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Check back for the Fall Observing schedule.
|Fall 2010 Observing Schedule
|April 28, 2010
AST 112 student Hannah Pickard took this picture through the 6" Intes
Mk-67 Maksutov-Cassegrain seen elsewhere on this page. This is a handheld, afocal projection, Hannah simply held her camera up to the eyepiece.
The Sea of Crises (Mare Crisium)
is the prominent gray circle at top. The bright crater
immediately below is Proclus. Look at how the ray structure
sweeps from horizontal to the left, clockwise to about 135-degrees on
the right. To the crater's left is the Sea of Fertility, while
the Sea of Tranquility is below. Note the light patch at the edge
of tranquility, directly beneath Proclus. This is known as Palus
Somni--the marsh of Sleep. Next semester we might try some more
convetional astrophotography, but it's nice that a student can take
something like this away from an observing session. And on that
note, can you recognize the subject in the picture below, taken by
April 9, 2010
The students got a look at Venus and Mercury, low in the sky in twilight. Saturn
was well-placed for the first look our astronomy class got this season.
We looked at a few of the double stars--Algieba, Cor Caroli, iota
Cancri, and Polaris--as an example of a Cepheid variable. And UA
Draconis, an example of a carnbon star, though it was tough to say if
it had a dramatic red tinge. We then looked at the Beehive (open
cluster), and M3, a prominent globular cluster. And we took a
quick glance at Mars, well past January's opposition but favorably high
overhead. Here are some views from the session.
Taking aim at Mars, nearly straight up
Laura and Marie take a break from writing notes.
March 3, 2010 Pride Field Observing Session for AST 112
A clear, but COLD night.
Participants got a look at Mars, a couple of double stars, the
Orion Nebula, and a couple of the Messier open star clusters.
Some scenes from the observing session
Rodney Pevey gets a neck-straining look at Mars,
|Stormy Speaks spies a double star--at a more reasonable viewing angle.
|Jan 27 & Feb 19, 2010 Pride Field Observing Sessions for AST 112
had two observing sessions so far this semester, getting a look at Mars
and the Moon each time. We had a few faculty/staff out for the January
session and hope to see more of this in the future. And post some new pictures!
|October 1, 2009 Pride Field Observing Session for AST 111
We had our first observing session for the Fall 2009 AST 111 class on Thursday,
Oct. 1 under far less than ideal skies. I set up two telescopes
for an 8 PM kickoff nder what was predicted to be a partly cloudy sky
that had turned into a nearly solid, but thin overcast. We were
able to see the Moon and Jupiter through occasional breaks in the
clouds, and a few persistent soulls got a really nice look at these
two, as well as Albireo, when the skies cleared for awhile at about
The 80-mm refractor is aimed at the moon, the 6" Maksutov is trained on Jupiter.
Physics graduate syudent
Bharath Kumar Kandula supplied
the pictures of this session. Bharath held his digital camera
behind the eyepiece of the 6" telescope for this afocal projection of
And a similar, hand held afocal shot of the Moon through a light haze.
Many of the
students noted the bright crater Aristarchus at upper right, even when
haze prevented any craters from being visible clearly.
Update: Cell Phone Astronomy
If you like the handheld snapshots Bharath took, look at this picture of the Moon and Venus taken by AST 111 student Alanna Farmer at 0600 on Sept. 16 with her cell phone's camera!
June 17, 2009 Observing the Sun in Wesson, Mississippi
Students in Dr. Kevin McKone's Robotics and Space Camp at
Copiah-Lincoln Community College observe the Sun. The camp is a
great opportunity for these young people, be sure to check out the link!
Dr. Kevin McKone invited me to
visit his robotics and space campers to hold a solar observing session.
I thank Doc Kevin for the opportunityu. Here I am (above)
giving the campers a briefing on the Sun and on solar observing.
As with the Pine Belt Girl Scouts event (Nov. 8, 2008, below) the
"Solar System" comprised a Coronado hydrogen-alpha scope (brass colored
telescope in background) for prominences and my old 3" Maksutov with
full-aperture solar filter (the stubby little black telescope) for a
white light view of the Sun. Both scopes were mounted in parallel
on the iOptron MiniTower computerized tracking mount.
A close-up view of the telescopes
set up on the iOptron tracking mount. In this figure I've removed
the solar filter from the little black Maksutov scope. Do not point a telescope at the Sun unless it is fitted with a safe solar filter!
we looked at the Sun we slewed to the Moon, and removed the filter from
the Maksutov to have a look. A little tweaking of the alignment
and we were able to slew to Venus.
Doc McKone gets a look at Venus, in broad daylight.
Venus was invisible to the unaided
eye, but clear in the telescope, looking like a tiny Quarter Moon. The
phases of Venus were discovered by Galileo--400 years ago.
April 29, 2009 Pride Field Observing Session
Students in AST 112 get a look at the Moon, Saturn, a few double stars,
an open cluster (the Beehive), and a Globular Cluster (M3).
Astronomy 112 students at Pride Field observing session.
is not particularly dark at this site, and there was nearly a quarter
moon, but we still got a good look at a few of the brighter deep-sky
objects. The department owns several telescopes, but here we're
using my own
80-mm refractor and 152-mm Mak-Cassegrain reflector on a computerized
mount.. The "fast" refractor is good when you want a low-power,
wide-field view, like when you're looking at a star cluster. The
Cassegrain is great for the Moon, the planets, and close double stars.
You can see a lot of things in the sky--even with some light
pollution--if you can point at them. The computer controlled
telescope mount has proven invaluable.
Two students observe a double star from Pride Field..
... two of their classmates take a look....
...and two more...and no, their instructor did not bump his head into the telescope.
Shane Harrell (AST 112 student) brought his own telescope to share the sky with his classmates.
AST 112 student Jonathon McNeal tries his hand at afocal
astrophotography through the eyepiece with his cell phone. This works--but it's not
April 2, 2009 Observing from Pride Field.
USM student Kaushik Vaishnav photographs the Moon with a hand-held
digital camera at the focus of a telescope (afocal method of astrophotography).)
USM students Kaushik Vaishnav and Pavan Medoji enjoy a look at the Moon
from Pride Field, a few days past First Quarter on April 2, 2009.
Nov 8, 2008 Girl Scouts take a look at the Sun.
Pine Belt Girl Scouts observing the
Sun on Science Day at USM, Nov. 8, 2008.
The scouts got two views
of the Sun, one in filtered white light and a view of solar prominences
hydrogen-alpha wavelength. The brass-colored telescope on the
left is a narrow-band instrument that shows solar prominences, the
little black telescope at right--with neutral-density filter--afforded
a "white light" view of the Sun.
|2009 was the International Year of Astronomy