have an opinion?
I have a question about the old 26-inch refractor, for a book I'm writing for
Various references confirm that Asaph Hall discovered the Martian moon Phobos
at 16:06 local time, 18 August 1877. My query is how could he possibly see
such a dim speck, 12th magnitude, against a daytime sky? Even with legendary
I've actually looked through the 26-inch at dusk, about a half-century ago.
In the fifties and early sixties I was a teenager who belonged to the National
Capital Astronomers, and we were allowed to use the excellent Clark five-inch
refractor that was just down the hill from the 26-inch. On a few occasions,
the astronomers using the 26-inch let us come up before the sky was dark and
glimpse the moon and planets. I strongly recall Saturn at about 500X, shimmering
in the pale blue twilight.
I suppose I should just accept the date and time. But the memory of that sight,
slightly after sunset, makes me wonder. Could the time that Google offers be
a typographical error that, through obscurity, has propagated over decades?
Not very likely, I'm sure. But the odd fact is that I will be describing that
moment in the novel, Phobos Means Fear, which mostly takes place in the future,
but does have a flashback to Asaph and Stickney Hall. It's rather important
that I know whether the observation was made in the daytime.
Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.