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Jay F

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About Jay F

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    San Luis Valley, Colorado
  1. @John, great sketch! All I could make out so far was the two main bands. They did look pretty much like that, although without the red spot. If it was there, I couldn't make it out, but possibly it was on the other side of the planet at the time. This gives me hope that I may one day distinguish that myself. I'm going to watch in the mornings again for that twilight period sweet spot and see if I can get some more detail, like you show. I may have to wait until it gets a little warmer outside in the mornings so that I can go to a dark-sky place and spend some time outside with it. Thanks for the post and for sharing the sketch. I'm saving it to my own system to refer to later, if you don't mind.
  2. @Hayduke27, I wasn't aware of that. Just finished reading your discussion about high altitude, and found some interesting ideas in there. Sounds like we are living in pretty much the same environment. I'm at about 8000 feet right here where I live, in Colorado also. I have lived above 7500 feet for most of my life, and spent most of my working life between 9000-12000 feet (Forest Service and Ski Area seasonal work). I am semi-retired now, but still spend a lot of time in the summers in the wilderness camping above 10,000. I wonder if being acclimated for all those years makes a difference in how your eyes/brain process light. Just from a naked eye standpoint, when I go to the MV wildlife refuge at slightly less than 8000 feet and compare it with Wolf Creek at 10,000 feet (both very dark sites with very little light pollution) I would say that they are both quite clear and the stars seem pretty bright, but they do APPEAR to be clearer and brighter in the higher elevations. Then again, maybe it's just my imagination...or oxygen deprivation is just making me think that :-) Have you noticed a significant difference in your own viewing experiences one way or the other? BTW, I've been a huge fan of the Monkey Wrench Gang since it first came out, and really all of Edward Abbey's work :-) Unfortunately for us here in the western US, his worst-case scenarios all seem to have come true.
  3. Most interesting @Stu, and thanks for taking the time it took to post this. Makes perfect sense that Jupiter would seem smaller as the sky gets lighter, now that I've seen the photos and the explanations on wiki. I'm (more than) a little rusty on the math, it's been quite some time since my college calculus classes :-) Yet, I do know that understanding the math is essential to understanding everything else in the cosmos. That's actually what I've been doing on these cold snowy nights, digging back into my old calculus/laws of motion textbooks and a new quantum physics book I just bought, and trying to get back up to speed on that. It's slow going but really interesting. I really appreciate your sharing your knowledge, it makes me aware of how much I don't know, and gives me the motivation to go out and learn it. Many thanks, my friend.
  4. Limb darkening...that's a new concept for me. Very intriguing. I'll have to do some research on that. That would certainly explain it. Thanks! I do look forward to spring, and fully intend to bring the scope up to those higher altitudes. I KNOW it will make a huge difference!
  5. Now that you say that, I didn't actually notice the bands when the sky was darker, only when it was half-way to light. Even then, it took me a few minutes to realize what those darker stripes were :-) I'll have to take a look again in the morning and see if they are more pronounced in the lighter sky. Interesting...
  6. It has been snowy and cloudy lately, so I had a little hiatus. Now that it has been clear again, it has been too cold to enjoy being outside for long, below 0F (-15C or thereabouts) for days now in the mornings. But I'm doing the dining room window observations of Jupiter on the days I don't work. This morning was so exciting! I guess the sky was clear and the air clean and still after the last snowstorm, and I watched Jupiter until the sun came up, using a 6mm eyepiece with #8 yellow filter. I could see three of the moons, AND for the first time, I could make out the 2 darkest bands on Jupiter! Even through the glass pane of the dining room window and the street lamp glare down at the corner. This is with a small 114mm reflector, and I had kind of thought that wouldn't be possible with that scope, but it was truly there. Atmospheric conditions must have been just right. Couldn't take my eyes off it for over an hour, until it finally faded out and the sun was shining brightly outside. One interesting side discovery is that the planet really appeared to become smaller and less significant the lighter the sky became, even though the bands were still present. Somehow, the brightness of Jupiter against the black sky is just phenomenal, and makes it look huge, and I'm guessing our brains process it differently than when it seems to be a dimmer object against a bluer background. It seemed to not so much fade away as shrink out of sight. (No doubt this is something jewelers have known for centuries, and explains why they always display their baubles against black velvet backgrounds) I have also been watching Jupiter and Mars since the convergence, mostly from my car on the way to work in the mornings. I work at a ski area in the mountains at 10,000 feet, and I have to be there at 6am so I drive up in the dark. The air up there, as long as it's not snowing, is remarkably clear, and even without any visual assistance, the views have been wonderful (much better than jewels on black velvet :-)) I can't wait for warmer weather so I can really spend some time and concentrate on finding new (to me) objects!
  7. Jay F

    I just saw the ISS!

