I was observing from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic from 1992-1996.
From 1996 to 2000 I observed through the light polluted skies of Falls Church, Virginia.
Since September 2000, I've been observing from my backyard in downtown Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel island, the Azores.
Please send comments to my current e-mail address
In mid July 1994, using my 4.5 inch Tasco reflector, I was able to observe one of the scars left on Jupiter by the comet Shoemaker Levy 9. I saw the scar a few days after the impact - it appeared in the upper right of my telescop's field of view and looked like a long black scar. The guard (Antonio) also saw it. We both noted that it was not there in earlier (pre-impact) observations. I posted a message on the COMPUSERVE system asking if I was in fact observing the results of the impact - A fellow in Chicago responded saying that he had been looking at the same thing and confirmed that it was in fact the impact. (Logged May 1995)
3 NOVEMBER 94 FIRST SIGHTING OF MARS (NEAR ZENITH) ALSO LOOKED AT ORION NEBULA AND PLEAIDES? ONE METEORITE!
20 NOVEMBER 94: FIRST SIGHTING OF THE GREAT SQUARE OF PEGASUS. LOOKED AT M 31. FIRST SIGHTING OF CANIS MINOR, POLLUX AND CASTOR IN GEMINI
21 NOVEMBER 94 EVENING (UTC) OBSERVED ALDEBARAN AND THE HYADES CLUSTER. BETELGEUX BRILLIANT RED. ANDROMEDA GALAXY FAINT IN BINOCULARS. ORION RISING ABOUT 2130 LOCAL. VENUS UP AND BRIGHT BEFORE DAWN.
MORNING: FOUND CAPELLA BY FOLLOWING THE ARM OF ORION (LINE FROM THE BELT). CANIS MINOR AND POLLUX/CASTOR FORM TWO DISTINCT PAIRS OFF ORION'S OTHER SHOULDER. IN THE EAST, ARCTURUS SHIMMERING LOW, OFF THE HANDLE OF THE DIPPER. MARS HIGH OVER HEAD.
22 November 1994
Before Dawn. Found Capella and "the Kids" Kids very faint, distinct acute triangle. Corvus up in the east, pointing to Spica.
2 DECEMBER 94: In the evening Perseus looks like a Horse between Casioppea and Capella. In the morning, Perseus looks like an arc below Capella and on a line from the belt of Orion. Algol looks like the origin of the arc. In the evening I can see Cygnus low in the northwest "flying" toward Cassiopea (can't see the tail star). In the morning there is a third magnitude triangle visible below Orion's feet - It think this is Lepus. In the morning the sickle of Leo is overhead (with Mars in it).
5 DECEMBER: MORNING: Mars is now brighter. With the scope seems to be not completely "full" (like a moon almost full). Believe I can see the polar cap and a bit of the Y canal surface feature. Sky is very dark and now I can see the V in Hyades around Aldebaran that forms the "face" of Taurus. Perseus is "upside down" in the morning with Algol at the focus and the other stars forming a graceful arc that is upturned at both ends. Lepus (the Hare) much clearer below the feet of Orion.
5 DECEMBER 94: EVENING: Briefly confused Cygnus with Cepheus! Early on (1930) I can now see all the way down to the tail of Cygnus. Faint. Believe I saw Vega... bright to the lower right of the Swan. Perseus now very familiar. Capella and the twins a good guidepost.
6 DECEMBER: MORNING: Owl flying over the house at 5 am! Went to Parque Mirador to get a look at southern skies. Canopus is bright first magnitude... found by following line from belt of Orion down through Rigel. Kind of confusing constellations: Looks like this: x x
x CANOPUS x XX X
I think the diamond is Puppis (The Stern). Canopus is part of Carina (The Keel). In the area is also Vela (the Sail) and my Star Map identifies the whole thing as Argo. This is the ship of the Argonauts. DEC 7,1994 MORNING. Looking at Mars. Not so many of the albedo surface features visible but Polar cap visible in the bottom of the eyepiece - inverted to this would put it above the celestial equator i.e. the northern polar cap. Matches description in astronomy mag: "northern polar cap appears prominent because planet's northern hemisphere is now onlytwo months into spring and that hemisphere tilts toward Earth." Neat. Arcturus and Spica visible in the East.
December 7 1994 Evening. While running in Park (7pm) spotted Vega to the lower right of Cygnus. With binoculars clearly saw double star above Vega. Clearly see Altair off to other side of Cygnus - has two second magnitude stars - one off to either side forming constellation Aquila. Took advantage of blackout and FINALLY FOUND ANDROMEDA IN MY TELESCOPE. Not much better than with binoculars. Have to use low magnification or it gets very dark. Think I can see Fomalhaut off the great square of Pegasus. All this with Orions belt just rising in the east.
DECEMBER 9 1994. MORNING. Went to Parque Mirador Sur near Hotel El Embajador at 5 a.m. Confirmed that I have been looking at the Southern Cross. Below Corvus, Head of the Cross is on a line from Alpha and Beta Centauri. Base of Cross is "three thumbs" from horizon. I calibrate my thumb with Mars and Regulus at 2 degrees. That puts base of cross at 6 degrees off horizon. My Horizon is (90 -18.5 = 71.5 South. So 71.5 - 65.5 BINGO! Agrees with star map declination for Southern Cross. Also Right arm of cross is faint as indicated on star map. Alpha and Beta Centauri off tothe left. Alpha looks red. Beta seems to have two other stars around it. Eureka: Following the line from Alpha and Beta Centauri to the head of the cross, I found a very distinct circular cluster. I think this is the Jewell Box - NGC 4755 (open cluster). Still trying to figure out the constellation (Argo?) that lies to the right of the cross. Looks to me like the false cross. It is bigger than the Southern Cross. Mine seems to have a cluster off the right arm and the left arm has a dimmer star near it. A good morning! (LATER FOUND THAT MY CLUSTER WAS GLOBULAR CLUSTER RNGC 5139. I HAD MISIDENTIFIED ALPHA AND BETA CENTAURI.)
