August 28, 2011

A Galactic Full Moon-Lite Surprise

 From my observing journal: August 11, 2011  11pm-1:24am
Temp:  70* Moon phase: "Waxing Gibbous" 95 % full.

So I went to enjoy the light of the full moon and I received a galactic surprise. I had a complete blast photographing the moon's light that was splashed around my backyard and my house. I am more a goof off rather than a serious one with my digital camera,but, tonight I shot some exciting shots around my backyard of the moon light bouncing onto my house. You can check them out by scrolling down too my story called ' A Night Enjoying Some Moon-Shine'.

Later I decided to pick up my new binocs and explore the new constellations  popping up around the northeast area of the sky. First thing I did was breeze my binocs around Cassiopeia, what a fun area to explore. If you like to see lots of cool stars this is an area you'll like. I spent about 20 minutes just moving my binocs any which way above and below Cassiopeia A star. Then I saw the star Andromeda galaxy is above was out so I popped it to the star and wow what a great orange star!

I am so impressed with my new binoculars it was worth every penny. As I got wandering around my binocs were living up to it's name 'Messiers Comet' they were gliding to precision. All of a sudden there was a huge fuzzy, oblong in roundness and unmistakably there. Wow once I had that in my view they were locked in, these binocs were not moving any time soon. Now remember, I am a telescope girl so you'd see me with my scope out more than binoculars out there but  now it's a competition. My old 10x50 binocs I used many times but Messiers Comet is packed for a punch so I'll be cruising the skies with them every chance I get. When Andromeda galaxy was in view it was a very well seen smudge and reminded me of when Comet Holmes was out October 2007. Wasn't that Comet a blast?

Let's get  back to that orange star, it was so spectacular, I enjoyed looking at it. The star is Mirach in constellation Andromeda. Then as I moved my binocs upward to the galaxy I was scouting out there is a smaller group of stars hanging out together  and I'd say there were maybe 6 or 7 of them, dim but well seen. It surprised me how it came into my view so easy, and wide. I got hungry for more galaxies to find in my  binocs but I left my observing books inside, decided to just poke aimlessly around the sky tonight.  So around 12:30am the old unwanted yawning started and I did have a busy day so I started to pack it in and as I went to grab the blankets I saw it, a blob of light north-east. I thought it was a close airplane, there is an airport across the river. As I walked across my lawn I remembered airplanes do not come from that direction and realized it was Jupiter.

So I grabbed my binocs and saw Jupiter and saw the spectacular disk and three moons  and was glad to see Jupiter. Looking forward to this years adventures with Jupiter.  Always nice to have a planet gracing our skies at night. Too the right and up  to the East more Uranus is out, looks like I'll have a challange up my sleeve with my 12 inch dobsonian. A double planetary hunt!

(Here is the trail I describe above, click for bigger photo)

August 24, 2011

Our Night Sky Connection - An Aspiring Way

VERY glad I have a blog again, loving it how it is just about my observing , no deep astronomy writing. Observing is my focus in my life now, my life renewal, my new  observing toys and observing with them is my total focus.

When I wake up I'm already thinking of it and what I can find to observe out there and it fuels my day. Sophy too but glad to be happy and focused again on my passion for observing. I always have a star map notebook and observing book when eating etc. I have lists of plans and lists of what's out there on my scope. When I go to bed at night I am elated about being out there once again and think of how amazing it all really is or listening to At The Eyepiece podcast. Either way it is on my mind as I fall asleep. I am a happy soul.

Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.

August 23, 2011

The Aaaahhh At The End Of The Day

After a super busy day yesterday with hardly a moment to sit down for the both of us, my Sophy and I  threw a few blankets down  onto my patio and we just laid there and stared at the stars  for a while. Just enjoying another quiet night.

We spent some really nice quiet time out there together from 11pm - 1:30am.  Temperature was 68*. It was so nice to just be with my dog, just Sophy and me. My new binoculars ROCK! Cygnus is spectacular at the zenith point this month.

Now THAT'S what I call mommy and me time!
(Ooh, and yes, I was stargazing in my socks.. again)

August 21, 2011

A Refreshing Binocular Blast !

From my observing journal: August 17, 2011
 Temp:75*  Wanning gibbous Moon phase 85% full.

Beautiful temperature out here, crickets are singing and the Moon is moving behind the neibors house. The moons light will not be interfering with my deep sky plans for a while. Feels good tonight to be out in the night air.

