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About this blog

...said Carl Sagan.

This will be a small journal of my personal observations, stargazing sessions, reflections and what I recently learned.

Entries in this blog

 

Stargazing Session 002 - The Moon, half of Jupiter, no Saturn and CLOUDS.

3rd of July 2017 / 21h30 UTC+01:00 / Stargazing Conditions: 80%   After much reading and hyping myself so much, I was pretty stunned by the early notification on my phone that yesterday night could potentially be a good evening with good seeing. So I went home after work (with my phone still showing 80% of potential seeing), sat on my desk and prepared myself. I chose to watch the Moon, since I never really observed it, Jupiter, Saturn and search for the Sombrero Galaxy! Last week I searched for a few good atlases and stumbled unto the Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas. A promising atlas which should arrive this week, but still would let me be without a field atlas, since it is a desk edition... After cramming in the forums I mainly found three downloadable recommendations:
1) The Deep-Sky Atlas
2) Deep-Sky Hunter Atlas
3) TriAtlas
I downloaded all of them and browsed through them, noticing that only the Deep-Sky Hunter Atlas exists in a field edition. I printed the normal Version on A3 paper to look if it fits the need and, hell yeah, I really like it so far!! Only downside (for me) at the moment, is that the constellations are in black lines in contrary to the Deep-Sky Atlas. So I think I'll print both of them, laminate them and take them with me on my sessions. (I will have to inverse the colors on the Deep-Sky Atlas though) To round everything up, I figured that I'll need a software too, to plan my sessions a little better and just give me the right impressions on where I will have to search in the sky. A while back I downloaded Stellarum, which seemed to be a great free app, but it simply kept crashing on my laptop... Searching for alternatives I found SkySafari 5 and Starry Night 7. Given the prices of Starry Night 7 and the fact that it isn't to be found on the AppStore, I went ahead and downloaded SkySafari 5 Pro. It is a beautifully simple app which does the job just fine and gives me the needed input to satisfy my thirst for knowledge (at least for now). At this point, I was wondering if someone knows if Starry Night 7 was up-gradable? So let's say I buy the Enthusiast Edition and wanted to up-grade to the Pro or even Pro-Plus version one day. Do I have to buy the App entirely new or does it give the opportunity to up-grade for a few bucks to the next edition?   Enough rambling an off to my stargazing site! I arrived well early before sunset, which gave me the opportunity to once check again, if my finderscope was well aligned with the 'scope. It also gave me the chance to let my 'scope acclimatize the same way as last time and so I sat back and waited a little until the moon gained a little on contrast as the sun was setting.   The Moon The Moon, being a waxing gibbous, shone bright in the slightly dark blue night sky with literally NO clouds in the sky. I put my 15mm BTS eyepiece in and looked at the beautiful moonscape. It is defiantly the first time I've seen the Moon so up-close and I was in awe by it. I never imagined that it could be so nice to look at all these craters and I began to wonder where they all came from. It is simply a battlefield of craters and each and everyone has its own story to tell... after a good 30 minutes of switching between the 8mm and 15mm eyepiece and lots of "ohs" and "wows", I figured I could try and photograph the Moon with my phone through the eyepiece... what seemed to be a really stupid idea at first turned out to be a really great shot (I think?)! (very little photoshop-magic to increase contrast and sharpness)   Jupiter Next on that nights list was Jupiter. I remembered the image last time I looked at it and I was thrilled to already clearly identify Europa from Io through the finderscope. I managed to see Callisto, Ganymede, Europa and Io. I think that Jupiter itself was a little less contrasty as last time BUT I think I could make out the Red Spot which really made me happy! I was so thrilled by the view I even can't write down how I felt... I switched from 15mm to the 8mm eyepiece and focused in... I kept focusing and focusing and focusing but nothing happened... As I looked up in the sky I was shocked... the beautiful cloudless sky had turned into a thick carpet of Cumulus Cumulonimbus... I immediately looked at the horizon on my right to see if there was a slight possibility of clear sky but the enemy had invaded the sky... To make matters even worse at that moment, I met my locations' neighbor, which is no other company then Arcelor Mittal... The sky with the clouds lit up in a bright orange from the molten metal... At that moment I knew it was over for that night...   Thanks for reading Abe

AbeSapien

AbeSapien

 

