Astronomy questions

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  • #38911
    SadGeezer
    Keymaster

    having previously owned a refracting telescope in my youth, i opted to buy a half-decent one when i had the money. i have a Celestron CR150-HD (6in), driven on both axes. what i’m wanting to know is if anyone knows what extras i need to get the best from it when it comes to planetary observation, in particular i’m thinking of going for the Jovian marathon this year!!! tried last year, apart from nearly freezing to death, i reaally couldn’t see as much detail as i would have liked any help appreciated!!

    plus, while i’m here, i read/hear about/watch a lot about astromomy and space. i’ll pass on anything of interest i hear along this line. after all, isn’t being out there what some of our favourite shows are all about??

    #64788
    Rag
    Participant

    quote:


    Originally posted by snooklepie:
    i read/hear about/watch a lot about astromomy and space. i’ll pass on anything of interest i hear along this line.


    Yeah! Chears. I never have the time to delve too deeply into stuff like that, but am always interested. I’m gagging to see a full solar eclipse. That is one of the things I fully intend to see before I die. I couldn’t get time off work for the recent one in the UK, so couldn’t get down to the south east to really experience it. Doubt I’ll catch the next one either, seeing as it’ll only be viewable from the antarctic (or is it t’other one?).

    So yeah… anything you post would be most gratefully received.

    #64789
    mandara k
    Participant

    Actually, I like star gazing; not so much that astrology stuff which alot of peeps confuse with astronomy. I think some of the most lovely pics hail from the Hubble; the nebulaes and etc…

    #64790
    mandara k
    Participant

    it’s #200 post for me Yowsa; I’ve been here for a year? It’s pretty incredible seeing as I don’t outright own a computer!

    Well, we’ll see what the future holds; will I be here next year? Don’t we all ask this?
    How appropriate this happens the month of my birthday and I’m already asking those questions of goals and reviewing my year; like I always do. Hippy early b’day to me!

    #64791
    Anonymous
    Guest

    well, Rag- you didn’t miss much!!! i was at an aunt’s house just outside Torquay, for the ’99 eclipse. got some lovely photo’s of this pin-prick of light trying to show itself through the cloud during the early phases of the eclipse, then a few minutes before totality, it clouded over completely and we saw sod all!!! apparently you just had to be in the right place at the right time. one of the few places that got a glimpse of totality was the Scilly Isles. Patrick Moore was somewhere around Newquay, if i remember rightly- it was chucking it down with rain there!! (i still have the show that the Beeb did on the day on tape)
    what we did see though, was the lunar shadow. it was just like this wall of darkness rushing towards you, then out to sea. very strange. tried taking some piccies to get some kind of impression of the scale of it, only for the other half (who was still in Leicestershire(apparently they could see more than we did, but obviously not totality) to ring up as i picked up the camera and start asking if i’d seen owt! there’s a lot to be said for having your mobile switched off at important times…

    #64792
    Rag
    Participant

    Yeah. I watched the footage on TV, and was quite chuffed that I hadn’t driven right across the country for a bit westcountry anti-climax. I heard that the temperature drop and the birds stoppin’ singing was a bit freaky though. Got a pretty good view of the ‘bite’ out of the sun through a bin bag from just outside sunny Margate tho’.

    I heard a rumour that Turkey, late 2003 is the next accessible one. I may well be there. Depends on how much holiday I can swing next year. It’ll be tough cos I’m off to Vegas in Feb. YAYYYYYYYY!!!!!!! Still, who needs to go and see the family… They can phone me and look at photo’s can’t they?

    #64793
    Anonymous
    Guest

    A new Celestron! I’m jealous. We’re still making do with a 3″ refracting telescope that must be 20 years old. It’s such a pain to cart around and set up that I usually just use the binoculars for general star gazing. I’ve been using a program called
    STARRY NIGHT[/url]
    that’s great for identification and information including updated satellite orbits, comets, etc.

    Take a look at their web page if you haven’t heard of it–it actually does a lot of other cool things and is very easy to use. They used to allow a two week trial download, don’t know if they still do.

