12 April 2010


This past weekend we were in Ballarat again. We had hoped that we would get nice clear skies to do some observing. Thursday night was clear... but I was feeling absolutely dreadful, for no apparent reason, so I managed to stagger out and have a look at Saturn (awesome, especially with the extender, which J kindly found for me) and then staggered back inside.

J, however, produced this:
Apparently it's common to invert them, so:
... which I think is pretty awesome for a first go at drawing a nebula.

Friday night = absolutely no chance of clear skies. Boo hiss.

04 April 2010

Easter Sunday observing

Tonight started off as quite a family night. I got to show Saturn (and Titan and Rhea, and possibly Tethys although I might have been kidding myself) to most of J's family, who were all very appreciative, as well as Orion, which a couple of them had never seen. It's always great to show something like that and say - your eye sees that as one star, or a fuzzy blob at best. (Annoyingly, I couldn't split Rigel tonight; I think the seeing was worse than it appeared to the naked eye.)

Then, my telescope got hijacked by D, who wanted to just cruise around the Milky Way a bit. So I pointed it at Eta Carina and showed him the controls and away he went. I sat in one of the deck chairs we'd dragged out and just looked up, which was very pleasant and included seeing the Beehive, thanks to the great big pointer that is Mars.

I got a bit bored then for a bit, and was considering going inside even before the moon came up, because I hadn't planned what to look for/at. But J decided to look a the Leo Triplet again, so that was worth staying up for (much fainter than in Mansfield though), and then I realised we had the star atlas out with us when J grabbed it to find Virgo. Consequently I now know where Leo is, and I can basically figure out Virgo too. I tried to split Regulus, in Leo, but that didn't happen; I had better luck with Algieba though. Over in Virgo Porrima wasn't splitting for me, but I did manage the double in Corvus, called Algorab, which looked awesome because they both appear to be red. Nice.

Through J's scope, I saw a few of the Virgo galaxies (awfully dim, here), and a few star clusters.

Just a quick observation

... since last night we had Other Things to do, and given it's Easter the moon came up like a spotlight when it wasn't very late (but my goodness it was cold).

Saturn was my first object of interest, and it was great showing it to J's parents; they were quite impressed. And so was I - I could definitely see Titan, and I thought I could see another moon, quite close to the disk on the other side from Titan. Through J's telescope, turns out I was right, and I could see another as well: according to Stellarium, they were Dione and Tethys. If I'm lucky, tonight we should be able to see Rhea too! (Saturn's moons are named after the Titans, the generation before the Olympian gods in Greek mythology).

Swung around then to Mars - quite red, and quite small. Since I was quite tired, and knew we weren't going to get much observing in, I then had a look at each of the stars of the Southern Cross - split Gamma Crucis (and Alpha Centauri too while I was at it). Since I was using a fairly wide eyepiece, I also managed to find the Jewel Box by accident when I was trying to remember if Mimosa Crucis is a double (if it is, not such that I can split in my telescope!).

J also looked at Saturn, and a few other objects, including the nebula in Eta Carina, which he let me look at. I was someone dismayed that we've basically lost Orion for the year.