Amateur astronomy equipment, techniques, info, etc

Archive for November, 2011

Re: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology – Climate Change – NASA Eyes on Earth

columbiaaccidentinvestigation <columbiaaccidentinvestigat…>
wrote in news:046e492a-ccdb-4b31-8b58-8ba61d1acea8

> NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology

> Climate Change – NASA Eyes on Earth

NASA needs to point its eyes OUTWARD.  Or get the f— out of the business.  
Or keep wasting money on non-mandated global warming B.S. and the I.S.S.
while the Chinese, Japanese, Europeans and Russians dominate space

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SAA OBSERVING: The "Plate" Exercise

Hello, all.

Tonight it looked cloudy, so I’m writing instead of observing, but
I can share what happened in a session with my Dob. My main goal
was to have another look at M47 and, if possible, at NGC 2423 and
M46 in the same vicinity.

When I started looking at M47 with my 200mm f/6 Dob and 30mm
wide-angle eyepiece (40x, around 2.05-o TFOV), I found myself
imagining that my eyes were parts of a CCD and were "accumulating"
photons — however far this is from the physiological reality!
Anyway, the idea did relax me, and the process of dark adaptation
sort of fit into this style of visualization. In fact, I did see
some fainter stars near but apparently distinct from M47.

However, trying some angles of averted vision, what I didn’t
manage to do was pick up either of the other two clusters I
was looking for. An asterism just to the west of M47 I call
the "Poodle" gave me some idea of where NGC 2423 should be
to the north of the brighter cluster — but I couldn’t really
see any fine group of stars or the like at that location.
Likewise I tried the expected location of M46, guided by
another bright star, and couldn’t seem to find anything

It was hard to tell if skyglow simply made these fainter
clusters visually unobservable to the human eye, or if it
was a question of, "Margo, it’s right there before your
nose, you just need more observing experience to realize

Anyway, I found myself involved in a curious diversion:
simply finding an interesting starfield or asterism and
drawing it, not in the expectation that it was a likely
DSO, but simply as an exercise to see if I could then
locate what I had drawn using the Millennium Star Atlas
or fchart for Linux.

Curiously, I thought of my drawing as a strange kind of
"plate," as if this were a photographic sky survey

After an earlier session, I had found the location for such
a "plate," centered around 08h07m and -19-o50′. Somehow
there was a great satisfaction in this, although this
was just an eyecatching starfield pattern, not a DSO.
This time, I had found a "LEM" asterism of sorts when
rotated 180-o in my Dob (like turning an atlas page
upside down), centered around 08h39m and -12-o20′.

Actually, after concluding my Dob session, I saved
the identification of my "plate" for later, first
getting my 15×70 binoculars for a bit of more
relaxed sweeping of Puppis and Vela, mostly.
There were NGC 2451 and M93 and lots of other
goodies in quick order — as well as some lessons
about the limitations either inherently imposed
on a visual observer relying on rhodopsins rather
than a CCD by the skyglow and neighborhood lights,
or else a sign of my inexperience.

For example, finding the location of VDBH 23 in
the "Anchor of Puppis" was easy, although to me
it looks pretty much like a bright star rather
than a cluster. Moving down, I could easily find
where NGC 2546 was located — but seeing anything
there was another matter.

Similarly it went with Ru 64 near NY Velorum (a
great Cepheid), and Tr 10 near the base of the
triangle that NY Velorum (the northern apex) forms
with two other stars (d and e Velorum). I saw some
kind of star, maybe a bit "fuzzy," where Tr 10
might be expected — but then, again, my eyes
sometimes seem to develop "hot pixels" on a certain
subtle level so that I can see "nebulosity" almost
anywhere if I so desire. Something like M93 might
be close to my current limits of confident detection
(when I move the binoculars, it clearly shows a
discrete location that moves accordingly).

If I knew what the expected realistic site limits
for the human eye under these conditions, then maybe
I could appraise my skills — or the absence thereof —
more insightfully.

Recalling William Herschel’s comparison of the art
of seeing to the art of playing a Bach fugue, I wonder
how to sort out the factors.

