Monday, June 8, 2009

6/7 – Observing at Jenny Jump, New DSOs with an almost full Moon

What’s pretty wild about Jenny Jump is how much darker it is out there with a nearly full Moon compared to a new Moon night from a dark spot in New York City. Some of the highlights from yesterday:

1. Watching the Moon occult Antares around 10:50pm. This was pretty awesome. The Moon visually “overtook” a nearby star, and I watched at 120x magnification as the Moon and star slowly neared each other, culminating in the Moon’s occultation of the star (Antares). It was great watching this with 5-6 other people on their own scopes, all watching exactly the same thing at the same time. Also, it’s fun watching something actually change before your eyes in the sky, as astronomical time is, well… astronomical.

2. The Ring Nebula – AWESOME! Messier object #57, the Ring Nebula is a a planetary / emission nebula (a glowing shell of gas and plasma given off by certain types of stars when they die) in the contellation Lyra. What is pretty awesome about this object is that it looks like a cheerio! What is totally crazy about this object is that the estimated distance across the ring is about a half a light year, or a bit under 3 trillion miles.

3. Saturn is amazing, as always. Titan was clearly visible, along with either Rhea or Dione, not sure which it was.

4. M81 through a 14” LX200. Pretty awesome spiral galaxy about 12 million light years away. A light year is about 5.8 TRILLION miles.

5. M13 through a couple of 14” scopes. What a difference between my 8” and a 14”… man, telescope envy!

6. Epsilon Lyrae double double with very obvious separation of each double through a 5" apochromatic refractor, a solid $7,000 telescope (just the OTA).

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