December 2, 2014

2 Comments

Splendid Geminids

As I write this in early December, 2014, there is one major celestial event left on the calendar: the Geminid meteor shower on the 13th. The “shooting stars” that radiate from the constellation Gemini often produce the year’s most powerful meteor display – if only we could witness it. After all, there aren’t many cloud-free nights in December.

Continue reading...

November 25, 2014

0 Comments

Spotting Scopes for Astronomy

Are spotting scopes useful for stargazing? It’s a frequently asked question. That’s not surprising when you consider how widely available they are — any store that stocks binoculars, probably has a few spotters as well.

Continue reading...

November 20, 2014

4 Comments

Arise, Pleiades

The leaves are down, which means the Pleiades are up.
Located in the constellation Taurus, this most dazzling of all open star clusters contains roughly 100 suns. The seven brightest Pleiads – the Seven Sisters – are visible to observers with excellent vision as a glittering agglomeration the width of two full Moons.

Continue reading...

November 18, 2014

2 Comments

No Go-To For Me

In his posting for November 10, 2014, Ken makes a compelling case for Go-To telescopes. Motorized tracking and more time spent observing instead of hunting are both appealing attributes. Yet for me, I prefer not to “go-to.”

Continue reading...

November 13, 2014

2 Comments

A Remarkable Device for Observers

My copy of the 2015 edition arrived in the mail today, and leafing through it, I was again reminded of how astonishingly complete it is. It really is a wonderful resource for the active observer.

Continue reading...

November 10, 2014

2 Comments

To Boldly Go-To . . . Or Not.

Allowing the scope to slew around the sky would represent a major shift in my observing philosophy. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t mind hunting elusive celestial prey via star chart and finderscope. I think the hands-on approach strengthens my connection to the heavens.

Continue reading...

November 4, 2014

0 Comments

A Christmas Power Play

As I write this, October has only one day left in it, yet the first Christmas flyers are already turning up in the mail. They seem to arrive earlier and earlier each year. And as many veteran stargazers know, Christmas is the silly season when it comes to mass-marketed telescopes.

Continue reading...

October 30, 2014

0 Comments

Admiring Andromeda

A mere 2.5 million light-years away, M31 is indeed our nearest large neighbour in the universe. Andromeda spans 150,000 light-years of cosmic real estate – two-thirds more than our galaxy – and boasts a population of perhaps 500 billion stars, roughly twice the number in the Milky Way.

Continue reading...

October 28, 2014

1 Comment

You Never Had It So Good…

Most telescopes in the “good ol’ days” came with simple Huygenian or (if you were lucky) Ramsden oculars. These were as basic as they come — two-element designs that made you feel like you were squinting down a long, dark tunnel to view your target. If you were well off, you might have Kellners (which at least had three lenses) or even orthoscopics (four elements!).

Continue reading...

October 24, 2014

1 Comment

A Partial Solar Eclipse Fully Enjoyed

As we departed the store at 2:30 p.m., the gloom seemed to be lifting – the sky was brightening in the southwest. Then the Sun appeared!

Continue reading...