Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby Puddleglum » Oct 24, 2014 6:51 pm

actually did the pin hole, with a magnifying lens, stargazer. Unfortunatly it was a rather small projection, so not very "awesome" as some humans say (-|
I recall reading about the tree leafs trick. If I am about, and my memory has not faded, I shall have to try it.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Oct 25, 2014 12:51 pm

Glad you were able to see the eclipse, Puddleglum. Here is a photo submitted to spaceweather showing the leaf trick.

I had a good view of the eclipse - though some mosquitoes (in late October!!) crashed the party. There is a huge sunspot group near the center of the sun that was very prominent even to the unaided eye.

Here is an amusing picture of someone's cat not at all interested in the eclipse projected on a nearby wall.

Last night I had the pleasure of showing a dark sky to some friends and their two teenage nephews who were eager to see what was up there. We arrived at the park around sunset and started the campfire. The clouds slowly dissipated until we could see the Milky Way and quite a few of the dimmer stars. We enjoyed S'mores and a nice view of the ISS before calling it a night at about 10 pm (the time the park closed for day use).
But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby Puddleglum » Nov 06, 2014 9:33 pm

Out, and about with the Mrs. tonight. we had just left a fine meal at a local establishment when we look up to see the moon in all it's reflective glory shining through a gap in the clouds.
OH for something other than a cell phone to take pictures with! X(
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Jan 13, 2015 11:09 am

There are two astronomical events of interest this week.

The first is an easy viewing opportunity for normally-elusive Mercury, which always stays near the sun from our vantage point here on earth. Right now it is close to bright Venus and easily visible about 45 minutes after sunset.

The only problem is that Venus is fairly low in the southwest from mid-northern latitudes, so the planets are easily hidden by trees or buildings. The trick is to look long enough after sunset to allow Mercury to be seen, but before it sinks behind obstacles in the foreground. The farther south you live, the higher the planets will be.

Comet Lovejoy shines at about magnitude 4, which means it's a binocular object for city dwellers or a naked-eye object for those with dark skies - though you'll need to know exactly where to look to distinguish it from ordinary stars. It's rapidly moving toward the north, west of Orion and Taurus.

More information about both of these events, including diagrams and finder charts, can be found here.

Mercury was easy last night, but windchills approaching -30F put a damper on watching it or looking for the comet. For some reason I was reminded of standing out in the January cold 41 years ago trying to find the 'comet of the century,' Kohoutek, which was something of a dud. But Lovejoy is behaving pretty much as expected and should provide a nice view.
But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby johobbit » Jan 14, 2015 12:00 pm

What a gorgeous effect that leaf trick has, wow! And glad you both were able to see the eclipse, friend Wiggle and stargazer. :)

I am way late in posting in here, but that sunspot group last October was so cool to see (through the eclipse glasses, I hasten to add ;) ).

;)) Fun cat/eclipse pic, 'gazer. ;))

*loves reading about the various special night sky events in people's lives* (*) Everyone one that you two have described above is so evocative.

It is very cold here now, so I bundled up and went out just after the sun had set to view Venus and Mercury, and what a sight that was. Here are a few photos (3), after which are my partial solar eclipse pics from back in the autumn (10), including the resulting sunset, which was glorious, especially spread across the vastness of rolling farmers' fields. :x There are more pics after the eclipse, and while you are welcome to look through them, they were from earlier years. (Many of the more delicate (ball of sun!) eclipse photos were through eclipse glasses, just for the record. No hobbits' eyes were harmed in the shooting of these pics. ;)) )

While I did spot Comet Lovejoy last night through my binoculars, I found it a greater challenge. Maybe largely because its tail can be quite dim, and, for me, that's a mighty distinguishing feature. ;) Anyway, lining up all the starry info from skyandtelescope, I pinpointed the location, and there it was ... such a fuzzball. ;)) I think I also saw it with my naked eye, but thought it would be more obvious since we live in the country now. Anyway, it was such a cold night, but these were two beautiful events I will not soon forget. :)

/edited
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Jan 16, 2015 3:09 pm

Nice pictures, jo! They made for an enjoyable addition to your stargazing account.

I was out of the big city for the past few days, which would aid in the viewing of Comet Lovejoy, but the weather wasn't very cooperative. Either it was clear but cold and windy (the low Monday morning was -15F/-26C with windchills pushing -35) or it was warmer but cloudy. Typical winter fare in this part of the world.

