Great Night Viewing

By , 12th August 2007 in Observations

Tonight I had a very good nights astronomy, starting with my first visual of Jupiter this year.

I have had to wait a long time to see Jupiter this year because its altitude is very low. It has only just come round the back of the houses in the estate. I only get about a half hour to observe before it disappears behind some tree's.

I used my baby telescope, the StarTravel 102, with a 25mm eyepiece I can see Jupiter as a bright round object and I can make out a moon. With the 10mm eyepiece I can see Jupiter a bit more clearly, and identify Ganymede and Io. Finally with the 10mm eyepiece and 2x Barlow lens I can see the light ring around the northern hemisphere and just about make out the lower ring. The great red spot was not visible to me today. I could also see Europa and Callisto clearly as well.

After Jupiter had gone behind the trees I turned round to see Arcturus shining bright. This orange star is magnitude -0.03 and shines bright in the western skies.

I also observed the International Space Station fly overhead. I even managed to track it with my scope, and was amazed to be able to see some faint detail. With a 25mm eyepiece I believe I saw what looked like a large elongated dot, with two lines either side. This is the modules with solar panels either side. I was not able to view the space shuttle Endeavour at that magnification.

Throughout all this I was joined by a frog (which had a lucky escape), some bats and a hedgehog rummaging around for some food.

Unfortunately I did not see any of the Perseid's.

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