I begin my exploring by laying on my back on a blanket, eye where Cygnus is and put my knees to the air and feet on the ground. as I raise my binocs to Deneb I am excited to peruse the goodies. Last week I had a blast with my binocs through the Mirach to Mu Andromedae then too Andromeda galaxy pathway. A new favourite route I created.  I am a die hard telescope girl but I want to have more fun with my new toy 10x70's . Great the Moon is  now hidden, let's go!

I layed back down and move the binocs up to Deneb area and in pops a double star. Spectacular and wide, very well seen against the back drop of dim star filled sky. A nice pair! Now, I am so enjoying laying here exploring with my binocs just panning along back and forth. Pausing here and there using my averted vision to see what pops out. Lyra is so visually stunning to browse through tonight. Vega and Epsilon Lyrae stars are in the same view. I'm finding it awesome to have a wider field of view, better than a finderscope I find (I somehow pictured my binocs on my scope instead of a finder scope last night!). Every little celestial being is a pleasure in this field of view.

Wow, a low flying airplane went by in my binoculars field of view! flashing green light, bottom was lit up and I saw the numbers 28, the rest of the numbers was unseen. I jumped when it went by. I heard it's gears slow down to land at the airport across from our river over in the states. My eyes were in the binocs so I was not expecting that. Now that is a RARE moment of a lifetime!

11:40pm -  So I was busy starhopping between Sulafat of Lyra and Alberio looking for m56 and I hear this loud space like sound of an aircraft slowing down that echoed off my house. It was like some giant space or aircraft coming, wether towards us by ground or falling from the sky. it was a massive creepy space sound like in forbidden planet!  I sat up, looked west and another airplane  is unbeleivably LOW! Very very beyond belief low. I lift my binoculars and the whole ultra close airplane fits in my binocs field of view from tip to tail perfectly. I love watching airplanes go by in the scope, this is fun in the binocs also.  It actually reminded me of the creepy space noises in the beginning of Forbidden Planet, click here to check out the sounds. I have the Forbidden Planet ultimate collectors edition set!  The collectors tin.

After a long while spent  looking around Cygnus I realized having binocs is a real asset  to knowing the sky. You actually see every star that is on your starmaps and websites I visited in one field of view. I also saw everything I read about. I am seeing all of it in one area, all the stars and deep sky stuff. Now when I view deep sky pics on the web I already saw it and know what is there and where. I feel I'm at a new level of knowing what's out there to find. I see more than I see in the scope. This is a real learning experience, now I understand why people enjoy binocular exploring. Amazing experience. I am finding it easier to feel the objects escpecially  when hunting at the zenith point.

12:06am - Jupiter is 3 1/2 degrees high in northeast sky. I just realized when on my back holding binocs on wide end it is pretty stable and easy to use, not arm tiring at all. Jupiter's disc is quite large in my binocs. It is rising quite quickly.

12:30am - I walked around the yard stretching my legs and now just sitting here relaxing and enjoying the mild wind. Amazing how you forget Earth while exploring for along time with the binocs to the skies. I felt like I had just woken up from a great nap, refreshed feeling is amazing while sitting here on a few spread out blankets and Sophy is  chewing on a doggy bone happily, Spirit is in his happy spot, the pile of hay under the big tree. Nice to just sit here for a while.

As I am sitting here staring at the moon I cannot believe how it feels like I was physically out in space  for a while looking at all the single and double stars, dim and bright stars. SO REFRESHED!  After laying here on the patio with Sophy and a blanket staring up too Cygnus area  for yet another while I picked up my binocs and noticed that Cygnus is now is at true point and double stars are really popping out. Tomorrow night I am going to explore Jupiter and the Moon in my 12 inch scope, but, tonight I am having a great time just stargazing.

Wow, Delphinius fits into my whole field of view! so close. Holy cow, the pleiades. Amazing, wow so blue are it's stars. They are spectacular in the binocs. I was at my fence gazing at Jupiter and they popped into view. Truly a nice night out here under the Moon, Jupiter, Cygnus and company. I am so thankful I take personal nights on the web scouring the constellation sites. Really pays off  unimaginably. Using averted vision is a great if not the perfect tool with binocs. now I can see the top stars of Perseus rising over the house under Cassiopeia.

1:30am -  Wow, Sophy and I have been cuddled up together under a blanket just staring. This is my favourite moment tonight. Also the feeling of socks touching the ground on my feet instead of shoes! I love stargazing in my socks.

