About: Byron Davies

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Jun 4

In The Sky This Month

Grab your scopes because big “J” will reach opposition on the 10th of this month at 10:17 CDT.  Find Jupiter in the constellation Ophiuchus during the month of June making its nearest approach to Earth for ideal observing.  Our largest neighbor planet offers a great show with colorful bands, orbiting moons and its great red spot. While you are  gazing at Jupiter take a few minutes to enjoy the six globular clusters that reside in the constellation Ophiuchus.  They are:  M-9, M-10, M-12, M-14, M-19, and M-107.   Other June globular clusters worth mentioning are:  M-3, M-5, M-13, M-22 (late), and M-92.     June also offers some very nice spiral galaxies like M-51 and M-101.  More challenging galaxies include: M-64 (Black Eye),M-81, M-82, M-83, M-87, M-94, and M-104 (Sombrero). This is just a short list of the brighter celestial objects in the June sky.  June has a lot more unmentioned objects to offer the observer.  It is the opening to the best observing time of the year with the rising of our object packed spiral arm.  The best viewing time of the year has arrived!  Get those scopes out and enjoy them. Clear skies everyone.  

Jun 3

Shooting Galaxies at Menke June 2

For me EAA is the way to go.  Simple plug and play design of the R2 system takes video astronomy to a whole new level of fun.  The detail may not resemble time exposure astrophotography but far exceeds the detail of the naked eye.  Got to give credit to the individual who had the brilliant idea to create an all inclusive imaging system known as the Revolution Imager.  It has made the hobby more enjoyable than ever before and I can not imagine astronomy with out it!  The galaxy hop time window was very narrow due to work schedule but we did manage to get a look at three decent galaxies with the imager.  The viewing conditions were not ideal with a slight haze and thin clouds.  We made the best of the conditions and put M-51 in the camera.  It was an amazing sight even with the atmospheric haze.  Very distinct spiral structure and fairly bright.  Next we put the R2 on M-104 the Sombrero galaxy.  Very nice detail revealing the galaxies structure including the dark edge on line giving it the distinction of its name.  Last was M-64 the Black Eye galaxy.  A little on the rough side […]

May 30

Bugged out!!

Meet the beetle grinder also know as our very own Celestron 8SE loaner scope.  Apparently these little critters felt the scope would be a nice winter hang out until spring.  Most of them found out they were dead wrong but only after they defecated and decomposed all over the inside of the scope including the circuit boards.  When bugs defecate and decompose they release natural sugars that wreak havoc on electronics acting like little short circuits across the circuit board.  This can and usually causes the electronics to fail meaning expensive repairs.  Lucky we were able to catch the problem early.  As I removed the access panels on the scope one by one the mess just morphed into hundreds of beetle corpses.  The shop vac was able to do most of the dirty work but some of the beetles were glued into place by decomposition.  It required using a pocket screw driver to clean the bugs out of the nooks and crannies in the structure of the mount.  Then came time for cleaning the circuit boards.  I swabbed the circuit boards with rubbing alcohol repeatedly until the swabs no longer showed any soiling being removed.  Did I say NASTY!! The […]

May 17

Hunting Globulars in the glow of the evil orb.

Finally we get a decent break from cloud and rain systems from hell!  Time to get out of the house and fire up the 8″ Edge and the Rev 2 for some globular hunting against half full moon.  So the cloud break during the moon phase did not do me any favors for DSO viewing but these days you have to take what you can get! Conditions were not perfect with an occasional thin layer of clouds passing by but the globular viewing was better than expected.  This took me by surprise considering the presence of the evil orb.  So I four stared the mighty CG-5 and put it to work.  My first target was M-3 and the CG-5 nailed it.  The Rev 2 went to work stacking a very nice image of the cluster.  Lots of nice pin point stars in a tight formation.  Next target was M-5 and again the CG-5 put it into the viewing screen.  This cluster had much more to offer with a lot of pin point stars at a much brighter magnitude with a nice dense core.  Third target was M-53 which was the runt of the bunch.  It has some nice pin point […]

Mar 28

Dusting off the scope

I have been eagerly waiting for a decent night to align with the work schedule to dust off the equipment for a little star gazing before we lose our winter sky gems.  Mike Dannefeldt and I decided to give it a shot on Tuesday the 26th as conditions were looking good for clears skies and the evil orb (moon) would not be an issue during our viewing time window.  I set up the 8″ Edge SCT with a four star alignment and plugged in the R2 Imager with the new high definition screen. We manage to pack it in with views of M-42, NGC-2024 (Flame), M-1 (Crab),M-81/M-82, M-51, M-108, M-106, M-109,  NGC-2392 (Eskimo) and M-104 (Sombrero).  My neighbor’s deck lighting was making some of the viewing to the southwest difficult.  As we were viewing the Eskimo nebulae there was an object passing through the screen at a slow pace.  As the imager shot a frame of the object would show up moving against the grain in short lines.  It took about 30 seconds to move across the 7″ screen.  I have seen satellites move cross the screen before and they move through the screen fast.  This object moved considerably slower […]

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