Monday, November 29, 2010
Posted by Matthew at 5:34 PM
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
The weather was cooperating rather nicely this week for observing so I headed over to McAllister Park with my “Big Red” dobsonian
I sat up next to John K. and Bill B. Keith arrived a short time later with this 12”. Before dark we were already looking at the Moon and Jupiter. I noticed a shadow transitioning across the face of Jupiter and John K. confirmed this with his Explore Scientific Refractor.
I spent a good time looking and the Moon and this night I really enjoyed looking at the crater Gassendi which is on the edge of Mare Humorum, Clavius and Tycho were included with the usual features I observe when I can. I’d like to thank John and Bill for offering a lunar filter to me which made viewing way more pleasurable.
After looking at the Moon I when back to looking at Jupiter and we saw the moon that was transitioning in front of Jupiter now as a little bump on the edge of Jupiter. I checked in to every so often to look at the Moon and Jupiter and saw it move away from the face of Jupiter little by little.
I also decided to challenge myself to search for the Veil Nebula… and I knew the chances were slim and I was unsuccessful. I was not surprised that I couldn’t see it…I would have been surprised if I did see it! Perhaps I’ll try again from McAllister Park to see if on a moonless night.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
The school event on Tuesday, November 16 was perfection. The weather is
clear and the viewing was steady. Despite a few misdirected lights in
the distance that area we sat up at was relatively dark for an urban
school. The children and the parents that viewed through my scope were
really well behaved and polite. Many had detailed questions about the
object I was showing with my telescope. I brought my scope named “Big
Red” and showed NGC457 the Owl Cluster a.k.a “E.T.” ; “Wall-E”
to the crowd of 175 or so. SAAA members present were: Don B., Bill B.,
Jay M., Danielle R., John and Amy E. and I. The school fed us Subway
Monday, November 15, 2010
Amateur Astronomers of Rhode Island Reports: "The Leonids are best known for their 33-year peaks, during which 100s of meteors per hour can be observed. The last of these peaks occurred in 2001."
Parent Comet: 55P/Tempel-Tuttle
To prepare you for this I found this wonderful resource that has been posted numerous times on my blog:
For more information:
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
My beginning in my interest in astronomy are truly difficult to track down. I remember as a kid some time in the early 1990s, I was riding in my mom's greenish white 4 door car. We were driving into our newly built garage at night. I remember looking up at the moon and being inspired by the astronauts that walked on it. At the time I was somewhere between the age of 6-10. It seems I always had an interest in space.
I remember my parents got a c-band satellite some years later after that experience I had in that greenish white car. I was fascinated by the fact that with few punches of a button the huge 10 foot dish would move across the sky and get information from things in space. Some how space seemed close as if right there in my backyard.
My dad is what you'd call a computer guy.. growing up in the 1980s, I remember playing with his Kaypro computers and trs80s. My parents were also one of the first internet shoppers they bought a washer and dryer from the Prodigy message board, back in the days of yellow and black monitors and handset phone modems. I grew up in a house full of technology.
It was with that technology that I gained access to things the fueled my interest in space. I remember watching NASA TV on the c-band and then going out side when the track showed it coming in over San Angelo. One time I remember there was a night landing of the space shuttle and it looked like it would come right over San Angelo so I watched and then ran outside on that night the moon was high in the sky. Then out of the west I saw a glowing fireball with the most awesome moon lit com trail that I've ever seen. I will never forget that most beautiful sight.
Speaking of beautiful sights I remember seeing many of spectacular astronomical events from the sidewalk in my backyard. I remember seeing the spectacular Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997, watching various lunar elapses and meteor showers. Some nights I'd just lay on my back on my parent's patio and stare into space.
In fifth of sixth grade I got a Meade Polaris 60mm Refractor and saw the moon and stars...but sadly it wasn't a quality instrument. The .0965" eyepieces were plastic and each point of light had a tail on it, everything looked like comets. In the day time I'd use a projection method with a binoculars to observe sunspots.
Sometime around junior high I hooked up with the San Angelo Astronomical Association
and there I gained access to come nice scopes. As it turns out a neighbor, Ted, whom lived a block away and a 16" Meade Starfinder Dobsonian this was the scope that I really learned on. I began to use a SkyAtlas 2000 and the telrad on that scope to starhop around. Occasionally I was lent a Celestron 6" dob that I used in my backyard.
