Public Night Log
14% waning crescent Moon rising over the salt pond in Charlestown, RI. Photograph By: Scott MacNeill
Last night we had a fantastic night of observation at Frosty Drew. The sky remained cloud free all night with acceptable seeing (atmosphere) conditions, plus the mosquitoes were surprisingly quite tolerable.
With the Summer Solstice only a few days away, our observing session did not get under way till 9:00 p.m. We started with one of our best views of Saturn this year yet. Our view of Saturn clearly revealed 4-5 moons, the Cassini Division, and numerous equatorial bands. Sagittarius and the center of the Milky Way galaxy become very accessible to our 16" telescope around 11:00 p.m. We spent much time hopping around Sagittarius observing the many fantastic nebulae and star clusters that reside there. This star hop included: M8 (The Lagoon Nebula), M17 (The Omega / Swan Nebula), M16 (The Eagle Nebula), M20 (The Trifid Nebula), M22 globular cluster, and NGC 6522 - NGC 6528 both view able together in the telescope's field of view. As the night carried us away we had fantastic observations of M11 (The Wild Duck cluster), M4, M5, M3, M51 (The Whirlpool Galaxy), M63 (The Sunflower Galaxy), M64 (The Black-eye Galaxy), NGC 7009 (The Saturn Nebula), and M30. We finished off our night with a great first season look at Neptune and its largest moon Triton.
I noted that the Milky Way was so brilliant last night over Frosty Drew that numerous visitors mistaken the central region for a light pollution dome from the South.
We packed it in about 3:00 a.m. as the 14% waning crescent Moon began to rise. After closing up I drove out to the Charlestown Breechway for a quick shot of the rising Moon.
Let's hope for more nights like this one. A fabled Frosty Drew night with the Milky Way shining brightly overhead.