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I am so glad to have found this board!!!

I've been an amateur astronomer for more than 20 years. I am currently vice-president of the Muncie (IN) Astronomy Club.

To help us get to know each other, I'd like to know what everybody's most memorable observations are--kind of like what S&T is doing with their editors in recent issues. Here are mine:

1. Seeing Mars naked-eye before sunset, 2001

I had read that the Babylonians did this around opposition, and I'd done it with Jupiter and Venus, so last year I tried for Mars. A stretch of a week of clear skies after sunset about 1 month after opposition gave me the chance to memorize where to stand and where to look relative to landmarks, and I gradually spotted it about 10 minutes earlier each day. On the last clear day, about 15 minutes before sunset I went out and started looking. After about 10 minutes I just barely caught it, then sprinted halfway down the block to a place where I could see the sun, to confirm that it hadn't set yet. Success!!! That was my most memorable observation, because of the rarity of it and the planning that went into it.

2. Leonids, 2001

My wife and I drove 4 hours to get out from under dense fog, and were rewarded with about 1000 meteors over a 2 hour period.

3. Uranus in binoculars, 1995

All growing up I had done exclusively naked-eye work, as the inevitable Christmas trash-scope was just that, trash, and I didn't know any better that I could get optical aid that actually did anything. One of my future wife's professors took me out with some 10x50 Nikon binoculars, and we used a star map to find Uranus. After that, I was well and truly hooked!

- Joe
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