In the Skies

Skies and Stars

August 13, 2016

Perseid Meteors (8/11/2016)

’ll bet that after a night of seeing cup handles on Saturn and seas on the moon, Galileo slept in. Not me. For the Perseid Meteor shower, JB and I linked up with a couple of CFAS members over at the Geneva gun range. I got about three hours of laying down in the evening before heading over (couldn’t drop off to sleep – my brain was cycling at 100hrz and my stomach was tossing about those broccoli quesadillas). So with the lawn chairs loaded in the mini, we left the house at 12:15am and got to the site at […]
July 31, 2016

Lost in Space (7/31/2016)

ummer is a lousy time to be an astronomer. The skies are muggy-hazy and often cloudy. I haven’t had a chance to go eyeballing since mid-May. And I’ve got that new double-bracket for my spotters (laser and optical) – wanted to get them lined in. Today was as good as it would be – somewhat clear, somewhat hazy, but doable. Set the scope up at dusk. Soon enough Mars showed up so I tooled the barrel around and got a visual on it. Then I got the optical lined. The laser was trickier – it’s got the pen mounted in […]
May 15, 2016

Visitors to Jupiter (5/15/2016)

must becoming an astronomaniac. This is the second night in a row I’ve had the scope out. My brother, his wife and their oldest daughter came out tonight. We had dinner together, then ice cream, and yeah, I was stalling. I was trying to give the moon and Jupiter time to go high so I could show them off. Kirstin (my niece) had wanted to see Jupiter and now was the perfect time. But she had a haul to St. Augustine and couldn’t stay long. We got home in the dusk – moon was up and half-full, with a big […]
May 14, 2016

Laser sharp (5/15/2016)

y brother is coming out tomorrow. First problem – no good restaurants open on Sunday night (I thought Orlando was hipper than this). But before he came out I wanted to fiddle with my new laser sight. Some assembly required. Not too bad. And once I got the entire scope set up in the backyard, I tried to shoot at the second-biggest object in the sky – Jupiter. This took some doing – I lined it up with the old sight and eyeballed the gas giant with my most generous lens. Once I got it lined, I dropped off the […]
May 8, 2016

M6 over the gun range (5/7/2016)

kay, went out with CFAS to the Geneva Gun Range for a clear-night sky with lots to see. And even after a year in this hobby, there is so much to learn. For example, I need to mount a laser beam on the side of my spotter scope. The spotter scope is great for locking on big bright objects. However, for lesser ones (or at high angles) it gets harder. Tonight’s goal was M81, a galaxy just off the tip of the big dipper. And I looked and looked, but simply coudln’t get enough of a line up to go […]
April 16, 2016

Spring Star Party (4/16/2016)

o tonight was looking bad for the CFAS (Central Florida Astronomical Society) Spring Star Party. At 4pm, clouds were rolling in. I was pretty much not going and then I checked the Orlando Clear Sky Chart, an awesome site that gives you star gazers an idea of what your viewing night is going to be like (taking into account clouds, the moon, the winds, everything). And according  to it, at 8pm we’d be clear. So I loaded up the Jetta with wife and scope and off we went. It really didn’t look good. The clouds grew darker and I capped […]
April 4, 2016

M3 and the Queen of the Skies (4/3/2016)

t was pretty clear tonight. Looked at the star charts and decided to shoot for M3, a star cluster I’d never seen. It would be rising above Arcturus tonight, above the line formed between this and the dipper handle. Like, how hard could it be? Messier found it – his first one. My view east sucks (remember how we learned that watching OA-6? The oaks get in the way). Anyway, squidged over to the corner of the garden on the path and got as much east as I could. Saw Jupiter shimming in ascent and took an early shot – […]
March 22, 2016

OA-6 (3/22/2016)

lear skies for the last few nights, a full moon with Jupiter in formation. Wanted to check these out with the telescope but just no time. But tonight… Standing out in the back yard, my father’s old wristwatch hanging easy (I can read it by starlight), the big Orion astronomy nocks around my shoulders. OA-6, an Atlas-V on an ISS resupply mission, was launching at 11:04 pm. I’d never gone out and shot a glance at something like this – with clear skies, I’d be able to see just where it was going up from. Got out about twenty minutes […]
January 24, 2016

A full rack of balls (1/24/2015)

agreed with the fool’s lack of hesitation when CFAS agreed to host an impromptu dawn viewing of the planets. The entire rack of them would be up: Mercury (in a tree-top cameo), Venus (with her self-important illumination), Mars (sulky and red), Jupiter (on stage from the first act, and falling to the west), and Saturn (perfectly placed, the little angle). Even the moon was up, well to the west behind a building but full and missed. Did I leave something out? Oh, the Earth. My telescope doesn’t depress that low. However, at 3:30am this morning, with temps frozen at 30 […]
December 11, 2015

Andromeda (12/11/2015)

ome from work, out to dinner, then had a look about 8-ish. Looked clear, damned clear. Confirmed it on Clear Sky – 4+ in all categories. No cloud, no haze, no high-altitude winds. Good seeing night. So out came the scope. The goal tonight was the Andromeda galaxy. This took a bit of doing since it was passing right overhead when I started, and a vertical scope is damned hard to aim. Still, managed to sweep north from Cassiopeia to Pegasus and back, looking for that white stain I’d seen recently in binoculars. And there it was! Okay, for you […]