Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chasing the New Moon

For about six months now, I've been trying to catch the first day that you can see the crescent moon in the first quarter of its cycle. I never seem able to get closer than the second day. Have caught the second day before the New Moon, maybe even the last day, but not right afterward.

Monday was the New Moon and I tried to catch it yesterday. But despite a half-clear sky, what clouds there were seemed to congregate over the setting sun (I suspect there's an actual metereological reason for this involving the concentration of solar heat in the west at that time of day, but haven't worked out what just yet). So, I didn't see it until tonight, when it was a bit more than a sliver.

Due to the usage of the lunar cycles in many religious calendars, astronomical observation is actually a critical matter of good religious observance. Yes, for all of the denigration of religion in some quarters as antiscience, religious calendars are in fact heavily based on science, especially astronomy.

For example, there was considerable dispute over when to start Ramadan among Muslims until easy and quick reporting from Mecca became available. It doesn't seem like much to non-Muslims, but for Muslims, Ramadan is a holy month. If you start and end it too early, you're doing the wrong thing. If you don't start it once the moon reappears in the sky, you're doing the wrong thing. Think of it as if Christmas were based on the lunar calendar: you would want to know the exact date, but the date would be partially dependent on good astronomical observation--and weather.

Passover and Easter are also regulated by a lunar calendar--or, they were originally. Because they are so strongly connected to the spring (i.e. a solar/seasonal calendar), the lunar part of their calculation is restricted to a period in spring of about two months. This is why both float around the spring months of the calendar each year. And because the Christian aspect of Easter was originally a Passover festival, the two festivals not-infrequently fall on the same date.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

First Light!

As my wife described it, I was like a kid in a candy store. I had everything set out early and waited patiently (or maybe not so) for the sun to set. With each passing minute I scanned the sky for the first twinkling star. Up and down the hill I went while helping the wife cook on the grill.

—Finally there it was… Vega! Down the hill I ran and uncapped the scope. Turned on the view finder, centered the dot and presto, there was nothing there. Instantly I worried about my collimation, was it any good? Would this be a fruitless evening trying to achieve first light? In and out I turned the focuser and presto, there was a star. Very faint it was, and not Vega at all, but a sharp, well focused star.

—So up the hill I went to get the wife and tell her my collimation was successful! All I had to do now was adjust my view finder so I could start scanning the heavens. Sadly there were no planets to view or moon to use as a focus point. I had to hope that I could match the star in my view finder and the one in my eye piece. For the next two hours I struggled with it, and guess what? No success at all. I decided to focus on the Mizar/Alcor double star in Ursa Major. I could put the red dot right on it, but never find it in the scope.

—So ‘First Light’ was a mixture of highs and lows. punctuated by another upset buck white tail dear and my two labs that wouldn’t get out from underfoot. I did mix in some yummy burgers on the grill in the middle of it all. Not to mention I did see the HIP 91919A/91926C Binary system, which was really cool.

—All in all a successful evening I hope to do again next week. I hope you enjoyed my account and would love some feedback on how everyone is enjoying my blogs..

Friday, June 19, 2009

KAGUYA's last pictures

Just before her impact on the Moon surface, the Japanese Lunar Probe, KAGUYA, sent the final pictures taken with her High Definition camera. Las picture in the sequence was taken 1 minute before impact.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Astrocation 2009

Have you ever wanted to know what it is like to be at some of the biggest and coolest observatories in the world? Well now you can, starting today! I will be touring New Mexico, Arizona, and California looking for all places/things astronomy related. I will be giving full coverage via, video, blog, pictures, and Twitter. So here is how you can follow along:

Twitter: for the fast and up to date observing, traveling and random experiences.

Flickr: Be the first to see all of my astrocation photos, be it astrophotography or just some observatory shots I will post all of them here. (Videos too!)

My Blog: Long stories, interviews and experiences will be posted!

So tune in and dont be shy submit questions, comments, and tell me what to observe/Image! Untill then!