    NASA has an eclipse page that gives detailed info on upcoming eclipses that might be useful if you want to chase one:

    ECLIPSE HOME PAGE

    Apparently there are people who “collect” them and travel to see as many as possible. I could think of worse hobbies.

    elmey

    #64794
    Anonymous
    Guest

    thanks, elmey i do actually have a copy of ‘Starry Night Backyard’ that a friend got for me but i’ve been so busy over the past few weeks, i haven’t had a chance to look at it properly. it has an 80-page manual within the program, which i’m either going to be stupid enough to copy out by hand or use up half an ink cartridge printing!!! i’m one of those people that likes to have the instructions for such things in b&w in front of me, instead of having to refer backwards & forwards to an instruction page in the program. i’ve got Redshift 4 also, but i have found it a litle awkward to get into because it doesn’t appear to have the kind of instructions that Starry Night has.
    you seem to know a bit…i’m a little confused by all this filter, f-ratio, different size eyepiece lark. i don’t you can help out??? i’ve tried reading various articles, but i still seem to get lost…. still itching to do the Jovian marathon. even with the not-quite-right set up last year, i did manage to catch a glimpse of the Great Red Spot. IMHO, that is a grander sight than Saturn’s Rings…it got me all excited, anyway!!

    #64795
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Sorry, I’m not that knowledgeable about different eye piece/filter etc. configurations. I inherited a polarizing filter with the telescope and that’s about it. It depends a lot on what you plan to be viewing. I think for a good view of something like the Great Red Spot a filter would help immensely though. Here’s some really simple (I go for simple! )filter info from the Amateur Astronomy Association:

    A BLUE filter, such as a Wratten #44A, 47B or 80A, can be used for the detection of high altitude clouds on Mars, white ovals and spots in the belts of Jupiter, and the zones of the clouds of Saturn. It can also be used to cut down glare on a bright Moon.

    A GREEN filter,such as a Wratten #58, allows you to see more clearly the edges of the Martian polar caps, and enhances the belts and Great Red Spot in the clouds of Jupiter.

    A YELLOW filter, such as a Wratten #8, 12, or 15, can improve markings in the clouds of Venus and enhance Martian dust storms.

    An ORANGE filter, such as a Wratten #21, is one of the more useful ones you can have. It is used for bringing out detail on Mars, and enhancing some of the zonal detail on Jupiter. An orange filter also darkens the blue sky, so daytime observations of Jupiter, Venus, and the Moon are much improved.

    A RED filter, such as a Wratten #23A, 25, or 25A, can also be used to enhance contrast on
    Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. A red filter, however, is fairly dark, so it works best on larger aperture telescopes which give brighter images. Flipping back and forth between red and blue filters can sometimes bring out subtle colorations on the Moon.

    A POLARIZING filter can cut down glare when observing a nearly full Moon, making it easier to see ray structure. It will also cut down day-time glare.

    LIGHT POLLUTION and O-III filters are good for planetary and emission nebulae.

    Sites like Astronomy mag (www.astronomy.com/forums) and space.com have forums where you can ask specific questions like that–I’m sure there’s similar UK sites as well. I haven’t seen the Great Red spot yet–but Saturn’s rings always give me a thrill. There’s something about them….. Right now I have a great view of Jupiter this time of night–but also a full moon and cold weather and I’m basically a wimp.

    elmey

    #64796
    Anonymous
    Guest

    thanks, elmey!! i often find that i don’t have the time to look into things on the Net, so if i have some kind of head start.. it all helps!
    dumb question, but how can i print your post without printing the whole thread???

    [ 20-12-2002: Message edited by: snooklepie ]

    #64797
    ADM
    Participant

    Snooklepie, too copy that post for printing, hold down the right button and from the last word drag your mouse too the top of the the post, it should be highlighted when you have done it, then hold down CTRL and press C (this copies the post), then open up notepad or Word and click on the page and then hold down CTRL and press V (this pastes the post into the document), then just click print and hey presto!!!
    ADM

    #64798
    Anonymous
    Guest

    snooklepie

    For *planet* observing, you will see by far the most detail during hazy summer nights when the air is still and damp. Yes–HAZY. You mentioned that you were freezing during your planet observing. Not good for the following reasons…

    Nebulae have very faint surface brightness and so they require crystal clear skies like during those breezy winter nights after a cold front and the stars twinkle madly like strobe lights. These objects do not have the fine detail of planets and their visual images are not harmed by turbulent atmosphere. Basically, Nebula are smeary haze to begin with and are easily washed out by atmospheric haze. Not so planets…

    The planets and moon have high surface brightness and do contain alot of tiny, compact detail. Their details are strong enough to shine through calm summer hazy air but any winter like turbulence will smear the fine detail. This may be what happened during your freezing.