Also, there are some interesting questions: should
an amateur operating under heavy light pollution feel
some satisfaction at confidently locating a cluster,
even if it isn’t visible at that location? Maybe it’s
a bit like locating the area of Sagittarius A*, or of
some infrared source? Might one say that the light
pollution makes the intended object, in effect, much
like one detectible only through electromagnetic
radiations invisible to the human eye?

Of course, what would be really fun would be overcoming
the light pollution through better observing skills
and experience and seeing NGC 2423 or the like! I’m
wondering if there’s any good test to judge the
likelihood of this (maybe knowing both the surface
brightness of the object and the skyglow per
arcsecond or arcminute squared would help). Tony
Flanders has great webpages on some of the basic

With many thanks,


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zeta Reticuli

Wikipedia has an article on zeta Reticuli:

In the aforementioned article, an extended section ("zeta Reticuli in UFOlogy")
is devoted to present some supposed "connection" between this star system and a
"star map" which supposedly shows "Greys trading routes" (whatever that means).

The same "star map" is shown in the corresponding discussion section of this
article, with various pro/con arguments for its validity.

I was a little curious about this map, so I set forth to replicate it, using
Celestia. Here’s the resultant image:

with the stars oriented in a similar way to that shown in the map. Because the
stars are of approximately equal sizes, their apparent diameter is a fairly good
indicator which one is closer and which one is farther away. To make a long
story short, the pointing vector determined by the two stars can be uniquely
determined as a function of the date.

Assuming the current date, as you can see, the map shown by Celestia has
absolutely nothing to do with the "star map" shown in Wikipedia. Not a single
star agrees. Even the constellations are different.

Can anyone replicate the scene with the correct zeta1/zeta2 pointing vector
(zeta2 closer than zeta1) showing ANY of those stars which appear on the
Wikipedia "star map"? Even sol should show there, somewhere, according to the
Wikipedia "star map".

If not, it would be nice if someone who’s an editor or contributor to Wikipedia,
submitted this Celestia map picture as a counter-example, to stop these Grey
stories from spreading further.

Thank you in advance for your opinions, gentlemen,

Ioannis — "There’s _always_ a mistake, somewhere."
Chaos — <>

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New to telescope stargazing…

Hello everyone,

i am writing to ask your opinions on buying a telescope.
I’ve always been interested in astronomy, and have been observing with
binoculars and the naked eye. Now that I can buy a specific tool for
stargazing, i.e. a telescope, i am finding it hard to choose one!

I wanted to know what some of you, more experienced in the field,
think would be a good buy… I am setting a maximum of $1000, and was
inclined to buy a Celestron, probably Newtonian or Schmit
But I really am in the dark here!
I wanted to buy a somewhat powerful telescope for viewing nebulae and
galaxies. If I win the lottery in the next weeks i know it’ll be easy
choosing one, but since i am only willing to spend between $800-$1000,
the task becomes a bit harder, at least for me with very little
experience with telescopes.

Can you give me some info on what you think would be the best buy?

Thanks in advance!

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Junk science or not?


So, a solar flare (superflare) sweeps the Earth.  According the
protagonist, "no one will be safe from the radiation, even a mile
underground."  Solar flare hits, blows buildings flat, and incinerates
Possible, or impossible?

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Best seller UFO, Atlantis, Lemuria, Ancient Astronauts, and Aliens E-books

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ISS still sucking up money U.S. no longer has…

CNN:  What’s that, about $500 million cost per flight?

Eight more flights are required to finish construction of the station
and to fill it with supplies prior to the retirement of the shuttle
fleet in 2010.

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Siting of STS-119 launch

I just saw the last few seconds of the STS-119 launch from the Albany,
NY area. It’s really impressive. Looks like a small diffuse orange light
that faded out when the main engines were shut down. It was moving much
faster than the Shuttle normally appears in it’s 200-mile high orbit. It
was less than 100-miles high when I saw it tonight. This was only ten
minutes after the launch. Unfortunately we may not have any more night
launches before the Shuttle program is over. Anybody else in the
northeast U.S. see it tonight?

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