By Dave Fuller on 4/24/2012 12:40 PM

So yesterday I got a comment on the "Eyes on the Sky: April 23 thru April 29" weekly video.  It was a nice one.  In fact, it was a surprisingly nice one.  But there was a twist.  Here's the relevant portion....

By Dave Fuller on 4/23/2012 9:29 PM
Okay, I'm not a huge lunar observing fan, though I take my views of craters every so often. And yet there is just something about earthshine I find fascinating.  And then it hit me the other day as I was writing my script for this week's video.  When you see earthshine, you're seeing sunlight that is both immediate, and delayed - simultaneously....   
By Dave Fuller on 4/19/2012 9:44 PM
I purchased a nice used 6" f/5 reflector last week, and it arrived today.  Despite the usual, "Amateur Astronomer's Curse" (which says, "If thou buyest new-to-you equipment, thine clouds shall afflict thee for a week, at minimum

") and the afternoon / evening clouds not disappointing, I was expecting to have to wait until the weekend at least before getting it outside.  Well, the weather changed plans, and it wound up being mostly clear, so I took the scope out for a test spin.....

By Dave Fuller on 4/12/2012 2:29 PM

In a world of budget cuts, do we not realize that more light - more WASTED light - costs money?  Now, I know the argument that typically follows: "Well, more light means we are safer."  This is not supported by facts.  A study done in Chicago in the late 1990's showed that increased lighting only served to increase reported crime, and recently the city of Bristol in the United Kingdom turned off ALL of their lights and experienced not an increase in crime, but a DECREASE in crime of 50% Not 10, not 20, but FIFTY.  Crime cut in half, with no light.  Imagine that.  Besides, FBI statistics show that 60% of crime happens during the day anyway.

So are we a nation that is basically afraid of the dark, and willing to pay to pretend we are safer with billions of lights on at night, when in fact it does not make us any safer at all?

But let's assume that the light is needed to keep us safe....

By Dave Fuller on 4/12/2012 11:16 AM

Okay, that should be more like, "Eyes on the Sky" on the radio.  This last Sunday, April 8, I was interviewed by Dr. David Livingston of "The Space Show."  We discussed the genesis of "Eyes on the Sky," light pollution, and... 

By Dave Fuller on 4/10/2012 7:09 PM

Anyone getting started in astronomy - shoot, probably anyone who's ever owned a telescope - ponders the question of "The perfect telescope."  That Holy Grail of optical instruments: No aberrations, generous aperture, not too heavy, not too light, the one telescope able to do and be everything the owner wants.  For me, after I'd been bitten hard by the "aperture fever" bug back in about 1995, it was a... 

By Dave Fuller on 4/9/2012 8:00 PM

Recently I purchased an Orion Expanse 20mm eyepiece.  I just received it in the mail today - packed well, in a bolt case (plastic case in two pieces that screws together around the eyepiece), and in pretty much pristine condition.   I want to do a full review on it sometime here in the near future, but I thought I'd share a few quick thoughts as I just brought it outside to look at through my 90mm f/10 refractor, and compared it with an Orion 25mm Plossl. 

By Dave Fuller on 4/8/2012 9:30 PM
Mars is very near Regulus in the sky right now - all of about 5 degrees from each other.  Just look to the south around 10 or 11 pm or so, high up in the sky (lower in far northern latitudes).  The color contrast is stunning.  This picture really doesn't do it justice.  Now remember, most colors in the night sky are subtle; they won't win any fashion contest color awards or anything.  But Mars really does look orange.  And Regulus, by comparison, has a bluish tint to it, as it should given it's Type B spectral classification.

So check out these two objects this week, if you get the chance.  Mars will be moving away from the star's position starting this week, though not noticeably until next week.  So look soon, while they are close enough to really compare their colors.  It's a fascinating difference, and a contrast not often obvious in the night sky.

...
By Dave Fuller on 4/7/2012 8:15 AM

Kukulkan at Chichen Itza

Check out this picture of the shadow of the spring equinox Sun falling on the Castle of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza.  Note how the stepped nature of the pyramid casts a serpentine shadow along the staircase.  It may be difficult to see in the photo, but at the bottom of the staircase is the head of a serpent - look in the lower left. That kind of event doesn't happen every day.  It only happens on the equinox, as the Sun is going down and setting.  To create such an event, one has to plan carefully.  You don't just move a building like that because the engineer said, "OOPS!  No, turn it 3 degrees that way."   

By Dave Fuller on 4/6/2012 7:49 AM
I'm not a scientist, but I love science.  I generally understand what scientists are talking about, even when they talk in scientific-language.  But a lot of people don't.  One example of this is the distances in space.  The late Carl Sagan was masterful at taking complex topics and re-wording them into everyday language that would make the average person think, "Whoa... that's amazing!"  In my own way, I attempt to do the same thing with simple "seeing what's up" in the night sky: There's Jupiter, here's where to look for Saturn, an interesting double star, etc.  But there are some concepts that just need.... someone else.  

The Nightlight

This blog includes what to see in the night and daytime skies, thoughts on telescopes, binoculars, and other astronomy observing accessories and equipment, plus my own occasional notes on objects I've seen and observed. Oh, and the random theater or other "my take on life" post. In other words, there is always something interesting. Check it out.