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The further adventures of one man and his telescope

Since my last post I’ve been jolly busy looking at galaxies, the moon, globular clusters, open clusters, binary stars (is it old-fashioned to call them binaries, they always seem to be called double now?), a planet (Jupiter of course) and even one planetary nebula. My son (Sam, aged 9) has joined in a lot and absolutely loves it and my partner and her youngest have enjoyed looking at the wide variety of sparkly or fuzzy objects there are up there. I’m starting to know my way around the sky quite a lot better and what at first seemed a daunting endless expanse now seems a ever so slightly less daunting endless expanse.

I’ve learned a few things so far:

It’s not as hard to find objects as I thought it would be. I deliberately didn’t buy a mount with a fancy auto-finding whatsit because I thought I should earn my spurs by finding objects myself. I have developed what I suspect isn’t an entirely original strategy of pointing the telescope in roughly the right direction and then moving it around a bit. It’s a lovely feeling to find something new and an even better feeling to be able to point the telescope at exactly the right spot straight away.

I’ve found out that open clusters are hard to find from your town back garden unless it’s pretty dark. I’ve worked out that things are quite dark at high magnification (by which I mean a 12.5mm eyepiece with a 2x shorty Barlow on an 8″ reflector) and that often a lower magnification is more interesting.

I’ve realised that it’s utterly amazing to see another galaxy even if it is just a ‘pale cloud’ (Andromeda and its companions). And you can see it with the naked eye too. All those people who glance up and don’t realise they’re seeing a whole different galaxy… (that was me until a few weeks ago, too).

I’ve discovered I’m not quite so keen on the Cloud Appreciation Society as perhaps I once was. Although another way of seeing it is that there’s always something to look at.

I’ve noticed how many interesting objects seem to be just below the garden wall.

Finally, I’ve found out that lots of people do actually want to come round and look at my big telescope, which is a surprise. Assuming they mean what I hope they mean, it shows just how much interest there is in what’s up there.

Next stop on my big adventure… trying out some of the photography ideas in this month’s Astronomy Now.


This entry was posted on Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 at 5:07 pm.

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