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 Post subject: The Comet of 1499
PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2006 9:44 pm 
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With apologies to all my fellow Halofirians, I am posting some star maps in this forum for access by members of another messageboard whose technology is such that not everyone will be able to see them if I post them only over there.

They are kind of cool, aren't they? I never learned how to read these things, or even how to hold them over my head properly so that the orientation was correct. My daughters and I made one attempt to see ... Saturn or Jupiter (I forgot which) when it was visible to the naked eye about twelve years ago, but even in Ohio the light pollution was so bad we couldn't see anything.

The only intersting sky object I can claim to have seen clearly was Halley's comet, at 5:00am over the Gulf of Mexico. We only got that one chance to see it and we did ... though my daughters were young enough that they might see it twice in their lifetimes.

Anyway, posts that follow are sky maps and some astronomical info. Thanks for allowing me to host here something that is not exactly Arda Unmarred, but an astronomer's representation of Arda unmarrred.

Jn

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2006 9:46 pm 
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NORTHERN ORIENTATION:

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SOUTHERN ORIENTATION

Image

ADDITIONAL INFO: Ephemeris and Elements

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Last edited by Jnyusa on Tue Jul 04, 2006 11:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:05 pm 
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Um.

My maternal grandmother saw Halley's Comet twice. According to her it was a bust the second time.

She was a wee girl in a remote Ontario village the first time around and the night sky was probably much clearer than it is now. The second time she saw it, she lived near Vancouver and our sky is grey with light pollution.

I thought it wasn't up to much, myself.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:47 pm 
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Of course, now I'm curious what that other website is, and what the comet of 1499 is all about! :D

I thought Halley's comet was cool! :)

I love these things, though I don't understand much about them, and my interest is more a romantic than a scientific one.
We don't get to see a lot here due to well-lit streets either, and as I have neither a car to get out into the open, nor a telescope to observe more closely, there isn't much to see usually. That's why Halley's comet was so great - you could see it right here in town, and with your own eyes. And, even better, it was there for so long that clouds couldn't ruin it.
(Have you noticed how you can count on it being cloudy when there's some spectacle going on in the sky?)

The thing with how to read star maps escapes me, too - I just can't figure out how to hold them correctly. But I've been able to make out a few stars and shapes occasionally, and that's great fun. :D

I think it would make a great topic to talk about watching the sky, and just right for "Arda unmarred". :)

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 6:15 am 
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Hobby wrote:
The thing with how to read star maps escapes me, too - I just can't figure out how to hold them correctly.


I know!! The site I was looking at said to hold the map over your head and then you will understand why the star map reverses terrestrial east and west. So I held the blinking thing over my head but east was still east and west was still west.

When my kids were little I bought one of those ... ach! I don't know what they're called. It's a set of concentric circles with a pin in the middle so that you can rotate one circle against the other, and it's supposed to show how the constellations move across the sky with the seasons. I wanted to be able to stargaze with the kids and explain what they were seeing but I never could figure out how the thing was supposed to work. :P

So we went to the planetarium a couple times and that was as close as we ever got to knowing what to look for in the sky.

I've always wanted to buy a telescope but figured I'd better know what I'm looking at first since it would be a terrible waste of money otherwise.

I did see one other spectacular thing in 1999. The full moon coincided with its earth-perihelion, and it happened in Winter after a heavy snow. The light was so bright reflected off the snow it turned the night to day.

And we've seen a couple solar and lunar eclipses, of course. 8)

Jn

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:52 pm 
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Jnyusa wrote:
The site I was looking at said to hold the map over your head and then you will understand why the star map reverses terrestrial east and west. So I held the blinking thing over my head but east was still east and west was still west.


But, probably, north was south and south was north. :)

We have an 8-inch Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain but were only beginning to use it on any regular basis and to learn the sky better when I got sick, and it's been boxed up ever since. I did find when we were using it that I was finally learning my way around, when we were looking for specific interesting things within particular constellations.

We're trying to declutter the house now so there is a place to leave the scope standing that's handy to taking it outside.

What taught me the fundamentals was a class in college that was taught in the school's little planetarium. We learned the constellations, how stars and planets moved, and exactly how the phases of the moon work. The constellations slipped away from me during six years living in L.A., but all the rest has come in handy, even if all I do with it is explain to members of my writing group why the full moon can't rise romantically at midnight, no matter how effectively written the scene is.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 4:16 pm 
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I have never been able to keep track of the phases of the Moon. My late father-in-law, who was born in 1893, was brought up on a farm in Norway and those old-timers seemed to learn the Moon phases along with learning how to walk and talk.

He used to advise me when to plant, always on a waxing Moon, never on a waning one. He knew what a ring around the Moon meant and a bunch of other arcane stuff. He also knew the constellations and planets and where they would be nearly on any given night.

I wish I did. If I had to build an observatory, as Stonehenge for instance is supposed to be, I wouldn't know where to start!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 4:52 pm 
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Primula Baggins wrote:
We're trying to declutter the house now so there is a place to leave the scope standing that's handy to taking it outside.


Declutter! I know that word. ;)

When we were in Yosemite a few weeks back, we went on an after-dark guided hike. Got to see Jupiter and Mercury close in the sky with Mars not far away. I'm not sure that I got the planets right, but it was spectacular fun.

I try to get DS out stargazing whenever there is a significant event that is not too far into the middle of the night. Should probably learn how those charts work. I've printed a couple, but couldn't find a thing with them. :oops:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 5:11 pm 
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I'm one of those people who has to "move" the map when trying to find my way, but for some reason star charts just make sense to me. :)

I found one in an old used book I purchased (dated 1977, I believe) complete with a manual. Didn't even need to read how to use it... just took it & a flashlight out into the field beside my house.

