2012-03-14 21:00 – 01:00 CDT
93d36 ‘W 41d44’N
~60 F, clear, no moon
Trans: 2/5, Seeing: 3/5
* Zhumell Z10 10″ Newtonian reflector
* Meade DS-90 90mm refractor
* Celestron Skymaster 15×70 binoculars
* Nikon D3100 DSLR, 55-200mm zoom lens
What I saw
Comet Garradd, C/2009 P1
I *barely* made out the double-tailed faint fuzzy that was the comet Garrrad. I originally wanted to capture a photo of it, and spent at least 2 hours tracking its current location in Draco with the DS-90 and piggybacked Nikon DSLR. I varied the exposures from 15 seconds to up to 60 seconds, and still wasn’t able to discern much of the tails other than a faint fuzziness. Using the Z10 and a 30mm eyepiece I was able to see the comet, but it took averted vision to get any sort of definition. I verified the awful transparency when I pointed the Z10 at M42 in Orion and was barely able to make out much of the nebula at all. This is usually a mind-blowing view when the sky allows it.
Mars made the night for me. I could ALMOST make out detail on mars with the DS-90 with a 12.5mm junk eyepiece. I used it more as a test for the tracking of the Meade Autostar 494 system. It did an OK job, but still needs some adustment and maybe better alignment from me. However, taking a look at Mars with the Z10 was AMAZING! I was able to discern surface detail on the red planet even using magnifications up to 416x with a 6mm eyepiece and 2x Barlow.