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Did I saw what I think I saw? [2 Q's at bottom]


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This was my 6th night out, 2nd with Pentax 10x50's and 1st with this new awesome tri-pod [super tall and heavy duty].

I pulled up to a dark site outside of Los Angeles county, pretty far drive. Kind of weird cause there was a dude in his car the entire time I was there, sitting on his phone, not sure what he was doing, never made a sound.

Anyways,

Here's what I saw:

I found Triangulum and Aries. Triangulum was surprisingly difficult for some reason. After that I found Andromeda, and lo and behold Andromeda! I gasped and it was amazing to find it, it was my only goal for tonight. Could clearly see the spiral galaxy on edge I believe, with a slight bulge in the center if I'm not mistaken. 

After that I 'think' I found NGC75. I think I found it because it sure looked like a cluster, and seemed to be where it was supposed to be, I'd say it took up 60% of my binocular's 5 degree field of view.

Now the BIG 'IF' of what I saw was M33. I followed Triangulum down and towards Andromeda. I saw just a faint ghost whisper of something, I think. It was where it should have been.. I think. It was definitely something. I suppose M33 is a harder target for binoculars? Or maybe not, it was low on the horizon.

I also finally saw the Little Dipper, I've never been able to see it whatsoever from the suburbs where I live. 

My plan now is look up all this stuff in the Celestial Handbook, my 2nd favorite part of Astronomy is finding out more about WHAT I'm looking at.

I brought some music out tonight and at one point PILLOW OF WINDS by PINK FLOYD came on and I was just laying in the chair staring up at the sky - it was quite nice. 

Questions

1: When I saw 'followed Triangulum down and towards Andromeda', what could I say to sound smarter? Would I say I followed it South East, which I guess is true? 

2: I've read S&T's article on celestial navigation and maps, and still can't figure out how RA works. Is an hour the same as a degree of descention?, as in can I use one finger for 1 hour (like using it to measure 1 degree held out at arm's length). Does that make any sense? 

Thanks everyone

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Question one, personally I don't think it matters as long as you know what your talking about. I would be inclined to say it same way as you. I observed Andromeda and then up toTriangulum and into Delphinius. (Bare in mind it's been a while since I observed so Delphinius may not be next to Triangulum).

With regard to RA and DEC, the easiest way to to think of longitude and latitude and project them up into the sky. Declination is the same as Latitude and RA the same as Longitude.

I.e. If you live 52 degrees North, then stars with a declination of 52 degrees will pass directly overhead, if you deduct 90 from your latitude (52-90 = -38), this gives you the declination of the stars that will *just* skim the horizon at their highest. In practise you can see that low, but theoretically it's correct.

The R.A. of a star gives the time that that star will be over head in relation to a sidereal clock. The actual length of the day is 23h56m, this means that the stars appear to rise 4 minutes earlier each day. 355 x 4 = 24 hours (give or take, hence leap years etc).

The sky is 360 degrees. RA is only 24 hours. So each hour of RA is just over 15 degrees.

Hope that helps.

Ant

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Explaining directions is difficult, I try on posts here to say how to get from Orion to Aldebaran+Hyades then Pleiades or the other way to Sirius. And that is probably the "easiest".

Also where you are makes a difference.

I notice you said "followed Triangulum down and towards Andromeda"

I normally think of it as "followed Triangulum UP and towards Andromeda", to me Andromeda is UPwards from Triangulum.

If I recall in South Africa/America then Orion is doing a Superman act and flying horizontally.

So "direction" depends on where you are and all you can do is desribe things in that context.

Never sound as if you know anything! :eek: :eek:

4 and 5 year olds come and ask things if you do.

Worse still is people (ex-friends) tell them to go ask you as you know these things.

Where is "Beetle Juice" is one, that leads to Why is it Red - so you explain a Red Super Giant to them. Then What will happen when it explodes? Then which ones form Black Holes (All kids LOVE black holes). :grin:

Have you ever tried to explain the expansion of the universe to a 4 years old ? (Hint: Always have a big wide elastic band at hand). By the time the 4 year old has got the idea you will have a big bunch of adults in attendance as well.

One useless bit of informatiuon that I think is right is that no dinosaur saw the Pleiades, the Pleiades had not formed when dinosaurs were running round eating each other. Kids tend to like exploding stars, black hole and dinosaurs. :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

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Explaining directions is difficult, I try on posts here to say how to get from Orion to Aldebaran+Hyades then Pleiades or the other way to Sirius. And that is probably the "easiest".

Also where you are makes a difference.

I notice you said "followed Triangulum down and towards Andromeda"

I normally think of it as "followed Triangulum UP and towards Andromeda", to me Andromeda is UPwards from Triangulum.

If I recall in South Africa/America then Orion is doing a Superman act and flying horizontally.

So "direction" depends on where you are and all you can do is desribe things in that context.

Never sound as if you know anything! :eek: :eek:

4 and 5 year olds come and ask things if you do.

Worse still is people (ex-friends) tell them to go ask you as you know these things.

Where is "Beetle Juice" is one, that leads to Why is it Red - so you explain a Red Super Giant to them. Then What will happen when it explodes? Then which ones form Black Holes (All kids LOVE black holes). :grin:

Have you ever tried to explain the expansion of the universe to a 4 years old ? (Hint: Always have a big wide elastic band at hand). By the time the 4 year old has got the idea you will have a big bunch of adults in attendance as well.

One useless bit of informatiuon that I think is right is that no dinosaur saw the Pleiades, the Pleiades had not formed when dinosaurs were running round eating each other. Kids tend to like exploding stars, black hole and dinosaurs. :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

To me it's clear the dinosaurs never saw the Pleiades because I haven't seen ONE cave drawing/scratching regarding them from astronomers of that era.

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No problem to see M33 in binoculars. It isn't going to shout. It doesn't shout in a 20 inch either. The soft glow you describe sounds just right, though.

Olly

Good to hear. I would have guessed it was a little cloud far up in the atmosphere, but it was there for 3-4 hours, so it had to be something. Very very faint. I'll go ahead and say I saw it. 

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