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Your greatest WOW moment while observing?

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#26 chrysalis

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 04:11 PM

There have been so may wonderful and wondrous moments over the 50+ years I have been observing. But TWO of them caused the universe to spin under my feet.

 

1970: The Constellation That Wasn't

Near the best mornings of Comet Bennett's apparition in spring of 1970, my best friend slept over so we could go out in the early AM to see it along with our telescopes. I had been observing in my small backyard for three years (I was about 15) and knew how the sky should look from my usual observing spot. This morning, though, so as not to miss the comet, we set up in a spot a little farther away from the close house next door looking over the ENE to maximize the amount of sky. I had been very careful NOT to look up so as not to spoil the moment of first spotting the comet - this would have been my very first bright comet. When all was ready, I looked up and was a little disappointed to only see the Great Square of Pegasus and no comet. A few moments passed; something was not quite right with the shape of the Square - and then the universe swung about beneath my feet - the top right corner of the Square was not marked by Scheat (Beta Pegasi), but by Comet Bennett! And that was NOT Markab below it, but rather Enif, masquerading as Markab. (Markab masquerading as Algenib and so on...)

 

February 1996 (or 7): The Star That Wasn't

I was in San Juan on Puerto Rico, farther south than I'd ever been before in my life (40N was as far "south" as I'd ever observed from). In my 40s now. We were walking to dinner in the deepening dusk and I looked up to see Sirius. Somehow it looked less brilliant than I would have expected...so I looked a little more, surveying around the area...then the universe swung about beneath my feet - I was looking at CANOPUS...and Sirius was WAY UP THERE!!!! 


Edited by chrysalis, 23 September 2017 - 04:13 PM.

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#27 BillP

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 04:15 PM

Mine was when I was really concentrating on an observation and heard a branch crack behind me, then I turned and was looking up at this huge antlered buck about 3 feet from me starring at me.  I don't think "WoW" was my exact reaction lol.gif


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#28 Carol L

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 06:52 PM

The first time I viewed the Swan Nebula through the 16" Dob.

It was SO beautiful, it literally brought me to tears.


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#29 RussL

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 07:12 PM

It came early for me at age ten on Christmas night, 1960, my first look into my first telescope. It was cold outside, and I trembled as Dad tried to find the moon. But it wasn't the cold that made me tremble, but the excitement of getting ready to take my first peek and have a conversation with the Creator. That's what it felt like, and I can still feel it everytime I see a first quarter moon.
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#30 bumm

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 07:13 PM

Somewhere in the late 60's I got into the habit of taking late night walks.  I'd long wanted to know the constellations, but had never really been able to nail them down, but after getting used to seeing some of my own patterns, I realized I could DO it...   Things started falling into place, I was learning the real constellations and having a wonderful time doing it...  Then, the night came when I decided to see if the little puff I called "Nebraska" was actually the Pleiades.  I studied the picture in Menzel's old Field Guide, then went out into the back yard with my dad's horrible elcheapo 7x35's...  BANG!  THERE THEY WERE, AND THEY WERE FANTASTIC!  I never slept that night, and I've been hopelessly hooked ever since.  :)

                                                             Marty


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#31 AD14EM2

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 07:37 PM

Comet Ikeya-Seki in 1965 provided lots of “wow” moments, my first looks at the moon with my little 50mm refractor, the double cluster in Perseus, and the Pleiades all stand out.


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#32 JonnyBravo

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 07:43 PM

I have 3 real WoW's I can think of.

 

As a kid growing up looking through my brother's refractor (small maybe 3 or 4 inch) and seeing Saturn for the first time.

 

Later in life I bough a Meade Polaris 114 EQ with Goto HC and every time I would have it look for something, it would never find it (I probably didn't know how to use it I guess). But the whole WoW factor was there... Wow this sucks. 

 

Again Later in life (present time) I acquired my CPC 1100 HD and had Starsense figure out where it was (my experience with getting the other goto function from earlier kinda persuaded me to get it) and that was pretty cool and then I made it go M13 and I think that went beyond the wow factor into the realm of the... umhmm "Holy Smokes" <-- cleaned up version of what was said.


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#33 jrbarnett

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 07:48 PM

I can think of a few watershed observing moments.

