Observing report

Out observing for the first time in two months last night: we finally had a combination of (reasonably) clear skies and (relatively) warm temperatures (i.e., warmer than -10°C); besides, Saturn was at opposition. So Saturn was our primary target.

To avoid getting run over by snowmobiles, we set up our telescope by the back step; planetary observing doesn’t require dark skies. A rough two-star alignment (Regulus and Rigel) proved adequate. Saturn was visible in the 25mm Plössl (50×) as well as the 10mm Radian (125×), as were at least two of its moons — Tethys and Dione. Titan was probably visible as well, but I didn’t identify it. Atmospheric turbulence was not good, so the viewing wasn’t exactly sharp, but Saturn was recognizable as Saturn.

Also tested out the lunar filter on the gibbous Moon, which would normally be excessively bright in the eyepiece; the filter made it quite viewable. We also tried out the narrowband nebula filter on the Orion Nebula, which is bright enough to view from a less-than-dark site. It was visible enough in the non-filtered eyepieces, but adding the filter brought out more expanse and more detail. The Trapezium could be seen in either case; the filter made the stars greenish.

At around -6°C, not so cold that the electronics or battery were impaired; I’m sure I didn’t leave the optics enough time to cool down. In any event, we were going after targets that weren’t very challenging, optically speaking. Though Saturn and the Orion Nebula are impressive enough never to be taken for granted.