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Types of Telescopes – Tips for Buying Your First Telescope November 28, 2016

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy.
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It’s that time of year again, when many people consider buying a telescope, either for themselves or others. As always, I’m going to stick with my favorite piece of advice: consider binoculars. You can get a good pair for relatively little money, even if you add a tripod and mounting bracket. And if you discover you aren’t the type of person who wants to go outside at 3 AM for an occultation after all, you can can still take them with you to the game on Saturday.

If you still want a telescope (or you’ve already determined you ARE the type of person who gets up at 3 AM for an occultation), here is some advice from Sky & Telescope.

While there are hundreds of types of telescopes, there is only one that’ll be your first one. Use this guide to help you choose a telescope perfect for you

Source: Types of Telescopes – Tips for Buying Your First Telescope

Change… November 9, 2016

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy.
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There are things we cannot change, no matter how much we want to: race, gender identity, partner preferences, other people.

There are things we can change: appearances, the way we treat other people, the way we react to other people. 

Be the person you want to be around. Be the person you want as a neighbor. Be the person your friends need you to be. Be the person you want this society to be made of. Because some things can change. 

Summer 2016 meteors July 26, 2016

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro.
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It’s meteor shower season, and The summer meteor showers are ramping up!

The Delta Aquariids are in progress now. Although the peak is expected to fall on July 28, this is a long, slow shower, worth watching for at least a week after the peak. Don’t expect to see a lot of meteors though. Even at its peak there are only 10 – 20 meteors per hour (or about 5 minutes between meteors.) The radiant is highest at around 3 AM this time of year, so that would be the best time to observe if it weren’t for the waning Moon in the last week of July. Going out around 1:30 – 2:30 on the 28th gives a good combination of reasonably high radiant and a low Moon.

While you’re out looking for delta Aquarius, watch for Perseids too. Luckily, Perseus isn’t far from Aquarius. Check out this story from EarthSky on how to tell them apart.

While the Perseids don’t peak until August 11 or 12, you should already be able to spot a few. The real show should be the early morning of August 12, and continue through the morning of the 13th and maybe the morning of the 14th. Some experts think this could be a spectacular year, with rates of 200 per hour at the peak (that’s about 3 meteors per minute!) Better still, a waxing moon means dark skies most of the early morning hours. The best time to view will be around 3 – 5AM, when the Moon has set, Perseus is high, and twilight hasn’t really started yet. Here is a map for 4:30 AM on August 11 with both radiants marked.

11Aug0430_SE_meteors.png

Urban Observing June 2016 – Planets version June 7, 2016

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro, Urban Observing.
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I’m a little overloaded these days, but there’s so much good stuff in planets I wanted to get those out there.

Mars Opposition was on May 22, and it’s closest approach on May 30, so early June is still a great time to check out the red planet.

It’s not far from Saturn, which is at opposition on June 3. It has a nice tilt now too, so it’s a great month for cell phone pictures through a telescope.

Jupiter is still a great evening target. Look for it high in the south at sunset. It’s only 1º from a first quarter moon on the 11th.

11June2300SE-W.png

Morning observers get some of the easiest viewing of Mercury the first 2 weeks of the month. Of course, the early sunrise means you’ll have about a 15 minute window 30 – 45 minutes before sunrise to catch it. Greatest western elongation is on the 5th, but the best angle relative to the horizon is the 13th (at least at 42º latitude.) Binoculars will help.

13June0520ENE.png

Venus fans are out of luck. Superior Conjunction is on the 6th, so it’s lost in the Sun’s glare most of the month. If you’re up for challenge, start watching for it in the evening at the end of the month.

The lowest full moon of the year will be on June 20. If you’re a fan of optical illusions, check it out – the low altitude enhances the Moon Illusion.