    My pleasure, @Captain Magenta, I'm glad you are enjoying it as much as I do. I just came in from watching it pass overhead this evening, first time with binoculars. It did seem quite a bit more distinct, not just a bright spot of light, more of a yellowish color than it seems to be without the binocs, but I couldn't hold them steady enough to really get any detail. It is amazingly fast, but not too difficult to stay on it. I know I don't have the skills to even try to follow it with my telescope at this point :-) Would love to get there! It was supposed to be a three minute viewing window, and I'm sure it probably was, but the time went by so fast! Never get tired of it :-)
  8. Thanks Louis D, That does sound like a better option, now that you mention it, with a reasonable price also. I have it bookmarked and on my wish list. Kind regards, Jay
  9. @Charic I only have a 6mm eyepiece, not a 3mm one. I mistyped that in the post above. Sorry about that, I just reread the post and it's pretty confusing, even to me :-) I do get it that, with my telescope specs, the 6mm with the 2x should be the highest magnification I should try, and I'm good with that. You saved me some money :-)
  10. Well, I tried screwing the Barlow lens in directly to my eyepiece, and there was some improvement that way. I was able to focus in pretty tightly on Crater Schickard this morning with my 3mm planetary eyepiece and it looked crisp and clear. That eyepiece with the Barlow was pretty good, but the focus is still just slightly off when compared with the 6mm without it. Thanks again for that suggestion, @Charic. @Louis D I appreciate that information. I think that is probably part of the problem. It is an inexpensive Barlow. I guess you get what you pay for! Possibly I would have better luck with TV 2x at some point down the line, might be my next upgrade. (but not a 3x :-)) Thanks, again. Kind regards, Jay
  11. Jay F

    I just saw the ISS!

    No, I haven't...but thanks for the suggestion. I will have to try to time it right and see if I can get a glimpse of something like that. I haven't seen this on the webcam, but I have seen video recorded by one of the astronauts on the space station that shows the aurora borealis. I don't think the webcams up there are capable of showing it for some reason, but it was really fantastic, flashing over most of the arctic regions and beyond. As great as the webcam views look to us, the live views must be 1000 times better for them :-) One of the perks of what I suspect is a pretty tough job.
  12. It's an Orion Starblast 4.5 on an EQ1 mount. (I may want to upgrade the mount before I do the telescope :-))
  13. Thanks Floater, I kind of thought it might be a limitation of the telescope more than the eyepieces, but it was worth a shot. :-( Thanks to Charic also for the calculations. This telescope has a focal length of 500mm, so a 6mm with a 2x barlow would bring it to 166x, if my calculations are right. The max magnification they recommend is 200x, so a 3x would apparently not be a good idea. This is most likely the max magnification I should attempt to achieve at this point. Thanks to both of you for saving me some money that wouldn't make much difference. Not disappointed at all, I am actually really pleased with what I can see, even with a low-end scope like this. It was so amazing the first time I looked a Jupiter and saw it not only as a more than just a bright light, but one with actual small moons in an orbital pattern. I was so excited, I don't think I'll ever forget that. So learning as I go, maybe some day a more advanced setup, but there is still so much to learn and see right now with this one, that I'm not too worried. Thanks again for the great advice. I really appreciate it.
  14. Thanks for the suggestion. I just checked, and yeah, it will unscrew and I can screw directly on to any eyepiece. Who knew? I never would have thought of trying that. :-) I'll give it a try tonight and see if it makes a difference. (I do realize that I can't expect too much from a lower-end telescope, but it was a bit of a compromise for me at this point. Hope to upgrade as finances progress.)
  15. Looking for a little advice. I have an Orion 2x shorty Barlow that came with my telescope. It seems to be much harder to focus when I use that with any of my eyepieces than my actual eyepieces are. I have a new Orion 6mm planetary eyepiece, which if terrific, actually, but when I pair it with my shorty 2x, I can't really get a clear focus on it, which is a little disappointing. I am thinking of buying a TeleVue 3x Barlow, which is much longer. It seems like with a longer eyepiece like that, it wouldn't require so many micro-adjustments to try to get a good, clean focus. (I could be wrong about that also, I know.) I Since they are quite a bit more expensive than the one I have, I want to make sure that it would be a good choice at this point. I am a beginner and am working with a 114 Reflector. Any thoughts or suggestions much appreciated.

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