Monday, August 20, 2018

Moon Photograph

I purchased a used telescope this summer and was finally able to use it for a while on Friday night. With all this smoke, it may be a while before I can use it again.

I held my cellphone up to the focused eyepiece and recorded the following image. There were a lot of bad pictures while trying to get this one. But since digital pictures are free, it's no big deal. I really need to 3D design and print a bracket for holding the cellphone to the telescope's eyepiece.


Idaho Skies Transcript for August 24th, 25th, and 26th

RACHEL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for August 24th, 25th, and 26th. We’re your hosts, Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
The moon has left Mars behind and is now enjoying the company of Fomalhaut.

PAUL
Fomalhaut is that pale white star that stargazers see beneath the moon on the 25th.

RACHEL
You can’t miss it; it’s the only bright star in this region of the sky.

PAUL
Fomalhaut is the brightest star of Piscis Austrinus, or the Southern Fish.

RACHEL
The mouth of the Southern Fish is turned northward, and it’s swallowing the water pouring out of Aquarius’ jar.

PAUL
This region of the night sky is some times known as The Sea.

RACHEL
That’s because it contains a lot of water-related constellations.

PAUL
It’s possible that ancient cultures placed a lot of watery constellations there because this is where the sun resides during the rainy season.

RACHEL
The constellations in The Sea include Aquarius the Water-bearer...

PAUL
...Capricornus the Sea-Goat...

RACHEL
...Cetus the Sea Monster...

PAUL
...Delphinus the Dolphin...

RACHEL
...Eridanus the River...

PAUL
...Pisces the Fish...

RACHEL
...and Piscis Austrinus the Southern Fish.

PAUL
These are all constellations containing lots of stars that are too faint to see in town.

RACHEL
So The Sea looks like a dark hole in the sky with few to no stars.

PAUL
But in dark skies, stargazers will need a sky chart to help them identify the large constellations filling this region of the sky.

RACHEL
That’s Idaho Skies for the 24th, 25th, and 26th of August.

PAUL
Be sure to read our blog for additional information. It’s at idahoskies.blogspot.com.

For Idaho Skies this is Paul...

RACHEL
...and Rachel.

PAUL
Dark skies and bright stars.

Idaho Skies Transcript for August 22nd and 23rd

PAUL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for August 22nd and 23rd. We’re your hosts, Paul...

RACHEL
...and Rachel.

PAUL
The moon glides past Mars on the 22nd and 23rd.

RACHEL
It’s impossible to miss Mars; it’s that bright orange beacon beneath the moon.

PAUL
Did you know there are eight active spacecraft at Mars right now?

RACHEL
Six of them are orbiters and the remaining two are planetary rovers.

PAUL
The oldest spacecraft at Mars is the American 2001 Mars Odyssey.

RACHEL
It’s an orbiter currently mapping the Martian surface and acting as a relay for both Mars rovers.

PAUL
Next is the European Mars Express.

RACHEL
It’s studying the Martian atmosphere.

PAUL
And it was recently announced that it probably located water beneath the Martian Southern icecap.

RACHEL
The next on-going Mars mission is the American Spirit Rover.

PAUL
It landed on Mars in 2004 and was still functioning last month before a severe dust storm settled in.

RACHEL
The American Curiosity Rover is the next currently active mission on Mars.

PAUL
Since it’s nuclear-powered, it’s still going strong.

RACHEL
Then there’s the Indian Mangalyaan orbiter, which arrived nearly four years ago.

PAUL
It was India’s first interplanetary space probe and is currently mapping the surface and looking for methane gas.

RACHEL
The next one is the American MAVEN orbiter.

PAUL
It’s exploring how Mars lost most of its liquid water.

RACHEL
And finally, the most recent arrival is European ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter.

PAUL
Its mission is to search for methane and other trace gases that might indicate life.

RACHEL
So when you look at Mars this evening, remember there are eight operating spacecraft and many derelicts there also. 

PAUL
That’s Idaho Skies for the 22nd and 23rd of August.

RACHEL
Be sure to follow us on Twitter @IdahoSkies for this week’s event reminders and sky maps.

For Idaho Skies this is Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
Dark skies and bright stars.

Idaho Skies Transcript for August 20th and 21st

RACHEL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for August 20th and 21st. We’re your hosts, Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
After dark, the waxing gibbous moon is perched to the upper right of a teapot.

PAUL
That teapot is the constellation of Sagittarius the Archer.

RACHEL
Sagittarius is more than just eight stars forming a teapot shape, but those eight are the easiest part to recognize.

PAUL
The moon’s glare will make it difficult to see, but the Milky Way looks like steam coming out of the teapot’s spout.

RACHEL
And that steam is passing up and behind the moon.

PAUL
The pale yellow star just to the moon’s left is Saturn, the most distant planet known to ancient cultures.

RACHEL
If you have a spotting scope or even small telescope, you can get a glimpse of Saturn’s magnificent rings.

PAUL
Your telescope will need a magnification of at least 25 power, however.

RACHEL
While they can’t help you with Saturn, binoculars will show you the star clusters and nebulae near the moon.

PAUL
So in dark skies, scan the region to the moon’s upper left for small fuzzy clouds.

RACHEL
Some of them will even contain a sprinkle of stars.

PAUL
Look especially for the globular star cluster, M-22.

RACHEL
To find it, draw a line from the bottom of the moon to Saturn.

PAUL
Then extend that line two times farther.

RACHEL
In your binoculars, you’re looking for a perfectly circular fuzzy spot.

PAUL
That hazy spot is actually a city of over 100,000 stars spanning 100 light years across.

RACHEL
Like other globular clusters, it’s old. Some 12 billion years old in fact.

PAUL
And its one of the solar system’s closest globular clusters at only 11,000 light years away.

