Monday, November 3, 2008

Doubles in the Death Zone!

If you get that joke from the April 2000 issue of Sky and Telescope, then methinks you have more ice crystals in the brain than me.
(It's from a joking editorial by Michael Battaglia saying that S&T should start the Journal of Extreme Astronomy to attract extreme sports fans to the quaint intellectual pastime of astronomy. One of the article stubs on the faked first front cover is titled "Doubles in the Death Zone: Everest without Oxygen" and shows a mountain climber hauling a big telescope up a cliff, But I digress.)
Anyway, I did a little observing with my big 8" scope last night. My view looked like a considerably fainter version of this:

Next I looked at Gamma Delphini, a little yellow-blue double star.
Next came my second-ever sighting of Messier 71 (M71), a globular cluster (giant ball of up to a million stars) in Sagitta (the arrow). It appeared as a faint, fuzzy blob significantly less impressive than Hubble's view:
(Update 11/4: I've removed this picture because it refuses to load. to see it, go here)
Finally, I looked at the Dumbell Nebula, M27. I saw it as an apple-core shaped grey blob (seeing colors in nebulae requires long-exposure photography). This ESO (European Southern Observatory false-color view happens to look like an apple core:

Then I was getting really cold from the 39° F weather, so I packed up and went in.
The awesome, free, high-resolution images from wikipedia might take a few seconds to load.

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