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Everything posted by Tantalus

  1. Hi Jimmy, tomorrow, the shuttle will appear as a small bright light following the same track as, and a few minutes behind, the ISS. It is possible to view both through a 'scope, but it's not easy to track them manually, and even harder to track them smoothly enough to get a good view, especially with an equatorial mount - they move across the sky sooooo quickly. And the higher the magnification, the harder it is to track 'em. If you're not used to tracking satellites, then you're probably better off using either binoculars or just naked-eye. But if you want to use the scope, then I'd recommend a wide-field, low power ep. Don't expect to see any detail on the space shuttle, but even with bins you should be able to make out at least the basic structure of the ISS. Hope that helps, Jimmy. Clear skies...
  2. You should get a chance to see the Shuttle on the 25th, in the vicinity of the ISS, weather-permitting of course!. Heavens above shows the ISS passes around 35 mins before docking on the 26th, as seen from Britain.
  3. Just a reminder that the next few months will see the end of the Space Shuttle program, and the last flight of each of the three remaining Shuttles. So if you want to observe or image the Shuttle in-flight, there's only a few chances left... The remaining Shuttle missions... STS-133 Discovery 24th Feb 21:50 GMT - Docks to ISS 26th Feb at 19:16 GMT - Undocks 5th/6th March - Lands 7th/8th March* STS-134 Endeavour 19th April 23:48 GMT (almost 30 years to-the-day after the first ever Shuttle launch, Columbia, on 12/04/1981) STS-135 Atlantis 28th June 19:48 GMT** * Mission managers are hoping to extend the mission by one day, to allow three of the Expedition 26 astronauts to undock from the ISS in the Soyuz TMA craft, for a unique opportunity to photograph the Station with Discovery and all cargo vessels and crew capsules attached. ** Initially ear-marked as STS-335, a Launch-On-Need rescue mission for STS-134; this mission has now been re-designated as additional mission STS-135. NASA got it's mandate to launch the mission in The Authorisation Act of 2010, and although there is still some doubt about how the mission will be funded, NASA seem determined to get this one in the air, describing the mission as vital to the survival of the ISS, and recently NASA managers have been telling staff that this mission will fly 'regardless...' So it now seems increasingly likely that this mission will go ahead, and the re-designation allows NASA to begin preparations for the mission.
  4. I've been following STS-133, and if it launches on schedule at 21:50GMT on the 24th, then unfortunately I don't think it's going to be visible from mainland Britain. The Shuttle will be launched into the orbital plane of the ISS, so I assume that the Shuttle will follow a similar track to the ISS. From previous Shuttle launches, I know the Shuttle is usually visible over Britain around 18.5 minutes after launch, so that would mean STS-133 would pass at around 22:08. If you look at the Heavens Above ISS predictions page, then the last visible ISS pass on the 24th for most of Britain will be at 20:19. There will be another pass at 21:54, but by then the ISS will be eclipsed (in earth's shadow) so won't be visible - actually, it will be visible from Land's end from around 21:53 for 3 seconds; from The Scilly Isles for 10 seconds; and from Dingle on the SW coast of Ireland for aound 47 seconds, but when the Shuttle passes 15 minutes later the sun will be that bit further below the horizon. I'm assuming all this means that us Brits luck-out on this one... though you'll still get an opportunity to spot the Shuttle the day after launch, before it docks with the ISS. There is a slim chance that the launch could be delayed because yesterday's Ariane launch was a day late, which means that the ATV 2 is due to dock with the ISS just 6 hours before Discovery's launch. NASA will decide whether or not to delay the launch tomorrow. A later launch would give us a better chance to see the Shuttle's ascent from Britain. PS. As you've probably gathered this is mostly guess-work, and I'd welcome any comments...
  5. So far, Kepler has found 1235 possible planets!, including a planetary system of 6 planets orbiting a star 2,000 ly from earth - the largest system found to date. These planets are in addition to the 500-or-so already found. I don't know how long it'll be until these planetary candidates are confirmed, but it's still an amazing number.
  6. Hello Moonshane, There's a very useful and quite extensive list of DSOs with their sizes given in arcminutes here:- Clarkvision.com: Appendix E to Visual Astronomy of the Deep Sky , though I don't know how that would translate into FOV for a given ep, but it'll give you an idea of comparative size. Hope it helps... .
