Constellations: Circinus, Crux, Triangulum Australe
Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC)
Herschel's Jewel Box/NGC 4755
Planet: Jupiter (in Libra)

Location: Laguna Lejia, Chile
Date: 2018-04-13
Time: 7:00 PM - 12:00 AM EST
Instrument: Visual
Transparency: Beyond Excellent (5+)
Seeing: Beyond Excellent (5+)

A group of us in 3 cars headed out for the high Andes at 3 PM – me, Jerry, Melody, Charline, Dave, Fred, Malcolm Park, Greg Merrick and Rajeev Gupta.

Went south past Toconao then turned inland to Talabre Viejo where the paved road became a dirt road, with the road edge ‘curbs’ formed by the sands ploughed up providing guidance there and especially on the return in the dark. The we started the climb the wind-blown virtually smooth hillside. There were several stops for sight-seeing – volcanoes Simba & Pili and Láscar (most active volcano in Chile), and Cerro Tumisa. Láscar was especially interesting with its numerous craters.

We tried to climb the cone of a known crater in the area, but the gas engine cars couldn’t handle the combined altitude and incline, then there it was as we came over the crest of a hill – Laguna Leija! Elevation: 14,117 ft / 4,303 m ASL.

Salt-crusted shorelines surrounded the lake and the cloud-covered Argentine Andes way off in the distance provided a lightning show later in the evening over the Argentinian border but no thunder due to distance away or lower O2 at that altitude. Maybe both.

And was it ever COLD!! With the high-Andean winds and a big temperature drop, every piece of winter gear was necessary. The lee of the cars provided some protection. The Milky Way above the mountains with the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) with their reflections in the waters of Leija were breath-taking! No twinkling at this elevation! Stars were like small diamonds – so bright and so clearly defined. Left us speechless as we took in yet another “oh, wow” moment. 

Circinus, Crux & Triangulum Australe
Time: not recorded
S&T Chart Reference: 48, 50
Instrument: Visual
I located Crux and showed Melody and Charline how to find Circinus and Triangulum Australe. With the stars being so clearly seen no matte where you looked, it was an easy exercise to complete - and then duck down behind the car to get out of the wind!

Jupiter (in Libra)
Time: not recorded
Instrument: Visual
I located Libra and noted the location of Jupiter just below the imaginary line between α Librae and γ Librae. It had moved sightly closer to that line compared t0 the night before. 

Herschel's Jewel Box / NGC 4755
Time: not recorded
S&T Chart Reference: 48, 50
Instrument: Visual
Having found Crux and the Coalsack Nebula, it was very easy to visually locate and identify the Jewel Box. Such a beautiful bright entity.

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