RACHEL
That’s Idaho Skies for the 20th and 21st of August.

PAUL
Be sure to read our blog for additional information. It’s at idahoskies.blogspot.com

For Idaho Skies this is Paul...

RACHEL
...and Rachel.

PAUL
Dark skies and bright stars.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Idaho Skies Transcript for August 17th, 18th, and 19th

RACHEL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for August 17th, 18th, and 19th. We’re your hosts, Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
The sun has shined for the last 4.5 billion years because of the fusion reaction taking place inside its core.

PAUL
At a temperature of 27 million degrees and a pressure 250 billion times greater than air pressure, hydrogen ions in the sun’s core are being squeezed into helium.

RACHEL
However, did you know that helium was unknown on Earth 150 years ago?

PAUL
That changed on July 18th, 1868 when astronomer Pierre Janssen aimed his spectroscope at the sun.

RACHEL
His spectroscope contained a prism to break apart the sun’s mixture of colors.

PAUL
And in that spectrum, he detected a previously undiscovered yellow line.

RACHEL
He knew that the colors found in a spectrum were the finger prints of elements inside the sun.

PAUL
So the yellow line must have represented an undiscovered element that was eventually named after the sun god, Helios.

RACHEL
While rare on Earth, helium is the second most abundant element in the universe, after hydrogen.

PAUL
It was created shortly after the Big Bang and atoms of helium gobbled up most of the free neutrons.

RACHEL
Helium is a very weird atom because of its perfect combination of two protons, two neutrons, and two electrons.

PAUL
Due to quantum mechanics, helium will flow out of any container that’s not tightly closed.

RACHEL
That’s because it’s a superfluid and can flow without friction.

PAUL
Did you know it could combine with a hydrogen ion to form an ion called helium hydride?

RACHEL
Even more strangely, chemists have determined that the helium hydride ion is the strongest known acid.

PAUL
More weird behavior from a weird little atom.

RACHEL
That’s Idaho Skies for the 17th, 18th, and 19th of August.

PAUL
Be sure to follow us on Twitter @IdahoSkies for this week’s event reminders and sky maps.

For Idaho Skies this is Paul...

RACHEL
...and Rachel.

PAUL
Dark skies and bright stars.

Idaho Skies Transcript for August 15th and 16th

PAUL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for August 15th and 16th. We’re your hosts, Paul...

RACHEL
...and Rachel.

PAUL
The moon is making its celestial rounds and checking out the stellar neighborhood.

RACHEL
And on the evening of the 16th, it will be checking out Jupiter’s neighborhood.

PAUL
In fact, the moon will only be six degrees away from Jupiter.

RACHEL
Meaning you can see Jupiter and the moon together in your binoculars.

PAUL
Also, be sure to take a look at the star just below Jupiter.

RACHEL
It’s Zubenelgenubi, the second brightest star in Libra the Scales.

PAUL
Which is a little odd, since the star is designated as the alpha star of the constellation.

RACHEL
Zubenelgenubi, or Alpha Librae is a widely-spaced double star.

PAUL
That means it’s easy to split into component stars using binoculars.

RACHEL
Zubenelgenubi by the way is 75 light years away.

PAUL
Since it’s so easy to separate the component stars, they must be widely spaced apart.

RACHEL
They’re so widely spaced that it takes the light of one of the stars two months to reach its companion star.

PAUL
So if there are civilians on planets around each star, they could send and receive messages every four Earth months.

RACHEL
However, astronomers have determined the stars are only one billion years old.

PAUL
Which is probably too young to develop intelligent life, if Earth is a typical example.

RACHEL
So look for Jupiter, the moon, and Zubenelgenubi on the night of the 16th.

PAUL
When they’ll be less than seven degrees apart.

RACHEL
And therefore, visible at the same time in your binoculars.

PAUL
That’s Idaho Skies for the 15th and 16th of August.

RACHEL
Be sure to read our blog for additional information. It’s at idahoskies.blogspot.com.

For Idaho Skies this is Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
Dark skies and bright stars.

Idaho Skies Transcript for August 13th and 14th

RACHEL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for August 13th and 14th. We’re your hosts, Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
The moon is returning to our evening skies.

PAUL
Shortly after sunset on the 13th, you’ll find it as a very thin crescent in the low, low west.

RACHEL
Around 10:00 PM in fact will be a good time to look for it.

PAUL
But what will pop into view first is the Evening Star, or Venus.

RACHEL
So if you have difficulty locating the moon, just look to the right of Venus.

PAUL
Unfortunately, their separation will be a little too large to see both together in binoculars.

RACHEL
Besides, the moon will be too thin to show any surface detail.

PAUL
But your binoculars will be useful the next night.

RACHEL
After it gets dark on the 14th, look in the low southwest for Jupiter.

PAUL
Since planets orbit the sun, they drift eastward across the sky relative to the fixed stars.

RACHEL
One of those fixed stars is the double star, Zubenelgenubi.

PAUL
Which is the star just below Jupiter on the 14th.

RACHEL
Their separation is half a degree, or the angle subtended by the moon.

PAUL
In your binoculars, you’ll see Jupiter and one of its moons.

RACHEL
That moon is Callisto.

PAUL
And then below them will be the two stars making up Zubenelgenubi.

RACHEL
The spacing between Jupiter and Callisto will be close to the same distance between the stars of Zubenelgenubi.

PAUL
Continue watching over the next several nights to detect Jupiter’s motion relative to Zubenelgenubi.

RACHEL
That’s Idaho Skies for the 13th and 14th of August.

PAUL
Be sure to follow us on Twitter @IdahoSkies for this week’s event reminders and sky maps.

For Idaho Skies this is Paul...

RACHEL
...and Rachel.

PAUL
Dark skies and bright stars.