Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The crow ship returns.

"Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them"
Marcus Aurelius.

Recently, whilst spying Algeiba through the Maksutov, I noticed to the south west and low over a nearby roof top, that familiar of constellations "Corvus" the raven, or crow as it is also called.  

It is also known as the "Spanker" due to its resemblance to a type of boat sail.  

The constellation may be named Corvus, but to my eyes, it looks nothing like a big black bird!

Few of the constellations take on the actual shape they depict, but in the case of the "Spanker" the stargazers of old were spot on.  

Is that a spanker sail.? maybe~maybe not!

It's good to see Corvus again, a sure sign that summer will soon be calling.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Grab that telescope...Quick!

Screenshot of Mercury from WinJUPOS software March 16th 2018 - 19h15mUT

The sky was full of lingering clouds, big black Venus and Mercury obscuring clouds!

It took a little time for my cloudbusting to work, but finally the bulk of the cloud parted to reveal a brilliant Venus, and just above and slightly to the right a glorious and very welcome Mercury.

It must be three years since I last spotted the winged messenger.

Due to the often cumulus filled horizons of this county and probably most counties in the United Kingdom, Mercury remains hidden from view for much of its possible observing season.

To the southwest a cloud bank was moving ominously westward, by the look of the formation I had maybe a five minute window to catch a peep of this fiery Sun hugging planet.

The Maksutov came to mind, light weight, portable and easy to set up.

Setting up on the garden bench was easy, with a 10mm eyepiece in place, red dot finder trained , I was up and observing in about two minutes total.

Mercury had about it an obvious crescent phase

As it happened I managed a whole ten minutes of planet peeping. 

Even though, it was worth the mad rush of setting up the telescope. It’s often like  this in Pembrokeshire. 

If I see the gaps in the sky, I have to rush and grab the telescope, hesitate and all is usually lost for the night!

Yet another reason to own a “grab and go” telescope.   

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Unfriended of the stars of late.

"Some nights have been 
wholly unfriended of the stars of late".
Joseph H. Elgie author of "The stars night by night".

Of late, the  nights of Pembrokeshire have definitely been "unfriended" of stars!
Between the mist, rain and snow blizzards, astronomy has taken a back seat this past month or so.

But never mind, tonight looked perfect for stargazing. 

Several of the Little Bear stars were on show, a welcome sign of a possible good nights viewing.

Maksutov 90mm/f13.8 Catadioptric
It was time to take out the little 90mm Maksutov.

As big bright Orion was well placed ,first light in the viewfinder went to the uppermost star in Orion's Belt, Mintaka, a lovely white primary with a slightly bluish secondary. 

The trapezium's  four stars next, all perfectly round shining white, not a hint of flare or fuzziness.

Rigel's secondary was difficult to locate tonight, but it was possible to pick out its obvious blue tint.

Next Messier 44 the beehive or in Latin Praesepe.  With a 40mm plossl all looked bright and clear. 

Though to my mind, the Beehive always shows its best in binoculars.

Over then to Leo, and one of my favourite doubles Algeiba. 
A yellow primary with a green/yellow secondary. 

Occasionally the secondary to my eye appears slightly purple in colour. 

Plate 7 clearly showing Rigel's bluish  comes.
Atmospherics, different types of telescope and eyepieces, and probably my mood at the time combine to alter the colour of some double stars.

Over we go to Gemini. Castor next. 
Both primary and secondary beautiful ice white in colour. 

The primary and secondary could be twins, though the secondary is slightly smaller.

The little Maksutov sat on a chair and with the help of its red dot finder I was able to locate all objects that came to mind. 

I may one day look for a long legged tripod, but for now the little table top legs of the Maksutov will more than suffice for my style of observing.

If you want a portable all round decent scope for hunting down double stars, I highly recommend these little telescopes.

Clear skies 


Saturday, 27 January 2018

The wonky Plough in Orion's Belt.

Saturday 27th of January 2018 - 10x50 binoculars- Gibbous light

Apart from clouds hugging the nearby hill of Foel Drygarn, tonight's sky was clear and bathed in a wonderful gibbous moonlight.

Over the village of Crymych, only the 1st to 3rd magnitude stars were visible.

Out of all the twinkling luminaries, the three stars of Orion's belt grabbed my attention.

With only binoculars to view, I spent several minutes just observing the belt. The stars near Alnilam took on the appearance of the Plough asterism, albeit a bit of a wonky plough!

What could be called the "pointers" of the wonky Plough, laid a direct path to the beautiful yellowish/orange star called 31 Orionis.

Orion's belt and its surrounding meadow of stars can keep the binocular astronomer busy for hours.

Even though this evenings sky was washed out by moonlight, and my binoculars are one step away from the dustbin! (I must find myself a better set) it was a joy tonight to wander amongst the stars of the Three Kings.

Clear Skies


Friday, 4 August 2017

Nearby.. a lone dog howls..

The Full Mackerel Moon will be upon us on Monday,  nearby I can hear a dog practicing its lunar howling!

Up above, the slow moving clouds give way for generous views of the almost full fat gibbous Moon.

Out came the tiny Jason refractor, and with the help of my ancient Samsung S2 android phone I  captured a couple of lunar images.

I also made a sketch of crater Shickard, it being the most prominent feature along tonight's lunar terminator.

Over the last two lunations I have only been able to spot the waxing Moon about three nights out of a possible 28..!

I'm hoping this pattern will soon break.

Looking forward to some more lunar sketching in the near future.

Return of the Pleiades

Tonight I am reminded of the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks this year on the 12th of the month.

The Moon is badly placed for this years Perseids, but it is always worthwhile venturing out to have a look. With any luck I'll be out there on the 12th, an hour each side of midnight.

The Moon may wash out a lot of the action, but it will be interesting to see what does show up.

No doubt I'll be sitting in a deck chair or lying on the lawn till the early hours making wishes..

Usually whilst out looking for Perseid meteors the familiar shape of the Pleiades can be seen way off to the east.. a gentle reminder to prepare telescopes for the darker nights.

Clear Skies