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What's up in the sky June, 2010

posted May 26, 2010, 8:35 AM by Marvin Stewart
             If you have been thinking about getting started in astronomy this is a good time. Now, the nights are pleasant and the summer haze makes the bright stars that define the constellations stand out, and finding the brightest star, or stars, first makes finding the constellations easier. Most of us when we started had difficulty understanding the size of the constellation we are looking for. The Big Dipper is known to most people who live in the northern hemisphere, and it is a good starting point to learn other constellations.
             Study the star map, or planisphere, you are using. Start with what you know. If you know the Big Dipper compare its size to what you are hunting for, look for  the bright star,  in what you are looking for in relation to the Big Dipper and you will find it. Usually the brightest stars are named on the map. Once you have gotten that constellation down you can use your new find  the same way you did the Big Dipper to find others. Don't overload yourself trying to find as many constellations, or stars, as you can  in one night.  Learning the night sky, like playing the piano, or bowling,  takes practice.  The more you practice, the better you become, making it faster and easier for you to find new things.            
             Start with a sky map, and or a planisphere, for simple calculations of what is up in the sky. A flashlight with a red lens or cover with red plastic, a pair of binoculars, and a small compass helps too. No, don't run out and immediatly buy a telescope. Why? Since one telescope won't do everything each scope is a compromise. Wait and then choose one that fulfills most of your needs. Binoculars are great, you can see more objects than you can naked eye. They cover more of the sky, they're  easier to carry  and you can use them to look at other things too. The most recommended binogulars are 7 X 50 or 10 X 50, both are excellent for night use. A good pair of binoculars is cheaper than a telescope, and a telescope of the same price would be almost useless.
            Getting more interested?  We welcome new members, and an Astronomy Club,like, the  Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri, is a great place to start. If you are afraid of not being welcome you needn't, we have all been where you are. It also  gives you the opportunity to look at and use equipment to get a better idea of what you want to own.
            Join us at the observing site in Broemmelseik Park every Friday night, weather permitting, enjoy the views through the varius scopes and talk to our members. More information about our outreach activities can be found on the calendar and links on our home page.
            This month look for:
             04    The Moon is at last quarter.
             10     The Moon is above Mercury.
             12     New Moon:
             19     First quarter Moon.
             21     Summer solstice 6:28 a.m. CDT.
             26     Full Moon. Partial lunar eclipse.
             30     The Moon will be north of Neptune at 8pm CDT.