Tag Archives: Messier Objects

Upstate NY Stargazing In March: Two Full Moons, Venus And Mercury After Sunset – Posted To syracuse.com And nyup.com

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

The March, 2018 UNY Stargazing article is up for your reading and sharing pleasure at syracuse.com and newyorkupstate.com:

Links: newyorkupstate.com & syracuse.com

Note that March is the best month for planning your Messier Marathon. Be sure to check your local astronomy club to see if any events are being scheduled.

The best-of-winter constellations over Baltimore Woods in Marcellus, NY. The bright star at lower-center is Sirius in Canis Major. To its right and up, the belt of Orion, the five-star “V” of Taurus, and the Pleiades star cluster near the image edge. Photo by the author.

There were a few evenings this past February that were unexpectedly comfortable for the time of year, hopefully giving observers some unexpectedly long opportunities to take in some of the busiest regions of our nighttime sky. To have the grouping of the Winter Hexagon – Orion, Taurus, Auriga, Gemini, Canis Minor, and Canis Major – out and about at such reasonable hours means that anyone can see not only the brightest grouping of bright stars in our yearly sky, but also some of the closest groups of stars. The Hyades star cluster, made up of the “V” of the head of Taurus the Bull – but not including the bright eye star Aldebaran – is our closest star cluster at 150 light years. Just to the northwest of the Hyades lies the second-closest bright cluster of stars to our Solar System – the Pleiades.

If you can find the Pleiades and the patch of stars under Orion’s Belt, you can even scratch two of the 110 Messier Objects off of your list. The history and some key details of the Messier Objects were discussed in the March, 2017 article. In brief – these are the bright galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae that can all be found with little more than a quality pair of binoculars, dark skies, a good star chart, and a big cup of coffee. The time around mid-March and early-April is the only time of the year when, if you start VERY soon after sunset, you can find all 110 of these objects before sunrise the next morning. Astronomy clubs the world over often plan marathons as a group – these are great opportunities to learn from seasoned amateurs as well as to see how the same object may look in many different binoculars and telescopes.

The 110 Messier Objects through highest-quality optics. Images compiled by Michael A. Phillips.

Read more…

Also, in the event, February flew too quickly for the post. The February, 2018 article is linked to below:

Links: newyorkupstate.com & syracuse.com

CNYO Brochure – An Observational Astronomy Facts And Figures Cheat Sheet

To cut to the downloading chase: Astronomy Facts And Figures Cheat Sheet V6.pdf

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

Those who’ve ever run an observing session have inevitably faced the most daunting of amateur astronomy outreach questions:

“Woah. How far away is that?!”

In the interest of having a rapid response to that and similar questions, the posted cheat sheet combines as much of the usual information that observers and attendees might want to know as can be fit in not-too-small font into groupings that fit on single pages (10, total).

An important word on the facts: To the very best of ability, all of the information has been checked and double-checked against available data online. To that end, all of the data as presented can be directly attributed to the following websites as of their content on 1 January 2017:

* astropixels.com/messier/messiercat.html – extra thanks to Fred Espenak for use permissions

* astropixels.com/stars/brightstars.html – extra thanks to Fred Espenak for use permissions

* www.amsmeteors.org/meteor-showers/2016-meteor-shower-list/

* www.dl1dbc.net/Meteorscatter/meteortopics.html

* nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/

* star.arm.ac.uk/~dja/shower/codes.html

And, of course:

* en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_exceptional_asteroids

* en.wikipedia.org/wiki/88_modern_constellations

* en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_meteor_showers

* en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_brightest_stars

* en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apparent_magnitude

* en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellar_classification

The Observational Astronomy Cheat Sheet contains the following:

Page 1: The only two figures in the document, including the famous “finger how-to” for measuring distances in the night sky and a figure describing right ascension and declination (with values for many objects given in the tables).

Page 2: Moons And Planets – All of the standard information (and descriptions below) about the relative places of planets in the Solar System (distances, masses, temperatures, distances from Sun), then an extra column for our Moon.

Page 3: Best Meteor Showers – All of the categorized Class I, II, and III Meteor Showers throughout the year, including approximate peak dates, times, and directions.

Page 4: Marginal Meteor Showers – All of the categorized Class IV Meteor Showers (these are surely poor meteor showers for observing, but that fact that we’ve catalogued them there tells you how exhaustive astronomers have been in keeping track of periodicities in our day/nighttime sky).

Page 5: Winter And Spring Messier Objects – including abbreviations, NGC labels, types, distances (as best we know them), and Common Names.

Page 6: Summer And Autumn Messier Objects – including abbreviations, NGC labels, types, distances (as best we know them), and Common Names.

Page 7: Northern and Zodiacal Constellations – including family, origin, brightest star, and positional information.

Page 8: Southern Constellations – including family, origin, brightest star, and positional information.

Page 9: Top Asteroids – the best and brightest (and best identified), including distances, discovery information, and magnitudes (as available).

Page 10: Stars – the Top 50 brightest (with our Sun at its rightful position as #1), including constellation, magnitudes, distances, and mass and positional information.

And, without further ado…

Download Astronomy Facts And Figures Cheat Sheet V6.pdf

Two (Maybe Three) Saturday Sessions Announced For The North Sportsman’s Club – Sept 12th, Oct 3rd, And (Maybe) Oct 10th

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

A red-lit view of the NSC building (and several tens of billions of stars towards the galactic center).

We are happy to announce a few new sessions at the North Sportsman’s Club to take us into the Fall and, for many, the near-end of their comfortable observing weather (although enough of us are crazy… about the Winter Constellations, so we’ll also brave any clear skies between December and March).

For those who didn’t make it to one of the sessions last year, the NSC is located in West Monroe, NY – take 81 to Exit 32, turn onto 49 East, then make a LEFT (at the next lights) onto Route 37 and go about a 1/2 mile North until you see the NSC sign on your RIGHT – maybe 15 minutes from downtown Syracuse. Map’ed out below.

The NSC in google maps. Click to generate directions.

The field provides an excellent Eastern horizon, complete with a distant radio tower red light for your Telrad aligning pleasure. For those who like to watch Earth’s rotation in real time – or see the very first arrivals of Messier Objects – tripod’ed binoculars pointed anywhere on the Eastern tree line and a comfortable seat will last you all evening. The East and North-East are wide open well to the North-West (so we’ll have many chances to view the Andromeda Galaxy at various point in the evening) and the tree line to the South and South-West block some of the distant light from Syracuse and related, making it a great spot for taking a lot of the sky in in very short order (weather-pending, of course).

The two (maybe three) sessions are as follows:

Saturday, September 12th – 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. – [meetup.com event & facebook event] coming up soon! The New Moon hits early in the morning on the 13th and the cold front arriving on Thursday should make the nighttime sky quite comfortable. Hopefully the clouds cooperate.

Saturday, October 3rd – 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. – [meetup.com event & facebook event] the 3rd Quarter Moon arrives close to 11:00 p.m. and our low, clear Eastern Horizon will make for some excellent final views for those with packed scopes but accessible binoculars.

* Saturday, October 10th – 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. – We’re currently holding the 10th as a weather-alternate for the 3rd. That said, if we get lots of interest, we’re going to run a session that evening as well.

We’ve added these events to our meetup.com and Facebook pages, and will make final announcements by 5:00 p.m. The evening of each session. Keep track of cnyo.org for any additional info (or drop us a line through our Contact Page). We hope to see your dark, featureless outlines at (at least) one of these sessions!