After weeks of overcast, I couldn’t believe my eyes on the commute home yesterday. A clear blue sky with little to no haze and not a single cloud to be found. Waiting for the sun to set never seemed to take so long as it did last evening. I wasted some time with a quick grocery shopping run on my way home from the Hallmark parking lot. Terry made an awesome salad, which I ate as soon as I got home. He also planned to grill a couple of t-bones we’d purchased last month at the local farmers market in Leavenworth. Even though the charcoal fired up perfectly, the steaks disappointed. It’s been decades since either of us had such a grisly tough steak. We will NOT be purchasing any more meat from that particular local farmer.
I got caught up on Jeopardy and still had an hour to go before sunset. I fed the dogs, did some laundry and watched a rocket reality show hosted by Kari Byron on the Science channel. I ignored most of it (as I do most reality television) and Terry drifted off into his after-supper food coma. I started transferring telescope equipment from the basement to the backyard as soon as the sun set. I left the patio door open so Roxy and Apollo could come visit me if they wanted to. For the most part, they ran along the privacy fence, occasionally barking at evening strollers and/or their dogs.
Just as I attempted to do an easy alignment in the alt/az mounted mode for the ETX-90 and the Autostar, I realized I needed my cell phone for the time (because the Autostar asks for the date and time first when you turn it on). I ran back in the house and got my phone and saw my father had called while I was outside. I admit I was a bit distracted while talking (mostly listening) to him as I attempted to align the telescope. He asked me where Saturn was and I thought it was almost directly overhead. After I hung up, I realized that what I thought was Saturn was actually Arcturus (once I used the Big Dipper’s handle arc to find it among the constellations that I could barely see through the ambient Lansing light pollution). Once I confirmed via the telescope that bright fleck was indeed a star and not Saturn, I drove a ‘spike’ towards Spica and found Saturn in close proximity to another bright star in the constellation Virgo. Here’s what I saw last night facing south from my backyard (well, I saw some of this – except for the view blocked by my tall house, several very tall trees and an electric utility pole in the southwest corner of my yard).