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"The Nightlight" by Eyes on the Sky is all about how to see things in the night sky, things you can build to improve your amateur astronomy experience, and general thoughts on astronomy and light pollution.
By Dave Fuller on 9/19/2013 7:44 AM
I've been interested in astronomy ever since I was a kid. Looking up at the stars, wondering "What's out that?" and being completely fascinated by the space programs that took us to the Moon and low earth orbit, and finally getting my first "real" telescope in my early 20's, kicked off what eventually became this lifelong passion. Eyes on the Sky exists to devote part of its energy towards light pollution reduction, but it wasn't until I heard Dr. George Brainard speak at ALCon last year that I realized how important light at night - or should I say, lack of light at night is to sleep, and the spectrum of light with respect to melatonin.

The fact is, during the day, our eyes largely see light at blue wavelengths. Think about the color of the sky during the day:

That blue triggers our eyes...
By Dave Fuller on 9/12/2013 7:53 PM

Around 20 years ago when I got my first "real" telescope, I couldn't wait to do astrophotography. Yes, I knew it was hard, and expensive. But who wouldn't want to take amazing pictures of the night sky for all to see? The beauty of technology is that it's a lot less expensive, and in some cases, not as hard, either. Here's a perfect example: A Starblast 4.5 telescope with a cell phone held up to a 6mm eyepiece at the lens. And I can get this:

Amazing, isn't it?

By Dave Fuller on 9/10/2013 10:14 AM
I am not fond of the "disaster" meme graphics, or the "faux get you outraged" ones either. I tend to ignore them now. So the ones that still can really get me going are the false or misleading astronomy-based ones, like, "Mars will look as big as the Moon!" that comes around every August now (despite having it's closest approach in 2003, and STILL not looking anywhere NEAR as big as the Moon).

Since Friday the 13th gets peoples' superstitious juices flowing, and I feel like being a killjoy about this based on the Mars memes and other stupid ones out there, I made this "pre-buttal" meme for the asteroid 324 Bamberga. It will reach opposition with Earth around Friday, the 13. I know someone will try to make this into something that will get everyone all excited for no reason, so feel free to share / copy / paste / use the meme I made in...
By Dave Fuller on 9/8/2013 8:15 PM

The AAVSO indicated not long after Nova Del 2013 first popped into view that it might be a slow-burner, and be visible for a while. At the time, they said this: appears Nova Del 2013 is a 'slow nova', type NB in VSX. By definition, it takes 150 days or more for a slow nova to....

By Dave Fuller on 8/18/2013 9:54 PM

I am thankful that I can manage wide-field astrophotography, because I am not good at through-the-scope shots. Below is a photo of the nova that was discovered just last week in Delphinus. It's a bright one - right now around magnitude 5.0 or so, and this picture shows the area it is located in. Sagitta is at upper right, while Delphinus is below. This week's Eyes on the Sky video shows exactly how to hop to this spot, and see the nova with binoculars too. 

Nova Delphini 2013, August 18, 2013

By Dave Fuller on 6/17/2013 8:36 AM

Yes, it is a bit like cooking, but without the mixing and heat.  (The clean up still exists though!)  I have offered an adult-oriented astronomy program to libraries for a couple of years now, which has been incredibly well-received.  I have been asked if I had a children's program.  Though I never put one together previously, I had thought about what I would do for one.  This last week I got asked if I would present at a camp for 6 to 12 year olds, and decided I better put a presentation together that works for that age group.

One aspect I thought would be fun  to share is to show how craters are made.  It is one thing to see an animation from a NASA video; it is another to actually witness an impactor striking "soil" and forming a crating / producing ejecta

By Dave Fuller on 4/23/2013 9:02 AM
I have had this 4.5" f/8 primary from Meridian Telescopes for quite a while (sadly not sold there anymore), and always planned to build a scope around it someday. In the interim, I have had a number of other telescope projects come and go.

With that f/8 mirror, I had plans to put a tube on a bowling ball, and make the scope so it could point any direction.  Yeah... ummm - WAY too much weight up top, and not enough mass at the bottom.  There's a reason why an Astroscan telescope is so short and squat!  So from that field project, I had an old Meade tube sitting around doing nothing from that project that didn't get too far.

When I went to build my 6" f/11 reflector, I bought a used, Japan-made focuser for a reflector. It turned out to be too heavy for that telescope, so it has been sitting around. The 6x26 Orion finder that came with my 90mm f/10 Orion refractor has been doing nothing, as I had swapped in a 9x50 on that...
By Dave Fuller on 4/17/2013 8:44 AM
Lunar X feature graphic

The Lunar X feature is visible on the Moon tonight!  See this week's "Eyes on the Sky" video for more information, or download the free pdf Moon map for observing the Lunar X, V, S and Apollo 16 landing site here.  Cloudy?  No problem - it will be visible again later this year - here's the 2013 dates and times of best visibility for the Lunar X (calculated for Central Time Zone in the United States - convert to your time zone here):

By Dave Fuller on 4/11/2013 11:30 AM

I've been a dark skies advocate for some time now (going back to 2008), and recently Thilina Heenatigala from Astronomers Without Borders contacted me about writing a blog post for their Global Astronomy Month on the Dark Skies Awareness blog.  I encourage you to check out that post here, and be sure to peruse the Dark Skies Awareness blog and the whole Astronomers Without Borders site - there's a lot of great work being done around the world for astronomy on a variety of levels, and you can learn a lot about it there.

By Dave Fuller on 4/11/2013 6:41 AM

Algieba in Leo is not hard to find from most locations.  At magnitude 2.2, it cuts through most light polluted areas, residing about 8 degrees to the northeast of Regulus in Leo the Lion.  Regulus us 77 light years from Earth - I suppose you could say that start isn't exactly in our cosmic neighborhood, but it is in the suburbs.  Algieba, at 130 light years, is in the far suburbs, but in the cosmic scheme of things, is still somewhat close - it's not like it's in the next country or anything.  

Strangely, Algieba in Arabic means "the forehead," so given our modern-day interpretation of Leo's shape, it obviously differed from how Ptolemy and Al-Sufi saw the lion.  As we see it today, Algieba is at...

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.