over a bunch of truss tubes and a big mirror. Argh! It's not the scope, ok? It's the people... Seeing that look on someone else's face... the one I probably had the first time I looked at the M13 through the eyes of big mirror. It's not about what you have or what you can do... It's about what you can give. If I have to explain it? I guess you just can't understand.

Time for me to ride on.

The Summer has returned. After having indulged the household crew in the beautiful blue, and now warm swimming pool, I decided "drying off" on the Harley sounded like a great option. Besides, I need to hunt down a good spot with clean western horizon in hopes of catching some of tomorrow's partial solar eclipse. And I found a spot where I could watch exactly where the Sun goes down. On a hill...

Rayleigh scattering at sunset was even worse than yesterday. The lower third of the sky was involved in all of those great colors that spell beauty to some, and a furry night to others. I like the esthetics... and the understanding of what makes it so. And I like this spot. It will serve nicely if the weather cooperates. So, I obtain permission to return tomorrow and set up the scope in hopes of catching my third partial eclipse in four years of solar observance.

The last direct rays of the Sun had long since vanished, and it was time to set the 12.5 out. No harm was done through my stupidity the other night, but I do not like what happened. I have guarded that mirror carefully, and I will continue to do so. For true quality doesn't come round often...

Study Jupiter and Venus through a dob?! Oh, why the heck not, eh? Forget Jupiter. I can draw out the equatorial belts, but I can't even hook up with the galieans! The sky is simply too bright to the west to reveal them, and by the time it does darken? Well, let's just say I don't fancy parking the dob in the middle of the street. Venus was a much better story. Blinding unfiltered, dark green was all it required tonight to show that it has slimmed down. Less than 50%, the phasic nature displays itself well, and it is just a pleasure to have looked.

Covers on, linen sleeve in place, laid down... check. Time for me to slide indoors for a bit and peruse the Stephen Hawking lecture I've been lent to study. Fascinating stuff! Such a brilliant mind... And when I see Arcturus shining through the window? Tis' time for me to go back out. Who knows when the clouds will return? And the Lunacy is not far away... Best enjoy while I can.

Still, the sky could stand to be a bit more dark... But there is nothing wrong with some double hopping while I wait. How about something silly like Mizar and Alcore for starters? The B companion to the southeast is just too easy, but there is one here we never seem to talk about, people. It's name is Sidus Ludovicianum... The little bitty one that resides between Zeta Ursae Majoris and Alcore. Tonight I think it was just waving its' hand and saying "Remember me?".

Cor Caroli, of course... And fall straight across the sky for Albeiro. The back over to snatch up Polaris. I appreciate the solid "fix" of the dob, for now the companion B is precisely where it should be, without the distortion of rolling the tube in the 4.5. How about Dubhe? I'm just gonna' smile here... Because I know what I see.

For my friend, Cor... I journey onto Gamma Virginis. You would appreciate "Porrima" in the big scope, amigo. These matched magnitude yellows overlap in a rather "touching way"! Perfect. They're getting closer aren't they? Right now, momentary clarity is the only thing that reveals them as two "siamese twins". Upping the magnification harms them... for they bleed together as one.

Alpha Herculis is last for me. Ras Algethi's green companion is clean to the east. But the red giant A star fascinates me. All of its hydrogen has been fused into helium and there is no more energy to keep the star hot. (Poor baby... Don't we all need something to keep us "hot"? I sure do...) Its inner core keeps collapsing as the helium itself is fused, and the outer layer expands and cools... giving us that dull red color. Did you know this particular "red star" is so massive, that if we were to place our Sol at its center, that it would consume our inner solar system clear out beyond Mars? Wow...

So, it would seem that I am in a contemplative, study kind of mode tonight. Why not "go with the flow" and see what we can do with M13? At 32mm I can match what I see with almost triple the aperature. (but, in all fairness, that one was sitting at 50mm!!) Pinpoint resolution, impenentrable core, the splaying off of stars around the edges... At 26mm? More resolution, chaining appears, and the stars rip themselves apart at the frontier... At 17mm? Filling the field of view with resolvability. The dark areas have now become apparent. The outer stars seem to curl and twist away like ribbons caught in a frozen wind. At 9mm? Aye, chihuahua... Everywhere you look are tiny, golden pinpoints of light... Caught in chains, doubles, triples, multiples... And at the heart of it all? Just one star.

