Is it the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown or our nearest Star erupting?

The boiling, erupting Sun

I really liked the images here and thought that they were really well done as were the close up shots. Putting that together was rather cool. I further like how Phil takes an image of the Earth to show you how big those plumes really are. Imagine a million Earth's fitting inside the Sun! This entry makes you realize how small we really are, especially if you compare our Sun to other stars out there as this video does at YouTube. This video by the American Museum of Natural History further shows how small we are. Look at how much we haven't even looked at yet and you realize how many more wonderful discoveries await for those who move forward with a career in astronomy.

Some useful information via links

It is cloudy with a storm coming in for Halloween so I won't be setting up the 10 inch today to show Jupiter off. Bummer as it was such a hit last year.

I've ran my errands and cleaned the house and the two teens are going to a friends house for a small get together and where they can eat pizza, the gluten kind since I can' t have it in the house for health reasons so I will be alone tonight. Actually, I'm alone right now. Being bored, I decided to do some digging over at Cloudy Nights and see what I could come up with. Looking in the archive I feel I have found some things that some visitors here might find useful.

1. 1369 Amateur Astronomy Links:

This one is huge and I have not verified all 1369 links that are focused on Amateur Astronomy. It has a TON of information on it and I invite you to click out on the link and visit the site, and bookmark it. Yep, I've now caused more of you to spend more time on those cloudy days and nights on the internet. Sometimes I think we spend too much time on this thing.

1369 Amateur Astronomy Links

2. Saguaro Astronomy Club Guide to Eyepieces by Steve Coe

Goes through the basics of eyepieces, the terms, field of view and true field of view and how to figure them out. Excellent site for someone new to the hobby or need a quick refresher.

3. Limiting Magnitude by Telescope Aperture:

Just a table showing two methods of calculating Limiting Magnitude by aperture and what that aperture is.

4. Glossary for Telescope Buyers and Users by Jay Freeman

Last updated in 2004 it is older but has excellent information on it.

5. Estimating Limiting Magnitude Visually

Has you estimate your limiting magnitude by looking at a specific constellation that is situated nicely in the current seasonal sky and lets you determine how far visually you can see down to. The problem is that your eyes and my eyes are different and I may see a site much lower in LVM while you see it as rating higher. For example, since it is fall and if we used Pegasus at one of my local dark sites I may count 33 stars to give me a LVM of 7.0 and you may only count 26 giving you a 6.7 LVM. So this is not an exact way to measure but it does provide some reference, mainly for the observer. I recorded my LVM and still do so I can compare what I am seeing given certain conditions at the sites I visit and I record the SQM. I want to do a long term study to see what happens as I get older tot he LVM and to the SQM which should be more constant.

6. From Ray Cash's Deep Sky Page with 537 Best Deep Sky Objects Sorted by Constellation.

This list is derived from one of amateur astronomy's least known and perhaps least used tool, the DeepMap 600. It's available for around $20 to $25 (I believe) from Orion or other sources (again, no benefit to me, I am not associated with Orion in any form). Anyway, you can pick a constellation that is prominant in the sky right now and then go and observe these. Should be decent items even from a sub-urban sky, but better the darker your skies are. Enjoy this one.

7. The Atmosphere and Seeing; A Guide to Astronomical Seeing by Damian Peach.

An older article that is still outstanding in the quick and informative way it shares the information that an amateur needs to understand the impact of the atmosphere on seeing. The basics are covered, but a key point here for me is to know your observing location and what occurs by season there. For example, I know that where I live if I can get a high pressure like I will next week for 5 days, that the first 3 days will be very good seeing until the inversion (dust, haze and pollution begin to gather into a layer at the lower atmosphere). I know the day after a storm passes is usually not very good either as the jet stream is still lingering. By the second or third day I know I am in for a fantastic observing session unless it is winter and we are getting storm after storm. So I plan accordingly. Seeing determines to some extent what objects I pursue. So read the article and get to know the trends in your area. Why not just observe every clear night? I do as often as my schedule and body will allow me to but IF I have to take only one night on a work week to observe, I want the best possible night I can get.

8. Last item is a company called Atomic Equatorial. The owner makes hand crafted equatorial platforms for dobs. I have been debating just making my own, and I may still do that, but I have put this on Christmas list as one item I would like. Building a dob and building a equatorial platform for the XX14i are something I am not sure is going to happen. Do I need it? Nope. I need a couple of eyepieces instead and those are the priority but this would be luxury to have for star parties and for sketching. Again, I am not affiliated with Atomic Equatorial and have no connection to them outside of contacting them via email for information on cost for platform for the XX14i. Here is their site if you want to check it out. Atomic Equatorial.

I have some other sites, but I think I'll introduce them from time to time over the next month or so. Save these for those unfortunate but cloudy skies that are coming your way. If you live in the mid-west or east coast, our storms are leaving us and are heading your way. 60's next week for us and back to nice mild and clear fall weather so I can get some observing in!

How many habitable planets are there in the galaxy?

Okay, I like Phil Plait, not a biggie though I know he is out to make a buck and a name for himself. That's okay as I do find his information to be interesting. The blog entry he did here on exoplanets and earth-like planets in habitable zones was an interesting read. So here it is, save it for a cloudy night. Enjoy.

How many habitable planets are there in the galaxy?

Arecibo gives comet some radar love

Arecibo gives comet some radar love

Found this interesting! Seems Comet Hartley looks like a cucumber or a bowling pin!