That's the sound that my wrist alarm made at 1am this morning. I set an alarm on my running watch to awaken me so I could do an early morning astronomy session.
I like to use the running watch for astronomy purposes because it's GPS accurate and strapped to my wrist. No risk of dropping my beloved Pixel phone on the concrete driveway while fiddling with the time and date settings of the telescope's hand controller.
The moon was 98 percent illuminated -- it flooded the entire night sky, drowning out all but the brightest stars.
No matter. I was merely interested in getting some under-the-sky time with the newly arrived ZWO ASI294MC imager. The full moon is useful for testing new equipment. It lets you see what you are doing while whirling unfamiliar knobs and twiddling unaccustomed levers in what would otherwise be pitch blackness.
I pointed the telescope at some of my favorite objects, getting a feel for the benefits of its comparatively larger field of view.
The brightness of the moon emphasized to me that "serious" astronomy was not to be done during this session.
Take for instance, this image of M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy. It's washed out by the moonlight. This object was one of the first that I visited this morning. It's pretty much the best I could do with the brightness of the moon. I was happy to see that the image is largely free of bloated stars, but with a taste of what the new imager could do, I wanted more than just washed out space objects . . .
|M51, washed out by moonlight
(Note that clicking on images in this post will open slightly larger, greater resolution versions of the images.)
I spent a few hours playing with the equipment and biding my time. I knew that the moon was going to set at 5am. I plotted and planned what I was going to do with that hour of darkness that I'd have between moonset and impending sunrise.
|M51, sans moonlight
|M42, the Orion Nebula
|the Horsehead Nebula
The Flame Nebula
|the Flame Nebula
|Horsehead Nebula (left), Flame Nebula (right), and Alnitak (bottom edge)
|M82 (left) and M81 (right)
|The Seven Sisters
|The Owl Nebula