December 10, 1994 Evening 1030pm local. Looked at Saturn with my scope through very poor and moonlit skies. Looks good with least powerful lens, worse with stonger lens. Think I can see one of the satellites (Titan ?) off to the left in the viewfinder. Also looked at the moon and at the Orion nebula with the scope. December 11, 1994 Morning 0600 local. Up on the roof. Can see Jupiter in the morning for the first time, low in the west far below a very brilliant Venus. Looke for some Genimid meteors (not much luck) conditions very poor. Took scope out to see Mars - couldn't see any surface features.
December 11, 1994 Evening. 2100 local. Looking at Saturn again. Can see Titan off to the left in viewfinder. Can also see "shadow" of rings across face of the disk. Finally figured out how to use the equitorial mount. not so tough and could be very useful. At 2200 local, I can see very bright 1st magnitude star in south east, much further south than Fomalhaut. I think it is Archernar.
12 December 1994: Morning Sent Via COMPUSERVE Astroforum 12 Dec 1994 I had my first sighting of a man made satellite this morning and would appreciate some help in identifying it. I am in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The object followed a North to South track a bit West of my zenith at 0930 UTC (0530 local), 12 December 1994. Can anyone identify it? Thanks. Bill ------------------------------------ Otherwise poor seeing. Went to the Park and could see Jupiter down in the muck.
13 December 1994. Morning. Went out to look at the Genemid meteor shower - peaking tomorrow. Sure enough, saw about 10 in the space of an hour. They do seem to be radiating from Gemini. One looked quite red. Went to park to observe southern skies. Cross now very familiar. Star at the head of cross is distincly red. (Confirmed color by looking at excellent photo in Dec 94 Astronomy) . Agree with Patrick Moore that Cross is "more like a kite". Good photo of cross in Brian Jones' book. No sign of Jupiter this morning. the constellation to the right of Cross (Argus) can be seen as an arc, with Al Suhail at Apex. Canopus bight and sparkling, on a track from Orion. Believe the false cross is part of Argus.
I was in New York from 19 December to 21 January and did some sky watching. I expected to find Orion lower in the sky, but I found it to be rising more or less in the same place as in SD. Pole Star was noticeably higher in north. With binoculars I frequently saw Andromeda galaxy.
8 JANUARY 1995 While starwatching in Congers N.Y. sighted a satellite moving north to south in eastern sky at 2330 UTC. With Binoculars thought I could see some sort of wing on it! Could this have been RS-12. Software showed RS-12 was in the area.
9 January 2352 UTC After consulting Orbits 2 software, went out on front steps of house. Right on cue, I raised binoculars to appropriate area of the sky and found the bird right where it was supposed to be. Went inside to monitor on Radio Shack radio. Amazin!
21 January - Flying back from New York I did some sky watching from the plane. Orion appeared exactly where I expected. Sky very dark at 35,000 feet.
2 February 1995: (message placed on COMPUSERVE board) I got a really nice look at the HST this morning (2 February) from my perch here in Santo Domingo. I woke up early and checked the computer for any satellites that might be in the neighborhood. (I'm a ham and have been trying to communicate through the new Russian Hamsat RS-15). I noticed that HST would be visible starting at around 0935 UTC (0535 local); I scrambled up onto my roof with binoculars in hand and began to scan the southern sky. There she was, right on time! I first spotted the satellite when it was in Centaurus (with the Southern Cross glimmering off to the right) and followed it through Scorpio, below Venus and Jupiter until it vanished in the east. Great way to start the day! Yet another benefit of southern latitudes! 73 and Clear Skies, Bill (N2CQR/HI8)
5 February 1995: Computer predicted near overhead pass of HST this morning. Went out and found it. First magnitude brightess. Went right over head. Came inside and downloaded HST image of Jupiter!
6 Feb 1995: Went out to look at Hubble Space Telescope at 1009 UTC. Skies very dirty, garbage dump at Duquesa burning again, but HST was shining through. Track was between Cuba and Haiti, out to the north of the DR. Not as bright as earlier sightings. Keps may be a bit old. Seems to be a minute or so behind predictions. Will look at Keps files.
7 Feb 1995: HST in the North at 1018 UTC. Notice that the bird was very bright (1 Mag) when first sighted in the north west, but dimmed very when it moved to the east. Could be that I was then looking through more of the dusk of Santo Domingo.
9 FEB 1995. Program showed Shuttle (STS-63) and Mir appearing briefly over horizon just before dawn. Went up to roof and caught a glimpse of one of them in the east as the sky was brightening. Timing indicates it was the Shuttle. Also saw a polar LEO satellite going north south. All between 1015 and 1030 UTC.
13 FEB 1995. Was out looking at Mars (not much to see) and Jupiter (beautiful). Caught a nearly overhead pass of the Mir. Very bright. Moving almost north to south (north west to south east). Amazing to think that "there are people in that shooting star."
FEB 19 1995 In the evening. Looked at Mars. Can see the Polar cap, but can't see the dark surface features that I saw months ago. Surface seems pale and without features. Could this be because the rotation has turned features away from us? Also looking at the Nebula in Orion. Very nice. Big "fuzzy" star to the lower right with double nearby. I now see Capella as part of Auriga constellation.
20 Feb 1995 Early morning. Mars low in the west, can't make out any detail with scope. Jupiter high insky with moos speread out very nicely. Centaurus now looks like a big bull riding away from Scorpio. 20 FEB 1995 Evening: Mars looked better and think I could make out some of the dark surface features. The Orion Nebula was very beautiful and I could clearly see the triangle (trapezium). Perseus hanging from the Pleaides. Cassiopea halfway below the horizon. Auriga now a familiar landmark.
27 FEB around 1115 pm local. Got home late from a family event. Mars was high in the sky. Good conditions. Got a clear view with highest magnification on the scope. Polar cap clear on the north side (side closest house) directly below the cap sort of a V shaped dark area. Another dark area near the southern pole with a bright area (yellow) north just of that.
