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Astronomy, Cosmology, and Telescopes

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Over the past few years I've really gotten into cosmology. I'm always scouring the Science Channel for shows like How the Universe Works or Through the Wormhole. I recently read a book on String Theory and now I'm finishing up another book on topics ranging from wormholes to parallel universes to gravity waves. All this led me to buy my first telescope.

I was wondering if anyone else is fascinated with this stuff. I'm trying to read up on astronomy now so I'll have some clue as to what I'm doing when my telescope gets here. Does anyone own or know someone who owns a telescope? I'll take any advice I can get.

And while I'm at it feel free to discuss any topics you might be interested in. If anyone is in fact interested in any of this. Here's a picture I really enjoy. They post a new one every day.

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Over the past few years I've really gotten into cosmology. I'm always scouring the Science Channel for shows like How the Universe Works or Through the Wormhole. I recently read a book on String Theory and now I'm finishing up another book on topics ranging from wormholes to parallel universes to gravity waves. All this led me to buy my first telescope.

I was wondering if anyone else is fascinated with this stuff. I'm trying to read up on astronomy now so I'll have some clue as to what I'm doing when my telescope gets here. Does anyone own or know someone who owns a telescope? I'll take any advice I can get.

And while I'm at it feel free to discuss any topics you might be interested in. If anyone is in fact interested in any of this. Here's a picture I really enjoy. They post a new one every day.

Oh hell yeah. I love space. Pretty much every aspect of it is awesome, and not the dudetacular 80s definition of awesome but the "try to comprehend this" awesome. My major has gotten me interested in astrochemistry in particular. Thanks to the conditions present in space (freaking cold, molecules extremely far apart) you end up with strange species of atoms and molecules, as well as molecules in unusual conformations because they are spinning so slowly. Thanks to these incredible conditions we've learned more about reaction mechanisms on Earth, for instance, certain decompositions of unstable molecules do not occur in space because the molecules aren't colliding with anything. Also stellar nucleosynthesis is pretty rad. I love the periodic table because it's so elegant and perfect and it's like a giant toolbox to make whatever the hell you want. And it all starts with stars mashing together hydrogen.

So there's astrochemistry, which is the molecular level stuff. And then there's the macro level stuff. It blew my mind to read about VY Canis Majoris, I cannot comprehend something that large. And there's the neighborhoods these stars live in. The numbers get so ridiculous... one galaxy may have up to a hundred trillion stars, and there's hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe. Mindblowing doesn't begin to describe it. And surely these trillions and trillions of stars are accompanied by trillions of trillions of trillions of planets, moons, asteroids, you know all that fun stuff. Who knows what's out there. We've just begun to explore Mars, and hell, we barely even know what's at the bottom of our own oceans! It makes me think that life must certainly exist out there somewhere.

And then you have things that are just plain bizarre like black holes. Maybe I should've reserved the "incomprehensible" tag for those things because really large stars at least make mathematical sense but black holes just horrify me on principle. They're like the universe's glitches to me.

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I bought a seed telescope from Craigslist a few years ago, used it a lot in the year afterward, not so much now. Saw Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Venus, the Pleiades, Andromeda Galaxy, etc. It's a lot of fun and now is the perfect time for it since it gets dark out so early and there isn't any humidity in the air.

I'd like to drive somewhere with no light pollution for a night and use the telescope. Does anyone know of a good (public) place for that around the area?

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It blew my mind to read about VY Canis Majoris, I cannot comprehend something that large.

We've just begun to explore Mars, and hell, we barely even know what's at the bottom of our own oceans! It makes me think that life must certainly exist out there somewhere.

And then you have things that are just plain bizarre like black holes. Maybe I should've reserved the "incomprehensible" tag for those things because really large stars at least make mathematical sense but black holes just horrify me on principle. They're like the universe's glitches to me.

I had to look up VY Canis Majoris to see how big it is. It's basically the same size as the entire orbit of Neptune around the Sun. How do you even comprehend that?

