I'm sitting on my back deck watching the gibbous moon chase Jupiter across the Northeastern sky, smoking a Partagas Serie D #4 and nursing a dram of Macallan 12. Cool

I'm often in awe that our near and not so near astronomical wonders are often so visible, and yet so ignored (or unknown) to most of us.

I've gained a little knowledge of this stuff - thanks much to Google Sky Map <free app to Android users>, but still have much to learn. I'm jealous to those of you who live away from light polluted cities and who have much more access to these wonders.

Any amateur astronomers or just simple stargazers out there?

Oh, fwiw.... if you look at the moon tonight, the brightest thing closest to the moon is Jupiter. With a good set of binoculars, you can even see its moons. Friggin' fantastic.

PH
Original Post
When I was in high school, a friend and I joined a group called Amateur Astronomers Incorporated. It was a group of adults who welcomed us in. We travelled to the Princeton Observatory. I also helped build an 8" refracting telescope and they let me keep it until I went to college.

Last summer, my wife and I stayed at the Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim. Our cabin faced the rim and we slept with the window open. From our pillows, all we had to do was look up. I have never seen so many stars without the aid of magnification.
My almost 5yr old son has been asking for a telescope from Santa this year. Thanks for the thread PH, he and I went outside with my crummy binoculars and tried to see Jupiter. I think I found it, but it's hard when you live in the extended flight path of the worlds busiest airport. Lot's of specks of light. He loved it though and was tickled with the thought of seeing Jupiter.
When I was in high school I was in the youth group at our church, and we would go on retreats a few times a year to a great camp out in the Texas hill country. One of my favorite things to do out there was wander away from the nighttime bonfire and gaze up at the stars. I always thought it looked like clouds across the sky at night, but it was the sheer volume of stars you could see out there.

Thanks for posting this PH - brought back some great memories!
Amature star gazer is a good way to put it for me. Like you're doing now I'll often sit back and enjoy the heavens. Before Google sky maps came along my wife, girlfriend at the time, and I had to use charts and the like to figure out what was what. It was much tougher to figure things out then. Sky maps is definitely cool.

Living relatively in the country I can see lots of stars just about any time. The beaches are only 10 minutes away and no real light pollution to speak of and they're a good spot to watch from. I do a lot of hiking and from the White Mountains you can see even more than around here. The most I've ever seen in the eastern US however is on trips to Acadia National Park 4 hours up the coast. On clear nights its pretty cool to see the Milky Way sprawling out across the sky. Supposedly the best star gazing on the east coast, or at least that's what they tell you.
quote:
Originally posted by worm:
Great stargazing in and around the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon in the Wellsboro area. Little to no light polution and as it happens is only about an hour south of the fingerlakes...just sayin.


Great point!! BTW I'm from that area to your north.

Anyhow, many t=years ago was out inthe high esert of NM. Frineds had a farm of 1500 acres and way way away from any neighbors [lights]. Never sawa sky so black, and so mant stars. Amzing to say the least
One of highlights every summer growing up was being at the cottage (about three hours north of the city) and canoeing out to the middle of the lake to watch the Perseid meteor shower. We'd lay on our backs in the bottom of the canoe looking up and watch shooting stars, one after the other.
When I was sailing full time back in 2001 I was lucky enough to watch the Leonids meteor shower in the middle of the Indian Ocean. No light pollution for over 1000 nm in any direction. The stars every night were amazing (I was working the midnight to 4 am shift at the time) but that night was something I'll remember for all time. There was probably a meteor every 45 seconds or so for almost an hour.
quote:
Originally posted by snipes:
I think I found it, but it's hard when you live in the extended flight path of the worlds busiest airport. Lot's of specks of light. He loved it though and was tickled with the thought of seeing Jupiter.


snipes, you really can't miss it this time of year. Jupiter is the second brightest object in the sky right now. If you're looking at the moon and there are any visible "specks" near it, the brightest one is Jupiter. Some good information HERE

Years ago I used to travel to the Mojave desert to visit with in-laws. We'd truck out of town into the desert with a cooler and some blankets. I've never seen the sky so clear and full of stars. Really makes it clear how big it is out there.

