Category Archives: AL Binocular Messier Program

My old friend returns

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.

Transparency was 1, seeing was 8.

14-2-11 7:45-8:20PM OBSERVATION (Constellation of Andromeda/Andromeda Galaxy [M31]) [OBS #5]

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.

Canon 60D with 50mm lens.  32.0 sec @ f/3.5, ISO 100.  Unannotated.
Canon 60D with 50mm lens. 32.0 sec @ f/3.5, ISO 100. Unannotated.

Here is the image with a little more of a guide to what you kinda sorta are seeing:

Canon 60D with 50mm lens.  32.0 sec @ f/3.5, ISO 100.  Annotated.
Canon 60D with 50mm lens. 32.0 sec @ f/3.5, ISO 100. Annotated.

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.

Andromeda Constellation in Stellarium
Andromeda Constellation in Stellarium
Detail of Andromeda featuring the Andromeda Galaxy.
Detail of Andromeda featuring the Andromeda Galaxy over on the right.

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).

Red Dot Finderscope
Red Dot Finder
140211 14-02-11 Observation (Andromeda Constellation and Andromeda Galaxy) 7-45p to 8-20p - 35
Red Dot Finder

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.

Observation report for Andromeda (Constellation) and the Andromeda Galaxy.
Observation report for Andromeda (Constellation) and the Andromeda Galaxy.

Per Wikipedia:

Here is info on Andromeda, the constellation.

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.

Perseus figures as the savior of Andromeda from Cetus (See this part of the Perseus myth).

Here is info on the Andromeda Galaxy/M31.

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.

Here is an interesting video on the Andromeda Galaxy:  Video on Andromeda Galaxy from NASA (public domain)

I hope to do another observation of the Andromeda Galaxy in the future, when transparency conditions are better.

14-1-20 12am Observation (Pleiades/M45) [Obs #2]

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.

Observation sheet for the Pleiades (M45)
Observation sheet for the Pleiades (M45)

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).

Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Subaru_logo.svg#filelinks

Here is a link to an Wikipedia article about the Pleiades.  There is also information about the Pleiades’ many cultural references.

Finally, here are some Pleiades-related photos from this observation.  Click on them to see them more fully.

Taken on the night of the observation.  Star trailing is evident.
Taken on the night of the observation. Star trailing is evident.

Here is a stock image that is of better quality and shows some nebulosity.

pleiades
Pleiades, or “Seven Sisters”. Taken from Creative Commons licensed material. Photo from Jim Keller (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimkster/). Rotated clockwise once.

14-1-20 12am Observation (Orion) [Obs #1]

This is my first official observation for the purpose of working on observation programs for the Astronomical League.  At this point, I’m working on the Binocular Messier Program, the Constellation Hunter Program, and the Universe Sampler Program.  It won’t be as hard as people think, as there is a bit of overlap in these programs.

First up, the constellation Orion, part of the Universe Sampler Program and the Constellation Hunter program.

Scan sheets, Wikipedia, Photos.

Observation Sheet for the Orion Constellation
Observation Sheet for the Orion Constellation

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.

Orion the Hunter
Orion the Hunter.
A color photo of the constellation of Orion.   It is also documented proof of my daughter staying up waaaaay past her bedtime.   The area I live in has a significant amount of light pollution, which was present tonight.
A color photo of the constellation of Orion.
It is also documented proof of my daughter staying up waaaaay past her bedtime.
The area I live in has a significant amount of light pollution, which was present tonight.
B&W photo of the constellation of Orion.
B&W photo of the constellation of Orion.
The Great Orion Nebula.  Although taken from a tripod, I made the mistake of using a zoom lens at the full extension, so there is some trailing.  The fuzziness around the brighter stars is the nebulous part.
The Great Orion Nebula. Although taken from a tripod, I made the mistake of using a zoom lens at the full extension, so there is some trailing. The fuzziness around the brighter stars is the nebulous part.