It was a good night to get out and look at the stars. I've not been at the observatory for quite some time and have missed two excellent nights. Last night's sky conditions weren't as good as Saturday and Sunday night's but I wasn't up to going out. It's been a physically and emotionally draining week. So after walking to the drug store to renew one of Missy's prescriptions (for thyroid), I packed my observing kit into the car and took off for the dark(er) skies of Portage County.
It's nearing summer solstice so twilight seems to go on forever. Also, with trees tall around the observatory Jupiter, which rose before sunset, didn't clear the trees until a little after 10:00 PM. Seeing wasn't the best for that big, brilliant planet, but I could make out some of the colored bands of Jupiter's atmosphere. I went fishing for a couple of galaxies but never found them; I still have much to learn about aiming the big telescope! After a while I went back to Jupiter and, unfortunately, sky conditions weren't quite as good as earlier. In the mean time Scorpius had risen above the trees and, using red Antares as a guide, I found the beautiful globular star cluster M4, 5,600 light years distant. In the eyepiece the cluster looked elongated vertically and not so densely packed as most of the globulars I've seen. Next, I attached a digital camera to the century-old telescope and tried to image Jupiter but am not happy with the results. I've tried this on another occasion with the Moon as my subject with similarly sad results. I'll have to work on better coupling of the camera to the telescope. Closed up and left at about 11:30 PM with a sore neck (from looking up) but otherwise feeling refreshed. Would have liked to have stayed longer but had to get up for work in the morning. A last look back at the observatory building silhouetted against a very starry sky brought a smile to my face. A most excellent way to end the day!