Archive for February, 2011

Waxing crescent Moon, nearly First Quarter, 11:50 PM CST 2-10-11 (5:50 UTC 2-11-11)
Taken “on the fly” with my 60mm refractor and 17mm eyepiece, oriented roughly as the Moon actually appeared as it hung in the western sky.

Waxing gibbous Moon, 6:18 PM CST 2-12-11 (00:18 UTC 2-13-11)
8″ homebuilt reflector, 25mm eyepiece

A word about the next four pictures: They were taken with the 8″ reflecting telescope and my old 18mm eyepiece, one of my original two eyepieces from when my large telescope was built 31 years ago. You’ll see cloudy patches and dirt specks: this old eyepiece has a couple of large cloudy spots in it, that likely result from the early days when I occasionally used the large telescope to view the Sun using the projection method (DO NOT EVER, EVER, LOOK AT THE SUN THROUGH ANY TELESCOPE OR BINOCULARS, UNLESS YOU HAVE EQUIPMENT BUILT ESPECIALLY FOR THAT PURPOSE). The 8 inch mirror gathers and focuses a dangerously huge amount of light and heat from the Sun, and it’s likely that it literally caused the lens elements from my old 18mm eyepiece to become partially unglued. I only use the small telescope for solar projection, as it gathers much less light.

Anyway, I still keep this old eyepiece out in the garage with the telescope, so in case of impromptu observation I have an eyepiece even if I didn’t bring my good ones out, and I went ahead and used it for a few photos that evening. Just imagine that your spaceship window needs a little cleaning … sometimes real astronauts have dealt with similar window problems …

The Northern part of the Moon, 6:21 PM 2-12-11, 8″ reflector with 18mm eyepiece.

From the above photo, a closeup of Plato, one of my favorite craters.

The southern part of the Moon, 5:35 PM 2-12-11, 8″ reflector with 18mm eyepiece.

From the above photo, another of my favorite craters, Clavius, one of the Moon’s largest. Note the interesting semicircular chain of small craters within.

Above, the waxing gibbous Moon, 12:04 AM CST 2-16-11 (6:04 UTC), once again on the fly with the 60mm refractor and 17mm eyepiece.

I’ve had a temporary (I hope) glitch with my data about angular diameter, but will update later on, I hope. Let me point out that the Moon continues to orbit normally, despite many people’s fears to the contrary.

Jupiter is now an “evening star,” prominent just after dark. In the series below you can see its changing apparent size as Earth speeds away from it since its closest approach to Jupiter in late September, 2010. Jupiter photos all with 8″ reflector telescope and 25mm eyepiece:

July 2, 2010
5:20 AM CDT (10:20 UT)

41.64″ apparent diameter

(L to R) Ganymede, Io, Jupiter, Europa (Callisto lost in glare just North of Jupiter)
439,479,627 miles from Earth (707,273,900 km)

July 29, 2010
5:30 AM CDT (10:30 UT)

45.37″ apparent diameter

(L to R) Callisto, Jupiter, Europa, Ganymede (Io occulted)

403,391,417 miles from Earth (649,195,556 km)

August 30, 2010
6:11 AM CDT (11:11 UT)

48.95″ apparent diameter

(L to R) Ganymede, Callisto, Jupiter, Io, Europa

373,871,326 miles from Earth (601,687,576 km)

September 4, 2010
6:26 AM CDT (11:26 UT)
49.29″ apparent diameter

(L to R) Callisto, Ganymede, Io, Europa, Jupiter (Europa appears to be on edge of Jupiter)

371,287,908 miles from Earth (597,529,968 km)

September 22, 2010
4:44 AM CDT (9:44 UT)

49.79″ apparent diameter

(L to R) Ganymede, Io, Jupiter, Europa, Callisto

367,570,821 miles from Earth (591,547,895 km)

September 30, 2010
5:24 AM CDT (10:24 UT)

49.62″ apparent diameter

(L to R) Europa, Io, Jupiter, Callisto (upper), Ganymede (lower)

368,808,245 miles from Earth (593,539,336 km)

December 12, 2010
5:39 PM CST 12-12-10 (23:39 UTC)

Angular diameter 41.11 arc seconds

Distance from Earth 445,216,924 miles (716,507,186 km)

From upper right to lower left: Callisto (faint), Europa, Jupiter, Io. Ganymede was transiting Jupiter at the time.

February 12, 2011
6:12 PM CST (00:12 UTC 2-13-11)

34.78″ apparent diameter

( Upper L to Lower R) Callisto, Jupiter, Io, Ganymede (Europa was occulted by Jupiter at the time)

526,194,498 miles from Earth (846,715,305km)

All with LG VX8360 cell phone camera.


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7:37 AM CDT November 6, 2010 (12:37 UTC)
Angular diameter 15.92 arc seconds
99.9% illumination
Distance from Earth 966,825,301 miles (1,555,150,630 km)
17mm eyepiece
7:40 AM CST December 29, 2010 (13:40 UTC)
Angular diameter 17.08 arc seconds
99.7% illumination
Distance from Earth 900,415,441 miles (1,449,078,188 km)
17mm eyepiece
7:12 AM CST January 22, 2011 (13:12 UTC)
Angular diameter 17.81 arc seconds
99.8% illumination
Distance from Earth 863,698,339 miles (1,389,987,740 km)
17mm eyepiece
7:25 AM CST February 3, 2011 (13:25 UTC)
Angular diameter 18.17 arc seconds
99.8% illumination
Distance from Earth 846,417,959 miles (1,362,177,663 km)
17mm eyepiece

All with 8″ f8 homebuilt reflector telescope and LG VX8360 cell phone camera. As you can see, 17 million miles don’t make a whole lot of difference in Saturn’s apparent size, but I had fun getting out there with the telescope for the first time in over a week. I don’t suppose it fosters any illusion of being in outer space when I show pictures of the planets in a blue sky, but I might as well be honest: I took these pictures from the surface of Planet Earth!

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