Friday, June 18, 2010

Ring Nebula (M57)

The Ring Nebula is one of the most interesting planetary nebula. Called M57, it is 2300 light years from us. It is in the constellation Lyra, next to the star VEGA, and is a favorite object for late spring and summer viewing. It is hard to see through a scope smaller than 12", however a 3" scope can make out the ring structure. For more information and a Hubble view of M57, go to

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Planet transits

This is a rare opportunity, but again you can use your scope during the day to look at either Venus or Mercury cross the face of the sun. This is called a planet transit. These are the only planets that do this do to our planets position in the solar system. Click on the image and you will see a very tiny dot near the lower portion of the sun. It is a black dot. This is Venus. Also, near the top is a sunspot. This image was taken by a friend (Earl Grayson). Thanks Earl.

Sun viewing

A lot of people don't know that you can use your telescope during the daytime to look at the sun. Now I caution you........Do not look at the sun through your scope without a protective filter. You will ruin your eyes.

Attach a solar filter to your optical tube and you can see some amazing things on our nearst star. There are many different types, but the simple ones are cheap. Sunspots are great to see, but lately our sun is void of these. One day they will return

Milky Way

It is almost a new moon again when it's the best time to get out and look at the West Texas skies. We truly are blessed in West Texas to have amazing skies (away from the cities of course). I'm headed back down to Fort Davis again on June 10 to do some more astrophotography. I'm hoping for clear skies. I need to do some more wide field images of the Milky Way as the core rises in the southeast. If you are fortunate enough to see this magnificant site, then I highly recommend it.
Unfortunately not too many people get to see this site in urban areas where lights block out the Milky Way. 2/3 of the U.S. population cannot see the Milky Way anymore do to light pollution. I'm very blessed to have a place where I can see this awesome site.