Friday, February 10, 2006

Why this blog?
Well, being born in the early 60's means that I witnessed the Apollo landings on the moon, this sparked a lifelong interest in Astronomy. This interest has waxed and waned over the years but never completely disappeared. My parents bought me 2 telescopes and a pair of binoculars as xmas presents between age 10 and 14.

Along the way I have visited the Jodrell Bank Observatory (twice) and experienced the wonders of the planetarium show first hand.

I have only experienced a truly dark sky on one occasion during a holiday with friends in North Wales, amazing is the only word to use.

Spent a fair amount of time observing when comet Hale Boppe appeared on the scene in 1998 (I think). But money was always being spent on other things rather than on new Astro kit.

Anyway, last year (2005) I started to find lots of info on the web and the flame was rekindled, this time I bought some new equipment and started some serious backyard astronomy (by my previous standards).

Managed to fit in lots of observing plus taking some astro photos from October onwards.

Finally decided to put a blog together this week and well, here it is, this will most likely be a mix of observational notes primarily for my own benefit and any tips, hints or websites that I find along the way that I feel might benefit anyone who may drop by.

Wednesday 8th Feb 2006 saw my part of the UK experiencing clear skies for the first time in weeks!

6.30am, awoke to a clear sky and the tempting sight of Jupiter and Venus both fairly high in the southern sky. By 6.45am had dashed out with the Opticron for a quick 5 minutes observing prior to leaving for work. Venus was stunning as a crescent shape while Jupiter gave a nice view of the Gallilean moons and I could just make out the 2 most prominent cloud belts.

5.45pm, back from work and straight outside with the scope for some more viewing. Orion is fairly high in the southern sky now even at this early hour. Capella is almost overhead whilst Sirius effortlessly shines through the band of light pollution that plagues my southern horizon.

Nice view of Saturn in the same field of view as the Beehive cluster, the rings are easily visible with the Opticron, more details of that to follow.

Watched a very bright satellite cross the sky from South to North but to the East of my location. Last time I saw one like this it was confirmed as the International Space Station but that time it moved from West to East. I need to investigate this further to find out if the track varies as much as that. The "Heavens Above" site contains info on the ISS and other satellite tracking data.

My favourite object for the scope is Albireo, the tail (in fact I think it's the head) star of Cygnus, a wonderful sight (a multi coloured double) in even a small scope. However, Cygnus has almost moved on now and Deneb (the topmost star) is low to the North.

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