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.  

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 […]

Jan 19

Lunar Eclipse – January 20-21 2019

Well… the Lunar Eclipse will need to happen without us… We won’t be meeting at the park in Riverdale on Sunday… but don’t forget to take a peek from the warmth of your home! The Lunar event time line is as follows for those of us in the QCA: 8:36 pm Sun, Jan 20 Penumbral Eclipse begins – The Earth’s penumbra starts touching the Moon’s face. 9:33 pm Sun, Jan 20 Partial Eclipse begins – The partial Lunar eclipse starts and the Moon is getting red. 10:41 pm Sun, Jan 20 Total Eclipse begins – The Moon is completely red. 11:12 pm Sun, Jan 20 Maximum Eclipse – The Moon is closest to the center of the Earth’s shadow. 11:43pm Sun, Jan 20 Total Eclipse ends 12:50 am Mon, Jan 21 Partial Eclipse ends 1:48 am Mon, Jan 21 Penumbral Eclipse ends. Thanx!

Feb 6

Double Stars

Have you ever gone outside on a beautiful night, looked up at the sky and wondered just how many stars that there were? Did you know that about eighty percent of the points of light you are seeing are actually Binary Star Systems… aka double stars? Unfortunately, to fully appreciate double stars, a telescope is required, but don’t despair! It doesn’t take the Hubble to see them; even a common set of binoculars can do the trick for many of these gems! So what is a double star… a Binary System? Well, commonly it is two or more stars in very close proximity to each other… Some double stars just happen to line up in the sky, and appear close together… even touching, but they are so far apart that their travels in the sky have no impact on each other. We call these Visual Doubles. Then we have the binary systems where there are actually two or more stars that are physically close to each other… enough so that they do have an impact on each other. We call these Gravitational Doubles. They circle one another, many times growing closer and closer to each other where over millennia that they may collide and result in super nova… […]

Oct 25

Look! Up in the Sky! It’s a… ???

So it’s nearing sunrise… sunset… the middle of the night… or most anytime, and you notice something up in the sky that for some reason has caught your eye, but what is it? So before calling Mulder and Scully, I thought I would give you a brief overview of the common objects noticed… those of an identified nature of course! Is the object stationary? If so, you more than likely are seeing a star or planet. Common to notice are the planets Venus and Jupiter… and sometimes Mars and Saturn. Venus is very commonly seen at sun rise and sunset and is commonly referred to as the ‘Morning Star’ or ‘Evening Star’. Jupiter is generally seen when skies are slightly darker and appears a bit larger. Mars is a bit harder to pick out and has a red hue to it. Both Mars and Saturn are generally seen with the aid of darker skies. It is beneficial to view the planets under dark skies, but the ones mentioned here can easily be seen under moonlight skies and even from inside our city limits. During the middle of September, you’ll be able to see Jupiter and Venus follow the Sun as they […]

Oct 16

Dancing With the Stars

Ok, so ‘dancing’ may be a misnomer here, but it got your attention. So, you’ve been to a number of public events (hopefully) where you could look through club telescopes and see cool views of the moon, Saturn, Jupiter, a few double stars, a star cluster or two… maybe a fuzzy galaxy or two, and that orangish redish star that is actually Mars… but you’re still not quite ready to buy a telescope… that is GREAT news! Why??? There are a lot of great opportunities for you to see even more, and more importantly learn a bit about what it takes to do the type of astronomy that you want to do… not just guess at what facets there are and what gear to invest in. Public events are fun and easy to get to… but you’ll notice that most of the amateur astronomers there are directing traffic, and not doing the majority of viewing…. Mmmm… what do they know that Joe Public doesn’t? Well, mainly, that the darker the skies, the better you can see the aforementioned objects… not just a little better, but generally a lot better… except for the moon, which astronomers, unless that is the object of […]

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