Moon/Star Gazing 2023-02-27 Evening (Fairbanks, AK, USA)

Fairbanks was inside a high-pressure bubble last night, and skies were clear. Not knowing how many more such opportunities I would get before we were overwhelmed by Alaska's increasing daylight hours, I decided to head out to the boat launch for some stargazing. I was dressed quite stiffly in multiple layers of artic gear, expecting the temperatures to get extremely cold, and in fact they did drop down to -26 deg F at my viewing location.

Unfortunately, I had dramatically underestimated how bright the quarter moon would be. With the moon toward the SW, and the bright city lights to the NE, star gazing was pretty much pointless. I did take a quick look toward Cassiopia — more specifically the star field around β Cas. I did not do a sketch, but I remember seeing a field at 28x magnification that looked like this:

Stars south of β Cas (in Stellarium)

Of course, the moon made an easy target, and it was interesting also to see Mars and the moon in the same FOV:

Mars and Moon together (in Stellarium)

I wanted to go ahead and do some moon gazing, but I was having a weird and annoying issue with my telescope (PowerSeeker 127EQ) where for some reason the view was blurry in the center of the FOV, but sharp around the edges. I suspected frost, of course, but I couldn't see any on the eyepiece or the primary mirror. Also, I was getting the same problem using two different eyepieces. I think I'm going to need to take the optical tube apart again and see if something is amiss.

Here are Stellarium screenshots, anyway, of what I was seeing on the moon (south is up)

Moon (in Stellarium)

Moon (in Stellarium)

And here are some corresponding clips from the USGS survey (south is down)

Moon (USGS survey)

Moon (USGS survey)

The feature I thought was most interesting this time was that set of craters that is sort of foot-shaped, with three large craters in one line, then three smaller ones in another line, then two others after that. The survey map shows them as containing craters Purbach, Walther, Werner, and Allacensis.

I was really hoping to see some great Aurora, since the Kp-index had been going crazy all day. Unfortunately, though, it looks like the geomag storm ended just as the skies were getting dark.

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