28 FEB Morning. Scorpio and Sagitarius now high in the sky. Can clearly see Cygnus in the east. Summer triangle up. Checked out Vega. Double clearly visible below it. Altair in Aquila there also.
2 March 1995. Morning. I was disappointed because I slept through the night time Shuttle launch (STS-67). Thought I might have been able to see it! Was somewhat compensated by a nice early morning tour of the southern skies. Corvus, Centaurus, Scorpio and Sagitarius all very neatly lined up from west to east. Looked at Jupiter with the scope. Beautiful. Looked for a new cluster in Scorpio and found a nice one in the area of the tail just opposite the two star "stinger" at the end. Very nice open cluster (RG-6169) Beautiful traiangle just below it. Tried to spot Mercury to the lower left of Venus - no luck. Also tried to find Omega Centauri (Globular cluster 5139) but couldn't get it in the field of view before it set.
6 MARCH 1995 Morning. Used the new Skyglobe program to locate some objects. Spotted two clusters above sagitarius - M20 Trifad and M8 Lagoon. Also looked at Jupiter with new Tripod mouonted scope. One Satellite passed West to East.
7 MARCH 95 EVENING: POSTED ON CIS:
STS-67 made a really spectacular pass over Santo Domingo last night. On orbit 91, at 2333 UTC 7 March 1995, the shuttle came shooting in from the west about 45 minutes after sundown here. TRAKSAT's background star feature had predicted a very nice track with two very convenient "sign posts" - the Moon and Mars! I positioned myself in the front yard and left my ham radio packet station tuned to the shuttle's frequencies. The bird appeared right on time! It was very bright (far brighter than Sirius, almost up there with Venus). It seemed to be moving a lot faster than some of the other sats I've been watching - this is probably due to the fact that I spotted it very early in the pass when it was very low and close to my horizon.
When it was nearly overhead I ran into the ham shack and tried to "connect" with the packet radio station onboard - no luck. I didn't receive any signals either - I don't think they were on the air during this pass. I have, however, been receiving lots of packet signals from STS-67 - I just leave my receiver on at night, tuned to 145.55 mhz with computer connected and the buffer turned on. In the morning, my screen is filled with the results of the previous night's space-earth packet contacts! (Packets from the MIR are also on the screen - the Russians transmit on the same frequency.) Clear Skies and 73's to all!
Also observed a pretty spectacular fireball in the North (near Polaris) at about 2330. So bright I thought it was a skyrocket. Very slow moving looking like pieces falling off it.
Tried some Astrophotography for the first time: Tried to shoot the shuttle. On morning of 8 March tried to shoot Venus at sun rise with my antenna.
14 MARCH 1995 EVENING Did some moonwatching with the telescope. continued to explore area around the Bay of Rainbows. Plato is a very nice feature near the Bay. Checked out Copernicus and Kepler again. Big crater at the top of the field is Tycho.
15 March 1995 Morning. Milky way very visible in Sagitarius.
March 16, 1995 While bike riding in the park a very full moon rose over the Caribbean! Went home and pulled out the telescope. Explored Bay of Rainbows, Plato Crater Crater Grimaldi and the Sea of Crisis. Neighbors all wanted to look! Showed moon to little girl next door! Started running Distant Suns program. Very nice! Forgot to note it, but succeeded in monitoring voice transmission from Shuttle mission STS-67 earlier this week. Heard Ron Parise WA4SIR. First Human voice heard from space direct!
19 March 1995 Out in the front yard during the evening. Forgot to take the moon filter out of the eyepiece and had a tough time seeing! That resolved, looked at the Orion nebula - Pretty, but really better through the binoculars. "Discovered" M-41 Open cluster just below Sirius. Took a look at Mars via high power eyepiece; seeing was good. Could see polar ice cap. Planet not as bright as in earlier sightings but still fun. Got my first "astrophotographs" developed yesterday - Not very good ! Seriously overexposed my moon shots!
28 MARCH 1995 2320 UTC - FIRST OBSERVATION OF THE UARS SATELLITE. Predicted by Skytel magazine, sure enough appeared just at dusk. Very good pass. seemed to be moving very fast. Seemed to be red in color. Orbit 19356.
29 MARCH 1995 - Posting: Sky and Telescope magazine indicates that the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite is this week making a series of visible passes over the U.S. I spotted this satellite on last night (28 March at 2320 UTC) from Santo Domingo. This was Orbit 19356. The sky was still quite illuminated here so I was lucky to see the spacecraft. Keps provided by Con proved very accurate. UARS seemed tobe red in color. (It flew just east of Mars and seemed to have about the same tint!) Has anyone else noticed this coloring? Any explanations?
Got up this morning (29 March) and tried to spot UARS again, but no luck (sun was too low). I as however treated to watching two unidentified sats whiz past each other near my zenith at 0944 UTC, one going north to south, the other south to north.
30 March 1995 Went out to look at Mars in the evening. Disk very small with 20mm eyepiece. Even though conditions poor, got a pretty good view with 4mm lens.
31 March 1995 I went out this evening looking for RS10 and UARS. NO luck. But while looking, spotted three unidentified sats: At 2337, spotted one moving fast north to south near my meridian. At 2350 Spotted another one on same path, but moving much slower. Also at 2350 spotted a "tumbler" very faint, moving west to east.
11April 1995. Poor skies but spotted one Satellite moving Northwest to south east.
12 April 1995 - Nice morning. Skies very clear and dark. Milky Way very bright through Sagitarius. Looked at a couple of clusters. Could see one of Jupiter's moons with my binoculars (without tripod). Climbed up on the roof to try and spot the MIR space station (Norm Thagard's aboard). No luck but got a beautiful view of Saturn just below Venus as the sky was starting to brighten. Went inside, received a message on COMPUSERVE from Astronaut Jay Apt (re MIR) then checked out the realtive position of plantes on DISTANT SUNS. Neat morning....
