Sunday, April 26, 2009

4/26 - Mercury Hunt at Inwood Hill Park

Mercury was at its greatest eastern elongation from the Sun, so today was literally one of the best nights this year to spot the planet. (It is usually too close to the Sun to spot.)

Having just come off off knee surgery on Wednesday, it was a tough call to make as to whether I would attend the Inwood Astronomy Project hunt for Mercury, but my decision to go for it ended up being totally worth it. My knee held up, sunset was beautiful, the company was great, skies ultra-dark (for NYC), and we spotted Mercury! I found it a couple of times with my finder scope (left the telescope itself at home - still on crutches for longer walks), and Jason had it in the eyepiece for some good spurts when the clouds were kind. Sort of looked like a tiny copper coin. Cool!

PS - Also saw Saturn and pointed out some stars/constellations.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

4/18 - Saturn & Almost M3 in Inwood Hill Park

Went out (scope free!) to Inwood Hill Park to join Jason Kendall and the Inwood Astronomy Project for a night with the skies. After finding parking easily (a blessing in the area), I trekked to the top of the hill, finding no one. Turned out Jason had set up on the baseball field at the bottom of the hill, which was fortuitous, as the clouds broke just as we met up with him. Had a great time chatting with Jason and viewing Saturn. (Almost saw M3, which I have been missing lately - didn't blog about those viewing sessions!) Thanks to my wife for joining me tonight!

4/17 - Saturn on Johnson Avenue & 235th Street

Finally a gorgeous evening! Clear, and very mild weather. We had a fantastic crowd throughout the night, probably around 60-70 people over the course of an hour and a half outside. Spent the night trained on Saturn, with some folks very interested in learning more about astronomy, the telescope, and the planets. The cloud cover, transparency and seeing all added up to a great night out. Looks like I'll need to make more copies of the handout, something I'm happy to have to do.

Monday, April 6, 2009

4/5 - Great Night on Johnson Avenue!

It's been really cloudy for the last few weeks, but today was a great exception!

I spent most of the day outdoors yesterday, enjoying the perfect weather. One of the upsides of being outside was noticing the brilliantly clear skies throughout the afternoon and evening, highlighted by a bright moon that my wife spotted around 7pm. As soon as we got home I packed up the telescope and brought it out to Johnson Avenue & 235th Street in front of Starbucks, where it quickly drew attention, questions, and some funny looks through the window from people drinking their coffee.

The Moon and Saturn stood out as perfect targets, particularly because of their proximity to each other. With Saturn less than 20 degrees behind the Moon (my estimate), it was easy to switch back and forth between the two objects to give people different views. The stream of viewers was steady, at times building up a crowd of 10-15 people around the scope. There were a number of highlights (the "WOW!"s and "That looks so fake!"s are always fun), including a group of teenagers who, once one of them took a look, became very interested and stuck around asking questions and taking turns at the eyepiece for a while.

If you have questions, comments, or if you have a telescope and would like to join us for a sidewalk event one evening, email