University Lowbrow Astronomers

A Beginning Amateur Astronomer.

by George Ferrier
Printed in Reflections: December, 2007.

I became interested in astronomy when I was at Bible Camp in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, I enjoyed looking at the night sky filled with stars and I liked seeing meteors cross the skies.

My interest peaked when I moved to Ann Arbor, MI from Pennsylvania after my Army discharge after being a POW in Afghanistan and meeting my wife. I took her to Peach Mt. one night for an open house and we saw several satellites and a piece of “space-junk” re-entering the atmosphere. We also got to see the Orion Nebula and many other “deep-sky” objects. While we were there I learned (from a member) about the University Lowbrow Astronomers and later I joined the club.

My main goal was to buy a scope of my own, and use it to learn the sky and share it with some of the neighborhood kids, in hopes that they too might become interested in astronomy. However, losing my job, being force into early retirement and living on a small fixed income, makes it almost impossible to save. So, I currently use a pair of 7 x 50 binoculars, and that makes it kind of difficult for neighbor kids to get into star gazing that way.

These limitations have not prevented me from enjoying astronomy and here are some of my observations:

October 4, 2007 11:35pm—Cassiopeia, Almach in Andromeda, a double star, the larger one blue and the smaller one white.

October 5, 2007 5:00am—Orion M42, Gemini’s Pollux, Canis Minor’s Procyon, Canis Major’s Sirius, Taurus’ Aldebaran and the Pleiades; Betelgeuse appeared Red/Orange, I could see 6 stars in the Pleiades, M43 was like 3 stars, above I observed a bright orange-ish object that I presumed to be Pollux but it might have been Mars.

October 7, 2007 4:00am to 5:15am—Venus, Moon & Saturn in a line close together in the east. Venus looked like a plane’s landing light (possibly a DC10). I also observed several “quick flash” meteors, there was a meteor brighter than Rigel that went north to south above Salph in Orion, it had a “tail” that lasted a couple of seconds. Also, a smaller one with a “tail” that lasted 1 second and it went thru Orion between M42 & Alnilam.

October 20, 2007 7:45pm to 7:50pm—ISS pass moving northwest to east passing between Ursa Major and Ursa Minor with a magnitude of about -2.0.

October 20, 2007 9:15pm—satellite Cosmos 2394 passed south-southwest to west and was about 3.0 magnitude.

October 21, 2007 3:00am to 4:13am—Observing the Orionid Meteor shower saw approx. 7 “quick flash” meteors. One lasting about a half second going toward the east between Orion and Gemini, one lasting about 1 second, just below Orion and moving north to south and a very bright “fireball” twice as bright as Spica passing thru the Pleiades and lasting about 2.5 seconds.

Editorial comment: Modest beginnings and this type of enthusiasm and tenacity needs to be cultivated and nurtured. I hope that George continues to come to open houses, meetings and ACNO sessions. Nice article!


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