13 April 1995 Watched the Hubble Space Telescope go by (below Scorpio) at 0919 UTC. Jupiter and Saturn looking good. Star fields of Sagitarius very nice. Went inside to listen for Norm Thagard, but no luck.
18 April 1995 Out looking at the Moon. Went back to the Bay of Rainbows, refreshed my memory on Copernicus, Kepler and Tycho. Also Grimaldi. Crossed Appinene and Caucus mountains from the Sea of Rains to the Sea of Serenity. Checked out Venus and Saturn - Saturn has moved rapidly above and to the right of Venus.
20 April 1995 Morning, Continue exploration of Half moon - Sea of Serenity appears very much "enclosed" when moon is illuminated from this angle. Bright polar orbit (north-south) Satellite passed near zenith at 5:30 am local. While I was looking at it in binos I thought I saw the glint of a "tumbler" passing overhead. Satellite passed very close to moon and I could see both the moon and the sat in the same field.
21 April 1995 Continued my morning exploration of the Sea of Rains (Mare Imbrium) . I was looking at the Alpes near Plato and the small moountains near them (Pico and Piton) also took a look at the "ridge" In the Alpes. Crater Archimedes looks a lot like Plato.
22 April 1995. Good morning session. Went out looking for RS-10 satellite. Could hear the bird approach on 10 meters and TRAKSAT showed it coming up past Polaris and Vega, but no sighting. Saw one of the Lyrid meteors - looked for more but no luck. Big achievement: identified two new constellations. Following the line formed by the wing of Cygnus to the West to a point just below Vega, a saw four stars that looked to me like a childs top. Went inside to run Distant Suns and found that this was actually the upper portion of Draco (with the star Etamin) and the lower portion of Hercules. I could clearly see Hercules' torso about 10 degress above the top. Continued exploration of the Sea of Rains (now near the terminator). The mountain Piton casts a very long shadow (Piton is in line with the two craters next to Archimedes - Autolycus and Aristillus).
7 MAY 1995 Telescope out in backyard for a look at the moon. Exploring the area around the Alps, Caucuses and the Appenine mountains in the Sea of Rains. This are now near the terminator. Good Shadows. Looked at Cassini crater. Division between Appenine and Caucus mountains very distinct. Archimedes very distinct. Viewed Spitzenberg mountains and the mountain Piton . Later looked at Omega Cenaturi with binocs.
23 MAY 1995 EARLY IN THE MORNING . Time was right for a viewing of Saturn with its rings edge on. Clouds finally cleared and I caught a view of the planet without rings. (I like it better with...)
31 MAY EARLY IN THE MORNING - Took another look at Saturn with the 'scope. Rings still invisible. Can clearly see elongated shape and... distinct line that is the shadow of Saturn's rings. Also saw Jupiter low in the east. Cygnus high in the north with Hercules to its left. Lyra (with Vega) and Altair (in Aquila) Casioppea in the north east with Andromeda behind it. Lightning was flashing in the distance as I made my observations.
2 June 1995 Morning. Tried to look at Jupiter, clouds rolled in! Saturn visible in the east. EVENING: Got a good look at Jupiter (in opposition!) around 11 pm. bands very visible. looked good even at high power. wo of the Gallilean moons close in - two further out.
4 June 1995 Evening - With Elisa out in the back yard, looking at Dipper and double in the handle. Mars high in the sky near the moon. Can see Corvus in the south. Scorpio and Jupite visible around 10pm. Arcturus very bright.
7 June 1995 Morning. Cygnus dominates the Northern sky. Sagitarius tilted to its side in the West. Cassiopea sideways in the Northeast. Could see Andromeda Galaxy with binoculoars. End of Draco and Hercules visible. Jupiter low in the West . Forgot to look Saturn. Two satellites passed - one south to north at 4:40 am The other (bright) west to east at 5:12 am.
12 June 1995 We had a spectacular MIR pass over the Caribbean last night. At 0002 UTC 12 June (8:02 pm 11 June local) MIR appeared in the south and climbed to within a few degrees of the moon. There was a nice MIR-Moon-Jupiter lineup (with Antares the only star of Scorpio not washed out by moonlight and humidity!). Mir was very bright (seemed a bit brighter with Spektr attached).
I had my 145 mhz hand held radio with me out in the yard. I could hear the packet bursts from MIR before I could see the spacecraft. It was fun to look up, see the bird and listen to the signals. Too bad it was 3 am onboard - the crew was surely asleep and unavailable for voice contact.
This was a very fortuitous pass for me - earlier in the day I had been at the Dominican Amateur Radio Club telling some of the guys about how easy it was to actually see the Mir. I wasn't sure if they believed me. This pass allowed me to call them up beforehand and tell them to "go out and look at the moon at precisely 8:05." Con's Keps were right on target and TRAKSAT's background star feature provided an excellent viewing guide - the club members got to see MIR!
13 June 1995 After finding the MIR Keps to be right on target during a MIR pass last night, with great hopes we went out to the front lawn again tonight to watch another MIR pass. I'm using TRAKSAT with the latest MIR Keps (Julian date 159.8). Program showed Mir passing just below Mars and Regulus at 0045 UTC 13 Jun (0845 local). It was supposed to have a maximum elevation of about 25 degrees. At about the appointed time (perhaps a minute or so early) we spotted a sat moving south to north (at MIR's inclination) but it was much higher in the sky than the position predicted by the tracking program. This sat passed near my zenith. I think it was MIR (timing and inclination just about right) . Strange how last night's observation was "just as predicted" but tonight's was so far off. Did anyone else notice this? Any ideas on the cause? (Turns out it wasn't MIR, but another sat - Mir was to far to the West and we were looking at the dark side.)
20 June 1995 Morning. Through fast moving clouds spotted Andromeda galaxy with binocs. Saturn high in the Southern sky. Pulled out 'scope and caught a glimpse. No rings visible, but I did see "ring shadow" on the disk. EVENING: Scorpio dominates southern sky, Centaurus to its right. Can't see Sagitarius to the left. Jupiter near Antares. Spotted open cluster to the left of Scorpio's tail. Spotted a satellite moving North to South at 0007 hrs 21 June 1995.
