Archive for June, 2011

I haven’t seen much of the Wood Ducks this year, but this nice looking drake was serenely swimming near our neighborhood park on the morning of 5-29-11. Taken with 7×35 Bushnell binoculars.
Meanwhile, many Mallards have been raising their ducklings this spring:

At a different park in town, 5-23-11.

At our own neighborhood park, 5-30-11. Can you see the one who’s stretching his/her little wings?!

Awaiting Mom’s return, 6:01 AM, 5-31-11, with 7×35 Bushnell binoculars.

Above: Attendees at my first “Astronomy Evening,” 6-5-11

I haven’t been posting much in the last few weeks, but that’s partly because I was getting ready for a few “Astronomy Evenings” I’ve been hosting here in my town. The first one was on Sunday evening June 5, 2011. I presented a show of astrophotographs, mostly about the Moon, to an appreciative group of seven people, and then after 9 PM we headed out to enjoy the sight of the waxing crescent Moon, as well as Saturn in close conjunction with the star Porrima. Below, one attendee tries her hand at the art of cell phone astrophotography with my 8″ homebuilt reflector telescope, the “Light Ship:”

On Sunday, June 12, the crowd nearly doubled to 14 people including myself. The topic of the evening was Faith and Science, learning some good skygazing and truth-seeking habits from the author of Psalms 8 and 19. Once again I presented some of my own astrophotos of the Moon and planets via overhead transparencies, and I’m thankful for the use of several fine photos by Raven Yu and her friends Bea Banzuela and Andre Obidos. Weather had threatened to curtail the evenings observations, but in fact we were greeted with another clear sky as we looked at the waxing gibbous Moon and once again at Saturn and Porrima. Another Astronomy Evening is scheduled for July 10, beginning 7:30 PM at the 700 Cedar (Marian) Building in Alexandria, Minnesota, with a special focus on the Planets. Along with the Moon and Saturn we hope to catch a glimpse of Mercury as well, so if you’re in the area we hope you’ll stop by!

Below: a lunar series from late May to mid June 2011. The Moon continues to orbit normally, with no collisions imminent for about 89 billion years. :O)

6:17 AM CDT 5-24-11 (11:17 UTC)

6:20 AM CDT 5-24-11 (11:20 UTC), closeup of southern portion of Moon. All five inner craters visible within Clavius. 25mm eyepiece, 2x Barlow.

5:51 AM CDT 5-26-11 (11:51 UTC)

9:48 PM CDT 6-4-11 (2:48 UTC 6-5-11)

9:28 PM 6-5-11 (2:28 UTC 6-6-11), during the first “Astronomy Evening.” A little lacking in definition, since I had had the big scope on display in the classroom and it hadn’t completely adjusted to the temperature outside, but this gives you an idea of what we saw. “Mickey Mouse On the Moon” (Janssen and adjacent craters) is visible in the south, and made a big hit with everyone! :O)

9:05 PM CDT 6-11-11 (2:05 UTC 6-12-11)

9:09 PM 6-11-11 (2:09 UTC 6-12-11), closeup centered on the bright crater Proclus, just southwest of Mare Crisium. This and photo below with 25mm eyepiece and 2x Barlow.

9:13 PM CDT 6-11-11 (2:13 UTC 6-12-11), closeup centered on Copernicus.

4:05 AM CDT 6-17-11 (9:05 UTC). Sky conditions were hazy.

No new photos of Saturn and Porrima, but they continue in close conjunction, so I’ll rerun my photo from 10:15 PM CDT 6-4-11 (3:15 UTC 6-5-11):

All astrophotos with 8″ f8 homebuilt reflector telescope and 25mm eyepiece. All photos with LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click for larger view.

Lately I’ve been getting hits on my site from people who are wondering if the asteroid Vesta is going to hit Earth. No, it won’t, but it is easily observed this summer in the constellation Capricornus. Vesta is the brightest asteroid, and in the late winter of 2010 I observed Vesta many times with binoculars as it made its way through Leo. Here’s an observing guide for Summer 2010, courtesy Sky and Telescope: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/asteroids/122249184.html


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In case you’re wondering if I’ve fallen off the edge of the world, I’m still here, just been pretty busy. I’ll catch you up soon, but for now here’s an interesting scene:

Cell phone astrophotography generally doesn’t seem to deal with stars very effectively, but I did manage to capture an image of Saturn and Porrima (Gamma Virginis) together. They’re currently exceedingly close to one another in the sky, like a “double star” in appearance. This photo is on the same scale as my typical Moon photos, and was taken with the 8″ reflector and 25mm eyepiece (click for larger view):

10:15 PM CDT 6-4-11 (3:15 UTC 6-5-11)
LG VX8360 cell phone camera

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