Backyard Magic

by Mark Wagner

I set up my 10" f/5.7 scope in the backyard before doing the BBQ. Let is cool down nicely, tweaked the collimation. Ate dinner, fixed a coffee and went out back.

Mars, of course.

20 Nagler, 72x. Steady with detail. 12 Nagler, 120x. Good detail. Rock steady. 7 Nagler, 207x. NIce detail. Holding up very well. Put in the 2x Barlow. 414x, more detail. I could do a drawing, the dark markings are so well defined. Very good seeing snaps to exquisite. Magic.

I can't help but look at the foreign world and think of the first human, maybe one of my kid's friends, maybe your's, setting foot up there. Nobody has been there.

I keep watching. Ochre, the color of those soft "peanut" shaped candies... circus peanuts. But with banana bad spots on it.

I am amazed.

The southern polar cap is doing a disappearing act. Magic. I can watch it through this weird collection of aluminum struts, rods and several pieces of glass.

I'm telling you, it is magic. It is fun.

I watch for a while more. Subtle features - a bay of orange in the dark river crossing the planet. Smaller dark pieces extending along parallel to the main feature. Faded dark on the limb and up toward the southern ice cap. Haze on the northern one.

I'm so glad I set up the scope.

I look around.

Pegasus is up.

At 414x I point at M15. Find it in, well, the finder - I can see it at 9x. Center it then in the eyepiece. It is there, dim. Handful of stars.

I cup my hands around the eyepiece and look. Stars begin filling the field. Suddenly they are everywhere. The core is dense. The globular is beautiful. Stars are everywhere. No counting them

From my celestial backyard to the halo of my galaxy in 10 seconds.

It is magic.

I hope some of you are out tonight. It is a fine night.

Going back out to count features on Mars.

There is something magical to this.