Skies and Stars
Saturn (3/13/2015) PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 13 March 2015 07:30

t takes some effort to find these things. Last night, I checked where Saturn would be this morning at 6:30 (preceding the moon). Got up at 6:10. Walked outside - clear with broken clouds and there was the moon. Transported the scope outside, set it up, lined it up, swung it to bear. Over the sight I could see the moon and a bright star off to its right. Lined it up. Lower mag lens (x25 or so) I cast around in that area and suddenly there it was. I could see it, tiny rings and dunish body and all. I was so nailed by this that I looked for about 10 minutes before remembering I had a 60x lens. That brought it up even bigger. She was full on to the sun, the rings back about 20 degrees like a cocked hat. I could see it all. Amazing.

I tracked her for about twenty minutes (pulling away when occasional clouds passed. With the sun coming up, I was starting to lose her so I switched on the filter and hopped to the moon. Scanned around the Sea of Moisture - many craters visible. Of course, I really couldn't go with the new moon map because it was (a) inside (b) somewhere and (c) if I turned on the light to look for it, I'd lose my night vision. So it was VFR for that.

Crossover hobby note: while setting up, I backed out a lens securing screw a little too far and it dropped off. This is most certainly an N-scale model railroading issue - I drop tiny things all the time. Rule one - DO NOT MOVE YOUR FEET! So I carefully stooped and fetched out the red penlight. Scanned around in the grass and found it - whew. Okay, I'm gathering does and don'ts in this new astronomy hobby, and one don't would be: don't ever back screws out of anything without keeping a careful grip on them.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 07:00
Jupiter and M42 (3/8/2014) PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 11 March 2015 07:01

'posed to go out to Geneva Saturday night to get a clear star view. That didn't go so well (heavy clouds). Next night, the computer told me that Io would be shadowing across Jupiter. Took the scope out at 10pm or so but couldn't quite make it out (at 60x). Where is that backordered extender?

While JB and I were running our usual drill around Orion, we did look in on M42 and that area, and caught a neat cluster of stars with a visible nebula around that. At first I thought it was some sort of smudge on my glasses but as I panned the scope, the "smudge" moved with it. Just stood stunned in the eye-piece - a nebula. Amazing. And I could see it, even with all that city light crap cast off of every street and franchise.

Little look ahead - 3/11/2015. Got up at 6am to catch Saturn trailing the moon to the south. Had a spot all picked out. Woke up, went outside, looked up at a solid bank of clouds.



Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 March 2015 07:07
My old buddies (3/1/2015) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 01 March 2015 22:56

ent to Dark Skies (a.k.a. Wet Skies) Saturday, the annual event that got itself pretty much rained out (even when it wasn't raining, the sky was boilerplate). It was a real disappointment - none of the scopes were out, I couldn't find an astronomer to geek with, and about all we got to do was go into a half-dome (canvas) planetarium and watch the pseudo-sky. I rather liked it still - I'm getting better with my constellations and picked Venus off the simulated horizon (heck, I'd looked at it enough over the last few months). Anyway, we looked at all the brave little tents, got some NASA swag, and pretty much came home at 7:30.

Was more hopeful tonight. Big nearly full moon with Jupiter trailing. Tried my second telescope improvement - replacing the bottom-installed wingnuts that secured the tripod tray with drop down stainless steel screws. Worked just fine and make setup a lot easier. Already, this Orion scope is becoming mine - I've been modifying it for my own needs.

Anyway, set up after dinner and caught the moon and Jupiter clearing the pine. Jupiter was its cool banded-and-mooned self (can't wait until I get my scope extender to double my magnification). This should be sharp. Then JB and I took turns on the Moon. I can identify Tycho and Copernicus craters, and the Mare Crisium (my favorite lava sea). The craters were oddly magnificent - for a full-on sun reflection, they seemed to glow - JB said they looked like portholes. Just amazing.

We left the scope to go inside and watch the final episode of Downton Abbey. Figured I'd come out afterwards and have a look. When I did, a rude shock - the lawn chair was wet with beaded water. So was the scope. Turns out it had been misting for a full 90 minutes while I was away. The moon floated in misty silk, fine, but I had a wet telescope to set right. Fortunately, thank heavens above, I'm smart enough to replace all the caps when I leave it. Broke it down and brought it in, wiping it carefully dry. And Jane unloaded the tackle box and dried and set out everything - I don't want the tools to rust. So, a little panic but no hurt. We're good.

Damn, I still wanted to go more lunar tonight. Maybe in a few evenings.


Last Updated on Sunday, 01 March 2015 23:16
New peeper (2/20/2015) PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 20 February 2015 22:04

ot the new Orion 120ST scope the other day. Decided after a glum start of the day at work that I'd had enough. Came home and worked out assembling the scope with JB. The instructions were a little crazy (hey, if you are going to name something, show a picture, puleeze!). But otherwise, it wasn't too hard. We had it together soon enough.

My sister pointed out that there was an event tonight, a moment when the moon, Venus and Mars would all be lined up in a tight cluster. Set up the tripod while it was still light, then mounted the tube as it grew dark (and cold). Just after sundown the show started. We got the spottter tube lined up and then we hopped between the crescent moon and the two planets, scoping them out and trying the different eyepieces. It was really cool and I was grooving on the moon.

Managed to shift to another part of the yard where we caught Jupiter in ascension - could see three moons nice and pretty. Checked out Orion's belt and scanned about the milky way for a bit. The thing is, it was getting cold and we hadn't eaten, but it was quite a show.

Next up, the Dark Skies Festival and then, maybe Bob Martin's place out in the country for some real star watching...!


Last Updated on Friday, 20 February 2015 22:16

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