Questions about the observation of celestrial objects by non-professional astronomers.

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31
votes
3answers
7k views

How powerful a telescope would allow me to view the astronauts aboard ISS do a space-walk?

This arose from a comment posted against a question elsewhere on the stackexchange How powerful a telescope/binoculars would allow me to view the astronauts aboard the ISS do a space-walk? Aperture? ...
26
votes
3answers
6k views

Did I see another planet?

A couple days ago, I zoomed in with my 30x optical zoom camera, and after some exposure adjustments, a bright star in the night sky turned into this: Are those other planets or other stars? Or is ...
22
votes
2answers
524 views

How do I calculate the inclination of an object with an amateur telescope?

Suppose I would like to calculate the inclination of a satellite from the ecliptic. Would it be possible to do this with an amateur telescope? How would I go about doing so? Note: A good answer ...
20
votes
2answers
320 views

Amateur observing targets for binary star systems?

Are there any easily resolvable, binary star, observing targets visible from ~N40°? I'd like to be able to show, in one observing session, Mizar and Alcor (naked eye resolvable), another with ...
18
votes
4answers
1k views

How would the night sky look from inside a globular cluster?

When the weather is clear, we can look at the stars. And we normally would see several thousands of them, they all being more than a $\textrm{pc}$ away from us. Now, there are globular clusters, ...
16
votes
1answer
302 views

I live in an area with a lot of light pollution, how can I view the stars without building an observatory?

I live in an urban area with a lot of light pollution and very little garden space. On a clear night I can see most of the sky and the brighter stars are visible. I can't build an observatory - I ...
16
votes
2answers
582 views

What are practical considerations for backyard radio-astronomy detection of black holes?

Evidently, direct observation of a black hole for an amateur astronomer, such as described for what professionals do in the question "How are black holes found?" would be nigh on impossible, so the ...
15
votes
4answers
186 views

What practical considerations are there for amateur observations of transiting exoplanets?

Obviously, I am not referring to actual viewing of the exoplanets themselves, but detecting their effects on the brightness of the light emitted from the parent star (as in the diagram below from The ...
14
votes
2answers
236 views

Affordable night sky photography

As an amateur with limited budget, I'd be interested in taking photos of the night sky, trying to capture more detail than human eye armed with a lens of comparable parameters to what I have in my ...
13
votes
3answers
475 views

How can I safely observe a Solar Flare?

Solar Flares obviously release extreme amounts of energy and extend thousands of miles out into space. Because they are so big I would like to be able to observe some of these events through a ...
12
votes
1answer
294 views

What is the object in this photo?

What object is in this photo? View coordinates: $47.25103 \ \ 38.81697$ Time: $2013$-$11$-$23 ~21$:$00 +4 ~UTC$ Sony $A580, \ 50mm f/1.4 15"$
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Jupiter FM - What are practical and inexpensive ways for the amateur detection of signals from Jupiter, especially of the transit of her moons?

What modifications to a standard AM/FM or shortwave radio are needed in order to be able to detect radio-wave signals emitted from Jupiter? Would it be possible to detect the transit of the major ...
11
votes
1answer
414 views

How Does a Refractor Telescope Work?

As I understand it, the difference between a reflector and a refractor is that a reflector uses mirrors on the back to reflect the light to the secondary mirror then the secondary mirror reflects the ...
10
votes
1answer
286 views

How do I build a stargazing aficionado's Sun funnel to observe our nearest star safely?

How do I observe the Sun safely, with tools I could build myself and without breaking the bank? If I wanted to build a Sun funnel on my own and use it on my enthusiast grade telescope, how would I do ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

Are satellites orbiting around earth visible to the naked eye?

I was just lying under the sky trying to possibly see some meteorites, unfortunately never seeing any I might add, but I saw three objects all moving at about the same speed( all at different times). ...
9
votes
2answers
703 views

Is the Milky Way Visible from Nebraska?

Is the Milky Way Visible from Nebraska? If so, where is the best place to view it, and also what would be the best time of night to see it? I know this is probably a very novice question, just ...
9
votes
2answers
345 views

Sky photography through compositing images in software?