 

In rough chronological order:

 

The Moon through my dad's 7x50 Tascos in the early 1960s.

 

The Pleiades through those same Tascos a few years later, when I could handle them better.

 

Saturn through my first telescope, a 60mm f/11 Jason-Empire achromat.

 

Seeing sunspot umbral and penumbral detail (using one of those ghastly screw in solar filters) in that same achromat.

 

First successful non-naked-eye Messier observation:  M6.  Again with the Jason.

 

First globular cluster observation M5 with that wonderful 5th magnitude field star, in the Jason.

 

First substantially resolved view of M13, in a 6" f/8 Newtonian.

 

First non-naked-eye, non-Messier, NGC observation, NGC 6543, with the 6" Newt.

 

First glimpse of Hubble's Variable Nebula and being delighted that visually it looked very much like plates of David Malin's plates of the object in the coffee table book Catalogue of the Universe.

 

First glimpse of Trapezium E and F in a 4" f/15 achromat.

 

Spotting 6 Plato craterlets in a 12" f/5 Dob.

 

Detecting structure in M13's companion galaxy NGC 6207 in my 16" f/5.1 Dob.

 

First view of Omega Centauri, in a TEC 140ED.  Same for Centaurus A.

 

To name just a few.

 

Best,

 

Jim


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#34 grif 678

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 07:50 PM

As exciting as it was for you to see Saturn for the first time, just imagine being a kid, not knowing one star from the other, looking through a very small reflector ( bought from a Western Auto store) , and it just happened that the first star I looked at was Saturn. Can you  imagine how excited I was, only having seen Saturn pictures in school books. That scope only cost about $15.00 at the most, had legs about 1 foot long. I had set the scope on the top of our pump house, where our water pump was. I had no idea that I would see something like that, and as I think about it, it seems iffy that that small scope ( I would say about a 2 1/2 inch mirror) would show the rings, but I also would say that my eyes were a lot better back then.


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#35 Tom Polakis

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 08:16 PM

The OP wrote "the one moment."  That's a tall order.  Note that he didn't write "first" anywhere, which makes it even more difficult.

 

When this subject comes up, I always find it hard to top seeing the impact scars from Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter in 1994.  That's one event that I knew was once-in-a-lifetime when it was happening.  There hasn't been anything really in its league before or since then.  We all knew it was coming, but nearly all of the predictions were for something subtle.  It was anything but!

 

Tom


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#36 edwincjones

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 06:46 AM

hard to limit to just one, but one (if not the best) was

 

my first night under dark skies in New Zealand

and my complete disorientation at the upside down heavens.

 

once I became oriented-then the southern MW

 

edj


Edited by edwincjones, 24 September 2017 - 02:58 PM.

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#37 Lyuda

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 08:08 AM

It would be so hard to reply to every person so this message is to anyone who commented.

 

Thank you all for your lovely stories! Everyone has had a different experience, even if it was with the same object. My favorite stories are the "first telescope" ones. It's great hearing how a $15 telescope looking at everything unknown turns into a lifetime hobby full of amazing moments.

 

Great to hear from everyone laugh.gif


Edited by Lyuda, 24 September 2017 - 08:09 AM.

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#38 REC

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 10:07 AM

I've probably had more than my fair share of "wow" moments.  More or less in order from least to greatest "wow-factor" the following come to mind.

 

A Leonid "fireball shower".

 

Two total solar eclipses.

 

Observing (in real time) the impact scars on Jupiter from Comet Shoemaker-Levy-9 as they rotated onto the Earth-facing hemisphere of the planet.

 

The March 1989 all-sky auroral borealis . . . bright! . . . multiple colors! . . . multiple structures . . . moving shapes . . . extending from my north horizon to within just a few degrees of my south horizon! . . . observed from a pristine location.

 

And the winner (for myself as well as for my wife) was Comet Hyakutake at 3am, on its best night, from a pristine location (moon below the horizon).  The temperature was minus 17 degrees F. -- but neither my wife, nor our son, nor myself were bothered the least bit by the temperature.  We took the precaution of dressing to go out utilizing only the light from the comet and stars streaming through the windows.  OK, so I may have helped out a little with my red, astronomer's light; but you get the idea . . .