The dark patches are not a figment of imagination. They are a reality. How can I say so with such confidence? I have seen. I have seen starlight beyond starlight... And I have seen at the lower edge a pocket where there is none. I have seen stellar concentration to the point where I can just barely grasp the concept... and I have seen a dark "dust lane" along the upper edge. This has to be darkness between me and thee...

After having spent probably an hour contemplating the M13, it was time to sit for awhile. Someone asked me last night what I hoped to be one day... and I told them a "Stargazer". Their laughing response was..."Aren't you now?" But my answer was quite simple. "No. For I cannot stop the curiousity that drives me to explore them." Pouring a cup of coffee from the thermos, I sit back and wonder where I shall journey to next. How much I wish I could hold Alpha Centaurii... But I cannot from here. The silver arc of the Milky Way has begun to climb well into the sky...

And "Summer Stuff" awaits.

Finishing up my cup, I stand and move back to the dob. I've had a peek at the charts, and I'm ready to pick off the M92. Dropping back to my favourite "cruising speed" of 26mm, this globular sure doesn't take the fancy like M13! But you know what? It's still nice. Rather small, with a deeply concentrated core area, even this minimum of magnfication starts resolution around the edges.

Dropping down toward Lyra, I do the "Double Double" just for fun. This is one I've never had a particular problem with in the dob, and tonight is no exception. The "Ring" is always a fun fellow to visit with, too... Although this is not an exceptional night for nebula. So I search for a bit, and then smack myself on the forehead for not remembering where the "Hedgehog" resides! (ooops! albeiro! we've gone too far now... ;)

A rather obscure Messier that I don't visit often is M29 in Cygnus. How like a little Plieades you are! All of these tiny doubles and triples remind me so strongly of the "Seven Sisters"... but you've no color. It doesn't matter. For you are fine the way you are.

Feeling kind of aimless, I began to wander around the region of Gamma Cygnii... What's this? I've got a little cloud of stars here. Leaving the scope "set", I wandered back to my chair and charts. Well, well! We have a designation. I intentionally pushed the scope down and found it again. I went back to the M29... and returned. NGC6819 is a very fine, pinwheel-like splay of tiny stars bracketed by high-wattage orbs. It is exceptionally pleasing because of its' concentration! Very nice. One worth hunting down west of Gamma Cygnii.

Breaking my own rules? Nah. These are open clusters, and they don't change the way galactic structure can. Now, instead of tipping the dob up and down, let's start nudging it with a knee toward the north. For I've another target in mind... (oops! was someone looking at the charts again? ;) About 5 degrees northwest of Gamma is NGC6866. This one is not as spectacular as the last... But it is sweet. The stars here vary in magnitude, with the majority of them lumping together in a tear-drop formation, with two chains sprouting off the narrow end. It, too, is worth a look.

Continuing on my northward trajectory, I find Deneb and run down the M39. Large, bright and open, this Messier would perhaps be a bit better with lower magnification, but I'm not in the mood to make a switch at the moment.

What I'm in the mood for is NGC6940. An old friend... After having danced with my head in the stars for so long, it feels good to see a familiar "face" once again. This one made me stop and take notice long ago... It taught me appreciation. It taught me the joys of exploration. And as far as open clusters go?

It taught me how to love again.

Now, I have more than my fair share of mosquito bites. It's time to cover the dob and uncover the pool. The hour has grown very late here in Ohio, and no one will be about. How about if we slide inside? See if there's any news from the rest of the world? Perhaps grab that Nickelback CD and take the water on "Silver Side Up"?

Care to join me?

"It's not like you to say sorry. I'm always waiting on a different story. This time I'm mistaken... For handing you a heart worth breaking... I've been wrong. I've been down. Into the bottom of every bottle. But these five words in my head scream... Are we having fun yet?

Yeah yeah yeah... No. No.
Yeah yeah yeah... No. No."




