As the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the still astonishing Apollo 11 moon landing, we backyard stargazers can also get in on the fun (indeed many of us grizzled amateur astronomers can trace our interest in the night sky to the space program of the 1960s). With a modest telescope and good seeing, nearly anyone with a little observing experience can see the region of the Moon where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin briefly walked, and observe the three tiny craters named for the two famous moonwalkers and their crew mate Michael Collins who remained alone in lunar orbit to pilot the Apollo 11 command module [Read more…] about See the ‘Craters of Apollo 11’Share This:
Solar System Observing
Articles about how to understand, find and see solar system objects including planets, the Moon, the Sun, asteroids, meteors, and comets with binoculars, telescopes, and the naked eye.
Many casual observers get hooked on amateur astronomy after a first look at Saturn through a telescope. More than a few have looked through my small refractor on a night of good seeing and asked of Saturn, “Is it real?”
Oh, it’s real, all right. And incredibly beautiful… the color, the proportions, the apparent 3D perspective of this grand icy world. It is arguably the finest sight accessible with a small telescope. The planet reaches opposition on July 9, 2019 and will remain bright and large in a telescope over the next few months. Here’s how to find it and see it in a small telescope.
The planet Jupiter is always one of the brightest objects in the night sky. It’s brighter than any star, and is only outshone by the planet Venus and the Moon, and, very rarely, by Mars and Mercury. Jupiter reaches a position for optimum viewing in a telescope once every 13 months, roughly, and it makes its latest closest approach to Earth on June 10, 2019 when the planet appears in the (non zodiacal) constellation Ophiuchus along the southern ecliptic. A couple of months before and after this date, Jupiter is in perfect position for viewing with a small telescope, or even a pair of binoculars. You can’t miss it: the planet is by far the brightest object in the southeastern sky. The visible face of Jupiter reveals so many interesting features in a small telescope that the planet is a favorite target for new and experienced stargazers [Read more…] about A Guide to Observing the Planet Jupiter – 2019Share This:
As the Moon reaches first quarter, and a day or two past, the Sun casts a dramatic shadow across the Mare Imbrium and a selection of prominent craters, mountains, and an unmistakable lunar valley. Even a tiny telescope will help you see these features as shown in the image above [Read more…] about Lunar Tour – Plato and RegionShare This:
The planet Mars is coy. It spends most of its time as a relatively inconspicuous star-like object, only moderately bright, drifting barely noticed though the sky, little seen, or sometimes hiding behind the Sun.
Once every two years it grows bolder. It decides to put on a show. But even then, it’s sneaky about it, gathering its glory in the late hours of the night, seen mainly by dedicated astronomers, those who know what to expect and where to look.
And then, at the apex of its splendor, it rises at sunset, blazing across the sky all night for a few brief weeks, revealing itself in a level of detail far beyond what it will normally display [Read more…] about Mars MeditationsShare This: