Inspirational Wonders of the Cosmos

Atmospheric Limitations

If there’s one thing I find I end up explaining to people time and time again at public outreach events, it’s the concept of atmospheric seeing conditions and how they affect the view through a telescope.  Whenever our group gets together, there is always a handful of different telescope designs and sizes on hand for the public to look through.  I am often asked why the view through some of the smaller telescopes appears to be better than that through the larger telescopes at the event.  It surprises most people when I tell them that most of the time here in the northeast a large telescope doesn’t always equate to having a better view. The problem is as simple as the air we have to look through.  Regardless of how big or how good your optics are, the thing that has the most influence on how well your optics perform is the atmospheric conditions you are looking through in the first place. (more…)

Keeping It Simple

If I could pass  only one piece of information to anybody just getting into astronomy, it would be to keep things simple. The main obstacle in this hobby is time.  Complexity of this hobby grows exponentially once a camera is attached to a telescope. Extra gear needs to be set up quickly yet calibrated to a remarkable precision. Having a system for setting up all the gear can increase your chances for success once temperatures start dropping and sleep deprivation starts to slow your thinking processes. (more…)

A Lunar Eclipse To Remember

It seemed ages ago.  From this neck of the woods, it had been nearly five years since the last decent total lunar eclipse occurred.  Three of us piled into a car already crammed with telescopes and photographic gear and drove west for hours to escape cloud cover.  We ended up driving pretty much to Peterborough before (more…)