Casual Astronomy

By: LowerCal , 7:22 AM GMT on January 20, 2007

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***** May 23 Update

Primarily "Casual Astronomy" will cover a rectangle that has a diagonal from Vancouver, Canada to Trinidad. When practical "Casual Astronomy" will cover other areas of the Northern Hemisphere or the entire globe.


***** January 21 Evening Update

I added a few WU photos at the bottom of this entry. In an effort to keep the blog dialup friendly I'll only be posting a few images on each entry. Here's a link to see all the WU astronomy pictures.


***** Original entry

The purpose of "Casual Astronomy" is to provide a "heads up" and useful guide to impressive yet easy to view sky events like meteor showers, auroras, and naked eye and binocular comets.

It's not for astronomy geeks like me. ;^) There are plenty of websites for us. Those websites strive to be precise and sometimes are too technical and unclear to the casual astronomer. On the other hand stories on astronomical events in the popular media are often simplified to the point of inaccuracy. As a result the casual astronomer is puzzled and disappointed, for example, by looking for meteors before any can actually be seen.

Here are the resources I will use the most:

SpaceWeather.com
has the most late breaking news.

SkyTonight.com
has accurate descriptions of what can be expected in the days (and nights) ahead.

NOAA's Space Environment Center monitors auroral activity in real time. When the yellow edge of the oval gets close to your location it's time to check the sky.

(NOTE: This small view does not update.
The enlarged view automatically updates.)
Northern Auroral Activity Oval - click for the enlarged view


You can use these resources yourself. I'd be happy to answer any questions in comments or by WU mail. Any suggestions to improve the blog are welcome.


To start things off here is a tip for the many excellent WU photographers (and others). Venus and a slender Luna will have a rendevous in the western sky on Saturday evening. 8^o




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Moon and Venus 3 (GlassHouse)
- My favorite subject
Moon and Venus 3
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moon and venus (MaryEstherFLA)
moon and venus
Mc Naught Comet Passing over Oz .... Spectacular (ozcazz)
Awesome night seeing the Mc Naught Comet!! The most spectacular comet in 40 years, named after the Australian astronomer who discovered it, will streak through the southern hemisphere over the next month. Clear skies permitting, McNaught's Comet will reveal itself against the western horizon at sunset, beginning tomorrow. Australian National University (ANU) astronomer Robert McNaught discovered the comet on August 7 last year using the Uppsala Schmidt telescope at Siding Spring Observatory near Coonabarabran, in central western NSW. It has already appeared in the northern hemisphere
Mc Naught Comet Passing over Oz .... Spectacular

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27. anvilhead
1:43 AM GMT on January 29, 2007
^
Member Since: September 14, 2006 Posts: 128 Comments: 5257
26. LowerCal
8:03 PM GMT on January 28, 2007
I was just catching up on some things anvil. I'll stop by the anvilhead2 now.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9573
25. anvilhead
6:33 PM GMT on January 28, 2007
come to my blog, lower
Member Since: September 14, 2006 Posts: 128 Comments: 5257
24. LowerCal
6:27 PM GMT on January 28, 2007
Good morning crab!

Glad to hear you've got the equipment issues handled and you'll be able to get full use of your great location.

Thanks for the info on Slooh.com. I had free use of it in the past but I think maybe I just had some extra bad luck. Most sessions I tried were cancelled for clouds, etc. However when conditions were right it was pretty exciting to see those far distant faint objects accumulate pixel by pixel. I'll give Slooh.com another look.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9573
23. hurricanecrab
12:34 PM GMT on January 28, 2007
p.s. We've been subscribed to Slooh.com for a year now.... have you heard of it? There are two huge telescopes in the Canary Islands and they route the view onto the website. I think it was around $50.00 U.S./year. Really good especially for those deep-space views that can't be seen well (or at all!) with conventional telescopes. Dust storms and now ice (ice?) causes them to abort their planned missions sometimes. They usually visit a few dozen locations every night. There's a one week free trial too. Nothing like being out under the stars, but on occasion, it's cool to see the far away features -- some so far away that it takes several minutes for the telescopes there to gather enough light. One bonus is also that you're given X amount of minutes each year to schedule a view of a location of your own choice!

Cheers!
Member Since: January 20, 2005 Posts: 64 Comments: 9242
22. hurricanecrab
12:25 PM GMT on January 28, 2007
Morning Lowercal

Thanks a bunch for the reslivering links and such! This is going to be great; Many nights are really clear here, in spite of all the water vapor in the air. We go up on top of the bluff sometimes for a horizon-to-horizon sky panorama. No lights at the Eastern end of the bluff (145 feet high) and its THE place to be for us during viewing events.... we've even slept up there a time or two lol!

Packing up the lenses today and making a wooden box to ship them in. Off they go tomorrow. Thanks again!
Member Since: January 20, 2005 Posts: 64 Comments: 9242
21. anvilhead
10:51 PM GMT on January 27, 2007
^ thanks Lower
Member Since: September 14, 2006 Posts: 128 Comments: 5257
20. LowerCal
10:07 PM GMT on January 27, 2007
Thanks anvil, it's the thought that counts.

