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October has been planet month for my telescope and I. Jupiter is far too good an opportunity to miss, of course. The shifting moons, the clear bands of cloud, the sheer beauty of it hanging in the sky, especially recently, so close to the moon. No one person has looked through the eyepiece at Jupiter without being amazed by the bright star they seem to see with their eyes transforming into the banded planet they’ve only ever seen photos of.

Currently close to Jupiter, visually if not literally, is Uranus, as I’m sure you all know. It took me a few tries to find it but there it is, a pale blue dot, to misuse a famous phrase. You just have to wonder at how Herschel ever managed to find it. (I hadn’t realised that it was called Herschel for many years before the name so beloved of school children came into common usage.)

Neptune has proved much trickier as it’s so much lower to the horizon and, from my house, loitering above floodlit sports fields. Last night Sam and I found it though. A dark blue dot! Amazing how thrilling these dots can be.

Last night also brought my first encounter with dew. Lots of it! The telescope was dripping. Quite amazing really, but very annoying.

Blowing my own trumpet a little but all this telescope business has led to me giving a talk at Sam’s school. The children had hundreds of questions and were so eager to find out everything they could about space. They didn’t quite remember all the facts accurately but they did well, I think! I know CADAS members do a lot of ‘spreading the word’ – it would be great to hear more about all this on this site.


This entry was posted on Thursday, October 28th, 2010 at 7:39 am.

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