Last evening, and again in the wee hours of this morning, I gave my no-longer-new Meade reflector its “last light.” I don’t intend to use it again; it is destined to be packed up today and donated. For many reasons, I think it’s healthy to part with this scope. It has served well, and has finally given me the chance to explore my lifelong interest in the stars. However, it’s a basic scope, and really can’t do much more than it’s already done for me.
Arriving later is my new telescope. I’ll discuss it in my next post.
But as to my Meade Polaris 130, in its classic 1960s electric blue. Early this morning I viewed Jupiter and its four Galilean moons. Jupiter is above and to the west of Spica right now, continuing its sojourn in Virgo. Then, in a last hurrah, I had my best view yet of M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy. This is the beautiful small galaxy being spooled into a larger one.
M51 lives approximately 8.58 megaparsecs away (25-ish million light years). The light that hits your retina from this complex object left its home during the Oligocene Epoch in the Paleogene Period of the Cenozoic Era. The Rocky Mountains were still aborning. Needless to say, our remarkable little species didn’t exist.
It’s worth getting up in the dark and braving the chill to take a few of these archaic photons into yourself.
On the other hand, the image wasn’t enough to excite me any longer. I’m pleased that I’ve learned how to find it easily, and in general that I’ve learned many important basics about celestial motion and how to find objects; but I’m ready for something better.
More anon. There’s so much beauty to be grateful for.