I spent Saturday night at the observatory… it was our local observance of the Saturn Observation Campaign's Saturn Observation Night. The ringed planet was very near opposition and, after a partly-cloudy day, we were treated to a chilly but clear night. Saturn shown like a yellow diamond in the east and was, as always, a crowd-pleaser in the eyepiece. Seeing was fairly good (not excellent) and we could spot four moons, see the space between the inside of the rings and the limbs of the planet, and got regular glimpses of banding in the planetary atmosphere. In all 33 people of a wide range of ages visited the observatory and looked through the telescope. Most didn't stick around; after seeing Saturn they took off for home — probably because it was a cold 28 degrees in the dome. Many also were treated to views of the Orion Nebula and eight late-comers climbed high on a ladder to see the rising, waning gibbous Moon.
Sweetie and I woke Sunday to a strange smell in the air. I thought it was Her hand, smelly from working with garlic the night before. No, it wasn't that! We searched the house for the source of the acrid, garlic-vinegar stench but to no avail: not the trash bag, not the garbage disposer, not the cat box, not anything we could find. It occurred to me that it might be the solenoid actuator on the heat pump's humidifier overheating and failing. I shut off the humidifier and we opened the house briefly to air the place out. There's still a hint of the odor here but it's tolerable now. This may be a mystery stink for a while… at least until we have the heat pump looked at for routine service.
My Mom has spinal surgery tomorrow. I'll be headed over there to greet her in recovery. It's not a particularly high-risk procedure but that sort of thing is always a worry!