In the Skies

Skies and Stars

May 27, 2017

Jupiter as never before (5/27/2017)

ate spring and summer skies are sucky night skies for astronomer. No Orion. None of the favorites. It’s pretty much open space with few things to bullseye. But tonight was clear and Jupiter was on a close approach so I set up the tripod at dusk and waited for the gas giant to come into view. Okay, first lesson learned – if you are aiming for something rising, don’t set up in the middle of the yard. Set up to the west so you can catch things coming up from the east sooner. I could see Jupiter inside an oak […]
April 27, 2017

New scope for the kids (4/27/2017)

o my adopted daughter’s kids loved looking through my scope in a backyard observing session a year back. Turns out my sister found an old, reliable (sorta) Meade, just a lightweight scope with simple knobs and a dodgy spotter scope. She got it for $20 at Goodwill (and if there is something the poor need, it’s access to clear night skies). Anyway, it was in pretty bad shape. Tonight I spent the evening cleaning it up, tightening the tracks (it’s still a bit loose for my tastes) and trying to get the spotter to line up (never did). But with […]
February 28, 2017

Rigel and the Beehive (2/28/2017)

he real purpose of tonight’s jaunt into the backyard with the scope was to check the alignment of the spotter and laser sights – I’d knocked them off putting the tube into the trunk of the mini and wanted to check them. Tonight was fairly clear, so sure, at the very minimum, a little calibration. Turns out they were pretty close – since now it was well dark and I had an assembled scope, I decided to look around a bit. Had at least one thing on the agenda – I’d heard of people actually seeing binary stars but had […]
February 19, 2017

Bok Tower (2/19/2017)

or those who don’t know it, Bok Tower is a beautiful garden with a massive tower way, way out in the Florida hinterland. They were hosting a dark sky party and our club was one of those from among the various astrological concerns to attend. There would be speakers, sky tours, and, of course, our scopes. It way, way out there. If you think the Kuiper belt is out there, you’ve never driven down I-4 south past the parks on a Saturday. And after you clear them, that’s only Jupiter orbit – you’ve a ways to go. But we got […]
February 2, 2017

Close in before Close out (2/2/2017)

finally got a free evening with clear skies to test out my new Explore Scientific eyepieces (thanks, Mom!). I’d picked up a 24mm and was disparately looking for an 11mm (which finally came off back order). I’d borrowed the 24 from a CFAS friend and the high quality really shown over the comparable focal length eyepieces that had come with my scope. Anyway, clear skies. Got home and got cleaned up after the bike ride. Set up the scope while dinner was cooking – got it leveled and sighted early, picking out the best location to view Southwest, to track […]
December 4, 2016

M36 and M42 (of course) (12/4/2016)

uddy Greg was supposed to come over for movies and dinner and some Go. I figured, with predictions for a fine night and Orion marked overhead at midnight, to set the scope up. But then he called and canceled (I can’t tell you the reason, but man, what a reason). So here I was with an evening suddenly free and a need to fill it. In the cancelation call, I’d mentioned my intention of the scope. He told me that it wasn’t high on his list. With the planets all shyly in conjunction, he didn’t want to look at pinpoints […]
November 20, 2016

Quiet night (11/20/2016)

unday is my best night for going out. During the week, I’m tired, I’ve got incoming calls from friends, just not good for dragging the scope out. So, yes, it’s Sunday. Yes, it’s clear. Yes, the moon is down. So let’s go scoping. I cast about as best I could given our downtown location. Picked up the double cluster, tried for Andromeda (no joy) and hunted for a couple of other clusters. We’ve got problems with the lights and a restricted viewing area (the trees) so I did as best I could. Still, I got to use the new StarBound […]
October 30, 2016

Borrowed scopes (10/29/2016)

t was like the Pony Express, bolting out of a model train session held under moonlit conditions (as described in part 1 of my day, HERE) in Palm Bay to race back to Orlando, swap cars, pile in binoculars, planispheres and lawn chairs, and then run up to Geneva for the star party there. Unfortunately I got there after dark. This meant we were fumbling our way out onto the driving range pad with no idea where the scopes had set up (every time we go out there, they move for some reason). Worse, we were in the Jetta and […]
September 14, 2016

Luck of the Draw

ne nice thing about astronomy – like fishing, it gives you time to think. In retrospect (not retrograde, which is something different), it is remarkable that I hooked into this hobby. Yes, I read a lot of scifi and have always liked the mechanics of our solar system. Even wrote an excel game that involves our solar system in 2075 and a hapless ship captain who has to risk hundreds of dangers to succeed (you can download the full game and manual for free HERE – not for the faint of heart nor the easily frustrated). It uses a neat […]
September 11, 2016

Astronomy to hang your coat on (9/11/2016)

finally got my “stars” to align – a clear night (well, with moon, but I’d just look at it, right?) with nothing going on in my other hobbies. Set up the scope at dusk, gave it a bit of time to warm to the outside air, then finally went out for a looksee. The moon was in fine form tonight. Hung out for a while at my favorite place, the Sea of Crisis. Then scoped up and down for about an hour. Tycho was great tonight, the central peak very visible. A real neat one was just next door, the […]