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Observing Reports: June ~ 2003





June 24, 2003 - Road Trip...

Comments: Some people dream, and some people live their dreams. I've done my time at work and I'm ready for some real astronomy adventures! It will be quite some time before I'm back and if it's possible for me to report, you will find it at California Dreams - 2003.

Now it's time for me to fly, folks. California awaits.

"Dream on. Dream on. Dream on. Dream until your dreams come true. Dream on. Dream on. Dream on...

Dream until your dreams come true."



June 23, 2003 - At Play In A Field Of Stars....

Comments: Hey. It's gorgeous out. What can I say? Weeks upon weeks of clouds and rain have delayed the Ohio summer and even though the sky is perfectly clear?

I got other games to play.

Like practicing guitar, even though I never get any better at it.... And daring the mosquitos to carry me away. Time to take the first night swim of the season... And make loud noises at how cold the water is. Time enough...

Just to sit and look at the stars.

"Sing with me. Sing for the years. Sing for the laughter. Sing for the tears. Sing with me.... Just for today. Cuz' maybe tomorrow the good lord will take us away."



June 22, 2003 - Clear Skies and a Tired Vampyre...

Comments: Hola! Another sunny day in Ohio!! Happy as a little bleached clam, I couldn't wait to get off work and park my carcass in a patch of sunlight. I couldn't believe how good it felt...

At least until I noticed the smell of charred flesh.

Realizing that there is a difference between slightly browned and well-done, I decided to find a shady spot for awhile and then go blow the dust off a certain blue Harley Davidson... After terrorizing the backroads for awhile, I knew this was going to be another clear sky night and decided to set the 4.5 out for some practice and fetched my guitar. A couple of easy pieces into it, I knew that just sitting here was feeling mighty good... And so I sat and waited on dark.

Uncapping the old Celestron as soon as the stars came out, I had a go at the M81 and M82 and a half hearted attempt at M51. Not dark enough yet. Switching tactics, I headed for the M13, the M57, Albeiro and Brocchi's Cluster. Feeling happy with myself, I went in, fixed a cup of chai, and set sail through Virgo. Using only reflex, I started pulling out a few small galaxy signatures and knew this high pressure system was going to kick tonight!! You can feel the cold....

And speaking of cold? I was feeling that way myself, so while waiting on the sky to darken, I decided to turn on some tunes, fetch a blanket and kick back in the old redwood chair and have my cup of tea. And I sat there... Happily sipping and watching the Milky Way appear. I was really getting into it... Trying to remember the constellations of Serpens, Libra, Hydra, Sextans and Bootes... And just smiling away because I found myself thoroughly enjoying just looking at them - Instead of picking them apart. It just feels so good to be snuggled up here in my favorite spot. Remembering all the things I'd dreamed while sitting here and watching the galactic plane move overhead...

And dreaming.

I awoke when I realized that every major bone in my body was most unhappy with me. The Milky Way had moved from my left to directly overhead. Virgo was long gone and Scorpius had started towards the beginning of its' descent. Saggitarius was calling out my name and as I stretched and creaked... growled and groaned... I realized that I didn't have to listen. I already know the tune.

Setting the accoustic back in the house, I fondly patted the Celestron's side. There will be other nights, old friend. Other times when I would serve you better than I can right now. So I covered it back up and put it in the garage. We've got the whole summer to walk together...

Right after I go back to sleep for a second helping.

"Dream On ... Dream On... Dream On...

Dream until your dreams come true."



June 21/22, 2003 - The Sun and a "Nickle Tour"...

Comments: Hey! I ain't coppin' out here. I'm just intensely busy right at the moment...

And I'm a person who wants it all.

Still livin' life with the vampyres, but I've found that I don't burst into flame when confronted with the Sun. (actually, i burst into a nap... but we ain't gonna' tell the master that.) After the weeks and weeks of clouds, it felt mighty good just to have that ol' sunshine back on the skin. And just as good to be back to viewing sunspots!!

Right now we've got a re-rotation. I don't know if that's the correct term or not, and I honestly don't care. Anyone who watches sunspots knows that a large complex can survive to see up to three rotations around the visible surface and today it was my pleasure to view 365 once again...

Re-named as 386. ;)


SOHO Michaelson Doppler Image


Still holding a very large, and very dispersed pattern, I'm surprised to see that spot 386 is still so large! After having run the data on it, it's still crackling with x-rays and magnetic energy... And still capable of M class flare activity. Although 365/86 has decayed considerably, it sitll holds a major leader umbra with serveral well formed followers and a highly broken and irregular penumbral region. Still a character...

Now give me some of them UV rays!

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

So I've got clear skies... And I also have to work. My close friends know that what I am about to do I call the "Nickle Tour"... But in no way do I think of this as cheap! All of these things are well loved and well-practiced targets over the years. I could no more give up looking at them than I could... Well...

Give up you?

