Sudbury Observing

From August 1 until August 20, I will be observing the night sky in Sudbury, Ontario. There, I hope to be able to do more astronomy and see more celestial object there.

On Friday, August 1, 2014, late at night, it was a clear night in Sudbury, and I decided to take my scope out that night. In Sudbury, the sky was much clearer than at my house. It was much clearer than the sky back home. For the first part of the session, my dad was with me.

While we were beginning to set up our telescope, we saw an artificial satellite high in the sky at 11 pm. It was bright enough that it looks like one of the stars. Probably at magnitude 2-3. It was moving from the Southwest towards the North. I couldn’t figure out what the satellite is, but I do know it is not the ISS. After researching the night sky on a program called, Starry Nights, I suspect it is a satellite called, Cosmos 1536, but I can’t be sure. Cosmos 1536 is a Soviet satellite that was put into orbit in February 8, 1984. It’s perigee is 557.8 km and its apogee is 576.0 km. It takes 95.9 minutes for the satellite to make one orbit. It was used as an ELINT (Electronic and Signals Intelligence) satellite to intercept signals that are not commonly used for communication.

Starry Nights

The night sky at 11 PM EDT simulated by Starry Nights ™. Ecliptic is displayed in green dashed line. Cosmos 1536’s path in the night sky is the blue line.

After it disappeared in the night sky, we decided to continue setting up the telescope. Once it was set up and aligned, we pointed it to Saturn. It was beautiful as always, with its rings shining prominently. As we looked at Saturn, my dad decided to call it a night. He went inside to sleep, as he had an early morning that night.

I then continued to look for other celestial objects to look at. Since I was in darker skies, I decided to look for Deep Sky Objects (DSO’s). However, that didn’t work out as I was not able to see any DSO’s. I tried to look for M51, Cassiopeia A, and other objects, but that didn’t work out. Looking at a light pollution chart a few days later, I realized that Sudbury’s level of light pollution blocks out most of the DSO’s in the night sky which was disappointing.

After realizing that there are no DSO’s that I could see, I decided to call it a night. That night was quite successful. I saw an artificial satellite that was not the ISS, and I saw Saturn. It was unfortunate that I wasn’t able to see any DSO’s. Hopefully I can find them another time. Happy Observing!

Return of the Observer

Hi Everybody,

These past months have been somewhat difficult. My telescope was experiencing technical difficulties. However, I was able to resolve the issues, and I can continue observing now. Here is my recollection of my latest observations:

During the night of Saturday March 8, 2014 the skies were clear. Before that, an old Newtonian was discovered in my family’s closet. It’s a cheap one with only 30x magnification, but works nonetheless. That night, I looked at the moon with it. It definitely projects an image, but not a clear image. It looked very dusty. The image is not as good as my 8″ SCT (Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope). After observing the moon, I decided to take my SCT outside the driveway to find Jupiter.

Because of my issues with my telescope, I had to recalibrate my finderscope with my Telescope. Luckily, the Moon was above the horizon. I was able to find the moon after some struggle, and calibrate my equipment with it. It was satisfying to see the moon up close since my telescope developed problems. Pointing away from the light side of the moon I saw, without light interference, how the dark side of moon and the darkness of the sky look compared to each other. It was intriguing.

Sketch of the Moon meshing with space.

Sketch of the Moon meshing with space.

After that, I decided to find and look at Jupiter. It was easy to find Jupiter, falling to the horizon on the western Sky. Looking at it through my 25 mm eyepiece, it looked the same as always. In addition, three of its four moons are visible. It was lovely. However, I had an idea. The newtonian telescope that my family found has a 20 mm eyepiece. I know that when you divide the focal length of the telescope with the focal length of the eyepiece, you get the magnification of the telescope. A 2032 mm telescope with a 25 mm eyepiece will yield 80x magnification. Knowing that, I decided to put the 20 mm eyepiece from the newtonian onto the SCT. If the math is right, then my telescope should have 101.6x magnification and, as a result, Jupiter should appear larger. I put on the eyepiece, and then my put my eye on the eyepiece, and I saw a slightly bigger Jupiter. It was beautiful. If the math continues to hold, then I plan on getting smaller eye piece to get closer to Jupiter. It was a step forward in my astronomical journey.

My next object I wanted to observer were the galaxies located at opposite sides of Benetnasch, which is part of the Big Dipper. It took a while to set up. I had to dig out an area of snow in the backyard to place my telescope. After a while, I was able to safely move my equipment to the dug out area, where I set up my equipment. I went about aligning my telescope to the limited about of stars visible. The first time failed for some reason. However, the second time was a success. I pointed my telescope towards the big dipper scanning for that object. However, I failed to find anything. During my search, I stumbled upon a star that had a clear halo around it. It was quite amazing to see such a star like that. I was thinking it was a deep sky object. However, I didn’t know. But it did look like this:

The star halo I saw was a bit more pronounced than the image.

Looking at my clock, I realized it was three in the morning. Daylight Saving Time had already come into affect, which means it was actually four in the morning. Knowing that, and that the cold is starting to get to me, I decided to pack it in for the night bringing all my equipment inside safely.

Overall, It was a successful observation. I saw the beauty of the moon, Jupiter, and an intriguing star. When I was doing research and talking to experts, I learned that it might be a deep sky object with only the heart visible, either M51 or the Ring Nebula. It’s interesting that a galaxy could look like that to my eye. However, I can’t be sure; not until I see it again and image it. I have taken many steps forward in my astronomical observations. I hope to continue that in the coming days.

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