An Evening with the Starmaster at the FLO

Last night was a fun night. Three of us went to the Fred Lossing Observatory near Almonte, Ontario. It began with my girlfriend and I arriving at Taras’ house at 6pm. We quickly packed our gear into Taras’ car and by 7:30pm we were at the FLO. Clouds were on the horizon so we moved quickly to open the observatory roof and prepare the 18 inch Starmaster for use.

The moon was in Sagittarius and was 53% illuminated. A thin haze of clouds was quickly rolling in. Near the Moon’s equator, the Hipparchus and Albategnius craters stood out very well. The basin of Hipparchus was still fully illuminated s0 the Klein and (insert crater name here) crater were still visible. To the south, the basin of Albategnius was engulfed in darkness but the far side of the rim was still bathing in sunlight.

After viewing the Moon we slewed the telescope over to view Jupiter and Saturn before patches of clouds started covering up parts of the sky.

We managed a peak at the Swan Nebula (M17). We were fairly confident we had it in the eyepiece but all we could only make out a pattern of stars similar to those in the target object. We figured the moonlight and haze must have been preventing us from seeing any nebulosity.

The showstopper object for the night really had to be the great globular cluster in Hercules (M13), which we observed next. M13 is such a bright object that it really stood out well even with all the moonlight.

Since a few clouds were rolling in, we decided to take a break and eat a meal. I had packed a Pad Thai made by Backpacker’s Pantry. After boiling water for a few minutes with my new MSR Pocket Rocket 2 Deluxe, I poured the water into the pouch and 15 minutes later we were feasting under the stars. Well as good as feasting gets with dehydrated foods!

Anyways back to the telescope, we observed the Andromeda galaxy (M31). We tried to see the Whirlpool galaxy (M51) but there was too much moonlight interfering. The same was true with the Triangulum galaxy (M33).

Clouds eventually covered the entire sky and had us packing up. We stopped at a Denny’s on the way home and enjoyed breakfast food in the middle of the night. What a treat, and what a fun night out under the stars!

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