September 27, 2011


The Sirius area of the winter sky  is spectacular!  I woke up shortly after six am , looked out the window and wow! Orion and Canis Major was out. Could not resist the urge to go out and observe them before dawn started to appear. According to my star charts right now the  six am sky is actually February's sky.

I took my Celestial Sampler book and notebook, telescope and binoculars and got to work on some Sirius observing.

I had a blast with the winter stars. I went inside and grabbed my Cosmic Challenge and polished off some winter sky challenges. Sirius has some amazing star clusters around it!  Best thing? I was just wearing my pajama bottoms and a t-shirt!  Had to throw on a hoodie but usually it is winter when this sky is observed.  AWESOME! I am keeping track of my own Cosmic challenge From the book right here.

Last night around nine pm I went out with my binoculars. Here is last night's entry from my observing journal:

September 26,2011  60 degrees. 8:52pm -  Deneb seems to look visibly brighter tonight, I'm thinking something is going on with it or maybe the cooler weather.
I've been studying the Pegasus area extra carefully with my star maps, now that I have my 12 inch dobsonian I want to hunt down everything in it. I found the extension stars from Markab to Enif.  Very easy too see, found Enif and M15 to be in the same field of view in my binoculars.

Quite the stars to the right of Enif, Delphinus is showing off tonight!  While I was in the area, I swung my binoculars to the Andromeda galaxy. I always just have to take a peek at that great big galaxy.

The star clusters I observed:

M41  Cr121 Also knows as Colinder 21
NGC 2362  Amazing view in my 12 inch dob! The blues were SO VIVID!
NGC 2423 Colorful!
Mel71 Also known as Melotte 71

M44  Stunning cluster

M93  M46 and M47  M67  NGC 2354  

The planetary nebula's I observed:

NGC 2438  NGC 2440 

The star systems I observed:

ADS6915  Triple star!  ADS 6921 Quadruple star!

September 25, 2011


Anyone else remember Mir up in the winter sky?

Last night around four am I woke up and looked out my laundry room back door too see what constellations were up, I love doing that during the night. When I looked out I saw Orion was well placed for observing and sirius was out just below. Then I remembered something very cool!

Twelve years ago during my first year of observing there used to be a big light to the Right and up a little, it would be there almost every night. Then I found out it was a satellite ... I completely forgot about that. there used to be a big star or something that was accompanying Orion and it twinkled. I looked at my star maps and it was not there. I looked it up online and it turned out to be Mir, the russian space station.

For three years I enjoyed Orion's glittery companion. After it was returned to Earth I missed seeing it out there for a couple of years, that was nice to be reminded of it! I also remember Ken Hewitt-White's article in the SkyNews magazine mentioning how he was going to miss going out too be greeted by what he called his winter night sky companion. At the time it was returning to Earth and he wrote a nice article on his enjoyment of it sitting by Orion.

So I was not the only one who enjoyed Mir's  presence in the night sky! Just for old times sake let me end this article by saying what I used to say when I stepped out my door, which was "So what shall we explore tonight Mir?".

September 21, 2011


From my observing journal: September 22, 2011

I'm on Jupiter's tail tonight. That planet has no tail but,still, I am on it. I dragged myself out here, it is nicer out than I thought. I had a busy day but when I went out 10 minuets earlier that was a huge object in the sky and that sucker  was taunting me to get my scope out and explore it and the four moons it was with in the sky. So even though I love to go out and observe I made the commitment of  not being lazy. I was being called out there whether I was too tired tonight or not, I had to answer it's call.

So I bundle up with a few sweatshirts a hat and lay down the doggie beds and blankets and heeeey wait a minute! Where did all the fricken clouds come from? wow they come quick. Jupiter was fading and brightening like it was on a dimmer switch which told me the clouds were not very thick.  After I stepped out in the grass to assess the clouds I realized tonight was a peekaboo night. No steady skies for deep observation, the clouds were out to tease the stargazers this night.  So I pull out Ambrosia and get my 26mm eyepiece  all tightened in and Jupiter looked great! Nice double band and steady seeing for a few minuets. The four moons were scattered to it's left. Wow what a showpiece in the eyepiece. also i have noticed the past week that planet is  on the move! Just last week it was on the horizon.  When it seems to be on the move faster night by night I call it 'Jumpin Jupiter. Here is a shot of it i took in Ambrosia, my 12 inch dobsonian through my 26mm eyepiece. It was hard to get a shot because the clouds were not cooperating but it's still a shot of it, oh no! I shot Jupiter!

