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Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing  

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stargazer
(@stargazer)
Member Moderator

I'm glad you got to see the comet, Jo. I enjoyed reading your post; the description really sets the stage well. It was cloudy here last night but may clear up tonight, so I might give it a shot tomorrow morning.

From your description I'd say that's Fomalhaut in the south. Deneb is much higher at that time (about 65 degrees high). The two are of similar brightness.

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Posted : July 14, 2020 12:23 pm
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aileth
(@aileth)
Member Moderator

Serendipitous sighting of said comet--we were driving home just now (11:00 p.m.) and I thought, "That's funny, that star seems to have a tail."  Took me a minute to clue in.  By the time we got home, it was a) behind the mountain, and b) too many lights to see any more.

Nice to see it, though, as I'm far from being a dedicated astronomer like some others here.  Getting up at 3 or 4 a.m. to see a comet isn't likely to happen Tongue  

Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away ... my days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle

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Posted : July 16, 2020 12:20 am
johobbit
(@jo)
SO mod; WC captain Moderator

Giggle aileth! Glad you saw it. Grin And realized while you were viewing that you were seeing the comet! Giggle  

I am eager to hear your viewing experience, stargazer, whenever you have some time to post. Smile  

We have a fair bit of rain over the next week, but tomorrow evening looks clear. We will be heading up to a higher area, a wee bit south of us, to view NEOWISE in the NW. This spot has a clear vantage point that direction (also NE, from where I viewed it the other morning). I am excited to see it again!

Sky & Telescope has posted an updated article an updated article, given that the comet is gaining height in the NW now, and in the evening, instead of the early morning.

EDIT: Our middle son is going camping with his wife and friends this weekend way up in the wilds of beautiful Québec, so he is taking stock of where the comet is, and should have amazing viewing up there, far away from any lights and other human influence.

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Posted : July 16, 2020 9:30 am
stargazer
(@stargazer)
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Glad you got to see it, aileth! It's moving into the evening sky now, much more convenient for us night owls. 🙂

I was able to view it last evening with Ryadian's father.  We drove to a nearby church parking lot that has a good horizon to the west and north (we also used it to see Mercury last winter).  He saw it almost before I'd turned off the engine and got out of the car.  It was easy in binoculars and had the classic head-and-tail comet structure (a few I've seen were like big fuzz balls instead). As the sky darkened we were able to see it without binoculars as well.

Looking forward to more viewing, but it's partly cloudy now and big heat and humidity are on the way beginning tomorrow.

Good luck to your son, Jo! Pictures from darker areas show a much longer tail than we saw last night, so it should be impressive if they have good viewing weather.

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Posted : July 16, 2020 12:54 pm
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johobbit
(@jo)
SO mod; WC captain Moderator

How wonderful, stargazer! Grin I hope you have the opportunity to see the comet again in the coming days. Heat and humidity have descended again here too, but, as hoped for, tonight looks to be clear, so comet-gazing is in order. Dancing

Posted by: @aileth

Getting up at 3 or 4 a.m. to see a comet isn't likely to happen Tongue

  Giggle Well, well, just look at the quote I found from the end of the S&T article linked to above ...

I wish you many happy nights with this vagabond from the Oort Cloud. Like my friend Patricia said: "What's a little less sleep when you have a comet visiting Earth?"

  Smug LOL Cool   Star

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Posted : July 17, 2020 4:19 pm
stargazer
(@stargazer)
Member Moderator

The Internet is full of wonderful pictures of the comet.

We had clouds, heat, humidity, and storms last night (Friday)  that hid the view, and today may well be the hottest day of the year so far. But we did look for the comet again Thursday. After the previous night's experience we expected it to be a piece of cake, but a few small clouds in that direction made it harder to find as they passed in front of it. It seemed to shimmer in binoculars, fading in and out, and was a little harder with the unaided eye, but was still fun to see.

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Posted : July 18, 2020 12:34 pm
johobbit
(@jo)
SO mod; WC captain Moderator

The NEOWISE photos indeed are wonderful!

We did venture out on Friday evening to view the comet from two different locations: the first at the wide vantage point just south of us, where we arrived about 9:35 EDT: the sky was still in dusk/twilight. As the heavens darkened, we spotted NEOWISE, so stayed at that location for ages, also reveling in the rest of the night sky. Then we drove down just west of our village to a spot where we would see no town lights in the far distance to again view the spectacle. It did not disappoint. Even though we have a fair lot of trees to the NW, we did find a place on our front lawn from which we can see the comet in the V between some trees. Yay!

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Posted : July 20, 2020 11:15 am
Varnafinde
(@varna)
Princess of the Noldor and Royal Overseer of the Talk About Narnia forum Moderator

I'm still hoping to be able to see it some day (I mean, night).

I went out last night, but there were too many dark clouds to see any stars - let alone a comet.