 

Below is one verse from a poem my wife wrote on comets.  Other verses were specific to Halley and Hale-Bopp -- but Hyalutake (hyah . koo . tah . kay) came away with the honors:

 

Hyakutake,
You took my breath away,
And used it for a veil that stretched
Behind you and burned the
Starry sky with its cold grandeur.
Breathless then, I stood and stared
Finally, I understood
The awe the ancients felt
When they beheld a comet.

Ya know, I have some memory of that comet, was it in the winter that year, what, 95-96ish? It was over a weekend I think and I was going to have some friends over to see it. Either the night before or two nights before, I woke up around 3am I think and took a quick look outside and looked. Now either it was the comet of high clouds that looked like the comet and I couldn't believe how long the tail was! It looked like it covered maybe 20-30 degrees.....was that possible and did it ever appear high in the sky as most of the comets that I have seen hung in the west sky, like Hale Bopp?



#39 bumm

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 10:51 AM

 

I've probably had more than my fair share of "wow" moments.  More or less in order from least to greatest "wow-factor" the following come to mind.

 

A Leonid "fireball shower".

 

Two total solar eclipses.

 

Observing (in real time) the impact scars on Jupiter from Comet Shoemaker-Levy-9 as they rotated onto the Earth-facing hemisphere of the planet.

 

The March 1989 all-sky auroral borealis . . . bright! . . . multiple colors! . . . multiple structures . . . moving shapes . . . extending from my north horizon to within just a few degrees of my south horizon! . . . observed from a pristine location.

 

And the winner (for myself as well as for my wife) was Comet Hyakutake at 3am, on its best night, from a pristine location (moon below the horizon).  The temperature was minus 17 degrees F. -- but neither my wife, nor our son, nor myself were bothered the least bit by the temperature.  We took the precaution of dressing to go out utilizing only the light from the comet and stars streaming through the windows.  OK, so I may have helped out a little with my red, astronomer's light; but you get the idea . . .

 

Below is one verse from a poem my wife wrote on comets.  Other verses were specific to Halley and Hale-Bopp -- but Hyalutake (hyah . koo . tah . kay) came away with the honors:

 

Hyakutake,
You took my breath away,
And used it for a veil that stretched
Behind you and burned the
Starry sky with its cold grandeur.
Breathless then, I stood and stared
Finally, I understood
The awe the ancients felt
When they beheld a comet.

Ya know, I have some memory of that comet, was it in the winter that year, what, 95-96ish? It was over a weekend I think and I was going to have some friends over to see it. Either the night before or two nights before, I woke up around 3am I think and took a quick look outside and looked. Now either it was the comet of high clouds that looked like the comet and I couldn't believe how long the tail was! It looked like it covered maybe 20-30 degrees.....was that possible and did it ever appear high in the sky as most of the comets that I have seen hung in the west sky, like Hale Bopp?

 

I just re-read the poem, and Mrs. Sketcher nailed it.  At first, I was clouded out, but when the skies cleared I remember reading in Sky & Telescope about Hyakutake's predicted position, and then going out with binoculars expecting to sweep up behind Virgo to find it.   I stepped outside and there was this HUGE thing in the eastern sky!  I saw the comet without paying any attention to the stars.  It was so big, hanging there in the sky, that it had an almost ominous look to it...  I could understand how the ancients came to regard comets as harbingers of evil.  But it was wonderful.  :)

                                                                                                                                        Marty


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#40 csrlice12

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 11:09 AM

Truth be told, every night I'm out viewing the sky is a wow moment....doesn't matter what star, nebula, galaxy, or glob is currently being viewed....when I'm out, I'm one with the universe...it don't get any more wow than that.


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#41 gitane71

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 11:25 AM

whole story?  full story?  

I'll try to keep it short, but it took decades, and years of thought since then.

Ya, Saturn.

As others have said, there are Plenty of astonishing events and it 'should' be hard, ya, it Is hard to pick, but this thing 'haunts' me, constantly reminds me, grows bigger, dumbfounds me.

In junior high, I had a very kind science teacher.  Long story in itself, but it couldn't be left out.  I was a 'new kid', with all that meant.  He let me go to the back of the class, during class, to assemble a 4 1/4" scope.  ( I was Useful !!)  He took me and a few other kids out to look with the scope when it was together.  He couldn't keep the class in order, but he wanted to teach to kids that would learn.  Ikeya-Seki came along.  I was Hooked !!  The next year, this kind teacher passed away.

