Saturday, May 30, 2009

5/30 - Saturn & Moon Viewing on Johnson Avenue

Fairly clear skies and decent transparency led to some nice views of the Moon beginning around 8pm, and Saturn around 9pm. The crowd was great tonight, easily hitting 100!

The Ted Barker Solar Observatory was dedicated at the UACNJ site today. Looking forward to some great H-Alpha solar viewing soon!

Monday, May 25, 2009

5/25 - Saturn on Johnson & 235th Street

Busy night - I gave out 75 fliers to viewers in the first hour of my being outside! The seeing tonight was only so-so, but Saturn still looked pretty sharp and elicited the usual "Wow!" reactions. Titan was visible, but was much fainter than usual.

Separatel,y I'm thinking that it may be time to find another location to split my time with. (Not because I've hit everyone who walks by Starbucks, rather to just share the sky with different crowds of people.) We'll see...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

5/23 - 5/24: Dark Sky Observing at Jenny Jump State Park

I remember vividly my first viewings of the more stunning celestial objects. Saturn. Jupiter. M41. M13. Last night, however, I had an experience to trump all of the above. To leave out a tremendous amount of detail, I'll summarize in saying that I was at dark site observatory for the night, and when the clouds broke between 2:15am and 3:00am, the sky was filled with stars. Depending on the area of the sky I was looking at, stars between magnitude 5 and 6 were visible, and the milky way clearly shined. It's wildly disorienting to go from city observing to dark sky observing, but I had some great new and old sights, including M51 (the Whirlpool Galaxy - both through my 8" Dobsonian and a 16" Newtonian), M13 (found quite easily with the Telrad), Jupiter, and other fantastic objects. I will definitely be back as soon as I have the opportunity!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

5/21 - Saturn Viewing on Johnson & 235th

Saturn looked pretty awesome at 240 tonight, and with cooperative weather, the crowd was great! I would estimate at least 50-60 people viewed tonight in the span of about an hour! Tomorrow night I head off to Hope, NJ for some serious dark sky observing. Hope the weather holds up. (Mild pun intended...)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

5/20 - Fort Tryon Park w/ Inwood Astronomy Project

I really need to start exploring the Bronx more! Fort Tryon park was beautiful, and it was a perfect night out to join Andre and Jordan for some public viewing of Saturn, Mizar/Alcor, and M13 (with Jason's help toward the end). The site is quite dark, with some good foot traffic to boot. Saturn stood up well to 320x magnification, with Titan and Dione (maybe it was Rhea, couldn't tell) clearly visible. M13 withstood 160x magnification, but no more than that. Highlight of the evening: a local community college professor took his entire class of ~30 students out to the event!

Friday, May 15, 2009

5/15 - Solar Observing on Johnson Avenue

I saw the faintest sun spot (my first!) today. It looks the size of a couple of dead pixels on a computer screen, but I'm sure it was a sunspot!

Monday, May 11, 2009

5/10 - Saturn on Johnson & 235th

Remember those "You know you're an X when..." lists? Well, when it comes to astronomy, you know you're an astronomer when you're constantly looking up as you walk around outdoors. And you know you're an astronomer in New York City when you're constantly looking up outdoors, thinking 'Will those clouds break already?!?!' Last night they finally gave way to clear skies, and I took the opportunity to share Saturn with about 50-60 people on the corner of Johnson & 235th Street, my usual public spot in front of Starbucks. I had a great time, with perhaps one highlight being the little kid who claimed to have found a new planet in the eyepiece when he moved the telescope a bit. I'm fairly convinced that he had pointed the telescope at a street light. Very clear views, the Telrad did its thing admirably and the new 7.5mm eyepiece also provided some spectacular 320x viewing. (Oh, and I met a guy who has an XT6!)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

5/10 - Really Late Night View of Jupiter (First time!)

Wow! I went up on my roof around 3:45am to check out Jupiter. It was starting to cloud over, and not quite knowing where to look, I was a bit bummed when I didn't see it where I thought it should be. Evidently my view of the eastern horizon is much better than I thought - pretty much down to zero degrees. Jupiter was a BRIGHT object, much higher in the sky than I had expected. Looking through the telescope - and using the new Telrad - revealed a magnificent cream-colored planet with three of the Jovian moons clearly visible! I counted 7 bands, which was awesome considering that the seeing wasn't amazing. This was well worth it! (Didn't spot Neptune though, as it got too cloudy before I began a hunt. May not have seen much anyway because of the full Moon as well...)

Of the planets, so far I've seen Mercury, Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter. I'll certainly fill out that list a bit more as time goes on.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

5/2 - Moon Viewing on Johnson Avenue

Tonight was my first night out with the telescope (i.e. carrying it) since knee surgery last week. Walking with the scope was no problem, and although the cloud cover made me hesitant to go out, I'm glad I did, as we had a solid ~200 people look through the scope tonight! The weather was great, and the view of the Moon was pretty clear throughout most of the time I was out.

As an added bonus, there were a few instances where I saw birds flying between the scope and the moon, creating a great shadow on the Moon's apparent surface in the eyepiece. As always, if you would like to be in touch, email me at