The weather forecast looks more hopeful for tonight, though... Star  


(avi artwork by Henning Janssen)

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Posted : July 21, 2020 6:43 am
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johobbit
(@jo)
SO mod; WC captain Moderator

Really hoping tonight is the night, Varna! Grin  

Since NEOWISE is climbing higher ('though not as bright as before), we are now able to see it from our backyard, looking NW over the house, which we enjoyed last night. There were some light, misty clouds, which only increased as the night went on, but for a half hour, or so, there was some pretty decent viewing, both naked eye and binoculars. Our youngest son is coming up this weekend, so he shall pull out his telescope to hopefully view the comet even better that way. Sure hoping for a clear night Saturday evening!

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Posted : July 21, 2020 9:48 am
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stargazer
(@stargazer)
Member Moderator

We had clouds Friday and Saturday (along with some impressive storms) but were able to view the comet Sunday evening. This time I saw it with Ryadian and her father. Its motion from earlier in the week was very clear in binoculars. It was higher than before but had noticeably faded, and wasn't nearly as obvious without binoculars as it had been at first. Still, it's a very pretty sight.

It was cloudy again last night (Monday) and is partly cloudy now early in the afternoon.

Hope you're able to see it tonight, Varna!

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Posted : July 21, 2020 12:40 pm
Narnian78
(@narnian78)
NarniaWeb Regular

What astronomy books and magazines do you read?  I used to subscribe to Sky and Telescope,  but now I receive Astronomy magazine each month.  I think they are both very good publications. They are really interesting reading and appealing to both the amateur and professional.  I have a number of old astronomy books including Cosmos by Carl Sagan in its 1980 hardcover edition.  There is also the DVD set of the TV series, which I have owned for a long time. There is also The Astronomers book and the old PBS television series (which looks quite dated now, being made in 1991). The vintage book and program still can  inspire an interest in the heavens with its beautiful graphic art and the personal lives of the astronomers. I hope we will get a clear night again soon so I can look for the comet.

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Posted : July 21, 2020 9:16 pm
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stargazer
(@stargazer)
Member Moderator

S&T is my magazine of choice; I have a digital subscription which came in handy those months the libraries were closed! I also like to read Astronomy when I can.

My first astronomy books were the Stars Golden Guide, and a more-advanced book called The Sky Observer's Guide. Both are likely either quite dated (or updated) by now. In the early 1970s I found Leslie Peltier's autobiography, Starlight Nights, which is not a textbook as such, but an account of its writer's love of the heavens.

Last night (Tuesday), we were able to spot NEOWISE from the front yard, but it was difficult at first even in binoculars. It has faded significantly in the past week. At magnitude 3.9 it wasn't going to visible to the unaided eye from around here, due to the urban light dome.

Good luck to all in seeing it before it's gone.

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Posted : July 22, 2020 5:18 pm
fantasia
(@fantasia)
Member Admin

We are studying the sun in homeschool right now. We took the telescope out last week to look at the sun and lo and behold saw a very clear sun spot. 😀 

Also enjoyed the full moon last night and Jupiter and Saturn are pretty cool looking too. 

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Posted : August 4, 2020 4:31 pm
stargazer
(@stargazer)
Member Moderator

Sounds like fun, fantasia! I remember seeing the sunspots in the scope during the solar eclipse back in 2017. We're near solar minimum now so sunspots are a rather rare commodity.

The Perseid meteor shower peaks next week (August 11-13). Hopefully you'll get to see some nice meteors.

Jupiter and Saturn will start getting closer together now, and will be extremely close on December 21 (but low in the early evening sky then).

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Posted : August 5, 2020 12:45 pm
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johobbit
(@jo)
SO mod; WC captain Moderator

Were you able to view NEOWISE, @Varna and @Narnian78?

Narnian78, my go-to is Sky & Telescope, but good to hear of your other reading, and something to keep in mind. Smile  

Posted by: @stargazer

In the early 1970s I found Leslie Peltier's autobiography, Starlight Nights, which is not a textbook as such, but an account of its writer's love of the heavens.

Oooh, ditto! It was you, stargazer, who introduced me to that really lovely and informative book. It remains a favourite of ours. In fact, I need a re-read!

Sounds like some good viewing for you and your family, @fantasia. Grin Very cool (hot?) about the sunspot!

It is wonderful seeing Jupiter and Saturn together now, but I do look forward to December's sight, yes!

We are hoping to view some Perseids this week .... maybe Tuesday evening; possibly Wednesday morning, depending on the impending cloud cover. Apparently Tuesday evening may have a better chance to see any fireballs (which are spectacular), so hoping for clear skies then, and before the Moon rises.

Sky & Telescope has a helpful 13 minute podcast on the skies of August, 2020, including the Perseid meteor shower. Smile  

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Posted : August 10, 2020 7:43 am
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