Up a bit before midnight and those stars mean that I've at least got to take the 4.5 out for a quick stroll. Although I'm entirely out of practice for more difficult studies, I find that I don't have any problem at all working from memory on the M3 massive globular and the M4 dispersed. They make a great combination in the night. Both roughly the same apparent size... But the M3 holds a real power punch of stars while the M4 takes on a faded, grainy appearance to the small scope.

Diggin' on seeing stars so low to the horizon, I realize that I've got to try my hand in Ophichus once again. I located two globulars that I'll be darned if I remember their names. I'd almost lay money on it the squeezed, blue looking one was M19 if my head is on straight... And since I don't really have one when I work this shift? I seem to recall that one up there being known as the M14. And ya' bloody well don't have to draw me a roadmap when I locate the M6, ok? MSN would be so proud to know their "butterfly" is written in the stars!

So how is my memory? Faded. Jaded. It's pretty selective, but I'd almost guarantee you that large, diffuse globular by Kaus Borealis is the M22. (there's a little guy, too... and i think he's M28.) The M8 I'd know anywhere. This is just a beautiful nebula/open cluster in any scope! Just like the M17.... There's a signature that you just can't forget no matter how out of practice you become. The M57 and M13 are simply non-sequitor.... Some of the finest stuff in the sky and enjoyed almost every time I take out a scope. I do them to make sure they're there, ok? And they are... Just as cool as ever! And for the finale? Trying to find the daggone M11 again!! When I finally see that little flying wedge of stars? Hey, hey... I'm not too sure of how I found you...

But I'm not letting you go. Ever.

Now, off to work with me. There's only a few more hours to divide that line between fantasy and reality... And who's to say what is real and what is illusion?

"Half my life
is written in these pages... I've lived and learned from fools and from sages. You know it's true. And all my feelings come back to you...

Sing with me, sing for the years. Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears. Sing with me, just for today. Cuz' maybe tomorrow, the good lord will take me away..."




June 21, 2003 - The Moon and Mars...

Comments: I am resigned to apathy. I am an old vampyre... Once again haunting the night. No love. No desire. I walk through the stars uncaring.

And I look at the Moon.

I find a cold beauty in the Sinus Aestuum. The tiny craters of Bode and Pallas suit me well. In world? I am the Raven... Perched on the bust of Pallas.

"Nevermore."

Eratosthenes, Copernicus, Fauth, Frau Mauro, Herschel, Ptolemy, Flammarion, Mostig, Lalande... They are my companions. The deep sky is eradicated by the bright light of the Moon, and the clouds hang upon the night like the tresses of a weeping woman's hair hangs across her face. The night is quiet.

And I am the vampyre.

Mars is as red as blood. A single drop held against the black sky. To view it is to see it through the eyes of running water. Perhaps they are mine... And perhaps it is the sky. It just doesn't matter anymore. The polar cap shines like like a crown against its' bruised body.

And it is time for me to go...

"Every time that I look in the mirror... All these lines and my face getting clearer. The past is gone. In the night, like dusk to dawn... Isn't that the way? Everybody's got the dues in life to pay...

I know nobody knows... When it comes and when it goes... I know everybody's sin. You gotta' have the blues to know...."



June 19, 2003 - Re-Working the Virgo Messiers...

Comments: I am in a world of hurt here. So much time has elapsed between studies that I've gotten very unfamiliar with the field I'm walking into. Or have I? But hey. I've got a map. And I've darn well got Megastar to assist me with field stars.

And I bloody well have the ambition to call the shots right.

Working with a very stable sky tonight, the scope of choice is none other than the 12.5 Meade. I use the 26mm Meade Series IV to locate and I have become quite fond of the 12.3mm ED Epic for studies. It's ultra-wide field gives me ample time to pick at structure before needing to reposition the scope. And speaking of structure? I have to keep my studies themselves structured, for the dob can and will reveal so many galaxies in Virgo that it is possible to get easily confused. For just that reason, I keep my notes brief and concise.

Start Time: 10:15 pm EST
Location: South Field, Backyard, OH (unobstructed skyline from east to west)
Sky: Easy 5.5 to 6 ULM - Stability 8
Temperature: 51 degrees

(field around 6 Comae)

M98 - Edge-on beauty. Very thin with a slight central bulge that appears more concentrated than stellar. No dark central dustlane present.

M99 - Easily held direct. Face-on spiral galaxy with concentrated nucleas and faded, yet well defined spiral arms.

M100 - Very large and easily held direct. Face-on spiral with an intense stellar core. Averted vision calls up two beautiful sweeping arms.

M85 - Easy direct. Double star at edge of field at low power. Very even, round in shape and posseses no defined core region.

M88 - Also easily held direct. A very distracting, stellar nucleas. Upon patience and aversion, the M88 turns somewhat oblate. No structure present save for that of its' pulled, elongated shape.

M91 - At first appears as an elongated structure to direct vision. Patience and aversion reveal this to be a barred galaxy! The thin central region is evenly lighted and haloed by galactic material in an almost nebula-like manner.