July 8/9, 2002 - The Warren Rupp Observatory and the RCAS "Star Party"...

Comments: Snatched up Dan and met Curt and Tric for coffee halfways... What's the rush? The sky looks promising and tonight it's time for "Big Scope" and the RCAS "Star Party"...

I set up for solar observance as quickly as possible. By the time we arrived, Sol was already working itself into the tree line and time was short. Needless to say, the Sun was still giving a fine performance! 9987 is still holding strong... But attention getter was the "new kid", 9991. Big, bold and beautiful, the standing joke soon became "You broke my Sun cherry!"

Wait a minute... Did I just say I set up? Yeah, I did, didn't I... Figured it was about time the old workhorse Celestron 4.5 met the Observatory...


So, the 4.5 made it to "The Hill"... Yep. It missed its' partner immediately. But, you'll notice in the background a 12.5 Meade. So it might have been alone, but it wasn't lonely...

After the meeting, Dan took the 4.5, a group of kids, and set sail for the Sun. Me? I was having a wonderful time talking with the senior members. Fascinating and intelligent gentlemen... It was great to hear the "language" I love spoken. They had such wonderful stories about the past... and thoughts for the future. I simply could have hung around them all night... listening and talking. But the 4.5 calls me. There was a reason it was brought here.

The people.

The young man who was studying... the visitors from a distance away... the young couple wanting to get into astronomy... the curious on-lookers... fellow amateurs... those who came without scopes... and most importantly?

The young people who had never been allowed to touch a "real" telescope.

Make no mistakes about my old Celestron. From the odd wing nut that holds the tray - to the battle-scarred mirror, this telescope has been well loved and well used. I have no fear in taking people's hands in the dark, and showing them where the simple controls are. It does not bother me to let a stranger aim. And if it makes someone's night to loosen up the stops and show them how to "sky surf" while I take my turn at the Big Scope? Then I say, "Job well done." For you cannot do anything to this scope that I have not... And if it gives you only a fraction of the pleasure its' given me over the years? Take the wheel and drive!

Back now to fellow Club Members to check out what is on the "menu" for the Big Scope tonight. Very good... Venus, the M13 and the M57. Then somebody started absolutely howling "M51! M51!" (now i wonder... just WHO on earth that could have been? ;) The turn-out by the public was great... and I would be some time before I could make it to the eyepiece. Time to do my "thang"...

It is my pleasure to show you a filtered Venus and a setting Jupiter. Take you on a trip through the beautiful colors on single stars. Challenge your observing ability with doubles, and delight you with doubles you can see! I want you to see the M81/82 and the M51... I can and will take you to every object the 4.5 is capable of...

And remind you of when the ISS passes over... ;)

Having enjoyed the M13 and the M57 in the observatory scope, I am most happy to walk the same fields in the small one. And what ho! I even know where a comet can be found! M5... M4... They are all here, and old, old friends.

What's this I hear? The Big Scope is being directed to the M51?!! Well, just take me out and beat me, Dave... Looks like we've put the word in the right ear, eh? (or maybe that was the left? ;) So off we go to have a look.... And then? Back out to watch the ISS, again... (some silly fool wrote down the times and looked at their watch, i guess...) and then back in again to travel up, up, up to the eyepiece!! Trust me... you would like what you see.

All evening long, the random meteor rate had been much higher than usual. And when we walked out the door of the dome? POW! A bolide!! Not just ANY bolide, thanks. This one was so bright, it truly cast a shadow!! No one "oooohed" and "aaaaahed"... Those of us who were left simply stood with our mouths and eyes wide open. "Did you see that? Holy *^&$! Did YOU see that?!!!!"

Now, while the driver of the big scope changes, back to the 4.5 to explore Saggitarius. My "morning walk" always dwells in my heart and mind. It never goes away. Show off? Nah. My scope is familiar to my hands, and what waits at the heart of my galaxy only requires reflex. I can share what I see... But it is rare that I can share what I am. So we walk the targets, M8, M20, M23, M22, M17....

Time to break it down. I am tired. Dan is tired. The crowd has thinned to us last few "die hards" who can't give up the night. Dan helps me disassemble the scope and pack the stuff away in the car. We walk back up the Hill one last time...