  I built my own 4 1/4" scope and started keeping notes in 1965. In 1966, the rings of Saturn went flat.  In my notes is a simple ball point pen showing a simple circle with a line through it.  All sorts of Beautiful, astonishing views, life, time passed.  Saturn's rings were going to go flat in 1995 again, and I started reading up.  Sky and Telescope articles said that the next 3 times, for the next 45 years, Saturn would be too close to the sun to really get a good look at this event.  I wouldn't be around in 45 years, so 1995 was my last chance.  I wanted to see how close to 'FLAT' I could see the rings.  3 days before, still there.  2 days before, getting tough, the line that was the rings was shorter, fainter, but ! still there.  The morning they were supposed to go flat; a beautiful spring morning.  I had 3 scopes out, because I thought it would be challenging, and all of my scopes were home made; an 8" f/10 Newtonian, a 16" f/5 Newtonian, and a 6" f/21 refractor.  We had geese, and they would come up to 'observe' with me, hang with me for a little, go off again, come back and tug at my shoelaces, go off again.  After about 40 minutes of observing, the sky was starting to get brighter, and I thought I had missed it, was disappointed.  But then !  I don't know why, I could see them in the refractor !!  I don't understand why.  Anyway, I got to thinking.  When I have gone to schools to talk, sometimes I'll mention that they know of asteroids that turn in 10 minutes, so 'imagine waking for breakfast and having 1 minute, 3 minutes for school, having 1 minute to eat supper and watch tv (ok, 'Study') and then 5 minutes to sleep before doing it all over again.  I realized I would never see this again.  WHO THE HECK CARES !!!  and yet, for me, seeing the rings go flat had taken me 30 years (I was in college in 1980, working and starting a family, and didn't get to observe much, missed it then), for Saturn, 1 'year'.  What is time?  What does the universe care?  What is it to 'observe', 'live'??  It impressed on my how rare Everything really is, that there are Countless 'places' out there.  We often don't 'realize' them as Places very clearly, get 'bored' with our 'normal' lives and take the sun ( a Single star) coming up every morning too often for granted, and don't realize how strange it is to crave seeing wind and clouds on Jupiter or Saturn, dust storms on Mars, but ? 'miss the opportunity' to experience clouds here, with rain and snow and the awe inspiring power of the wind around us here on earth !!  We are Not 'separate' from the stars.  We are uniquely Here, but we are part of this all, and the caring about it, with whom? and how long? is something inside us, Valuable, worth sharing.   


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#42 REC

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 11:39 AM

I have to put this answer in two parts, one pre-20 years old everything else after that.

 

Around 14 years old I held my Dad's binoculars up to the sky and looked at the Cygnus area. WOW look at all those stars, that lit my fuse! I thought, if I can see that through a pair of binoculars, just think of what I can see with a telescope! So the next Christmas present was a Tasco 60mm with s "slow motion" arm....lol. I used to look at the S&T magazines in the library and drool over those ads of the Unitron scopes with all those rods and things attached to them....had no idea what they where for. So first planet in that scope was Venus high in the western sky after sunset. Wow, look at that, it looks like a half moon! I'm sure Saturn and Jupiter where after that when they became visible in the sky.

 

