By Dave Fuller on 10/29/2012 9:39 PM
No, no libations (though the Wisconsin Amber I had was quite tasty).  No, I figured I would pop outside for a moment and catch the just-barely-past-full Moon tonight.  Took a simple 70mm Meade refractor and - what's this?  Are those 'edge of the Moon" mare I see?  Why yes, indeed!  I spotted Mare Australe initially, then after I snapped a few (mostly bad - there are some high clouds that made the shots look poorer than I could see with my eye) pictures with my cellphone camera, I noticed I had also managed to see Mare Smythi and Mare Marginis. These are not "always seen" mare, as the Moon must be 'tilted' the correct direction for us to see it - a phenomenon known as libration.  Anyway, I thought I'd share the picture I got, bad as it is.
By Dave Fuller on 10/27/2012 9:24 PM
This is one of two 6" telescopes I am working on.  I bought a Celestron C6N optical tube earlier this year.  It has become my favorite telescope for more every application: General use, planetary, (most) deep sky, outreach events, etc.  It just plain does pretty much whatever I ask of it, and to boot, it isn't very large or heavy.  I made a foldable tripod / pier for it, and I can pick up the whole thing and move it outside in on fell swoop.  And it breaks down quickly and easily for easy transport in the car.

But!  I want to improve it.

There's something to be said for using a fan in a reflector (that link is a LOOONG read, but well worth it).  So despite a 6" mirror cooling...
By Dave Fuller on 10/26/2012 3:57 PM
I've been teaching people how to find things up in the night sky since 2008, but that was limited to either small in-person classes/groups or "one way" teaching via the YouTube videos I make.  Now, there's a new way: Interactive and online! is a somewhat new website that offers some cool classes that aren't typically offered in a community college type setting, and learning the constellations and bright stars in the sky is a perfect fit for them.  Interested?
By Dave Fuller on 10/24/2012 10:30 AM
I was perusing some of my usual, "Here's what's new in the world of astronomy/space" and ran across this article about astronomers taking a picture of 85 MILLION stars in the center of our Milky Way, creating a catalog 10x as large as any before it.  More accurately, it's an image from the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observator
  And the view it provides is actually pretty darn amazing.  
By Dave Fuller on 10/23/2012 3:58 PM

I'm not an avid comet-observer.  Most of the comets that are on their way through the solar system on any given night aren't terribly bright, or impressive to see.  But Comet Hergonrother woke some of us up the past few weeks, after brightening from magnitude 14 to magnitude 8 or 10 (depending on whom you believe).   2013 could prove to be another one of those periods like in the mid-1990's when Comets Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp graced our skies within a few months of each other.  

Comet PANSTARRS (more accurately, C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS).  This could put on quite a decent show this coming spring.  It's apparently predicted to reach magnitude -4 at perihelion, which is close to the brightness of Venus!

By Dave Fuller on 10/18/2012 3:04 PM
Or perhaps more accurately, astronomy, culture and entertainment.  At least, that's what I tried to do with this week's Eyes on the Sky video.  The upcoming holiday theme, coupled with my aptitude for the theatrical and helping beginners to astronomy find and see interesting things in the night sky was all wrapped up into that one video.

But did it "work"?

I don't know.  At the present moment, YouTube seems to be providing its statistics on a rather inconsistent basis.  Normally by this time I'd have 500+ views, but YouTube shows 328 on my "Video Manager" page, yet delving into Analytics, it shows 349 views, and only for the first three days the video was up at that (excluding at least one full day and part of today).  So that makes me question: Is what I'm doing useful?  Is it necessary?  Too "out there"?

Thing is, it seems if you're not entertaining, no one's going to watch.  But go TOO far, and one...
By Dave Fuller on 10/15/2012 2:29 PM

I started reading a book today called "Dreamland" by David K. Randall, that I'd asked her to get for me.  I must have asked for this book about astronomy, but it may have been related to both sleep AND astronomy.  

Like many of us, I don't exactly sleep as well as I'd like.  So I'm reading through the second chapter of this book, and I read this (forgive the long quote, but it's necessary:

[Psychiatrist] Thomas Wehr,...was struck by the idea that the ubiquitous artificial light we see every day could have some unknown effect on our sleep habits.  On a whim, he deprived subjects of artificial light for up to fourteen hours a day in hopes of re-creating the lighting conditions common to early humans....[T]he subjects initially did little more at night than sleep.  They spent the first few weeks...making up for all of the lost sleep that had accumulated from staying out late at night or showing up at work early in the morning.  After a few weeks, the subjects were better rested than perhaps at any time in their lives.

By Dave Fuller on 10/10/2012 9:26 PM
So.... I've kinda been busy.  Attended Prairie Skies Star Party in September.  Great event, wonderful people, only cloudy one of the three nights.  Gave my Mayan Calendar presentation; superb feedback.

Decided to sell some equipment to focus on some equipment I really like or want to work on.  A number of eyepieces and my 5" f/9 refractor went elsewhere, and I got a new mirror cell, focuser, and working on some other projects to rebuild my 6" f/5 telescope into a finer-tuned machine.  Also got a 4.5" f/4 mirror to make a small, portable "travel Dob" for camping trips, I think.  Buying and selling stuff takes time!

I also worked on a collimation video for reflectors.  I'm not 100% happy with how it turned out, so it's not "live" yet.  I think I'm going to do a second one that tackles collimation from another angle, then do a third one as a "fine tuning collimation."  Hope to have those up soon.

There's also an online educational website that is focused on "teaching what you know" and I have...

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.