Star Log 2022-09-13 01:00 AKDT (Fairbanks, AK, US)

I saw on the Chilly Weather service that there was supposed to be a break in the cloud cover around midnight, so I gave it a go. Indeed, the sky was mostly clear, but star gazing was nonetheless rather difficult because of a very bright moon, waning but mostly full, and high in the sky. The moonlight was so bright, I was able to take notes in my notebook without a flashlight.

I REALLY wanted to take a look at M 31 (Andromeda Galaxy) with my binoculars, having read about it before going to bed. I knew almost exactly where it was, but sadly the moonlight was so bright that I couldn't really make it out, though I thought I saw a little blur in the right spot. Here is what it looks like in Stellarium:

Position of M 31 (Andromeda Galaxy)

Close-up of of M 31 (Andromeda Galaxy)

I caught another good, long look at Altair and nearby stars, looking in between two trees. When I looked at it, there was a distinctive pattern of three stars in a u-shape above it, and three stars in a horizontal line below it, with another bright star down and to the left.

Altair and nearby stars

Without doubt though, the best sight I had tonight was a good, clear view of the Taurus constellation, low in the horizon towards the East. What drew my attention there was one bright star, and another a little lower and to the right. I found out later, in Stellarium, that the brighter star was not a star, but was Mars!

Mars next to Taurus

For some reason, it was very dark and clear right in that spot of the sky, and I got a beautiful view of these two branches of stars in Taurus, as seen in this screenshot:

Close-up of Taurus

These were very interesting shapes in the binoculars, with a distinctive chicken-foot shaped cluster of stars at the bottom, Hyadium III and Chamukuy being close together in the center of the foot shape; and then an upside-down "T" shape at the top, extended outwards by Ain and Prima Hyadum.

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