Skies and Stars
Pleiades (11/16/2015) PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 16 November 2015 22:24

ith a braced telescope, I finally got a good look at the Pleiades (or M45), the closest cluster to us (at a mere 445 light years out). It was amazing - a set of hot binaries burning blue, and a number of other stars in a more orange range. I didn't see the nebula that is supposed to be around them but I'll probably be able to see it with the scope in a few evenings.

Also lowered the brace and picked up Orion coming over the horizon, making out its nebula (one of my favorite sights).

Its amazing - this is my second Messier object, and I found it without trying too hard with the binocs. But I gotta say that the brace really helps - just sat in my chair with the nocks braced against the inside of my knee and it worked just fine.

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Last Updated on Monday, 16 November 2015 22:29
 
Summer Triangle (11/6/2015) PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 07 November 2015 11:02

as over at Leu Gardens (our local botanical garden) Friday night. It was outdoor movie night and we were there to see Double Indemnity, a great flick that will keep you from ever watching My Three Sons the same way again. Oh, and it's got Southern Pacific trains in it.

Regardless, tonight (Saturday) is supposed to be the star gazing night of the weekend (over at a gun range with the astronomy club) but I got a little in before the movie. See, we were sitting in a row, two couples, with the wives snittering in the middle. That left me on the end, leaned back. looking up. And there it was - the Summer Triangle.

I'd looked and looked for that earlier this year and finally picked it out. And that's the funny thing about naked eye, unguided astronomy. Once you finally spot a constellation and make it yours by memory, you can always find it. And the Summer Triangle, with Deneb (my favorite), Altair and Vega, is easy to spot.

Later, as Fred MacMurray embraced Barbara Stanwyck close (so he could put two into her), I looked up and saw Cassiopeia. Nice to see some old friends up in the downtown glare.

Bang bang! Sorry, Barbara.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 07 November 2015 11:14
 
Moon and Scorpion (9/20/2015) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 20 September 2015 21:08

asn't intending on going star gazing tonight but the sky was so clear (after the Mordor clouds we've had for weeks) that I figured I needed to get the dust off the scope. Did some moon-looking (of course, she's up and showing half her face) - nice shots of some of the craters along the Apennines Range (where my heroes Tubitz and Mergenstein are currently at, if I'd ever get off my can and start writing again). Found a line of craters with their central peaks clearly defined, their central shadows forming clock-hands that must have been stretching for miles.

Also looked around the Summer Triangle, trying to spot anything I could. Outside of the big three, I'm still having problems locating anything with my refractor/equatorial. I might have found M52 (the Scorpion cluster) but I'm certainly not putting money on it. It was a dense collection of stars, far more than what was around it, so I'm hoping that's what I saw. Since I've learned to spot Cassiopeia now, maybe I can look when I've got a little more time and see what I find.

Anyway, fun night. Supermoon/eclipse coming up end of this week. I'll report in.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 04 December 2016 00:04
 
Moon and Vega (8/27/2015) PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 28 August 2015 07:58

he reason I haven’t posted anything to this thread is because we’ve had no viewing nights all summer. Rain. Clouds. Haze. Even the Perseid meteor shower – we saw three falls through a cloud “keyhole”. Bah!

Last night, I’d checked the sky earlier and saw the moon through a silken veil of haze – bah again! But while on the phone with a buddy at 10pm, I stepped out on the back porch and saw, to my amazement – EVERYTHING! Clear as a bell. I hadn’t had a night like this in months. I finished the phone call while shifting the tripod onto the back grass (ever cradle a phone under your chin while leveling a tripod – tricky). Anyway, locked everything together, swung the scope around, and did some mooning.

Now, this isn’t my picture. But at 120X, I could see the Sea of Crisis at a just about this size. Found my fab Tycho and oogled the crater’s central knob – 1.6 klics in height. Saw a couple of rilles – these are trenches that cross the moon; never gotten a look at them. Then I started to “moonwalk”, which I do by aiming at the leading edge of the moon and then watching as it slowly slides across my view. It takes, I dunno, five minutes or so, but I get some shake-free viewing. Wow.

Next up – Vega. I’ve been trying to look at this since early summer; there is a cluster near it I’ve been wanting to look for. Got Vega easy enough but really couldn’t find the cluster. I did look at a lot of stars and found the peace that simple gazing gives me. I hopped between lenses a couple of times, looking close or backing up to get a nice view of the milky way.

Later, with the binocs and my star wheel, I actually (and finally) figured out the Southern Triangle. I’ve never been able to identify it (even though it’s very distinctive). In this, it’s like Orion – once you see it, you’ll know it on sight. With a completely clear sky (okay, Moon, that’s enough. You can shut of your albedo now), I could trace it easy. Vega, of course, I knew. But there was Deneb and there was Altair, clearly defined.

I saw on the Stary Sky program (after I’d locked up for the night) that there is a nebula some 1600LY out and somewhere near Deneb. I’m going to have to check that out.

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Last Updated on Friday, 28 August 2015 08:06
 
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