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37 and a nice crisis

I got up this morning at about 2 am pretty much assuming the moon was too bright for any interesting viewing, so I hardly looked out - but I did go to the Astronomy Picture of the Day site and they had something called the "37" cluster on display today and I had never seen it - what's more, it was well-placed for observing right now, so I thought I would have a look. (Officially NGC 2169)

I used the LX90 in the dome since the 15-inch was all zipped up and the moon is only a couple days past full, so things are pretty washed out. What I was looking for was this:
37_normal.jpg

and what I found, was this:

37_flipped.jpg

Which was really quite interesting. I did a quick sketch. Bottom line - the Astronomy Picture of the Day view was normal - but I didn't know that. My view was flipped left-to-right, a normal view for telescopes using a diagonal mirror. (Reflectors would turn it on its head as well.) My point is this. This is a pretty tight, small cluster - the sort of thing you really need a telescope to appreciate. Since nearly all astronomical telescopes flip and/or invert a subject, it's interesting that this would be called the "37" cluster since telescopes will display it that way. So I wonder how it got named? From my perspective it looks more like the "YZ" cluster ;-)

That said, I also took a quick look at Saturn and Mars. Saturn was very nice, but Mars a disappointment - too low and the seeing was average at best. I meditated a bit too, but that was interupted by some noise outside the observatory like someone walking around and bumping into the rear of the building. Unnerving at 4 am! However, after I let my imagination have its fun, it slowly dawned on me that there was a wind and the doors to the observing deck had probably come loose and were banging up against the observatory - which later proved to be the case.

With the moon 17-days old I tend to be dismissive of it. I have a lot to learn. What I saw when I turned the scope that direction was a real nice view of Mare Crisium and an "S" shaped ridge near its west end, while the east side seemed dominated by a long, interesting wrinkle in an otherwise very smooth sea floor. Now I have to go read the chapter in the Modern Moon on Crisium, a pleasent little crisis, so maybe I can study it more in about 20 hours or so. Wish I had the patience to draw these things - and knew how to do it. Crisium, which I'm used to seeing either washed out, or too near the horizon to get a good view (when the moon is young) was really quite haunting.

Bottom line - the moon, which I used to curse as a nuisance, is proving more and more interesting and there's a lot to explore both in th ebooks and through the telescope.

Posted by Greg Stone at November 18, 2005 05:08 AM Comments? Please email me: gstone@umassd.edu

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