Elias Jordan

You are not the Center of the Universe

Thanks to Edwin Hubble on the XX Century, we have learned that our place in the Universe is not as priviledged as we used to think.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Encyclopedia of Alternative Energy and Sustainable Living

The ABCs of observing

Sharpen your scope skills with these 26 tips

full site

Tips for Those Wearing Glasses

Some of you that wear glasses may notice that it makes astronomical observing more difficult, sometimes even aggravating. link

full site

Observing from the City

Light pollution is the bane of amateur astronomy -- but you can see a lot even through the worst of it. link

full site

Baby Stars Finally Found In Jumbled Galactic Center

Astronomers have at last uncovered newborn stars at the frenzied center of our Milky Way galaxy. The discovery was made using the infrared vision of NASA's Spitzer Space

full story

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Welcome to are new Blog Authors




Paula R. Stiles

Gene J. Mikulka

Welcome All

Thank You

Hallo northern sky" software

free planetarium program HNSKY for Windows

Guide to Counting Meteors

Friday, June 12, 2009

Posters from the Proceedings of the Lunar Science Conference

Freshman in Astronomy 101

---Greetings everyone! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jared Hyatt and I live in the ecentric little town of Eureka Aprings Arkansas. I recently started an astronomy club and purchased my first telescope. Astronomy has been a life long dream of mine, however I have not had the opportunity to follow through on it until now.
---My goal here is to share my thoughts and experiences as I delve into my new hobby. I'm not sure why but I feel like I am making quite the life commitment here. I have been such an Astronomy lurker for years there was never any pressure to follow through on my promises. But here I am on the precipice of owning a scope and starting an Astronomy Club and the nerves are a bit jangled.
---So now I have to 'walk the walk' so to say. Here I am with the tasks of learning Star Charts and reading books and checking reviews on scopes. I have to learn how to collimate and find the objects I want to see in the night sky without getting frustrated. Is it a bit intimidating? Yes? Am I up to the challenge? I certainly hope so!!
—I keep taking a little bit at a time and mastering it, if you don't you may get overwhelmed. Besides isn’t half the joy of astronomy learning most of it by yourself? The other half has to be sharing your experiences with your Astronomy Club and friends on Twitter. So yes it is intimidating, but at the same time it is empowering. I feel like I have a slightly larger purpose in the world, and for some odd reason, I like it.
---Sadly only half of my scope showed up on the FedEx truck today. It looks like I have to wait until Monday to get the other half. How perfect I say! I will be at work all day Monday and Tuesday ggrrr.... When the other half of my scope shows up, I can start talking about my adventures in collimation. But for now I am left to chew on my thoughts like cud and keep reading my books over and over lol…
---Thanks for having me aboard and I hope you enjoy my adventures in Astronomy 101.

June sky highlights - Venus Shines before dawn

Both inner planets gather in June's morning sky. Mercury and, in particular, Venus put on fine displays as twilight commences. The warm evenings typical of June offer great conditions to show off the solar system's most beautiful planet, Saturn. Go ahead and invite some neighbors over for their first view of the ringed planet through a telescope. Meanwhile, the overnight hours belong to Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

As darkness falls, one lone planet graces the star-filled sky. Saturn stands more than one-third of the way from the southwestern horizon to the zenith shortly after sunset. It sets shortly before 2 a.m. in early June and by midnight at month's end.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bryce Canyon's 9th Annual Astronomy Festival Starts Wednesday in Utah

It runs until Saturday, June 20:

Space Shuttle Launch Viewing

Launch info:

Solar system's planets could spin out of control

O NO the sky is falling
more info LINK

Buying and Naming a Star

Have you been fooled into buying a star for a loved one? Well, most folk don't know but you cannot buy/name a star, only the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has the right to name any astronomical objects.

Find a Club Nearby You

We encourage you to contact your local astronomy club, where you'll find like-minded enthusiasts eager to share their knowledge and love of astronomy with you. Club meetings offer opportunities to try out new equipment, learn new techniques, and make new friends.

Click Here: To find an astronomy club near you!
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Space Calendar

The Space Calendar covers space-related activities and anniversaries for the coming year. Included are over 1,700 links to related home pages. This Calendar is compiled and maintained by Ron Baalke.

For the people who read this blog tell me what you think

thank you

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Teachers’ Guide for “Observing an Eclipse of the Moon”

The purpose of this guide is to provide some tips for in-class instruction that will prepare
students to carry out the laboratory; and some suggestions for in-class followup
discussion and activities based on their results

The N.A.A. Telescope Calculator

handy tool for the telescope user, JavaScript-driven calculator, which will compute the values of a number of paramaters for any telescope & eyepiece combinations you enter
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