PINE GLADES NATURAL AREA • APRIL 8 – JAY ALBERT


Thanks to John O’Brien for coordinating our observing session at Pine Glades last night. We had about
20 people present and I counted 11 telescopes of various sizes, plus Steve Schiff’s large, mounted
binoculars.
Unfortunately, the sky was not nearly as good as all the forecasts promised. Large swaths of cirrostratus
covered the sky making views of galaxies and nebulae difficult or impossible. We did have decent views of
some brighter star clusters and it was a good night for double stars when the wind let up. We had a fairly
good view of Jupiter with the Great Red Spot around the middle of the disk. Early in the session, we had
a good view of earthshine on the Moon, which was low in the west and covered with thin cirrus clouds
so that it had a faint reddish glow. Mercury was even lower, around 5 degrees above the horizon before it
set. This provided an interesting example of atmospheric spectral dispersion...what looking through a lot
of atmosphere can do to the image in your eyepiece. Mercury appeared as a little ball which was blue at
the top, yellow in the middle and red at the bottom. Our atmosphere, in effect, acted as a prism. While
not an especially good view of that planet, it most certainly was a colorful one.