February 2016

Tony Martinez's first Astronomy Corner photo!

   Tony’s first Astronomy Corner photo!

Each month I will describe sights of interest in the night skies of South Carolina. These sights will be broken down into three sections: what you can see with the naked eye, with binoculars, and with a small telescope. The best time to view the night sky is at and around the times when the Moon is not visible, what is known as a New Moon; which will occur this month on February 8th. For February, your best viewing nights will be from February 1st to the 11th, and the 26th to the 29th. The Star chart below is set for Florence, SC on February 15th at 9 pm.

wholeskychart1

100!
This is my 100th Astronomy Corner column! That’s 100,000 words, equivalent to a 400-page novel; but a lot easier to write then a novel. I joined ScienceSouth in August 2007. In October that year it was decided that one of ScienceSouth’s goals would be to bring astronomy to the public by having public viewings of the night sky. The first event was in November 2007 at Lynches River Park. The image below was taken that night. I am in the orange ScienceSouth shirt leaning over a laptop explaining how astronomy computer programs are used to locate objects in the night sky.

LynchesStarParty20071115sm

Soon after we had a special second public viewing at Lynches River. It was a special night because we were able to view the largest explosion in our solar system in recorded history; Comet Holmes. Below is what we saw through our telescopes that night.

Holmes

In October 2007 it was also decided that I would write a monthly column titled Tony’s Astronomy Corner. The first column appeared in November 2007, and during its writing, Comet Holmes exploded. This fact was discussed in the November column, and also in the December column after our Lynches River viewing.

Over the years in each column I reported interesting nighttime viewing targets that you could observe that month with your naked eye, binoculars, or with a simple telescope. In addition, most months would feature a general astronomy topic. These topics are a good source of information for new amateur astronomers. The Astronomy Corner column is in a blog format, and as such, you can easily check out many previous columns; the earliest column available is May 2008. Therefore, this month I have placed a table of contents of nearly eight years of columns for your use.

Tony’s Astronomy Corner Topics:

  1. Big Binoculars – May 2010, Feb 2015
  2. Autumn Skies – Oct 2015
  3. Astronomy Corner Table of Contents – Feb 2016
  4. Asteroids – Aug 2011
  5. Asterisms – Oct 2012, Dec 2014
  6. Arcturus – May 2008
  7. Andromeda – Oct 2009, Oct 2014
  8. Albireo – July 2009
  9. Accessories – Oct 2008, Feb 2014, March 2014
  10. Binocular Astronomy – Oct 2012
  11. Blue Moon – July 2011
  12. Cascades – Feb 2013
  13. Clear Sky Chart – Oct 2010
  14. Coat Hanger Asterism – July 2009
  15. Comet ISON – Oct 2013, Nov 2013
  16. Comets – Jan 2013, March 2013, April 2013
  17. Constellations – Feb 2011
  18. Curiosity – Dec 2011, Aug 2012, Sept 2012
  19. Dobson, John – Feb 2009
  20. Double Cluster – Nov 2008, Nov 2009
  21. Dwarf Planets – June 2009, July 2014
  22. Finder Scopes – Sept 2009, Dec 2012
  23. Fomalhaut – Dec 2008
  24. Geminids – Dec 2012, 2014, Dec 2015
  25. Harvest Moon – Nov 2010
  26. ISS – March 2009, June 2015
  27. Jupiter – August 2008, Aug 2009, Sept 2009, July 2010, Feb 2013
  28. M104 – March 2011
  29. M13 “Where is” Program – July 2009
  30. Leonids – Nov 2009
  31. Lunar Eclipse – April 2014, Sept 2015
  32. Lunar Observing – May 2013, Sept 2014
  33. M27 – July 2009
  34. M42 – Jan 2011
  35. M81 and M82 – June 2008
  36. Mercury – Dec 2009, Feb 2013
  37. Messier Marathon – March 2011, March 2012, March 2015
  38. Messiers – June 2008, April 2009, July 2010, June 2013, Aug 2014
  39. Meteor Showers – Aug 2010, Dec 2011, Dec 2012
  40. Milky Way – May 2008
  41. Milky Way Shape – Dec 2008
  42. Milky Way Summer – July 2008
  43. Neptune – May 2009
  44. Perseids – Aug 2010, Aug 2012, Aug 2013, Aug 2014, August 2015
  45. Planetary Nebula – July 2011
  46. Planets: Dance of – April 2010
  47. Planets: Minor – May 2011
  48. Planets: New 9th – June 2011
  49. Planets: View perspective – Nov 2011
  50. Pluto – May 2011, July 2015, August 2015
  51. Quadrantids Meteor Shower – Jan 2016
  52. Red Dot Finder – Sept 2009
  53. Saturn – April 2011, May 2012, April 2013, May 2013, June 2014, May 2015, June 2015
  54. Sciencesouth Astronomy – Sept 2011
  55. Sidewalk Astronomy – Feb 2009, March 2009
  56. Solar Observing – June 2011
  57. Springtime Skies – April 2015
  58. Star Associations – Dec 2010
  59. Star Birth – Jan 2011
  60. Star Gazing by Constellation – Sept 2013
  61. Star Gazing Techniques – July 2013
  62. Star Hopping – Sept 2012
  63. Star Names – Jan 2012
  64. Star Parties – Sept 2008, Nov 2011, May 2015
  65. Star Party Phone Maps – April 2009
  66. Starry Night Program – Mar 2010
  67. Summer Milky Way – July 2012
  68. Summer Observing – July 2009
  69. Summer Triangle – July 2009
  70. Telescope: Buying – Nov 2008, Dec 2009, Nov 2012, Dec 2013, Nov 2014, Nov 2015
  71. Telescopes: GoTo – Aug 2009
  72. Trapezium – Jan 2011
  73. Trianglulum Galaxy – Jan 2010
  74. Uranus – June 2010, Feb 2012, Sept 2012
  75. Venus Transit – June 2012
  76. Vesta – Feb 2010
  77. Virgo Cluster – April 2010, April 2012

You may also use this list above out of plain curiosity; what in the world is a “Star Party Phone Map”? (#65 above).

Which column was my favorite; Andromeda, October 2014.

Finally, thank you readers, I hope you enjoyed my columns.

Naked Eye Sights: This month should hopefully produce some clear dark skies; so go out and enjoy the winter night skies, especially the beautiful constellation Orion, and the Pleiades.

Binocular Sights (7 to 10 power): Orion nebula, the Pleiades and Andromeda Galaxy

Telescope Sights (60-100mm): The return of Jupiter to the late evening skies.

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