Winters are long in Central Oregon — for instance, the past two days have been like December. Snowy, dreary, cold, icy.
But we had such fantastic weather at the end of March that I met my astronomizing friends up at Pine Mountain Observatory on Saturday, March 30th. Husband Unit even came along.
It was warm enough not to wear a hat or zip up my coat. Wow. We call these psych-outs in these parts, because it’ll probably snow end of May like it has the last two years. And it’s usually quite cold in June. I’m sure when we open to the public we’ll be freezing our butts off until mid July. So a gorgeous night months before we open for the season was a real treat. Mega treat.
I finally viewed comet PanSTARRS. We observed it through the 24″ telescope. Awesome! We also observed Jupiter, the Owl nebula, M87 (I think — it was a gorgeous open star cluster with a faint planetary nebula in the center), the Orion nebula, the Whirlpool galaxy, the Pinwheel galaxy, M108 and 109 (also galaxies), the sombrero galaxy and an NGC galaxy near there that was just spectacular.
I got out the 10″ scope to play with a Christmas gift [from the same friend who makes my awesome trailers], a USB eyepiece. You hook the eyepiece into a computer and it takes movies/photos. I’ll have to play around with it more to get it to work right. What this means–cool photos of the moon this summer. Or so I hope.
Anyway, it was a glorious night of astronomy — warm under a winter sky. We normally only get to see late spring – early autumn skies during our summers at PMO, so that was a spectacular treat for all of us. Sorry to jabber… but it was exciting and fun.
I leave you with some photos:
Not the best photo of Jupiter I’ve ever taken, but it was the best one of the night.
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