To swim in the "Lagoon".

"Never made it as a wise man. Couldn't cut it as a poor man stealin'... Tired of living like a blind man. Sick of cybering without a sense of feeling...

And this is how you remind me....

This is how you remind me... Of what I really am. This is how you remind me... Of what I really am."



July 7/8, 2002 - Venus and Jupiter, NGC5170, NGC5134, NGC5054, NGC5084... Reworking the "Nickle Tour"... Walking With Saggitarius...

Comments: Time for me to cut myself some slack. Eat well and sleep before nightfall, instead of working. I've led the horse to the water...

I got up in plenty enough time to set the scopes out to cool down. The 4.5 stabilizes in about 15 minutes or so... Not that it would much matter. For Jupiter has fallen victim to the "on the edge" atmosphere. Yeah, the equatorials are still quite there. I don't think that is going to change. And the waltz of the galieans continues, with a tight pair one one edge, and a single on the other. No real point in trying to pull out what ain't there.... So, I focused my concentration a bit on Venus. Again, there is no real point to Venus. It is merely an illustration of our solar system workings. By stacking blue/green filters, I can adequately reveal it's phasic nature, and that is all I need.

From there? I sat on the redwood chair with a cup of coffee and watched the sky deepen. I have had my head so buried in the clouds, that I've lost touch with what I am. I am nobody. I am no one. I am just a voice in the night.

Now let's go rock Virgo...

OK, Spica. You're cold and you're blue, and you want to drop me down. Then let's do it. Because when I fall away from you I find NGC5170. This is probably the most striking galaxy I've found in this area. A splendid, well-presented edge-on with an intense, elongated nucleas. The 5170's core area is underscored with the finest of indications of a dark dust lane. One that makes me glad I've spent some time dark adapting, because you really have to avert and be patient to pick it up. Even without that added feature, the 5170 rocks the eyepiece at 9mm. This less constricted view shows it very stretched out, with extensions twice the length of the central portion. Very, very fine.

So who said falling was bad? It's not been the first time I've been dropped to my knees and hurt. Know what? You get numb. And my knees are on the ladder... So let's climb back up to Star 69. Don't bother calling back... Cuz' nobody is home.

By shifting the field again to 69, it's time to let the dob drop again, just a bit above R Hydra. This is where you find NGC5134. Residing in a stellar field, 5134 is a hazy, indistinquishable ovoid ellipitical. Its' "tilted in" standpoint is totally unremarkable... as are most ellipticals. The only joy I take here is remembering its' designation.

So Star 69 again, will you? Cuz' one day I might answer....

The next "fall line" brings up NGC5054. just a breath away from yesterday's studies, NGC5044 and NGC5037. Bordered by bright stars, the NGC5054 gives first impression of a chevron shape. The elongated nucleas breaks forward at high power, as does the dustlane that carves it. Dropping back just a bit makes the view more pleasing, although the continual readjustments help bring that structure forward. This is the "one armed" galaxy... Unusual and pretty in its' own way.

Still ready for a fall? Then let's continue as we see NGC5087 and NGC5068 slip by... My last mark for Virgo tonight is NGC5084. What I find here is highly reminiscent of the M82. 5084 is rather "spindle shaped" with a stellar nucleas. Now, let's examine it much, much closer. At 300X, all resemblance to the M82 ends. Rather than being "notched" and "lumpy", the 5084 remains smooth... And I'll be damned if I don't catch something on movement that screams "Event Horizon!!" to my eyes. I tapped, I switched magnifications, I really paid attention. What can I say besides it is something you sense?! Arrrgh! Words fail me... for my notebook is covered in garbled symbols, and my heart remembers. There was just something there. Something that made me want to come back for more. A contrast change... A hint. A wink and a smile... But the harder I work at trying to pinpoint it, the more difficult it becomes. So... I let it go.

And it's time for me to let Virgo go for this season. Every time I run an exploration grid through this area, so many galaxies come out to play that I could become virtually obsessed with them. You should see the area above the M104! Don't get me wrong, for I am not a quitter. What I am is a careful study... And one who knows that chances are slim that time and sky will cooperate. But, I'll be back to play. For I am one who takes great happiness out of just bopping over those galaxy fields for fun...

