Archive for June 1st, 2010

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While I was out…

June 1, 2010

May turned out to be a pretty eventful month for me, astronomically-speaking.

As noted in my oath-breaking last post, I bought one of the Sky-Watcher scopes that is on crazy sale at Amazon right now. I got the 130N-EQ2, a Newtonian reflector on an equatorial mount. I’m not a big fan of EQ mounts. Yeah, they let you track the sky by moving the scope slowly on one axis instead of two, but for that convenience you get to pay quite a bit more than you would for an alt-az mount (normally, that is; right now at Amazon you get the whole kit-n-kaboodle for about what the eyepieces regularly cost), and you get to lug around a lot more weight, too. YMMV, but I like to lug optics, not machinery, and I don’t mind nudging the scope every couple of minutes. So I sold the EQ mount on the Cloudy Nights classifieds (bringing the net cost of the scope down to a ridiculous $40) and used some scrap wood from the garage to build a Dobsonian mount. That project is still ongoing; it’s about halfway painted right now. More construction details soon.

Back in April, I started writing a series of articles on the world’s largest telescopes for Nightwatch, the newsletter of the Pomona Valley Amateur Astronomers, and the first one came out in the May newsletter (that link will be good for about three months, after which you’ll be able to find the article on the Nightwatch archive page).

Finally, and most excitingly for me, at 4:30 in the morning on May 25 I found and logged my final Messier object. The quest is complete! And one of my astronomical resolutions for 2010 is fulfilled. Two more to go…

What does June hold? Well, on the 12th the PVAA is going back to Mount Wilson. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that–last year they got clouded out in June and had to reschedule for the fall (which worked out well for me). Venus, Mars, and Saturn are all well-placed right after dark, and Jupiter is up before dawn. There’s a minor comet to chase if you’ve got optics and reasonably dark skies. And I’m about 10 objects away from finishing my observations for the AL Deep Sky Binocular Club.

So, lots to do and see. My posting will probably be hit-and-miss this month also; I’m going on vacation for the next week and when I get back, I have to knuckle under and get to work on some lectures. If you need ways to entertain yourself, the advice given here still holds. Clear skies!