May 28, 2017

How Far Can YOU See?

M31: A Finder Chart. (Credit: Redshift 7).

M31: A Finder Chart. (Credit: Redshift 7).

How far can you see with that thing?” I hear that one a lot at star parties. It’s a sort of ambiguous question to an astronomer; distance varies with the scale of the structures in our universe observed, and a myriad of factors both near and far conspire to make this number an enigma not as straight forward as it might sound. On the Earth, we’re limited by the atmosphere and the curvature of the planet to a line of sight of maybe 50 or so miles on a clear day from a high mountain top… but in space… [Read more...]

Determine Your Longitude: the Lunar Eclipse Method Part I

We’re back now with a new look! Hopefully, it’s less of an eyestrain for our loyal legion of readers… and just in time for this months’ Lunar Eclipse!

Getting an accurate fix on your position has long been a bane of the world traveler. Long before Global Positioning Systems, a way was sought for navigators to calculate their location using the stars. Latitude was easy enough; in the Northern Hemisphere, you simply have to measure the angle of Polaris, also known as the North Star, above the horizon. [Read more...]