When I was 16 and started high school, they built an addition to the school to handle the "baby boom" generation. Low and behold, they built a Planetarium in it too...wow, my first look at one. So of course, we started an Astronomy Club and I was president as I had the biggest telescope! As I had been drooling over the Criterion RV-6 reflecting telescope on an EQ mount with a "clock drive" in S&T for $199, I got my parents to co-sign on the loan and had a lot of fun with it. I think my first DSO was M13 and M35, so one globular and one open cluster and then it must have been M42. Throw in the great Leonid meteor shower in 1966 and my first Aurora and then fast forward to when I was 27 in 1976. Bought my first house with a big backyard and bought the famous C-8! Now Saturn was a big wow for sure. Also got my first good look at galaxies with that scope and the OMG moment for them was getting M81&M82 both in the same eyepiece! I was living in Rochester, NY and met the famous Don Yier of  Vernonscope, make of Brandon eyepieces and bought a 40mm 2" eyepiece that was wide enough to fit both in. M57, 87 where wow moments for planetary nebula's. I had a great 20 years of fun with that scope, even took some AP images with it. In 1991 the total "eclipse of the century" bug bit me...hard! I was obsessed to see it! Found a tour group to see it in Hawaii and combined it with a vacation in Maui. My girl-friend was turning 40 and she was telling all her friends that I was taking her to Hawaii to celebrate her 40th birthday, fine, whatever...lol. Well, the best laid plans don't always work out. We had a better than 90% chance of clear skies on the back, dry side of the big island,,,but the 10% clouds didn't pay any attention to the theory. The whole 7 minutes where clouded out. The whole group from all over the world where in shock. They had a big celebration champagne brunch planned on the site and it was pretty quite group. I told my girlfriend that I should have sacrificed her to the volcano on the top of the mountain to appease the sun gods. I tell this story to lead into the next big WOW in life. I would seek my revenge in the 1998 solar eclipse in Aruba!

 

This one turned out much better. I went with a friend who had see 5 out 5 totals, including 1991 as he went to Baha MX, instead of Hawaii. We had beautiful weather for the 4 minutes of toatality and I got some great pictures. My buddy yelled at me, Bob, look a the darn thing and get your head out of the camera. Grabbed his 10x30 stabilized binoculars and really said OMG...it looked alive, glowing in the sky! next I said, when is the next one and where is it??? That experience would be hard to match or beat as one of the top memorable items I saw. The one I just saw last month was just as good in some ways as this time I did not fool with the camera and just observed it. My first glance at in in my 9x63 mounted binoculars was HS! look at the size of that corona!! It was bigger and shaped much different than the one I saw in 1998 I thought. I was with another group in SC and the whole experience was, was....well just amazing to say the least!

 

Now in the last 5 years I have a completely computerized scope that I just punch up objects in my phone and a few seconds later it's in the eyepiece. Same 8" SCT instrument, but a completely different experience. I can see more objects in one night then I could in a month back then. Also, I had no such thing as nebula filters back then and now objects like M42, M27, M57 just jump out at you from even a light polluted sky! One other equipment induced OMG moment would be the invention of binocular viewers for the everyday observer. When I first looks at the moon through one of them in my 8" SCT it was another OMG moment! I thought I was floating over it. My observing notes from that evening read "the only way to observe the moon"!

 

Sorry for the long reply, but I have had so many wonderful years of  with this wonderful hobby, impossible to just have one.

 

Thanks for reading and it has been fun writing this and visiting memory lane. smile.gif


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#43 bmr528

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 11:50 AM

Just had a WOW moment last night..  Star party just North of Fresno CA..  About 10:30PM.. Was concentrating on northern observations when someone shouted..  "Strange object to the south!!!"  We all turned to see a orange glow coming up from the horizon, getting brighter by the second.. We all kinda stood there dumbfounded when someone put a pair of binoculars on it and said "rocket!!"  We watched as the reddish flame grew wider as the rocket got into higher altitude..  After about 2 minutes it finally went out.. 

 

With all the political name calling lately if was just a little scary..  The first time for me seeing one of these.. 

 

It actually made up for the fact that I had forgotten the long threaded rod that secures my LX90 to the tripod.  I would have loved to swung the scope around and caught the rocket in the eye piece.

 

djl


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#44 Luna-tic

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 12:18 PM

Seeing Albeireo for the first time stunned me. I was just starting out and randomly scanning when this beautiful object suddenly appeared in my field of view. That's when I decided that yes, this hobby is for me.

Ever since then, it's always been my first target if in view. Puts me in a good mood for the rest of the night! 

 

attachicon.gifAlbeiro.jpg

Can you give the specifics of that image? Telescope, camera, exposure, etc? I have read about how beautiful Albeireo was, but always forget to look. No more.

 

What's the one moment while observing that you'll always cherish? Give me the whole story, I'd love to hear it!

Mine would have to be seeing Saturn for the first time or seeing the veil nebula.

