Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my Astromart companions!
Well, though it wasn't exactly a "one in a thousand" night in terms of sky conditions, I had what's got to be one of my most memorable Christmas Eve's ever. I've been watching the sky clock (thank you Attilla Danko!) for weeks , hoping for a decent opportunity to get out under a dark, clear sky, but things just haven't worked out. So imagine my surprise when I spot good conditions coming on, and only on, Christmas Eve! Oh, but I usually spend the evening with family. My wife kindly released me from that tradition and may have inadvertently started a new one.
I loaded up my Starmaster and headed out to the desert (Red Rock Canyon, for you locals
). I knew I was in for a good night, even as darkness descended. Many DSO's were visible naked eye, and many more were easily found with my 8x56 binos. I could hardly wait to get the scope in action. Once I did, I was ecstatic.
The Sculptor galaxy, the Pinwheel, and Andromeda , and my old friend the Veil kept me busy while Orion was ascending. And, of course, the plethora of open clusters that we are blessed with this time of year. Once Orion was high, I spent plenty of time on M-42 and (the mysterious) Horsehead nebula. I finished off the night with some Springtime preview galaxies in Leo. Mars and Saturn were sprinkled into the mix throughout the evening.
After a couple hours of silence and solitude I entertained myself and the coyotes with some excellent Christmas carols (via CD, not a cappella
). It was a very joyous and spiritual evening, which I will never forget.
Did anyone else forsake their families for a night under the heavens?