Virgo? Rock on, kid.

Capping the eyepiece, so I don't lose the darn thing in the dark, I walk back to my favourite observing spot to pay some attention to the 4.5. This is my travelling companion, and I fear getting rusty and dusty with it. I dig making public presentations, and you can't hold an audience's attention if it takes you more than just a few moments to hook up with a target. As I've said, my head has been in a cloud, and the sky has gone and changed on me! Weep not for me, Navigator...

Time to walk the line.

Glancing at my watch, I start in. M65 and M66. Perfect. M81 and M82. Still a snap. M51... Zenith? LOL! Watch me... For I can make the 4.5 behave like a dob! Gotcha'... M84/86. Yep. M5? Splendid. M13? Finder is a hair off. No problem. Readjusted. M57? Smokin'... M4? Cheesecake... Comet Ikeya/Zhang? Hey, Ralf! I still got the touch, buddy.... Cor Caroli and Albeiro? Simple. Time? 30 minutes. Eeeeesh! Do it AGAIN, T!

Rock and walk... Rock and walk... Trusting in my "self-righteous suicide"... Listening to the radio, and doing what I do best. Smiling. Now that "I've tried so hard and gone so far" and found out that "In the end, it doesn't really matter", the "Nickel Tour" is ready to go. I'm ready to go. ("m' good to go now. i'm good to go..." ;) Checking my watch again, I find out I still have a few minutes to spare before I take a break, and walk back to the south field and the dob.

Tipping toward Antares... Oh, no. No. No! I have done the unforgivable. I did not re-cap the finder and I did not lay the dob down fully horizontal. Calling myself every name in the book, and a few that didn't make it into print... I fumbled in my pocket for my little red light. Aiming it down inside the dob helps assuage some of my worst fears, for the primary is only softly hazed and not showing signs of major condensation. How STUPID can I be! Even that is enough to allow dust a foothold. Crestfallen, I picked up the wet handle of the "grasshopper" and pulled the dob back to the garage. Laying it down, I put the linen sleeve on without the inner cover and turned the fan on. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid!

So, go inside, eh? See if the name still fits.

I tried to feel better... Honest. What I wanted to do was laugh, and find out everything was still the same... Not cry over a stupid mistake. A big, hot mug of coffee and conversation with friends... I'll learn to be numb again, soon. Spent most of my life that way. Why stop now?

And I kept watch on the dob. Within an hour or so, everything had dried back out and it appears to be all right. Lesson learned, eh? And when I had finished taking a break, Saggitarius sat prime.

The 12.5 and I went back out for a walk. That is the beauty part of no work the next day and a fine nap earlier. Sometimes I call the shots on what I see, and sometimes I am private. The Archer shot me straight through the heart a long time ago. I never tire of the nebulae and clusters.

I cannot "forget" the starfields...

"And it's been awhile... Since I could look at myself straight. And it's been awhile... Since I've said I'm sorry. And it's been awhile... Since I've seen the way the candles light your face. And it's been awhile.. But I can still remember just the way you taste.

And everything I can't remember. As mucked up as it all may be... I know it's me. I cannot blame this on another. He did the best he could for me.

And it's been awhile... Since I could hold my head up high. And it's been awhile... Since I've said I'm sorry."



June 6, 2002 - NGC3957, NGC3956, NGC3955, NGC4094, NGC4050, NGC4033, NGC424, and NGC4027...

Comments: Been dwelling in Stratos for so long now that it was beginning to feel like part of me. Hey, hey... Forget that! The setting rays of the Sun pierced through the cloud layer and the temperatures fell rapidly. And with that?

Came the stars...

I took the dob out to the south field long before sky dark, and chose a power nap to clear my head and heart for study. Simply "zone out" for a period of time. (is this sleep? i'm not sure. for on one level i am aware of what goes on around me, but my mind is far away...) Before switching off the interior lights and heading out to dark adapt, I picked my book of maps up off the table. Then I laid it back down. Will I fly or fall?

Let's fly.

