March 24, 2019

AstroEvent: Can You Spy the Zodiacal Light?

This week’s astronomy challenge is seasonal for mid-latitude observers. Around the time of the equinox, the ecliptic meets the horizon at a favorable angle and a unique phenomenon may become apparent: the zodiacal light. This diffuse band of light can be briefly seen after sunset or before sunrise from a moderately dark location.

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Astro Event of the Week; November 24th-30th: The Gegenschein.

This weeks’ Astro-challenge to the world (and myself) is to sight that most elusive of astro-beasts, the Gegenschein. Surprisingly, more pictures of Sasquatch on Mars or Paris Hilton in prison exist than of this faint phenomenon. Sometimes called “counter-glow,” this faint glowing patch occurs near the antihelion or spot opposite to the Sun.

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Extreme Observing: Challenges on the Edge

Astronomy is a life long pursuit. The universe and time are so vast, I have yet to meet someone who has truly seen it all, even from our sometimes beleaguered vantage point here on Earth. Some targets, like Saturn or the ring nebula, are never tiring to look at. However, as I rack up the years of observing, I find it fun and refreshing to push my skills to the edge. Call it Extreme Astronomy, a sport of sorts. Popular Messier marathons are in this vein. I find that this kind of pursuit can sharpen my skills and hone my knowledge. While I never tire of showing folks Andromeda during public observing, it can be fun to aim at a lesser known object that no one else at the star party has in the eyepiece. Anyhow, below are my top 12… some I’ve seen, some I’ve attempted, and some I know of but have yet try. I’ve tried to keep things as “visual” as possible (i.e. telescope only!), but technology can present is own challenges as well. After all, I’d hate to think I’ve finally seen everything! [Read more...]