Saturday, October 21, 2006

Observing: Saturday, October 21

Some dark sky observing in Hocking Hills. The sky at Hocking Hills was extremely impressive, dark enough that you could easily see the Milky Way with the naked eye. There were so many stars that it was sometimes a little difficult to pick out familiar constellations. Some people saw shooting stars, and everyone got to see constellations like Sagitta, Delphinus, Aquila, Lyra, Cygnus, Auriga, Taurus, Cassiopeia, Pisces, Ursa Minor, Pegasus, Cepheus, Andromeda, Perseus, and Draco; a few people saw Sagittarius before it set. An interesting easily visible star was Fomalhaut, in Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fish: it's a southern constellation that is only occasionally visible at Wittenberg because of light pollution from Springfield. Along with Fomalhaut, Albireo, Altair, Vega, Alpheratz, Polaris, Capella, Aldebaran, El Nath, Phercad, Kochab, Mirfak, Algol, Rastaban, Eltanin, and Thuban were up. The Pleiades were also up, and we looked at Albireo through the telescope. A fun fact about Polaris, Thuban, and Vega all being visible at the same time: due to the wobble of the Earth's axis as it spins, called precession, Polaris has not always been the North Star. Thuban was the most recent one before Polaris, and Vega is next in line for the honor. Read more about precession here. Sadly, clouds moved in after an hour or so, and we didn't get to see fainter Messier objects like the Ring Nebula or later-rising constellations like Gemini and Orion. Thanks to everyone who drove and to the Reno family for hosting us.

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