Lunar Observing with Orion’s 70mm f/10, 7-29-12

I’ve been kind of bored for the past couple of days and something my dad said made me want to observe the moon.  It is certainly not the best time to be observing the moon or any object for that matter, but I was going out anyway.  I decided to take out the best lunar scope I have ever looked through, my 70mm refractor.  This was my first telescope ever, and I had my eye on it as soon as I flipped through an Orion catalog.  It was a $140 scope, and that seemed like a fortune to me, But I bought it and haven’t regretted it since.

I decided to set up in my backyard at first, but I moved on to the front yard.  We have a rather bothersome floodlight in our backyard and a large luminescent streetlight in the front.  Pretty much the only thing I looked at was the Moon, of course.  It was not the best of nights, one which I rated a 6-7/10.

The camera has a mind of it’s own, and I still haven’t quite figured it out yet.  That’s one of the moon shots I took.  I tried to post the picture of me looking at the moon with my telescope, but its being stubborn again.  If you have looked at the crater Plato on the moon, you might know that there are small craters on the floor of it that are about a mile in length.  Those craters are a great showpiece in my telescope and I am grateful to have such a good telescope.

That was the other “good” picture that night.  The turbulence in the air was somewhat prominent, and that certainly didn’t help the picture or the observing.  I want to also just post a couple of my recent astronomical sketches, and they have nothing to do with this but I thought they were neat. The one on the bottom left is M27 as seen through the 70mm refractor. Other is M92 through 70mm as well.

The night was not very memorable, I moved into the front and fought a war with dozens of crickets and packed it in for the night, thinking I was finished.  I watched the Olympics with my family until about 10:30, and went out with my 10×500 binoculars for a minute or 2.  I went back to my room and read Amateur Telescope Making for a long time and went out at midnight. I went outside and it turned out to be  a  sparkling clear night, even with the large moon.  I thought I saw something so I turned my binocs to what I found out to be the M31 (Andromeda Galaxy).  I thought it would be there and it was beautiful and bright, even with the 10x50s.  I ran in quickly and took out my dad’s Meade 4.5 inch reflector and looked at it.  The optical quality is not good and the binocular view was better.  The night did turn out to be very memorable.                                                                                                         


8 inch Loaner Scope

It’s been a while since I ‘ve blogged and I really wanted to get back into it.  Now that there is a pretty good moon out, this would be a great time to begin blogging again.  I was at the PVAA meeting and they let me borrow their 8 inch loaner scope.  They also have 10 and 12 inch telescopes to loan.  I was eager to try the 8 inch aperture myself because it had always appealed to me.  Another reason I borrowed it is because I didn’t want the guy that brought all the way into the meeting room to carry it back to his car.

This time, I can finally post some pictures.  I used it for 3 nights in a row, when I first got it.  I haven’t been out in about 4 days, so the next scope outing will probabily be my 70mm.  Anyway, The scope is homeade and is really easy to setup as well.  There are 2 bit parts to it.  The first is the mount, which was some crafty DIY work, and the tube, which I believe to be cardboard covered in fiberglass.  The telescope is really beautiful, with the spacey blue colored tube and mount.

  That picture is actually the the second night I took it out, but I took the picture to show the assembly of the telescope.  All you do is simply slide it onto the teflon pads.  The first night (day) I took it out, I took some pictures of the moon through it.  I think at that point, the moon was shrinking in size.  These shots were taken around 5:30 in the morning.  Those pictures were taken with merely holding an inexpensive digital camera up to the eyepiece.  They are not the best pictures in the world, but they are worthy of a few words.








This was a homemade telescope, made by somebody in my astronomy club.  When I got the scope, I got a box which contained 3 eyepieces and a Telrad finder.  The creator of this telescope also has a homemade 1.25″ focusing device.  This is an extraordinary homemade instrument.  Here is a close up  shot of the “business” end of the 8 inch.

At first, I had a little trouble with collimation but then it was brought to rights.  The best night I have had since borrowing it was one night with my dad’s 14″ refelctor.  It is Orion brand and has tracking and go-to capabilities.  He has started to try more advanced methods of planetary astrophotography, with an imager and the Registax program.  For the first hour or so, he was just recording video and taking pictures of Saturn for processing.  Later on, he quit the imaging and joined me in some memorable visual observations.  That night, I was primarily concerned with working on my Messier Program, and actually hit my halfway mark with the M4 globular cluster.  Much of the viewing was in Sagittarius and Hercules.  Living in a heavily light polluted area, it makes this type of astronomy rather difficult, but the persistent observer will still be able to prosper in that kind enviorment.

