Six Santa Fe Stargazers (with five telescopes) met on November 23rd, 2019 in the parking lot of the Galisteo Basin Preserve Cowboy Shack Trailhead. Other than cold toes and near freezing temperatures as the night progressed, we had an enjoyable time. The skies were much darker than our last meet-up at the shack, with very good sky transparency. Seeing conditions were average.
In the early evening, we were treated to a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter, which were about 1.5 degrees apart. It was a fine sight in the western twilighted skies. Early in the night, we saw a very bright pass of the International Space Station. At the southern end of Sagittarius from Jupiter, Saturn remained visible till about 8pm.
Winter skies are starting to creep up. Auriga and Tarus are now a bit higher in the East, and we said hello to a few open clusters in Auriga (M36, M37 & M38). In addition to saying goodbyeto a few summertime favorites, the summer triangle was in a reasonable position to look for a few “faint fuzzies” such as the North American Nebula and the Veil Nebula. We spent some time collectively looking at M33, the Pinwheel galaxy in Triangulum. Compared to last month, we could make out more of its core, and some cold see faint detail of the arms.
Overall, it was a great night, and we learned a few things as well: especially, don’t wear steel toed tennis shoes in 32 degree weather!
— Robert Powers, Observing Czar