But last night was clear and relatively warm (about 25F/-4C) and clear (except for some haze and fog from snow melt earlier in the day). I waited until the comet wasn't so high in the sky (around 11:30pm) before venturing out. Using the same online star chart jo mentioned, I found the comet fairly easily in binoculars. I was a little surprised, in fact, at how easy it was given the haze and local lighting. A naked-eye observation was not in the cards, however, but I enjoyed seeing this fuzzball, the first comet I've seen since 2009.
But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby Puddleglum » Jan 17, 2015 9:47 pm

johobbit. I enjoyed seeing the pictures. Wish I had the chance to take some myself, but I was on the road at the time, and would have probably had some pics of the ditch as well.
I was wondering if anyone has advice on taking photos of planets, or comets with a digital camera. Everything I have tried is a dismal failure.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby fantasia » Jan 19, 2015 5:29 pm

We had quite the time with the comet this weekend. :P We managed to locate it with our telescope Friday night. I was surprised at how incredibly hard it was to find. Really impressed you could see it even with binoculars Jo.
Saturday night I didn't go out and look. My husband and his brother were out trying to figure out how to take some pictures of it (with no success). And then Sunday night we tried finding it again for my parents to see but we absolutely could not locate it. (They checked out Mars, Jupiter, and the Orion Nebula instead.)
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby johobbit » Jan 19, 2015 6:19 pm

Great about seeing the comet, stargazer and fantasia! :D

fantasia wrote:(They checked out Mars, Jupiter, and the Orion Nebula instead.)

Still pretty special! :-j (*)

'gazer wrote:I waited until the comet wasn't so high in the sky (around 11:30pm)

That was probably wise: my neck got cricks in it from being bent back for so long. ;))

Friend Wiggle, I know 'diddly-squat' about taking photos of planets and comets. But I wish I was knowledgeable in this area!

My first Lovejoy viewing last week was more of a challenge than Saturday night, when it seemed easier to spot. Maybe it was because of the Pleiades' proximity, or possibly because the evening wasn't nearly as cold so I could last longer out-of-doors at one time, but something 'clicked' and there it was, quite prominent through the binoculars. It was hard to come inside, as the sky was so stunning, overall. For some reason, the comet seemed even a lot more fuzzball-y than the other night. ;)) Clouds reign this week, so viewing is out of the question.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Jan 25, 2015 12:32 pm

Clouds reigned here as well, jo, for a week after my first sighting. With more clouds in the forecast, the return of the moon to the evening sky, and my return to the city with its lights, I wasn't sure I'd see Lovejoy again.

I was surprised Friday evening when the clouds cleared at dusk (not in the forecast!). I was visiting friends and around 11.30 we went to their backyard for comet viewing. It took a few minutes to find it due to the brighter sky and dimmer comet, but the online finder charts were invaluable and we were fortunate to enjoy another view.

About 10 minutes later there was a beautiful magnitude -5 fireball in the northwest, glowing blue-green as it traveled toward the horizon. Spectacular!
But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby fantasia » Jan 27, 2015 7:15 pm

Did anybody follow the news on the asteroid last night? Or try to view it? My husband was out for quite a while with his telescope, but was unable to spot it.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Jan 28, 2015 3:00 pm

Sorry he couldn't spot it! Clouds here prevented any observations. It was interesting to find out that apparently that little asteroid has a moon of its own.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby johobbit » Jan 28, 2015 5:50 pm

So glad you were able to view Lovejoy again, stargazer. :) And I love unexpected celestial events, such as that bright fireball. What a very cool sight that would have been. Did others see it besides you, or by the time you called out for them to look, was it already gone?

Yeah, too bad Tom didn't spot it. Aside from today, we have had cloudy skies, so at my end we missed it. Of course, if it were clear, our youngest son is the one who is proficient with the telescope (I have yet to learn :p), and he is at university, so we may have had trouble spotting it even if the skies were clear.

Here is an interesting article about the asteroid. /sharing after the fact ymwhisle

/edit on Thursday/ ...
skyand telescope just posted a "Bright Comet Prospects for 2015" article. Looks like some good observing ahead. (*) Make you sure you have a decent pair of binoculars for those dark skies (they recommend 7 x 50). :)
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby fantasia » Jan 29, 2015 10:42 am

I posted this on my FB page but I wanted to post it here too because it's just so unbelievably amazing, it's definitely worth sharing. :)



Makes me feel very, very small. ;))
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby johobbit » Jan 29, 2015 11:00 am

That is simply jaw-dropping incredible, fantasia. Wow!!! (to put it mildly ;))) Yes, watching this makes one feel very, very tiny indeed. May I just say again that the heavens sure do declare the glory of God over and over and over again (ad infinitum)!

We have lots of clouds coming up over the next week, so no stargazing for me here for at least a few days yet.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Jan 29, 2015 10:58 pm

And I love unexpected celestial events, such as that bright fireball. What a very cool sight that would have been. Did others see it besides you, or by the time you called out for them to look, was it already gone?


That part is kind of funny. As it blazed through the sky all I could say was "Whoa! Whoa!" ;)) One of the two guys I was with turned in time to see its end but the other did not.

Skies have cleared here but Lovejoy would be quite a challenge, due to a big round bright thing in the area (the moon), the city lights, the comet being very high, and temperatures falling back below 0F/-17C. Clouds will return over the weekend, maybe even bringing snow.
But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.
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