Monday, July 27, 2020

Super Powers? I'm Waiting.

When Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) was a morning object, I managed to observe it by taking a trek down the road and peering around the neighbor's monster magnolia trees.

It was naked eye visible, without averted vision, and was beautiful through binoculars.

I kept an eye on its progress through several mornings, and even captured a nice image of it with my Google Pixel 3XL Android phone.

Click here to see my blog entry!

So, now that Comet NEOWISE is an evening object, what does that mean to me?

Super powers!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Mars, 2020 Opposition T-Minus 86 Days and Counting

Can you believe it?

The Mars opposition in 2020 is just 86 days away!  It seems like we had a Mars opposition just a little over two years ago, doesn't it?

I took advantage of the nice seeing conditions this morning and spent some time focused on Mars.

What did I expect to see?

The Virtual Planet Atlas, free software for planetary observation and study, has a really nice model of Mars.  One look at its graphics will tell you everything.

For Mars this morning, the model predicted this:

Mars, via the Virtual Planet Atlas

And this is what I captured:

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Best Camera

The best camera is the camera that you have with you when you need to take a photo.

In my case, this morning, my camera was my phone, a Google Pixel 3XL.

Most mornings of this week, I've been strolling up the road a couple of hundred feet to see around the monster magnolia trees in the neighbor's yard.  These trees obscure the northeastern part of the horizon where comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) has made an apparition.

Through binoculars, the comet is gorgeous.  Without binoculars, it is a naked eye comet, but tough to see.  Until this morning, that is.  This morning, the comet hung low in the sky and was very obvious without needing to find it with binoculars first.

So, after reveling in the appearance of NEOWISE and basking in its brightness, I pulled the phone out of my pocket and tried my hand at impromptu astrophotography. 

Yes, there a billion better photos of the comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE), but this one is mine.😎

The image is cropped, a bit, to remove the neighbor's house and some of the dark, featureless ground, but is otherwise unedited.  The comet is in the lower left of the image.

Not bad for an image made with a phone, eh?

Friday, July 3, 2020

Third Time is a Charm

The last two observing sessions were beset by clouds. Shoo, clouds!

Not last night, though.  The Clear Sky Chart called for average to good seeing, so I set a wrist alarm for 0130 to test the forecast.  And I wasn't disappointed. 

I went outside and looked up.  The sky was still.  Very little twinkling of stars and the planets were solid.


Mars had risen, but was still obscured by the neighbor's house. I whiled away the time, waiting for the Cat to acclimate to the outdoor temperature, by imaging Jupiter. I'm glad that I did because I caught Ganymede, the largest of the Galilean moons, as it neared the end of its transit across Jupiter's face. 

A few hours earlier, Ganymede's shadow preceded it, though.  Sorry I missed that, but I'm happy with this image.  Moons in front of Jupiter are really difficult to see in the glare of the planet.

Finally, Mars.

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