There are few solitary late night hobbies more accessible and humbling than watching the heavens. The beginner needs nothing more than clear weather and a notebook, while there are a plethora of gadgets and tools for the enthusiast. The newbie can take his time to learn the constellations and positions of the stars with only a free printed map and his hand to take accurate measurements. The veteran can hunt for faint clusters and galaxies.
There was a field trip on the Friday before last to a local observatory. We briefly observed Saturn through a refractor, but it was awfully hurried due to the crowd so I didn't get an especially good look or get to ask any questions about the equipment. Saturn's rings will be approaching maximum tilt for the next year, so they were declined by what I would estimate is 40 degrees. The seeing was total garbage: Saturn wavered and shimmered in the atmosphere, blurring the image substantially. The magnification was somewhere north of 200x
Sorry, friend. I haven't stopped observing but I have been very lazy about keeping logs.
I received the planetary eyepiece and an "upgraded" finder this weekend. Briefly took the new stuff out and found that I'm not a tremendous fan of the Celestron Starpointer Pro. Using circles instead of a dot allows me to see the target, but head placement means the view varies. I'm on the fence about returning it and going back to a red dot finder.
Astronomy would be a lot easier if you could do it from inside. Many nights it gets too cold to go out and gaze at the stars, especially during winter. That makes Percival Lowell a sad panda.
It isn't too bad if you're well prepared. I usually start by picking out 5-10 targets that'll be high enough in the sky at whatever time I plan to go out. Since I snowboard, I have enough kit in the form of wool socks, thermal underwear, and gloves that allow finer dexterity than most. Definitely doable for an hour or so
Checked out the super moon this past Sunday. The actual full moon was Monday, but lunar features are more pronounced when there's some shadowing. The ridges on the western limb near the terminator were majestic, though the seeing was at best 3/5.