(field of Epsilon Virginis)

M60 - A very fine, very direct, very large elliptical. Deep concentration toward the core area and well defined wispiness, or diffuse structure toward the frontiers. (also in the field in ngc4647... slightly smaller, but with an equally bright nucleas.)

M59 - Same field as M60 and NGC4647 at low power. The M60 core appears somewhat more concentrated and the general shape is more elongated, or egg shaped. Definately at least a magnitude dimmer and considerably smaller than the M60.

M58 - (interacting pair of galaxies nearby...) Low surface brightness, requires slight aversion. Stretched in appearance, but during a moment of clarity, I am making out barred structure? Yes. A definate concentration across the center that holds evenly out to the edges.

M89 - Direct. Bright core region. Appears almost spiral-like at first glance, but the my sources say elliptical.

M90 - Oh, yeah!! Beautiful bright nucleas and easily observable spiral structure. Quite large and slightly pulled in shape. Very evident dark dustlanes upon aversion. Very nice.

M87 - Very bright and even elliptical... Easily held direct with just a slight misting effect at the frontiers. Wide aversion shows two much smaller companion galaxies in the field. Damn fine.

M86 - Oval shaped, bright, and easily direct. Holds a definate concentration toward the central region. Slight fading toward the frontiers.

M84 - Same field as M86 and identical in both brightness and core structure... The M86, however appears more round.

End Time: 12:20 a.m.

And that's it... I ain't studying no more!! I'm smack dab in the middle of "The Field of Dreams"... And I am so ready to be there. Sliding my two study eyepieces back into their case, I don't even think twice about what I'm doing now. I'm closing the MegaStar program up, intensely appreciative of its' help with field stars and rotation guidance, thankful the batteries held for so long, and the fine red filter Bruce provided me with gave ample light to take notes. I reach down toward the bottom of the dob and turn the little knob and readjust the counterbalance without thinking of "where" it needs to be. My hands know that in the upper left compartment of my large eyepiece case there resides a 32mm, 2" chunk of very fine optical glass that it took me over a year to save for. (yeah, otto... another "pigeon hole". ;) Without hesitation, I slide it into the focuser knowing exactly where to position it to get pinpoint stars and a field of view that will blow your mind...

And I'm goin' dancin'...

"I'm so far down away from the sun... That shines to light the way for me to find my way back into the arms that care about the ones like me...

I'm so far down away from the sun again."




June 17, 2003 - Beta Librae, NGC4565, M64, and the M53...

Comments: Well, I'm not exactly certain where it came from... But I'm not going to turn down a patch of clear sky. Seriously? It had rained all day. Just before sunset, the skies started to clear and I could feel anticipation build - hoping for a romp in the galaxy fields of Virgo. Yeah, right. Dream on, ~T... By the time the skies started to darken, the clouds had returned as well, and the only romp this old kid got was tossing a stick for H while I practiced some tunes on the deck. (although i must admit it was great fun watching him chase a stray cat... that little sucker was gettin' it! they looked like a hairy electric pinball game played out over an acre. cat off the birdfeeder pole... ping! cat off the fence... plonk! cat between neighbor's cars... bump-bbbump-bump... ping!! now let's just see if the black bugger has cajones enough to stick around. ;) So, things being as how they are, I simply gave up any thoughts of astronomy and chose to watch a UFO documentary instead.

By the time my patience with television had worn thin, I decided to let H out for one last run and call it bedtime. And I'll be daggoned... There's stars! Wandering back outside, I know I probably looked liked the village idiot with my mouth hanging open and staring up... But nothing seems recognizable! OK.. Yep. That's Hercules... But look at all the stars! And over there... Lyra. Yep. And Cynus. Hmmm.... All right. That's Arcturus and Virgo is way over there already... Dang! Where has all the time gone??

Oh, well. Rock when ya' got a chance.

Grabbing the old Tirion off the bookshelf, I headed off to the garage and wheeled out the dob. About 90 seconds later I had it in the sweet spot, uncovered and my good 26mm in. Forget this "waiting" crap. The mirror will stablize as I go... and south is where I went. It's been so very long since I tried to even locate Libra, let alone do any of the great double stars that I know are there. Since the scope isn't ready to split disparates, I might as well just see if I can't find Beta... And when I go to the eyepiece? What I see is pure green fire. What a beauty! This one is definately worth a look.

From there? I had my choice. I could go for the easier stuff that I know, or just give some map work a go. And it was work, brother. So long... Too long since I've done this! But hey, Coma Berenice's Melotte 111 is easy squeezy to pick out... And all I need is a sense of direction. It took me perhaps 30 minutes, I'm ashamed to say... But the NGC4565 calls out to me in a language that only one other speaks.

Edge-on, baby...