I would be shocked if life didn't exist somewhere. But of course the problem is that the universe is so vast. Like you said we can't even send a human to Mars (I guess technically we could, but not efficiently). It will take lifetime after lifetime for us to leave the Solar System and most likely millenia for us to travel out of our galaxy. I guess in the grand scale of the universe that's not long at all though.

Black holes are terrifying, but are the most important things in the universe. No black holes most likely means no galaxies which most likely means no stars which means no life. They may also hold the key to time travel or travel between universes.

I bought a seed telescope from Craigslist a few years ago, used it a lot in the year afterward, not so much now. Saw Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Venus, the Pleiades, Andromeda Galaxy, etc. It's a lot of fun and now is the perfect time for it since it gets dark out so early and there isn't any humidity in the air.

I'd like to drive somewhere with no light pollution for a night and use the telescope. Does anyone know of a good (public) place for that around the area?

I can't wait to see those things you listed. It's one thing to see a picture; it's another to see it with your own two (or one) eyes. I'd love to hear suggestions on some good places to set up the telescope. I have a friend who lives in northern Baltimore county on a farm. I'm sure it would be good viewing from there. I'm in White Marsh, though, and I'd like to find someplace closer.

I saw a light pollution map over the weekend and the best spot in driving distance is a park northeast of Pittsburgh. It's about 4.5-5 hours from Baltimore.

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I love Astronomy, I took a 101 class in college and became hooked. It also helps that my dad works for NASA and is a project manager for JWST. I know Howard County has "star parties" every month I think, where people bring their telescopes out and you can go look at the stars. I would love to find a place where you could see tons of stars, so I could attempt astrophotography, though I would probably fail at it.

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Nice telescope.

Jupiter will be a good target...however with the moon being nearly full it may not be the best conditions but you'll still be able to see it pretty well. You'll also see 4 of Jupiter's moons too.

Good luck and enjoy. I might just have to break out my scope tonight too.

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I have always regretted not being more interested in science in high school and junior college (I always got good grades just never interested me till later). I love space as well. Has anyone read any of Brian Greene's books? I have heard his book are a great intermediary for understanding otherwise difficult scientific concepts. Anyone have any opinions on these books?

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My girlfriend didn't make it to college so she is now in cosmology school and working part-time at Hair Cuttery. Don't know what that has to do with space, but thought I'd share.

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My new telescope was delivered on Wednesday and I started assembling it last night. It should be ready to rock and roll tonight. What should my first target be? I'm thinking Jupiter.

This is my new toy for anyone interested.

Plaeides (sp?) is the "star" to the right of Jupiter, was on the other side of the moon two nights ago. It's actually 7 stars. They're not even close together, but from here they appear so close they look like one star.

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Nice telescope.

Jupiter will be a good target...however with the moon being nearly full it may not be the best conditions but you'll still be able to see it pretty well. You'll also see 4 of Jupiter's moons too.

Good luck and enjoy. I might just have to break out my scope tonight too.

I noticed that early in the night the moon is close to Jupiter (I'm pretty sure it's Jupiter) which might cause some interference. A bad image is better than no image I guess. NMS, does ambient light make that much of a difference? For example I live on a court of townhouses which is very bright from all the lights. Will it make a noticeable difference if I find a dark field somewhere?

I have always regretted not being more interested in science in high school and junior college (I always got good grades just never interested me till later). I love space as well. Has anyone read any of Brian Greene's books? I have heard his book are a great intermediary for understanding otherwise difficult scientific concepts. Anyone have any opinions on these books?

I've read The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene. I thought it was incredibly well written. Some of the advanced concepts were over my head, but I still got the general idea. I'd highly recommend it if you're interested in string theory and related concepts. I just finished reading Parallel Worlds by Michio Kaku. I really enjoyed that as well.

As an aside I go to NASA's APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) at least once a week. There are some amazing pictures along with explanations. I've learned a lot just by reading the discriptions below each picture. Each day is archived as well, so you can go back and look at old pictures.

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My girlfriend didn't make it to college so she is now in cosmology school and working part-time at Hair Cuttery. Don't know what that has to do with space, but thought I'd share.

I am sure she is pretty.

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