  7. There is a private member's Bill currently going through parliament, championed by Rebecca Harris. The purpose of her Bill was to "Require the Secretary of State to conduct a cross-departmental analysis of the potential costs and benefits of advancing time by one hour for all, or part of, the year; to require the Secretary of State to take certain action in the light of that analysis; and for connected purposes." Before any Bill can become law, it has to go through several stages and readings, first in the House of Commomns, and then in the House of Lords. On Dec 3rd 2010, the Bill had it's second reading , and was passed by 92 votes to 10. It now goes to a commitee stage before a final reading in the House', though no date has yet been set. You can track the progress of the Bill here Parliament UK: Bills before Parliament It's a long way off from becomming law, if ever. But although there have been numerous failed attempts in the past to change our current system, I get the funny feeling that this Bill could go all the way. If you don't agree with the Bill you could try lobbying your MP, but I wish you luck on that one - I wrote to my MP back in November to ask him how he intended to vote on this issue, and putting my own feelings across, but I've yet to get a reply...
  8. I managed to 'see' M51 early this morning with a 5" refractor, despite a fair bit of local LP. Not very bright, and no structure, but definitely something there. Also tried for M101 but failed to see anything.
  9. I also got my first look of the year at Saturn this morning, and the first time I've seen it with the rings opened up. I picked up a band with a 5", and only 200x, but wasn't sure if I was seeing a shadow from the rings - a bit shakey though, was experiencing some sharp gusts of wind.
  10. Sorry to hear about the loss of your EP's, buddy. Hope you find the pond-life responsible... BTW, r-mo, last year someone tried to take my set-up from the back yard. Luckily I caught 'em red-handed, but I now have mine wired up to a cheap loop alarm, as recommended by Psychobilly. I have a loop of wire wound around the OTA, and pass it through a hole in the leg-spreader on the tripod. The alarm-sounder is fixed in the back-porch. It probably isn't foolproof, but it gives me peace of mind if I ever have to leave the set-up for a short-while. You can find Psychobilly's alarm here:- http://stargazerslounge.com/lounge/104412-word-caution.html
  11. A good report starguest, and I can't get over how lucky you where to get 12 hours of clear sky! We had some broken cloud before midnight, then it got worse... I tried an all-nighter on the 4th but all I got out of it was very tired
  12. I found the programs to be very watcheable. With the benefit of hindsight it would be easy to criticise, and I'm sure a lot of us would've liked to have done at least some things differently, but on the whole, and all personalities aside, I think the beeb did a good job. That's a very good point Gweedo, and I will make my opinions known to the beeb. Glad you got a positive resolution Nick, and it's got me thinking... If it can be that lucrative, then maybe there's something in this imaging lark after all... P.S. Congratulations to all the imagers who had something shown in the progs. Well Done!
  13. I came across this article last year, which might explain the confusion... Clearing the Confusion on Neptune?s Orbit
  14. Just a heads-up to let you know that the Practical Astronomy Magazine - Free Download eZine ezine is back with a new issue, Jan 2011. As well as the usual mix of articles, there's an astro crossword, some nice shots of the July 2010 solar eclipse and the usual starmaps and readers photo's - and it's all free! All credit goes to Kevin Brown, who puts the whole thing together...
  15. The detail in the Infrared image is amazing, and it was good to see Stargazing Live being given the exclusive.
  16. From what I saw on BBC1 this morning, it might be quicker to ask if anyone actually saw it. With the Quadrantids and the early eclipse, I pulled an all-nighter (ever the eternal optimist - so often disappointed). It was nice and clear until after midnight, then the clouds slowly rolled in. Around Sunrise, we had a light dusting of snow, and the cloud stayed until around lunch time.
  17. For those who haven't seen SAN yet, it's repeated tonight on BBC4 at 7:30pm. This is the slightly longer 30 minute version, and you can still catch Stargazing Live afterwards...