As soon as I saw what I had chose to look at, I had to go back and fetch the 12.3mm Epic. Ah, yes... Very slim, bright, excellent elongations. Very sweet, phat nucleas with two perfect stellar points on either side that correspond with my map. A kick asteroid dark dust lane that would sometimes appear across the core during a perfect moment of stability and held easily with aversion toward the poles of the galaxy structure. Hey, hey... They say that the very best ones are hard to find, oui? And good ones are worth waiting for....

Gotta' hand it to 'em. They're right.

Sighing away into the night like somebody that hasn't had any in a very long time, I think I could have probably stopped right then and died a happy camper. But you know what? It felt so good that I didn't want ta'! I wanted to go on the the M64... So I did. Kicking back down to the 26mm Meade, I homed in on star 35 and found the M64's small bright signature fairly easy. Dropping the 12.3mm in reveals a high surface brightness, compact spiral galaxy with a deep, bright concentration toward the nucleas. This particular little galaxy is a clever one, for it also has an easy direct dark dustlane smudged across one edge of the surface. And that's why they call it the "BlackEye", eh?

What cha' know? They're right again.

Deciding I'd collect at least one more fairly easy one, I set the finder on Alpha and a quick sweep with the lower power picks the M53 out with ease. With magnification, our little Bode buddy quickly takes on the halo of resolution around the edges and gets highly compacted toward the core of this dandy little globular cluster. Very fine...

By now, I realize that even as much as I'd like to stay out? I can't. I've had a sweet little taste of what's to come...

And I think I can wait a little bit longer. ;)

"It's down to this...
I've got to make this life make sense. And now I can't tell what I've done. And now again I've found myself so far down... Away from the sun that shines to light the way for me.

And now again I've found myself so far down... Away from the sun that shines into the darkest place."



June 15, 2003 - The Sun... At the Observatory... And a "Werewolf" Moon...

Comments: I woke up just as soon as it started shining in the window. It's been so long... I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I think I did both...

Putting on some coffee, I set the 4.5 out and hooked it up with the solar filter. I know it's hazy, and that the photographs won't be worth even trying - so I don't. I really don't care anymore. And as I sip my plain black morning cup, I watch an also rather plain sunspot desginated as 380...


SOHO Michaelson Doppler Image


It reminds me of an oil splatter. Nothing amazing, just one large umbra surrounded by a very dispersed and regular penumbra. It has a small follower accompanying it as well. There's a small spot on the limb... But there's nothing really fascinating going on right now.

It's just good to see it.

I guess I'll cut grass today... Perhaps nap and soak in some rays. Take away some of that winter white that reminds me far too much of a drowned worm. It feels warm on my skin...

And it's the first I've felt in a long time.

"It's down to this... I've got to make this life make sense. Can anyone tell what I've done?

I miss the life... I miss the colors of the world. Can anyone tell where I am? Cause now again I've found myself so far down... Away from the sun that shines into the darkest place. I'm so far down away from the sun again.

Away from the sun again."


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

And ya' know those clouds came back. I didn't care. I got some brown on my skin... Blew the dust of the Harley... And decided to head over to the Observatory to work with Bruce and learn more about the mechanics of the big scope.

It was a pleasant evening. As always, I learn more than I knew before... And that is a very good thing. As darkness approached, and things were "in balance" again, I couldn't keep from being outside and watching the sucker holes float overhead. Ah.... You know me. I was born just a minute ago. And it's been far too long since I've chased.

Adieu, Teacher... I'll see you soon.

Heading out on the backroads, I drove with Jupiter over my shoulder for awhile, trying my best not to look up through the roof at the stars shining overhead. As I reached the flatlands, I noticed the thin waves of clouds had brightened to silver, and I know that Moon was on the rise. When I hit an open area, I saw the orange shine on one of the many "mock lakes" formed in the fields from our continuous rains... And I just knew I had to stop and watch. Finding a safe pull-over, I turned everything off save for the stereo and spent a few peaceful minutes watching the Moon rise.

By the time I made it back, the Moon had made it into yet another bank of clouds, but overhead it was still passing clear. I couldn't help but smile as I set the 4.5 outside the garage. Here in Ohio, I call that a "Werewolf Moon".... For to view it in the telescope is like watching every B movie you've ever seen of the werewolf. The clouds race over the surface, giving it a delightfully "creepy" appearance.

Mr. Werewolf? The Vampyre says thank you.
 

With the clouds running blocker for me, there was ample enough time to pull the M81 and M82 from the sky. While the view isn't exactly worth standing on the roof and shouting about, it was still good for me to see the M3, to find the M13, visit with the M57, capture the M27 and M71, and smile over Ras Algethi.

By now, despite the shroud covering the Moon, the sky had brightened to the point where to continue on would be rather pointless. But I'm happy. It suits me quite fine to open a Corona and sit on the deck and eat the seven layer burritto I picked up on the way home. H will join me here in the shadows, and we blend right in. Thinking no where thoughts... And both of us?

Both of us dressed in black, eh?

