September 2018

Please Note: Due to a mix up with the posting assignment, the June and July columns were missing. Also, the August was posted late. All the missing columns are now available. What you missed in June was an interesting discussion of the Southern Cross, check it out. In July, I featured viewing the planet Saturn (Still good viewing throughout September). In August read about the “Blood Moon”. Also in August was a discussion about the Perseids meteor shower, which was unfortunately rained out this year. Sorry for the problem with my columns.

The New Moon will occur this month on September 9th. For September, your best viewing nights will be from September 1st to the 13th. The Star chart below is set for Florence, SC on September 15th at 9 pm.

ScienceSouth September Astronomy Viewing:

ScienceSouth will have a public viewing event at ScienceSouth on September 14th and 15th. These viewing dates were chosen because they are weekend dates that correspond to three visible planets and the Moon. The three planets are Saturn, Jupiter and Mars. The best time to view the Moon is during the first seven days after a new Moon. On these nights we will have a 5.5 day and a 6.5 day Moon.

When you visit ScienceSouth for astronomy viewings, you will most likely use, four different “telescopes” two reflecting telescopes, and three types of binoculars. In reality, binoculars are simply two refracting telescopes placed side by side. The following are descriptions of our viewing equipment at ScienceSouth; note random people are added to some images for size reference.

Simple 10 power, 50 mm binoculars (10 X 50 mm):

We have a small collection of these binoculars, and they are available for loan during the event. Small handheld binoculars are a great way to begin enjoying the night sky. They can be used to observe the craters on the Moon, and in addition, simple binoculars are great for viewing deep sky objects such as star clusters, and various asterisms such as the Cheshire Cat and the Coathanger. They really have little use on planets, except to observe the four major Moons of Jupiter, known as the Galilean Moons. People are often amazed that you can see these Moons with small binoculars. To observe them, you must brace the binoculars on a solid object, or a tripod to reduce normal hand shaking; try it out.

15 X 50 mm Image Stabilized Binoculars:

We will only have two of these onsite that night, and you may try them, but they will not be loaned out. These amazing and very expensive hand held binoculars run on batteries and have microchips that correct hand vibrations. So even though they are hand held, the view is the same as having them on a tripod. These are good for the same targets mentioned for ten power, but the increase in power, and the steady view make them the best hand held astronomy binoculars available today. These are the best binoculars for locating the famous Messier Objects. From a dark sky viewing area, you can likely find 100 of the 110 Messier Objects. Note: When you point them at Saturn, you can’t see the rings, but it looks like a star with ears.

25 X 150 mm Big Binoculars:

These are one of the largest binoculars available to amateur astronomers. In the 1980’s through the 1990’s, these were the primary binoculars used by Japanese amateurs to discover new comets. After that time, NASA and other worldwide agencies advanced sky watching capabilities now makes it difficult for amateurs to be the first to find a new comet. These binoculars are impressive to see, and they are mounted on a special tripod that allows these quite heavy binoculars to be moved about the sky with the slightest touch of your hand. With these binoculars you can see the rings of Saturn! On a clear night you can also see the cloud bands on Jupiter. However, they excel at finding difficult to see deep sky objects, and also give spectacular views of well-known clusters and nebulae, when viewing from dark sky sites.

10 Inch Dobsonian Reflecting Telescope:

Dobsonian reflectors are probably your best telescope investment when you want to become an amateur astronomer. I regularly recommend a 6 or 8 inch Dobsonian for your first telescope. The 10 inch is the largest I recommend; my reason is because this scope can be set up by one person and it will easily fit into the back seat of a standard car. It is on the heavy side, but still can be carried in two sections by one person. This telescope will give you years of enjoyment, and will excel for lunar viewing, and planetary viewing; every planet will be visible as a disk and in color (Venus and Mercury only show phases). All the Messier Objects will be visible, and you can view most if not all of the common targets on standard amateur astronomers’ wish lists.

16 Inch Dobsonian Reflector – Truss Mounted:

This reflector represents a big step up for amateur astronomy viewing. This telescope will do everything the 10 inch Dob does, but much better. In the world of telescopes, everything is about the amount of light you can collect. It’s all about math. The area of a circle = πr2. Therefore, a 10 inch Dob has 79 square inches of light gathering surface. However, as you move up to a 16 inch mirror, the surface area is 201 square inches; 2.6 times the amount of light gathering surface, by adding only 4 more inches.


Naked Eye Sights: The last views of the summer constellations.

Binocular Sights (7 to 10 power): Scan the region of the summer Milky Way as it starts to set in the west.

Big Binocular Sights (18 to 25 power): Scan the region of the summer Milky Way.

Telescope Sights (60-100mm): Great viewing of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars.

Dobsonian telescope (6 -8 inch): Great viewing of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars.

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