1:46am - Reflection time! This is the part where after I am in for the night, changed into my pajamas and grab my laptop and reflect in the nights observing.  Along with a nice cup of apple juice to replenish my fluids before I dive under my comfy bedding. Never under or over estimate how much you can browse the internet looking at what you can find and studying deep sky imaging of the area or areas you want to explore out in your backyard.

I looked at every possible site that came up and wrote down objects to find, then went to the sketching part of cloudy nights forum to see their notes on what the object appeared as in their eyepiece.  Go nuts looking, gives you more seeing power out there, meaning more objects no matter what your observing plans are. Whether its a few double stars, a few starhops to some galaxies  or tackling distant dim star clusters, you will have a whole sky studied, go extra nuts with thr photos. I print some for daytime study and save the good ones to use year after year.

Time for me to go to sleep, if your like me just getting in and writting what is on your mind or just stepping out with your maps, observing journal and equipment and looking up to the stars, have a great night!

August 19, 2011

A Night Enjoying Some MoonShine

I had a blast taking photos of  my house, my dog Sophy (little brown one) and my nephew/ ol stargazing buddie  Spirit (white dog). Yes I called Spirit my nephew, he is my brothers dog.  I got inspired by my friend Martin McKenna  the NightSkyHunter's photos of his antics under the stars and wow I had a blast.

You might want to click the photos bigger and brighten your screen to see the sky. Some are not as clear, but, I'm happy to get some shots. Me and Sophy are in one shot and  one of them even has the moon splashing it's light on my laundry room floor! I used no flash at all, brightened up my camera to the brightest and on night setting with Fuji digital camera, nothing fancy.

I love it when the moon light is on my house and  coming through the windows onto the floor and I am so happy I actually have photos of it. One of my house chimney photos has a streak above it, that is an airplane passing by!

August 10, 2011

My New Constellation Challenge for August

So last night I spent a few hours after 11pm poking around the internet too study the deep sky area of Cassiopeia. I've been observing the deep sky around her for at least 10 years and I still love  too see what else I can find. I am having a complete blast with my scope Ambrosia out there these past two weeks. Some stargazers and deep sky visual observers really have some spectacular websites on persuing their deep sky hunting passion and what you can find out there.

I want to share some of the pages and people I came across. I armed myself with Sue French's Celestial Sampler, Orion Deep Map 600, a notebook and pencil and started with Cassiopeia and it turned out I made an exciting discovery! I was looking at a map of the Cassiopeia/ Cepheus area and realized of all the 9 years of exploring the night sky with Story I have not explored Cepheus yet. wow 10 years later and I have a 'not explored it yet' on my list. how is that possible? have I actually explored it and don't remember it?

I hopped off my bed and on my closet I pulled out my little box of my notebooks containing all of my observing notes. I have not one entry of exploring Cepheus. I'm thinking as I put them back up on my shelf  maybe I didn't write it down. Well I am not going to question it I am going to be excited to explore a new constellation! Wow how can I miss it? So I popped back into google and browsed the Cepheus sites and looked through my astronomy books I have on observing the constellations etc and nope not one piece of paper, caught up by gravity falling out as I go through the pages. Come on gravity work with me.

I've made the constellations my old friends, time to make a new one. So I  started my trek online seeing what is in Cephius to gobble up in my scope. I of course know what is in it, now is the time to get visual with it.  Now for the interesting websites I have found. To amazing not to share and enjoy them.

Starchasers   Eagle Creek Observatory on Cepheus   Knoxville Observers on Cepheus

Astronomy Resources (Lots of interesting links there)   Weather Forecast For Astronomy

Sky Atlas Observing Logbook  <-----  I LOVE IT!    Space Dog    FaintFuzzies 

Same lady, two nice pages--->   IVM's Deep Sky Blog    FJ Astronomy

No matter how many years you have been  observing, how good your skills get or the fact that you know where every  deep sky object, double star etc is, always save some space for meeting new friends down the cosmic road.

August 9, 2011

Great Stories Under The Stars

(This article originally was written  April 26, 2009. Not very good grammar  but I will post it anyway)

So tell me about your first telescope stories :)

On my back porch stands my new Orion SkyQuest 12 telescope "Ambrosia " named after my best buddie who I really missed yesterday,but I'm grateful to have known her. If it wasn't for Ambrosia I would not be the astronomer I am. I still have to calibrate it so I took my older one outside. 

