Location: driveway, home (La Cueva, Glorieta)
Time: 19:50 – 22:50
Conditions: Mild temperature, around 50 F. Cloudless sky, good transparency, Seeing poor initially, becoming very good late. Thin waxing crescent moon, low in SW.
Equipment: Celestron EdgeHD 8” SCT, AVX mount; also 8×42 binoculars.
Moon: Waxing crescent, almost 5d. Swept N-S along terminator and eastern limb, using 15mm EP (135X), ND filters (0.9, 0.6) to reduce brightness. Larger high-relief features seen well, but details limited by poor seeing and moon’s low elevation. Craters Atlas, Hercules, Endymion in NE; Mare Crisium in ENE with Mare Margins as a stripe along limb in this favorable libration. Mare Fecunditatis in ESE: craters Langrenus, Gutenberg (keyhole shape), Theophilus. Mare Nectars, Crater Frascatorius right on terminator in SE. SSE, craters Janssen, Fabricius, but few details; Rheita Valley, north part visible but not south.
Glow of the setting moon merged with Albuquerque light dome around 21:00; I moved to darker sky overhead and NE.
M33 (Triangulum Galaxy) bright in binoculars, round with diffuse core, little structure in scope, most of FOV in 40 mm EP (50X). M76 Little Dumbbell PN (Per), a little faint, looks elongate/oblong/bipolar, faint bluish color, several arcmin across. Clusters M35 (Gem), M36, 37, 38 (Aur) all bright and steady in 15mm EP, M37 especially nice.
Comet C/2020 M3 ATLAS: found by GoTo at RA 5h 27.1m, Dec +12d 8’ — a few deg. north of Bellatrix (Ori). Symmetrical fuzzy spot, approx. 5’ diam, indistinct nucleus, no discernible color. Reported Mag 8, but fairly distinct! Nearest to Earth about a week ago, moving away north.
Sculptor Galaxy: bright and distinct even though low in SSW, very elongate, 2/3 of FOV in 15mm EP (135X). Also located in binoculars after learning the neighboring stars in finderscope.
Mars: Surprisingly, superb! Best views yet in 6mm EP (340X), sharp focus and steady image, ND filter needed to reduce glare. Very round; gibbous shape barely evident. Some surface contrast, probably Syrtis Major.