I remember seeing Saturn when I was about 12-13, through my department-store Tasco refractor. Nobody told me that the strongest (smallest) EP also gave the dimmest view, and adding the Barlow made it even dimmer. Once I got a focus, the best thing I could see was a tiny (maybe 200X) dim oval that you could barely detect a break between the center circle and two bulges. Bad as it was, I was hooked. Even though I didn't continue pursuing astronomy throughout my adult life, I've never been able to walk outside on a clear night without looking up..

 

As for the one moment of observing that I'll always cherish:  All of them.

 

Probably seeing Saturn for the first time with my 50mm as a kid. It looked like a yellowish star and didn't know what it was until I looked at it through my little scope. I was pretty amazed.

 

 

My recent telescope purchase(s) were originally driven by a common purpose: a good spotting scope for shooting that I could also use to sky-watch. Well, the spotting scope scenario is lost by the wayside, and I'm all in, renewing my childhood fascination with what's in the sky. Every observing event has been better than the one before it, in that I know a little more each time that I can apply to the next time.

 

The recent solar eclipse has to be a real high point; it's the 8th eclipse to occur somewhere I was living, but the first one I actively had any interest in. I honestly can't remember any of the others: Partial in '63, total in '70; partials in '72 and '79 and '81, and two annulars, '84 and '94. Where the heck was I?  For this last one, I drove two hours to get to totality, and actually got great pictures through my C6 with my DSLR. First attempt at AP, and beginner's luck got me Bailey's beads and a Diamond Ring, and video of the approaching ground shadow.

 

Every night viewing has been great, and the best one so far has to be last night's. Our local club had a dark sight public viewing, and I'd been looking forward to it for several weeks. The three nights before it had been perfect viewing from my back yard, absolutely clear skies from dusk to sunrise. I went out two nights ago after midnight and stayed up until 5am, when Orion rose I got to view the Nebula under magnification for the first time ever; couldn't wait to get to a really dark area (I am in the midst of three towns, the horizons are bright). The forecast was saying clear for last night. Packed up my stuff and left for the hour's drive, slightly concerned that the sky was about 7/10 cloud. No matter, I thought, it's been sort of like that, but always cleared by dusk.

 

Not so last evening, it rained a couple of times on the drive to the viewing site, and the skies looked like they had no plans to clear; when I got to the dark site, it had recently rained a short shower, there were few breaks in the clouds, and it looked like more rain. Maybe a half-dozen guys already there (7 pm, just starting to darken a little), and we stood around, debating on giving up or waiting to see what would happen. I went ahead, as did a couple of others, and set up my tripod and mount, but waiting on the OTA and electronics. I had a big trash bag I could throw over things should it rain again.

 

Dusk came, clouds remained, except for an area to the southwest, and out popped the Moon, all 6% of her. I figured on a quick look, threw the OTA on and popped in an EP, and manually skewed the mount. By the time I did all that, clouds had obscured Miss Luna (and I missed her). Everything else was socked in. we waited. Full dark, and we waited more, cussing the local TV weatherman, who'd said it would be clear. We all agreed, we'd wait until 9pm if nothing improved, we'd quit. Several of the others said they'd been clouded out the past three dark site nights.

 

About 8:30, a hole opened up between Polaris and Cassiopeia. It moved a bit, and Polaris was available for polar alignment; I'd done a basic one with a compass, so I verified it and was only a couple of degrees off. Then more holes started opening and soon enough it cleared enough to find enough stars to align the Go-To. More clearing, and a collective cheer went up from the visitors and enthusiasts alike. By 9:15pm, about 2/3 of the sky had cleared, with just a couple of hazy places, and they soon disappeared. We were all aiming at different stuff, the public moving from scope to scope, looking at the Double-Double, Andromeda, Ring Nebula, various double stars and clusters. The Milky Way was clearly visible.  I was set up next to a guy, I got a bad case of aperture and mount envy. I have an Edge HD 8" and AVX mount, and am entirely happy with it, his was an Edge HD 11" and CGX/L. Wow. I'd seen them on websites, the CGX mount, but in person, it was like a country one-lane bridge (mine) compared to the Golden Gate (his). But I also saw how much more you need to support moving one of those beasts around, he had the trolley, and a trailer behind his pickup. I can get all my stuff in an old Honda Civic.

 

We stayed out until midnight, at least three of us. I was ready to stay all night, but when they started packing up, I did the same. We were in a state park, and I couldn't see making the ranger (who was also a sky-watcher) stay there until I was ready to go, which wouldn't have been until 4 or 5 am.

