Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

First astronomical observations from Gainesville

After nearly four months without seeing the stars and planets, several things finally came together and enabled me to do some observing with my telescope Wednesday night.

It was clear, there were three planets up and the weather was hot but the mosquitoes weren’t on the attack.

My condo is on the second floor, so unlike the house in Ellenton I had to haul my stuff down a flight of stairs and then set up in the parking lot of the condo. But while the house and trees block a goodly proportion of the sky, they also block most of the light, and even the moon was behind the building.

I set up in a parking space and a fellow tenant even said he’d come over and look after it got darker.

I first looked at Venus, which was in the west and sinking toward the trees. It was in the half to gibbous phase, and I used it to make sure the telescope was aligning. Then I found Saturn using the GoTo system because it was still too bright to see the planet with the naked eye. I observed Saturn as it sank into the trees. Mars was up, too, but I didn’t point the scope at it.

The neighbor was very impressed with the telescope and the high-power views of Saturn. I was happy with it, too, and the telescope and mount performed very well.

After Saturn went behind the trees and my neighbor went back to his place, I decided to try some alignments before I packed everything up for the night.

Using the GoTo mount, I did a Two-Star Alignment, using Arcturus and Spica, and then a calibration star. Initially, I tried Altair but realized it wasn’t visible, so I went for Vega. Then, I decided to try the polar alignment routine in the software I had just downloaded and installed in the hand controller.

I can’t see Polaris because it’s blocked by trees, so I guessed at the proper direction of north. I wasn’t off by that much when I ran the polar alignment routine, and it took several minutes for me to get the mount aligned by eyeball.

Finally, I decided to see if the mount could find M57, the Ring Nebula in Lyra. It worked well, a little off but since I was eyeballing my alignments and not using the reticle eyepiece, I thought it did fine. I closed out the observing session with a look at M57, then broke down the telescope and mount, and brought it all upstairs.

All in all, a successful evening with the telescope.

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July 22, 2010 - Posted by | Observations with Vinny | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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