Monday, October 15, 2012

Stargazing: Observing Venus, Jupiter and Orion

This morning when I went out side to look up at the stars and to feed the dogs I got a very cool surprise.  Just so you know the details of my observations, or if you live some where near and want to see if you can observe the same objects in the sky, I live in San Diego, CA. 

To the east of where I live are some hills so I can't really see objects that are coming over the horizon until they rise a bit into the sky.  To the north it is often hazy and hard for me to see a whole lot.  I make most of my observations to the south and to the west.

I usually stargaze at dusk and at dawn.  I try to keep a log on my cell phone on my voice recorder of what I see and the various things I learn from looking up at the sky.  I have been looking up at the sky for many years now since I was a young boy and my mother bought me my first telescope.

I started observing the sky with my naked eyes at about 06:05 am and the first thing the stood out was the planet Venus, it was so bright in the morning sky.  it was to the East and I don't think I have ever seen it shine so brightly before.

Next I could make out the constellation Orion, and I could see the three stars that make up the belt and the other stars of that constellation. 

The next really prominent thing that I could see just with my eyes was the planet Jupiter, and it was very bright also.

I decided that I would set up my small reflector telescope and see what I could see.  I really wanted to look at Venus because it was so bright.  I was able to observe it and it really just looked like a small point of bright light and I could not really make out any distinguishing features about it.

At this point I decided to start observing Jupiter.  I was able to see Jupiter and four of its moons.  After I went through my various eye pieces I was able to make out some of the bands on the planet as well.  I continued to observe the planet even after day had broke and I could no longer see it with my naked eye.  It appeared as a light off white colored disk, with darker regions on it against the blue morning sky.  I tracked it across the sky and I believe that my last observation was after 07:15 or so.

What I learned:

The whole experience was amazing to me, and I learned a lot from this lucky observation.  I mean I was laying there in my bed after the alarm clock went off and thinking do I really want to get up.  I am so glad that I did.  I learned that you can see Jupiter's moons, and I also learned that I can observe objects in the sky even after the sun has risen, and I also learned that you can see the bands on Jupiter through a telescope.

Tools I used:

1. I used my unaided eyes.  It is cool that during this month you can see a lot in the sky, and that I live in a place where the night time sky is accessible.

2. I used my Celestron 21024 FirstScope Telescope to look at both Venus and Jupiter.

3. I used Google Sky Map to make sure that I was looking at what I thought I was looking at.  It is a useful tool and I recommend it for any stargazers out there.


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