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March 11, 2016 March 11, 2016

Posted by orionrising in Observing.
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Had a quick observing session tonight with just the eyes. As it is early spring, the Big Dipper was standing on edge with the ladle end down; I mainly focused on the distinct hexagonal formation made from the constellation Auriga. It’s not a perfect hexagon but slightly skewed. Its brightest star, Capella, was a very bright and distinct yellow. Also noticed that Orion was setting in the Southwest; the Winter constellation will set at around 9 or 10 pm and later will not be visible in the night sky as Spring progresses and changes into Summer. I missed the opposition of Jupiter three days ago but if it’s clear the next few days I might take a look at it again with the scope. Mid March (as is Mid Autumn) is a great time to stargaze as the weather is balmy enough to be comfortable, but all the bugs and other creatures haven’t arrived yet.

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February 3, 2016 February 4, 2016

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Did some impromptu observing when I came home today after class. It was unseasonably warm tonight, a balmy five degrees. The sky was mainly clear but it was a bit gusty at times.

Only had a few minutes so I whipped out the binoculars, as they are the fastest. Noticed that Orion was already starting to set. Spring is almost here and the winter constellations are starting to set earlier. The big dipper was raised on its side, ladle up.

Using the binoculars I scanned some of the star fields near Mizar and Alcor, the double star formation forming the highest point of the big dipper’s handle. Then moved on to the next major star on the right, Alioth.

Sweeping the binocular field westward, I soon fell upon an interesting formation of stars in Cassiopeia, near epsilon cas. It’s quite striking in my 10 x 50s. The cluster of stars seem like a perpendicular rack. See the figure below, which illustrates this interesting formation.

stellarium-002

 

January 21, 2016 January 21, 2016

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After a long string of cloudy nights, tonight there was finally a clearing. The wind was minimal but it was still chilly. Went to the neighborhood park and observed from there for the first time. It was brighter there than I expected, several floodlights were installed and the surrounding buildings and school contributed to the light pollution as well. The moon was high up in the sky, almost full. Through my 10x50s it was a splendid sight. To its bottom left was a star, Alhena. This star is part of the constellation Gemini, one of the prominent winter constellations.

stellarium-000

According to Wikipedia Alhena is the third brightest star in the constellation.

Also had a great naked eye view of Orion, but the constellation is already past its prime as we are approaching February. Through binoculars, the Orion Nebula was briefly visible but still the moon and surrounding light hampered its splendor.

Finally toured the nearby Pleiades before heading home. Looking forward to an exciting year of astronomy.

January 9, 2015 January 10, 2015

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Went out to see Comet Lovejoy (C/2011 W3) tonight using my 10×50 binoculars. It was very cold with a brisk wind, but the seeing was pretty good.

Found it directly several paces to the right of Mintaka (the right-most star of the trio in Orion’s belt). Look south a few hours after sunset and find Orion first to orient yourself. With the Hyades above, the three roughly traces a right-angle triangle, with Lovejoy at the bottom at the right hand side.

Immediate impressions were that it was very round. I couldn’t make out the tail of the comet so it seemed like a gray fuzzy object. Size seemed to be about a quarter to half the diameter of the orion nebula in the binocular’s FOV. The level of ‘grayness’ was similar to the orion nebula (about +4 magnitude according to online sources), but with a uniform glow to it.

Weather permitting I’ll try to see it with my 6″ dob in the next few nights, and see if I can make out the tail.

Lovejoy won’t be back for a long time. If you haven’t seen it yet, give it a try!

Clear Skies!

 

July 7, 2014 July 7, 2014

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Observed the Gibbous Moon and Saturn for the first time using my 6 inch dobsonian reflector tonight. They were around one degree of one another, so the conjunction was altogether very beautiful. The view of the moon was amazing and very crisp — the terminator was very clear, and many of the craters on the terminator edge had very good contrast. Saturn was off-whitish — immediate impressions were that it was smaller than I had imagined, but the ring system was beautiful. The rings were oriented such that it looked like Saturn had two small ears projecting out from a centre off-white marble. I might have seen Titan off to the right hand side, but it was very faint. Next time I’ll try viewing Saturn with the full diameter of the dobsonian, that will likely help — I was concurrently viewing the moon, so I ended up using the smaller aperture on the telescope. With the naked eye, I saw Spica and Mars make a beautiful pair off to the bottom right of the Moon-Saturn conjunction. The weather was beautiful tonight, and the seeing was wonderful, although the effects of the atmosphere were more apparent on the moon’s surface compared to Saturn. 

Looking forward to doing more stargazing. 

February 11, 2013 February 11, 2013

Posted by orionrising in Notices.
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Cloudy Tonight

February 10, 2013 February 10, 2013

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Cloudy Today

February 9, 2013 February 9, 2013

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It’s been a long time since I last observed and wrote formally on this blog, but I’ve renewed my commitment to start observing regularly again.  I miss it very much. The last time I wrote was several months ago, immediately after I observed the Transit of Venus in 2012.

I went outside tonight for a few minutes, and some stars could be seen with the naked eye, but there was a thin layer of cloud cover so only the brightest stars were visible. Sadly I haven’t observed for so long that the sky seemed foreign. The sounds and smells of a winter night at my regular observing spot were still there however, and it was very nice to experience these again. The temperature was not really that cold and the wind was gentle, so overall it was very refreshing.

Orion, although it should be visible at this time of the night and year was mainly obstructed by cloud.  However, due to recent heavy snowfall, the ground was very reflective and the sky was relatively bright.

To more starry filled nights.

Windsor

 

Site Revival December 18, 2012

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A revival of this blog is coming soon! Please keep posted!

Sincerely,

Windsor

Transit of Venus! June 5, 2012

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Just witnessed the Transit of Venus earlier today!  It was amazing, a more detailed post will come soon regarding the Transit and all its details.

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