Friday, February 19, 2010

scenic and stellar

This is the time of the year when a lot of the brightest stars make an appearance in the evenings. The dark skies seem fuller and relatively brighter, and more-or-less romantic.

Of course we hardly ever get clear views from the city, still the magnitude 2, 1 and 0 lights are very visible. Luckily there's this whole stretch enclosed by second-magnitude and brighter stars, Sirius, Betelgeuse, Rigel, Procyon, Capella, Pollux, Castor and Aldebaran.

This week I've tried to do some amateur astrophotography again. Given that I use a camera that isn't my own and thus one I don't know how to manipulate, and that I have nothing near a decent tripod, my shots were not quite how I hoped they would turn out.

Nonetheless it's been fun to spot stars. I pulled out my decade-old photocopy of a star-chart and did the roll call.

Those present:

Canis Major
Canis Minor
Pollux and Castor of Gemini
A portion of Argo
Star clusters Pleiades and Hyades and a few stars in Taurus

Big Dipper and a few lesser-magnitude stars in Ursa Major
Bootes (with alpha star Arcturus)
The head of Scorpius just peering over the horizon, and its heart, Antares

I also spotted two planets:

Mars, with its bright, distinct yellow glow, somewhere in the area of Gemini. It kinda forms a straight line with Procyon and Sirius.

There's another planet which I suppose is Mercury, somewhere between Leo and Corvus. I noticed that there was a bright "star" there that didn't belong, and realized that it didn't pulse like normal stars do. It was definitely a planet.

I'm hoping I could get the Hubby to agree to a trip to a beach or a mountain, where the stars would be more visible ^_^ I'll have a field day. I'll be sure to bring my camera and my worn-out chart.