I'm over this... I'm tired of livin' in the dark. Can anyone see me down here? The feeling's gone... There's nothing left to lift me up... Back into the world I know. And now again I've found myself so far down... Away from the sun that shines into the darkest place.

I'm so far down away from the sun... That shines to light the way for me to find my way back into the arms... That care about the ones like me.

I'm so far down away from the sun again..."



June 10, 11, and 12, 2003 - At Gettysburg, Pennsylvania...

Comments: Not even 500 miles can find me clear sky. But it is truly all right, because I have come here to this place, not so much seeking astronomy, but a reunion of soul.

Those who are close to me know that I have a "thing" about the Civil War era. I do not participate in re-enactments... Nor do I study long forgotten battles in hopes of military enlightenment. What I do is visit graveyards. I do not understand this calling - nor do I fight it. It simply is. I have traversed up and down lonely mountainsides and deep into the heart of congested cities to find a handful of these lonely, often "unknown" graves. I sit among the stones at sunset on Johnson's Island... And cut away overgrowth on rugged Kentucky hillsides in search of something tangible to me.

And every few years I am called to Gettysburg.

I have jokingly told some of my friends about my many paranormal experiences while doing this... And it is not a subject I take light-heartedly. I am a very factual person, not given to flights of fancy, and my imagination only stretches so wide. What happens... Happens. I cannot control it, nor do I seek it. Perhaps it is nothing more than a need to find someone I've loved and lost in another life... And it could be "just a blot of mustard... or a bit of undigested beef." But whatever it is? I will go on looking for the rest of my life...

And into the next.

I do not make a good tourist. I do not follow rules. I refuse to take a tour bus... Use a map... Or stick to a scheduled plan. I am the one in black who will startle you by stepping from an unused path in the woods on the steep and rocky slopes of Big Round Top. I am the one who will sit by a stone wall for an unmeasured minutes... Soaking in the memories of a place and time.

Knowing that 140 years, and a handful of days ago... behind this very rock wall, soldiers watched the fields below turn red with blood. The cannons roared from the top of the mountain just yards above me... And they died... Oh, yes. They died too.

I am not alone in this place. Around me, for several square miles, stand the hundreds of silent monuments... True works of art captured in granite, marble and bronze. They are tributes to the 51,000 men who lost their lives right here in these tiny fields in a sensless battle that didn't even last three days. Brother against brother....

No one photograph, nor amount of words can capture the feeling of Gettysburg. It is a place of deepest sorrow... A place of rememberance. From the cannon holed sides of MacPhearson's barn...

To the bullet-ridden sides of the original houses in the town proper...

I am touched all over again...

As the skies redden with the hues of sunset, I seek another solace as well. And I call upon a private residence which borders the edge of the National Cemetary for permission to set up my scope and view the Moon in the privacy of this place.

But it is not to be here, either. Once again, despite the kind generousity, the clouds steal away the Moon from the Night. It was gone just as quickly as the pictures you see here will be. What once was... Shall be no more.

It is enough for me, to sit here in the darkness and watch that silver pearl race behind the clouds. It touches my soul to see the on-again, off-again moonlight cast shadows amoungst the somber monuments....

And remember.

"Look at your young men fighting... Look at your women crying. Look at your young men dying... The way they've always done before.

Can somebody tell me... Just what we were fighting for? No. I don't need no civil war."



June 9, 2003 - What can I say besides my old "travelin' companion" is packed?

Catch ya' round the Cosmos, kid...

"If I leave here tomorrow... Will you still remember me? Cuz' I must be travelin' on now... There's too many places I got to see."



June 8/9, 2003 - You Gotta' Be Faster Than That...

Comments: To catch anything in Ohio right now! Have mercy...

Temperatures finally warmed today to something that feels kinda' like summer and, of course, along with that came a thunder and lightning show and lashing rains. Still wound tight from working vampyre hours, I found myself unable to nap (probably because H virtually sits on my lap and shakes the whole time it rains) and just kicked back with a roadmap to plan a trip. Once the rain had stopped, a weird yellow light started coming in the window... What's this? The skies are clearing!

Finding anything to do to keep myself awake and busy until dark, as soon as twilight began to arrive I sat up the 4.5 to take in the Moon. Very nice... We've got Clavius and Magninus, Copernicus and the very awesome looking Plato and Tenneriffe Mountains. This is gonna' be fun! But what it needs is to be just a bit more dark...

Wandering back inside, I pondered the notion of risking electrocution and trying the webcam on the Moon. Discarding the idea as possibly not the wisest of moves given the grass is soaking wet, I readied the camcorder. And... started playing with it. Making it do all kinds of cool things with the computer... Creating and trimming AVI files... Working with Registax... And so an hour passes. Realizing I best get while the getting is good, I shut things off and headed back outside....And the sky was gone.

Well, well... Guess I gotta' be faster than that, huh?

No problem. It's a pleasant night anyhow. You'll never have to twist my arm to get me to bring the accoustic and a glass of wine out to the park bench for a bit of practice. I'll pick at "Staind" and "Seether" till the songs begin to make sense.