Love it! :love:


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2006 8:57 am 
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Well, my daughter figured out the one I was looking at. I knew she would. :D But she had to lie on the floor and do contortions to get it.

Turns out I had the North and South labels mixed up because I misunderstood what North and South orientation meant.

Ok. Here's what you do. Lie on the floor, or in the grass. If the star chart is a northern orientation, write North at the top of the circle. Pretend that your head is at the North pole and your feet are pointing toward the equator and lift the charter above you so that North it toward your head and South is toward your feet.

As you move around the circle from south to north, from center bottom to center top in the counter-clockwise direction, you are going east. So Write E on the left side of the map. If you move S to N from center bottom to center top in the clockwise direction you are going west. So write W on the right side of the map.

Now stand up and hold the map in front of you again, with N on top and S on the bottom. The terrestrial directions will be reversed.

Our neighbors think we're crazy, but you know what? I don't care.

Next I shall tackle understanding the ecliptic. :D I do sort of understand it but not completely.

D#2 confessed to me that she dropped out of her astronomy class in college because she was sure she would get a bad grade. She didn't understand a thing the teacher was talking about.

cem, that's remarkable that you understood those maps the first time you looked at them. Isn't that weird how some models will just make perfect sense to some people intuitively?

Jn

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2006 9:56 am 
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I've never really been that into astronomy, but I did get a huge kick out of seeing Saturn through my brother in law's telescope. It was tiny, and not in colour (apparently colour is not visible through a standard telescope for some reason) but I could clearly see the rings.

Its breathtaking when you think about it.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2006 10:20 am 
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I've been interested in astronomy for almost my whole life, but I'm very much of an armchair astronomer nowadays. :D At the moment, we live in a place where there's quite a lot of light pollution, though the brightest stars and planets are still visible. But our previous home was in a less brightly lit environment, and there, the sky was quite well visible; I could see the biggest moons of Jupiter by a binocular on our balcony, and in the late 90's, a comet could be followed from our kitchen window.

I even managed to catch the 1990 total solar eclipse, although it wasn't the best here, because it happened just at sunrise. :D

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2006 11:32 am 
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Jnyusa wrote:
cem, that's remarkable that you understood those maps the first time you looked at them. Isn't that weird how some models will just make perfect sense to some people intuitively?


Yeah.

Though I'm almost certain it has something to do with me being insane.

:D


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2006 3:30 pm 
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The best thing I've seen through our scope was Mars during one of its very close approaches—we could see the ice caps! And make out a little shading on the surface. Mr. Prim didn't believe we had actually seen that until I Googled a Hubble image taken a night or two earlier, and everything we'd seen was clearly visible and in the same place.

And the Moon. The scope brings it so close that you feel you're flying along above the surface, an eerie, lonely, gray wasteland. There's something about knowing you're seeing it NOW (well, 1.3 seconds ago) that makes it much more vivid than looking at photos. I like looking along the terminator, the line between light and dark, because in the low-angle light the surface details jump out.

The thing I most naively wanted to see was Andromeda, but we need a wide-angle eyepiece—the smallest image we can get includes about a fourth of the galaxy.

The thing I was surprised about with the ecliptic (the line through the sky that marks our edge-on view of the plane where Earth and the Moon and the planets all more or less orbit—so if you see them, they will be moving along that line) is that it is lower in the sky on summer nights and higher on winter nights. So, in the Northern Hemisphere the time to look at southern stars is the dead of winter.

Oh, I have also seen a tiny crescent Mercury.

Whether you see color or not depends on the light-gathering capacity of the telescope, Alatar; if there aren't enough photons to stimulate the color receptors in your retina, you see a black-and-white image, just as in very dim light you don't see color. We have a fairly large scope and I have seen Saturn and Jupiter in color. But stellar phenomena like nebulae, which show up in gorgeous color in Hubble photos and such, are black-and-white.

However, if you attach a camera even to a scope like ours, and take a very long exposure, you can get the colors because the camera accumulates more photons over time and shows them to you all at once.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2006 3:43 pm 
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Um.

Why is the page so wide? :scratch:

Telescopes are wonderful things, but it's so hard to keep them STILL! The slightest wobble is magnified a zillion times.

Even ordinary binoculars are great for looking at the Moon.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2006 10:55 pm 
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With decent binoculars mounted on a tripod you can see the four largest moons of Jupiter, easy peasy.

Our scope weighs a ton, but it has a motor drive so once you're aimed, it stays aimed and rock steady (once, anyway, you've gotten it set up so the top of the scope is aimed precisely at celestial north, which took Mr. Prim and me a lot of dithering at first).

These days there are smaller scopes that come with computerized drives so you can just press buttons to look at all the standard sights. They're really good scopes, but Mr. Prim and I determined that it was better for us to find our own way around. Virtue is sometimes its own punishment.

Those scopes orient themselves to celestial north with the press of a button—I envy that.

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2006 11:07 pm 
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vison, my pictures are too big.

I've cut the size in half and reposted them, but they still look the same on my screen. If they are still so big by tomorrow morning, I'll remove them.

Jn

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2006 11:19 pm 
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Jn, only the southern orientation one is cut in half. I have taken the liberty of reducing the other two down to 600 pixels.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2006 11:24 pm 
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Hey, that's great. :bow: The screen isn't stretched any more!
Thank you very much.
:hug:

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2006 11:28 pm 
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Your welcome.

:hug:

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