I got stood up on my second date with Dob thanks to the clouds. I just wish the clouds had produced some much needed rain to relieve the extended drought Kansas and the rest of the Midwest is suffering under this summer. I woke myself up in the middle of the night, checked the night sky and could barely see the moon for the clouds, so stargazing was a bust.
Even later, when I work up again (around four thirty), I peered towards the eastern horizon and could almost see Jupiter and Venus through the thinning clouds. An hour later, I checked out the back side of the house and I could clearly see the moon. The clouds had left.
I eyed my small ETX-90, huddling in ‘time-out’ in the corner behind the couch. I thought about the XT8 downstairs in the band room. I debated with myself which one would be easiest to setup outside to observe the moon after the sunrise. The Meade is lighter, but requires the battery pack, Autostar hand controller and alignment. The Orion I could just carry outside and pull into position. The Orion won that coin toss handily.
I setup on the lower patio next to the hot tub. I grabbed my case of eyepieces and my Sky & Telescope Moon Map. I wanted to find a couple of more lunar features listed on the Astro Quest. With a 25mm eyepiece inserted into the focuser drawtube, I centered the moon in the field of view. Then I checked the finderscope’s alignment and fine-tuned it to match what I could see through the telescope.
I easily located the first feature: the Sea of Tranquility.
I switched out eyepieces, using a 15mm and a 9mm. I attempted to use a 4mm, but could not get a clear focus or possibly enough light to discern any lunar features. I returned to the 15mm to do some close observations of the Julius Caesar crater.
I eventually tried to find two other features: the Alpine Valley and the Straight Wall, but I will need to wait for the terminator to create shadows in those areas before I can confirm the observation.
I left the XT8 outside, putting all the dust covers and caps back in place. I plan to take some time this afternoon and do some solar observing as well, since we are at the peak of the sun’s eleven year sunspot cycle.