Why Explore Space?

I had the honor of presenting the topic ‘Why We Should Explore Space’ at this year’s Astronomy Days hosted by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences @naturalsciences. Below is a recording of the virtual event:. They have a great set of programs running thru the end of the weekend, most of which should also be available for viewing later. Check out all the programs at https://naturalsciences.org/calendar/astronomy-days/programs/. Clear and Steady Skies! -Mike

Astronomy Days Moon Zoom

I had a really great time with fellow NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador and Raleigh Astronomy member Doug Lively in supporting Moon Zoom, a virtual observing session of the Moon on Monday evening as part of Astronomy Days at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science @naturalsciences. Make sure to check all the great programming for the week on the museum’s web site. Now for those of you in the Raleigh area, you may ask how Read more…

The Great Conjunction

There have been a lot of headlines lately about the Christmas Star or the Star of Bethlehem being visible on Dec 21st, the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere.  However, this event is not stellar in nature but rather the conjunction in the sky of the planets Jupiter and Saturn. In the video embedded below, you will see some landscape photos, pictures taken with an iPhone of the views thru a small refractor taken in Read more…

Leading up to the Great Conjunction

I managed to capture the pair this evening using 4” refractor, a manual alt-azm mount, a 21mm eyepiece and my iPhone attached the eyepiece. The field of view with that combination eyepiece and telescope is just a little over 2°. ThIs first picture is 37 minutes after sun set. After getting some dinner and waiting for the skies to darken, I managed to get an airplane passing thru the FOV. Finally got all the exposure Read more…

Sept 2020 Cool Breeze Astro Camping

In mid/late September, I ventured off for some socially distant observing at the site of the East Coast Video Astronomy Rendezvous (ECVAR). ECVAR is held at a great campground, Cool Breeze Campground located just outside of Galax, VA just over the North Carolina state border. The skies at Cool Breeze are quite dark, I measured 21.44 on a Unihedron Sky Quality Meter which puts Cool Breeze at Bortle Class 3 skies or in the blue Read more…

MARS: My First Ever Prime Focus Planetary Photo

For those that know me, I’m not an imager but rather a visual observer and an EAA’r (Electronically Assisted Astronomy) and in my 17 years in the hobby, I’ve never before taken a prime focus picture of planet. Prime focus is when the camera is attached directly to the telescope and not to an eyepiece (e.g. eyepiece projection). All my previous work has been unprocessed stacking of deep sky objects, the Moon or the Sun. Read more…

Some EAA from My Driveway

Saturday night was the first night in quite some time that I set up my full EAA rig running off of 12 volt power.  I encountered several issues ranging from Windows 10 updates, other software license issues and my battery monitor/relay device.  After troubleshooting, I was able to get some observing accomplished. Large trees obscuring my southern horizon and the rising moon in the east limited the objects I could observe. M57 The Ring Nebula Read more…

Launch America!

In late May I was very thankful for the distraction from COVID-19, Social Distancing as well as social unrest by following all the Launch America coverage.  This represented the first time American astronauts would launch from US soil aboard an American spacecraft since the launch of the Shuttle Atlantis (STS 135) on July 8, 2011 almost 9 years ago (check out my blog post about that launch, click >> HERE. I was a little disappointed Read more…

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…