So after waiting and then observing a few seconds here and there jupiter was worth the commitment to come out. I'm committed to coming out but when I'm tired I listen. It was a great idea to come out.

Here is what Jupiter exactly looks like in my 12 inch dobsonian I compared to make sure. With my 25mm eyepiece and 2x barlow.

 When Jupiter was hiding between the clouds I'd swing my scope to the stars, Persues is absolutely packed with spectacular blue stars, Mirfak area is a blast to explore, caught some galaxies in Pegasus and then visited the Andromeda galaxy, then onto Cassiopeia. Also I saw a supernova! wow incredible chance to see one in my telescope, epic moment. M101 is a sight to be seen in itself but tonight a star is in the spotlight in that area.

Then around 12:32am the clouds rolled in their heavy  stuff and completely covered the sky so I packed everything in, sat on the blankets with Sophy for a bit and then it was bedtime.  I am always glad to go out for a few when something special is happening in the sky,  always worth it.  The clouds won over the sky but I had fun playing with my optics and filmed a little. An hour and a half battling the clouds is not bad, it was fun!

Video I made: The Quietness At The Eyepiece.

September 19, 2011

The Moon And Venus 2009

From Observing Journal: February 27 2009
Wow tonight I am really excited! I found out my  Fuji Fine Pix pocket camera  has a 'night' setting. So I took it outside and I got this shot, facing east at dusk. I can still feel the cc-old breeze on my face.

Wow ever nice to have pics for my observing journal. I got Story out and had a blast observing the moon and Venus. Earlier I printed out info on it and now I am enjoying it. Wow.

Sept 19, 2011 - Here is the article I printed out, looked it up for fun. Venus will be in our sky in October and I am looking forward to seeing her in my scopes again. I still have that camera but I use my new one outside now. If you click on the Tonight's Night Sky link to the upper right of my blog, I have info on Venus's forthcoming visit.  CANNOT WAIT! WOO HOO!

Under The FireFly Moon

This photo was taken July 5th 2009. Wow I even captured a firefly!  Summer nights under The Moon and even just starry nights when the Moon is not present is so fun!

Backyard summer nights under the stars are unbeatable!

September 16, 2011

A Four AM Trek: Lunar And Planetary Challenge

 What an amazing night! (boy, I could label all my articles that!) I dragged myself up, got some sweaters on and a winter hat (chilly out there) and my bag with my observing books etc I keep organized for when I decide to pop outside everything is there and ready to go. Very handy, make one for yourself!  I am working on all the lunar observing section of Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge.

Tonight I start on what craters and features that are present. I love observing challenges, bring it on Phil!  Next summer  I  plan on completing  observing lists like the Messier objects, and observing the NGC list and others from different astronomy clubs and leagues. But tonight I am browsing some winter sky sights with Ambrosia, my 12 inch dobsonian. Taurus is a complete blast to explore, as I mentioned above it is chilly tonight but I am ready for it with an electric blanket plugged into the outside plug on my house. It is keeping Sophy nice and warm.  Jupiter and the moon are still riding through each constellation at a close pace. Moon is leading the way.

This is a treasure at 4 am with great weather to observe by. I took a lengthy  look at Jupiter, I read in my sky News magazine earlier for September/October 2011 skies that Jupiter will be very bright and brighter in October sometime, wow really? It is so super bright now, just shimmering out there tonight.  It is so vivid in my scope tonight  I had to tone the brightness with my moon filter.  I slapped on my ultra high contrast filter and wow what a show the moons of jupiter put on. I put in my Barlow and switched from my 26mm eyepiece to my 10mm Plossl and you cannot see the terrain or atmospheric  details of the moons but it was a great idea to try it. It brought out really cool  striking effect. I thought the 10mm Plossl would bring them in too much but it turned out effective on exploring them in more detail.