    Basically, against the sky, nebula *appear* to be much larger objects than planets yet you can’t see them without optical aid–its the surface brightness thing. The exception is, of course, “planetary nebulae” which *appear* very small–like planets–yet also have typically the low surface brightness common to all nebulae. They are the most challenging object to see in any telescope.

    ————-

    PS:: Is your Celestron a *refractor* or a lens corrected reflector (containing both clear front glass plate and mirror)???

    A six inch *refractor* is MAJOR money. Far more money than 6 inch “cassegrains” I think the Celestrons are called. If you indeed got a true *refractor* these are by far the best for planetary viewing.

    PS2:: The best fun is with…binoculars!! Also, get a monthly subscription to Sky~&~Telescope magazine or Astronomy magazine. Both are for working class observers. I prefer S&T. Extremely well done.

    Also, *someday* maybe look into variable star observing. Trying to catch stars as they change brightness makes you keep an eye on the sky for holes in the clouds. That is a challenge in itself. A hole in the clouds appears, you drop everything to get one brightness observation and when you plot alot of points over time, you get a nice magnitude curve.

    Some stars change so much, over a month they go from binocular level to 12 inch reflector level to make visual estimates of their brightness (they make star charts with “comparison stars” to compare brightnesses)

    #64799
    Anonymous
    Guest

    thanks, chaps!!
    this time of year,(cloud allowing!) Jupiter is visible all night, making the Jovian marathon possible. dragged out a copy of Astronomy Now from June, and then Jupiter “is nearly lost in the evening twilight”. apparently it would have been low in the sky, so seeing would have been poor. i’ve always been led to believe that the winter months are the best for observing the gas giants. is this not true, then? (observing from a not-so-dark UK urban site)

    #64800
    Anonymous
    Guest

    “this time of year,(cloud allowing!) Jupiter is visible all night…”

    Actually, this time of year in this part of Jupiter’s orbit.

    I didn’t realize the importance of the all night marathon. The reasons posted above deal with atmospheric effects only. I did not consider the practical aspect of finding planets when they are in different parts of their orbits.

    Jupiter is now up at night in the winter-sky part of its orbit. This makes it a “winter object.” This summer, when Jupiter is up, so is the sun. Bad BAD news for summer viewing.

    Wait, say, about 6 years (half Jup’s orbital period) and Jupiter will be up all night long during the summer. This will be the best time for all night viewing marathon because the summer nights are calm. This is not to say Jupiter is not visible in summer in 2 to 3 years, only that it won’t be visible all night long until maybe 5-6 years from now. So a marathon now must be in winter.

    6 year wait. I didn’t consider that. Sorry. Your’e stuck with looking at shimmering fuzz for now if you wanna do a marathon.

    Also, alot depends on where you live. I live in the South USA and the summer nights are the calmest found anywhere.

    #64801
    Anonymous
    Guest

    quote:


    Originally posted by :

    Also, alot depends on where you live. I live in the South USA and the summer nights are the calmest found anywhere.


    except for that infernal mosquito problem

    Actually, great info Lexx Luthor, stick around so we can ask you more questions!

    elmey

    #64802
    ADM
    Participant

    No offence…but shouldn’t this be in the Pub and not here???
    ADM

    #64803
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    This forum is makin my brain hurt

    quote:


    Originally posted by ADM:
    No offence…but shouldn’t this be in the Pub and not here???
    ADM


    Err, I don’t think so. I mean astronomy is kinda like real sciencey stuff doncha think? Or am I thinkin’ of astrology? Hmmm…

    #64804
    ADM
    Participant

    quote:


    Originally posted by Logan:
    This forum is makin my brain hurt

    Err, I don’t think so. I mean astronomy is kinda like real sciencey stuff doncha think? Or am I thinkin’ of astrology? Hmmm…


