Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Moon and Saturn

Last night, I had a nice time looking at the Moon and Saturn.  The shadow of the ring seemed rather more offset from the ring then I remembered it--must be due to the way things are tilted.  The Moon was lovely, both in my 8" Coulter, and in the 6" F/5 I'm building (where it was super-sharp at 125X, even though I was hand-holding).  I was particularly struck by a crater with a lovely double peak near the terminator.  The deep parts of the crater were dark, and there were two gleaming white peaks there.  Maybe it was Burg?  I didn't check with a map at the time.  Burg looks slightly too far from the terminator in the Virtual Moon Atlas, though.  But maybe.


  1. That’s amazing being able to build your own scopes and to actually use them. I have a cousin who lived in Hawaii for some years while attending the University of Hawaii at Hilo studying astronomy. He’d come back to the mainland for the holidays and would always brag about using the gigantic telescopes they have over there.

    I haven’t looked through a telescope in a long time. I remember when I was young (at least younger) and my family took me to the city planetarium and they had the telescope focused on Saturn and allowed us to view it. It was neat being able to actually see the rings of Saturn.

  2. The rings of Saturn are very easy to see. What's harder to see are the surface features. Sometimes, all I see is a ball with line through it (the ring) and a shadow cast by the ring (another line). Sometimes, I can see belts.

    I bet there is an astronomy club not far from where you live, and they probably have some public star nights where they bring several telescopes and show stuff to the public. It's fun. I help out with the public star nights around here.

    People are usually blown away by Saturn. Jupiter is really nice, too. But what is really the most spectacular object is the moon, because it being close we see amazing detail, but I get the feeling it's not quite so cool to observe. :-) (I am guilty, there, too. The moon is out tonight, but I'm indoors and am about to plug the laptop into the TV so my wife and I can watch The Office.)

  3. Have you been fortunate enough with the telescopes you use to see the cloud layers/bands of Saturn?

    I was just looking at all the astronomical societies and clubs around my area and sure enough there’s several. There’s even one at the college that I just graduated from (Macon State College). First time ever hearing about it, but it’s also the first time I actually looked.

    Yep, everyone loves the rings of Saturn. It’s Saturn’s unique identifier. Same with Jupiter and its great red spot (though the cloud bands are beautiful on Jupiter). I think for people to have a better interest in the moon, it would be important for them to learn some of its unique identifiers e.g. specific craters like the Aitken basin (something I just learned lol). If people knew what they are actually looking at (or certain features to look at) would create more excitement. I’m sure, for example, if you tell someone about the Aitken basin and tell them where to look and when they do I bet you’ll get a better reaction out of them.

    The last time I saw the moon through a telescope was, of all the places, on Bourbon Street. Once again, I was quite young and was with the family and there was a guy on the street with a pretty good size telescope and he was allowing people to look at the moon (with a charge, of course). You could see the moon in great detail (the craters, trenches, and the contrast of the white and black from all the surface features). I remember I bumped the scope and it moved. Just my luck.

    My brother and I do the same thing. New episodes of The Office comes on Thursdays and we’ll watch it on Friday or the weekend on Hulu. Poor Michael, he’s a hopeless romantic if I’ve ever seen one.

  4. The cloud bands of Saturn do show up in my 8" scope on most nights.

    What's nice about the moon and planets is that one doesn't need dark skies. In fact, for the moon, one can just have the lights on outside, and it doesn't matter a bit.

  5. This looks like a great deal for getting started in astronomy for $41, by the way. The eyepieces and Barlow themselves are worth about $50. Much better than cheap Department store telescopes.

  6. Looks good, especially with it only being only $41. More than likely I'll end up getting it.

  7. There was a nice recent discussion of the SkyWatcher Greatbeginning scopes at, in the Beginner forum. If you do get it, head over to the Beginner forum there.

  8. Hey, Alex, they’ve done lowered the price of the telescope again. I was also able to get 2-day shipping for free (standard S&H was $13.25). In all it only cost me $36.49, which is now the price of the telescope.

    Thanks for showing me the telescope. I’m excited to use it.

    I'll stop by and post from time to time and keep you busy. I'll either keep this user name or use my real name, which is Jarrett Cooper. I first heard of you from a William Lane Craig podcast when he was talking about the authors and the topics written in the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Then I found Prosblogion, and then your own blog, and saw this Website posted on your blog.

    Once again thanks.