Tag Archives: Jupiter

CNYO Observing Log: Baltimore Woods, 9 February 2013

Ryan Goodson, Larry Slosberg, and I joined Bob Piekiel for his monthly New Moon observing session at Baltimore Woods on his weather-alternate session (having lost Friday’s session to Snow Storm Nemo). What started as a remarkably cold session, which then progressed to a bitterly cold session, and then finally to an intolerably cold session (forcing us to close shop up around 8:30 p.m.), still provided some excellent views of the Winter Sky, including the Solar System‘s largest planet Jupiter right between the Hyades and Pleiades.

For those who haven’t ventured for a session, the view from the Baltimore Woods parking lot includes a clear zenith (what luck!), a tree to the North that extends almost up to Polaris (so one must walk around it to get the view of constellations below our North Star), low-lying trees to the West, then the warm orange glow (the only thing warm on the 9th) of Baldwinsville and Syracuse to the East-Southeast. As we’re mid-winter, the evening observing was obstructed occasionally by blindingly bright snowmobiles (but one had plenty of lead time to take cover).

The evening started early with a fly-by of the yellow-orange ball that is (from the ground, anyway) the International Space Station (ISS), right on schedule with the predictions from heavens-above.com:

Date Brightness Start Highest point End Pass type
[Mag] Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
09 Feb -3.3 18:55:57 10° SW 18:59:16 68° SE 18:59:56 51° E Visible

Reaching a total session count of eight, the evening included several observations of Jupiter, noting specifically how quickly Io rushed from Jupiter as even 10 minute intervals progressed (the slow cooling of mirrors resulted in many returns of increasingly crisp views). A comparison of eye piece magnifications and field-of-views was performed with the Pleiades in Bob’s 11″ Schmidt–Cassegrain and Ryan’s 16″ NMT Dob. In both cases, one my my favorite doubles, Tyc1800-1961-1 (blue) and Tyc1800-1974-1 (orange), jumped right out from the center of the tea cup. The lesson learned from such an exercise is that magnification is not the key to observational astronomy – it is seeing all that you want to see in the field of view that is key to enjoying the Night Sky.

A second highlight of the evening included M35, an open cluster in Gemini that, at 2,800 light years away, still covers an area the size of the Full Moon. Clearly visible as a slight “smudge” in the upper-left corner of the eyepiece (so the lower-right corner of M35) at low magnification is the compact open cluster NGC 2158.

After Jupiter, the night belonged to the massive Orion Nebula (M42), a hydrogen cloud doubling as a stellar nursery. At a magnitude of +4.0, the fuzzy patch in Orion’s Belt is visible to the Naked Eye, increasing in density with small binoculars, and leading to magnificent views of filamentous nebulosity at low magnification in both telescopes. The splitting of the main binaries in Trapezium was trivial in Ryan’s 16″ NMT Dob even without a completely cooled mirror.

I noted to Ryan that, given the usual CNY winter conditions, “It’s a rarity to see Pegasus in the West.” The quintet of Sirius, Orion’s Belt, the Hyades, Jupiter, and the Pleiades was worth the visit with or without equipment. After 90 minutes of observing in cold, continually patchy skies, the temperature dropped precipitously, instigating a rapid retreat and scope packing by all attendees. The lessons learned – your gloves are never thick enough & always have a headlamp in the car for the end of the evening!

Bob Piekiel Hosts Observing Sessions At Baltimore Woods – 2013 Observing Schedule

I’m pleased to have obtained the official schedule for Bob Piekiel’s Baltimore Woods programs for the 2013 observing season and have added them to the CNYO Calendar. For those who have not had the pleasure of hearing one of his lectures, attending one of his observing sessions, or reading one of his many books on scope optics (or loading the CD containing the massive Celestron: The Early Years), Bob Piekiel is not only an excellent guide but likely the most knowledgeable equipment and operation guru in Central New York. I’ve (Damian) attended two of the Baltimore Woods sessions already and plan to be present for as many of the scheduled events below as possible.

Note:

The Baltimore Woods events calendar is updated monthly. As such, I’ve no direct links to the sessions below. Therefore, as the event date nears, see the official Calendar Page for more information and any updates on the event.

Also…

* Registration for these events are required. Low registration may cause programs to be canceled.
* $5 for members, $15/family; $8 for nonmembers, $25/family.
* To Register By Email: info@baltimorewoods.org
* To Register By Phone: (315) 673-1350

* Friday, February 8th (Backup – Saturday 9th), 7-9 p.m.

(Available link HERE) Another fabulous look at the bright winter skies and all the glories surrounding the constellation of Orion, the Hunter. The king of the planets, Jupiter, visible as well, as will the ice giant Uranus.

* March 15 (Friday) – 16 (Saturday), 7-9 p.m.

Comet Panstarrs should be visible in the west shortly after sunset. Its brightness is a guess at this time, but it could be quite a stunning sight. Jupiter will be visible, along with the winter skies and some of the brightest examples of nebulae and star clusters.

* April 5 (Friday) – 6 (Saturday), 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Comet Panstarrs will be visible in the northwest after sunset, right next to the Andromeda galaxy! While we can’t be certain of its brightness, it may be a stunning sight. Jupiter will be visible all evening, and Saturn will be rising in the east.

* May 4 (Saturday) – 5 (Sunday), 8-10 p.m.

Eta Aquariids meteor shower, Saturn and Jupiter visible all evening, and hello to spring skies.

* June 14 (Friday) – 15 (Saturday), 9-11 p.m.

Because it gets dark very late in June, it makes sense to do a 1st-quarter moon program, as we don’t need dark skies to get great views of the moon. Saturn will also be visible, and the start of summer skies.

* July 12 (Friday) – 13 (Saturday), 9-11 p.m.

The summer milky way at its finest. During the summer, we look directly into the core of our own milky way galaxy, giving great views of many beautiful star clusters and nebulae. The planet Saturn will be visible as well.

* August 12 (Monday) – 13 (Tuesday), 9-11 p.m.

It’s the annual Perseid Meteor Shower, one of the year’s finest, along with great views of the summer Milky Way, the ringed planet Saturn, and also Uranus and Neptune. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to lie back and watch for meteors when you’re not at a telescope.

* August 24 (Saturday) – 25 (Sunday), 1 p.m.

Solar observing session, with safe views of solar detail using specially-filtered telescopes.

* September 27 (Friday) – 28 (Saturday), 7-9 p.m.

Uranus will be in best viewing position all night long, plus Venus and Saturn in the west just after sunset. We will say goodbye to the Summer Skies.

* October 11 (Friday) – 12 (Saturday), 6:30-9 p.m.

Oct. 12 is National Astronomy Day, Part 2, but let’s do our usual Friday the 11th with Saturday being the backup. This will be our best chance to see Mercury for the remainder of the year, along with a crescent Moon and Venus as well, plus hello to Fall skies. We will need to start early to glimpse Mercury.

* November 4 (Monday) – 5 (Tuesday), 7-9 p.m.

Nov. 4-5 for the Taurid Meteor shower, plus hello to Winter skies. The Taurids are a modest shower, but in contrast, the Leonids, which occur on the 17th, are going to be completely washed out this year by a full Moon.

* December 13 (Friday) – 14 (Saturday), 7-9 p.m.

The Geminid Meteor Shower – the year’s best (it sure was fantastic last year!) and Winter skies, with the brightest examples of clusters and nebulae, such as the great Orion Nebulae.