Today is the first day of school for my youngest daughter. So, contrary to other times, I was up. As I went outside to let the dog out, I noticed that Orion was up. Orion is quite possibly my favorite constellation, as it has so many things in it to look at.
I quickly went inside and retrieved my 10 x 50 binoculars and was able to see the Orion Nebula (M42) to some extent. The dawn was already breaking, so it was not very clear because it was fighting sunlight and morning clouds.
However, it’s good to see my old friend again. I can’t wait until I can see it in darkness again.
Today I braved the elements again and got in another observation. This time I went a little west of Cassiopeia and looked at Andromeda and the Andromeda Galaxy/M31.
Again, I had focus issues with my camera. I think what happened was a combination of star drift and too wide an aperture. I was using my 50mm lens, and I noticed that I had stuff out of focus at 1.8, but when I moved my aperture to 3.5, it improved. I was able to get a picture that wasn’t too incredibly horrible out of about 20 shots. In this one, the Andromeda Galaxy is somewhat present.
Here is the image with a little more of a guide to what you kinda sorta are seeing:
That smudgy thing in the circle is the Andromeda Galaxy. It is around the size of the moon, about 2° in size. It is noteworthy that Mirach (β Andromeda) is a red giant. By naked eye this could not be seen, but it could be seen in the above photo.
Here are some clearer views in Stellarium.
I also spent some time fiddling with a multi reticle red dot finder that I purchased which goes on top of the 25x100s. Got it to work by zeroing in on the moon. It does make finding things easier, assuming I can star hop to where they are. With binoculars, though, compared to telescopes which are inverted and/or upside down, it is far easier. the Finder can also double as a rifle sight (yet another hobby of mine).
While what’s below isn’t my actual red dot finder in action (it was a bugger trying to take a picture of it due to depth of field issues), this is essentially what it would look like looking through it.
Here is my observation report for tonight:
Sadly, due to shifting transparency conditions, I was not able to see the Andromeda Galaxy using the 25x100s tonight, although I was able to see it with my 8x30s earlier in the evening.
Andromeda is named after the daughter of Cassiopeia. Andromeda was apparently chained to a rock to be eaten by the monster Cetus, which is behind Pisces. It is bordered above by Perseus, below by Pegasus, to the right by Andromeda’s mother, Cassiopeia, and the Pleiades are to the left. Pisces and the Triangulum are to the left, but closer. Only one or two stars in Pisces were visible tonight, and Pegasus was behind trees.
The Andromeda Galaxy/Messier 31 is one of the largest deep space objects of the Messier group. It is a spiral galaxy about 2.5 million light years away from Earth. It will collide with the Milky Way galaxy in the future! In 3.75 billion years. Not high on my list of anxieties this week.
This is my second official observation for the purpose of working on observation programs for the Astronomical League.
This post covers the Pleiades, an open star cluster that is part of the Universe Sampler Program and the Binocular Messier Program of the AL.
Below is a scan of the sheet I used for the observation of the Pleiades. It is inverted in order to better bring out the sketches.
The Pleiades, also known as the “Seven Sisters,” is part of Messier’s catalog of deep space objects. It is also famous for being the easiest cluster to see with the naked eye. I am partial to it because my favorite car ever was a Subaru, and the logo is based on the Pleiades (which is called “Subaru” in Japan).
First up, the constellation Orion, part of the Universe Sampler Program and the Constellation Hunter program.
Scan sheets, Wikipedia, Photos.
Above is a scan of the sheet I used for the observation of the constellation Orion. It is inverted in order to better bring out the sketches.
Orion is one of the biggest constellations that just stands out, particularly in the winter sky. The other big constellation in the sky is the Big Dipper. Both are used as orientation guides when looking at the night sky and getting bearings.
Following are two links for Wikipedia articles about Orion: Orion (the constellation) and the Great Orion Nebula, which is located in the set of stars directly below Orion’s belt on the left side of the belt. These include plenty of information about this famous constellation.
Finally, here are some Orion-related photos from this observation. Click on them to see them more fully.