April 04, 2013 #138 - First Look at the Southern Cross

On the 18th of March I had one of the most memorable observing sessions in my many years of  sky watching. We were set up just three miles north of the Mexican border on a hill top at Seminole St. Pk., TX.

Before sunset I set up my 20X80 D3 binoculars on a tripod an waited for the sun to drop below the horizon. I was able to see a mountain 46 miles into Mexico.

 The sunsets here in the Chihuahuan Desert have been spectacular. After sunset I picked up Comet Pann-Starrs and stayed with it till it faded just above the western horizon.

I then spent some time watching Jupiter and it's moons, Luna, and the Orion Nebula. The sky was fairly bright with moon glow so I went to bed to catch a few hours of sleep.

At about 2 am I returned to the binoculars just as the moon dropped below the horizon. The first target was Omega Centauri. It's hard to believe it's been over a month since I saw it for the first time. Then I hopped around comparing it to several other globular clusters (Marked on the chart). M13 was about 1/3 the size and all the others observed were less than it. Nothing compares to the "Big Dog" NGC 5139. It takes your breath away in  large binoculars and I spent at least 45 minutes admiring.

As the night became darker I went after my primary target the Southern Cross. I was able to pick out at least the top three stars above the mountains on the Mexican Horizon! It has been a life long dream of this Indiana boy to one day see this constellation! That dream finally came true. For the future the Magellanic Clouds and the entire Southern Cross.

For another hour or so I continued looking at these two showcase objects with a little eyeball scanning of the whole sky. Picked up several meteors and satellites and took a gander  at Saturn.

What a night, it was hard to go back to bed!

Clear Sky - Rich

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