Started conversation Jan 18, 2004
Just a journal for my attempts at obervations other than those on the Messier list.
17 Jan. Venus was really bright just after sunset.
18 Jan. 1.30am. Added two Messier to this years list.
Took another look at Jupiter and could get all four moons with the 20X binoculars.
Posted Feb 14, 2004
It's now been over 3 weeks since the last outing. Completely cloudy at nights when I've had time to observe. I've had a couple of sightings of Venus during the early evening though. The Moon has poked through the cloud cover once or twice but not long enough to get newt out.
Hopefully it'll break in conjunction with around new.
Posted Feb 25, 2004
25 Feb 2004
The first really clear night for sooo long.
Took in some spectacular views of the 4 day old moon at the terminator which ran down the edge of Serenitatus and of Venus a few degrees ahead.
Saturn in Gemini was bright and beautiful. Could make out the Cassini division and the shadow of the rings above. One of its moons was also prominant. Titan I believe. The Orion Nebula at faily high magnification and could easily resove the Trapezium
Using the binnies I had another good look at the old favourite the Pleiades and the Hyades. And a new first of M41 in Canis Major south of Sirius.
Altogether, a good evening's viewing.
Posted Mar 8, 2004
Tried to get a photo of the full moon on the 6th but just missed it as cloud covered it up as I got the scope out.
Succeeded on the 7th, one day past full. A brilliant photo TTL with just a touch of the terminator on the eastern side.
Using the new 15mm Plossl eyepiece. The two Plossl eyepieces have really transformed the scope.
Posted Apr 19, 2004
Any observations recently Austin?
I'm currently trying to get together some stuff to make up tools to help check things like collimation on MCs scope. It'd be nice to get out and observe with it but it just keeps raining
Posted Apr 19, 2004
Observations have been sadly lacking lately.
I started a OU short course a couple of months ago. What with that and mostly cloudy conditions around here, there hasn't been much opportunity to get out at night. Two or three times I've seen beautifully clear evening sunsets but later there has been a mist that
only some of the brighter stars have penetrated.
I did get one really clear night and got into Coma Berenices. I'm fairly sure I spotted a few M objects therein, but as I hadn't prepared for it I couldn't say I've positively ID'd them. I'm still waiting for another clear night to for another go. This evening is looking promising at present.
I've have had some good views of the Moon and the new eyepieces have made a significant difference. That's the main source of interest at the moment.
I'm also off for a weeks holiday in early May. I'm going to Shropshire to take in the Three Counties Show and I'm taking the binnies. I plan to try to find somewhere a bit darker than I'm used to and hope for a clear night or three.
Good luck with the collimation, that's something I haven't had to do yet.
Keep watching this space. All the best,
Posted Apr 20, 2004
I'm sure I don't need to do the collimation (normally seems ok, but then I don't know any different!) but I want to make sure I can do it and also to understand it (why and how).
What OU course are you doing? An astronomy related one?
Good luck with the dark skies/clear nights in Shropshire
Posted Apr 21, 2004
Well, nothing new with the cloudy sky the other night. But the 2nd day moon was up this evening. Just got a quick look and Venus is absolutely brilliant. I caught them together last month and I think we may get the same view again in a couple of days, (I think)
The OU course is on the solar system 'Planets: an introduction'. It's a level 1 science short course lasting a few months. It's the second one that I've tried as I did one on astronomy about a year ago and really enjoyed it. I've tried them as 'tasters' to see how I coped before signing up with anything more serious. It takes up a fair bit of time each week and I'm awfully slow. Nevertheless it's really interesting.
Looking forward to Shropshire. Just realised, of course it'll be near full moon.
Posted Apr 23, 2004
Sounds interesting. I've often thought about doing something like a few OU courses but never got any further than that! All power to your elbow as they say (for some reason or other).
We managed to get the scope out last night as it was the first time it's been properly clear here for quite some time. the moon was lovely as was the venus showing just under half phase (and maybe a greenish tint, I'm not sure). The other planets were there and just scanning round with the binoculars was good fun, M13 looking outstanding. I did try to get the Leo galaxies but was having trouble with the scope (Should have swapped the tube round for an easier time of it).
Dark skies n all that
Posted Apr 23, 2004
Should you be interested, the courses I was referring to are here:
http://www.open.ac.uk/science/short/ (Hope this works)
S196 Astronomy is interesting but I suspect that you'll probably know a lot of it already, although there's a fair amount of new stuff as well, to me anyway.
S194 Planets is a lot harder going and a lot more information in the text.
I was really just trying them out to see if I could cope with something more serious. It's not looking good though. They do take up a lot of time.
I thought that I might try the Mars one next as they're very good in their own right.
All the best
Posted May 19, 2004
18 May 04
Caught first sight of Comet NEAT. About 3 days after perihelion.
Surprisingly large fuzzy blob rather like a Globular cluster. No tail that I could make out with the new 16X70 binoculars.
It was just North of a distinctive pair of stars in Cancer at 10.30 pm BST. By 1.00 am it had moved an appreciable distance further North. It seems to be heading for U Major.
Posted May 22, 2004
Possibly one of the most beautiful sights of the night sky is the two or three day old moon. Tonight was no exception. When the moon is young and with the part in shadow slightly illuminated by Earthshine, it takes on a 3D quality that isn't seen at other times.
