Friday, 29 August 2014

Returning Subaru echoes the Autumn starlight.

The Pleiads, rising thro the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fireflies
Tangled in a silver braid

A clear night with a whisper of a cooling breeze.

High up Vega is now noticeably Westward bound.

The Pleiades now spotted in the East… here comes the Autumn.

There are many names given to this most wonderful of star clusters, The Seven Sisters, The Starry Seven, Children of Atlas, The Seven Atlantic Sisters, The Hen and her Chicks to name just a few.

But my favourite name for the Pleiades has to be the Japanese name of SUBARU.
The Japanese language contains some lovely astronomy related names e.g. Hoshi=Star, Hi=Sun, Tsuki=Moon, Milky Way=Ama-No-Gawa.

Viewing Subaru through 8x40 binoculars never fails to bring a smile to my face.

This cluster was made for binoculars. Subaru along with the Orion nebula can always guarantee a spontaneous  WOW!!… followed by a dance around the garden.

Clear Skies

Mark  :0)

Sunday, 17 August 2014

A swift view of the Milky Way

This evening’s sky was a delight , even with the nearby streetlights shining, the Milky Way stretched far and wide overhead.

At about 11.00pm I grabbed my “new/secondhand” Swift 8x40 binoculars and planted myself in the front garden.

Thanks to an earlier collimation my new binoculars were spilling out sharp pin-point stars in all directions.

My Swift Auburon 8x40’s cost £15 at a local bootsale, and I can highly recommend that particular model.

 One thing is to always make sure that any prospective binoculars have collimation grub screws.  These four tiny screws are easy to find (with a magnifying glass!) and are necessary to properly align the two objective lenses.

Without the ability to adjust the objective lenses you will quickly go cross-eyed and relegate the binos to the dustbin!

For all astronomy purposes I would never buy binoculars unless they have the four adjustment grub screws.

When I first tested the 8x40’s, I mounted them on a tripod and placed Arcturus in the field of view. I was rewarded with a lovely view of Arcturus and what appeared to be its identical twin! 

After a slight adjustment of all four grub screws, the double image of Arcturus merged back into one sharp starlight point.

Do they work?

Most definitely Yes….. so far I’ve had good views of M13, M33, M31, M81/82,  Kembles Cascade, the Sword Handle and The Coat Hanger.

Plus, ambling through the river of the Milky Way is a joy with those little 8x40’s.

Clear Skies





Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Gibbous Moon and Chasing the ISS


This evening I took the Schmidt outside to spy the gibbous moon.

I wanted to have a good look at the Moon Maiden and Gassendi before they slipped behind the trees at the end of the garden.

After about ten minutes of viewing the moon slowly but surely slipped behind the blasted trees... !

Never mind.... across I went to my favourite double Albireo.

With the 20mm Erfle in place I was able to distinguish the blue and yellow of this lovely double.

By defocusing the image the two stars exhibited an even stronger yellow and blue colour contrast.

Copernicus and Gassendi

Plato and the Moon Maiden

 Chasing the ISS

THEN ....  in the west I noticed the International Space Station racing towards me.

I wondered if I would be able to capture its image in the Schmidt.?

After a bit of frantic positioning I centred the ISS in the field of view..... for about a SECOND!!

I quickly tried to manually keep up with the ISS... and for several seconds I managed to see a decent image of what looked like two long horizontal bright bars, connected to a much shorter vertical bright bar.   

Did I see the space station, or was my brain playing tricks with me...? 

I'm not sure, but at least what I saw was not the usual star like point of light, as seen through my binoculars....

I will just have to wait, and with luck confirm my findings on the next favourable pass....  :0)

Clear Skies