I am so glad to have found this board!!!I've been an amateur astronomer for more than 20 years. I am currently vice-president of the Muncie (IN) Astronomy Club.To help us get to know each other, I'd like to know what everybody's most memorable observations are--kind of like what S&T is doing with their editors in recent issues. Here are mine: 1. Seeing Mars naked-eye before sunset, 2001I had read that the Babylonians did this around opposition, and I'd done it with Jupiter and Venus, so last year I tried for Mars. A stretch of a week of clear skies after sunset about 1 month after opposition gave me the chance to memorize where to stand and where to look relative to landmarks, and I gradually spotted it about 10 minutes earlier each day. On the last clear day, about 15 minutes before sunset I went out and started looking. After about 10 minutes I just barely caught it, then sprinted halfway down the block to a place where I could see the sun, to confirm that it hadn't set yet. Success!!! That was my most memorable observation, because of the rarity of it and the planning that went into it.2. Leonids, 2001My wife and I drove 4 hours to get out from under dense fog, and were rewarded with about 1000 meteors over a 2 hour period.3. Uranus in binoculars, 1995All growing up I had done exclusively naked-eye work, as the inevitable Christmas trash-scope was just that, trash, and I didn't know any better that I could get optical aid that actually did anything. One of my future wife's professors took me out with some 10x50 Nikon binoculars, and we used a star map to find Uranus. After that, I was well and truly hooked!- Joe
Probably my most memorable observation was a meteor. I was at a star party at the local club observatory. Like most star parties, it was chilly, and much of the time was spent talking to others rather than looking through the scopes. I was chatting with several other people, looking down to keep my face just a little warmer. Suddenly, I saw my shadow moving rapidly across the floor. We all looked up, and watched a very graceful meteor arc across the sky. It lasted about 5-6 seconds, and we estimated the magnitude at -8 or brighter. Another very memorable sight was the comet in 1998, the one with the Japanese name that I can't remember. GF and I traveled out into the desert, miles away from the lights. She had never seen a comet before; I had seen several, but all were small ones. We stepped out of the car, and without even having to adjust our eyes, we could make out the tail of the comet sweeping across about 60-70° of the sky. It was absolutely breathtaking.David
I live in the boonies, which is why we have the University's telescope at our house. My wife, for her astronomy classes, occasionally holds night time observing sessions at our house. When we turn off our lights, it is DARK, except in two directions near the horizon where there are some city lights.We watched the Leonids from the back yard - quite a show. We watched Hale-Bopp from the back yard, for night after night.When I was a kid, I had a trashy 4 inch reflector. One night, after setting up on the patio, I looked into the eyepiece, and I was looking right at an Agena booster stage that was in orbit. It was only in view a few seconds, but there was no mistaking it. I suppose it has long since re-entered.
To help us get to know each other, I'd like to know what everybody's most memorable observations are...Katarina Witt, 1984... oh wait, you probably already saw that commercial.Seriously, I've been a bit snakebitten when it comes to good stuff like the Leonids. I woke up at 4 a.m. and *tried* to drive out from under a dense fog, but couldn't. --The lunar eclipse a few years ago was pretty good--Comets Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp--Saturn through a crappy telescope--Many years ago (early 80s), I got to see a good mid-day solar eclipse in TexasI'll soon have a nice 8-inch Newtonian (see next post), though, and I'm sure I'll be able to add greatly to this list.3. Uranus in binoculars, 1995Nice! Is this possible under less-than-ideal skies? I live about 30 miles outside of D.C., and it's not too bad, considering.orangeblood
3. Uranus in binoculars, 1995Nice! Is this possible under less-than-ideal skies? I live about 30 miles outside of D.C., and it's not too bad, considering.Most definitely! Uranus is about magnitude 6, which is what the naked eye can see in the true dark. Yes, Uranus is a naked eye object under good conditions! There are two components of light pollution: glare and skyglow. If you stand in a location where you are shielded from direct glare from lights, skyglow will not hide Uranus, especially in 7x50 or 10x50 binocs. Uranus is in Capricorn right now, where the Sun is, so it will be a few months before it is an observable morning object, and half a year until it is an evening object. When the time comes, go to skypub.com and get a finder chart. However, if you are able to see the asteroid Vesta in your binocs, you will be able to see Uranus when the time comes as it is of similar brightness, the only possible naked-eye asteroid. It is in Taurus right now and an easy target after sunset; here is a finder chart: http://skyandtelescope.com/mm_images/1467.jpg.Clear skies and happy starhopping,- Joe
Most memorable:1) The Leonids this fall was a remarkable delight. I was dazzled by the Leonids in 1966 up in Tompkins County, NY. That episode was paltry compared to this years event.2) About 10 years ago, we had an alignment of 7 planets. My cousin and I canoed on the meadows a couple of hours before dawn to take it in. The scene in the sky and the feeling on the meadows that morning gave me an unforgetable haunting memory.3) The meteor shower we have in August, ?Persieds?, I caught that one in l969 on the shores of Lake Mead, lying on the warm asphalt, next to the new missus (it was out honeymoon), and 2 other nubile young ladies who'd never seen a shooting star.
