University Lowbrow Astronomers

The Further Adventures of a Frustrated Astronomer.

by George Ferrier (edited by Mark S Deprest)
Printed in Reflections: February, 2008.

Unable to do much observing due to the weather conditions, however on October 28, 2007 I went EMU’s public viewing night at Sherzer Observatory. On tap for this night were Comet 17p Holmes, M57 (the Ring Nebula), and Double Stars in Ursa Major.

Observing Notes:

Comet Holmes was discernable to the naked-eye and very faint, but through the scope it was a bright sphere with a halo around it.

M57 (the Ring Nebula) looked like a gray smoke ring, spherical, I could not make out any color in the rings (halos) which give it the name of the ring nebula.

Mizar and Alcor in Ursa Major thru a “monocular” were surprisingly further apart than I had realized.

On November 18th it was very clear and I was observing Mars, Gemini, Orion and the Pleaides. Rigel, Bellatrix and Betelgeuse were the bright stars of Orion. Castor and Pollux of Gemini, and much more but I was having trouble with my binoculars. I kept see double images, so I had to rely on me unaided eyes. I was able to see 6 stars in the Pleiades most of the time, however, with averted vision I would see as many as 8 stars.

Because of overcast conditions I was not able to do any observing until November 23rd & 24th, when the sky was really clear. I figured out what was wrong with my binoculars, the right tube section was partially unscrewed and cocked to the left. When I screwed it back into place everything was back to one image.

My biggest frustration with my 7x50 binoculars is that they have a “UV block coating” which seems to be causing a red or blue glow around the planets, but not so much around stars. I could not do much observing during the Full Moon phase but still when I used Aldebaran as a guide I could find the Pleiades.

I liked examining the moon with my binoculars and I imagined the darker areas to resemble a man carrying a football or basketball.

I talked to some of my neighbors and they said their children might like to do some observing with me. So the next time out I had some company, I showed the kids how to recognize Orion and I show them Mars and the Pleiades. I also explained to them that we live in a galaxy called the Milky Way and did my best to convey just how large the galaxy is. I told them that the galaxy was made up of everything they could see, all the stars, planets, comets, meteors, asteroids and nebulae. They seemed truly interested, hopefully they will join me again and maybe even come to an open house or two.


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