Ted had a friend named Clyde Bone who was a telescope maker. Clyde was a stange man who drove a campervan around town. As strange as he was he was a great telescope maker. He made a 20inch Merenne Nasmyth telecope that I was granted access to. So my first real experiences doing astronomy was a junior high kid using a 6" Dobsonian, 16" Dobsonian and 20" Merenne Nasmyth telescope...and in some of the darkest skys Texas has to offer. If you want more info on Clyde's scope there was a write up in Sky and Telescope, volume 98, number 3, page 130. 09/1999 and "Amateur Astronomy" magazine #4 for Winter 1994, pp.45-47
I got my first job ever was a construction site working for Ted's business. Ted gave me my first job because I wanted to earn money for a dobsonian. That really didn't happen until 2007 when I moved to San Antonio.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
This past weekend I attended the 2010 Eldorado Star Party (ESP) near
Eldorado, Texas. This was my second time attending ESP. This years ESP
was different compared to last year in many ways. This year my wife,
Tina, came for her first multiple club/public star party. My wife is
no stranger to a telescope field and is into astronomy and can starhop
with the best of them.
We originally planned to stay out at the X-Bar Ranch (where the star
party is held) and sleep in the Honda Element. Then a few days before
our trip we heard reports of freeze warnings and we opted for a motel
room. At the registration table I heard the temp dipped into the 20s
the night before so I knew we made the right choice! Tina and I
enjoyed sleeping in a king size bed at the Days Inn Devils River in
Sonora, Tx. It was nice the motel room served hot breakfast thanks to
the Sutton County Steakhouse and the blackout curtains were especially
nice in the daytime so we could sleep in. Although it added some cost
to our trip and extra miles to the odometer on the Honda Element
(rolled over to 100k this trip) the motel room was worth it and made
the experience much more pleasurable.
Telescopes & Observing:
This year left the 16" dobsonian at home and brought the 10"
dobsonian. This decision was done mostly because I was under the
weather earilier and didn't want to remove the seats out of the Honda
to fit in the 16". We arrived on Friday evening and set up the 10". We
stayed out until 9pm that night. I was still a little under the
weather so I didn't want to get too cold. I observed some usual
objects with the 10" like m57, m31, Ngc457, etc. It was fun but short.
Saturday, I decided to pack up the 10" in the Honda and just use my
eyeballs and my binoculars (Celestron 20x80s). Saturday we sat next to
some friends from our San Antonio club and we used an 18" scope of a
friend to look at a few objects. I star hopped to the Veil Nebula with
the 18" and a Telvue ethos. We looked at the blinking nebula, m77 etc.
There were some rather impressive rugs out at ESP mounts and scopes
that cost more than the cars that hauled them out to the ranch! My
scope was mild by comparison, it's a red tube Coulter 10"f/4.5
dobsonian and the only finder I had was my telrad. I didn't attempt
the observing list this year because I knew I wasn't feeling well
enough to stay out long enough to complete it.
People of ESP:
Being my second time attending ESP it was nice to see some familiar
faces. We had many friends in attendance from San Antonio and that was
fun. Like last year there were over 150 people in attendance. There
seem to be more vendors this year but I didn't see the Meade booth
this year but with my view of Meade lately that isn't much of a loss.
This year I seemed noticed the majority of the field was full of
imagers, something I'm not that into but I admire the dedication of
those that do it. Tina & I missed the guest speaker on Friday but we
heard the speaker on Saturday, Lucas Marci from Texas A&M department
of physics speak about determining the age of the universe. The
lecture we informative and lively. We both enjoyed it. Later Saturday
evening I bumped into, David Moody the author of one of favorite
Astronomy books Astronomical Sketching part of Patrick Moore's series
of astronomy books. Tina and I talked with David for an hour or so in
the warming hut at the observing field Saturday night. The San Antonio
Astronomy Association (SAAA) had good turn our of members and this
year (more than last year) and the SAAA was offically sponsors of the
ESP event this year. Blackie a friend of mine and SAAA member created
this year's ESP observing list and Mark an SAAA member was the MC for
the guest speakers.
Note: I'm having some computer issues... So photos coming later. This
entry was typed on my iPhone so I apologize for typos.
Posted by Matthew at 9:41 PM