Astronomy Night!

On Friday night a bunch of us zipped out to Rhode Island to the Frosty Drew Observatory for some star gazing. I brought my equipment, a Celestron 8″ Schmidt Cassegrain telescope. I got there around 8:30 and talked to the observatory lady. She decided to close for the evening because of looming clouds. “Bah!” I said, hoping that the hour and a half drive wouldn’t be wasted.

Tom, Mykal, and Mika showed up to join in on the fun as well. Starting off, the only real thing that I could find was Jupiter. Now, Jupiter is awesome, but it’s very elementary. Once the observatory lady left, I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to hunt anything down worth seeing. A few other folks showed up and I let them use my telescope to check out the moon and Jupiter, but really I don’t know enough about the skies to find much else.

Enter Ernie.

Ernie was an older gentleman (68ish?) with a little cap and a buttoned up shirt. He came over and asked me about my equipment and my magnification (it gets about 80x magnification). It quickly became apparent that this guy knew what he was talking about. Soon, after a few of the stragglers disappeared and it was just the five of us, the sky started to clear and Ernie began telling us where to find stuff. First he led us to a handful of double stars. These are stars that either appear to be next to one another, or stars that actually rotate around one another. The easiest to find was in the second star in on the big dipper’s handle. But then Ernie led us to more, including the beautiful pair of Albireo in Cygnus. The two stars are gorgeous in color. One looks gold and the other blue. It was awesome.

He also got us to the ring nebula, which, was extremely faint but fun to find. After exploring what we could in the hazy sky, Mika took out her camera and we tried some astro-photography. Because of the difficulty in aligning the camera to the scope, we just tried to snap some easy shots first time around.

Jupiter. Check out the sweet bands of storms that you can see on its surface. Through the telescope you can also make out four of the moons… but it’s hard to get the exposure time just right enough so that it all comes through.

Moon! This one was taken with my moon filter, a handly little filter to protect your eyes on nights where the moon shines full.

Another of the moon, this one without the filter and with a lower exposure time.


3 thoughts on “Astronomy Night!

  • 7/21/2008 at 7:33 am

    Ernie was awesome! Can’t wait to do it again.

  • 7/22/2008 at 5:44 pm

    Oh my gosh, that is the coolest night ever. I’m not kidding. (I’m a Trekkie…)


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