Star Log 2022-12-13 Morning (Fairbanks, AK, US)

God gave us a brief space of clear skies, in-between two larger masses of cloud passing west to east (per what I saw on GOES). I had seen on the NWS forecast a prediction of lower cloud cover in the early morning, but was surprised when the skies cleared up around 9pm last night. Part of me wanted to head out that night, but I was just too tired. But I was able to get in a brief morning session from about 4:30-5:30am AKST, using the boat launch area.

With the time constraints and the bright waning moon, I knew I needed a simple plan that did not involve any deep sky objects. What I decided to do was look for any interesting stars around Mars to sketch. My little 60AZ-M refractor is not capable enough to get any detail on Mars itself, however close it happens to be right now. But it occurred to me that I could use planets as a targetting point to help me find and identify stars that I otherwise wouldn't be able to hop towards. I can only do star hopping because I am using a simple az-el mount with no automatic finding technology.

Here is the page out of my logbook, containing the two sketches:

Logbook Entry for 20221213

In the first sketch, I was seeing stars down to magnitude 8.2 (based on Stellarium data). After I got a few bright stars included in the 2nd sketch, some clouds moved in and I had to give up.

Here are similiar Stellarium screenshots:

Stellarium screenshot near 99 Tau

Stellarium screenshot near HIP24063

I was able to also get in a few minutes looking at the moon with the 12.5mm Plossel and the neodymium filter.

I've been trying to learn some more about the different star catalogues available. Most recently I learned some introductory information about the Hipparcos Catalogue, which shows up in stellarium as HIP numbers. Once you know the HIP number, a helpful search tool is available here:

The form requires Javascript to use, but I figured a way around that by editing the search URL parameters directly. For example, this will bring up HIP22792:

The Hipparcos Catalogue is a fairly modern catalogue based on measurements from the Hipparcos precision astrometry satellite from the early 90s.

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