Author: Created: 2/10/2012 10:47 AM RssIcon
"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 11/29/2013 11:33 AM
Moon near Spica in daytimeA few days ago I wrote about the Moon occulting Spica... but during daytime hours. I knew that stars like Sirius could be seen during the day - but Spica is also 2.5 magnitudes dimmer - or 9 times fainter. During nighttime, that may not be much, but during the day, it could mean the difference between seeing something, or not seeing it. The sky was going to be clear, so I was determined to give it a shot.

Originally I had planned on using a 10" telescope, because I wanted maximum light gathering. But that wouldn't help other people with smaller scopes know if they could see things like this in the future. So initially, I decided to bring out my 4.5" Orion Starblast,...
By Dave Fuller on 11/28/2013 2:28 PM
Well the much anticipated, and sometimes overly-hyped as the "Comet of the Century!," Comet ISON (mostly?) disintegrated today as it made it's way in towards the Sun for it's perihelion. Here's a gif movie of it on the way in:



Now, to me, the orbit looks like it was calculated incorrectly. My understanding was that the comet would pass within about one solar diameter of the Sun. It appears to be orbiting well inside that. Did the whole thing vaporize? Disintegrate? What?

Now, it's possible that SOMETHING of ISON survived. There is, after all, this photo of the "aftermath" showing what may be fragments / leftover debris following the ISON orbit past the Sun. But my guess is, there's not much left, but the near 4-o'clock section of this photo indicates something survived the...
By Dave Fuller on 11/26/2013 9:51 PM
Granted, this will happen during the day, and will surely be a challenge, but there is precedent for seeing 1st and even 2nd magnitude and fainter stars during the day. So can you see Spica? Well... that depends.

First, it obviously has to be a clear day. But the more transparent the sky, the better chance you'll have for success. The other aspects that will help is higher altitude of Spica in the sky from your location, both east/west as it transits, and how high it will be above the southern horizon as it is occulted by the Moon.

Moon occults Spica in daytime

If I get clear skies on...
By Dave Fuller on 11/25/2013 9:35 PM
I have had an on and off relationship with variable stars for a while. I find them fascinating, but my yard presents a problem for observing many of them. With several 80 to 90 feet tall trees, and a 'window' of sky that measures perhaps 100 x 100 degrees, facing from about 35 degrees north, to near the zenith, terminating towards the south, and having a "sort of" view towards a limited area in the southeast, what I can easily see varies greatly. I have learned to be patient when it comes to observing "stationary" objects, and with "event" occurrences - such as comets, or moon shadow transits, or other "one time" type events - I move where I observe. I'll either physically pick up my telescope and change my location in the yard (usually inviting more direct light trespass), or pack up and go somewhere in town to have a larger view of the sky.

I had started getting interested in variable stars about 4 years ago. But because of the yard situation, I quickly found that the stars I wanted to keep on viewing,...
By Dave Fuller on 11/25/2013 9:26 PM
Here's what's happening in the night sky for the week of November 25 thru December 1 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.

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, Nov 25:  Last Quarter Moon at 19:28 UTC Tuesday, Nov 26: Mercury 0.3 degrees from Saturn, at 0300 UTC (look in eastern, morning sky, about 45 minutes before sunrise) Algol at minimum at 20:37 UTC Wednesday, Nov 27: Moon is 6 degrees south of Mars, at 1600 UTC Find/observe the Saturn Nebula, NGC 7009 in Aquarius in the evening...
By Dave Fuller on 11/24/2013 7:01 PM
Longtime Eyes on the Sky viewers are well aware of the occasional antics and skits that get included in the weekly - and sometimes, educational - videos. That doesn't come from nowhere. Though my love of astronomy is both genuine and sincere, my passion for theater is just as great. So I often marry the two with "Astronomy Theater." However, I also am involved in a local community theater group on occasion. One of my "dream shows" for the last 25 years has been to be in the musical "Les Miserables." This last summer, I was cast in that local group's production of the show.

Now, I like my hair short, but most people in early 1800's France didn't have nicely trimmed buzzcuts. So I had to grow my hair out, which is why many have noticed the slow transformation of my hair from short to long-ish (well, for me) over the last 6 months. But on Monday of last week? It ALL reverted back to normal. The show ended, was a rousing success, and I had a fantastic time in it. Time to move on though.

Here's a few photos from the show, for your viewing pleasure. This is one of me as the pimp in the "Lovely Ladies" song/scene, though it should be noted I am wearing a black wig for this character:

...
By Dave Fuller on 11/18/2013 9:32 PM
Here's what's happening in the night sky for the week of November 18 thru November 24 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 the Moon and THREE Comets you can see: ISON, Encke and Lovejoy.

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, Nov 18:  Mercury at greatest western elongation Algol at minimum (06:10 UTC) Comet ISON near Spica Tuesday, Nov 19: Observe open clusters in Perseus...
By Dave Fuller on 11/11/2013 3:10 PM
Here's what's happening in the night sky for the week of November 11 thru November 17 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 the Moon and THREE Comets you can see: ISON, Encke and Lovejoy.

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, Nov 11:  Observe open clusters in Perseus Tuesday, Nov 12: Comet ISON near Porrima in Virgo N. Taurid meteors peak 1000 UTC Algol at minimum (12:32 UTC)...
By Dave Fuller on 11/3/2013 7:18 PM
Here's what's happening in the night sky for the week of November 4 thru November 10 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 the Moon and THREE Comets you can see: ISON, Encke and Lovejoy.

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, Nov 4:  Look for one day old Moon about 20 to 40 minutes after sunset (use binoculars; see this week's Eyes on the Sky video) Look at stars in Cepheus...
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.

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.