SJAA Ephemeris January 2004 | SJAA Home | Contents | Previous | Next


Extreme Mooning

Dave North


“... there is no air. Steady doesn’t even begin to cover it. We run out of eyepieces trying to magnify the view.”


A distinctly not-extreme photo of the moon, October 3, 2003 by Paul Kohlmiller -- ASA 800 film with a Canon AE-1 attached to the rear cell of a Meade 10 inch LX-200.


Caught a cold and finally got around to opening Gerald North's Observing The Moon which is subtitled "The Modern Astronomer's Guide."

Modern? Dude! Get a clue. This book is bo-ring.

I mean it's like, half the book is droning on about how this next stuff won't be all that hot because it's not what this book is all about and there's not enough room anyway ... come on, Gerry! If you'd choke that dross you might have enough room! Sheesh. How lame is that?

But hey, something in my skull pops to the obvious: everybody who writes about the Moon suffers from this same awful disease. We're all a of stuffups.

No more.

For-practically-ever January has been the Romper Room Noobee Corner with a couple of dopy hints for getting a shot at your piece of the Moon with your new toy.

Maybe I'll just toss that in at the end, but lock'n'load kids, we're going Extreme this month.

Well, dull x-treem. A good part of the lingo that doesn't dribble from Hep Marketing Droids is expletivedeleted and that's just not gonna work on the ol' Ephem. So insert here and there to taste if the wattage seems dim.

Maybe your first taste of Extreme Mooning is accidentally cruising up to Fremont Peak when the Moon is up because you forgot to look at the sky.

Whastup? Craig Wandke set up at Coulter Row with his entire library spread out, toonz on the headphones, cooler, fully-loaded mac software grinder, refractor and naglers tracking ... with a whitelight to peruse by 'cuz there ain't nobody else there screaming "hey jerk, turn off the light."

He's protected by the moonsheep.

Something clicks.

You're up the hill with Rich Neuschafer and his newish 180mm AP Starfire Triplet incredoScope packing your own 12.5-inch cheapoGlass and blam-o the air just sits down and there's the Moon.

The Moon's up. Get real; there's nobody else there. You can't type out a list of ngc numbers after a night like that, and if you want some serious dull, that's your war'n'peace.

But I mean it turns out, there is no air. Steady doesn't even begin to cover it. We run out of eyepieces trying to magnify the view ... somewhere around 1000x it seems like the AP image is breaking down but it's not the air, it's just running out of resolving power because of the laws of physics.

Bumping up against the laws of physics is where extreme begins.


Car chases! Yeah, that's where the real extremes crank!

Some geezoid figgers Mare Orientale will look good tonight, but those dorks always get it so that when something cool is happening the sky plugs up like a goose's ...

Anyway you chuck your dob and whatever else somebody's got in the back of Taylor's CRV and head up toward Montebello looking for a hole, sucker, and neither up nor down does it, though thin spots show up ... and suddenly a break!

Gotta stop somewhere, oh well, narrow road and all the but there's just enough room on this curve ... aahh! The fog come up! Then as you get ready to move it drops again. Out with the stuff, quick setup, no cooldown, there it is woo!

Sucker is rotated all around looks like an eyeball from the side and there's this Big Weird Mountain poking up the edge whazzat about...? Boom, the clouds close down again.


I mean, really. Set up under an overhang and check out Copernicus through rain and lightning sometime. It's tres kewl.

Click.Eclipses are extreme Mooning. There are people in Antarctica running across ice flows to get a view! Getting zoned in Zimbabwe.

Click. And sometimes you just see weird stuff go across the face of the Moon, balloons, birds, planes -- other stuff you just can't figure.

Click. Click. Click.

The most extreme Mooning is right up front. It's like this: you haven't seen it through a scope before, and don't know much about it.

Use a lowpower eyepiece. It will make more sense that way.

Point. Look.

That's as extreme as it gets.

Maybe you can still do that. Suck it up when it comes. That's your newbie hint for this year, and it really isn't going to matter much what scope you use, where you are, or even if the seeing is steady or it's cold or any of that.

I'm jealous.


Previous | Contents | Next