Friday, August 26, 2016

Observing log for 25 August 2016

Despite some haze and high cirrus we were able to see the following objects:

  • Saturn: The ringed planet will be visible until mid-September.
  • Mars: Mars was at opposition on 22 May 2016, making it very well-placed for observing this summer.
  • M13, (the Hercules cluster): M13 is an example of a globular cluster and is about 25,000 light-years from Earth.
  • M57 (the Ring Nebula): M57 is a planetary nebula about 2,000 light-years from Earth.
  • NCG 6826 (The "blinking planetary" in Cygnus): NGC 6826 is another example of a planetary nebula, also about 2,000 light-years from Earth.
  • Albireo: Albireo is a double star system in Cygnus. The two stars (one blue, one gold) can't be resolved with the naked eye, but through our telescopes we are able to see the pair.

Thank you everyone for attending, and for your interest in the Montgomery College Observatory!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

We are a "go" for observatory night tonight (Thursday 25-Aug-2016)

For folks who have reservations tonight, we are a "go"! There may be a few clouds, but if we're lucky they'll hold off until later.

We'll be meeting in SC400 (the conference room across from the elevator) instead of SC406.

If you couldn't get a reservation for this evening, there are spots open in the September events. Go to https://mcobservatory-fall2016.eventbrite.com to reserve.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Too many clouds - cancelling tonight

Clouds have now overtaken the southern and western sky (where Mars, Saturn, and the Moon happen to be).

I'm cancelling for tonight.

Apologies for the late call. Thank you for your patience! Wishing everyone a restful weekend and clear skies. I'm looking forward to seeing folks at another event.

Friday, August 12, 2016

August / September Starmap

Last night I had a couple of requests for an electronic version of the August / September starmap. You can find it here: MCAO August / September Starmap.

And here is the handout on Getting Oriented in the Night Sky.

We were able to see the following before the sky clouded up:

  • Saturn: The ringed planet will be easy to find in the in the southwest until mid September.
  • Mars: Mars was at opposition on 22 May 2016, making it very well-placed for observing this summer.
  • Albireo: Albireo is a double star system in Cygnus. The two stars (one blue, one gold) can't be resolved with the naked eye, but through our telescopes we are able to see the pair.
  • International Space Station: We watched the ISS pass overhead just before 10 PM. Heavens Above has timetables and maps for ISS visible passes.

More information about all of the planets can be found on NASA's Solar System Exploration page.

Last night I recommended the planetarium software package Stellarium. Stellarium is free and operates on Windows, Mac, and Linux. I've used it on all three platforms without issue. There is a mobile version ($2.49, last time I checked) as well.

I also use the website Heavens Above for astronomical and satellite data.

Finally, the US Naval Observatory's Data Services page is a fantastic resource and one I use frequently.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

We are a "go" for observatory night tonight (Thursday 11-Aug-2016)

For folks who have reservations tonight, we are a "go"!

I can't promise that the skies will stay clear, but we will open up tonight and see what we can.

We'll be meeting in SC400 (the conference room across from the elevator) instead of SC406.

If you couldn't get a reservation for this evening, there are spots open in the September events. Go to https://mcobservatory-fall2016.eventbrite.com to reserve.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Observatory Guest Night Cancelled

The Observatory Guest Night for Friday 5 August 2016 is cancelled tonight due to cloudy skies.

Sign-up for additional August and September events can be found here: http://mcobservatory-fall2016.eventbrite.com.