Thursday, July 26, 2007

Summer Nights, Starry Skies

The past week saw a return of my trusty little Meade Telescope. Taking it out one warm Carolina Summer evening on my back deck, I was rewarded with superb vistas of our neighbor the moon and of the planet Jupiter in the low southern sky. Now, from my back deck, I don't have a large sky to look, only because of the trees that surround my house. But the sky I can easily see always displays some heavenly highlights. Take a look at the picture to the right. Click it to see in the center of the picture the planet Jupiter and the object below is the star Antares, in the constellation of Scorpio. They are buddies this summer, and they dazzle in the southern sky. To the right of this duo is the moon, which is hidden by the trees. I took this picture with my Panasonic DMC-FZ5 digital camera. The exposure time was 6 seconds with an f-stop of 3.2 and an ISO of 400. Not a bad shot.

The moon also shined bright that evening. I always like looking at our satellite with this modest scope of moon. The craters and mare are crisp through the viewfinder, and it always amazes me that an object so far away - 384,000 km - can appear with such stark detail in my head, in real time. It may seem mundane, peering at the moon, but it offers some spectacular vistas through any telescope. I offer you all some pictures of this stargazing session. Maybe one day soon I will get more ambitious and lug the telescope to a better viewing locale. But there is nothing like being able to step outside my back door and visit with the night sky, however limited my horizon might be.
Here is the moon taken with the same camera, with an exposure of 8 seconds and an f-stop of 2.8. An another, a close-up of Luna, for your enjoyment:

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