PH
I have interest in stargazing too, and have taken my kids out a number of times for meteor showers and watching the ISS/Space Shuttles pass by (can also see launches from where we live). Got to go to the observatory at FAU a couple of years ago with my son and saw the moons of Jupiter and other planets. This summer we were at the Enchanted Resort in Sedona and they had an astronomy night where we were able to go and look through the (pretty sizable) telescopes of a few local enthusiasts who had an amazing knowledge of interesting objects to look at. The wallpaper for my PC is THIS, an amazing picture of the Milky Way taken in the Chilean desert.
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
Years ago I used to travel to the Mojave desert to visit with in-laws. We'd truck out of town into the desert with a cooler and some blankets. I've never seen the sky so clear and full of stars. Really makes it clear how big it is out there.

PH

The star-gazing in the desert is incredible. There are "Star Parties" all over the state of Utah this time of year. If you've never attended such an event, I highly recommend it.

My oldest son had an early fascination with the solar system; we made countless trips to Clark Planetarium, watched endless astronomy programs/DVDs, and read mountains of books.

I learned far more through his desire to learn about space than I did in my astronomy class in college.

He still hasn't recovered from the declassification of Pluto.
quote:
Originally posted by wine+art:
PH, next time you see Ms. w+a, ask her about her two weeks climbing the Andes on horseback on her way to Machu Picchu.


Will do. Remind me to ask her why she spent two weeks on horses! Wink Machu Picchu is definitely a bucket-list destination for me. I'll walk there, thankyouverymuch.... Razz

PH

PH
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
quote:
Originally posted by wine+art:
PH, next time you see Ms. w+a, ask her about her two weeks climbing the Andes on horseback on her way to Machu Picchu.


Will do. Remind me to ask her why she spent two weeks on horses! Wink Machu Picchu is definitely a bucket-list destination for me. I'll walk there, thankyouverymuch.... Razz


PH

PH


I'm guessing you take a train...but if you walk/hike from Cusco to Machu Picchu, I'm buying for sure. Wink
Every year or so I rent a party barge or two and a bunch of us go out on our local mountain lake to watch the perseid meteor shower.

It makes for a fun party with everyone laying on their backs, looking at the stars. For some reason we all end up talking in whispers.

One year a few of us slept overnight on the boat, Heaven!

Very little light polution, so it can be quite a show.
quote:
Originally posted by wine+art:
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
quote:
Originally posted by wine+art:
PH, next time you see Ms. w+a, ask her about her two weeks climbing the Andes on horseback on her way to Machu Picchu.


Will do. Remind me to ask her why she spent two weeks on horses! Wink Machu Picchu is definitely a bucket-list destination for me. I'll walk there, thankyouverymuch.... Razz


PH

PH


I'm guessing you take a train...but if you walk/hike from Cusco to Machu Picchu, I'm buying for sure. Wink


Perhaps we'll take a burro. Much smarter animals than friggin' horses..... Razz

PH
quote:
The most I've ever seen in the eastern US however is on trips to Acadia National Park 4 hours up the coast. On clear nights its pretty cool to see the Milky Way sprawling out across the sky. Supposedly the best star gazing on the east coast, or at least that's what they tell you.

I think I just figured out this coming year's vacation destination. Cool

Used to really delve into Astronomy as a kid and spent hours upon hours staring through a set of simple binoculars at the moon as a kid. On and off have dreamed of getting a telescope strong enough to see more but never gone beyond that. A real geek at heart, I love to watch documentaries on space. Keep an eye for 'I f...ing Love Science' on FB and friend it. Some really cool info gets posted every day there. We seem to be truly living in some special times of discovery in this regard. Thanks for your notes on this topic.

