Constellations: Canis Major, Carina ("Keel"), Centaurus, Crux, Hydrus, Musca, Orion, Ursa Major
Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC)
Nebula: Coalsack, Eta Carina, NGC 3372, Herschel's Jewel Box/NGC 4755
Stars: Achernar, Canopis, θ Carina, α Centauri, β Centauri
Omega Centauri, Southern Pleiades (IC 2601)
Planet: Jupiter, Venus
Messier Object: M42 (Orion Nebula)

Location: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile @ SPACE Lodge
Date: 2018-04-10
Time: 8:00 PM - 11:00 PM EST
Instrument: Visual + Binocular 10x42 IS + Televue 60 with 17.3 mm eyepiece
Transparency: Very Good (4)
Seeing: Very Good (4)
Temperature: ~ 8º C

No clouds or wind and humidity is not evident. Clear skies.

In the early afternoon, we visited the ancient village of Tulor de Aldea. Around 4 PM, it was decided the excursion to Valle de la Luna was postponed to another day because of incoming clouds from all sides (the only time we saw cloud cover the whole trip). Without the sun, we would not be able to see the effect on the Valley as the sun set. Consequently, I spent the early evening viewing the night skies with Melody, Charline, Dave and occasionally Jerry (who visited between adjustments to his astroimaging equipment). Headed to bed at 11 PM.

Time: not recorded
S&T Chart Reference: 50
Instrument: Visual + Binoculars
Using the binoculars, I was able to locate 6 main stars very easily - α, β, λ, ε, δ, γ. I was observing next to Lodge #2 with Melody, Charline Norgrove and Dave.

Coalsack Nebula
Time: 8:09 PM EST 
Instrument: Visual
S&T Chart Reference: 49, 50
Easy to find what appears to be a black empty space below Crux.

Venus (in Aries)
Time: 8:09 PM EST 
Venus set: 8:35 PM EST
Instrument: Visual
Venus was observed every evening.

Herschel's Jewel Box / NGC 4755
Time: 9:19 PM EST 
S&T Chart Reference: 38
Instrument: Visual + Binoculars + Televue 60
The 4.5 magnitude cluster was named after Herschel because he determined the positions of 100 stars within the cluster. In binoculars, this appeared as a teardrop shape just below Becrux in Crux and above the Coalsack Nebula. 

In looking through Charline's telescope, it was so easy to see the strs differentiated in the teardrop. You could also see where the stars were brighter/clustered in the open cluster and where they were fainter.

Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) / PGC 17223 / Nubecular Major
Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) / PGC 3085 / Nubecual Minor
Time: ~ 9:19 PM EST 
S&T Chart Reference: 10, 20, 30
Instrument: Visual

The LMC and SMC are ever present in the night skies. They continue to provide "oh wow" moments every time they are seen. Guess I just can't believe I'm seeing them.

α Eridani / Achernar (in Eridanus)
Time: 9:29 PM EST 
S&T Chart Reference: 6, 16, 17, 19
Instrument: Visual + Binoculars
Dave Chapman pointed this out to us to ensure we saw it before it set. It was twinkling about 5º above the horizon. Achernar is the bright star at the end of Eridanus ("river").

Binary star system with a companion known as Achernar B. Magnitude 0.45, 9th brightest star in the night sky. Tiny but regular variations over 1.26 days caused by actual complex pulsations, or by rotation bringing dark star spots in and out of view.

Orion & M42
Time: 9:51 PM EST
S&T Chart Reference: 14, 16, B
Instrument: Visual + binoculars + Televue 60
It was interesting to once again see the Hunter on his side as compared to standing upright in the Northern Hemisphere. M42 easily identified.

Charline told us the 3 stars in Orion's Belt were known as the "Las Tres Marías" (the 3 Marys), i.e., the 3 Marys who were present at Christ's crucifixion.  She then showed us M42/M4 3 through the scope - a very nice version to see. Also used my binoculars to compare the size and nebulosity.

Time: 9:32 PM EST 
S&T Chart Reference: 48, 49, 59
Instrument: Visual
Alain at the Atacama Lodge had given us an orientation and showed how the Centaur circled around Crux. After the orientation, I went back to our Lodge and was able to identify 12 of the 13 stars in the traditional ones of the constellation. α Centauri and β Centauri are very bright and easily seen.

