Questions tagged [amateur-observing]

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

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46
votes
3answers
10k views

If Earth is tilted, why is Polaris always above the same spot?

Why is Polaris, the North Star, always above (or near) the North Pole? If Earth is tilted, Polaris' path should be in winter 23 degrees away from its path in summer, or not?
45
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3answers
24k 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? ...
33
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3answers
7k 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 ...
31
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2answers
1k 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 ...
24
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4answers
3k views

Are there any double stars that I can actually see orbit each other?

If I had a nice amateur telescope†, are there any multiple star systems that I could observe over a few years or a few decades and actually see the movement of one or both of them over time? My short ...
24
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2answers
2k 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?
24
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2answers
803 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 ...
22
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3answers
6k views

What would happen if someone had a telescope and watched Betelgeuse when it goes supernova?

Would that person go blind? Neutrino detectors and the abundance of Neutrinos would detect the upcoming visible show about 3 hours before any visible signs, so there would be time to point certain ...
22
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4answers
3k 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, ...
20
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2answers
120k views

How much magnification is needed to see planets of solar system?

I have a 3inch Newtonian reflector telescope with 300 mm focal length. I can use highest magnification of 75x using a 4mm eyepiece. But in 75x I can't see the details of Jupiter what was expected. ...
19
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1answer
423 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 don'...
17
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3answers
453 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 ...
16
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4answers
494 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 ...
16
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2answers
887 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
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4answers
5k 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 ...
15
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1answer
843 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 $A580, \ 50mm f/1.4 15"$
14
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1answer
566 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 ...
14
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1answer
203 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 ...
13
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2answers
2k views

Is it possible to do moon sighting in advance for 5 years with 100% accuracy? [duplicate]

It is Ramzan and the usual heated disagreements between clerics here in Pakistan as to the sighting of the crescent. This time the minister of Science and Technology (who is not a scientist himself ...
13
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3answers
2k 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 ...
13
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2answers
2k 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 ...
13
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1answer
1k 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 ...
12
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2answers
599 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 ...
11
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1answer
122 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 ...
10
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3answers
1k views

Which planet or star is this?

The picture was taken with a smartphone camera at Latitude 48.860045 | Longitude: 2.366202 the 31th of July at 01h07min15s Paris time. On the left is obviously the Moon, and the lower red circle ...
10
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2answers
180 views

How can I contribute to the scientific community using my telescope?

I've been using my Meade 90 ETX for a few years trying to become a better astronomer and am familiar enough with the basics to navigate my way around. I was wondering in what way an amateur astronomer ...
10
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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). ...
10
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3answers
390 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)?
10
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1answer
1k 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 ...
10
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1answer
7k 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 ...
10
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1answer
2k 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 ...
9
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7answers
6k views

How do I prevent or reduce shake when observing with binoculars?

I have some 16 x 50 binoculars that my parents bought me years ago. Recently I have tried to do some basic lunar and planetary observations with them but I am seriously struggling with shaking. This ...
9
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3answers
751 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 for ...
9
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2answers
523 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 ...
9
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2answers
350 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? I'...
9
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2answers
2k views

What is the bright object above the moon in Sudbury, Ontario?

There is a bright object above the moon in Sudbury, highly visible to the eye, nothing else as bright in the sky except for the moon. I'm looking around 6 and 7am. What is it ?
9
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3answers
185 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?
9
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1answer
2k 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 ...
9
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2answers
2k 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
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1answer
196 views

What's the white glow around this star?

A few days ago, I took a photo of the night sky in the mountains of Georgia with my DSLR. There, I noticed that one single star (in the center of the part of the photo that I added below) looks very ...
8
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3answers
668 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
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1answer
1k views

How big a dish do I need for radio astronomy?

I've recently become interested in the idea of building my own small-scale radio telescope. A quick online search finds a few instructions on how to build this using a satellite dish. These suggest a ...
8
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2answers
4k views

Why haven't I seen the Moon?

It has been some time since I've seen the Moon. What are the conditions that might affect whether or not the Moon is visible within a 24-hour period? Please take into consideration any notable ...
8
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1answer
239 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?
8
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0answers
191 views

Planning to revisit Arthur Eddington's experiment from 1919

As the fateful day draws closer, the United States will host a celestial event that comes once in three generations. I plan to witness this first hand at the exact center of greatest eclipse. In the ...
8
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2answers
37k 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 ...
7
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3answers
1k 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 ...
7
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3answers
872 views

Calculate the shadow on earth of a large orbital disk

How to calculate the shadow on earth of a large orbital disk (low orbit)?
7
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2answers
1k 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 ...
7
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1answer
127 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 ...