Friday, November 18, 2022

Observatory night for Friday 18 cancelled due to clouds

Despite a promising forecast earlier this week, the sky has completely clouded up in Rockville. I am sorry to have to cancel the event for this evening.

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend. If it does clear up tomorrow or Sunday, try to get outside to see the Leonid meteor shower! :)

Friday, November 4, 2022

Observatory Night for Friday 4 November 2022 is on (with a cloudy caveat)!

We are a "go" for tonight! Skies are partly cloudy right now, and the forecast is calling for more clouds, but I'd like to give tonight a try. Please note, that if it does cloud up, I won't be able to show you anything through the telescopes. If you're game for some cloud dodging, I hope you can join us!

We'll get started at:

7:00 pm

in Science Center (SC) room 406.

As always, sincere thanks for your interest in the observatory!

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Observing Log for Friday 21 October

What a fabulous night with clear skies and delightfully cool fall air. Below is a summary of what we observed last night.

  • Jupiter : Heat coming off the roof made the image a little fuzzy, but we were able to make out cloud bands on the planet as well as all four Galilean satellites- Io, Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto.
  • Saturn : Saturn looked lovely and we were easily able to see the moon Titan. Rhea, Dione, and Tethys were fainter, but also visible.
  • M57 (the Ring Nebula): This fine example of a planetary nebula appeared as a delicate smoke-ring in the eyepiece of the 8-inch scope.The Ring Nebula is located in the constellation of Lyra and is about 2,300 light-years from Earth. Planetary nebulae are the remnants of lower mass stars (like our Sun) after they've used up their nuclear fuel.
  • M31 (Andromeda Galaxy): We looked at the Andromeda Galaxy in the 14-inch. This object is a neighboring galaxy located about 2.5 million light-years from us. It's a spiral galaxy like our own Milky Way, but it's larger. M31 is about 220,000 light-years across compared to the Milky Way's 100,000 light-year diameter. Through the telescope M31 looked like a small fuzzy ball with a star-like center. The bright center is the core of M31 and the fuzziness is the light from the hundreds of billions of stars that make up the galaxy.
  • The Albireo System: Through the 8-inch, we observed this double-star in Cygnus. The stars of Albireo (one blue, one gold) can't be resolved with the naked eye, but through our telescopes we are able to see the pair. The brighter yellow star is also a binary system, but these two stars are two close for our telescopes to resolve. Albireo is about 430 light-years distant.
  • NGC 6826 (the "blinking planetary"): NGC 6826 is planetary nebula located in the constellation of Cygnus. It's called the blinking planetary because when you have it centered in the eyepiece, it appears to blink "on" when you look away from it and "off" when you look directly at it. The effect happens because our peripheral vision is more sensitive than our forward vision.

Sincere thanks to Stacey and Harold for making the evening a success!

And as always, thank you to everyone who attended. Your presence and enthusiasm fill me with happiness.