I explored the moon's terminator which is just west of Mare Crisium. Lingering around Crisium is always rewarding. It's the only Mare which is not joined to another, consequently the ring of peaks which form the rim stand out as massive blocks, which are in fact up to three miles above the mare.
Several internal craters were prominent, Picard and Pierce among the largest. Also the bench on the inner side of its western rim formed from the original impact. Adjacent to the basin is one of the brightest, younger craters, Proclus, with its unusual ray pattern that shows an oblique strike angle of the original impactor..
The nearby craters of Cleomedes, Macrobus and Tarantius all stand out beautifully.
To finish off nearby Venus isn't quite as brilliant in the evening light and a quick look at Comet NEAT, which is steadily migrating northwards completed a better than usual evenings viewing.
Posted May 31, 2004
It's been a good month for moonwatching.
I've had the scope out on several occassions to watch progress. Yesterday evening was quite clear and I was able to see the central peaks of the giant crater Gassandi illuminated beautifully,
Earlier in the week as the terminator reached Imbrium I got my first clear view of the Vallis Alpes in the NE.
Both Copernicus and Tycho are now in full view with their rays predominant, although they will get brighter still at full moon.
Posted Jun 8, 2004
8 June 0730-0745
Managed to get a quick look at the Transit of Venus before I was off to work. Used half of the binoculars mounted on a stand and projected the Sun's image onto blank card.
Looking at the small dot on the lower edge of the Sun that was Venus, it was amazing to think that it's pretty much the same size as the Earth. It really puts things into perspective.
Still, as it's a once in a lifetime event, or maybe twice, I'm glad I didn't miss it.
Posted Jul 3, 2004
I've been trying for some months to catch a photo of a full moon. It's not easy with only one chance per month and weather and RL conspiring against you. I tried again last night to find scudding cloud all but obliterating the sky, but between the breaks it could be seen to be quite clear. Also the moon is very low down, at its lowest in fact, and doesn't quite clear the rooftops or treetops that surround my garden.
I gave up at about 12.00pm and packed away the newt as the moon was below the next door rooftop and went indoors to read a book.
I popped out again for a last look at about 2 am and found crystal clear skies and the moon heading for a gap between the house and a tree.
The scope was trawled out again, set up and ready just one cup of tea and a cheese sandwich later. For a full half hour I was able to get a clear shot as it traversed the gap A couple of the pics are here:
Due to its elevation the moon wasn't at its usual brilliance so the snaps are somewhat dim, but I'm quite pleased to have got them at all.
Quite pleased with myself I finally took off to bed at about 4 am. There was a strange glow outside coming through the windows which at first I took to be moonlight. It wasn't, it was dawn! I had to resist the temptation to go out looking for an early Venus.
Posted Aug 1, 2004
Last night was quite clear and I was able to get a good half hour with a full moon. It's always a striking sight, but in summer it's low down and I end up playing catch-chase with it between the surrounding houses and trees. The gales last month and the resulting damge to a large Indian Bean Tree in the garden have given a much better southern aspect. Bad news for the tree though.
Posted Aug 7, 2004
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Posted Sep 5, 2004
Really weird and quite a shock.
Last night I was trying to bump up the Lunar 100 and getting some brilliant views of the near last quarter moon. I was focused in on the Palus Putredinis area trying to locate the Hadley Rille and the Apollo 15 landing site area.
Suddenly, a small black dot which was discernibly circular with a slightly irregular edge, traversed the field of view travelling in a NNW direction across the Mare Imbrium. Luckily I had my hand on the newt's adjuster and was able to track it for about 4 seconds before losing it.
I'm putting it down to an Earth orbiting satellite that just happened to get in the way. The odd thing however is that it was quite black. Normally satellites picked up in binoculars are bright rather than black, but I guess that could be just due to it being silhouetted.
There is another possibility but it's just too improbable to contemplate.
Posted Oct 21, 2004
21 Oct 2004
The moon is up to first quarter tonight and this is the first opportunity in a month that I've been able to put telescope to it. Weather has been awful but tonight it cleared. The moon is low on the horizon at present and seeing is not particularly good but I was able to make out two of the main isolated peaks just on the terminator. Mt Pico and another unnamed that stood out as just their peaks were illuminated. They looked like cat's eyes peering out of the Imbrium mare. I could clearly make out the mare wrinkle ridges just south of Plato and what looks like an old inundated crater 'old Newton'. These ridges are only seen as the terminator passes over them.
Also hoping to catch a possible Orionid meteorite strike which apparently can show as a brief flash of light in the unlit quarter. No luck there though, that would be just too good to be true.
Posted Nov 5, 2004
4 Nov 04 12.30 pm
Quite clear for a half hour but cold. The moon is just past three quarters and the terminator is cutting thro the southern highlands.
Able to identify the straight wall, Rupes Recta,quite clearly.
Orion is well up in the south east and I turned newt onto the great nebula. It was clear and I was able to ID the trapezium quite easily.
The pleiades? are almost at the zeneith. Turned the binnies onto them also.
It started to mist over after about a half hour but all in all quite a successfull session.