I just thought of another memorable observation, although it was not quite what I had hoped for. In 1991, I went to Hawaii to observe the solar eclipse. Unfortunatly, because the weather patterns were quite unusual, Hilo (where I flew into that morning) was under cloud cover. We (I took a group of Boy Scouts) rented jeeps, and tried to get out from under the clouds. We didn't make it, and stopped shortly before totality. We didn't see the eclipse, but seeing the shadow of the moon move across the clouds at 1000mph was really incredible. You could actually watch it come at you, and it took about 2 seconds to travel horizon to horizon. It was dramatic enough that I went weak in the knees; but I would prefer to have seen totality without the clouds.David
Hale Bopp,I just had a new scope (10" Meade) but was having troubles getting the thing collimated. After setting it up on a dark spot, a friend and I started looking at HB. But to our disappointment it seemed as if there were some rings around it. My friend studied astronomy and had never seen that around a comet. But try as we might we could not get rid of those rings. I felt quite bad about it, being a new scope and all. The next day at work I thought, lets see if there are any pics on the web about HB. And lo-and-behold THE RINGS WERE THERE, it was NOT a failure of the scope, the rings were seen all over the world!!I felt GREAT!, it truly felt like having them discovered myself.I have since learned a lot more about scopes, and have given the Meade a complete remake. It's now better than ever before. And I do have a lot of fun using it. Though I have moved, and don't have dark skies anymore :-(But I still remember that experience. To me it was truly memorable.Rien
This feels almost like cheating because I wasn't using my own telescope. One of my most memorable observations was looking at Saturn through one of the two 60-inch telescopes at Palomar, owned by Caltech. I was writing an article for a daily newspaper where I worked. The image of Saturn was so greatly magnified that it looked the way the moon would look when viewed through a backyard telescope on Earth. I felt like I could reach right out and touch it or maybe climb aboard a good trampoline and jump right up and land on it. I can only wonder what it must be like to look at a distant galaxy through the Hale or the Keck or the Hubble -- no doubt it is an incomparable, life-altering experience.Speaking of astronomy, I do recommend a book on this subject: "First Light," by Richard Preston.
Leonides in 1966 seen in far west Texas.The recent Leonides shower although spectacular still didn't touch 1966. That one was a religious experience.
My most memorable observation is easy. A tremendous aurora borealis in South Dakota last year. It was stunning...voluptuous...beautiful..I'll never forget it. Never thought this far south could ever have anything near that kind of aurora. I only view through binoculars as of yet. Fuji 16X70. I can see alot. Galaxies...Messier's... very much...But then I have a good clear dark sky to work with...Ron@Prairie.com
Table Mountain Star Party 2000,A fantastic Aurora show, went on for hours with reds, greens and blues.Same night a bunch of meteors, one very bright bolide. Extremely clear and calm air gave a view of the Trifid that was breathtaking...All in one night.Rodg in Bellevue (TMSP in less than 2 weeks!!!)
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