Stars through the Kitchen Window

A lot of you know I keep a detailed journal of my observations…

Thought I’d share this one from this morning with you since the objects are within reach of binoculars, and from indoors if you have a nice southern window free of obstacles/too much light pollution.
Regardless, the objects are definitely worth a look– even briefly they are stunning.

Note that these are really Springtime objects so if you want to wait six months so you won’t be looking out of your window for them at 3 AM, that’s fine.  Or if you wake up mid-sleep like I do, then by all means go for it.
Becky’s Kitchen Window Observing Report

November 18,2009
3:30 AM local time

This began as a quick look out of the kitchen window after getting a drink of water early this morning.  I was admiring Sirius in Canis Major and the session evolved into the following.  This happens often.  My gaze is distracted by all the shiny stuff out there.  It never ceases to amaze me how lucky we are to live on Earth with so many things in the sky to be awed by.

After admiring Sirius, I then saw a brilliant star nestled low in a small craggy notch in the tree line south of me.  It was Gamma Velorum and it was bright and playing peek-a-boo in the trees as it slid west. It seemed to be embedded in a swarm of fainter stars.

A Wiki article has an anecdotal reference to Gamma Velorum being named “Regor” by Apollo 1 astronaut Gus Grissom.  It was named after astronaut Roger Chaffee.  Regor is Roger spelled backwards.

NGC 2477-Noticed it as an obvious yet compact smudge just above the
brilliant blue star Zeta Puppis* with 8 x 56 binoculars-yes by now I have my binoculars out for a closer look.  I had to lean almost down in the sink to see it above the tree line to the south, but it was easily there.
The cluster is very tight and when first seen, appeared more like a tailless comet-almost like Comet Holmes did when I first saw it two years ago. (has it been that long already?)
An image and details of this appealing little cluster is below.

Before sighting NGC 2477, I scooped up NGC 2451.  This open cluster is like looking at a pile of glitter.  It is very sparkly and reminded me of dewdrops on a background of black velvet.  It almost had a “fresh” look to it if you can imagine such a thing.  The seeing and transparency were extremely good as no flickering or wobbling of stars, even down to the horizon were noticed.


I hope to make some images of these two clusters.

I got so involved with looking at these clusters that I neglected looking for any leftover Leonids.  This is why I have difficulty completing any formal observing lists in a timely manner-because there is just so much in the sky to be wooed by.
I can’t just simply look at something and then move away without finding
out more about the object(s) and then studying it further.

*Zeta Pup is one of the brightest stars known with an absolute magnitude
of -5.96/visual magnitude 2.21  Also known as Naos, it is one of the sky’s few naked eye class O-type stars.  It’s an extreme blue supergiant and if it were located the same distance as Sirius, it would cast shadows on Earth.

Alnitak (Zeta Orionis) is the brightest class 0-type star, absolute magnitude -5.25/visual magnitude 1.70 in the sky and is the easternmost star in Orion’s Belt.  It’s near the Horsehead Nebula but not related to it.

All of the above are on chart 4 of the Bright Star Atlas by Tirion and Skiff and can be found on the far lower left corner of the atlas.

Cosmic Way


I’m driving back up to this place tomorrow….

Maybe I blogged this photo before???  Oh well, my D70 is resting since both batteries are dead-plus I’m gearing up for the Leonid meteor shower next week and cleaning lenses and digging out a couple of film cameras for it.  Namely an old F2 and the K1000.

Don’t know if I’ll catch any with the cameras- so far my track record is terrible.  My camera is NEVER aimed where a meteor zips by so this year I’m going to set three cameras up.

It was the Leonid storm of 2001 that was partly to blame for our move to New Mexico.  We came here for the Leonids, and fell in love with this place.   Dreams do come true.

ISS and Andromeda


The ISS flew through the Great Square of Pegasus then down Andromeda….The Andromeda Galaxy,which is often referred to as our sister galaxy since it is similar in size and shape can be seen as the tiny smudgy speck toward the upper center of the image.

The ISS left the streak while an airplane left the dotted line making an “X” in the early evening sky.

Nikon D70 on tripod


30 seconds ISO 200

done digging…

diggins.jpg the digging is done, and the forms are finished!  Yipeee!

Next– a four inch layer of gravel in the bottom for drainage, then concrete.   Finally, the observatory walls and dome will complete this months long project.

The image on the left shows the four foot deep “footer” surrounding the center plug for the pier.

The forms are masonite, and let me tell you, it is a bugger to wrestle.

(Soon, we will be astronomers that stare at Capricornus!)