Star Gazing 2023-03-10 Evening (Fairbanks, AK, USA)

Last night about 9:00pm AKST I observed that atmospheric pressure had jumped up and the skies had cleared up. The NWS forecast had predicted 50% cloud cover so this was unexpected. I'm getting pretty good now at gathering up my telescope supplies and getting my telescope assembled, so I was out at the boat launch and had everything set up in about 30 or 40 minutes.

The temperature at the boat launch was 5 °F, which was a big improvement over the -20 °F evenings I've been working with. The boat launch was getting a bit crowded since it was a warm Friday night and there was a campfire party going on, but I found a darker area to park in. The skies seemed very bright, which I think was due to light from the gibbous moon a little under the horizon. But I was able to find a darker patch of sky to the south east.

I decided to target Mars, which was at a convenient angle, and then explore the stars nearby. I found an interesting group of stars east and a little north of Mars, which I later calculated was 1° 38' from Mars, using Stellarium. I did a sketch of these stars:

sketch of stars around HIP 26332

I couldn't find my usual stargazing log book. So I just drew a circle on some notebook paper, using an oil funnel. As a side note, I'm finding it is easier now to properly orient my sketch along the equatorial lines, now that I am using an equatorial mount. To find which direction is west (equatorial) I just have to spin the telescope a little towards my right and see in which direction the stars move away from.

The center star is HIP 26332, which is a magnitude 6.5 star, usually not visible to the naked eye. I believe the dimmest star I sketched was magnitude 10.2, comparing my sketch with Stellarium data.

Here are screenshots from Stellarium:


distance from mars

reproduced FOV using Stellarium

The sky seemed to be getting brighter and brighter, so I packed up and went home about 10:30pm. I was satisfied with the experience and thankful for an opportunity to explore another "little" section of God's celestial masterpiece.

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