Venus-Mars Conjunction

6 10 2017

Venus and Mars with Sigma Leonis, October 5, 2017. Image: JR

To say that I got up early to view yesterdays’ close conjunction of Venus and Mars would be stretching the truth. My alarm went off the same time it does every weekday morning, so viewing it took no special effort on my part. And If I’m telling the 100% truth, I’m saying that I can see Venus from an upstairs window, so technically, I didn’t even have to go outside for a decent naked-eye or binocular view of the event. (Remember, I’m the person who once did an entire day of solar observing with a 130-mm reflector from inside the house.)

Mars and Venus were about 1/4° apart yesterday  morning (October 5th) as viewed from Metrowest. Sigma Leonis was something like 19 arcminutes from Venus. Through binos, the difference between 15 and 19 arcminutes is obvious.

Mars and Venus had moved on this morning. Detectably orange Mars stood about 1/2° upper right of Venus (1 o’clock on the dial), with Sigma  about 1-1/4° directly above Venus.





3122 Florence

31 08 2017

Sometimes I think successful observing is all a matter of confidence. I go through this same sequence every time I look for some moving target: an asteroid, a dim planet, a comet. I study the starfield, sketch what I see, but nearly always convince myself I’m looking in the wrong place because the field doesn’t look quite right. Well, there’s a reason it doesn’t look right, and that reason is either a comet, an asteroid, or a dim planet. My first view of Uranus or Neptune in the fall? I have to starhop over and over to the field because something seems off. Find a comet? Same thing. Finding an asteroid? Same deal. It took me forever to believe I was really seeing Florence. Not sure why I don’t just trust my eyes.

Asteroid 3122 Florence, viewed from Metrowest, August 30, 2017, 15×70 binos. Image: JR





Clear Sky Chart, Acton, MA

20 06 2017





Observing Sketch

15 04 2017

April 14, 2017, around 8:30 p.m. Diameter of Jupiter = 43 arcseconds. Meade DS-10 Newtonian refractor @ 35×. Image: JR





Observing Sketch

23 02 2017

Recreating Matt’s bino tour from the March 2017 issue of Sky & Telescope:

The “Fertile Crescent” region of Monoceros. 15×70 binos. February 22, 2017. Image: JR





Scenes from a Cruise Ship

11 02 2017

View from Norwegian Escape, 8 × 42 binos, February 9, 2017. Image: JR

Penumbral Eclipse, February 10, 2017. Image: JR





Charioteer’s Cross

6 01 2017

In the November 2016 issue of Sky & Telescope, Matt Wedel wrote about his observations of a crucifom asterism on the Auriga / Lynx border. I took a few minutes last week to sketch the field as seen with small binos (8 × 42s). I was unable to resolve any stars in NGC 2281, of course; it was more of a suggestion than anything when viewed with handhelds. My goal on our next clear night is to return to the view with the 12 × 70s on a tripod.

Sketch of Charioteer's Cross asterism

View of Psi (Ψ) Aurigae through 8 × 42 binoculars, 6.5° field of view. January 1, 2017. Image: JR





Neptune-Mars Conjunction

2 01 2017

January 1, 2017, around 8:30 p.m. Celestron Nexstar 130, Maynard, MA. Image: JR





Transit of Mercury

9 05 2016

The day started out a bit cool, with me running around the house trying to find a good spot to set up. Started on the front sidewalk, but soon moved to the backyard. Spent most of the day observing, punctuated with frisbee breaks. I wish I had sketched more carefully to capture the effects of Earth-Sun rotation.

Backyard. 130-mm reflector w/white light filter, Coronado PST.





Messier 27

2 09 2015

Observing at the Mill Pond, warm, clear, unfortunate number of mosquitoes. Spent some time on Saturn and digging around in the glare for M71.

September 1, 2015, Maynard, MA, Celestron 130 SLT.