I simply chose to ignore the planets tonight. I will chase Ikeya/Zhang no more. What I see to the south is what I am after, and the night is superfine. Time to walk Crater...

By initially using the "Ringtail" as a guide post, head west and start a fall line. First galaxy study is NGC3957. A right "stand-up" edge-on structure, it shows no real definition under the usual routes of magnification... just a bit of thickening toward the core area. This appearance gives it the look of flattened UFO.

Next down is NGC3956. Much wider, this tilted spiral comes close to edge-on status. Its' ovoid nucleas is quite apparent, and it resides in a very impressive field of stars. Dropping a bit further, we pick up NGC3955. Again... edge-on structure! Much brighter than the last study, the 3955's north/south orientation gives up no structure. But who cares? I still dig the edge-ons...

H slips in and out of the shadows like liquid silk. When he sees I am relaxing a moment, he comes to my side to join me. And out of the pine tree comes Ranger! Seems his steroid therapy is doing the old boy some good... For he is spending quality time with the night, stealing H's yard toys and hiding them where the gigantic boughs of the evergreen tent the ground. Good! About time someone set H is his place, eh?

Smiling at their antics, I finish my mug of coffee, flip the "Days of the New III" CD into the walkman. "Cuz' I will not die born. I will not go down. This is not my home. For any fears at all..." And I am ready once again.

Holy Corvus, Mr. Crow! (caw. bang. &%$! i'm dead. loved that movie... ;) It's galaxy time again! And what have we? Another edge-on... NGC4094. It starts off being difficult with me, but as I readapt to "study mode", this tilted streak of light reveals an elongated core upon magnification and aversion. He's a pretty fellow, caught between three bright stars on one edge, and a single on the other.

Next on the grid is NGC4050. Patience draws a triangular core, and a circling halo of light from this study. The clarity of the sky tonight gives me a chance to wonder! I think I classed this one originally as a simple spiral... But tonight it looks rather barred! Ah, well. Is that not why we study a particular field more than once? To catch what we may not have before...

NGC4033 resides in a stellar field. Here is the classic signature of an unresolvable spiral galaxy. The soft oval of silver light is still quite pleaseing, however. Even if I cannot pull structure from it. The NGC4024 is much the same. This soft, egg-shaped elliptical does boast of a concentration toward the central two thirds, with a certain amount of degeneration toward its' galactic frontiers. What makes this one quite special is all the apparent doubles nearby!

Last stop on the drop is NGC4027. Break my heart, will 'ya?

For this is Yin... without the Yan.

"And everything I can't remember... As mucked up as it all may seem. The consequences that I've rendered.... Guess I've gone and mucked things up again.

Why must I feel this way? Please make it go away... Just one more peaceful day."



June 4, 2002 - The Sun... Venus and Jupiter... In the Study Fields: NGC5044 and NGC5037, NGC5087 and NGC5068, NGC4038 and NGC4039...

Comments: Sol was peeking out from behind a wall of cumulus clouds when I got home from work today... And you know me. Gotta' look.

I KNEW it! As soon as I went to the eyepiece, I could tell 9978 was still hot! Although the MDI continum photo doesn't show the penumbral regions as well as what can be seen at the eyepiece, check out the group to the left...


SOHO photo


There is a trail of spot activity there that was not the last time I looked! That means the umbra is breaking up and shifting, and the resulting activity could mean flares. But 9973, (central portion) isn't laying quietly either. A vein has developed off the penumbral region since last look, but the dispersion field still stays evenly spaced.

Although the Sun is freckled with activity at the moment, those two titans take the eye. Between the two, I'm taking bets that if an X or M class activity happens, 9978 will be the one to do it. He's bad... (and i love 'em bad... ;)

********************************************************

Ah, the cosmos cooperates and the clouds stay away for the earlier part of the evening...

How funny it looks to me to see Jupiter directly below Venus! Where have the weeks disappeared to so quickly? I know it's been awhile since the planets first strutted onto the scene, for I remember well observing Jupiter on New Year's Eve... But this rush!

They have fallen away from me...