Jupiter got really wonky looking up close so I tapped the scope's tube  so the ultra close planet was out of my field of view and I focused my view on the moons.  This time too much magnification worked, you have to work with your scope and eyepieces magnification powers carefully with different deep sky objects but this experiment worked well.  I decided on a whim too try my Lumicon UHC  filter then amped up the eyepiece power to goof off, try it yourself some time. My scope  size may differ from  yours but it is fun to test out your scope's power to magnify.  Deep  sky  observing with low numbered but high power viewing is tricky, specially with 10 mm  too 7mm high powered eyepieces.  Best thing is experience and writing down what worked and didn't work out.  Have to play with your optics now and then, a great learning tool to be the skilled deep sky observer you want to be.

After that I got to work on the lunar challenge and that was a complete blast but you'll see sometime soon what I observed, I am opening a separate page for it for fun. As I packed in everything I was once again thankful that I dragged myself out here, always worth the while!

As I enjoyed a glass of apple juice before I went back to sleep I noticed something new to explore. What fun can I have next with my Lumicon filter.  I do not play with my eyepieces and filters together very often but I will test out my Lumicon UHC more, it is a great addition to amp up your observing our fun to explore night sky.  As always, I feel so soul fulfilled and amazed at what I observed and felt deep in my soul. I am happy to be an observer once again, a passion that will never leave my life. Astronomy and observing it's not just a hobby it is our way of life.

September 13, 2011

Saturday Night On Earth

From my observing journal: Sept 11, 2011
10:35pm - Wow what an amazing night! The sky has a nice big full moon, Jupiter! Cozy blankets, Les Baxter's song 'moon moods' playing on my portable cd stereo for some great night music. Also I have my two star gazing buddies, dogs Sophy and Spirit. aaaahh nice night. It is 70 degrees and slighty windy. Les Baxter and his orchestra made some great music. My self made album (downloaded and burned onto a cd) is named after one of his songs on it 'saturday night on saturn'.  

Thwap! mosquito. I have my binoculars for some deep sky viewing, It feels like summer out here tonight  because it is 70 degrees and slighty windy. Slightly to harder winds makes for steady transparent skies, perfect seeing. classic Les Baxter on my radio makes it extra enjoyable. Beautiful music to listen too out here by the blue light of my radio and the view of the full moon. Wow these binocs are so great, I just popped the Pereus double cluster in it's field of view AND there is a full moon's light out! 

11:58pm - Wow I have been sitting here ..really? one and a half hours listening to my music and staring at the moonlight? wow. When it is a full moon  there's not much hope for dark skies so you can find more deep sky objects to feed your satisfaction of hunting them down but you can still enjoy the night sky. I always take this time too sit back and apreciate the nite sky connection I have in my life. I sit, relax and just enjoy the lit up night sky and moon as company. 

You are taking a rare moment out of life to just be. to just enjoy being under the moon and what stars or planet(s) you can see. Tonight Lyra, Aquilla, and Cygnus are all saying "Come on out, we'll enjoy the moon with you tonight".

Thwap! another mosquito, only two tonight. The crickets are singing to the moon quietly tonight. sophy is beside me just staring here and there, spirit is under his tree sleeping in his favourite spot. tonight is a really nice night too be out here, ooh big airplane coming, love pulling out my binocs and watching them fly by.  

Here is a video I made. Enjoy the cricket sounds! And on my radio is Because Of You by: Les Baxter

And one of my  radio blue light and the moon. Song is 'blue tango'. by Les baxter.

One thing I love about summer full moon nights is the shadows of the trees on my patio. The moons light is bright enough to cause shadows of the tree's leaves. It is such a small thing in life but so amazing to me. I cannot get enough of is on full moon nights like tonight  when you just spend time under the moon appreciating your night sky and astronomy life. 

It's a nice life when you are connected to the night sky and full moon night sky feeling. A full moonlit night sky is like a classic Sinatra song.

September 8, 2011

Time For My "Four Am Trek"

I found out it has been 12 years too this month I have been observing. When I was first learning the skies and getting out there exploring with "Vista" my new 5 inch newtonian reflector (let's not forget the irritating shaky tripod mount). As I was saving up for my 8 inch dobsonian I was using Vista to get better at aiming my finder-scope I discovered something amazing.

