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Old 03-06-2011, 10:04 PM   #31
JEL
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Yes, the sky really does look beautiful. I agree whole-heartedly with you on that. But turning all that into captivating words that get the beauty across to the reader (especially if it's someone living in light-rich cities/areas with little or no real night-sky watching experience) is not always so easy. But you do it great. In fact I've just invested in a spotting scope myself because I'm so fascinated with the threads/pictures/talk about the night-sky going on here in this part of the forum (and many of your pictures in particular, including the amazing earth-scenery shots you have. You got a good eye for that). I'm still waiting for my T-adaptor for my camera though, but when I get that I hope to be able to get some pictures that would get me closer to participation in the art-form of sky-capture (I've only done video of the sky so far, with a normal handycam (like when I accidentally got a shot of a sun-spot last year through clouds), but not actual photos with larger lenses and better equipment (well, actually I once got a photo of mercury reflected on a piece of cardboard through a pair of handheld binoculars as it moved across the sun some years ago, I think technically it would be called a Mercury eclipse or sun eclipse by Mercury. That was not a telescope picture though, but very interesting for me to do none the less)). If I get some good stuff out of the spotting scope I might eventually go all the way and get myself a telescope and equitorial mount and computer-control and the whole package (step by step ofcourse, it's all very expensive).
I guess it's your passion that shines through when you post on these issues, and I'm certainly enjoying it and I learn a lot from the talk about telescopes that you and others have here
Well, I hope I'll have some pictures to post myself soon.
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Old 05-05-2011, 03:46 AM   #32
fireballs619
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May 4th, 2011


Sights
Castor
Pollux
Polaris
Saturn

The clouds were finally sparse enough tonight to finally get out with my telescope, so that is what I did. Being my first time out, I didn't really know what I was doing, so I went out arounf 20:30 local time, which I had deemed to be dark enough. First order of business was to align my telescope (Nexstar 130 SLT), so I spotted a bright star through the finderscope. Unfortunately, my finderscope wasn't quite lined up with what I was seeing through the eye piece, so I spent the better part of the next 30 minutes sighting the star through the eyepiece, and adjusting the finderscope.

Once I got that sorted out, I tried the alignment program on the telescope by sighting three stars and calibrating, but that failed twice. I proceeded to turn west and look at what I knew to be Castor, and used that and two others in the alignment. Once aligned, I had the telescope turn towards Saturn, which was just visible over my house. I was completely blown away by the clarity of the image, even with the low power eyepieces that I was using. I think (possibly) I even saw one of Saturn's moons in transit, although the detail wasn't quite enough to be sure. I spent a good 15 minutes looking at Saturn before I decided to turn to Polaris, just for the sake of doing so. As it was, the cloud cover got denser as I was viewing Polaris, so I had to call it quits for th e night.

All in all, it was a good night for stargazing, despite some technical difficulties early on. I'm hoping the rest of the week is clear enough to go out, although the forecast is not looking friendly.
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Old 05-20-2011, 06:49 AM   #33
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It has been a while since I got the scope out I eventually managed it last week. The Moon was very bright and there was a reasonable amount of light pollution so I decided to forego trying to finding anything further away than the Moon:
Date: 2011-05-12
Time: Approx 1900 2000 +1000
Sun Altitude: approx -30
Target: Moon
Longitude of terminator: approx. -25 (65 % illumination)
Notes:
There was good low sun illumination of the mare ridges on Mare Ibrium in the vicinity of crater Lambert. The floor of crater Copernicus was approximately half shadowed and the central peak was readily visible near edge of the shadow on the floor. There were good views of craters Bullialdus, Bullialdus A, Bullialdus B, and Konig but the shadows were too deep to observe any central peak. The south polar region was looking particular rough and craters of note were Wilhelm, Tycho, Longomontanus, and Clavius.
And the other morning I got up to view the early morning conjunction:
Date: 2011-05-18
Time: Approx 0600 +1000
Sun Altitude: -9
Targets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Juptier
Notes:
Mercury, Venus and Jupiter were readily visible in an approximate right angle triangle with Venus and Mercury at the base 1-2 apart and Jupiter above about 5 away. Mars was just barely visible through the twilight about 3 below Venus and it quickly became indiscernible. Next conjunction is Venus/Mars on 2011-05-24 at 1 separation.
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Old 08-27-2011, 08:20 PM   #34
fireballs619
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August 26, 2011- 22:30-0:00

Sights
Jupiter and Galilean moons
M31

I had a chance to go out to my secondary viewing site yesterday, which is about 45 minutes to an hour away. Being this far, the sky is a lot darker than it usually is when I view, and thus I took the opportunity to try to catch a sight of some DSOs.

I initially set up and intended to try to spot M109, since it is a relatively easy one to find. Once I noticed Jupiter was high enough to get a good view, however, I quickly forgot about M109 . I'd never seen Jupiter through a telescope before, so it was quite an exciting event. Even better, I had just gotten my new lenses, so I went wild with viewing. I got the best size/clarity tradeoff with the 6 mm, with which I was able to see the bands of gas on the planets, as well as the four Galilean moons. Since I wasn't able to take pictures, here's a drawing of what I saw



Of course, this is a mirror image of what it would actually be, due to me having a reflector scope. I've identified the moons to the best of my knowledge, but I was a bit thrown off by the object labeled '?'. That's about it's relative location to the others, but it was much dimmer. Perhaps a background star? Or a different moon? Any help on that point?

