Skies and Stars

February 14, 2015

Looking up (week of 2/9/2015)

o here we go again. For my fifteen year anniversary with FedEx, I was awarded a x35 Bushnell tripod telescope. In the back of my mind, I think I knew I wanted it to sweep the stars with it. I had many happy memories looking up with my dad’s old Navy binoculars, watching the moon. As if on perfect cue, the moon rose the night I got it, clearing the trees by about 11pm. It was a perfect moon, wide and full with just a hint of terminator (all the better to peer into those silent craters). And there I […]
February 14, 2015

Venus & Jupiter (2/14/2015)

hile waiting for the pizza to show, I broke out the Bushnell x35 and went out into the backyard. The sun was just down and to the west, I could clearly see Venus glimmering (fitting, on Valentine’s Day). Looked at it for quite a while. Behind me, Jupiter was coming up. Of course, not seeing it through the planetarium scope (using my peeper) I could only see it as a bright spot, but still. Right now, I’m like someone who’s moved into a foreign city. I don’t know anything. And nearly always lost. But when I leave my apartment, there […]
February 15, 2015

Orion twice (2/15/2015)

unny how these things work. Just ordered my telescope – an Orion Astroview 120 ST, from a recommendation by Astronomer Carl the other night. Read the reviews and it seemed just what I was looking for. So that’s one. After dinner tonight, we dropped in at Barnes and Noble and I picked up a book on astronomy and picked up a star wheel too. Looks like I’ll need a red combat light to use it – tried it after Downton tonight in the backyard with a lamp and flashblinded myself. Still, I managed to get some guestomates on a few […]
February 20, 2015

New peeper (2/20/2015)

ot the new Orion 120ST scope the other day. Decided after a glum start of the day at work that I’d had enough. Came home and worked out assembling the scope with JB. The instructions were a little crazy (hey, if you are going to name something, show a picture, puleeze!). But otherwise, it wasn’t too hard. We had it together soon enough. My sister pointed out that there was an event tonight, a moment when the moon, Venus and Mars would all be lined up in a tight cluster. Set up the tripod while it was still light, then […]
March 1, 2015

My old buddies (3/1/2015)

ent to Dark Skies (a.k.a. Wet Skies) Saturday, the annual event that got itself pretty much rained out (even when it wasn’t raining, the sky was boilerplate). It was a real disappointment – none of the scopes were out, I couldn’t find an astronomer to geek with, and about all we got to do was go into a half-dome (canvas) planetarium and watch the pseudo-sky. I rather liked it still – I’m getting better with my constellations and picked Venus off the simulated horizon (heck, I’d looked at it enough over the last few months). Anyway, we looked at all […]
March 11, 2015

Jupiter and M42 (3/8/2014)

‘posed to go out to Geneva Saturday night to get a clear star view. That didn’t go so well (heavy clouds). Next night, the computer told me that Io would be shadowing across Jupiter. Took the scope out at 10pm or so but couldn’t quite make it out (at 60x). Where is that backordered extender? While JB and I were running our usual drill around Orion, we did look in on M42 and that area, and caught a neat cluster of stars with a visible nebula around that. At first I thought it was some sort of smudge on my […]
March 13, 2015

Saturn (3/13/2015)

t takes some effort to find these things. Last night, I checked where Saturn would be this morning at 6:30 (preceding the moon). Got up at 6:10. Walked outside – clear with broken clouds and there was the moon. Transported the scope outside, set it up, lined it up, swung it to bear. Over the sight I could see the moon and a bright star off to its right. Lined it up. Lower mag lens (x25 or so) I cast around in that area and suddenly there it was. I could see it, tiny rings and dunish body and all. […]
March 29, 2015

The Sweep (3/29/2015)

t’s been a busy period here, one full of frustration. Right now I’m wrapping up an evening sweeping everything I can identify – clear night, finally. The last thing I want to look at is the moon, currently hiding behind grandfather pine. Anyway, my barlow lens arrived a week and some back, which doubles my existing lens (giving me 120X, but I’m begriming to realize that isn’t all that it sounds). Still, the day it came, cloudy. The next day, cloudy. And cloudy cloudy cloudy. Finally, while coming home from the club Wednesday night, I saw that the moon was […]
April 4, 2015

Big scope, little scope (4/4/2015)

fter texmex with my old NASA buddy Mike and his lovely daughter Tara, we caught up with his wife and then went over to Eastern Florida State College Friday – they have a great observatory and we got a chance to check it out. The sky was clear, and on the rooftop outside the dome we chatted with one of the staffers and picked out the constellations. Also caught a satellite with the naked eye – cool to see it arching past. Anyway, the dome was very impressive. Big scope pointing out to the slit, and unlike other big scopes, […]
April 26, 2015

On high (4/25/2015)

ugged our scope and tripod all the way up to Beech Mountain for our vacation. First day here, we were scouting possible locations. The Grandfather Park location someone mentioned was impossible to find – I have no idea what they were referencing. Closer to home, we found two possible – the big dead mansion on the curves coming over the hill and Buckeye Lake Park. I checked with the park folks and they said, sure, come in after dark. No problems with that. That evening, the clouds swept away (thunder to the north) so we gave it a look. The […]