I was getting pretty good at the constellations and managed to get them down packed and just learning how to hunt down deep sky objects. I was tired  one night and it was getting cold out there so I was also feeling lazy (I hate being cold) so I went to bed. Later around 4:10am I awoke feeling and feeling like going outside so
I grabbed my bag with my books, charts, eyepieces etc in it, threw a big cozy knitted sweater on and  when I stepped out and looked up and a brand new starry sky was there.

The stars were so much brighter, bigger and I was stunned, unable to set another foot  forward to drop my bag onto my picnic table and turn on my radio as I usually did. I just stood there amazed at the spectacular display of heavenly lights of patterns I did not recognize above me.

After 20 minuets  I set up my scope and stuff and flipped on my radio for some night music and good company and got my charts out to discover ... What the what??? I looked at the patterns, I did not recognize any patterns! This is not the same sky I explored last night?  So I looked up and tried to see if anything looked slightly familiar, wait that looks like a stick figure, it is Orion. I remembered it from my books I was looking at. How can it be, it is summer and winter stars are up?

Wow I discovered the winter sky is up in the summer! A four in the morning surprise. So I learned what was what for an hour then started to look at all the stars of Orion and the Great Orion Nebula, all the stars of Taurus the bull and just when I was happily exploring the Pleiades the sun started to rise. Pretty cool moment to experience when in my eyepiece I still see darkness of the night sky and yet dawn was very present.

So for that month of September I would go out three times a week at least to explore the winter, not in winter clothes, mitts and hat, but in short, socks and a t-shirt.  This year now that I am once again deep into my observing I look forward too my yearly four am trek. To this day I still feel the awe of the winter stars, no matter how many times I do my trek, the star are so renewed  looking and takes my breath away leaving my neighborhood  hearing a loud "Wow! amazing. Look at the stars!" from my backyard.

How about you, ready to give it a try?

September 5, 2011

The Two Am Planetary Wake up Call

So last night just after two am Sophy woke me up to use the great outdoors outhouse and I had to force myself out  of my nice toasty warm bed. I dragged myself to my closet and threw on a pair of sweat pants and my George Mason University sweat shirt and walked down my hall, out the kitchen door and out through the back porch doors to my patio. As I threw on the hood and watched Sophy hippity- hop through the grass searching for the right spot I looked up.

WOAAAH! HELLO JUPITER!  Right  now it is looking spectacular out there right now, it's poppin!  I yelled "Jupiter! wow Pleiades too!". Then I looked northeast and mister Perseus is up. Along with Cassiopeia in full view. It was a nice sky folks! It will be looking like that for a few weeks to come so if your doggie wakes you up to answer his/her nature's call bring your love of the night sky, it is a great sight. I wanted to pull out my observing equipment and telescope but, I have an astronomer's meeting online tonight and I like to get a full night's sleep the night before.

But you know me,  I will certainly  be out there after the meeting soaking up the spectacular view and starry protons in my barlow lens. Along with my star-maps and notebook to write everything down, I am a huge believer in observing journals, diaries or whatever you like to call them. Jupiter is very huge in our night sky right now, go catch yourself a planetary delight tonight!

(after note* Some cool links are happening in comments)

September 3, 2011

For those of you who used to read my old blog called NightSkyGirl,  it is back online! I will be continuing this one of course, I am enjoying sharing the observing world.  My old blog is being updated with all the original posts.  Click here to visit.

A Meteor Shower I Will Never Forget - Perseids 2011

This year I was invited to what turned out to be the biggest meteor shower event I have ever experienced, it was on a global scale. Global meaning WORLD WIDE.

Click here to watch it ( I tried to add it here, but, something went wonky).

My friend GianLuca Masi hosts the most amazing Virtual Telescope events online, free, at least 200 or less people attend and you can chat with everyone as the show is happening.  You can connect to him on Facebook and he will send you an event message when they happen. Amazing astronomy chat happens every  time. Astronomy buffs from all around the world attend.  The images in the video is EXACTLY what I see through GianLuca's scope. Here are some photo's to show you what you will see, actually, more like EXPERIENCE!

Follow this link to find where to be a part of it, as always, GianLuca you did a phenomenal job!