By Dave Fuller on 2/22/2015 8:19 PM
I've loved astronomy ever since I was about 8 or 9 years old. I can recall my 4th grade teacher telling our class about a meteor shower that would be visible, and begging my parents to let me watch it. 

But I've been camping for far longer; my parents took me to many a campground in and around New England when I was just a baby, and I can recall many trips we took, both with their pop-up trailer and then tent camping sometimes with my dad.  

I am grateful for those experiences; they've made transitioning into doing camping with my family much more fun. And I've discovered that the more I get out there and do astronomy, that camping shares many things with star gazing. 

Star parties

There used to be just a few major star parties in the United States; now there many dozens of star parties that attract 25 or more amateur astronomers. There are countless others that are smaller, less organized affairs, where a few hardy folks travel to a dark sky site, set up a few telescopes, and enjoy...
By Dave Fuller on 2/8/2015 9:03 PM
As long-time viewers of my Eyes on the Sky videos know, I am a big advocate of reducing light pollution. And as I've read up more on not only tent camping (star parties, here I come!), but even doing some backpacking/camping, I've discovered the Leave No Trace principles. To me, that's another facet of conservation that I've discovered - leave things as they were (or better) then how you found them. Conservation covers much more than that though: Preserve, protect and restore a natural environment as much as possible. 

I think light should be a part of that discussion too, but it almost never is.

Conservation encompasses many things, but I am often surprised how few people that are heavily involved in conservation know about light pollution, or for that matter, the powerful effects of even small amounts of light. It's not that they don't care; it's more often that they don't even know. 

Very often those...
By Dave Fuller on 2/6/2015 4:41 PM
Jupiter is at opposition tonight - that means for those looking down (or up!) at our solar system, the Sun, Earth and Jupiter would form a straight line. But since none of us ARE looking at the solar system from that perspective, what is the practical effect for us? Well, Jupiter will rise at sunset, and set at sunrise. Check out this animated gif to see the 13 hours of Jupiter's progress across the night sky occur in about 13 seconds. Jupiter at opposition animated gif



Normally what's best about oppositions - particularly for planets like Mars - is that it means the planet is also at it's largest, due to Earth being at its closest point to the planet. But Jupiter stays above 40 arc seconds for the next two months, so there is plenty of time to see it while it is quite a large angular diameter at the eyepiece.

More importantly, and what I like about oppositions,...

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.