    Yeah, I guess so….i’ll shut up!!!
    ADM

    #64805
    Anonymous
    Guest

    think about it- where would we be, science wise, if it weren’t for the stars in the sky? after all, isn’t it an interest in what is out there what started off some of the greatest scientific minds???
    (oh bugger, i think my head’s starting to hurt now…. )
    i think the only reason that i have only now, just started to take steps towards astronomy as some form of career, is that as a young girl, when i went up to teachers in science classes and asked if we were going to do anything on the subject, i was fobbed off. astronomy wasn’t taken seriously as a science back then- at least where i went to school. it seems to have only now become ‘fashionable’. it’s a shame. only now am i beginning to realise how big a subject it is, and how much the physics behind it has so much to do with who we are, and why our world is the way it is. it’s a fascinating subject, and so many children of my era would have been denied access to it as a result of ignorance

    #64806
    Anonymous
    Guest

    quote

    i think the only reason that i have only now, just started to take steps towards astronomy as some form of career…

    huh? Tell more.

    #64807
    Anonymous
    Guest

    i have had an interest in astronomy, and sci-fi since i was a small child.until recently, it was more of an armchair interest than an practical one. astronomy never seemed it would be a possible career path when i was younger-as i mentioned, it never seemed to be taken seriously when i was at school. it wasn’t proper science, it couldn’t be a proper job. so i tried electronics, so i could be like Scotty!! (well, nearly…). unfortunately, i soon realised this wasn’t the path i truely wanted but was forced to continue at the time because mum and dad wanted me to. now the whole industry seems to have upped sticks and moved to the Far East, and i’m scratching around making a living in what’s left. now i’m free of the influence of my parents, i’ve decided to chase after the stars i wanted to chase all along. it’s hit me, only as i’ve got older, that someone is out there making all the discoveries, studying those discoveries, acting on those discoveries, creating technology to find them- and maybe, just maybe, i could do that too. i may never do it, but i’m going to have a damn good try and actually enjoy the learning curve so to speak, in the process. does that answer your question?

    #64808
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Yes. Answered.

    What interests you most in Astronomy? Planets? Stars? Or just general fuzzy patches in the sky?

    Intergalactic scale electric currents is one subject that needs more attention from modern “cosmology.” They say the Norwegians were particularly productive here, what with the aurora motivating them to scale up the phenomena to cosmological scales.

    When I get out, I may teach. I’ve done alot of fun jobs but nothing beats tutoring physics. Right now, 90% of the public make the claim “I hate math.” 99% of the public make the claim “I hate physics.” But when I get done tutoring, I get the exact opposite feelings from students–“it really works!”–they say. I’m telling ya, the Great Physics Professors are doing something tragically wrong here.

    May you see many, many patches in the sky.

    http://www.sadgeezer.com/lexx/lexx2-14.htm

    #64809
    Anonymous
    Guest

    as far as astronomy goes, it all fascinates me- however, i did go to a rather interesting cosmology lecture whilst on my first OU summer school. how and when the first stars formed, what they were made of…the whole early universe. great stuff. Teaching? maybe. if i thought i could make the level of a lecturer…probably would find older kids easier to handle. whatever happens, i’d rather be making tea for Stephen Hawking than doing what i’m doing now!!
    so, everybody- what do you find are people’s opinions on the subject? do you find other people didn’t, or don’t, treat astronomy as a serious science? is the reaction of the media to the latest discoveries helpful or unhelpful? does this hinder progress or not? hmmm…this could include people’s/the public attitudes to the world’s space programs in general…let us know your views!

    #64810
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Always remember that Kepler and other early astronomers sold their skills in astrology and alchemy to finance their research. Today various governments and militaries fund the research. World Bank, with pop support from Scientific American magazine, is keen on financing researchers who “prove” global warming is caused by people (I think its the violent sun). Why the World Bank? Who knows. Nobody wants to talk about this aspect of science.

