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My weekend wasn't as adventurous as Chris' jaunt through a storm drain, but I had the most fun and productive night of stargazing ever, last night.

I have an 8" Dobsonian telescope that sits in its own stand. It doesn't have a motor or computer to find sky images, and it doesn't auto-track to keep them in view. I used to have one of those but sold it to buy this one, because the longer focal length allows more magnification and the wider diameter allows it to collect more light so I can see those things better when I blow them up.

I have been very unimpressed with most star charts and astronomy books because they usually give more information than I need, and they show the pictures in color. Most dark sky objects, like nebulae, are not the pretty colors that you see in the books. In a scope they are faint and usually black and white. This is because it is faint enough that the cones in the center of your retina in the eye, which can sense color, need more light than what you see.

You also have to get away from city lights to see the dark sky objects, so I trekked out of town where I could have a clear view of the southern sky to explore Sagittarius and Scorpius, which are impoosible to see from my house, due to city lights.

I got a new book, Turn Left at Orion - A Hundred Night Sky Objects to See in a Small Telescope - And How to Find Them, an excellent book that shows good charts and what the area looks like in a finderscope, as well as what you can expect to see in a small telescope, not the false color images from Hubble.

Very impressive. I tallied several scope finds in the three hours that I was out, including the Ring Nebula (M57), the Swan Nebula (M17), the Lagoon Nebula (M8), the Dumbbell Nebula (M27), and many star clusters in both the southern sky and M13 and M92 globular clusters in Hercules.

Posted on Sunday, August 3, 2008 10:08 PM | Back to top


Comments on this post: A Great Night of Stargazing

# re: A Great Night of Stargazing
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I think the universe is telling me I need to get the telescope out again. I don't think I've gotten it out at all this year. I'm glad to see that someone is enjoying the summer skies.
Left by Tim on Aug 04, 2008 12:34 PM

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