I valiantly kept myself awake past my pumpkin transformation time (usually half past nine o’clock on weeknights), reading an ebook on my Nook Color while Terry dozed through the UFC fights. When I finally got within twenty pages of the end of my book, I put the ereader aside and checked the position of Mars from my front porch. The waxing moon hung at about the one o’clock position in the sky almost hidden behind my house and Mars shown redly at about the ten o’clock position. I decided to setup the telescope in my driveway, even though all the street lights and house lights concentrated their glows more intensely on the east side of my property.
I opened the garage door and began transferring the telescope and accessories from the band room (behind the garage on the west side of the house) through the garage to the driveway. I had put on a sweater but only had flip-flops on my feet (something I would come to regret an hour or so later).
In setting up my telescope, I made an error in the home position and failed two attempts at an easy alignment. When I finally realized my mistake, after having run the motors up to and beyond the stops twice, I tried a third time, but the Autostar control device disconnected itself from the telescope and reset itself twice. I gave up and finally just pointed the scope at Mars, shining brightly and sanguinely from the constellation Leo.
Two of the stars selected by the Autostar alignment program included Sirius, in the constellation Canis Major, and Capella, in the constellation Auriga, and both of these stars could be found in the Winter Circle. The waxing moon enjoyed center-stage in the Winter Circle on a cold clear late winter night.
Once I got Mars in my sights, I tried various barlows and eyepieces, but could never quite get a good focus on it. I could dimly and vaguely see the polar ice cap and Mars definitely had an orange-ish and pink-ish cast to it.
By this time, I could barely feel my toes, but I didn’t want to stop observing, so I turned the telescope farther eastward, looking for Saturn. I found Spica in the constellation Virgo. Saturn is just a short hop to the left of Spica. I clearly saw the rings, but did not take the time to look for Titan or any of Saturn’s other moons. I wanted to get my feet warmed up, so I shutdown the telescope, packed everything up and transported it back to the band room.
I may repeat this entire process tonight, but from a different location. I will take a nap this afternoon to allow me to stay up past my pumpkin transformation point.
Oh, and I did get my feet warmed back up while finishing the last twenty pages of my ebook.