And I'll be happy to watch that big, phat Moon wink at me from behind the racing clouds...

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

Of course, being a vampyre has its drawbacks. I have a difficult time sleeping and staying there. About three seconds after the Sun broke the horizon, I found myself wide again, walking somewhere between the dead and the living dead, and decided to go out and watch the sunrise. There's nothing quite like watching the stars fade away, and knowing that I'm too late to catch Mars. Guess I gotta' be quicker than that, huh? But as I wander out to the southeast edge of the field to look for Venus and Mercury? I see a bright point of light... A point of light that erupts into a sparkling orange tail and blazes almost to the zenith before it disintegrates. An Arietid?

Maybe I'm not that slow after all... ;)

"Cuz' I'm a cowboy... On this steel horse I ride. And I'm wanted... Dead or alive. Wanted....

Dead or alive."



June 8, 2003 - The Moon...

Comments: Ah, yes. The "Vampyre Shift"... Don't you just love it? I sleep when the Sun shines and work the hours of the night. There is a certain peace to be found here as well, though...
And this peace comes from the love of what I do.

No, it is not the many numbers, nor the responsiblities that I hold. It is the love of the night of which I speak. Stolen moments... Ones where the transparency of the sky is not worth the trouble, yet the steadiness of the view is soul affirming. Just that "in between" time... When sleep still haunts the eyes and you'd give just anything to stand outside in the Moonlight.

So I do what I do... Because I love it.

There are times when I can be very simple minded... And I love this as well. Wanting nothing more than to just enjoy the beauty of the expanse of the Appennine Mountains. Desiring nothing more from the night than to look into the loveless eye of Plato and to follow the rilles to Archimedes. I want nothing more than to know that Goldschmidt is there... And that I have no need to pick it apart. It is thrill enough to see the singular peaks of Mons Piton and Pico... And the know the scar of the Alpine Valley looks much less harsh in this light. A feeling of sympatico...

The Southern Highlands call to me as well.... But I do not answer. They are much too busy for me at this moment - with all their rugged, razor-edged features. It is enough for me to have gazed at La Luna... For it warms my heart as much as the tea has warmed my belly.

And I am satisfied.

It is time for me to leave now... Back to the world to which I belong the most. One filled with numbers and countless hours... I shall return to the night again just before dawn. I will find a place inside the city walls where I can hide from the light and I will hold my cup of coffee and watch the dawn in hopes of seeing an Arietid metoer. Cuz' when it comes to Aries?

There can be only one.

"I walk these streets... A loaded six-string on my back. I play for keeps... Cuz' I might not make it back. I've been everywhere... And still I'm standing tall. I've seen a million faces...

And I've rocked them all."


June 5/6, 2003 - The Moon, Jupiter, and a handful of double stars... M8, M17, M22 and Mars...

Comments: I ain't believin' it... And I'm not about to waste it... Clear (ok... mostly clear) sky in Ohio! High thins ruled the sunset hours, and by sky dark the temperatures were dropping rapidly and taking the last of those clouds with it. First mission? Oh, you know it...

That beautiful Moon!

There were a lot of things to capture the attention tonight. Fantasy spot Posidonus... The Serpentine Ridge and the black wells Aristotle and Eudoxus... But you know me. No matter what night I chose to look at the Moon - nor what phase it is in - There will always be just one feature that captures my fancy like no other.

And tonight? It is Theophilus, Cyrillus and Catharina...

No, it is not the revelation of small craters like Kant, Ibn Rushd, Tacitus, Fermat, Pons or Polybius... It is not the mountain inside Theophilus... Nor the tiny lettered craters around Catharina. What grabs my attention and holds it is an unnamed lunar feature. One the stretches between Theophilus and the flattened, ruined crater to the south - Beaumont. Look at it. It is a fine, thin tread... Nothing more than a rille. But it's very singularity is what holds me.

Well, that... And the fact that I can't identify it!

As stability slowly gets toward the better end of the scale, I decide to air out the "Ottoman" for a run on Jupiter. For a change, I sit down. Content to leave the view at what I can handle best without glasses - the 17mm. It is time for me to say my farewells to the "Gas Giants". And there is no better way than for me just to sit quietly and observe. There were no earthshaking revelations tonight... No grand passage of the "Red Spot". No shadow transits. Just me... And the equatorial bands. And all the time in the world.

And Jupiter delivered.

The north temperate zone appeared to have two distinct color variations. For the most part, it appeared a rusty grey... But during a moment of perfect clarity it looked almost as if it had a grey line in it as well. The north equatorial belt was smooth in appearance, yet ragged and uneven at the northernmost edge. The equatorial zone itself would sometimes show slight darker variations like hash marks - very faded. The southern equatorial belt was perhaps the place of most detail, where occasionally darker patches would wink in and out of view. The southern temperate zone had a mottled grey texture - very similar to a piece of dark chalk that had been turned sideways and dragged across the surface. All in all? It was a delightful time. I don't know how long I viewed, but when I turned my attention back toward the galieans, it was easy to see that the four of them had shifted postions every so slightly.