I've read about and seen some rather sophisticated rigs for night sky photography that allow for ultra-long-exposure photos by counteracting the rotation of the sky by rotating the camera with it. The ...
8
votes
2answers
124 views

How many stars are in the constellation Canis Minor?

I've read Wikipedia and found a list of stars in Canis Minor, and counted the number of stars in the list. I came up with 56 stars, a surprising number. I did some more research and found that Canis ...
8
votes
3answers
304 views

Can the supernova remnant SN 1572 be observed by amateur astronomers?

The SN 1572 remnant, also called Tycho's supernova remnant, is beautiful in X-ray images. It seems to be rather dim in visible light. Are there any amateur photographs of this object? How long are the ...
8
votes
3answers
154 views

What will be Supernova SN 2014J's peak brightness?

What is the expected maximum apparent magnitude of supernova SN 2014J? When will it attain peak brightness?
8
votes
1answer
498 views

Light patch in the night sky [duplicate]

I am so sorry for being ambiguous. I'm not an astronomer and have have never actually even bothered to look at the sky before. I don't have a telescope nor camera. Yet, I'm really really curious ...
8
votes
1answer
303 views

Apparent size of M31

I am trying to understand something I read on wikipedia about M31. Wikipedia says that M31 appears more than six times as wide as the full Moon. But I remember that when I watched it naked eye it ...
8
votes
1answer
114 views

How can an amateur astronomer verify the position of near Earth objects?

Sometimes, hobby-astronomers use rather professional means to observe the big voids of space. Every now and then (think in months, not days) even I can locate an NEO (near Earth object). Now, I'm ...
8
votes
3answers
198 views

Perceiving movement of stars

Are there any stars visible to the naked eye whose position, over a normal human lifetime, can be seen to have changed (relative to other stars in the vicinity)?
8
votes
1answer
465 views

What can be seen with a 4.5" telescope

I just got a 4.5" Newtonian reflector. The skies haven't been clear where I live lately so I've only been able to use it to see the moon and Jupiter (I was also able to see the Galilean moons). A ...
8
votes
2answers
673 views

How to calculate the altitude of the Moon?

With the known latitude coordinate of the observing position, how to find the altitude of the moon when it is high, i.e when it crosses the local meridian?
8
votes
1answer
67 views

Does the Reflection Method for Looking at the Sun Work For Refractors?

I own a newtonian reflector and occasionally use it (using the reflection method with paper) for looking at the sun. I happen to also own a refractor, but I'm not exactly sure if the reflection method ...
6
votes
2answers
132 views

Acquirable Raw Data in Amateur Astrophotography

What raw data can I possibly acquire from an 8" Classical Dobsonian Telescope, and a DSLR? Could anything eye-opening to amateur astronomers be computed or calculated first-hand with such equipment? ...
6
votes
2answers
314 views

Can I look at the sky and find the day of the week?

Suppose I wake up from a coma on a desert island in the 19th century (i.e. we already use the Gregorian calendar but have no satellites yet). I have a clear view of the sky and a couple of days to ...
6
votes
1answer
172 views

Can you see city lights on the Moon from Earth?

This is the opposite of another question. That question is about whether you could see cities on Earth if you were standing on the Moon. Let's there are cities on the Moon and you're standing on the ...
6
votes
1answer
149 views

How often are new astronomical objects (variable stars, supernovae, comets, etc) discovered by amateurs?

How often are new astronomical objects (variable stars, supernovae, comets, etc) discovered by amateurs? Where could one report new findings?
6
votes
1answer
197 views

Time after sunset until star can be seen

Given a star's apparent location and apparent magnitude, how how many degrees below the horizon must the sun be for the star to be visible to the naked eye for an observer on Earth at a specified ...
5
votes
3answers
153 views

Visibility of human activity on the moon

In this video the host of Test Tube Plus states that you can go out a buy a laser, point it at the moon, and see the retroreflector left by the astronauts. When you point at the right spot you'll ...
5
votes
3answers
282 views

Should this photo of the sun's surface actually be white?

