Nov 18th, 2016 was the SJAC last Public SkyWatch of this year. Temperature was not too bad. It really started to get cold around 9pm, but I had my snow coveralls and hot chocolate with my new Stanley Thermos!
My daughter and I got there at 6:30 and this time of the year it was Wayyyy dark and my first time setting up in total darkness. Paul, our club’s president came by to say hello as I was just setting up my tripod and wouldn’t you know it I got my finger stuck in the legs- Ouch! He realized I needed to concentrate. I finally got set up and had Alberio in the eyepiece. A man came by to see what I had and I showed him Alberio. He was having difficulty seeing where it was in the sky. So I whipped out my green laser and showed him. Oh my, you would have thought I just killed someone. I quickly got lectured on the use of the laser, which I’m very familiar with, but nonetheless I quietly received the lecture about being careful of nearby planes, federal offense etc… I was careful and used it in a pulse to get the man to know where I was looking. I thought lasers were perfect tools for Public Skywatches but- I think the real issue was how bright my laser was. It is a 1 gigawatt laser (not, but he did get a laugh when I mentioned the “Back to the Future” power). Anyway- no laser until the club members know you and your abilities more.
What did I see?
Albiero my favorite double star. The cool thing about Public SkyWatches is you get to explain about things you’ve learned in the sky to folks as they come by your scope. Now don’t be thinking all swinging by your scope are novices and know nothing. Some are very avid astronomers and just wanted to look into other people’s scope, and enjoy the evening. The cool thing about Alberio is you get to explain the life cycle of a star is.
The Double-Double in Lyra: I will tell you what, it is not near Deneb, it’s near Vega. Oops!
Andromeda Galaxy- couldn’t find it at first. Had to recalibrate the GOTO first then I got to see it. Would help to find it by knowing where it is in the sky. Topic for a later discussion.
Milky Way & Cygnus- pretty cool to explain how the bird flys to the galactic center
Aldebaran- I was sitting on my telescope chair just enjoying the eastern sky and drinking hot chocolate when I saw Thai way cool red star. A club member with an iPhone app explained it was Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus. He was awesome help!!
The Orion’s Nebula was the highlight of the evening! I have never seen it. I overheard Steve, who was next to me had it in his scope and he showed me through his XT10 scope (a dobsonian) and it was beautiful! I was wondering if my little scope would be able to see it? Steve showed me how to find it by looking in the sky at Orion and then it was on his sword. Way cool. So I slewed my scope around to it and there it was! Amazing I could see it clear as day. I was using a 20mm lens at first. I learned to use wide field eyepieces first then slowly go to high power. Steve looked in my scope and then he told me you may be able to see more stars in the Trapezium. 4-6 stars. So I put the high power Ethos 3.7mm piece in and sure enough I was able to see 4 stars. Dave, our club’s VP came by and looked through the scope and spotted the 5 star coming in and out. I was then able to see it after he pointed out where it was. Helps to have an expert there.
It was around 9:30 when the Moon was coming up and most were packing up. Steve spent a good 30 minutes showing me his scope and how to collimate (that’s a fancy term for calibrating/aligning the mirrors). Doesn’t take too long to do and is easy. I became very interested in that type of scope and now that I know a lot more about them- I believe that will be my next purchase.
Telescope making has always held my interest and well that just may be my winter project this year. More on that later.
Well, That’s all for now-