Flintstone Stargazing

June 5, 2012

Venus Transit

At this point, Venus is completely in front of the Sun.

Venus Transit Teardrop

At a certain point, because of the atmosphere of Venus, there’s a kind of teardrop shape as it completely enters the Sun – this is at that moment.

The Transit of Venus has begun

This image is from the start of the Transit. More images soon.

March 17, 2009

Venus on 3/17/09

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, Observation Journal, Planets, Venus — Tags: — Ed @ 9:23 pm

Venus has been getting huge lately, but I haven’t been able to see it because of the cloudy weather. This evening is clear of clouds, but a bit hazy. I was able to get this quick shot of Venus as it set behind a tree across the street. It’s just huge in the eyepiece and becoming more of a crescent every day.

February 16, 2009

Venus on 2/16/09

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, Observation Journal, Planets, Venus — Tags: — Ed @ 10:38 pm

I’m back out in my driveway for the first time in a couple weeks. It’s rather chilly, but very clear. I’m hoping to take some deep sky stuff tonight. The image above is of Venus. It’s getting huge in the scope now and will only be getting bigger over the next month or so – it’s clearly a crescent and I believe that I can see that it’s a crescent even looking at it with the naked eye.

January 30, 2009

The Moon on 1/30/09

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, Moon, Observation Journal, Planets — Tags: , — Ed @ 10:14 pm

Tonight’s Moon was really pretty, hovering above Venus in the west.

Here’s yesterday’s Moon:

And here’s Venus:

January 15, 2009

Welcome to my first podcast!

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, Blog, Podcast — Tags: , , , , — Ed @ 12:00 am

I’d like to welcome anyone and everyone who has come here from the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast. Welcome to my regular readers as well – today I’ve got the featured podcast on that site, which is part of the International Year of Astronomy activities – it’s a podcast on astronomy every day of this year and I’ve got the 15th (or thereabouts) of every month. It’s a new effort for me – my first podcast – and I had a really good time putting it together. In the podcast, I’m talking about planning your observing sessions. Anyway – take a look, if you haven’t already seen it.

If you’re looking to plan your observing session as discussed in the podcast, let’s start here:

Step 1. Check the Weather

I use http://www.weather.com to start with and then proceed to http://www.cleardarksky.com/ where I look at the Walker County Observatory sky chart since that’s my county. You should find the closest observatory to your location and check out the conditions. While these charts aren’t perfect, they are generally very good, at least for my location.

The Weather Channel is telling me right now that it should be clear and very cold, also probably too windy for imaging – maybe too windy for observing (I get nervous at anything above 10mph – I really don’t want my scope to fall over). Clear Dark Sky is telling me it should be clear and dark but seeing might not be so good – I’m not 100% sure why, but that’s what it’s telling me.

Step 2. Check for Events

Let’s start here: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/ataglance – the Sky & Telescope folks highlight interesting sights night by night here. For the 15th, they just mention that Vega (a summer star) is still visible here in winter. Nothing significant is mentioned for that day.

Let’s look for the International Space Station (ISS) here: http://www.heavens-above.com. To start with, I need to log myself on to pull up my location (this is very location dependant – make sure you select your location). Once I’ve done that, I click on “ISS”. Cool! It looks like I’ll get 2 ISS passes here in north Georgia – one at 6:27pm and one at 8:00pm. I’ll keep my eye out and maybe see if I can get an image.

Step 3. Find targets using Worldwide Telescope or other astronomy software.

Here is my list of targets for the night:

Mercury – I’ll have to be really quick about this – it’ll be low on the horizon immediately after sunset. I’ll probably only be able to see it in binoculars. Here’s an image I got on the 7th of January:

Venus – This is high in the southwestern sky and unmistakable – it’s the brightest thing visible in the night sky right now (other than the Moon, which won’t rise until much later). It should be clearly a quarter moon tending toward a crescent in your scope – adding a bit of magnification with a Barlow or shorter focal length eyepiece will help you see that even better. Here’s an image I got on the 14th of this month:

Now we’re going to head off to look at some deep sky stuff – stuff that’s not in our solar system.

M45 – The Pleiades (also known as The Seven Sisters). This is a wonderful sight in a scope and is easy to find. It’s nearly overhead (just a bit east of straight up) after dark and is easy to spot in the scope. With a telescope you can see many more stars in this cluster than you can with the naked eye. With the camera (or a large scope) you can see nebulosity or cloudiness around the stars in this cluster.

M42 – The Great Orion Nebula. This is maybe the best deep sky object in the sky – it’s beautiful in any scope or even in binoculars. You should be able to not only see the stars in this nebula, but much of the nebula as well. When I see it in my scope, it looks like it has a tinge of green, but in reality is mostly blue and red.

Now these images of the deep sky stuff are not what you’ll see through your scope, so don’t get discouraged. That said, Venus will probably actually look better than my image. I don’t have a great setup for imaging planets. I hope you’ve enjoyed the podcast and will continue to tune in in the future.

Clear Skies!

January 7, 2009

Bright Stuff on a Windy Night

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, Mercury, Moon, Observation Journal, Planets, Venus — Tags: , , — Ed @ 9:22 pm

It’s been so rainy and cloudy that I haven’t had the scope out since the first of the year. Today the clouds pretty much went away and I set up the scope. Because of the brightness of the Moon and the light wind, I decided to get images of just bright stuff. The first item on my list was Mercury which is the higher of the two planets visible in the west just after sunset. Mercury through the scope looked like it was a quarter moon shape, though it was hard to tell through all of its wavering in the atmosphere. It really doesn’t show up that well in this image either, but it’s nice to bag it when I can.

Next up was Venus. Venus is clearly a half-moon now and will shortly start showing a crescent. It’s much more interesting in the scope than Mercury because it’s higher in the sky so it wavers less and it’s much larger so its shape is much clearer.

Finally I started imaging the Moon which is very bright this evening. While getting the images for this picture, the wind started blowing fiercely and I began to worry about the stability of my scope so as soon as I finished the image, I took everything down. Hopefully tomorrow will be clear as well, but a lot less windy.

December 31, 2008

Happy New Year 2009!

Filed under: Astrophotography, Moon, Observation Journal, Venus — Tags: , , , — Ed @ 10:26 pm

My neighbors are shooting off fireworks this evening and in this image, you can see the Moon and Venus in the bottom left of the image.

Venus on 12/31/08

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, Moon, Observation Journal, Venus — Tags: , — Ed @ 10:22 pm

Venus is pretty much a “quarter moon” now and getting larger in the scope. It was very close to the Moon this evening.

Speaking of the Moon, I also got a detailed shot of the lower limb of the Moon:

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