26 June: Evening: Took a look at Jupiter. Scorpio fully visible in the south. Looked at some doubles in Scorpio's body. Vega in the Norhteast.
27 June 1995: Early morning. Blackout! Took advantage of the power outage and some clear skies. Saturn still has no rings, but shadow of rings clearly visible. Fomalhaut and Diphda below Saturn. Got first view of Aquarius just above Fomalhaut. Sagitarius only half visible in the northeast. Cassiopea and Andromeda in eht North west. Looked at the Andromeda galaxy with binocs. Pulled out scope and quickly found it. Best view yet! Could make out the galaxy's arms by wiggling the telescope. Great Square of Pegasus at Andromeda's end. I think I could see Perseus below Andromeda. Two sats spotted. One meteor. Cygnus dominates the North. Altair and Vega complete the triangle. A good morning.
July 3, 1995 Evening. Finally got to see the Atlantis Space Shuttle/MIR spacecraft. (0055 UTC 4 July) Separation set for tomorrow morning. Viewed the spacecraft from Elisa's front yard. Satellite appeared below Polaris and moved slowly to the northeast. Moved into the earth's shadow near Deneb. Blinked out a couple of times before disappearing. Seemed to be orange in color. No details visible with binoculars. Elisa's Mom and Elisa also saw it. Antonio and neighbors viewed it from my house!
Went on to take advantage of a blackout for some skywatching: I can now see all of Leo (not just the sickle) Omega Centauri visible in binocs. Centaurus spectacular in the south. Could see Alpha and Beta Centauri visible just above the rooftops at Elisa's house. Cygnus upside down in the east. Summer triangle visible. Looked at Clusters in the Sagitarius area (3). Jupiter brilliant. Mars near the moon.
July 8, 1995 Morning: Some old friends return to the morning skies: Perseus in the east. Pleiades and Aldeberan. Andromeda Galaxy barely visible naked eye and clearly visible inthe binoculars. Satellite passed through the field of view while I was viewing Andromeda. Followed Andromeda up to the Great Square of Pegasus. Cygnus dominates North West. Saturn high in the southern sky.
28 July 1995 Morning. Cassiopea dominates the north east Andromeda galaxy almost naked eye, very nice in binocs. Pleiades in the east with Aldeberan. Great square of Pegasus overhead. Cygnus now lower in the north west with Vega close to horizon. Fomalhaut and Saturn in the south, Saturn High in the sky. Titan clearly visible off to the right about 5 diameters away. Shadow of the rings only visible with 2x extender but view generally better under low mag. One sat going toward north east - high and slow.
9 August 1995 Morning. Skies fairly clear to the Northeast. First sighting of Orion, now fairly high in the east. Stepped out onto the front steps and was immediately treated to a bright Persied meteor that left a bit of trail! Right in Perseus! Saw a couple of others. Andromeda galaxy visible. Saturn now high in the West. Perseus, Taurus, Orion, Cassiopea, Andromeda, Pegasus. Hyades very nice in binocs.
26 August 1995 Evening. Took a look at Jupiter through scope. One of the moons very closes to planet's disk later consulted with Sky and Telescope magazine and found that it was Io about to diasappear behind the disk.
27 August 1995 Evening. Saturn has its rings again! Look a look at Saturn with scope. Rings clearly visible even at low power as two little lines off to the sides. I believe Titan was visible about 10 diameters away on the plane of the rings. Planet much more interesting with rings. Welcome Back!
September 5, 1995 Evening. Looking at Saturn and Jupiter while waiting for Hurricane Luis. Saturn's rings visible. Titan off to the right (opposite where it was on previous observation). Jupiter's satellites in a strange configuration with two very close together.
September 6, 1995 Morning sky now winter sky! Dominated by Orion. Saturn in the West. Canopus blazing close to the Southern horizon.
8 September 1995 - Watched Mir sail across moonlit Western sky at 2330 UTC.
2 OCTOBER 1995
I went out this morning (2 October) to try to spot the Comet deVico (1846) through Santo Domingo's murky skies. Using Regulus as my guide, I quickly found (with 7X50 binocs) something that looked comet-like (I'd never seen one before).
I dragged out my 4.5 inch Tasco (gasp!) reflector and quickly had the image of what looked like an approaching snowball. Neat! This was my first sighting of a comet!
3 OCTOBER 1995
I went out again this morning (3 OCTOBER). A major thunderstorm had just passed through (cleaning the skies) and Santo Domingo was experiencing one of its very frequent blackouts, so conditions were good. I found the comet ( I think) a bit to the north of where I saw it yesterday. It seems to me to be about halfway between Gamma Leonis and Regulus, more or less on a line between these two stars (10:16 RA, 15.55 RA?). I can't make out any kind of tail - it just looks like a fuzzy snowball, sort of like a nebula, but more concentrated. I'm still not absolutely sure I'm looking at deVico - some of the position estimates I've seen vary somewhat from my (novice) estimates of its position. My computer programs however don't show any galaxy's or clusters in the Regulus neighborhood, so I guess I'm looking at the Comet deVico(1846).
4 OCTOBER 1995 I went back and compared my "rough estimates" of RA and DEC with those posted on the Comet WWW page and found that I was very close to the mark. I see there are no other objects in the area that might be fooling me and I did detect movement between the two sightings - so I'm sure I was looking at deVico!
15 November 1995 - I spotted the combined Atlantis-Mir spacecraft low in my eastern sky at 0906 UTC (5:06 am) on 15 Nov 1995. I used the latest Keps for STS-74 - they were right on target. Some older Keps for Mir were accurate to within about one minute. Tried to contact the radio amateurs aboard Atlantis, but they weren't on the air
16 November 1995
The Atlantis-Mir complex made a near overhead pass over Santo Domingo this morning (0946 UTC, 0546 local, 16 November). It wasn't really exceptionally bright - as it moved past Sirius, the Dog Star was noticeable brighter. However, as the spacecraft moved into the Big Dipper (in my northeast), it gave us a very bright glint - a bright flash just like that from a signalling mirror. I was watching through 7x50's when it happened! A couple of Leo's meteors also flew by during the pass.
