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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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March 14, 2012 March 14, 2012

Posted by orionrising in Observing.
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Venus and Jupiter in the Western Sky at Dusk

Venus and Jupiter were in this beautiful pairing tonight. These two planets are not actually close to one another, it is due to their location in space and our vantage point from Earth that they seem to be so close. Jupiter has an apparent brightness of -1.96, and Venus -4.18; apart from the Sun and the Moon, these are some of the brightest celestial objects visible in the night sky.  The weather was amazing tonight.

September 25, 2010 September 25, 2010

Posted by orionrising in Observing.
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Object: Meteor

Site: Kennedy Subway Station

Seeing: 3

Magnitude: -4 (Estimated) Rivals Venus in Brightness

Transparency: Bad (Partially Cloudy)

Type: Outer Solar System Object

Observing Time: 9:30pm

Notes: I saw my first shooting star tonight!  Oh it was beautiful!  It was likely a fireball, since it was bright enough to outshine Jupiter at magnitude -2.78, and rivaled Venus in brightness.  Fireballs make light in the same way that meteors do, by burning up in Earth’s atmosphere, but since they are made from larger source material, they burn much brighter. In essence they are very bright meteors.  Some fireballs can rival the full moon in brightness, but seeing one is relatively rare.  It was extremely fleeting, only after it passed did I realize it was a meteor.  My guess was that it lasted only eight tenths of a second.  I was observing Jupiter with the naked eye at the time, and serendipitously saw the fireball zoom across the sky west of Jupiter with a brilliant white streak, covering about 20 degrees of the sky.  Had I not decided to wait for the bus outside Kennedy Subway Station, I would have missed this opportunity.  Like a little kid I also made a wish immediately after I saw it =D  I’m very excited now, and will observe future meteor showers with passion (provided the weather cooperates). awesome Awesome AWESOME!

September 20, 2010 September 25, 2010

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Jupiter and Uranus at Opposition

Object: Planets

Site: Front Yard

Seeing: 4

Transparency: Above Average

Type: Solar System

Size: 9″07″

Magnitude: -2.79

Constellation: Pisces

Magnification: 10x

FOV: 4.8 Degrees

Observing Time: 11:00pm – 11:15pm

Notes: Observed Jupiter and Uranus, one night before both of their oppositions.  Jupiter shines at magnitude -2.79, with a diameter almost 9′ wide! This is one of those times that I wish that I had a telescope…only then would I be able to look at the surface of the gas giant itself, and pick out its details. Presumably they should be much larger and better defined, because of Jupiter’s large disk during this opposition.  Europa and Io to the left, Ganymede and Callisto wider-spaced to the right.  Uranus shines at magnitude 5.73, to the northwest of Jupiter. First impressions: almost as dim as the background stars, but not creamy white like Jupiter– it has a blue-green dark hue to it.  29 PSC and 27 PSC to the south of Jupiter.  This is the first time I’ve seen two planets in the same FOV. Each being close to their opposition makes tonight extra special.

January 8, 2010 January 8, 2010

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Photorealistic Image in Stellarium

Object: Jupiter

Site: Front Yard

Seeing: Adequate

Transparency: 1

Type: Solar System Object

Size: 34.5″

Magnitude: -1.66

Constellation: Aquarius

Magnification: 10x

FOV: 4.8 degrees

Observing Time: 5:30-5:42 pm

Notes: After two and a half weeks of cloudy nights, finally had the chance to try out my binoculars again.  Jupiter was shining bright as I was travelling home from classes, so I decided to brave the cold (-18 with the windchill!) and observed Jupiter through binoculars for the first time.  First impressions: very bright, and incredible because I saw two of its moons to the left of it!  Through later research, found out that Ganymede was the moon farthest out, and Io was closer one to Jupiter (see photorealistic image).  Io was a slightly darker colour than Ganymede.  Jupiter was not white, it had a creamy yellow-white colour.  A stringent test for the optics, Jupiter did not look like a circular disk.  It’s appearance was more spiky and had an elongated character which was not symmetrical.  Could have been my eyes too, since it was so bright.  Nevertheless, Jupiter was bright enough that it looked like the Fourth of July without some sort of stabilization; I found the snow shovel (of all things) and used that with my elbow resting on the top of the shovel.  It helped a little bit, and with closer inspection I could make out two nearby stars, 38 Aquarii and Iota Aquarii making a crude right angle triangle in my field of view (Jupiter is in Aquarius today).  The camera is not available, so only the photorealistic image in Stellarium is posted.  Once I get hold of the camera again I’ll post my sketch.  Moon was not available for observation, I’ll catch it next time.

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