Date of exercise: 05APR2016
Astronomer: Dakota Clayton
Sky conditions: mostly clear
Wind conditions: Calm
Observation Start Time: 5:00 a.m.
Observation End Time: 6:00 a.m.
This morning I awoke early to try to seize an opportunity at clear skies. Today's skies were much clearer than my previous attempt! I feel as though I have the operation and controls completely mastered at this point. Despite trying all three lenses, the planets I viewed were difficult to make out distinguishing features. I was able to focus them as much as possible, but for example I still could not make out the rings of Saturn. I am hoping that later this week I can get our photographer to come with me so that we can take pictures to share of the skies!
Although the skies are clearer this early in the morning, I am racing against the sunrise. I can try to go to the observatory even earlier, but it will cut severely into my rest.
Dome controls are still sluggish and after the entire hour I viewed the sky, the dome was almost not going to close. I waited approximately ten minutes, and I was able to close the dome however, and I'm looking forward to getting up between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. to continue and check for clear skies. I do not anticipate being able to observe for longer than an hour, if the dome shutter controls continue to act as though they are running out of power (this is indicated by decreased motor speed and change in sound). If we are fortunate in getting clear skies before bed time then we will take advantage of that, as more of the crew will be able to participate.