If I'm told correctly (eg. What Color is the Sun?) that the sun is actually white, should the photo on that page actually be white too? Is it just doctored to meet peoples expectations?: Likewise ...
5
votes
1answer
262 views

How to see Saturn's rings through a pair of binoculars?

I have a pair of 15x70 binoculars. I would not say what manufacturer to avoid being the subject of 'hold'. The current angular diameter is 15.5 arcseconds. I am wondering if that condition is enough ...
5
votes
2answers
357 views

Location on (or in) the celestial sphere

First off, I apologize if I am breaking any site-etiquitte. Secondly, this is probably extremely elementary. For a lab, I was given the question: When we are sitting in a planetarium, where are ...
5
votes
1answer
697 views

Are Barlow lenses stackable for bright objects?

I'm back to the refractor that I own, and I want to maximize the zoom capacity. I realized today that I own more than one barlow lens, and I was wondering if I could stack them together for looking at ...
5
votes
1answer
163 views

Watching the Mercury transit with improvised devices

I have learned that it is not possible to watch the upcoming Mercury transit with the plain eye (using special filter glasses). Is it possible to watch the transit with improvised devices (like a ...
5
votes
1answer
53 views

Where can I find/visualize planets/stars/moons/etc positions?

What resources are available to find the positions of planets, stars, moons, artifical satellites, asteroids, and other heavenly bodies?
5
votes
1answer
306 views

Can I see the star of Bethlehem at Christmas? [closed]

In the Christian tradition the first Christians are believed to be three wise men who followed the star of Bethlehem to the stable where Jesus was supposed to be born. Is it with some accuracy known ...
5
votes
1answer
106 views

How were the orbits of planets first mapped out?

I'd like to know how the orbits of planets were first 'mapped out' and to understand the maths behind it. e.g. How do we know what position in space a planet will be at certain time so that spacecraft ...
5
votes
1answer
53 views

Diameter of Astronomical Object Using Magnification

I took a picture of Jupiter through my telescope, using an iPhone. I know the magnification of the telescope lens I used, and can Google to get the magnification of the iPhone lens (the magnification ...
5
votes
1answer
838 views

Can an amateur astronomer bounce a laser off the moon?

In the TV show "Big Bang Theory" episode "The Lunar Excitation", the gang fires a laser from their rooftop, bounces it off mirrors on the moon, and measures the laser coming back on a computer. Is ...
5
votes
3answers
508 views

Spotting the International Space Station (ISS)

Recently, I visited the NASA website which provides sighting locations to see the International Space Station (ISS). As we all know, we can even see ISS with the naked eye in a clear sky as a passing ...
5
votes
1answer
85 views

Periodic behavior of Venus

After a couple months of watching a very bright Venus appear at dusk and set soon after the Sun, I've noticed that it seems to have temporarily disappeared to the naked eye. I used a virtual sky ...
5
votes
1answer
48 views

How can I observe the Orionid Meteor Shower?

I would like to see the orionids sometime this week (October 20-26, 2013). What is the best way for me to observe them by naked eye? Also, would I be benefitted by trying to look at them with a ...
5
votes
2answers
112 views

Was that actually a shooting star during the supermoon eclipse on September 27th 2015?

During the super-moon total lunar eclipse on September 27th a meteor-like streak passed very close within view of the event. It appeared to happen at the very middle, the maximum eclipse. ...
5
votes
3answers
96 views

International Space Station

Recently, I have been going out to observe the ISS when it is within sight of my location. I have noticed that the ISS, based on the time that I have to observe the space station during any given ...
5
votes
1answer
201 views

Can I see comet ISON from Saudi Arabia?

I live in western Saudi Arabia, I am trying to see the comet ISON, reading here and there tells that I can see it by naked eye somewhere next to the constellation leo, I used an app to tells me where ...
5
votes
1answer
292 views

Is stacking welder's glasses a safe way to watch at the eclipse?

You can find in many place on the Internet that welder's glass #14 is good for looking at an eclipse. Tomorrow (March, 20th 2015 at 10:45 CET) there's a solar eclipse and yesterday I could only find ...