Stargazing Session 001 - Saturn, Jupiter & the Milky Way

21 of June 2017 / 22h30 UTC+01:00 / Stargazing Conditions: 88%   So, I crammed all of my new acquired stuff together and went to the darkest place I could find near my town. It's a mere 5 minute drive from my home. As I set everything up, I tried to wait for 20-30 minutes to give the 'scope a chance to acclimatize but I really couldn't!     Jupiter I looked west south west to find Jupiter, pointed my finderscope at it and I was amazed by how clear the image from the 'scope was!! I had a 5 minute stare through my 25mm BST eyepiece where I could distinctly see the two belts, the north and south equatorial belt. As clearly as the belts were also three of its moons were, namely Callisto, Europa and Io, although Europa was quite close to Jupiter. The color was also great and the view, simply mesmerizing!  I then switched to the 15mm BST eyepiece. First I was a little, let's say disappointed, but not that strong, by the magnification, and immediatly switched to the 8mm BST. To my surprise I wasn't convinced by the view either... So I decided to get back to the 25mm and calm down and enjoy the view as I clearly was getting hasty. As I started over, I remembered some words from a friend of mine who told me that watching the stars often comes down to 50% of actually seeing the stars and 50% imagination and concentration. So I tried the 15mm a second time and... I was hooked. I could now clearly see eight different colors and belts! I'm not quite sure what it was I saw, except the north and south equatorial belt, but I will have a look at some Jupiter maps and educate myself about the planet's surface. This will help in better understanding and watching next time, the case given that the seeing is as clear as it was that night. With the 15mm eyepiece Europa was now very distinct from Jupiter. I couldn't manage to get more detail out of the 8mm eyepiece, everything just got a tad bigger and a little fainter if my impressions were right. After good half an hour of watching the delightful planet and its moons I sat down and searched for Saturn, which was south not very high above the horizon.   Saturn I switched back to the 25mm eyepiece, pointed my viewfinder at Saturn and peaked through the eyepiece. What a marvel! I clearly could see some colors on the surface and easily distinct the ring from the planet itself. As I switched over to the 15mm eyepiece, the separations on the planet's surface became a tad clearer and the ring/planet separation obviously bigger. I encountered the same problem as before of not knowing what I was looking at, which bothered me a little. I have to do a little homework here and get myself started with some fancy vocabulary.   Milky Way All in all it was a marvelous first light experience and I clearly have to learn the stuff I'm looking at, but I think that's just me and my endless thirst for knowing things. I randomly gazed through the skies at the end, beeing absolutely overwhelmed by everything I saw. Furthermore, I simply was flabbergasted when I ran across the milky way in the north east... There were so many stars I couldn't see with my bare eye, but only with the 'scope (which made aiming with the finderscope a nightmare... How do you guys do that really?!). I'm glad I acquired the Skywatcher Skyliner 200P with the eyepieces. It is one of the best things I got myself and I think I will have a lot of fun with it and furthermore learn so many new things.   Thanks for reading, Abe

AbeSapien

AbeSapien

 

Prologue

Hello there,   I thought to myself that it would be great to write everything down I'm experiencing. From the very beginning, to the very end... So I chose to create this blog and use it as my small journal for personal observations, stargazing sessions, thoughts, reflections and what I recently learned. The greatest thing about this is, that it gives the opportunity to kick of many interesting discussions and I really can't wait to get started.   Around the end of winter 2017 I started gazing around with a pair of binoculars I found at home. I initially got them when I was 9 years old and literally forgot about them... They were eating dust for 18 years now. After gazing around a little I bought myself some interesting books about astronomy and how to find stars and star maps. I don't know if it was my subconsciousness leading me into ticking off a point on my bucket list, but after so much hesitation if I should buy a 'scope or n... BWAAAAH I cracked and bought one. Period!   Which leads us to yesterday night.   After many days of reflection and information overkill, I finally went for a Skywatcher Skyliner 200P with BST 25mm, BST 15mm and BST 8mm eypieces. I ordered it last week on FLO and I couldn't be happier! It arrived divided into three packages last night and I immediately had to assemble it! Armed with my cordless screwdriver set to 11nm of tension, it took me about half an hour to assemble it and check if it was collimated right. Collimation was not perfect but it was absolutely okay for a first ride (I really should admit that I am a little anxious to collimate it and it is so near "perfect" that I'm okay with it at the moment). All in all the pictures don't give enough credit on the built quality of the 'scope. It is a simple to assemble and use first 'scope. I'm really glad that all of you pushed me in the right direction.   After assembly and cleaning there were ONLY 5 damn hours left to wait until sunset... So I figured to simply develop a small evening plan in what I wanted to watch and gaze at. I simply chose to visit Saturn and Jupiter... Humble and modest for starters but hey, less is more and I really wanted to enjoy my evening out and not dish up myself with a list that a total novice couldn't handle and therefore risk to end up with a very disappointing first night.   I'll write up my first experience in the next post and if you're interested, keep an open eye. I'll also use the opportunity to thank everyone involved into getting me started with my first 'scope!   So let's go!   Abe  

AbeSapien

AbeSapien

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