Don’t Panic, It’s Only A Towel!


   Thursday May 25th, or any day that is May 25th we celebrate, in our own way, (yes we do) the Book,
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
, by Douglas Adams. What is the significance of the towel? Click on the graphic to enlarge it to a readable size to find out.
   So be a hoopy frood and click on this link to visit the Towel Day web site.

   Overheard on Jeopardy: “42.”
And the answer is: “What is the meaning of life?”
   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

NSTA @ Nashville


   I’m in Nashville Tennessee for the next several days at the NSTA national conference. Planets and stars will still be in the skies but not as easy to see from downtown Nashville as it is where I live. On the morning of April 1st the waning waning crescent Moon will be within a few degrees from Dwarf Planet Pluto. Too dim to be seen without a large telescope it is, nonetheless, a neat idea that when you look toward the Moon you are also looking in the direction of Pluto. It’s out there!
   And here is a sequence of graphics showing the pre-sunrise morning sky at 5:30 am EDT for each day during the conference, and one night view on April 1st showing Jupiter. Both Pluto and the Moon are located just above and to the left from the handle of the teapot asterism for Sagittarius the Archer.

   
   
   

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

We Are Here!

   I just had to share this! Be advised that there are some ‘F-bombs’ and other lesser swear words.

“We live in the cosmic equivalent of an f***ing cul-de-sac.”

                                (from the Onion — of course)

   
   
   
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

OWN A Supernova

   Last month I wrote about a new supernova recently discovered in M-82, an irregular shaped galaxy in the constellation of Ursa Major the Great Bear. Supernova 2014J has been a challenge for me to image due to either cloudy skies and or very low temperatures. So I turned to a celestial paparazzi’s next best friend – an automated telescope operating in a location where the skies are usually clear. My choice for very easy access and of course a good price (free) is the OWN, Observe With NASA telescope in Arizona. I have written about this stellar opportunity previously in ‘OWN Your Own Astrophotos’, and ‘OWN The Sky’.
   Latest reports suggest that since the supernova has not continued to brighten it may have reached its maximum magnitude which currently is around 10th magnitude.

   The slideshow below has some of the most recent images requested from the OWN telescope. The first three are of the galaxy M-82 with the supernova and the others are some of the other galaxies that were up that night (31 January). These pictures are the unretouched GIF images I received by e-mail and are not the image processed images from the FITS file.

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Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Catching a Galaxy

Click on image to see full size.

Click on image to see full size.

   This morning I went out for a bike ride with Clara – where we were treated to a rainbow despite it not having rained. However a few hours earlier I was outside trying out my recently learned use of the ISO setting by attempting to take pictures of the Andromeda Galaxy, or known as M-31 from the Messier Catalog. M-31 is an easy to see naked-eye object even when it is setting in the west over the light polluted skies of the Kansas City metropolitan area. The Andromeda Galaxy is distinctive in a number of ways but for the backyard astronomer looking at this galaxy means that you are seeing the galaxy the way it looked more than 2 million years ago, having taken that long for the light from the galaxy to reach our eyes.
   Click here to see one of the pictures I took with a 55mm camera lens and settings of: 8 seconds; F5.6; ISO 1600. The picture is reduced around 75% from the original to full screen size (1650 x 1100) but the insert of M-31 is from the full size picture, and shows a little more detail. Unknown to me until I looked at the pictures on the computer was a light path left by a satellite that was moving from the northeast toward the southwest.

   The slideshow below could help to recognize the star patterns making up these two constellations. They are shown about how they appear as they rise in the east during late evenings this month. Finding the Andromeda Galaxy is easy as long as you are able to find the stars of the ‘Square of Pegasus’, an asterism using 3 stars from the constellation Pegasus the Winged Horse and one star, the head, from Andromeda the Princess. To find the galaxy first find the upper left corner star of the square, Alpheratz. Imagine a check mark shape and that you are at the end of the long part of the checkmark marked by Alpheratz. Now, starting with Alpheratz count 3 stars – Alpheratz, Delta Andromedae, Mirach. Then turn right to make the shorter part of the check mark, and count 3 more stars – Mirach, Mu Andromedae, M-31. Actually the third ‘star’ is the galaxy, and to the naked-eye should look like a fuzzy out of focus patch of light.
   To pause the slideshow move the cursor over the pictures to bring up the controls.

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   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.