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July 2018 Skies

Jul 02 2018 02:42 PM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Planet Plotting, July Moon Focus Constellations: Leo, Coma Berenices, Bootes, Corona Borealis, Hercules, Ophiuchus, Aquila, Lyra, Cygnus, Cepheus, Draco, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia, Camelopardalis

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Cosmic Challenge: Dissecting M101

Jul 01 2018 05:22 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Just spotting the gigantic Pinwheel Galaxy, M101, can sometimes be challenging enough. Its low surface brightness can drive suburban observers crazy, especially when we see photographs that show it so big and bright, or that it is listed as 8th magnitude. It all comes down to surface brightness, or more accurately, lack of surface brightness. Seeing the dim glow of the galaxy's small core, or the even dimmer glimmer of the surrounding spiral arms, can take a concerted effort. But with time and patience, M101 is visible, with difficulty, through 50-mm binoculars even given a suburban sky with a naked-eye limiting magnitude of perhaps 4.5.

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Ancient Star J0815+4729 Reveals Evolution of the Early Universe

Jun 09 2018 07:14 AM | rekokich in Articles

I took images of this region on 12 Dec 2017 searching for HIP 40492 (HD 68790) which is listed in SIMBAD as a high proper motion star. However, comparing the frame to DSS2 images on Aladin, I could find no prominent shift in the position of the star at this scale. The region came to my attention again when a team of Spanish astronomers searching the SDSS9 survey recently announced the discovery of the oldest known star, J0815+4729, in the constellation of Lynx: https://arxiv.org/abs/1712.06487 This chemically primitive dwarf star, whose full identifier is SDSS J081554.26+472947.5, is located in the halo of the Milky Way at the distance of 7,500 LY (2,300 PC) from Earth, and 33,000 LY from the galactic center. The star is estimated to have 70% of the solar mass, and surface temperature of 6215 K. SIMBAD lists its (J2000) coordinates as 08h 15m 54.268s +47d 29' 47.573'', and its green apparent magnitude as 17.1.

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Comparison of the Boltwood II and Sky Alert Cloud Sensors

Jun 09 2018 06:26 AM | theastroimager in User Reviews

This review is a side-by-side comparison of the Boltwood II Cloud Sensor from Diffraction Limited/Cynagon , and the SkyAlert Cloud Sensor from Interactive Astronomy. Both units were purchased new by the author. The sellers were not made aware that I would be doing a review of their products, so no temptation was held to send me anything other than a typical unit.

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June 2018 Skies

Jun 08 2018 01:42 PM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Summer Solstice, Planet Plotting, June Moon Focus Constellations: Leo, Lynx, Camelopardalis, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Ursa Minor, Draco, Ursa Major, Coma Berenices, Bootes, Corona Borealis, Hercules, Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila

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Jun 02 2018 05:04 PM | GeezerGazer in Articles

During the past 12 months, more and more photos of deep space objects have been appearing in online forums dedicated to EAA (Electronic Assisted Astronomy).  The amazing thing is that these photos are taken with the camera in smartphones, and more importantly, from heavily light polluted regions of the world, where nearly any scope cannot see these objects.  This is possible because Night Vision Devices (NVD’s) multiply the light gathered by the telescope effectively doubling the aperture or more.  Night Vision (NV) was developed years ago for use by the military and for a long time, hunters have used it for night time excursions.

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Cosmic Challenge: Glimpsing Vesta

Jun 01 2018 06:34 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Vesta turns out to be more like a mini-planet than like the chunks of rock most think of as asteroids. Dawn's measurements of the gravity field provided good evidence that Vesta's interior is separated into layers, much like Earth did as the planet was forming. Vesta's dense core - apparently once molten, but now solidified - is composed principally of iron and nickel, just like Earth's. Estimates place it at 125 to 150 miles (200 to 250 kilometers) across. Surrounding that is the mantle, which in turn is covered by the veneer of the crust, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) thick. It is now believed that early on Vesta was likely still accumulating material to become a full-fledged planet when Jupiter's immense gravity intervened, putting a stop to that. As a result, when we look at Vesta, many believe that we are seeing a protoplanet frozen in time.

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Chile Dilly!

May 05 2018 10:12 AM | astrodoc71 in User Reviews

I would highly recommend this site for anyone who wants to image targets that can only be seen or optimally seen in the Southern Hemisphere. The cost is not prohibitive and the fast optical system makes it possible to obtain enough quality data in a reasonable time frame. The seeing at this site in Chile is excellent, and the resolution and image quality obtained make it well worth the expense, not to mention the excitement of seeing these amazing objects which we cannot see from Northern lattitudes! The user interface is very simple and customer service is superb. While you will have to throw out some subs like we all do at times, these will not come at additional cost. Best of all…they add 20% to your initial deposit if you are a CN member!

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May 2018 Skies

May 05 2018 09:24 AM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Planet Plotting, May Moon Focus Constellations: Leo, Çancer, Gemini, Auriga, Lynx, Camelopardalis, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Ursa Minor, Draco, Ursa Major, Coma Berenices, Bootes, Corona Borealis, Hercules

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Cosmic Challenge: M109

May 01 2018 05:20 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Messier did not live to see a second edition of his catalog, but objects 104 through 110 have been added posthumously by others. M109 joined the ranks in 1953, when astronomy historian Owen Gingerich noted Messier's observations of six additional "Méchain objects," now known as M104 through M109.

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