By Dave Fuller on 10/28/2013 3:34 PM

Some interesting - and large! - sunspots on the Sun today. I like to include a scale image of Earth when posting sunspot photos; it helps give a sense of how large some of these cooler magnetic disturbances are on the Sun's surface. Labelling the sunspots groups is helpful as well - I like to have some idea what I'm looking at in terms of it's scientific designation, even if the sunspots will disappear.

Taken through a 6" f/5 reflector at prime focus with Canon T3, 400 ISO @1/4000 sec. Post: Slight contrast boost, image dimmed, orange color added slightly to bring out contrast of faculae.

By Dave Fuller on 10/28/2013 10:02 AM
As we age, many of the hardships or poor experiences fade in one's memory, and we often see the past through rose-colored glasses. This can have the effect of making us long for what we fondly remember as simpler, easier times, when life was always better.

Of course, this usually isn't true. But some things really do retain their luster and value over time. An example of that is the telescopes made many decades ago. At the time, they were often prohibitively expensive for amateur astronomers, and one instrument's purchase meant saving up for many months or even years. These days, these scopes can be found in the garages and basements of many a home, neglected, dusty, or dragged out only for the occasional, spectacular astronomical event such as a bright comet. This is too bad, because many of these instruments are superior in many ways to presently available telescopes. 

An example, you ask? But of course! How about this? 

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By Dave Fuller on 10/28/2013 9:44 AM
Here's what's happening in the night sky for the week of October 28 thru November 3 Want to see what's up in the sky this week? This daily reminder chart will let you know lots of individual, time-sensitive events occurring. Also, don't miss this week's Eyes on the Sky video about some fascinating stars in Cepheus that you can see either naked eye, with binoculars, or with a small telescope.

Not sure how to convert the Universal Times to your local time zone? For U.S. observers, click here. For other visitors, check this site.

Monday, Oct 28:  Look at stars in Cepheus Tuesday, Oct 29:  Double shadow transit on Jupiter (21:56 UTC- see below for how...
By Dave Fuller on 10/24/2013 2:10 PM
First, it's a bad idea to tell me, "That won't happen"

There is nothing like someone telling me, "You'll never get that done." About 10 years ago I was told something similar with respect to getting some stop signs put on my street. You see, I live on what amounts to a dead-end street. Well, not exactly, but there is a business at the end of it, so it is not a through street. At the time, the business that was there had two shifts. The second shift started at 6:00, and their lunch was around 10:00 at night.  Every night just before 6:00, then a few minutes after 10 and a few minutes before 10:30 (on their way too, and back from, their lunch break), a dozen or so cars and trucks would accelerate ALL the way up (or down) our street as the left for lunch break, then returned.

Our speed limit was, at the time, 30 mph (currently 25). I would easily guess that, while accelerating, these vehicles were going 40 to 45 mph as they passed our house. Mind you, our street is only 4 (short!) blocks long! They were certainly going 50 mph before they'd slam on the brakes at the stop sign at the corner.

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By Dave Fuller on 10/22/2013 12:16 PM
Telescopes for Christmas "Buy binoculars first" used to be good advice. A decent telescope was, in inflation-adjusted currency, a lot more expensive. Also, there were more valid uses for binoculars should the astronomy "bug" not bite. Sporting events did not have jumbo-tron screens that showed instant replays. Long focal length camera lenses were not the norm. A camera on every cell phone was just a gleam in Gene Roddenberry's eye. As the holiday gift-buying season approaches (sorry, but there's already Christmas decorations in the stores near me), the question will get asked,

  "Hey... you're into astronomy, right? What telescope should I get my spouse / child / relative?" 

If not this year, sometime in the near future, you are likely...
By Dave Fuller on 10/21/2013 10:15 AM
Here's what's happening in the night sky for the week of October 21 thru October 28 Want to see what's up in the sky this week? This daily reminder chart will let you know lots of individual, time-sensitive events occurring. Also, don't miss this week's Eyes on the Sky video on some of the time-sensitive events occurring throughout the week.

Monday, Oct 21:  Orionid meteors peak Mercury is stationary Tuesday, Oct 22:  Double shadow transit on Jupiter (19:22 UTC- see below for how to convert UTC to your time zone)

Wednesday, Oct 23: Algol at minimum (10:50 UTC)

Thursday, Oct 24: Double shadow transit on Jupiter (14:30 UTC)

Friday, Oct 25: Moon at apogee - 404,557 km from Earth Moon is 5 degrees south of Jupiter (22:00 UTC)

Saturday, Oct 26: Last quarter Moon at 23:40 UTC Double shadow transit on Jupiter occurs (08:38 UTC)...
By Dave Fuller on 10/14/2013 2:54 PM
Here's what's happening in the night sky for the week of October 14 thru October 20 Want to see what's up in the sky this week? This daily reminder chart will let you know lots of individual, time-sensitive events occurring. Also, don't miss this week's Eyes on the Sky video on some of the time-sensitive events occurring throughout the week.

Monday, Oct 14:  Algol at minimum (20:23 UTC) - see link below for converting UTC to your time zone Mars 1 degree from Regulus Tuesday, Oct 15:  Double shadow transit on Jupiter (17:29 UTC)

Wednesday, Oct 16: Venus is 1.6 degrees from Antares

Thursday, Oct 17 Double shadow transit on Jupiter (11:58 UTC) Algol at minimum (17:12 UTC)

Friday, Oct 18: Full Moon at 23:38 UTC Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

Saturday, Oct 19 Double shadow transit on Jupiter occurs at 06:26 UTC

Sunday Oct 20: Algol at minimum, 14:01 UTC Not sure...
By Dave Fuller on 10/7/2013 8:17 AM
Here's what's happening in the night sky for the week of September 30 thru October 6 Want to see what's up in the sky this week? This daily reminder chart will let you know lots of individual, time-sensitive events occurring. Also, don't miss this week's Eyes on the Sky video on some of the open clusters to view in Perseus.

Monday, Oct 7:  Saturn is 2 degrees from the Moon Tuesday, Oct 8:  Draconid meteors reach their peak Moon is 5 degrees north of Venus Jupiter moons/double transit (15:36 UTC) Wednesday, Oct 9:

Algol at minimum (2:46 UTC) Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation Thursday, Oct 10:

Mercury is 5 degrees...

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.