October 10, 2010 #081 - Skies of Colorado
We have been set up in almost the exact center of Colorado for the last month. We are presently adjacent to the 12 to 14 thousand foot College Mountain Range at an altitude of about 8,000 ft. To say that the seeing is good, in most places, is not in the same class as high in the mountains. My aging eyes, when dark adapted, can see star clusters that are clearer than I can remember from my boyhood in rural Indiana.
I was out laying in my lawn chair, with my binoculars, watching for meteors a few nights ago. I picked up a few bright ones during the period between 3:30 and 4:30 am. After I would spy one I would quickly try to see the trail in the binoculars with only marginal success. As I caught #7 slightly to the SE of Polaris I quickly centered the trail in view. I was amazed to see the trail lingering. It remained a strait line the color and transparency of cigarette smoke for the first minute and expanding very little. To my amazement during the second and third minute it began to bend into an "S" shape similar to the constellation Draco not far away. In all it was visible about 3.5 minutes. When the excitement began to subside and I had time to think about what I had seen it struck me that this was an illustration of atmospheric currents at probably over 60 miles near the edge of space.
The next night I caught ISS going over and later two identical satellites in near polar orbit about ten degrees apart one right behind the other with exactly the same brightness. Tonight the thin crescent of the moon floats over 14,000 ft. Mt. Princeton. Exciting observations, for a boy from the flat lands of Indiana.
Clear Sky - Rich