More on Saturn and the Moon

I dragged my scope up to UMBC tonight to get another view of Saturn. Despite the light pollution from Baltimore, I got a pretty good view and studied it for a while. Although my eyes were tearing from the cold, I saw a better picture of the Cassini Division in the rings and the banding in Saturn's atmosphere. I found its moon Titan this time around, and saw Rhea and Dione again. Saturn truly is a sight to behold and its rings are pretty much beyond imagination. Together with its moons, its whole system looks like a grand opal with bright diamonds around it.

Next, I tried to get a better view of the Orion Nebula. Again, I could clearly see the faint teal color of the nebula and this time I also could make out the Trapezium, the three bright stars that shine from within and behind it.

Lastly, I decided to look at the most brilliant object in the sky, our own Moon. I loaded in my 25mm Plossl eye piece and the entire disc of the Moon filled it, and the detail I saw was nothing like I saw before. The Moon isn't quite 100% full yet, so I put in my 7mm Nager eye piece and zeroed in on the dark lower edge. The Rook Mountains greeted me, with their hard, jagged edges contrasted against the pitch blackness of space behind them. Tycho, the massive crater on the bottom part of the Moon was especially nice, with its long tendrils of bright ejecta streaming out from the crater over the bottom quarter. I realized that Tycho is a relatively new crater on the face of the Moon, since its ejecta was streaked across the the dark gray Mares around it. It must have been a fairly cataclysmic impact to cause all that debris to shower so far away from ground zero in such concentrations.

I really can't wait until the weather gets warm enough to make it worthwhile to drive out to areas of less light pollution to observe. I've already decided to bring my scope to Playa del Fuego and the Gaian Mind Summer Festival in the spring and summer. These two events take place in fine, dark areas. Perhaps I'll also give some astronomy lessons as well.