A great thread, PH!
quote:
Originally posted by KSC02:
quote:
Acadia National Park

I think I just figured out this coming year's vacation destination. Cool


Loved Acadia. We went "off season" and I understand it's an absolute ZOO during peak fall leaf gazing season, but still had a wonderful time. Enjoyed Bah Hahbah as well. Stayed and the Bar Harbour Inn and had a pleasant stay.

PH
quote:
Used to really delve into Astronomy as a kid and spent hours upon hours staring through a set of simple binoculars at the moon as a kid. On and off have dreamed of getting a telescope strong enough to see more but never gone beyond that.


K - I had an old Jason telescope given to me by my grandfather when I was a youngster and also spent countless hours in the backyard looking at the craters on the moon. In researching a telescope for my son this weekend it was clear a high quality telescope can be had for a $200-300. Less than $50 for a 5yr old. When I looked at the ones for $500-1500 it was obvious to me I had no idea what the heck the reviewers were talking about. It went way over my head. We'll see if the flame is rekindled with my son's and maybe the old man will pull the trigger on one for himself.
I love this stuff. I grew up around these topics, with a father who is an astrophysicist. Specifically, his focus was Cosmology, i.e. the distant universe. I was fortunate enough as a kid to be able to join him in visiting the VLA in New Mexico and the La Silla observatory in Chile, where he did a lot of his research. Amazing technology, amazing science.

For anyone who is interested, he's written a great book for laypeople such as myself about the big questions in science (ranging from the big bang to genetics):

http://www.amazon.com/Cosmic-H...ords=cosmic+heritage
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
To paraphrase a quote I heard some time ago, "Either there is life out there or there isn't. Regardless, the thought of either option is pretty scary."

PH


One of my favorites from the movie that kind of sums up my view on things (Contact): "But I guess I'd say if it is just us... seems like an awful waste of space. "

great thread.
The usual Seattle cloud cover prevented any Geminid show here. The city lights reduce the brilliance even when the sky is clear.

Tonight though, as I was walking home, the sky cleared and Jupiter showed bright in the east. At least three of the moons are clearly visible with decent binoculars, so I went out on the deck to observe for a while.
After the disturbing events of the day it was calming to contemplate our tiny place in the universe, and to draw solace in knowing there are do many ways to get pleasure from our amazingly rich platform.
I spotted Comet PAN-STARRS tonight from my rooftop. It's at its brightest tonight in terms of apparent magnitude, but also at its closest to the Sun, making it hard to see.

It's supposed to be moving northward and pulling away from the Sun, so it should be easier to spot in the Northern Hemisphere in the coming weeks. (I needed binoculars at first)
quote:
Originally posted by The Old Man:
It was excellent Tuesday. If you can get any type of telescope out there--do so. I used my more portable 80mm refractor. At the least binoculars are a must. The best for all around astronomy use are 7x50s.


Will it still be visible tonight at roughly the same distances you mentioned previously?
quote:
Originally posted by snipes:
quote:
Originally posted by The Old Man:
It was excellent Tuesday. If you can get any type of telescope out there--do so. I used my more portable 80mm refractor. At the least binoculars are a must. The best for all around astronomy use are 7x50s.


Will it still be visible tonight at roughly the same distances you mentioned previously?


The moon will be well above it--about 15% (which you can guessimate by outstretching your hand with "devil's finger" and closing one eye.) Also the moon moves about 15% a day, so it will no longer be a guide. Best bet is to be in a fairly dark suburban sky. Look straight west about 20 degrees up and scan with binoculars. The darker the location the better and if you're out where it's really dark you may spot it with the naked eye. Kind of looks like a medium bright star with a 2 to 4 degree tail pointing up. For "size" reference the moon is 1/2 a degree in size.

The good news a Comet Ison is still expected to be a spectacular naked eye comet by December.
quote:
Originally posted by VinT:
A good week for stargazing, with both supermoon and Perseids vying for attention.

