Star Log 2023-09-19 Fairbanks, AK, USA (publ. 2023-09-20)

Right now, we are only getting clear nights about once every two weeks, so I can't be too picky about when to go out stargazing. Last night (Sept 19) there was a forecast for clear skies for the first half of the night only, so I decided to stay up a little late and head out to the boat launch. The boat launch itself is still too crowded, but there is a nearby parking area on the highway that I can use, if I can remember to turn my eyes away every time a car drives by, which is not too often.

The chief obstacle I had to deal with was a bitter cold, blustery wind. Also, the Celestron binoculars I ordered have not arrived yet, so I was stuck using some very low-quality Bushnell 4x30 PowerView binocs which I had on hand.

The main area of sky I focused on was towards the south, a convenient direction due to a break in the surrounding trees. I found it was helpful, for memory, to start with Cygnus, and then to branch out left and right from the head of Cygnus, parallel to the wings. The leftward branch takes you the constellation Delphinus (the dolphin) and the rightward branch takes you to Lyra (the harp). Also, a little below Delphinus, are the easy-to-find brighter stars of Aquila (the eagle).

Here are some Stellarium screenshots, with the magnitude limited to try to duplicate what I could see:

southern sky, toward cygnus

southern sky with constellation labels

Here are some more Stellarium screenshots, where I've configured it to try to match the view in my Bushnell binocs. For interesting and beatiful viewing, it was helpful to start at the body of Cygnus, move down the neck, then jump over to Delphinus and Aquila, and also to do a slow pan from the head of Cygnus over to Lyra.

neck of Cygnus in binocs

Delphinus in binocs

Aquila in binocs

Lyra in binocs

I also briefly looked at the south edge of Cassiopia, which has some interesting patterns.

south edge of Cassiopia

It was so windy that I did not feel like messing with my camera, but I did use the PowerSeeker 127EQ for a little while, with the low-power eyepiece. However, with the way I set it up, I couldn't use the pointing scope at all, so I didn't know what I was looking at. I pointed it somewhere near the middle of Cygnus, and I saw plenty of bright stars, but it seemed pointless to take any notes or sketches. As I've mentioned before, the pointing scope is very close to the tube, which makes it hard to use, and also its position, relative to the eyepiece mount, is problematic.

I would have liked to stay out longer, but due to the wind, and needing to get up early the next morning, I had to leave around 10:30pm. The skies turned dark around 9:30, so that gave me about an hour of viewing. It was not one of the more comfortable sessions I've had, but I got to see a lot of beautiful stars, and I have a better mental map of that part of the sky now (the area around Cygnus). My praise and thanks goes to the Creator, who gave me this little opportunity to enjoy the glory of the heavens.

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