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 Starry Starry Night
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R Parks
 Sunday, December 05 2004 @ 02:02 am EST (Read 5746 times)  
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Big Grin
I sure hope that everyone got a chance to do some observing tonight! It was exceptionally clear until some clouds rolled in about midnight. Of course it was cold, but it was worth it! Saturn was very nice to look at and it was at a nice angle in the sky (not too much strain on my back bending over). Orion’s nebula was stunning. It was the largest that I had ever seen. It completely filled the view of my largest eyepiece. It was also distinctly green, even without a filter.

Here’s a top ten list of things that I learned tonight. Enjoy!

10. Don’t set up your telescope where your neighbor’s dog can see you or it will bark at you the whole time that you are observing.
9. Some time last year I must have bought a new winter coat during the winter clearance sales. I found a new caot in my closet while I was looking for my gloves. It still had the price tags on it!
8. A family of spiders in now living in the tube of my dobsonian.
7. I can’t remember my own cell phone number but I can remember every detail of the first time that I saw Saturn through a telescope…..can you?
6. My new coat is very warm, but has anyone seen my gloves?
5. You can find M41, a pretty little open cluster near Sirus, with binoculars if you know what to look for.
4. My telescope seems to weigh more now than the last time I used it……could it be all the spiders?
3. I left my red light in the “on” position the last time I used it so now I need to get a new battery!
2. The number of cool things I can find in the sky is inversely proportional to the number of people around to show them to. (think about it)
1. I will never get tired of looking at Saturn!

Please post your own list of things that you have learned about observing in the winter. I hope to see all of you at the Christmas party!

Roberta


R Parks Alma, AR USA
 
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bobmoody
 Monday, December 06 2004 @ 12:36 pm EST  
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Laughing Out Loud Another great post, Roberta. I've experienced every one of those at one time or another. I had guests here at the observatory on Friday evening and we all enjoyed Saturn, too.

I could see 5 of Saturn's moons, and Titan was directly away from the long axis of the rings about two ring-widths to the lower-left side of Saturn. By the time you saw it on Sunday, it should have been almost directly beneath the planet in your eyepiece. Although they were difficult to see, the other moons of Saturn were nicely scattered around the planet and fairly evenly spaced; tiny, tiny little star-like points of light. Most of the guests were able to see all but the dimmest of these.

We all enjoyed Orion's Nebula, too. I could detect a tinge of reddish-purple around the "greenish" central area where the Trapezium resides. Of course that was due to aperture; more area of glass yeilds more of those faint colors. But I could also see the two faintest stars involved with the four main stars of the Trapezium, too. Next time you see M-42, look VERY carefully at the Trapezium. Averted vision is required, but see if you can make out tiny little companions, extremely close to two of those four stars.

My winter observing requires me to use my charts. I guess that comes from seeing the summer sights more frequently than the winter ones. I can remember where probably two dozen or more summer objects are, but I can easily find only a handful of objects in the winter skies from memory. Thank goodness for the "Sky Atlas 2000".

Try finding this object the next time you're out. In the same general area of Sirius and Procyon (the two alpha stars of Canis Major and Canis Minor) is the open cluster M-46 in Puppis. It's a really nice open cluster, but there's something lurking inside its 100 or so stars. Careful examination will show you a Planetary Nebula, a little "smoke ring", embedded within the cluster. It's a bit of a challenge, but it's worth the effort. M-47 is close by, too.

Saturn reaches opposition on January 16, when it rises at the same time as the Sun sets. It is therefore directly "opposite" of the Sun and that's where the term comes from. This makes Saturn visible to everyone over the whole course of the night, and it crosses the meridian directly overhead at midnight. This is when Saturn is the closest to Earth and we'll begin our Saturn Observation Campaign outings in February on the 12th at Carol Ann Cross Park. I have 9 events scheduled for that park throughout the spring, summer and fall.

I've wondered what other members enjoy in the winter skies, too? Hopefully they'll also make replies to your post.

Bob


Bob Moody
 
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kedi151
 Monday, December 06 2004 @ 01:29 pm EST  
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Great post Roberta. I did manage to get out earlier in the week using the Walmart scopes. I was able to get h good views of Saturn and the moon. Since I was on vacation last week, I had bigger viewing plans for Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately I came down with some kind of flu bug Friday morning and it kept me floored Friday and Saturday.
You are right about Saturn. If I it is the only thing I view all night, I consider it an enjoyable viewing.

See you at the Christmas party.

Kenny


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Marcus
 Friday, December 10 2004 @ 09:07 am EST  
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Nobody has mentioned how gorgeous the Plieades have been the last few nights. I observed the cluster last night and I could clearly see the nebulosity around each star. What a fantastic view! It looked very cold.
The Orion Nebula blew my mind last night. It filled my eyepiece as well. I could see long arms of gas stretching off the edges of my field of view and it was easy to see lanes of dark dust inside. Nearby M43 was also the brightest I've seen it, though it is overshadowed by the Orion.
I found a mystery open cluster last night I can't identify. About 11 p.m., it was about a hand width below Saturn. I stumbled upon it by accident and can't identify it from any of my books. It was so easy to see, it must be a Messier object. My Autostar batteries were dead or I could have just used the "identify" feature (oh so handy).


 
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kedi151
 Friday, December 10 2004 @ 01:36 pm EST  
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Marcus,

I have noticed the Plieades. Just not through my scope. I think everybody remembers their first good view of the Orion Nebula.

I think the cluster you were refering to is NGC 2420. That one was actually above and to the right of Saturn. Don't know if you took into account the upside down view. NGC 2355 and 2395 are also near and a little to the right. All have Apparent magnitudes in the range of 8-10.

Kenny


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Marcus
 Friday, December 10 2004 @ 04:06 pm EST  
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Thanks Kenny, but the cluster was lower and a bit to the left of Saturn with normal vision, not inverted through the scope. Maybe we can sort it out on Sunday. I plan to come to the star party at Coleman.


 
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bobmoody
 Saturday, December 11 2004 @ 04:29 pm EST  
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It's the next observing night scheduled for up here, Marcus. I hope you do get a chance to come up. I'm heading outside in a few minutes to start getting the scopes ready for tonight, Saturday 12-11-04.

Come on up, everyone's welcome!


Bob Moody
 
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