Despite the fact that it's moving on, I still love Jupiter anyway. I've had my share of great views, and I wish it well. I'll not chase planetary detail anymore, but I will watch the galieans dance around Jove like moths to a flame until I can see them no more. Callisto is hiding tonight, and Ganymede and Europa hold Jove between them almost equodistantly. Tiny Io will be the one who steals the show... For it looks as if transit is in its' very near future. Hey, hey. Have fun out there. Tell me if you make it to the Milky Way, ok? Cuz' from here the lights look faded... and Heaven is overrated.

Time to walk round to the south field now. The dob waits on me patiently to quit playing with my own solar system and head on back to where I belong. Distant...

I've been in the study field as much as time and sky permit, walking between this galaxy and that, straining for structure and making notes. Tonight I take them on again, but only remember six of their names without the books.

NGC5044 and NGC5037 are quite a pair. The 5044 is a very round ellipitcal. Appearing almost globularesque, apparent doubles come very close to it. It's companion galaxy, the 5037 is much smaller, and displays the look of a spiral moving toward "edge-on" status. It is very soft and structureless, held in chains by the stars. Neither member of this pair display any detail, but there is a hint at more (?) directly in the field with them.

NGC5087 and NGC5068 are next. The 5087 is billed as an elliptical, but appears as a flattened ovoid to me.... Much like a small spiral compacted to the point where no dark dust lanes show. And the 5068 blows it out of the water! Much larger, spiral structure is impossible to miss in this one. Here is what looks like barred structure! The central portion has that classic signature I came to recognize while studying in the Eridanus/Fornax area. The arms of the galaxy are wispy, and averted vision suits them well, for they fade gently to one side. On the opposite, the mottled texture of stellar mass appears to be more evident, as if the galaxy's halo had slipped a bit to one side. A very classic pair...

Last stop for me tonight? The NGC4038 and NGC4039. Yeah, I visited this pair recently, and you know what? I'll visit them again. The interaction between the two was great, and the resultant "C" of flung off material from the convergant "heart shape" of the duo is quite nice.

I continue to tip and move the dob back and forth through the study field, still familiarizing myself with the position and location. I like hanging around in the lonely land of galaxies. But!

Overhead, the stars still walk and talk....

"And it's been awhile... Since I could say that I wasn't addicted. And it's been awhile... Since I could say I loved myself as well.

And it's been awhile, since I gone and mucked things up... Just like I always do. And it's been awhile... But all that shit seems to disappear when I'm with you."



June 3, 2002 - What a wild night last night! And I do mean WILD!! Long before dark, the lightning came...

And it stayed.

All around... ALL around! The skies danced and the thunder rumbled in a continual bass undernote. There was something both frightening and exhilarating about being outside.... Because it never stopped. One flash after another, the skies stayed as light at midnight as they are at noon...

The stroboscopic effect was just dazzling...

But, there was something weird here. As strange as this is going to sound... The sky directly overhead was clear! Nothing like getting a real "charge" out of Canes Venetici and Bootes, huh?

I fell asleep watching it... Inside wondering what it would be like to stand on a planet whose atmosphere always looking like this. I remember reading once about lightning being discovered on other worlds. Guess the weather is back to stay for awhile, huh? Ah, well.

I didn't want to study, anyhow.

"And everything I can't remember... As mucked up as it all may seem. The consequences that are rendered... I've stretched myself beyond my means."



June 2, 2002 - The Sun... Jupiter and Venus... NGC2903, M105, NGC3384, NGC3389, M96, M95, Studies, M104, M13, M92, M10, M12, M5, Comet Ikeya/Zhang and Playin' in the "Field of Dreams"...

Comments: Very pretty day here in Ohio. Time to open the pool and get it ready for summer, and plenty of time to check out giant sunspot 9973!

Now rotated approximately a third of the way across the solar surface, 9973 is still rockin'. The umbral region is changing shape ever so slightly, but at this time it appears stable. The penumbral region has also shifted around it, but remains quite even. The dispersion field itself it what moves... The entire complex shifts and changes ever-so-slightly in just a matter of hours! A deep notch that had developed around one area continues to widen, making the very "liquid" surface of Sol so apparent.