Omega Centauri
Time: not recorded
S&T Chart Reference: 48, 49, 59
Instrument: Visual + Binoculars 
Visually star-hopped to approximate the location of the cluster. Held up my binoculars and found it immediately in my eyepiece. What a glorious DSO! So big. So bright.


Canis Major
Time: 9:55 PM EST 
S&T Chart Reference: 27
Instrument: Visual
I noticed the bright star above Orion. The line of stars in Orion's Belt pointed to it so knew it was Sirius. It took a few mments to get my head around the orientation, and did find the major stars of this constellation. I had noticed Sirius the night before but had not taken the time to identify the other stars.

Carina ("Keel")
Time: 10:05 PM EST 
S&T Chart Reference: 28, 30, 39, 40 
Instrument: Visual

Carina is one of 3 parts that was once the large constellation Argos Navi. It is circumpolar and is the 3rd largest constellation in the sky. It was very easy to identify as were ε and β. The other stars were very difficult to identify. θ Car was easier to find because of its proximity to the Southern Pleiades. Canopus is the next brightest star in the sky next to Sirius and never sets below the horizon. Absolute mag -5.53.

Stars in Carina:
- η Carinae is a star system composed of at least 2 stars. It was easier to find once I found the nebula.
- β Carinae (Miaplacidus) is the 29th brightest star in the sky. Mag 1.67
- ε Carinae (Avior) is the 84th brightest in the sky. Mag 1.86. It is a double star that regularly eclipse each other, therefore have variations in luminosity of 0.1 mag.
- ι Carinae is the 68th brightest star. Mag 2.21
- θ Carinae the the most prominent star in the Southern Pleiades. Mag 2.74

Eta (η) Carina / NGC 3371
Time: 10:05 PM EST 
S&T Chart Reference: 28, 30, 39, 40 
Instrument:  Binoculars + Televue 60 

Eta Carina is an emission nebula. I had been looking at Carina in an attempt to find all of the constellation. Charline was able to locate the η Carina nebula in her telescope and shared the sight with us. Almost looks like the Trifid Nebula.

Apparently, this nebula is 4x the size and even brighter than the Orion Nebula. Within this nebula (we later discovered) is the Keyhole Nebula, located just to the right of η Carina.

Following this viewing, I looked at the nebula with the binoculars.



Southern Pleiades / IC 2602 / θ Carina Cluster (in Carina)
Time: 10:10 PM EST 
S&T Chart Reference: 28, 30, 39, 40 

Instrument:  Binoculars / Televue 60

After I saw what looked like an hour glass on the left and other stars to the right in my binoculars, Charline showed me the Southern Pleiades in her telescope. The binocular view wasn't as good as the scope's (obviously!).

NOTE: θ Carina is the brightest star at mag 1.9. It also has the obscure name of "Vatharz Posterior" meaning "succeeding one of the waterline". This probably refers to the waterline alongside of what was once referred to as the Argo Navis.

Jupiter (in Libra)
Time: 10:22 PM EST 
Instrument:  Visual 

The constellation Libra was easily located after noticing bright Jupiter also in the same portion of sky. Jupiter was located a little below the imaginary line from β to γ Libra.


Hydrus (Water Snake)
Time: 10:24 PM EST 
S&T Chart Reference: 10, 20 
Instrument:  Visual 

I was looking to see if Achernar had gone below the horizon when I saw a couple of stars at an angle to each other above and to the left of the SMC. SkySafariPro identified the pair as 2 stars of Hydrus.

Stars in Hydrus
- α Hydri: white sub-giant star of mag 2.9
- β Hydri: brightest star n the constellation; yellow sun-like at mag 2.8
- γ Hydri: semi-regular variable red giant at mag 3.26-3.33

Ursa Major
Time: 10:58 PM EST 
S&T Chart Reference: 31, 32, 33, 43, F

Instrument:  Visual + Binoculars 
It was interesting to watch this rise above the horizon upside-down. Initially Dubhe hid behind the branches of the tree but it soon made its appearance. Mizar and Alcor were easily seen with binoculars but they, too, were oriented differently from the northern hemisphere - and only 2° above the horizon.  


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