  18. I went out for an hour between 00:30 and 01:30 and managed to see a couple through a thin, whispy clouds, but now the cloud cover is complete
  19. I enjoyed the program a lot - more than I was expecting to. I like Dara O'Briain, and if you've ever seen him on QI it's obvious he's nobody's fool. The first time I watched Wonders of the Solar System, I didn't really 'get' Brian Cox, but I watched the series a second time over the christmas period, and I have to admit I've had a complete change of heart - his almost child-like enthusiam is very contagious, and I can't wait to see his next series. And I thought the two of them worked perfectly together. Exactly... couldn't agree more. I thought it was pitched just about right. And thankfully, the 'Woss' segment was only a short one. I can even forgive the beeb for not showing University Challenge - just this once!
  20. Mine are (in no particular order) :- Plan my observing sessions better - I'm not a very organised person and don't do a lot of planning for general observations, apart from a quick look at Stellarium, although I'll check online resources and Astro mags for any upcoming events, such as Jovian moon transits, meteor streams, comets etc... Complete the Lunar 100 Increase my Messier count (currently up to 24) To see at least one meteor shower in all it's glory, unhindered by the weather (Last good one I saw was the 2007 Perseids) I get the greatest enjoyment from visual obs, and have resisted the urge to get drawn into the can-o-worms that is the 'dark side', but I'd like to have a punt at imaging the ISS, and a Shuttle before they're retired, and perhaps some Lunar and planetary shots. I bought a LifecamHD back in April with good intentions, but it's yet to see first [astro] light (see first point above). On the equipment front: More aperture - A large newt or maybe a travel-dob (12in minimum) I've been promising myself to have a go at grinding a Newt mirror for a while now - this will it will happen in 2011! But most of all, to get out as often as possible and enjoy the treasures of the sky
  21. Not had many sessions since September, and what clear nights there have been the seeing hasn't been that good, or it was so cold I couldn't stay outside for very long, but for me 2010 was an improvement on 2009 - didn't get a single observing opportunity between the middle of September and Jan 2010, apart from a 20 min gap for a few Leonids! Local forecast is showing a good chance of clear skies for the next couple o' nights, but mist and cloud for the 4th
  22. A Very Merry Christmas to all SGL'ers... hope you have a good 'un . Clear Skies and Good Seeing to you All...
  23. Hmmmm... not sure if it's changes my opinion, I'll have a go at a few more before I decide. But I was surprised to see how quickly the Moon moves across the backdrop of stars, something I've never really noticed before. Normally when observing the Moon I'm so focused on the Moon that I don't notice the background stars, so observing this occultation did have it's reward.
  24. Stunning. Love the mountain, and Isle Juan De Nova, #4, looks like a jellyfish. Thanks for posting.
  25. I haven't posted any reports lately, so I thought I'd better do something. We've had a few clear nights lately, but I really hate the cold and find it hard to get motivated to stay out for any meaningful obs in these temperatures. Anyway, this is today's... Started the day early with the Lunar Eclipse. Set the alarm for 5am, but when I looked out of the window it was foggy out. Luckily it'd cleared by 6am, and by 6:45am the Earth's shadow had already begun to cross the Moon's disc. I took a walk to the fields, where I'd have a clear western horizon, standing on a footbridge that goes over a roadway, and the handrail is just at the right height to rest the binoculars on. At 07:10 and with the Moon with almost half-covered, it was just a dark shadow but by 07:15 a reddish-orange colouring started to emerge on the western edge of the Moon. The sky was already getting much lighter (bright Saturn was the only other object visible in the sky), so the reddish colouring wasn't as strong as I've seen previously, and through binoculars the subtle coloration gave the Moon a delicate translucent eggshell-like appearance. By the time it reached totallity at 07:43 just the eatern edge was visible and becomming difficult to see even through bins, and I finally lost it to the brightening sky by 07:58. Around 9 hours later, the Moon was already rising again in the east, so I watched it occulting Tejat Posterior (mu Geminorum) - a red giant that I find pleasing to the eye through a telescope. To be honest I've never really seen the attraction in occultations, but as I was in an astro-mood I thought I'd give it a go. I timed the Immersion at 17:25:52s at 200x, and saw it emerge again at 18:15:40s. In between, I swung round to Jupiter. The seeing was good, and I could make out a couple of darker bands in the south, though I need some more magnification/ better ep's to do it any real justice. I stayed to watch an Iridium flare in Perseus at 18:33, but with the air temperature already down to minus somethingstupid, it was too cold for my liking, and the OTA was covered in a layer of white frost! , so I took the hint and packed away. Apologies for the brevity, must try harder next time...
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