Archive for the ‘Planetary’ Category

camping report

Well that was fun. I had forgotten just how *dark* skies can get! Thankfully the moon didn’t rise until late in the evening, which left plenty of visual opportunities before bed.

Some of the objects I saw:

  • Saturn and Titan with my 30×100 binos – it was easy to make out the rings (though not separate rings), and Titan was there in all its miniscule glory 😆
  • It was dark enough to see the Coal Stack
  • I reckon I actually saw Eta Carinae without the need of the binos, and of course seeing it through the binos was great fun
  • A satellite. I shall need to check stellarium to try to figure out which one it was
  • some meteors

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going camping. What’s to see?

So I’m going camping up at Poona for this easter long weekend. Should be fun; fishing, relaxing, reading, relaxing, playing board games, swimming… oh and relaxing.
The skies shouldn’t be too bad except for the moon still being between about 83% and 64% luminous over the 3 nights we’re there.

My star gazing goals for the trip are:

  • Obtaining data (and even submitting a report if possible) at the location for the globeatnight.org project
  • Trying to pick out Saturn’s rings with my 30×100 binoculars.
  • Maybe having a look at Eta Carinae or some of the other bright DSOs visible at this time of year.

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more star gazing

A great night to be viewing the heavens: the temperature has dropped off, not a cloud in the sky, not too much of a breeze. Visual magnitude is about a 6, and earth hour was on lol.

Tonight I saw with my 1200mm 8″ dob (with 25 and 10mm eyepieces):

  1. Saturn and four of its moons! Titan, Tethys, Dione and Rhea.  :O
  2. Eta Carinae
  3. Tarantula nebula
  4. the Alpha Centauri double star
  5. tracked a satellite for a bit across the sky with my 25mm ep from southwest to south! Thankfully I have Stellarium and there just happened to be a sat passing over the right spot at the right time – Radio-Sputnik 15!

Awesomesauce!

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Titan, atheism vs agnosticism

I spied Saturn’s moon Titan for the very first time a couple of days ago with my 30×125 binoculars. Saturn’s rings are side-on at this time of year/orbit, so i’m not sure whether i saw them or whether it was some sort of optical aberration. Its always satisfying to find something ‘new’ which you haven’t seen before, not to mention the pleasure of scanning the sky for other notable things like the Carina Nebula, etc.
Next on the agenda – see if i can find anything in the vicinity of Cygnus A.

This might come as a surprise to many people,  not the least of which would be my wife (forgive me! :( )… i don’t consider myself to be a christian anymore. The reasons are many and varied, but I just don’t see the evidence. Over the past decade or so i’ve become increasingly scientific in my world view, thinking about my beliefs with what i think is a healthy degree of skepticism.
So at the end of the day i’ve found the need to classify myself as an atheist… i can’t see any evidence of any religion as being actually provable, demonstrable fact. Most scientists are atheists… so then why would I consider agnosticism instead? Well, i’m currently (still?) of the opinion that the average human has the capacity for spirituality. It is this very capacity that makes me ask: is spirituality a concept based on some tangible condition, or is it merely an aspect of typical human thought processes?
I believe the jury is still out on this issue (as Dr Ellen Arroway in Carl Sagan’s book Contact mentioned). Apparently, scientists/medical folks have actually measured that at the precise moment of death the human body weighs very slightly less. What is that? Is it the ‘soul’? I don’t know. We need more proof.

But all I can say is that it would be awful nice if life after death was fact. This is why I’m confused as to whether to call myself an atheist or agnostic; i want to believe… but i have to be skeptical.  But maybe even such a concept of an afterlife is a fallacy. Heck, maybe ‘spirituality’ could actually be a ‘6th sense’ of sorts… maybe it is a capacity of mankind that we collectively need to discover and actually – demonstratively – prove exists. How?
(just don’t ask Why – i’m not a philosopher!)

Or maybe spirituality is just a byproduct of evolution. Go Dawkins!

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nasa, observational astronomy

STS-129 Ascent Video Highlights

I love it when NASA does this sort of thing… have a watch, it’s really good.
Here’s a direct download of the 400mb 640×480 mpeg file.

On another note it is probably worth mentioning that I saw Neptune for the first time with my 25×100 binoculars a couple of weeks ago (well, a few months ago)… and yes, it is blue!
I also saw the Galilean moons – Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.  They were just dots, but still it was amazing. The binoculars were strong enough, though, to show Jupiter quite clearly as a small disc rather than a dot too.

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