Friday, August 27, 2010

Moon faced and pie eyed.

It's 3am and I should be doing all sorts of other things including work, but I just spent over an hour outside looking up at the sky.  You see, my father received an email a while back talking about the August "Two Moons" effect of Mars and the moon. While the phenomenon is actually not true, what was true is that the sky was clear, the moon was gloriously bright, and there was a bright speck of a planet visible as well.  I think it's actually Jupiter but I'm not sure.

The night was so clear, not a cloud, and the moon was bright enough to not need a flashlight. So we took the big telescope outside to take a closer look.  I took some truly awful pictures with my little point and shoot.

In the second picture, that smudge of light to the right is the light bouncing off the edge of the roof. I kept this picture to give an idea of how bright it actually was.

And these were taken through the telescope.  There were what looked like 4 visible satellites to the planet, which is why I think it's Jupiter, all in a little string of 3 with a 4th further out and not visible in the picture.  Since I don't have a bracket to attach the camera to the telescope, nor a motor to allow it to track, my pictures are never very good.

While I find internet hoaxes and false excitement over non-existent phenomena annoying, I was glad for the reason to look at the sky tonight. It was fun, and the weather is perfect for it, and the moon was absolutely lovely despite not being full. We really don't use the telescope enough. It's a terrific 114mm Newtonian Celestron telescope and perfect for looking at near space. I bought it for my father when I was still earning a fat paycheck and it's been gathering a lot of dust.

I enjoy the sense of wonder that comes from looking at the craters and shadows on the face of the moon or seeing the pinpricks of light spring into visibility around the glowing speck of a planet. And since our spotting scope is out of alignment there's also a sense of victory when we can actually find anything!

1 comment:

Audrey said...

When we went no our big camping trip this summer I dragged my niece to a telescope event at Craters of the Moon. There were all kinds of astronomy nuts out with their mega telescopes pointed at various planets, asteroid belts and whatnot. And the sky was so gorgeous sans telescope that even the long lines of people waiting to look through the equipment didn't keep us from a spectacular view. It's easily the best thing about camping out west.