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Astronomy, Cosmology, and Telescopes

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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'm going to assume you mean cosmetology school. But if her head is in the clouds maybe the lines are blurry.

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.

I think that might be target #2. I hadn't even heard of Pleiades until recently. There are actually thousands of stars in the cluster with about 14 observable with the naked eye. It's hard to make out all 14 unless you look very carefully. I believe the 7 major stars are much more distinguishable.

I'm getting all fired up just thinking about it. Normally I hate it when it's dark when I leave work. Now I'm actually excited about it!

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Pleiades is one of the coolest things to look at. Just make sure you aren't using a too powerful lens.

Even the moon is cool to look at, especially when you can see the shadows on the craters.

Saturn, however, is probably the coolest IMO. It doesn't even look real.

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It's amazing to think that the Voyager satellites have been traveling outward for 35 years and are only just now reaching the edge of the Solar System. It really gives you a sense of how large even our Solar System is.

I got my telescope up and running over the weekend. After a quick glance at the edge of the moon to make sure everything was aligned properly (the moon is too bright to look at for more than a quick moment) I turned my sights to Jupiter. It wasn't the amazingly clear image that you'd see from a large telescope, but it was clearly Jupiter. I could see two tan bands on the planet as well as all four of the large moons. What caught me off guard was how quickly the planet moved through my field of view. Every minute or two I had to adjust the telescope to keep all five objects in the field.

After Jupiter I took a quick look at Rigel which is a bright binary star in Orion. That was pretty cool. Up until recently I had no idea that binary stars existed. It was fascinating seeing two stars so close.

Next time out I think I'll stay within Orion and look at a few other stars and perhaps a nebula. My biggest concern now is light pollution. I had my telescope set up in front of my house which isn't an ideal location. It's fine for spontaneous viewing, but if I want to see fainter objects I need to get away from lights. I think my best bet is to go somewhere in the northern half of Baltimore County based on the light pollution maps I've seen. I'm still open to suggestions. Unfortunately the 95 corridor from DC to NYC is the worst area in the country for stargazing.

Light pollution map

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Unless you've got a really nice telescope, I doubt Jupiter is going to get much better than what you saw. Maybe a darker sky would help. I can also make out some of the color changes and see the moons. I live in Frederick County and it's much better than Baltimore County for night viewing, but it's getting more and more built up.

Try to catch Saturn...it's a lot more rewarding than Jupiter, IMO. Mars is worth a look too but it's hard to really make out anything except a small mash-up of brown and green. Venus is bright and waxes and wanes, so not much to see there either. Jupiter and Saturn are pretty much the best planets to view.

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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.

You got it scOtt.

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I took another look at Jupiter last night. At first one of the moons was either in front of or behind the planet because I could only see three moons. I went back to it and the fourth had just barely popped into sight. I really enjoyed that. I wish I had a more poweful eyepiece so I could get just a tad more detail on the planet. It's cool nonetheless.

I also took my first look at Plaiedes. It wasn't like Jupiter where I was taken back by the size and color. Instead I was amazed at just how many stars I could see. I felt like I was traveling through space in a Star Trek episode. I could easily see hundreds of stars. In this case a lower powered eyepiece would have been nice to take in more stars at once.

I need to get a better feel for the sky map so I can pick objects out. I know Orion pretty well, so things in and around there are easy to spot. When I get beyond Orion I'm lost. I've found Google Sky Map to be a big help. It's fairly accurate and it help me navigate last night.

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Yeah those iPad apps are great for night sky viewing.

Check out the Andromeda Galaxy. It's a challenge to find since it's so faint and small in the sky but I was able to find it. You don't see much detail, looks like a gray smudge but it's still cool to know you're looking at another galaxy. You may need to go to a clearer spot to see it though, with a good low horizon and a dark sky.

I like checking out the bright stars, too. You can see them flicker and pick up different colors out of them too.

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I was trying to find the Andromeda Galaxy last night. The problem is I still don't know the constellations well enough to get myself pointed in the right direction. Did you use the stars to find it before you knew where it was?

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