After looking at Jupiter with a plethora of different lenses and filters, I finally turned towards M31, which was initially hard to find. Once I did find it, however, it was well worth the search. It was clearly a galaxy, as evidenced by it's fuzzy blob like appearance in comparison to surrounding stars. I tried out different magnifications while looking at it, but I found that my 32mm lens gave the best image. The other higher power ones made the image almost too faint to discern.

By that time, it was nearing 0:00 hours, so I called it quits and headed back home, and then slept in very late
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Old 08-27-2011, 10:34 PM   #35
george7378
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I have been observing as normal for the last months, but for some reason didn't write up reports! Anyway, I have started again, and here's one for the

27th August 2011, 20:40 - 23:10

I started by rushing outside to see the ISS after sunset. The sky was still quite cloudy at this time, and I first spotted it coming out of the yellow evening sky at mag. -2.7. I watched it cross over the roof and the trees, until it peaked in the velvet blue area of the sky which was already showing some bright stars. It faded as it slowly approached the horizon.

After this, I got the scope out as the skies were starting to clear up. When I was set up, I sat down and aimed the scope at the lovely compact constellation of Sagitta, and didn't have to look twice to see the Comet Garradd, which showed easily, even in the evening sky. I was pleased to see that the comet was sitting next to a compact little cluster of stars (I don't think it has a designation - I'll call it Garradd's Cluster) which proved a fantastic aid to tracking its movements as the night got darker and darker. It was practically on top of a dim star, which the nucleus and round coma seemed to glide past. At the end of the night when the clouds rolled in again, it was practically on top of 'Garradd's Cluster' giving the impression that it was a nebulous open cluster. I can't wait for it to fly past the Coathanger Cluster later on! This is the third time I've seen the comet.

I've explored Sagitta quite a lot, and I was suprised to come across the globular cluster M71, which I had missed all the other times! It is quite dim, and I thought that it looked more like an open cluster. It showed individual stars through the 10" scope, but I couldn't really tell the core from the halo. Glad to have finally seen this cluster before it slipped away for another year!

I couldn't miss out the Dumbbell Nebula while I was there, and I could even see it as a comet-like circular patch of light through the finderscope. It was beautiful and bright through the scope, showing off its familiar apple-core shape nicely. I could see the main shape of the nebula, and some lobes of secondary nebulosity protruding from the 'bitten' areas of the apple. When the nebula looks this bright and clear, it makes me wonder why there isn't any of that lovely colour visible!

I also couldn't resist swinging round to M31, which was easily visible to the naked eye. Its familiar shape, along with the bright egg-shaped satellite galaxy closest to it, stood out like a dream - the light from 400 billion stars hitting my eye all at once while I just sat still in the quiet garden made me feel quite special. Seeing the two delicate dust lanes of the galaxy, and then looking up to see the massive Cygnus Rift stretching over my head reminded me that our home would look very similar from out there.

Finally, I saw something I never would have thought that I would be able to see outside of astro-photos. I explored the regions around Cygnus' wings, and came across the little river of light I later found out was the Veil Nebula - a colourful band in the many photos that have been taken of it. It was very delicate and beautiful - it just looked like a silky lake of light acrhing right across the view - I looked at it from all angles for a while, and saw that I could even pick out some horizontal mottling in the stream - just like in the photos! I feel like a better astronomer for bagging this more advanced nebula with my own eyes, and I will DEFINITELY be coming back to see that supernova remnant again!

I saw some bright meteors too, one of which left a bright ion trail. A few satellites flared and flashed too.

Thanks for reading!
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Old 06-07-2014, 11:37 PM   #36
DanM
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I went out for an ISS pass last night. Not a very bright one, only -1.4. Then I got out my telescope and viewed Jupiter, the Moon, Mars and Saturn.

The Moon was especially nice, I was able to see so many of the features because of the shadows.
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Old 06-08-2014, 12:12 AM   #37
SolarLiner
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Got the telescope out for the first time since years (almost forgot I already had one), after sunset. Mostly targeted the Moon where I took some pics, but was able to see Mars, but only as a dot. (My telescope is a very basic one, no automatic targeting, autocorrection for Earth rotation, just a visor and the mirrors; so I was not able to precisely aim for it and change optics).
There was wind too, and that had its impact on the telescope which made everything shake inside, even with small speeds (> 1 m/s). But, I saw a red pea, and that made my night.

I missed these observations with it. Might take a new one if Life(tm) and Chance(tm) is with me.
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Old 06-08-2014, 09:58 PM   #38
kamaz
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Very nice Saturn tonight, although only Titan is visible due to moonlight.
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Old 06-09-2014, 09:47 AM   #39
SolarLiner
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Saw Saturn and its rings for the first time since years yesterday. I'm sure I was even more excited than I remember
But yeah, although she was tiny, you could clearly see the space between the planet and the rings, but the rings appeared kind of "united" together, I couldn't differentiate any of the Rings.
I tried switching to a bigger magnification, but the clouds in the way resulted of Saturn being blurred.

I saw Mars too. I mean, a little red pea that seemed to have white on the South pole, but I couldn't zoom more because of the same clouds (I'd say 7/10 on the weather).
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Old 06-09-2014, 10:12 PM   #40
kamaz
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Somehow, both Titan and Rhea are visible today for me, despite slightly worse weather than yesterday.
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