Constellations: Aquarius, Cygnus, Pisces
Asterism: Coathanger/Collinder 399/Brocchi's Cluster
Planet: Mercury, Neptune
Zodiacal Light (ZL)
Location: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile @ SPACE Lodge
Time: 6:00 AM - 6:45 AM EST
Instrument: Visual + Binocular 10x42 IS
Transparency: Very Good (4)
Seeing: Very Good (4)
Temperature: ~ 6º C
Jerry and I woke up shortly after 6 AM. Clear sky with no wind.
And there before us was the main reason for the early rise. The Zodiacal Light with Mercury rising in its centre over the mountains and Pisces on the edge of its glow was easily seen. For me this was especially exciting as it was the first time seeing the ZL in the southern hemisphere, and to see it rise adjacent to the volcanoes Licancabur and Juriques was breathtaking.
When Mercury first rose in Pisces, it appeared to be perched on the mountain’s edge like a small ball ready to roll down a knoll. Could see the planet both visually and with binoculars literally in the centre of the base of the ZL.
With Aquarius in the sky, we thought we might be able to see Neptune that was located almost straight up from Mercury. Couldn't quite see it with binoculars but found the general area. It couldn’t be seen visually nor with binoculars, but we did locate it in the photos taken of the zodiacal light. Had we looked up towards the Zenith, we would have found mars in the Teapot.
A wonderful start to the day!
Coathanger / Collinder 399 / Brocchi's Cluster
We spent the remainder of the morning packing up and arrived at the Calama airport around noon to catch our flight to Santiago. The Andes still had us in awe at its beautiful formations and colour.