I had my 145 mhz ham radio handie talkie with me - I'd hoped to be able to talk to the crew while watching the spacecraft fly overhead! I've spoken to Shuttle and Mir crews before, but never while I was also in visual contact with them. Nothing heard this time!
17 November 1995 - Saturday morning, 5 am. went out early this morning to look for the Leonids meteors. Skies very clear. Saw a few meteors - several left trains. Also saw a two "tumbling stellites" very clearly. I noticed that with one of the satellites, about five mintes after it passed, another satellite, not tumbling, traversed the same path. Looked for the STS-74 Atlantis Shuttle (recently detached from MIR). No luck.
11 January 1996. Woke up a bit early to monitor the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Thought I might be able to see it from Santo Domingo. Climbed up on the roof when TV showed engines firing. Looked to the North but saw nothing. Was treated however to a very nice view of the Southern Cross. Could learly see the Jewel Box sparkling to the lower left of Mimosa. Looked at Alpha and Beta Centauri. Also saw the big nebula in Centaurus. Scorpio returns to the sky.
27 January 1996 - Up early. Went out to look for Hubble, no luck but noticed Jupiter bright in the east.
29 January 1996. Morning. Pulled out scope to look at Jupiter. Four moons arranged in a line. Clound lines visible. Why do planet and moons seem vertical? Scorpio high in the south with Centaurus to the right. Corvus up above. Leo in the West. Dipper high in the North.
2 FEBRUARY 1996 0630 LOCAL. FIRST SIGHTING OF THE PLANET MERCURY! The planet was very bright, easy to find, to the lower left of Jupiter. Watched it in binocs for a while, then - even though it was getting bright, pulled out the scope and was able to clearly see the disk. I even think I saw a bit of a crescent -looked like a small chunk was missing on the lower portion of the disk (in the fov).
2 February 1996 1939 local. Out looking atVenus and Saturn. They were within 2 degrees of each other. Pulled out the scope - no rings on Saturn. Venus very bright in scope.
3 February 1996. Morning. Out to see Mercury again. Couldn't see it at first, but then it rose above the horizon at about 6:35. I'd thought it would be difficult to see, but when it is above the horizon it is very bright and unmistakeable. Also lookeda at Omega Centauri through the binoc. Centaurus very prominent in the South. A huge Scorpion by its side! Leo in the West. The Dipper behind me. 7 February 1996. Morning. Went out and found Mercury rising! Looked at Jupiter in the scope while waiting for Mercury to come into full view. Jupiter beautiful with the four Gallileans arranged symetrically, two off each side. I could now clearly see the crescent of Mercury, a chunk taken out of the lower left in my FOV (upper right in reality). "Fits" with position of the sun.
9 February 1996. Morning. Up early, checking out Mercury and Jupiter. Turned scope to the Moon and took a look at Sea of Rains and Sea of Serenity. Snake like rille near the terminator very interesting.
15 February 1996. Evening. Pulled out the scope to look at Saturn, which is now far below Venus and getting close to the horizon. Can clearly see the disk, but no rings visible. Put scope on Venus and can see the "phase" of the planet.
16 February 1996. Elisa's 24th Birthday! Went out this morning at dawn and looked at the moon (only a sliver) could see the see of crisis by earthshine! Jupiter nearby. Two of Galileans very close together. Looked at Jupiter cloud formations - still sno sign of Great Red Spot!
23 February 1996. Morning. Searching Libra for the Comet Hyakutake B2. No joy.
26 February 1996. Evening. While Elisa chatted on the Internet's IRC, I went outside to see if my second cleaning of the 4.5 inch mirror would yield results. While setting up the scope saw two satellites in the East. they were both bright and seemed headed for collision one Polar, north to south, the other equatorial west to east. Time: 7:25 pm local. Then while trying to get the Orion Nebula in my FOV, saw a meteor blaze directly through the field, bright red! Orion Nebula spectacular. Trapezium easily discerned at 45X. I think another sat passed through the FOV. Finally, showed half moon to the new guard on duty. He was very impressed. At ten, Leo prominent in the east. At eight, Canopus was blazing in the south. All in all a wild evening. The cleaning seemed tohave worked. IN ADDITION: EXCHANGED MY FIRST PGP ENCRYPTED MESSAGES TODAY!!!!
29 February 1996: I went out this morning looking for the comet Hyakutake B2 1996. I am beoming very familiar with the southern end of Libra! there is a nice pattern down there that should be useful when the comet beomes bright enough for me to see: there is an arch with a wide U above it. No Joy today however!
1 March 1996. Programs and ephemerides showed Hyakutake well bracketed by some 4 and 5 mag stars in lower Libra (In the wide "U" formed around 5521 Yale). Went out to take a look. After waiting for eyes to adapt and using averted vision technique I could see fuzzy patch approximately where the program indicated it should be. Couldn't get it into the 'scope's FOV. Fun!
2 March 1996: Posted to COMPUSERVE: Finally spotted Hyakutake B2 1996 on 1 March 96. The comet is now located in an area of Libra with a lot of good guide stars. I could see the comet with 7X50 binocs on 1 March using averted vision techniques. Santo Domingo's skies are not exactly an astronomer's dream! This morning (2 March) I was able to find the comet again using binocs. I pulled out my trusty (and much maligned) 4.5 inch TASCO reflector and after much struggle was able to get the comet into the FOV. Not very spectacular in this scope at 45X - just a white smudge really, but it will be fun to track it during the days and weeks ahead. Good Hunting! Bill
4 March - Saw the comet Hyakutake again with averted vision in binocs. Clearly moving up through Libra. There are two stars (Yale 5513 and 5504) that form good guideposts. Last time I saw comet it was below the line formed by these two stars this time it was above it.