 

Can't wait for the next time.


Edited by Luna-tic, 24 September 2017 - 12:25 PM.


#45 Don W

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 12:26 PM

Had a bunch of WOW moments in two visits to Australia under dark skies, Omega Centauri, and the Tarantula Nebula were the tops there.

 

But one night at Astrofest in Kankakee, Illinois in the mid-90s still sticks out in my mind. Roland Christen brought a brand spanking new 10" Astro-physics refractor and set it up. The view of Jupiter is permanently etched into my memory. It was like a Voyager image and it was set on black velvet!! I have never seen Jupiter look better than that. The details were just incredible!


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#46 Lemonhawk

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 12:40 PM

The "smoke ring in the sky", at first I did not believe it, as it disappeared when looking directly at it.  I had just gotten my NexStar 8 and was viewing from the light polluted street in front of my house.  Truly an unbelievable site!


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#47 Sketcher

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 04:38 PM

 

Below is one verse from a poem my wife wrote on comets.  Other verses were specific to Halley and Hale-Bopp -- but Hyalutake (hyah . koo . tah . kay) came away with the honors:

 

Hyakutake,
You took my breath away,
And used it for a veil that stretched
Behind you and burned the
Starry sky with its cold grandeur.
Breathless then, I stood and stared
Finally, I understood
The awe the ancients felt
When they beheld a comet.

Ya know, I have some memory of that comet, was it in the winter that year, what, 95-96ish? It was over a weekend I think and I was going to have some friends over to see it. Either the night before or two nights before, I woke up around 3am I think and took a quick look outside and looked. Now either it was the comet of high clouds that looked like the comet and I couldn't believe how long the tail was! It looked like it covered maybe 20-30 degrees.....was that possible and did it ever appear high in the sky as most of the comets that I have seen hung in the west sky, like Hale Bopp?

 

I made a sketch centered around 10:35 UT on 25 March 1996.  The comet's head was in Draco.  The end of the tail was in Virgo.  The tail was perhaps 3 to 4 degrees wide.  The body of the comet passed through my zenith.  I faced north to look toward Hyakutake's head.  I faced south to see the farthest extent of its tail.  I faced west and looked straight up in an attempt to take in the entire comet in a single view.

 

I took out a pair of 8x42 binoculars with me, but after one quick look with them I realized that *any* optical aid detracted from the viewing spectacle. -- Only the naked-eye could reveal the entire, huge expanse of the comet. The forward portion was *bright* --  bright enough to *easily* see color - a strong, vivid, memorable green-yellow glow.

 

In comparison, Hale-Bopp was a *tiny* but bright little 'flashlight' in the night sky.  Glance a little in either direction and it was gone.  I could turn my back to Hyakutake's head and still see a huge expanse of tail!  To the naked eye there was no comparison.  OTOH, I could have (should have) listed Hale-Bopp as another "wow" experience.  With a telescope, I enjoyed making sketches of the intricate structures visible in Hale-Bopp's inner coma.  But the naked-eye impact that Hyakutake had was truly indescribable.  Nothing else I've seen (and I've seen *a lot*) comes close to the visual impact that Comet Hyakutake had on that night.  I felt like I was some prehistoric early ancestor looking up at an unreal and threatening scene -- a massive sword in the night sky preparing to strike.  It was an emotional experience.


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#48 WoodyEnd

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 04:59 PM

I bought my first scope when I was 10 and I pointed it at that bright star in the evening sky, it was Jupiter and it's 4 moons. 

 

As an adult the biggest "wow" was M42 in my recently acquired Cave 12.5"



#49 Mark F

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 10:54 PM

Jupiter, 1970

 

After several poor viewings of the planet with a toy 3' inch telescope, I received a 2.4 inch Tasco for Christmas.  As I got it in focus, I could see clearly for the first time the equatorial bands, Red Spot, and a couple satellites.  After that night, I wanted more.


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#50 Michael Covington

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 10:59 PM

Three, all naked-eye observations:

 

2001 Leonid meteor storm.

 

Remarkable aurora borealis in Georgia (!) around 2003.

 

Total eclipse of the sun, naked-eye, last month.


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