Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I am starting a Yahoo Group!

I sent out invitations to people I thought might be interested to view the project. It would be nice to know if people out there are doing anything similar and the uses to which they put the data.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Mars and Moon

Mars seen quite large in telescope but no detail visible. Hopefully a Barlow might help that if I had one.

As Moore said the most interesting aspect of moon observing is noting where the Terminator shows up new features. Tonight at midnight Mare Crisium was the big feature, a deep dark "sea". It resides right above the Sea of Fetility, the Sea of Trnquility (my fave name!), and the Sea of Serenity. Above that were seen the craters Cleomedes, Endymion, Atlas and Hercules, two smaller craters below Endymion. The Tycho rays were bright tonight.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Alpine foothills

srtm, originally uploaded by jeremyll33.

Software tool POV ray used to produce this nice perspective view of the alpine foothills.

Sorry I'd have continued this a bit more but I just ran out of wine that night! :)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Some movement in this project

Latest is that I have had problems with the Global Names file.

Newest is that I have downloaded POV tracer which promises to be a lot of fun. Drape 3d here we come...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

First sight of Orion!

Today I can document the first sighting of Orion this winter! When you see that shape beginning to hunt with this dog in the sky you always know autumn and winter are around the corner. Wonderful seasonal feeling.

Almost dawn at 6pm in the middle of Munich so light pollution was laughable, but I was able to for the first time put names to those Meade navigation stars, Alnitak, Alnilam and at the right end Mintaka. Beautiful names those.

Also prominent in binoculars was the star Sigma Orioni, below Alnitak. I think maybe because of the light pollution.

Last but not least is the Orion Nebula. Always beautiful to see but sadly not much depth in binoculars in a city. Can't wait till we are in the country. Not long now.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Radio astronomy

Tonight I present three URLs:

This was sent by Jeff Stevens in Stoke of the SPA web forum. Thanks Jeff. It is a PDF which describes the methods used to build a radio telescope as used in the Radio Jove Jupiter project.

I am starting to read about radio astronomy. The father if you will of this science was a chap named Karl Jansky. A short biography is written about him here:

Finally I came across this link which describes radio astronomy for beginner, i.e., people like me.

I would write more but I want to go back to reading this stuff.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A close examination of the Pleiades

Last night I undertook something that simply hadn't occurred to me before - to take a look at the stars of the Pleiades star cluster. It s been there for years in the sky but my mind has been so busy chasing othger things I never focusseed simply upon this beautiful feature in the sky.

When I read in Patrick Moore's "Exploring the night sky with binoculars" that each star in the cluster has a unique Arabic nane I was tempted to take a closer look. My interest in the Arabic names of stars has been kindled by the necessity to learn them in order to set up my Meade telescope properly using the Autostar two star alignment method.

I noted the seven main stars, drew them on a piece of paper, then attempted to judge their brightnesses as a sort of exercise in variable star estimation which I would like to indulge in one day. Here is a table I present with the ranked order as perceived my me, together with their magnitudes.

1. Alcyone ? not given in Moore
2. Electra 3.7 equal with Atlas
3. Atlas 3.6
4. Maia 3.9
5. Taygete 4.3
6. Merope 4.2
7. Pleione 5.1 variable star

One thing I assert here in the hope that anyone reading it will confirm what I say: Moore states that the constellation is about one degree wide in distance. If the cluster takes up about a quarter of my binocular viewing area then logically my field of view in the binoculars is 4 degrees, is that right? An interesting fact about the mags given is that very often stars of these mags are occulted by the moon. It gives me an idea of the brightnesses of stars for those events, having not seenn an occultation yet.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

A clear night sky in the Alps

Hello there,

I am a Brit expat living in Munich. By day a stay at home Dad, formerly known as a GIS analyst, I keep a blog of my free mapping project at

I was able to get out of Munich and into the foothills of the Alps this weekend, to a superb dark sky site. Because if the recent clouding over of the Perseids this year, I have been reading a lot about radio observation of meteors. So the simple sight of a totally clear quiet rural sky punctuated only by the sound of cow bells you will understand was quite awesome.

But Saturday was simpy for me a return to the fascination of what drew me to astronomy at 11 years old. Man what skies there were that night! I had dug out a pair of very old 7x56 binoculars for observing.

First stop was Cygnus which was almost overhead at midnight here in Germany. A mental note was made to check out Albireo in the ETX when the chance next comes up as we are moving to a dark sky site south of Munich soon. Then left towards the eagle Aquila. Moving above the head I spotted for myself a new constellation - Delphinus the Dolphin, with the help of Patrick Moore's "Exploring the Night Sky with Binoculars". I have taken it upon myself to learn the lesser known constellations in the sky, togeher with their Arabic names - this owing to the sudden appearance in my Autostar during the alignment procedure of incomprehensible names to which constellation they belonged I hadn't a clue. Moving right of Cygnus to Lyra, one of my favourite groups, and yet another futile attempt to spot M57. That can wait.

A clear view of the Plough or Ursa Major next, and one of the favourite binocular scenes I hadn't seen in ages owing to the location of awkward buildings and trees in Munich was Mizar and Alcor (more fascinating Arab names.) An attempt to seek M81 and M82 failed - this time because it was hard to make much out as the view was simply filled with faint stars, such was the visibility. Flying north to Polaris and beyond we made out Cepheus, one of the very first constellations I ever learnt years ago.

Then turning round we got Cassiopeia, possibly one of the most beautiful simple constellations in the sky. I understand one of them is variable, maybe I shall study it in the future if time ever allows.

Finally the highlight for me was to see Andromeda. To be honest, not just Andromeda and Pegasus but to search for the Andromeda Galaxy M31. And in these simple binoculars it looked fantastic. Question to more experienced: is it possible it looked better because of the relatively low power compared to say a 10x50? Does much more light come in the optics for a 7x56?

I describe this session because I was simply taken aback at the clear sky beauty before me Saturday and reminded of why I have perennially found astronomy so fascinating and why I am at a slightly older age of 38 returning to the hobby. I was reminded of the fact that although I have sophisticated equipment (an ETX125 which is a headache to get set up) there is still so much to be seen both with my own eyes and with a simple pair of ordinary binoculars.