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 Post subject: Mars and Saturn
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2005 10:05 am 
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Last edited by Moonstruck on Tue Dec 06, 2005 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2005 12:47 pm 
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Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2004 8:18 pm
Posts: 6530
Location: Manchester
Dear Moonstruck
It was pretty cloudy here last night.
I can only speak with "any real authority" about my own experiences but converations, phone calls and occasional letters with other amateur astronomers seem to suggest they have had fairly similar experiences so far this Mars apparition.
A letter I got from a very experienced obsever only yesterday lamented that he thought there seemed to be more cloudy nights in the last few years than there used to be and he has been a very keen planetary observer for at least fifty years.
It seems to me that although there are general rules of thumb about ways to judge likely telescopic planetary seeing conditions by just looking by the unaided unaided eye, it is still really best to actually use the telescope before one can be sure. Using the scope regularly and comparing your own views night by night and assessing your impressions of the sky by unaided eye are a good ways to get an idea of judging seeing conditions. Even so I personally never feel comfortable with relying on unaided eye views to decide whether or not it is worthwhile using the telescope to observe planets. There may be some planetary observers who are happy to look at the stars by unaided eye and say "Oh! the stars are twinkling tonight so I won't bother to look through my telescope."
Well Ican only say, good luck to them. If I did that I would probably miss some very worthwhile views. You just might catch some good moments of good seeing (although perhaps 9 out of 10 times you probably don't).
With regards to your comments about there being many excellent photos and images to look at in magazines and on the internet, I think I tend to agree with you. I think there is some danger that some amateur astronomers may spend more time surfacing the web and looking at astronomical images than they spend time looking through their telescopes. I suspect that getting into such a habit could even influence what they see through their telescopes. Of course it's pretty easy to look at a computer monitor and sometimes a lot more awkward looking through a telescope eyepiece. Arguably at the end of the day we do "astronomy for fun". Perhaps I am very self centred because I like to observe things myself and look at my own drawings and images. I have to say that I do my fair share of moaning about how cloudy it always seems to be or how bad the seeing is when it is not cloudy. However, occasionally I experience good seeing and then observing really is something else and pretty fantastic. So despite all my moaning I tend to stick at it. At very least it helps me to be grumpy and have something to moan about.
Best of luck from the Grumpy Old Codger Cliff


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2005 1:24 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2004 12:12 pm
Posts: 1054
Location: Flackwell Heath, Bucks, UK
Quote:
Saturn, very bright, unable to see any rings.
At a guess I'd say that you were not looking at Saturn -- though it is the brightest object in that part of the sky. If your finder was a bit out you might have been looking at a nearby star and just not realised.

The collimation would have to be really bad -- like a component had slipped out of place -- for you not to see even a hint of rings. Or, more likely, there was some sort of fault at the eyepiece end, such as looking at an internal reflection rather than at Saturn itself.

After next weekend Saturn will be rising well before midnight -- thanks to the clocks going back rather than any sudden spurt in its movement -- so you should be able to try again without waiting up too late. But make sure that the alignment of your finder is spot on first!

Robin


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 Post subject: What we think we see
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2005 1:27 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 2:47 pm
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2005 4:04 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 2:47 pm
Posts: 91
Thanks Robin,
The star which I took to be Saturn was very bright and about 10deg up in the SSW sector at 0500hrsG.M.T.There did not seem to be a brighter star in the area. I suppose the nearest I could I/D was Orion, but that was further west and higher. Will certainly check how clean eyepeices are.
M...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2005 5:27 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2004 12:12 pm
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Location: Flackwell Heath, Bucks, UK
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The star which I took to be Saturn was very bright and about 10deg up in the SSW

Problem solved -- you were looking at the star Sirius (brightest in the night sky)!

Saturn is much higher up and more yellowish, and in the SSE at that time. You can tell it is a planet because it rarely twinkles whereas Sirius will be all over the place and will indeed meet your description of a starburst.

Robin


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2005 6:10 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 2:47 pm
Posts: 91
Robin,
Most greatfull.
Clouds permitting will seek out saturn in its rightfull place.
M....


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