Comet attempt and stunning Lunar observation.

By amar_universe; Published 25 Dec 2007

I had been to Hemant's house (very close to B'lore Airport) yesterday December 24th, to observe the Moon and mainly the Comet Tuttle. Moon was Full and as usual splendid, and haze had crept in by night. We first setup the 12" f/4.5 Dob scope on his terrace amidst light pollution. I right away aimed for the Cassiopeia region and Comet Tuttle, which I knew would be pretty difficult to locate. Within seconds I came to the field and began hunting, knowing Moonlight was the biggest hindering factor for this diffuse comet. With some staring and unease, I got an illusion twice, very slowly being perceivable above a double star. I didn't concentrate much as I was speaking over phone to another BAS member. We didnt know it's exact position too, as the software in his laptop was not upgraded, we could only get a blank field where it could be. Later on we updated Cartes du Ciel software for Comet 8/P Tuttle. The comet popped up BANG on target where I had sensed something speculative! The extremely faint face-on galaxy type object what I saw should be the comet, or very coincidentally, really an illusion at the very spot! However, I do NOT consider to have seen the comet unless I confirm it once again.

We very excitedly learnt that on upcoming Sunday, 30th Dec, the comet would be just a degree from the faint beautiful M33 Triangulum galaxy. This is when I had pre-planned to make it to Hemant's place once again for observing in absence of Moon in evening sky.

Before winding up the session, we gave a regular glance at the Moon and I suddenly remembered a beautiful feature on Moon whose pic had mesmerized me. This was a fault/ridge called Rupes Recta in the Mare Nubium region. Aahh..when I first stumbled upon it's pic, I had determined to get this observed and since then it was only Rupes Recta in my head!! For a beautiful pic of the region among many, CLICK HERE. We had some trouble coming to the Mare and then the precise spot. However, we got to the right spot and increased magnification to 9mm Plossl eyepiece. I 'googled' for a Lunar Map and searched Wikipedia for this region, noticing craters called Birt & Thebit close to this. We were in the right region, now the only catch was to nail down this 110 km long x 2-3 km wide fault on the surface of the Moon. We stared and even changed to the 4.8mm Nagler, but Full Moon was too bright in this eyepiece and my eyes used to get pixelated and flashed (over-exposed) with white light. Hemanth was doing most of the observing and he pinpointed us to the spot. In the time I observed, I carefully recognized these craters and saw a very small dot below Birt. The view now matched the view in the following Wikipedia link:

There was Birt A. When I came to know the diameters of these craters...I was like...I was like..on cloud nine, out of this world, very proud to be a human witnessing something *this* small on the Moon. Heck! This was a distance that we locally travel each day in our lives! This might not be any surprise for the Lunar observers who've observed greater things than this. However, for me it was a remarkable feat...7 kilometers, a meagre Seven kilometers seemed like a joke on something 4 and a half lakh kilometers away ( @#&^*% ) !!!! I've been yet once again re-inspired by this observation to enter meticulous Lunar observing. The next attempt on a half Moon night (rendering Moon less brighter and smaller features seen easily) would be to conquer observing Birt B, a crater 2 kilometers smaller than it's "A counterpart" at only 5 kms in diameter!! Seeing something *smaller* than this would only be an observer's fantasy, something much better than 'inter-planetary' spy satelltes, which I am sure of observing pretty soon. :)