I also took the time to make some sketches through the 8 inch, and like I said on 10minuteastronomy, I will post some of those sketches.  These sketches were not very hard to make, but to require some practice.  The first 2 is of M16, or the Eagle nebula.  The picture on the left is my actual sketch, and the one on the right is a photo.

Notice the star cluster at the top of the sketch and it at 2:00 on the picture. that’s all I have time for today. Thank you for visiting and don’t forget to comment!


Some Great Books…

I have noticed on the right sidebar of this blog that there was a significant jump in the views yesterday.  From the first  10 minutes of my previous post there was at least 10 views.  It brought the total to 79.  Now as I am making this post, it is  up to 85!  I really thank all of you that visit my blog.  I would like to hear what you think of it.  Please send me a comment at the top of this post by the title.  When you comment, you will have to enter your email ( it won’t let me change that).  When you do comment, it will be sent to me via email and I will put it on the blog with a reply from me.

Anyway, today I’m talking all about books.  If you want to become really successful astronomer, you’ll find you accumulate many books.  Books about astronomy come in many forms.  They vary from subjects suitable for beginners or equations regarding quantum physics.  It just depends on what you need or want.  For example, in the deep sky observing catagory, I recieved the book,  Deep Sky Observing, by Steven R. Coe.  He is a very accomplished astronomer and makes gorgeous astronomical sketches.  Basically, his entire life’s work is in that book.  He uses an array  of different instruments as well!  Telescope sizes range from 6inches to 36inches!  I is all explained well in Coe’s notes.  Highly recommended.













One of the best deep sky observing books I have heard about but don’t have is Burnham’s Celestial Handbook  by Robert Burnham Jr.  It is kind of an old book, but covers the entire sky and shows what to look at.  His 3 volume set is one massive work.  Steve Coe, recently observed every object in Burnham’s book.

There is one more book I would like to share on today’s post and that book is called Universe: the Definitive Visual Guide edited by Martin Rees.  The book shares many authors, too numerous to mention.  There are 2 versions available, A large hardback edition or a smaller paperback edition.  This book covers everything having to do with astronomy.  Each page has beautiful high contrast color photos on it.  The last 20 pages or so has some exceptional star charts that I have used many times before.  If you want a big book covering countless topics, you need this book.

All of these books are available through and can be purchased reasonably cheap.


All of these books are  really great for astronomy and you will be impressed with all of them.  Also, tonight there is an astronomy meeting tonight for my astronomy club, here’s the link again:  I will bring my observing notes and sketches as I haven’t had time to post them on the blog yet.  Hopefully sometime soon in the future would be nice.



Telescope Making 2

I still haven’t bought my stuff for the grinding of the mirrors but I do have the mirror blanks at home.  If you don’t know about making scopes, 2 will be required.  In ” Amateur Telescope Making”, they recommend using an oil drum to mount the tool on.  I don’t have an oil drum, so an alternative is to fill a tub with cement (not a bathtub) and put a wood post in it that is perfectly straight.  Once it has dried, you can mount another piece of wood on top of that legnthwise and there is a great sturdy “grinding stand”.

One of my observing heroes is Sir William Herschel, who of course, made the great 48 inch Newtonian Reflecting telescope.  At the time of completion, it was the largest telescope ever built, having a focal length of 40 feet!  But in the time of Herschel, there was no focault or Ronchi test and therefore, he had to star test the figure.  So he had to mount it somehow, and look at a star with the polished surface only and see the appearance of the diffraction spikes, if any at all.




But anyway, I always had an interesting fascination towards actually building a telescope for some reason.  Upon doing research for this post, I came across a website that can make you up to a 60inch telescope! Don’t ask how much it is, but a 36″ runs for 36,000 dollars!  See for yourself :


Webster’s 32 inch f/3.6

Viewing in Sagittarius 7-8-12

On 7-8-12, I was out with my 70mm refractor.  I was viewing the area around Sagittarius and Scorpio, my constellation.  First I looked at M7, that open cluster I talked about in an earlier post.  I was using those charts that I posted a link about, astro-tom.  Like I stated before, they are an excellent set of charts and do nicely for a Messier viewing night.  Speaking of which, I almost halfway through my Messier program through the Astronomical League.  Last night, I added 28 and 29.

I am not sure if I mentioned this before, but I am part of the Pomona Valley Amateur Astronomers, see the website.   Please check it out if you live in the Pomona area as it is a really great club to be in.  If anyone is interested at seeing my sketches or asking questions,  I will be at the meeting on this Friday (see club calender).


