Moon Gazing 2023-02-10 Morning (Fairbanks, AK, US)

I haven't been posting about my amateur astronomy adventures lately because we have had an almost unbroken chain of mostly cloudy or overcast night for the last few weeks. I knew it was getting very cold last night, and GOES showed a gap in the clouds heading north, so I took a gamble on the hope that the skies might be clear in the early morning, even though the NWS forecast wasn't very hopeful. So, I got up about 3am and tried to head out to the boat launch as early as I could. It took me a lot longer to get ready for the day, and to get my equipment loaded up, than I had hoped, and so I didn't make it out the door until about 4:30am.

Unfortunately, the experience was largely a disappointment, but there were a few silver linings. When I first stepped out the door of my apartment, I was greeted for about two minutes with an amazing Aurora display, with red, green, and (pink?) vibrating wildly across the western sky. It then pretty much vanished, but it was encouraging nonetheless.

When I finally made it to the boat launch, the stars were dim (wanning gibbous moon was very bright) and were obscured around 50%-75% by wispy clouds. Assessing the conditions, I decided to focus entirely on moon gazing. Unfortunately, I lost a lot of time fumbling around with the targetting on my Powerseeker 127EQ. The targetting scope had been bent very far off somehow, and so was near useless. And it is very difficult to make equatorial pointing adjustments simply by moving the scope and tightening the screws - the telescope shifts and drops and is very problematic. The fine adjust advancement screws are still available, but I've found they are very difficult to turn without some kind of proper knob attached... I'm going to have to look into finding something. And the two counter-weights I have are not actually enough to keep the polar alignment system from sometimes dropping the wrong direction.

But, when I did find the moon, for a few minutes I had a decent view of the terminator line, and in-particular the interesting moon crater Theophilus.

Theophilus (crater) on Wikipedia

I had to warm up in the vehicle for a few minutes (-14 deg F, -26 deg C) and when I came out, the sky was been swallowed up by a hazy mist, apparently at high altitude. By 5:40am, even the moon completely disappeared from view.

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