There is a lot of info on the web about how to do two big things with electronic devices for astronomy. The first is usually about “electronically assisted astronomy”. Local astronomer Jim Thompson was interviewed for the website AstronomyConnect.com and he defined EAA the following way:
…the application of any sort of technological aid for the enhancement of astronomical viewing falls under the EAA umbrella.
As part of my education on all things astronomy, I try to read a variety of modern sources of information including discussion forums on Facebook and Cloudy Nights, helpful tips from blogs, the big name astro books like Nightwatch, and the various monthly magazines like Astronomy, Sky News, and Sky and Telescope.… Read the rest
I have traditionally NOT been a binoculars guy when it comes to astronomy. If I’m totally honest, I’m even a bit judgey for those who respond to newbies’ questions about what type of telescope to get with “get binos, great way to get started” advice. It’s a common refrain, by experienced amateurs, and I think it can be amongst the worst advice to give anyone given the learning curve, unsteady viewing if going hand-held, and low magnification.… Read the rest
A few people have asked, quite surprisingly to me, what kind of observatory I was “letting go” from my long-term goals. Most plebes think an observatory is simply a place to put your scope and observe the sky, and while they are not completely wrong, it is much more complicated than a simple “location-based” definition.… Read the rest
The nights are longer and colder, but yesterday (October 5th) was International Astronomy Day so we set up for a night at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. It’s not quite as good as Carp as we can’t turn the parking lot lights up, but we set up a little farther away on the grass (I had thought we would set up on the pavement as we did one other time, but we were all on the grass and a clear patch of gravel).… Read the rest
For reviewing purposes, I skipped over the short Chapter 6, focused on Sky Portal operations, as I’ll do that chapter after I have a chance to connect to my tablet and test some of the operations. I thought of doing the same for Chapter 07, Connecting a PC, Mac, Tablet or Smartphone to Your Tablet, but it’s a short chapter, and easily dispensed with here.… Read the rest
Chapter 5 (of Michael Swanson’s “The NexStar User’s Guide II”) is entitled NexStar and StarSense Hand Control Operations and you would be right if you assumed this was going to more like a software manual than a telescope manual. It is a highly specific reference manual for the use of the hand controller and reading it page by page is for the hard-core geek only.… Read the rest
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that while I’m a member of the board of the AstroPontiac Observatory, last Saturday was my first outing for the year to the site. Observing nights are frequently high-demand days for me, given my role as the local RASC centre’s Star Party Coordinator, and just other commitments.… Read the rest
Chapter 4 of Michael Swanson’s “The NexStar User’s Guide II” is entitled Alignment and is the chapter that made me want to buy the book and read it cover to cover. Readers of the blog know that I struggled with alignment for my NexStar 8SE (Solving alignment problems with the Celestron NexStar 8SE) and Michael’s online resources were helpful in resolving some of them, or at least narrowing the problem.… Read the rest
I like to blog about non-fiction books as I read them, as it helps me both synthesize and retain the info. Chapter 3 is a general overview on all the computerized scopes in Celestron’s arsenal, and I found myself liberally highlighting as I read it. Here are some highlights:
P.57 — a great overview of the different processors in the mount, including some of what the processors in the mount do (drive the motors) and the hand control (determining the correct tracking rate)…I was initially confused about something in the manual, as it said the hand controller sends the update to the mount every thirty seconds.
On Monday, August 26th, Jacob and I headed out to the Fred P. Lossing Observatory (FLO) in Almonte. The land is owned by the Mill of Kintail Conservation Area, but they let RASC Ottawa put an observatory there in slightly darker skies than we have in Ottawa. There is a gate with a lock, a warming room, and a couple of buildings with larger scopes in them.… Read the rest
Saturday, August 24th was the proposed date of our monthly star party, and I confess, I wasn’t looking forward to it. I might even confess to hoping we would get rained out. The dates were set way back in March, and revolve around the dates of New Moon. But while I am the star party coordinator, I had to make some changes this year so that I wasn’t automatically the default event marshal too…too much commitment, too many days.… Read the rest
A week or two ago, my wife’s grandfather (D) asked me about an object he had seen in the sky that had been unusually bright. Given the time, clarity, and brightness, I quickly confirmed it was Jupiter and its four moons, but it got me to thinking. Given his recent interest, had he ever had the experience of looking through a telescope?… Read the rest
I’m usually a “telescope-only” sky observer. But last Thursday, August 22nd, I was up at the in-laws’ cottage, and after a couple of previous nights of “no go” seeing, the night was still looking iffy. Clouds were rolling in from the West, and it wasn’t obvious if it was even worth setting up the scope.… Read the rest
Having finished the Carp star party on August 2nd, we headed up to the inlaws cottage for the weekend. It’s kind of a small family compound, and there are usually three or four sets of “aunts and uncles” (i.e., Generation 2), a handful of cousins and spouses (i.e., Generation 3), and sundry grandkids (i.e.,… Read the rest
The night of Saturday, July 27th was our attempt at our monthly star party in Carp, suitable for public stargazing. The forecast at mid-day was pretty iffy, but I crowd-sourced some other views, and we said “GO!” hoping for the best. What we got was considerably below “best”.
Almost everyone who is into astronomy as an adult has either experienced themselves or heard the stories about kids getting gifts of department store-quality telescopes and being so frustrated with the scope, and their inability to find anything, they end up giving up on the hobby. Some find their way back as adults, some don’t.… Read the rest
My son’s grandparents have a cottage up in the Kawarthas, and it is relatively dark skies. From the dock area, you have a pretty good view of the sky to the South and West, whereas North and East are blocked by trees. We took our son up for a week, and just took his scope rather than his and mine (mostly due to space limitations in the car).… Read the rest
My son enjoys looking through my telescope and has been wanting his own scope for awhile. So we went through a number of designs to see what he would like, with me trying VERY hard not to lead him to any specific conclusions about his own preferences in design. He has a few extra mobility challenges over me, and he ended up going for the smaller version of my Celestron NexStar 8SE — he chose the 4SE.… Read the rest