By the way, I tried out my Uranometria 2000.0 and it has an unbelievable amount of accuracy.  Most of the objects that are in that book are really dim objects, so it  doesn’t do much for my 70mm.  Hopefully, when I get my telescope making project finished, that will open up some more deep sky objects to view.

Also, one more thing before I close, I just found out today that there is a supernova in Sagittarius. I found out about this here:

There is an excellent chart that the author made up to ( at the bottom of the page).   I actually viewed the nova last night, see my comment on the right side bar of 10minuteastronomy.

Observing with a 14″ dob

Observing with a big aperture scope is definitely worth it.  My dad recently purchased the Orion 14″ go to model.  I’m sure everybody who’s got a scope around that size has probabily looked at on

Last night was nearly full moon, I think it was 98% or something close.  It was not a very good night for lugging out the big scope but he had just got it laser collimated with his new device.  It worked good enough, the images were crisp all the way down to 8mm.  We first looked at Saturn.  I counted 6 moons and 3 divisions in the rings.  A great view for such a crummy night.  Then we looked at some open cluster in Cygnus.  It normally is a star filled area but I only counted 7 stars in the cluster.  Then finally, we pointed the big gun toward the moon, which was over the basketball hoop at that point.  I got the first look with about 175x.  It was blindingly bright as it should be.  When you leave the eyepiece, you get that imprint on your retina.  I can remember closing my eyes and still seeing Kepler and Copernicus.  He filtered it down some, but it still hurt a lot.

It wasn’t a very good night but it was certainly memorable for some reason.  By the way, my book Uranometria came just after I finished my post.  It truly is the “deepest” map I have ever seen.   The only drawback is that Sagittarius and Scorpio get cut off, they are considered a southern object.  But in late July to August, they work their way up in the sky pretty high.  Oh well, I guess that means that I’m buying the southern edition.   Anyway,   if  you really want an advanced set of charts, buy Uranometria 2000.0.   Highly recommended to the experienced amateur.   Even though I have this detailed chart, I am still going to buy the “Bright Star Atlas” by Wil Tirion.  It is a nice little chart that shows bright stars and bright deep space objects.  For one of those nights when you don’t want to scan the skies for faint fuzzies.



Uranometria Northern and Southern                                                  Bright Star Atlas




Orion 14″ go to Scope



Deep Sky Observing #2

Hi and thanks again for visiting my blog.  I will be talking more about deep sky observing.  I am still waiting for my star chart book and hopefully that comes very soon.  I would talk about making astronomical sketches but unfortunatley, I don’t have the camera adapter and you would need a visual reference.

I started really “seeing the night sky when I started taking good astronomical notes.  My first sketchbook was very crude and doesn’t really describe the object being viewed.  I have recently taken up the aid of the computer to help me with my notes.  I have made an excellent sketching/recording template using open office.  If anybody would like to use this format I am more than happy to share the document with you.  If you want it, just post it in the comments section of this post.

Some of the best summer deep space objects are high in the sky right now.  Of course, that large moon is hindering the view,  so you’ll have to wait until it goes down.  Among those are the great Hercules Cluster (M13) in Hercules.  Another couple of good globulars are the M10 and M12 clusters.  These reside in the constellation of Ophiuchus ( I think that’s spelled right).

Anyway, I found some really great Messier star charts that show the telrad circles around each object and I have used them for many nights.  They are very accurate and make finding these bright objects easy as ever. The website is:

I found it on another great blog.  That is:


I had a remarkable evening on the 19th of June.  I live in the extremely light polluted city of La Verne,  so the seeings never very good.  This night was extraordinary however.  For one of the first times in La  Verne, I could finally see the milky way.  I’m sure that if you live in Arizona or Utah or some place in the middle of nowhere, you have been spoiled by your pitch black skies.  Next time you get the chance, drive in to the nearest good sized city and you will be astonished how bad the skies have become.  Then you will come to appreciate your regular observing site a lot more.  I only experience dark skies a few times a year.  And I make the most of those remarkable evenings.  I use my grandpa’s 16″ f/4.5 at his house in Arizona.  There is nothing like putting in a low power eyepiece and scanning the milky way.

Anyway, I am currently working on the Astronomical League’s Messier program and am almost halfway there.  On that great night, I logged in 6 objects and made 2 sketches.  I could have made more entries, but there were so many visible at the time, it would have taken a good hour to log them all in.

But anyway,  like I said, check out astro tom’s site as well as 10minute astronomy.  Good luck and happy Observing.


M7 Open Cluster- one of my personal favorites in Sagittarius