    Tonight on radio…Ken Croswell: author of Alchemy of the Heavens. A look at 20th century discoveries of the Milky Way galaxy including star~streaming, halo populations, steller chemical abundances, etc…Book offers some stories of women fighting tooth~n~nail to get into astronomy a mere 50 years ago.
    http://kencroswell.com/alchemy.html#description

    Its on tonight (early morning) radio show–Coast to Coast Genocide with George Noorey (well thats what I call it) Formerly hosted by Art Bell. Sometimes they have some interesting stuff.

    #64811
    Anonymous
    Guest

    BAH. I regret advertising that. A cliched radio program.

    Book was fantastic, detailing things like the early bitter feud between Shapely and Curtiss over the location of the center of the Milky Way. Unlike the radio show, the book also offered much more caution in accepting the fanciful “pop” cosmology seen in book stores.

    Sincere, serious, and even severe apologies.

    #64812
    Anonymous
    Guest

    quote:


    Originally posted by snooklepie:
    do you find other people didn’t, or don’t, treat astronomy as a serious science? is the reaction of the media to the latest discoveries helpful or unhelpful? does this hinder progress or not?


    I’m a little surprised your schools sloughed off astronomy the way they did. When I went to college (a while ago ), astronomy 101/102 was among the courses that fulfilled the science requirements for us Liberal Arts majors. And of course if you were interested, or a science major, you went on from there. There was even an observatory on campus.

    The information coming in from Hubble and some of the new radiotelescopes, etc. is refashioning our view of the universe, it’s a very exciting time. The observational data from the astronomers can validate (or not) some of the theoretical constructs of the physicists and other scientists. I’m still flabbergasted by the idea that Hubble has given us pictures of the universe 13 billion years into the past; that’s only one billion years from the theoretical beginning of the universe! How can you not be excited by that?

    What I also find interesting about modern astronomy is the way it is being tied into the other sciences–we have astro-physics, astro-geology, astro-biology and so on. This kind of interdisciplinary research will, I think, really help to advance our understanding of where we fit into the scheme of things (and maybe what the scheme of things really is!).

    I think publicity helps. There are always going to be some people who are scared by science, but in general, the more people know, the better they understand the value of this research. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many good science reporters around.

    I think it’s great you’re thinking about a career in this area

    elmey

    #64813
    Anonymous
    Guest

    what makes me laugh is the people who criticize the likes of Dennis Tito, and that young chap (who’s name i can’t remember…d’oh!), for spending £20-300000000
    of their own money on a trip into space
    ‘they’re being incredibly selfish’, people complain. ‘they ought to spend their money on helping people on Earth. give their money to charity’
    well, hang on- it doesn’t matter how much money i had, i would hate someone dictating to me how i should spend it, then saying that i was somehow being immoral and selfish by using my money to have a go at realising my ultimate dream. i somehow think that if these very same people suddenly had the same kind of wealth, they too would go out and do whatever it was they could only fantasize about before. they too, would go out and turn their dreams into reality.
    what they also fail to realise is that by becoming ‘space tourists’, they likes of those i’ve mentioned are providing funds for space programs, which will in the long term benefit us all. it may seem like an odd thing to say, but i believe that if the human race is going to continue to evolve we have to look beyond the confines of this 3rd rock from the Sun. we stay here, it would be no different to the likes of those early cavemen looking outside their caves into the pouring rain, and deciding ‘Nahhh..too wet out there…i’ll say in here by the fire…’
    we move on, or we stagnate and die. and who knows what resource wait to be tapped into? who knows, if instead of being the gigantic white elephant that some people make the ISS out to be, it turns out to be the one place where the only cure for cancer can be made? i know things like this require a heck of a lot of money (and god knows, even the mighty ISS is lacking!), but they do need faith as well. and that seems to be the main thing lacking in the general population. who do we blame for that?

    #64814
    Anonymous
    Guest

    There’s a good article on the winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society in today’s NY Times:

    In Galaxies Near and Far…

    including 2 good photos, one from Hubble, one from Chandra.

    They go over new findings about the Milky Way in particular, including what they call the “messy eating habits” of the black hole at the center of the galaxy which is the Chandra picture. The other new discovery is a previously unseen band of hundreds of millions of stars orbiting beyond the main disk of the Milky Way–held together by the gravity of dark matter. It’s thought to be an ideal place to study dark matter and its role in shaping cosmic structures. This stuff is so cool!

    elmey

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