Adios, Jupiter. You've been real.

During this time, I had heard H flying up and down the yard - the Doppler Effect so evident each time he galloped by. I stood myself up to stretch and take a look about the stars while he flies past on his 237th run. Then the inevitable happened. I bent forward to fetch my eyepiece case to do some double star work... And we collided. Let's just say that H has a very hard head. And I saw stars. When I could get up off my hands and knees it was to look into his liquid brown eyes - filled with concern. It's ok, guy... Go run. Bigger things than you have tried! And I survived...

But now? I think I'll stand if you don't mind.

Delta Leonis is my first choice, just to dig on it's blue white easy seperation. And Delta Corvii as well, with it's far more disparate companion. Still smarting a bit from the blow to the head, I chose Polaris also for it's disparate qualities and the next? Because I don't understand why you can't see it. For Dubhe is not that hard... It's just blue! A very dark blue. Quite pretty, really. Mizar is too easy, but still fun. And the "Heart of Charles", Cor Caroli makes me head ache all over again as I have to turn the scope almost directly up to view it! No matter. It is still lovely. The "Double Double", Epsilon Lyrae is a clean and easy split and I find myself seeking Albeiro as well.

My thoughts have turned to Struve doubles, yet I know the way the Moon has westered, that I will serve myself no good to continue to hunt. It is time for me to put this bump to bed...

And I'll be back.

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When I got up well before 4:00 a.m., I wanted my dob and my 12.3mm ED eyepiece. No other. And I know what I want. I want Saggitarius!

Uncovering the scope, I took the eyepiece out of my jacket pocket and slipping it it. The Milky Way is a faded glory this morning, for the transparency has definately degraded in the last four hours. Ask me if I care! Not at all. You do not have to twist my arm to get me to enjoy the M8 with my morning coffee. The Nike-swoosh of the M17 and all it's fine filaments and embedded stars make a fine breakfast... And the M22 shattered apart rocks my morning world!

And what of Mars?

Hola, baby. I should have gone filtered with this magnification and this aperature! That north polar cap looks positively pregnant, it shines so. The image is spurious, and somewhat aggravating - But no worse than the knot on my skull, eh? (thanx, H... i will remember you all day.) When I can get the daggone thing to hold still, I am looking at a soft maria on the incoming limb and a dark feature exiting to the south. It is far too early to worry about it... So I don't.

And I turn the scope toward a long absent Cassiopeia as the eastern skyline begins to brighten... Just one more, please.

E.T? Phone home, dude. It's time for me fire up them Chevy horses and make a run for the rat race.

"Cuz' I'm a cowboy... On this steel horse I ride. And I'm wanted. Dead or alive.

Dead or alive."



June 4, 2003 - Still Raining...

Comments: Hey, hey... You know I check back in every so often. Years from now I will look back on this and say to myself: "What a crappy month that was." And I'd not be wrong. Our unseasonable amount of rain and clouds has even those with no interest in astronomy complaining about the sky. And for those who miss the stars?

I live in an abysmal grey world.

So, I'm doing my best here... To keep from depression. I'd be out there, if there was sky. But... There is no Sun. There is no Moon. There is no Cosmos to reflect upon. There are only the clouds and the soft, cold rain which accompanies them. I sleep... And yet I don't. I wake up during the night to look out the window, always in hope... Yet there is nothing.

And then I dream of you again.

"Cuz' I'm a cowboy... On this steel horse I ride. And I'm wanted.... Dead or alive.

Sometimes I sleep... Sometimes it's not for days. And the people that I meet? Always go there seperate ways... Sometimes you judge the day... By the bottle that you drink. And sometimes when you're all alone...

All you do is think."



June 1, 2003 - The Sun... At the Observatory...

Comments: Well, they say it can't rain forever! And it's about time it quit, eh? After having done not much more than sleep and work for what seems like weeks on end... I am ready.

Shall we start with the Sun?

Here's the picture... Hazy skies and 365 on the limb... Photographing is not worth the trouble. But, boy howdy... It's definately worth taking a look at! Absolutely boiling in the Wilson Effect, 365 shows very little of its' true character right now... And for good reason.

It just clipped off another CME!



SOHO image


WOW! Talk about a ring of fire... Isn't that just gorgeous?? This one will deal a glancing blow off our atmosphere and send chances of aurora our way. Of course, you and I both know that a CME will also send clouds Ohio's way don't you?

Always...

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

Hey, hey... A call to go observing? You bet...

Don't wait up on me.

I'll be back when I can to tell you what we studied, but for now? I've got miles to go...

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Yep. It's the next day and I hated myself when I had to get up. But cha' know what? I'd have hated myself a whole lot more if I hadn't went observing!

And when I'm outside the dome and hear "Hells Bells" begin to play? I know what the "Boss" is going to say...

