Friday, January 27, 2006


One of the memorable moments on "the Sky at Night" was when Patrick Moore attempted to show the first live pictures of Saturn, in the 50th programme. The sky was, predictably, overcast. Looking back years later, Sir Patrick remarked: "It wasn't meant to be a comedy programme, but it turned out that way."

I can sympathise with him a bit. Saturn is at conjunction today and...I cannot see diddly because there is a huge fog bank obscuring the sky. Maybe it will clear, but maybe it won't.

I guess I shall have to look frustratedly at the Celestron 4 1/2" Newtonian reflector telescope and enjoy the pic of the day above. Pic of the Day is a lovely internet resource provided by NASA.

This pic by two amateurs, using a CCD camera attached to a 12" scope, reveals a white spot in the milky cloud band above middle; i.e. in the southern hemisphere of the planet, since telescopes invert images. The spot is a storm, analogous to a thunderstorm.

UPDATE: I got up at half three this morning and the sky was beautifully clear; however the temperature must have been around minus 15 degrees Celcius. Whilst I love astronomy, I do like being warm! I went out again at 7 am and used my 7x50 binoculars to catch Venus and Jupiter.

NB: The budding astronomer, for example a child you might like to introduce to astronomy, has two MUST pieces of equipment: warm clothes and a 7x50 pair of binoculars. The latter beats cheap-o superstore scopes (which are crap) whilst temperatures do drop at night and freezing toes and ears will put anyone off observing.

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