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Cosmic Challenge: Barnard's Loop

Dec 31 2016 08:20 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

One of the greatest naked-eye challenges goading amateur astronomers around the world is trying to spot the elusive arc of nebulosity known as Barnard's Loop. Cataloged officially as Sharpless 2-276, Barnard's Loop is a ghostly, 10°-wide semicircular bow of nebulosity that wraps around the eastern side of Orion, the Hunter. In long exposure photographs, it bears the unmistakable resemblance to portions of the Veil Nebula supernova remnant in Cygnus. Spotting it by eye stands as a monumental test for observers.

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December 2016 Skies

Dec 10 2016 09:20 AM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, December Solstice, Planet Plotting, December Moon

Focus Constellations: Camelopardalis, Auriga, Gemini, Orion, Taurus, Perseus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Pegasus, Cepheus, Draco, Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Lynx

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Telescope Making for the Relatively Unskilled

Dec 03 2016 11:46 AM | xrayvizhen in Articles

I’ve received several private messages from a few people on CN who have seen some pictures I’ve posted of the telescope I made, which is also my icon picture, and asked if I had a build thread. I didn’t. But all along I had an idea of writing this article because while I have seen many pictures and build threads of outstanding scopes built by people who are obviously either machinists, carpenters or engineers or just very experienced builders with a full suite of shop tools, I am none of those and I only have a couple of hand tools and minimal skills & experience. But I built this thing and it’s outstanding, so I figure that maybe there are folks out in the world who would like give telescope making a try but might be a little intimidated by some of the beautiful work displayed, especially on the DIY forum. This is NOT another “How to Build a Telescope” article. Rather, it’s more of an idea on why I built what I did, some of the planning and thought processes involved and how to get around the lack of tools or skills. (Hint – subcontract the hard stuff.)

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Cosmic Challenge: Globular Clusters in the Fornax Dwarf Galaxy

Dec 03 2016 07:13 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Let's begin this challenge with a riddle. What's big and round, close at hand, and yet nearly impossible to see? If you answered "the Fornax Dwarf Galaxy," then you are correct! The Fornax Dwarf, a dwarf spheroidal system, covers a 17'x13' area of our late autumn sky and lies about 530,000 light years from the Milky Way. That's well within the confines of our Local Group of galaxies. And with a magnitude rating of 9.3, it sounds like it should be bright and easy to see. But when we look its way, it's not there. Even the best photos manage to record only an incredibly dim, elliptical haze peppered by some 19th-magnitude stars!

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Review: Explore Scientific 16”, Europe edition, late 2016

Nov 12 2016 12:32 PM | brebisson in User Reviews

I have been considering buying or making a 16 incher for a while now. Mirrors only (if you wanted to make your own scope) cost at least 1200€ to 1400€ (Hubble optics or GSO, not counting import duties and shipping cost). So, when I learned that Explore Scientific had a European sales on their Ultra Light series, placing the 16” at 1698€, I jumped on it!

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VITE 2X Barlow Lens Review

Nov 10 2016 02:13 PM | jfriz in User Reviews

This review describes the VITE 2x Barlow lens including my initial impressions of build and optical quality. I observe from a suburb in the southeast U.S. I have one telescope, an 8-inch Dobsonian, and have had it for approximately five years. The photos included in this review represent my first crack at astro-imaging. I wanted to try prime focus photography with my DSLR but my focuser does not have enough in-travel to do so. I used the Barlow to achieve focus with my telescope/focuser/camera combination.

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November 2016 Skies

Nov 08 2016 10:47 AM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Polar Reversal?, Planet Plotting, November Moon

Focus Constellations: Camelopardalis, Auriga, Taurus, Perseus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Pegasus, Cepheus, Cygnus, Lyra, Draco, Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Bootes

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Sky Commander Review

Oct 30 2016 09:04 AM | Feidb in User Reviews

With such a long dry spell in 2016, I started pondering how to get the most bang for my buck when I finally did get out with the scope. Just think. For the past fifty years, I’ve been manually searching for and finding objects, up to around two-thousand at this point. However, as time has worn on, I thought about it. On the past few observing sessions, going back a couple of years, my yield slowly dwindled. Why?

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Cosmic Challenge: IC 5146 and B168

Oct 29 2016 08:17 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

As a group, emission nebulae, or Hydrogen-II regions, are the most difficult deep-sky objects to see visually. The problem is that they radiate light in very narrow segments of the visible spectrum, with their brightest emissions in the red wavelengths. As luck would have it, the human eye is all but color blind to red light under dim light conditions. Arguably, the only objects more difficult to spot than emission nebulae are the opaque profiles of dark nebulae. These cosmic dust clouds are themselves invisible; we only see their silhouettes against the starry backdrop. No starry backdrop, no dark nebula; it's that simple. And that brings us to this month's double challenge in Cygnus. IC 5146, known to many by its nickname, the Cocoon Nebula, is a taxing patch of glowing gas, while Barnard 168 is a thin, sinuous lane of darkness that seems to start at the nebula and extend far to its northwest.

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October 2016 Skies

Oct 12 2016 09:59 AM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Halloween, Planet Plotting, October Moon

Focus Constellations: Camelopardalis, Auriga, Perseus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Pegasus, Cepheus, Cygnus, Lyra, Aquila, Hercules, Draco, Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Bootes

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