Quintessential Autumn

The last week or so has been perfect with respect to weather – especially for star gazing. It has been an amateur astronomers dream for sure. Highs in the mid 70’s, lows in the 40’s and 50’s, cool dry air, literally not a cloud in the sky for days on end… Amazing. Combine that with a new moon and longer nights and you can’t get any better than that. These are the days I long for, and they are fleeting and few.

I’ve taken advantage of the weather as much as possible. I’ve spent a few nights (and mornings!) in the observatory and have taken some time to re-align my scope and do a little imaging. I’ve been trying a few different techniques with different components and adapters for different fields of view and that type of stuff. I haven’t got any good shots but have learned a lot. In fact, I just bought a book on astrophotography which should arrive today. I’m hoping to move on to the next step because I feel I’m to the point where I understand the terminology and can understand what is being described in tutorials but haven’t quite got the technique down yet. I’m ready to start really diving in, so that’s my next goal.

I’d like to mention a few notable observations I’ve made over the last few days. One, while walking out to the observatory to do some imaging I happened to see a very nice shooting star. Nothing spectacular, but above average for sure. What made this one special though was the fact that this was the first one where I actually noticed a difference in speed of the meteor! Or at least I think I did. It looked like it streaked across the sky like any other meteor but right before it burnt out, it slowed down significantly. Again, I’m not sure if it actually slowed down (which would make sense) or if it was an optical illusion. I like to think it was the former. Either way, it was pretty cool.

The other thing was that since the sky has been so clear and calm, I had an exceptional view of the horizon – especially on my way to work looking over the low, flat cornfields. I’ve been able to spot Mercury just about two degrees above the horizon which is a rare occurrence for from my location. It’s a pretty cool sight that I’ll want to remember. It makes me long to live in a place where weather like this is the norm and views all the way to the horizon are plentiful. Someplace like Arizona. I at least have to take a trip out there some day…

Looking ahead, I’m going to spend the weekend down at my cousin Andy’s cabin for a little family get-together. We’ll be cooking out and camping and just having a good time… but I’m also going to take advantage of the lack of light-pollution and bring my CanonT3. At his cabin is the only place I’ve ever seen the Milky Way with my own eyes. It’s not blazing across the sky, but it’s FAR better than any place remotely close to my house. I’m looking forward to this weekend…

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