Nov 20, 2010

Posted by in Featured Articles, Inspiration, Introspection | 0 Comments

Stargazing in November

Stargazing in November

Every year around this time (mid November) I have wished for a clear night sky, as it has been my desire for the last couple of years to catch a glimpse of the Leonid meteor shower and as far back as I remember it has always been cloudy.

This year my wish finally came true as we had clear skies for a couple of days including the peak period of the meteor shower.

Before the peak period I spend the early night surveying the sky, trying to figure out the name of some of the less known (to me) constellations,  their movement, taking note of the time and so on. Also surveying any areas that might offer a bit of darkness, as the place where we live is well lit, a negative aspect for stargazing (and a positive one for safety). Even with the light pollution the wide view of the sky is amazing when not cloudy.

During the various times I looked up at the sky I thought, hmm how about a night time SketchCrawl, catch where the constellations / stars are at various times of the night but frankly I was afraid I would miss a meteor and it was too cold too!  🙂

I did wonder if others had venture to sketch the night sky so I did a couple of searches and came across a site which contains quite a lot of information including a section for Astronomical Sketching Resources.

The other tool that provided great help was the StarDome found in the Astronomy Magazine site, as it gave me the ability to figure out exactly how the sky would look at certain times, and took some of the guessing (and freezing out in the cold) away from the experience.

Another application that proved helpful was Google Earth, as it has a Night Sky option. You can really spend some time exploring the constellations, and various other stars, etc.

Twitter of course was also helpful, by searching for #leonids I got a glimpse of what others were experiencing and/or commenting about the event (almost in real time – not a popular topic it seemed), it even allowed me to find another interesting site (Space Weather Radio – which allows you to hear the meteors and satellites as they pass by. This last site was quite interesting… continuous static and ping sounds every so often and once in a while a long beep sound (I have not idea what that was but it was exciting to listen to it).

Listening continuous static reminded me of the trips we would take to visit our grandparents when we were kids, my dad would drive practically all night so we would get there in the morning due to limited vacation times. We would often stay awake for as long as we could and would listen to the various radio stations as he drove from town to town. Back in those days, there weren’t many radio stations and you could practically hear static in between towns, we also got a few glances at the wonderful night sky.

While I managed to listen to various pings through that site, my many trips outside didn’t offer me any visual discoveries. I looked and looked, and tried for three days and nothing! hehe Do I regret the experience? not at all, I enjoyed it immensely and now that I have found the sites mentioned above I look forward to the next night sky event, who knows maybe the skies will be clear again.

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