M51 & Lulu
Clear dark skies were forecast for Monday night, though it didn't look very promising early on as the sky was thinly overcast. At 10pm, after 24, I took another look out the back door and saw Jupiter. Locked up the cats, dimmed the lights and grabbed the binocs.
With my Messier target list fresh in my head, I set out for the first object that came to mind - M51 - by scanning between Alkaid and Cor Caroli (alpha Canes Venatici). After a few passes I was able to see a faint glow near a triangle of 7th mag stars. Checking Sky Atlas 2000 and Starry Night Pro confirmed the position, thus I am pleased to report that M51 is still where it's supposed to be.
Now, M51 isn't much to look at through hand-held 10x50 binoculars, but the fact that I could find the bitch without too much trouble is a good indication that my starhopping skills are improving, despite my being spoiled by Go-To mounts and digital setting circles.
Unrelated to deep sky observing, Miss Lulu came by to see me; it looks like she made it through the winter OK. I brought her some food and water, but she was more interested in getting some lovin' than eating. I went back in to look at the charts, and she was gone when I went back out.