Evening Viewing of NEOWISE

On Thursday, 16-Jul-2020, I attempted to view Comet NEOWISE (C/2020). Given how low it was on the northeast horizon and how short of an amount of time I would be able to observe the comet before it sank too low into the murky haze, I did not want to set up my full astronomy rig with dedicated astro camera and go-to/tracking telescope. Instead, I opted to go with my 4″ refractor, an Explore Scientific AR102 Read more…

Where to Look in the Evening Sky for Comet NEOWISE

I’m definitely not a morning person, more of a night owl. That said, I decided to wake up early on Friday and Sunday (See prior posts) to get a peek at the comet. The good news is that as the comet speeds its way from the sun, from our vantage point on the Earth, the comet will become viewable in the evenings. Below is a table of estimated altitude above the Northwest horizon (near Raleigh, Read more…

I saw Comet NEOWISE

I managed to get myself out of bed at 3:40am this morning to go and view C/2020 F3, a.k.a the morning comet NEOWISE. I met up with fellow amateur observer and NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador, Doug Lively, at the top level of the parking deck next to the Cary Regional Library. The horizons were great and the lights on the top level were off. We practiced socially distant ‘astronomical observing.’ Doug and I were set Read more…

Kennedy Space Center Visit

During spring break of 2013, we preceded our visit to Disney World with a visit to Kennedy Space Center. Some the highlights were walking through the Rocket Garden and seeing life size versions of the Mercury Redstone, Mercury Atlas and Gemini Titan rockets all in a vertical position. Then comparing those to the massive Saturn V rocket replica in a horizontal position, Also, life size versions of each of the program’s space capsules are on Read more…

The Transit of Venus Post Script

There was quite a bit of “Venus Transit Fever” on the Internet during the few days leading up to the  transit as well as several days afterwards.  The plethora of pictures, videos and articles was quite impressive.  However there are 2 videos that stand out in my mind…. The first is a video compiled by a friend and fellow Raleigh Astronomy Club member, Chris Cole.  All footage was obtained with his own equipment while he Read more…

The 2012 Venus Transit

On the afternoon of June 5th, 2012 (the morning of June 6th on other parts of the planet) the black silhouette of Venus was observed crossing the face of the sun.   This passing in front of the sun is what astronomers call a transit.  The next time Venus will transit the Sun, from the Earth’s vantage point, will be December of 2117.  Yes, 2117; that’s 105 years from now! I coordinated a viewing event Read more…

Observing Quasar 3C 273 – Traveling Back in Time 2 Billion Years

On my list of objects to view from my own telescope (a 1994 Celestron 8” SCT), has been Quasar 3C 273.  Aesthetically speaking, this object has zero value, it looks like a very faint star.  However what makes this object so interesting is its origin and its distance. Quasars are the compact, central region of a massive galaxy surrounding its super-massive black hole.  What powers these quasars are the accretion discs around the super-massive black Read more…

Super Nova SN2012aw in M95

Thursday night I spent some time with fellow RAC members Mark L.and Ian H. (separately) while at the Staunton River Star Party.  We were looking through my 8” SCT for the super nova SN2012aw that had been detected last week in the Leo galaxy, M95.  After much back and forth on Stellarium, star charts and printed aids, we confirmed the bright object that looked like a foreground star was indeed the supernova SN2012aw. I read Read more…

Observing Asteroid 2005 YU55

On Tuesday November 8th, 2011 asteroid 2005 YU55 which is about the size of an aircraft carrier buzzed the Earth within 201,700 miles (324,600 kilometers).  As a point of reference, our moon is 238,000 miles away!   Even though asteroids of this size pass by Earth frequently, the last time a space rock this large came as close to Earth was in 1976, although astronomers did not know about the flyby at the time.  The next Read more…

40th Anniversary of the 1st Moon Landing

My first Blog entry will be devoted to the 40th Anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing. It is quite fitting that this week NASA released pictures of the Apollo landing sites taken by the LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/multimedia/lroimages/apollosites.html My favorite picture is of the Apollo 14 landing site; seeing the footpath the astronauts made from the LM to the site of some scientific instruments. Also, here’s another cool site celebrating the 40th Anniversary: Read more…