How Not To Find A Comet

Monday, 11 October 2010, 12:48 | Category : Stargazing
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-Get binoculars down from closet shelf – Check!

-Get telescope out of workshop, set up in yard – Check!

-Pick out low-power and medium-power eyepieces to avoid fumbling in eyepiece case in the dark – Check!

-Position nice comfortable chair in location for best observing spot – Check!

-Get up at 2:30 in the morning when comet is in best viewing position – Check!

-Locate comet using star map showing comet’s location for that date – …

-Locate comet using star map showing comet’s location for that date – …

-Locate comet using star map showing comet’s location for that date – …

-Fail to find comet because star map was for previous day – ummm, check, OK?

A Little Stargazing

Monday, 13 September 2010, 13:45 | Category : Stargazing
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M31

This past Friday night, I spent a fine evening at Rainwater Observatory with my new (to me) telescope, an 8″ f/7 Discovery dobsonian, getting reacquainted with M6, M7, and M80 in Scorpius, and M69, M70, M31, and Jupiter, including the shadow of Ganymede as it completed its transit of the planet. Too warm, too humid – the globular clusters particularly were messy – but still really nice to be back out under the stars. I hadn’t been observing in over a year, and I really wanted to get a look at M6 (the Butterfly Cluster, and probably my favorite cluster) before it disappeared into the autumn sunset, and I wasn’t disappointed. The view of that cluster wasn’t affected by the humidity, which seemed to build as the evening went along. Little glowing blue jewels in the shape of a butterfly, if you have even a little bit of imagination.