Thursday, February 18, 2016

Astronomy on a cold winter night!

I have been motivated a little more lately to get out and do some astronomy.  I visited the VBAS observatory/planetarium and renewed my membership last weekend.  I was a member before grad school 5 or 6 years ago, and haven't actually been up there very much since then.  I also pulled out my telescope a couple times over the past week and did some viewing.  Since I was living in Atlanta during grad school,  I had a hard time getting out where it was dark enough to see anything, so I am a little rusty.  My telescope is a modest 10" Zhumell dobsonian.  I also have a small set of Celestron lenses and filters that I use.

Tonight I was actually to observe some pretty interesting objects in the sky.  For those who are unaware, there was a French astronomer named Messier who was interested in finding comets.  He compiled a list of objects in the night sky that could be mistaken for comets so he wouldn't waste his time on them.  This list has grown to around 110 objects that many amateur astronomers try to observe for fun.  The list contains nebulae, galaxies, and various other objects that are fun to observe because they are more than just points of light such as stars but can be seen by a skilled observer in dark locations.

The list of objects I observed tonight include Jupiter and the Galilean moons, several constellations, and 11 of the Messier objects:

  • M3
  • M13
  • M36
  • M38
  • M44
  • M51
  • M53
  • M63
  • M65
  • M66
  • M92

I also spent a little time on the moon.  I even took a picture using my cell phone (through the telescope).  Unfortunately, I am not equipped for astrophotography... yet!

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