In the many years I’ve spent using telescopes, I’ve probably handled several hundred different models. Some were a joy to use, others were a frustrating nightmare. Often, the difference came down to how easy or difficult it was to achieve sharp focus.
Archive | August, 2014
August 25, 2014
The stars plotted on an HR diagram aren’t scattered randomly. Most lie along a band called the main sequence that runs from the lower-right (cool, dim) to the upper-left (hot, bright). Cool red giants and red supergiants form clumps in the upper-right corner, while hot white dwarfs scatter along the bottom-left.
August 19, 2014
The resulting view in my telescope was of Venus, an Earth-sized planet, looking way brighter than gigantic Jupiter, and yet far-off Jupiter appearing noticeably larger than Venus. I marvelled at the sight of two disparate planets three-quarters of a billion kilometres apart masquerading as neighbours. A fabulous illusion!
August 18, 2014
If you assess eyepieces using the four numbers described below, you’ll at least have a fighting chance at making good choices.
August 14, 2014
At night, beach fires and fireworks are the main attractions. But on supermoon night, an impressively red lunar disc rising above the Atlantic ocean stole the show. Up and down the beach I could see the glowing screens of raised iPhones, and camera flashes firing futilely at the Moon.
August 11, 2014
Only half a degree northeast of M13 is the 11.6 magnitude galaxy NGC 6207. A 13th-magnitude foreground star is superimposed on this tiny smudge, giving us the illusion that a supernova has erupted inside the galaxy.
August 8, 2014
The full Moon nearest perigee, which repeats roughly every 13 months, is officially the biggest and brightest full Moon of the year. This perigee Moon, as astronomers call it, is hyped by the media as a “spectacular” supermoon. In truth, it’s a subtle celestial phenomenon. Any difference in size and luminosity among full Moons is virtually impossible to notice with our unaided eyes.
August 7, 2014
When I need to take a break from observing, I’ll wander the expansive star party site and check in on friends busy at their telescopes or quietly soak in the Kobau ambience. There’s something comforting about the sound of stargazers chatting quietly to one another while scoping the sky or taking photos.