Now rounding the incoming side is yet another such magnetic "scab". The Wilson Effect dramatically displayed and all granulation pushed away from this newcomer. 9979 isn't quite so grandoise as its' predecessor, but what we have here is active!


SOHO image


The EIT284 camera at SOHO research labratory gives a fantastic overview of what goes on "behind the scenes" for our nearest star. Coronagraphs and magnetograms are totally cool! By combining personal observations along with research, it makes the ever-changing face of Sol a most worthy place to study.

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So, it doesn't get dark now until about 10:00. A power nap here and there during the day is fine by me, and as soon as I see stars? I'm ready to go...

While the dob stabilized, the 4.5 and I ventured off together again. How odd it seems to see Jupiter "below" Venus! (and where does the time go?!) Like holding the planet below water, the atmosphere waivers and turns the view. The major equatorial belts still come through quite crisply, as do the galieans paired off on either side. I didn't really take the time to bump the power up past 17mm, because the turbulence would just cause frustration... And after having toasted 75% of the html coding on the site I was working on... Frustration is NOT going to be a key word tonight.

Walking back to the dob, I chose to move it into the open south field. Leo is setting so very quickly, and I've barely scratched at the fleas on the Lion this year. First up is spiral galaxy 2903. In terms of structure, the NGC2903 is very fine. At low power, this flattened spiral makes a great stand up presentation... Increase the power, and decrease the light draws out the dark dust lanes that give this galaxy a very "sweeping" appearance. Not as dense as other spirals, the core is very lenticular, and the arms themselves grainy and possessed of many fine knots. A true beauty...

Heading up toward the "belly" of Leo, the M105 complex smacks the eye at low power. This triangle of galaxies is very fine. The M105's elliptical form defies magnification, as does companion ellipitcal NGC3384... But rock on down to NGC3389 and take it edge-on, baby!

Nudging the scope southward, the M96 and M95 are easy. The M96 plays around in a relatively starless field, and presents its' silver sheen with an intense nucleas much sharper and brighter than its' smokey arms. M95 is just as cool, because we are talking barred spiral here. The core region of the 95 is gradual, with the arms of the galaxy faintly haloing. Very nice!

Quite in the mood for galaxy hopping with you, I set the dob south for study. This time I wander about a bit more freely, less chained to notes and charts. The "Ringtail" displays its' soft C with the heart-shaped pair in the center. Many of what I have been studying I recognize... For I prize edge-on structure, too. I simply follow the pattern for awhile, not as serious tonight as I should be... But hey! I can't be serious all the time...

Before we leave this area, want to have a go at the "Sombrero"? I can't present it quite as large, but what I can show you makes for a smile in the dark. That "see through" quality is very apparent in the dob, and the dark dust lane that bissects it is a bold line. The M104 is a seasonal favourite, and one that shall move on too soon!

Beginning to tire, I feel like resolvability... And the M13 gives it to me. Using the best I have, the stars simply smack out across the surface, and I pay mind to the dark areas. The best I can do is about 2/3 as good as what can be seen at the observatory... and I'll take 2/3 anytime! Wishing I wasn't quite so tired so I could make a better study, I decide to tackle the smaller, concentrated M92 while there. Beautiful, partner...

Still feeling globular? Then let's stroke a couple more before I give in to sleep. Ophiuchus is quite fine from the south field, and the M10, M12 and M5 all differ from one another greatly. The M10 with its' core slipped to one side, the M12 much looser and even, the M5 with it's odd shape! Trying to compare globular clusters would be like trying to compare galaxies.... No two are alike!

Ikeya/Zhang? Where are you? Running a soft grid with the dob pulls the Traveller from the sky. At lowest power, the comet resembles a globular cluster, but bump it up? And there is no resolution. Actually, there isn't much left of I/Z at all! Fare the well, friend.... You've been fun.

And me? Ready to go dream awhile... I can think of no finer place than between Virgo and Coma Berenices. The "Field of Dreams", baby... Recognizing this one and that as old playmates, and just laughing out loud at all the splendid little galaxies that harbour in the area at low power.

It's a fitting end to the night, this play....

"And it's been while, since I could hold my head up high... And it's been awhile...

Since I first saw you."