Sunday, January 27, 2019

A Winter Astronomical Necessity

The sky was clear, cloudless, and dark last night.  And there were not gale force winds.

There was much rejoicing.

I had the telescope and equipment outside and set up by 8pm.  Moonrise was going to be after midnight.  This gave me hours of dark sky.  Yay!

The cold temperature was the challenge.  This piece of equipment is an enormous help, though.  Using it, I was good for hours even though there was frost forming everywhere.

I placed one in the palm of each of my gloves.  Worked well.

So, what did I see?

Sunday, January 20, 2019

It's About Time

It's really nice having a SkyWatcher Dobsonian telescope with Goto and tracking.

Just take the telescope outside, level the base and OTA, ensure it is pointing toward true north, power it up, enter the time and date, align it to a few, well known, bright stars in the sky, and then you are good for a night of astronomy. 

You ask, "Wait. You have to enter the time and date?  What's up with that?"

Yes, in this modern day of connected smart gadgets, telescope owners are still forced to engage in the archaic ritual of mashing keys on a membrane keypad to set the time and date on their telescopes.

SynScan telescope hand controller

Sunday, January 13, 2019

No Astronomy Today

We had cloudy weather this week, culminating in ice and snow this weekend.

Crusty snow, my favorite! 
Weather like this is why the Cloudy Nights web forum exists. 👍😊

Tuesday, January 1, 2019


Twenty Four!

Yes, twenty four is the quantity of astronomy observing sessions that I made last year.  Most of the sessions were solitary.  

A friend stopped by once in the wee hours of the morning to see Mars when it was at opposition and at another time, a neighbor came out to see what I was up to because he was having trouble sleeping.  

Most of my astronomy visitors have been of the varmint variety.  Skunks, deer, bats, and coyotes.  Coyotes, fortunately, have kept their distance.  I know that they are out there because they have an eerie howl.  Skunks?  I wish they'd keep their distance, but there was the time when one made a beeline toward the open garage.  Bats?  I like bats.  They flutter about eating bugs.  Deer are just a nuisance.  They do, however, make a spooky chuffing noise.  It will make the goosebumps rise . . .

Being fundamentally a hermit, I'm fine with the dearth of astronomy visitors.  I get to choose the astronomy targets and revel under the glory of our Bortle class 4 sky!

Here are images of targets from the last astronomy session of 2018.  I spent a couple of hours staring at these two through the eyepiece and with the imager.

(Click on the images to zoom in!)

The Leo Triplet

Also known as the M66 group
The Leo Triplet consists of M65, M66, and NGC 3628. I like how nicely it fits into the field of view of my new ZWO ASI294MC.  M65 and M66 were discovered by Charles Messier in 1780.  NGC 3628, was discovered by William Herschel in 1784.  It is also known as the "Hamburger Galaxy!"  Yum. 😎

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