11 March 1996: Hyakutake now much brighter. Saw it this morning in spite of bright moonlight. About three degrees to the lower left of Alpha Libra (Zubenelgenubi). Continues to climb through Libra. No need for averted vision in the binocs. No real sign of tail yet. Saw it in the scope at 45 and 90X. No sign of tail. Was also looking for the Tethered satellite. No joy. Clouds got in the way! Turns out that this was the day the comet crossed the plane of the solar system. 15 March 1996: Message to Selva in Borneo: Congratulations! I'm very happy that you found it. My girlfriend asked me yesterday, "Has that fellow on Borneo found the Japanese comet yet?"
I just came in from a very harrowing observation session (5 am local on 15 March - 0900 UTC 15 March)) . Santo Domingo has been covered with clouds for the last four days, but this morning skies were partly clear. I waited patiently for a big cloud that was covering Libra to pass. The comet was easily visible in the binoculars - It has moved very noticeably! I found it about 3 degrees above Alpha Libra (Zuben Elgenubi). The clouds returned before I could get my telescope on the comet. Another waiting period began. Saw a few satellites pass over head. Then the clouds cleared and I was back to the comet. I had a very difficult time getting Hyakutake in my 'scope's field of view, but finally succeeded, just as the sky was starting to brighten with sunshine. For the first time the comet appeared to me to be more than a fuzz ball. With averted vision (using the 4.5 inch reflector at 45X) I could make out the point-like central portion within the "fuzz ball"
Again, glad you saw it. keep us posted on the view from Borneo!
Clear Skies! Bill
16 March 1995 Morning. Beautiful morning. Got up around 4:30. Skies Clear. Hyakutake now a naked eye object in Santo Domingo. Clearly visible about 4 degrees above Zuben Elgenubi. Pulled out the binocs and found the comet nestled between xi 2 Libra and xi 1 Libra. Seemed about as bright as Delta Libra (I checked using the "defocus" technique.) That would make it about 5th magnitude. Easily found it in the scope. Set up binocs on tripod. Milky Way very, very bright - at first I thought it was a cloud! Jupiter beautiful. Several satellites passed by and one very persistent (one second) meteor streaked through the southern sky. I think I could actually detect some movement of the comet through the xi 1 Libra and xi 2 Libra background stars during 90 minute viewing session. Can't really see a tail yet but it does seem that some of the "fuzz" is streaming in one direction! A very nice, beautiful Saturday morning in Santo Domingo. Also: Installed CW filter in HW-101 and MADE MY FIRST INTERNET PHONE Call!!!!
18 March 1996 0935 UTC Hyakutake visible with the naked eye from Santo Domingo. About six degrees north east of Zubeneschama on a line to mu Virgo (about 3 degrees from mu Virgo), below 16 Libra. I think I can see tail, but I may be imagining it. Did "off focus" brightness estimate with binocs: seems to be as bright as mu Virgo (4th mag). "Point" within comet visible with averted vision through scope at 45X. Satellites and meteors accompany!
19 March 1996 0900 UTC Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Comet Hyakutake now about 9 degrees to the right of Zubeneschama, about 2 degrees to the right of 11 Libra, sort of sitting in a triangle formed by Zubeneschema, 109 Virgo and mu Virgo. Approximately 4th magnitude (used mu Virgo for comparison). Star-like nucleus visible in 4.5 inch scope at 45X. Faint tail streaming away from Zubeneschema seems visible in 7X50 binocs. I think I can detect tail in the telescope by placing nucleus off just outside the FOV; it seems there is a lot more "glow" in the eyepiece when the nucleus is off the lower right of the FOV than when it is off the upper left.
23 March 1996. Saturday morning. Elisa woke me up at 4:45. Wanted to see the comet! Walked out of the house and found the comet blazing brightly near Arcturus. The glow seemed to encompass Izar (epsilon Bootes). Tail now visible in 7X50's Tail especially visible in binoculars by jiggling binocs. Tail pointing to Arcturus (a little bit below Arcturus). went over to Elisa's house at 5:15. Showed the comet to her, her Mom and aunt. Stopped at relatively dark site on the way back to my house. Looked at the tail!
23 March 1996 - Evening. When leaving Elisa's house (10 pm) I could see the comet through the haze low in the north east between the dipper and Arcturus. Definitely better in the morning!!!
24 March 1996. Morning. The comet has been seriously cutting into my sleep time and this morning I'd pledged not to get up early... but I woke up at 5:45 and couldn't resist. Comet very bright in the morning sky heading toward the dipper. Lots of movement. Sky birghtening so tail not as apparent as yesterday. Saw satellite move through binoc FOV with comet in view. Meteor also! Shuttle is aloft - they must have great view!!!
25 March 1996. Message to Selva in Borneo: Selva: I'm glad you and your wife have been able to view the comet. During the last two nights I have been able to see it both before going to bed and after waking up! In the evening (around 10 p.m. local time) I can see it low in the east. The view is not very good because I am looking through all the haze and light pollution of Santo Domingo. Then in the morning, I can see it in the North West. Five minutes ago(1000 hrs UTC, 25 March 1996) I stepped outside and saw Hyakutake through the clouds, low in the northern sky. I raised my binoculars and saw a satellite passing through the same field as the comet. I will check with my satellite program - this may have been the combine MIR-Space Shuttle complex!
26 March 1996. Last night, Saw the comet low in the north between the Big Dipper and Polaris. Seemed a lot smaller. We looked at it from Elisa's house and I looked at it again from my house. Funny thing: I seem to have been much more interested in the comet whenit was faint, far and difficult to see! it may be fatigue: I've been loosing a lot of sleep due to comet watching! Clouds this morning....
