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Posted: Thu Jun 20, 2019 10:55 pm
by jeff.stevens
It has been a welcome relief to see clear blue skies here this evening. Stepping outside, a short while before 11:00pm, the sky looked so beautiful and peaceful, after a day of very mixed weather with some incredibly dark and foreboding storm clouds on display. There is something so relaxing about a deepening twilight, and being able to step outside into relatively warm conditions to witness it unfold.

I spent a very pleasant 30 minutes observing. On first glance it might appear that there isn't much to see, but even from my light polluted skies, and approaching the longest day of the year, there is plenty to enjoy. Standing looking into that subtle grading of blues, over from the brightest area in the northwest, and then scanning up towards the darkening zenith, is breath-taking. I find the colours very hard to describe, but they never cease to amaze and please my eye.

Jupiter had caught my attention initially, as I looked southwards. What a bright beacon. In an 8x40 binocular, after a while studying closely, I could see not only Ganymede, to the west, but also Callisto. Then, in fleeting glimpses, I could detect Europa to the east. To my eye, Jupiter appeared almost a slightly creamy colour. It is incredible to think that these moons can be detected with such relatively limited optical aid.

I had a quick scan around the sky to see what else was visible, both with the binocular and the unaided eye. Scanning Cygnus, I could pick out Omicron 1 and 2 Cygni using my 8x40 binocular. They are very eye-catching. In the Plough, I could just detect Megrez with the unaided eye, although it was stronger using averted vision. Alcor and Mizar were easily visible,

Most of all, I love the silence when I am sky watching late at night. It enhances the scene. My part of the world is drifting off to sleep. The noise of the city is ebbing away, and more stars become visible as the silence and the twilight deepens. How wonderful to have the luxury of being alive and able to witness this beauty, to be able to stare out into space and think about the wonders that lie beyond our planet.

If we are lucky, perhaps there may even be a display of night shining clouds overnight. There is that optimistic air about the sky tonight.

I'm glad I took the time to stand and stare, even if only for a brief time. It has soothed my mind.

Best wishes, Jeff.