Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Keep watching the skies!

More from the wonderful world of back-garden astronomy. This is an image of Saturn I took on my new webcam - a Philips SPC900 - a few days ago - about the last time we saw the sky in the UK (click on the image for a closer look).

Even a good webcam like a this one can only see planets and the brighter stars (and the Moon, obviously). If you can hold a soldering iron steady, it is possible to modify the camera to take long exposures to take pictures of so-called 'deep sky objects' - nebulae, galaxies, star clusters, etc. Have a look at this bloke's stuff. He is also a Christian.

You won't see Saturn looking quite like this in a typical small telescope. The rings are easy to see, but it will be quite a bit smaller. This image has undergone a lot of 'post production' processing.

I hope to do better, but at present we have 'wall to wall' cloud.

Incidentally, if anyone is thinking of buying a telescope, get some advice first. The important thing to remember is that magnification isn't that important - what really matters is the width of the light-capturing lens. Most people could usefully start with a pair of binoculars. A good specification would be 10x50 - 10 being the magnification ('ten times'), and 50 the aperture (in millimetres). This second figure is the important one, not the magnification. I got a decent-enough pair from Lidls for £15 and it is worth checking out their website on a regular basis. (The guy who runs the Firmament site, above, buys from Lidls, Holland.) If you can get a pair of 10x70s, even better!

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1 comment:

  1. From Robin Edgar, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    If you watch the skies on August 1st 2008 in the appropriate parts of China, Mongolia, Russia (Siberia) and the Arctic you will see the total solar eclipse "Eye of God".

    I am proposing the observance of a World Day of Conscience whenever this cosmic symbol of God's divine omniscience is seen the skies above our planet. Please feel free to spread the invitation around a bit.