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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!

 

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

 

January 8, 2011 January 9, 2011

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'Question Mark' in NW Orion

Object: Stars

Site: Front Yard

Seeing: 2

Transparency: Poor

Type: Deep-Sky

Constellation: Orion

Magnification: 10x

FOV: 4.8 Degrees

Observing Time: 10:45pm – 11:00pm

Notes: Happy New Year!  Here’s to another great year of observing.  Shown above: An interesting “question-mark” arrangement of seven relatively bright stars, ~8 Degrees NW of Betelgeuse. v ORI and E ORI are magnitude 4.40 and 4.45 respectively, and make up Orion’s right elbow.  NGC 2169, which is an open cluster is nearby, but it was not readily visible through binoculars.  William Herschel discovered it in 1784 [http://bit.ly/gU6xwb].

December 26, 2010 December 26, 2010

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Orion's Shield, Projecting from Bellatrix

Object: Stars

Site: Front Yard

Seeing: 3

Transparency: Average

Type: Deep-Sky

Constellation: Orion

Magnification: 10x

FOV: 4.8 Degrees

Observing Time: 10:52pm – 11:00pm

Notes: I haven’t been formally stargazing since Sep 20, a full three months…a  whole season’s worth of stargazing gone.  Sadly school and life has gotten beyond busy, and there is no sign of reprieve yet. Also passed the 1st Anniversary of the founding of this web log.  To celebrate, I observed Orion tonight, one of the most majestic constellations offered in the night sky, and my favourite.  Back after a year of travels, Orion is unchanged. Taking perspective, it’s stunning how human endeavours and concerns seem so long and drawn out sometimes, peppered heavily with daily frustrations and stressors– all contributing to a mad rush of constant change; while the heavens above stay perceptually constant.   Shown above are four bright stars in Orion’s Shield, projecting out from Bellatrix; pi 1-4 ORI, and a distinct pair of stars, HIP 22834 and HIP 22938 slightly to the left of the Shield.

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