2 April 1996: Went out in the evening to look for the comet. Found it nestled in Perseus (about one degree below Alpha Perseus?) . Looked good in the binocs - seemed smaller but the tail seemed much more pronounced. Found it easily in the scope. In the same field as a fairly bright star. Tail not so noticeable in the scope. Saw a very bright sat in the twilight - wen inside ans saw on the computer that it was the Hubble Space Telescope. Took my 'scope over to Elisa's house and showed the mood to her mother and Mate.
3 April 1996 - Walked out of Elisa's House around 10 p.m. - looked up and found the moon in partial eclipse!! Didn't even really know it was coming! Neat!
13 April 1996 - Evening. Very clear Saturday night in SD. Looked for Hyakutake around 8 pm. Found it about 4 degrees from Algol in Perseus. Looking very nice! Not bright, but tail seems much more visible - long and thin and pointing bak in the direction of Algol. Really neat! --------------------------------------------------------------------- 28 October 1996 - Evening. Falls Church Virginia! Spotted Jupiter from 21st Street in WASHDC on the way home from work. Pulled out the scope when I got home. Spotted Saturn in the south after consulting the computer program. Rings beautiful from side-on. Titan visible off to the left. Tried to get Jupiter in the scope (low in the west) but no luck. Cygnus overhead. Vega, Deneb and Altair like old friends in the sky. Could see half of Perseus. Amazin what you can see from light polluted DC area.
29 October 1996 - Morning. Orion, Canis major, the Dipper, Perseus upside down, Capella and the Kids, Auriga, Gemini, Canis minor. Then I noticed two stars close together in an unfamiliar pattern in the Southeast. Went in and checked the computer. Mars and Regulus. pulled out the scope - not much to see - the disk of mars barely visible. Clear skies but poor seeing. Fun to find mars. Venus blazing closer to horizon. Mars, Venus, Saturn Jupiter (and Earth) - Five planets - not bad.
15 December 1996 - Just after sundown, flying to Washington from Santo Domingo. 20,000 feet over Richmond, Virginia. Spotted Jupiter shortly after sunset. A little bit later saw waht looked like another planet between Jupiter and the horizon. Checked with the computer program when I got home - sure enought it was Mercury.
4 January 1997 - Evening. Temperature was up to almost 70 degrees today. Couldn't resist, checked the Distant Suns program and Saw that Andromeda Galaxy was overhead, Saturn in the southeast. Andromeda was impossible, but Saturn was blazing away. Pulled out the 'scope, did a quick alignment of the spotter scope and then got planet in the field of view. Rings very visible and Titan on the left. Cassiopea, Perseus very visible, but Pleiades only with binocs! Spoke to Elisa on the phone and she asked if Saturn was the bright object in the Southeast. Yes indeed!
23 February 1997. First sighting of Comet Hale-Bopp. Got up early Sunday to go to the Vienna Wireless Hamfest. Stepped out on the front step and looked for Cygnus. The Comet just jumped out at me. Very bright. Tail clearly visible with the Binocs. Cool!
25 February 1997 Yesterday I took another look at HB in the binocs. This morning I pulled out the scope. Beautiful view. Tail seems to be "hooking" out of the the nucleus. Seems like I can see the head of the comet. Tail goes beyond the Field of View of the scope. Very nice.
26 February 1997 Out again for a morning look at Hale Bopp. Used the scope. Sky wasn't as clear as yesterday. Tail is still "hooking" out. nucleus seems almost like a disc, but it is still difficult to tell if the scope is focused, because of the fuzziness of the comet. Went to a nearby star to focus. Thought I saw something glint in the tail.
7 March 1997 - Skies cleared yesterday after a week of no comets. Caught a glimpse of Hale-Bopp as the clouds whipped past. Nice view in the binoc. This morning I pulled out the scope as the sky was brightening, Comet still has the hook tail. Very easy to find in the field of view. Tail sort of painted across the field. Followed it up to the coma.
4 September 1997 - Cool morning in Falls Church. Orion beautiful in the south. Capella and the twins in Auriga. Saturn in the south. Perseus and the Pleadies. Gemini. Sirius peaking through the trees. Cassiopea. Aldeberan. Nice to see the stars again after so long. Like old friends.
28 - 29 October 1997. Estern Standard Time returned on the 28th. While walking home from the Esat Falls Church Metro station I can see 5 planets. Venus and Mars in the West. Jupiter hight in the south, Saturn in the South East... and Earth below my feet! -----------------------------
28 October 1996 - Evening. Falls Church Virginia! Spotted Jupiter
27 July 1998. After reading "First Light" inspired to return to the skies. Took the Tasco scope out to the backyard this morning and looked at Jupiter. Beautiful. lots of bands and three galllean satellites. Good to be back.
2 August 1998 Watched "Moonshot" (Story of Apollo program) on CNN and was inspired to pull out the binoculars. Saw "summer Triangle" Cygnus, Vega (with doulbe star alongside) Altair and an old frined from the south: Antares, blazing away beneath the moon.
5 August 1998 Thought I slept too late, but it was a nice morning so I decided to check the sky at 5:30. Was rewarded with Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mars. Venus and Mars close together near the Eastern horizon. Pulled out the scope to look at Saturn. Beautiful view of the rings. Looked like one sateliite (Titan?) off to the right and a bit up from the ring plane.
13 August 1998 Up early (Billy crying!) Went out front at 4:30 am . Cassiopea near zenith. I could barely see Perseus. Saturn near the moon. Jupiter. Pulled out the scope and looked at Saturn and the moon.
20 August 1998 Cool. clear wheather ein Falls Church. Billy got me up early. Gave him a bottle and then went out to llok at the stars. Immediately saw a bright meteor. Cassiopea overhead, Perseus alongside. Pleadies sparkling. Aldeberan in Taurus. Capella and the kids. Another meteor... Nice morning.
21 August 1998 Another nice morning. Fed Billy, then went outside. Orion low in the southeast. Put binocs on Aldeberan in Taurus and the Pleiades. Bright Satellite went over, south to north.
19 Jan 1999: Pulled the scope out to look at Mars. Not much detail to see - just a red disk. I think I broke my high power lens when I dropped it (twice). Probably just as well.