Stars, Planets, Constellations and such....

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.

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