moderated Mostly Astronomical Notes About The 1/17/2020 Owl Prowl

Frank Vanslager


Near the start of Friday afternoon's owl walk, I think it was Mike Mammoser who reported to Eve Meier that a Ferruginous Hawk was currently visible in a pine tree right near the Palm Ave/Santa Teresa corner.  From that information I was able to spot the pine tree, and noticed a white dot with my 10-power Binos.  When I moved the Questar off the image-degrading, slightly-warm asphalt, and got the Questar set to my focus at 100-power, I was certain that I was looking at Mike's Ferruginous Hawk, a good fraction of a mile away!  A side view of the head showed the mostly light color of the light-phase bird, and the belly band was too low and too thin for a Red-tail.

During the walk I did hear the sudden shriek overhead of the Barn Owl.  Others, I think, also heard a number of distant calls.  I also had some good views of the 80% illuminated planet Venus to the west, with the dark edge up.

At the conclusion in the parking lot, the constellation of Orion was clearly visible.  The Hunter was mostly on his side, with 3 bright stars marking his belt, and 3 fuzzy spots showing his sword hanging down to the south.  With the Questar at 100-power I had a good view of the nebulosity in the middle spot, and could make out all 4 stars of the Trapezium (a squashed rectangle).  I only showed it to one other interested viewer because I've learned that in the dark, with the pupils of their eyes much larger than normal, most people have a difficult time getting their eye position located correctly, and they see nothing.

Frank Vanslager