Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Star gazing for beginners

Moon 31/12/2012

For as long as I can remember, the stars have held a fascination beyond anything else. Being told by the gas works night watchman, their names and which ones were double stars, grew my fascination. Drawing pictures in the sky that told stories of Castor & Pollux, Orion the hunter and Cassiopeia. Discovering that stars are not just bright lights in the darkness, but different colours of reds, blues and yellows. The observer book of astronomy soon became a close friend and it was not long before a Christmas present unwrapped a small telescope; this was probably the biggest turn off as it revealed very little compared to the books. I wanted to see the horses head nebulae, Andromeda galaxy, double stars and pick out craters on the moon.

This was the mid 1960's and soon we had satellites, moon landings and pictures from a telescope in space. I have to admit that witnessing the Mars landing and landscape views are very low down my Buzz range compared to views into the vast cosmos. Measuring distances in light years we find ourselves trying to grasp the fact, we are watching something that happened millions of years ago; in a strange way, we are also looking into the future, for what has happened out there will happen to our solar system.

There is a science and there is a beauty regarding the cosmos and our existence; it is for some to understand the far reaches and others to marvel at the unknown that draws us into a familiar echo.

I attempted yet again to see the markings of Jupiter and a close up of the moons craters; with a borrowed Sky-Watcher 130 mm I wanted to capture an image of the moon at least. Camera attachments and a slight modification to improve in-focus; I managed the moon. Even with the best of equipment we at at the mercy of cloud and weather conditions, light pollution and spare time; these do not often seem to match up. I am encouraged by the Internet and Sky Google Earth, many images provided by the Hubble telescope; also images such as the one below, capturing just what we see without the gadgets. Android apps provide us with how the sky looks in real time (with or without clouds) even in the day time, everything is around us.
I guess it is about belief - and seeing only confirms what we felt we knew; understanding is not always necessary.

borrowed from Cloudy nights web