Saturday, May 26, 2018

Racing Towards Mars!

Yet another weekend promising clouds and rain.

Friday morning from just after midnight 'till dawn looked good, however.

So, I thwarted the forecast by taking yet another unplanned vacation day from work. I had the equipment out and set up by 0130 and stayed out long enough to greet the sunrise.

Afterward, I had a good long post-astronomy nap.

The moon was brightly shining, meaning that deep space objects (DSO) were washed out by the skyglow.

So, what did I do while waiting for Mars to rise, this time?

Played with the newly constructed Mars Mobile Observatory, of course!  

Mars Mobile Observatory, Aka CubCadet Lawn Tractor with the Grab-n-Go Scope

Well, okay.  As much fun as it might have been to zoom around the yard in the wee hours of the morning with the Grab-n-Go scope strapped to the lawn tractor, I left the neighborhood to its sleepy slumber and kept the tractor nestled quietly in its corner of the garage.

While waiting for Mars, I actually played with the equipment and prepared for the next blog post, tentatively titled, "Focus on Mars."  

Newest image of Mars ahead!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Waiting for Mars

Monsoon season again this week.

It's not likely I'll be able to bring the scope out for an astronomy session this weekend.

This will never work

Well, I guess I could take the optical tube assembly (OTA) outside, point it up, squirt some dishwashing soap on the mirror, and take advantage of the naturally distilled water pouring from the sky.  As a technique for cleaning the primary mirror, however, that seems fraught with peril . . . 

I think I'll just leave the mirror alone for now and continue with my planned posting of a little about what I do while waiting for Mars to rise.

Deep space object (DSO) images ahead!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Mars and Jupiter and Saturn, Oh My!

With the excitement of Mars' impending opposition, I shouldn't neglect the other bright naked eye planets that are visible in the morning sky, Jupiter and Saturn.

Their brightness in the sky makes it obvious even to the casual observer that there is probably something special about them.

Mars and Jupiter and Saturn, oh my!

Mars? Well,, says it all.😉

Jupiter?  The Galilean moons always put on a show, and are binocular visible if you have steady hands and the moons are sufficiently spaced from Jove's face!  The bands of color and the Great Red Spot need a telescope for viewing.

Saturn?  Of course, it's the rings!  You can't actually see the rings without at least a small telescope, but rings are the first thing that come to mind when you think of Saturn.

While waiting for Mars to rise, I do point the telescope at other objects in the sky and take a peek!

Mars Vacation

From X-Minus One:

Countdown to blastoff.

X minus 5, 4, 3, 2,  . . .

ZWO ASI224MC + Shorty Barlow and NexImage 5

Well, they kinda look like space capsules from days of yore, don't they?

Sadly, my application for astronaut training hasn't been approved yet -- a vacation trip to Mars is probably something I'll never have.

I did, however, take a vacation day from work to do an astronomy session Friday morning.  I went out a little after midnight and stayed out until dawn.

The two pieces of equipment in the photo above are items with which I've had great success using lucky imaging techniques to capture images of planets and the moon.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Mars and Clouds


The sky is full of clouds.  And it will be that way all weekend.

This forecast from the Clear Sky Chart website says it all.

The forecast from Astrospheric, while more precise and easier to use, is just as bleak. (Apps for Android and iOS available!)

And the local weather forecasters have been threatening us with impending buckets of pouring rain. 

So, what does an amature astronomer do in a case like this?

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