I checked out anvilhead2 and I see it's for the local (Southern California) weather. Great idea, I'm happy to see a blog devoted to weather in our area. Keep up the good work with the public service/informational entries and photos on anvilhead.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9573
19. anvilhead2
7:01 AM GMT on January 27, 2007
I have ran out of graphics to post right now, it is hard to find them, so this is a HAPPY SATURDAY FOR YOU!
Member Since: January 22, 2007 Posts: 14 Comments: 277
18. LowerCal
9:16 PM GMT on January 26, 2007
Thanks crab. I'm glad I stopped by your blog. It got me thinking about something that I should have already thought about. I'll stop back by your blog shortly. Before I do that I'll bump myself to answer your question (more good thinking BTW).

Sounds like a good purchase decision. The price of a good set of eyepieces is often more than the telescope alone.

If it's just the reflective coating that's scratched I agree you'd want to have it recoated by a professional. Nearly all ATMs (Amateur Telescope Makers) do and they are real hands on type guys (like yourself) who grind their own mirrors and lenses!

On the other hand if the glass itself is scratched fixing it may or may not be more trouble than it's worth. I'll send you a WU mail with some links to help you sort it out.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9573
17. hurricanecrab
12:50 PM GMT on January 26, 2007
Great blog Lowercal, and thanks for stopping by mine -- I responded to your post in my blog (sneaky and shameless self-bump haha).

I have an old Mead telescope that I bought used, mostly for the wonderful array of lenses that it came with. Has a scratched mirror, and I've just about given up on finding a company that will ship silver nitrate crystals here so I can resilver it. I don't suppose you know of anyplace that does resilvering? Mead won't do it on this old model.

'appy Friday to you!
Member Since: January 20, 2005 Posts: 64 Comments: 9242
16. LowerCal
7:12 PM GMT on January 25, 2007
LOL! :D
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9573
15. anvilhead
6:24 AM GMT on January 25, 2007


Have a thrilling Thursday!
Member Since: September 14, 2006 Posts: 128 Comments: 5257
14. LowerCal
12:29 AM GMT on January 25, 2007
There is no dress code. Black tie and long johns alike are optional. You're just not allowed to use words like "ephemerides", even if you work for JPL. >:^(
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9573
13. MisterPerfect
6:35 PM GMT on January 24, 2007
So does the casual astronomer wear casual attire as well? Or is it proper to casually star gaze in a tuxedo?
Member Since: November 1, 2006 Posts: 71 Comments: 20141
12. LowerCal
6:33 PM GMT on January 24, 2007
Thanks anvil. :)
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9573
11. anvilhead
5:43 AM GMT on January 23, 2007
Member Since: September 14, 2006 Posts: 128 Comments: 5257
10. LowerCal
8:06 PM GMT on January 22, 2007
So far, so good but just in case I do need it, thanks for your understanding. :^)
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9573
9. anvilhead
6:05 AM GMT on January 22, 2007

MySpaceGraphicsandAnimations.com

Graphics provided by MySpaceGraphicsandAnimations.com
Member Since: September 14, 2006 Posts: 128 Comments: 5257
8. LowerCal
10:06 PM GMT on January 21, 2007
anvil~ Thanks for the sunshine. I hope you're having a happy Sunday too.

MaryEsther~ You're welcome. A great image of Comet McNaught by a Southern Hemisphere WU photographer is finally available. (So I can post an image and not just a link.) Thanks, I'm glad you think so. Hmm, more astronmy geeks, sounds like a good secret plan, heh, heh. ;^)
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9573
7. MaryEstherFLA
2:37 PM GMT on January 21, 2007
Hi LowerCal!
Thanks for the heads up on Venus and the slender Moon. There's a really great photo of "the extravagant tail of Comet McNaught" from South Africa on that first web site. ... such an apt phrase!
This blog is a great idea.. I think I qualify for "casual" .. but, it may turn me into a Astronomy geek too!
I can't stop looking up now.
:o)
Member Since: August 4, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 1190
6. anvilhead
7:47 AM GMT on January 21, 2007
Member Since: September 14, 2006 Posts: 128 Comments: 5257
5. LowerCal
10:37 PM GMT on January 20, 2007
Thanks ryan. Check in when the blog updates, there'll be more. :^)
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9573
4. ryang
9:57 PM GMT on January 20, 2007
Nice Info.
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 329 Comments: 12454
3. LowerCal
9:54 PM GMT on January 20, 2007
Hades~ Thanks, I think you might be an astronomy geek like me. ;^) For the casual astronomers I'm going to start with strong showers with regular rates of 60 or more per hour that will also be moon free. I'll include a viewing schedule for various latitudes. I'll mention more moderate showers with regular rates of 15 or more per hour if there is interest. If an unusual outburst is predicted for any shower I'll be sure to mention it.

anvil~ Yep, and that's what Saturdays are for. :^) I hope you have an opportunity to get a picture of Venus with the crescent moon this evening.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9573
2. anvilhead
5:23 PM GMT on January 20, 2007
Member Since: September 14, 2006 Posts: 128 Comments: 5257
1. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
8:30 AM GMT on January 20, 2007
Alpha Centaurids

early February though not very strong about three or more meteors an hour
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 55 Comments: 48964

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