Tonight was the first night it has been mild enough to enjoy observing comfortably. As I stood there with my good ol 8 inch dobsonian "Story " looking up at the starry sky on the eve of using my new scope I am enjoying remembering the adventures we had exploring the night sky in my backyard these past 9 years. Yes of course i'll still use it. Tonight i'm amazed to be looking up at the very very same constellation patterned sky that I first explored with it, from Arcturus which is the first orange star I looked at thru Story to the gamma ray discovery in the sickle of Leo I accidently made.

 My favorite is the night I was looking at Saturn and to the left in the eye piece a huge orange blinking probe was slowly creeping by. I still wonder what that was traveling East to West, so close! Really fun to look at & follow on it's journey. It's so vivid in my mind still. I'll never forget Mars visit in 2003. Two A.M visit's with the red planet were so fascinating. Someone told me you can get so close to it in the scope you can smell the soil & I remember feeling soil & the smell as I looked close at it and visioned it smelling like sand. 

First time I saw a satellite my brother & I found it & we were out there at 1 am yelling what is that? we should call NASA ! We found something! He said it's a ufo, then I remembered I read in my new astronomy book it's a satellite. Jupiter was the first planet I looked at. My brother said oh there's a planet and 4 moons! I said whaa? and he said no really, look ! I can still see the view I was shocked at when taking my first peek. One moon was to the left of Jupiter & 3 were lined up on the right of the planet. 

Also I remember the amazing feeling when finally finding the Andromeda galaxy, a year later after not finding it I was online one night & noticed an astronomy chat room to actually talk to someone about finding it ,after 2 hours I closed my computer then realized I wrote out 6 pages of how to find basically all the different objects. Next day I looked them up & that night it was 6 hours of me & Story flying thru the night sky on an adventure, following the directions as to finding galaxies, nebula's and double stars. 

All the many hours Story & I spent one night exploring the milky way band across my sky from my backyard one night after reading an article of Ken Hewitt-White's in sky news during that day. I put all my maps , books etc away and just explored from south to north,wherever the milky way ran, I followed.Really amazing night of exploration. I learned a lot about using my optics that night too. Not to mention the first night I pointed it to the Moon & got it all set up and went okay dad have a peek & he got down to the ground and looked up from the bottom! Ack too funny ! hee hee! Then when he did look he backed away slowly and so f'n too dramatic he said ' ooh that's so close it's scary ! ' Eyes popped wide open so hilarious.

Before he retired he used to come home from shift work around 1 am to find me on the patio perusing somewhere out there and he liked take a peek into Story,the double cluster between Cassiopeia & Persues was always his favorite,he still talks about it. One night I was moving thru pegasus when a meteor went thru the eye piece view, YOUCH that was bright ! Tonight as I put my hand on Story's cover I saw a satellite go by across the big dipper I remembered when I first followed one. Old radio shows I collect & 40's and short-wave radio good stuff we shared among the night air won't be forgotten either. My old short-wave radio is an ol nite sky buddy too. Amazing programs from around the world was broadcast on there. 

Story got it's name when one night in the yahoo beyond planet earth chatroom when a chat guy named Kevin said I remind him of Story Musgrave because I love to share my enthusiasm of exploring space in your backyard with boundless enthusiasm. Especially teaching how mazing it is. Along with the few I have, Story has a NASA award of it's own on it's base. A NASA sticker from my Uncle Richard. Rightfully deserving too because my things & discoveries & near discoveries have all been found thru the scope. When people heard I was saving up for Ambrosia they mentioned selling Story. 

That was followed by my gasps of horror ! Sell Story? After all we've been thru? Then I get a but it's just wood & aluminum, again another gasp. Then I gave them the old ' first car ' theory and then they got it. My parents got a new little car (Aveo great room for scopes guys! ) and he still brings up ' ol betsy ' haa! So as I enjoy the first mild night of the next stargazing season with Story I got teary eyed because it has been a long winter and i've missed my amazing nite sky life in my backyard,but, as I stand there teary eyed because i'm so happy to be with the stars again I'm touched to look down and see my observing partner dog Spirit has come to sit leaning against me, he has nite sky stories too. He's actually my brother's dog but chose to live with me because he likes to be with other dogs, luckily my brother doesn't mind, he sees him alot. 

 He saw some meteors before. I looked up at the sky again to see a meteor shoot thru Bootes and I yelled, Oh very funny universe !! But thanks universe, my sister has taught me about being grateful, well tonight I am reminiscing with my gratefulness stories & experiences in my night sky backyard I have with Story.Our exploring we've done is PRICELESS!