Are ya' ready? Then turn up the AC/DC and let's rock...

M51 and NGC5195 - Things could be better, but hey... It's only about 10:40 and not really very dark yet. Still, it's nice to see the majority of the M51's grand form and accompanying galaxy NGC5915 again.

NGC5520 - Still a bit sky bright, but let's do this! A central nucleus structure is immediately apparent. The core structure seems to elongated almost like an edge-on, then takes on the appearance of a spiral. Is it barred? Answer? Yep.

UGC9803 - Very small, very round and very faint.

At 10:55 I stepped outside to check on the northern hoizon. Definately some low key auroral activity here! Soft, passing bands of pink rode the skyline about 50 degrees above the horizon, and very often turn toward the green lower down. Another form of light pollution? Yes. But it is a pretty one! No spectacular pillars or intense glowing clouds, but the ampitheatre of "light" is a fine, natural show.

So quit growling in there!! ;)

NGC5561 - Very tough. Very. Super low surface brightness and super wide aversion produce only the faintest hint of elongated form.

IC986 - A "winking" stellar nucleus. Lost upon direct vision, this galaxy has a soft, hazy, elongated form.

IC996 - Moderately small and low surface brightness. This roundish galaxy holds a slight concentration toward the core region upon movement or bouncing aversion.

NGC5607 - Very diffuse in appearance. This face-on spiral shows a slight concentration toward the center upon wide aversion.

NGC5585 - A sprawling face-on spiral with loose, diffuse and very faint arms. A nice study for just this reason. The stellar core comes and goes at the whim of our electrically charged atmosphere, but the true beauty arrives as tiny stellar points materialize randomly across the surface. Quite beautiful. No two seem to appear in the exact same spot twice, except for the core region.

NGC5640 - Moderately large, yet tough, this very faint beauty shows a roundish, slightly concentrated nucleus, but a very diffuse, aversion only kind of structure.

NGC5602 - A grand, face-on spiral. Easy direct with a concentrated and sometimes stellar appearing nucleus. This one contains a soft sweep of compacted spiral arms, but no well-defined dark dustlanes.

NGC5620 - Accompanying a star, this small, slightly enlongated galaxy holds an even brightness. The star, perhaps, shields the structure... But what is visible is somewhat like an underscore... Or maybe a smile?

Midnight. Auroral bands have now dropped to less that 30 degrees above the visible horizon. Sitll a soft pink arch that sometimes fades to a pale green further down. A look round shows Scopius due south and Saggitarius is on the rise...

NGC5631 - Beauty! Easy direct, face-on. Classic spiral signature with a highly concentrated nucleus structure. Seems to appear tightly rolled until a moment of total clarity comes and two beautiful sweeeping arms appear. Very nice!

NGC5624 - Small, quite bright, and very round spiral of even structure. Quite delightful in its' compact appearance.

NGC5671 - Very small and soft spoken, the shy-type galaxy's only structure is its' apparent over all diffuseness! Remembering low surface brightness studies and all my tricks of aversion, doesn't help to draw anything else out of this faint baby.

IC4470 & NGC5712 - Delightful pair. The NGC5712 is very silvery in appearance - almost nebula-like in its' "shine". Definately high surface brightness. The IC4470 seems almost dull in comparison, but slightly larger?! Most unusual pair... Neither one can be held direct... And the two never appear together even with aversion..

NGC5989 - Large, diffuse and intensly irregular. At first impression, this galaxy looks like a very faint rendition of the "Trifid Nebula"! No real nucleus nor definition. "Broken" is the only word to describe it. It is broken... Like the M81. There are dark notches that do not correspond with known galaxy structures here! Very curious galaxy...

IC1146 - Very tight! Easy up direct, this one has a super stellar nucleus and bright structure surrounding it. It hazes out towar the frontiers. Very, very sweet...

NGC6015 - Huge, loose spiral with wide sweeping structure, but no defined nucleus. Awesome! Check this out.... Tap the scope just a bit to cause vibration and watch all these tiny concentrations, knots and stellar points appear along the outer arms!! This is so cool... They just twinkle like tiny diamonds everywhere! Ooops... Lost my science head there.. Many stellar points and possible O2 regions are visible upon movement and aversion. ;)

IC1154 - Super diffuse and wide aversion only. This moderately small galaxy first appears as nothing but a slight contrast change. Patience draws little structure from it besides a slight concentration to one edge.

Well, all right... Some sky at last! It's been incredibly fun and I wish I could stay and study til' dawn! But... What's that you said? If I've ever been annoyed... Look at you... You're self-employed? Heheheeee... Now how do I reply to that, eh? Besides... "Out here in the fields... I bow for my meals. I get my back into my livin'..." ;)

Bruce, my friend? It's been real.. You know where to find me.

Anytime.

" It's all the same, only the names will change ... Everyday it seems we're wasting away. Another place where the faces are so cold...

I'd drive all night... Just to get back home."