Actually it was a bad week. A slightly larger moon that only a hardcore astronomy buff would notice and to make matters worse a not worth seeing meteor shower due to the brightness of that moon.
quote:
Originally posted by The Old Man:
Actually it was a bad week. A slightly larger moon that only a hardcore astronomy buff would notice

I love it when you're crusty just for the sake of being crusty. Razz

I'm far from a 'hardcore astronomy buff', but it sure looked larger to me. <This photo> shows the relative difference in the moon's apparent size when it is 50,000 km closer to earth.
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
No wonder I couldn't see it... Frown

I wonder what was in the payload.

PH

My brother-in-law works for Orbital Sciences. He said the payload was comprised of food, clothing, equipment, experiments, etc. It was the biggest resupply payload they had attempted, to date.
Astronomy alert.

In the western sky, shortly after sunset, 45 degrees up will be Jupiter and Venus, less than one third of a degree a part. (For reference the moon is 1/2 a degree across.) Though Jupiter is the second brightest object in the sky Venus way outshines it. This close approach is called a conjunction.

This is very easy to see and well worth a look.
quote:
Originally posted by The Old Man:
Best Perseid meteor shower in years due to moon being new dark. Best after midnight Wed. going into Thurs. Sit comfortably in a lounge chair, face south and keep your eyes open.


I will remember a few nights straight of the Geminids showers while sailing thousands of miles from land till the day I die. Probably more than 100 an hour in different colours lighting up the sky. It was so clear you could almost read by the starlight. One of those few times you can use the word awesome in its correct usage.
Out in the desert saw about 40 and hour (this includes many fast and faint object) including two of the most unique meteors I've ever seen. The first, though short, was bright and as it traveled a short distance it made a motion like a thrown knuckle ball. I've seen meteors break up but not exhibit this behavior.

The other one I actually heard as it streaked across the sky. For decades it has been said that you can't hear meteors and there's an obvious problem to saying you can. Meteors tend to flare around 60 miles up. So while you see them instantly (with light traveling 186,000 miles in a second) sound travels, in dry air, around 750 MPH. So the sound should come around 5 minutes after seeing the streak.

So here's the new thinking: Meteors apparently give off VLF sound waves, below 30 kHz. But there's still one problem, the waves, which also travel at the speed of light, need something to transduce. And apparently it can be the metal of a tent pole, or some fine tree needles, or even one's metal glasses. So while the sound appeared to come from the sky, but was most likely down to earth right near me. As often described it did sound like bacon sizzling. Oh yeah, bacon!
quote:
Originally posted by billhike:
This is nowhere near a hobby of mine, but I'm surprised there was no mention of last night's eclipse and "blood moon". Possible it was only visible in the Midwest?

I tried to see it last night, but the moon was mostly obscured by clouds. It was pretty cool from the small glimpse I got.
quote:
Originally posted by billhike:
This is nowhere near a hobby of mine, but I'm surprised there was no mention of last night's eclipse and "blood moon". Possible it was only visible in the Midwest?

It was visible throughout the US, barring clouds of course. In the west, unless you had a clear view to the horizon it was just past total as it rose.
quote:
Originally posted by billhike:
I didn't have much interest, but it was too easily visible from my balcony, so I partook. Glad I did.

Same here. Didn't put much thought into it, but saw that I was sitting on the couch while it was supposed to be visible, so went out to the balcony and saw it. Pretty neat.
quote:
Originally posted by Rothko:
I missed it, here.

However, the super high tide here is wild. I don't know if I've ever seen the water so high.


Tides have been high in Key West for the last couple weeks and have gotten crazy high. Saw some insane pictures from Miami beach as well
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
Pretty cool to see something traveling 17,000 miles an hour that's 250+ miles above us flying by. With people in it. Pretty cool.

PH


your speed is wrong

dont you know the earth is flat?

17k miles per hour would have meant the space station would have went by too fast for you to see.
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
quote:
Originally posted by The Old Man:
The ISS is often visible.


Not so much here, at least for us Easterners. The combination of approach angle, lack of clouds and darkness was a fairly rare confluence here.

PH

Great you made the effort. A lot of people don't realize there is a bunch you can see from city or other not ideal locations.

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