Even though it ended with a 'only in the movies' moment ! EEKS!

August 3, 2011

Binocular Universe

I love Phil Harrington's  articles he wrote in Astronomy magazine. I have them all (yes every one) printed out. I use them outside observing all the time. Very informative and very usable. I found out he is on Cloudy Nights Forum now continuing his articles. Check it out right here.

With every article  you will notice the  top left link that says download article and it opens up too easy printable version in PDF format. my printer is whirring away and I cannot wait to pop these in my observing binder I print out star tours and observing forms etc for use while at the eyepiece.

These are great to use whether using binoculars or scopes, I use every tour and go back to them time and time again.  He gives you unique ways to explore our cosmos. His illustrations accompanying the deep sky tours make it easy to find them also. So print them out for yourself and enjoy the interesting tours he has for us all.   Enjoy browsing around with a new view of exploring space at the eyepiece.

August 2, 2011

Let The World Sleep, We Have The Stars All To Ourselves Tonight!

(This is a grammar free post to keep the authenticity of  what I wrote while experiencing this night)

Observing Journal Entry-  July 26 2011
So in a few we are going to head out for another fantastic summer night of observing. The plan is to catch some of the celestial treasures around Delphinus, such as two glorious star clusters, a planetary nebula and for a treat we are hoping to catch the blue nebula in the eyepiece.  I was out with my little dog Sophy (to the right of my blog), who is also my stargazing buddie, and wow the stars are amped up with proton power tonight. Delphinus was very seen despite my back patio light is on. Lights off when the scope comes out! I was looking around and Cygnus is proudly soaring along with the other  lights of the summer triangle. In the south tonight the clear starry skies are being graced with the presence of Scorpio. Wow that is a big honkin constellation, super stinger of the summer sky. cannot mistake how huge the stars seem, Antares is very  inviting, might take a rest stop there when I have a snack.

11pm Temp 70* Equipment: 12 inch dobsonian, 26mm eyepiece, 2x Barlow
Well got my gear, my radio and snacks, water and fresh batteries in my red flashlight, star maps and lets hit the ol Milky Way highway. It is so unbelievably clear skies out here it is making every star pop like crazy. I have never seen the milky way  from my backyard observing spot and I even have a yellow bug light on my shed.  Every bright star is shining their photons to the max.  Secondary stars are wowing me, so many can be seen. Even Hercules is  very well seen. Cooler weather, no friggin mosquitos. Crickets are singing for the first time this summer, absolute magic. This is just nuts! Looney stars are... well...  every constellation is so well seen I don't even know how to stop sitting here staring at them all.

Twenty minuits later ... okay time to stop sitting here staring and roll out my telescope to view Delphinius. The milky way star trail  through Cygnus is blowing my freaking mind. It's a good thing I made myself an observing list earlier today while enjoying a cup of coffee. I would not know where to start. Actually I need to calm down, I just yelled "Wow Sophy! Look at that eff*n milky way, WOAH!". Pretty sure the neiborhood heard it. First target on my list is NGC-6934, a star cluster  under Delphinius.  Holy Asteroids I have a creek in my neck searching for that star cluster, I think someone moved it. I aimed for the star  labeled E in Delphinius and scanned the area it was supposed to be in. So I looked on my map to see what other star I can use as a pointer and Altair seemed a good route to take.

As for the creek (actually called a kink) in my neck, can you imagine telling someone who does not know observational object lingo?? The conversation I came up with:
 "What happened to your neck?" they ask, I reply "NGC-6934".

Finally the star cluster slid into my finderscope's view.  Found it the old fashioned way, averted vision, the tried and true method every scope user uses.  Altair was a great help in locating it. If your stuck finding an object go a different route. It  may teach you new observing skills. always good to keep them sharp.

12:50am- Bright green meteor shot through Cygnus! Direction was west to east,WOW!  I  was up at the zenith point aiming my finderscope towards Alberio double star and I saw  it just beyond my finderscope. As David Levy would yell " YES,YES!".  Next I  am hitting  some bootes object,then packing it in for the night.  Here are some other objects I hunted down using my 12 inch dobsonian:

Arcturus Group   M3  Mizar/Alcor double star   Alberio Sadr   M13

Above when I mentioned the milky way highway I never thought Iwould actually see it tonight.
While most of my neibourhood sleeps around me, us night sky explorers are having amazing experiences in our backyard, life changing for some. It's not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!