Lord of the rings wows again

This morning’s stargazing session at the Parador with the large telescope was cold and windy but provided us with great views of some awesome objects.

Jupiter was in the constellation of Libra and close up views not only showed its moons clearly but also its two major cloud bands – the northern and southern equatorial belts.

Mars is growing brighter by the day and was a lovely sight. Although it was windy and the image in the eyepiece was a bit wobbly, dark surface markings could just be made out. It will continue to grow in brightness for a few months yet as it climbs higher in the night sky.

The Ring nebula in Lyra is always fun to spot and the Great Cluster in Hercules looked amazing close up, revealing countless stars. It is always a top target for stargazers to view in binoculars or a telescope but it was completely outdone when Omega Centauri rose over the Caldera. It is so large and so bright, we could make it out with the naked eye and didn’t need the full power of the zoom eyepiece for it to fill the field of view. A real stunner and not one you get to see often. As one of our guests remarked, it was like looking at the Sun through thick clouds.

However, even it was overshadowed by the real wow of the night – Saturn, which rose behind Mars and was a lovely lemon colour in contrast to the bright red/orange of its companion. Its rings were sharply defined in the eyepiece with the Cassini division apparent and Titan, its large moon shone brightly. As our two French guests both remarked when looking at  it for the first time; “incroyable!” – unbelievable!

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