Mars & Raccoons
At about 9:20PM last night, I walked to the end of my driveway and looked up toward the southeast. There was Mars. It was every bit as bright as advertised. 9:20PM is not a good time and the end of my driveway is not a good place to set up my small (90mm) telescope. I looked out my dormer window a little later (About 10:20PM) and it looks like it had cleared the trees sufficiently for me to set up in the back yard. I can shield myself from my neighborís lights there and I'd have a good dark sky with no distractions other than the constant squabbling of the raccoons over the food we put out for them. The Milky Way is clearly visible from my house in Bush. Unfortunately, the telescope and eyepieces take about 30-40 minutes to warm up to the outside temperature and I was just a bit too tired to do it last night so I will pay homage to the weather gods, put the telescope outside when I get home, and head outside about 10:30PM tonight for a little astronomy.
Years ago, after I had acquired some skill at observing, I discerned the polar caps of Mars with my telescope but it was very difficult then and not very rewarding. It was not a very bright image because I was using the highest power eyepiece I have. I should probably be pleased that I could do it at all. Iím hoping it will be easier this time and also hoping I can use a lower power eyepiece. My eyesight is not as good now as it was then and a brighter image would be much more satisfying.
Speaking of raccoons, we have one that comes to our feeding bowls that is rather small and has a bad leg. We canít really tell if itís an injury or a birth defect. I saw him (For the sake of this entry, Iím calling it him. I canít tell if itís male or female) a couple of days ago when I was walking in the yard. He doesnít move all that good but he can get up and down trees. This time, however, he ducked into a little hole thatís partially covered by pine needles. I got pretty close to him and talked to him a little. He was very quiet and didnít seem all that concerned about me although he was watching me very closely. I went inside and got a bowl and poured one of my Del Monte fruit cups into it and also put some grapes in it. We know they love grapes. I mentioned earlier in this entry that raccoons squabble with each other. They do something that is a combination of a growl and a bark if you can imagine that. In our bedroom on the second floor of our house with the windows closed and the air conditioners going full blast, we can still hear them squabbling outside. As I was putting this very thoughtful and considerate bowl of fruit down in front of this ungrateful, downtrodden raccoon, he let out several of those combination bark/growls at me. It scared the hell out of me and the fruit went flying. To hear this quite remarkable, quite loud, and quite threatening sound come out of this creature that could not have weighed much more than two pounds is an experience I wonít soon forget so I will leave this little guy alone to make his own way in the world.
Blog of the day here.
Quote from said blog: ďTonight on NASA TV, a group of NASA astronomers and engineers will host a live 4-hour broadcast about Earth's ongoing close encounter with Mars. The purpose of the program is to help sky watchers find Mars in the night sky, and if they happen to have a telescope, to understand what they see in the eyepiece when they point their 'scope at the red planet."