Stargazing Updates, Fairbanks, AK, USA (publ. 2023-10-30)

The star gazing season did start up for me, but I have been too busy with the new baby to be able to post about it. Night-time weather has been cloudy most of the time, as is usual for this time of year, but I had a few stargazing sessions this month. Back on Sunday October 15, in the early morning hours, I went to the boat launch and did some naked-eye stargazing. The skies were cloudy, but I had a good view to the north for about twenty minutes. It was a good time of becoming more familiar with the constellations in that direction. In particular, I focused on Draco, which weaves in between the little and big dippers, before coming up and then back down to the head. Hercules is also an interesting one, which has a spider-like shape:

northern view 2023-10-15

northern view 2023-10-15 with constellation lines

Cepheus' geometry is also distinctive, wedged in-between Draco and Cassiopia:

northern view 2023-10-15

northern view 2023-10-15 with constellation lines

At that time, I was still waiting for my new astronomy binoculars to arrive. I had a lot of trouble with shipping through Amazon, but to skip over a long story, eventually I got my Celestron Skymaster 12x60 binoculars. I chose this particular model due to the following features:

- 60mm aperature provides decent light-gathering ability without the binoculars getting too bulky or heavy

- The magnification (12x) is decent but not too high, in order to reduce jitter and to give a brighter image

- It offered a tripod mount which fits my camera tripod.

I tried the binoculars out a little in the yard, but the conditions were pretty bad that night, so I won't say much about that. Later, on Friday morning October 27th, I had another good stargazing session at the boat launch, using the binoculars and the tripod. I focused mainly on Orion, which was conveniently placed. Here was the view to the south.

southern view 2023-10-27

I did another sketch of Orion's sword. Here is a scan of the page from my sketchbook:

log book 2023-10-27

log book 2023-10-27 (low resolution GIF)

Here is my binocular view, reproduced in Stellarium:

binocular view of Orion's sword 2023-10-27

The full moon was very bright that night, but despite that, the binoculars performed well, so I am happy with them so far. Comparing my sketch with the data in Stellarium, I was able to see stars down to at least 8.2 magnitude, which seems decent for 60mm binoculars on a bright moon-lit night. I'm looking forward to trying them out again on darker night. I have a concern relating to the converging of the two images, as the converged image seems a little more blurry than when I look through either eye individually. But it might be an issue with my eyes, so I don't want to make that a criticism of the binoculars just yet.

As always, all the praise and glory goes to the Creator of heaven and earth, who made this wonderful light show for us. I have been reading some interesting astronomy news lately, from a Biblical Creationist perspective — maybe I'll write another post about that soon if I can find time.

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