Please visit my
Amateur Astronomy website.
Amateur astronomy is one
of those hobbies in which I participated avidly for the four years in the U.S. Air
Force and for a couple years after separating. During that time I observed as often
as time and atmospheric conditions permitted. While at Robins AFB, in Warner Robins,
Georgia, I belonged to the Macon Amateur Astronomy club and spent quite a few Friday
evenings operating the museum's/club's 8", 10" and 14" Celestron telescopes both
for private observation and for assisting the public after the planetarium show.
The club took a couple trips to the Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta and got to look through their
32" reflector, which at the time (circa 1980) was the largest reflecting telescope
in the southeast. Today, of course, private 30" Dobsonians are as affordable
as motorcycles. A picture of me and my 8" Newtonian reflector is given below. I
ended up selling it after getting married to help pay the mortgage (sold all the
R/C stuff, too). Only naked-eye (no longer anywhere near my former 20/15 vision)
and my trusty binoculars remain for observing over the past 20 years. Recently,
have I begun reacquiring some of my "toys" from yesteryear. I have not purchased
another telescope yet, but the good thing is that now the state of the art is orders
of magnitude better than where I left off.
This photo was made with my Canon S1 2S Power Shot, mounted on a tripod. 15-second
exposure. 11/6/2007, 11:00 pm est. Through my 8x45 binoculars, comet Holmes appears
as a very prominent smudge. It is easily seen with the naked eye as what looks like
an extra star in Perseus.
This photo of the full moon - Mars conjunction
(≈3/8°), taken December 23, 2007, captures the northernmost (highest in the sky)
full moon of the year. Earth will pass between Mars and the sun tomorrow. Mars will
not come this close to Earth again until the year 2010.
Here is a photo of the largest full moon of
2010. It was taken from the back yard of my pervious house in Erie, PA. I was pretty
much buried in trees there.
Palomar Telescope Pyrex Mirror Blank by Corning, in the May 29, 1948, edition of
the Saturday Evening Post.
"Like buried treasures, the outposts of the universe have beckoned to the adventurous
from immemorial times." - George Ellery Hale
I am (Kirt Blattenberger, webmaster) with my 8" Newtonian reflector, circa 1982.
It was purchased used from an astronomy shop in Baltimore, MD. After struggling
with dragging out the tripod and doing polar alignments night after night, I finally
got smart and built this concrete block pier and ran 120 VAC to it for the clock
drive. The pier cap I custom cast out of concrete to mate the equatorial mount to
the blocks. Observation nights were greatly increased in number after doing so.
The finder is a piggybacked 2" Tasco refractor. I made a remote focusing mount for
the eyepiece using a servo from one of my other hobbies -
model airplanes and rockets.
Soon, I will scan and post some of the photos I took with it using my Minolta SLR.
There were no digital cameras in those days.
Skip ahead nearly three decades, and here
I am in my back yard in Erie, Pennsylvania, "playing" with my newly acquired (in
June) Celestron NexStar 8SE telescope. City lights are fairly bright here to the
east and west, but farm land is to the south and Lake Erie begins two miles to the
north, so that limits the light pollution somewhat. Erie is not that large of a
city, so that also helps. Still, compared to the truly dark skies in areas I have
lived in Vermont and Colorado, the seeing is noticeably bad. I haven't had a chance
to try any of the filters that came with the eyepiece and filter kit that came with
To the left is more recent image (2/9/2012) of Jupiter. I'm getting
a little better. The sky was exceptionally clear, winds nonexistent, and the nearly
full moon had not risen above the eastern horizon yet.
Jupiter was about 15° west of due south, high
in the sky. My Celestron NexImage was used with a 2x Barlow lens. The photo is a
composite of about 500 short time exposure images recorded at 5 fps. This really
helped avoid atmospheric scintillation. If I had done a better job on the focus,
the detail might have been even better. RegiStax v2 software was used.
To the right is my first ever image of Venus.
Amateur Astronomy Mfgs & Services
Greenbelt, MD Specializes in archiving and distributing collections of data that
have been published by professional astronomers. Most of these data sets are in
the form of computer-readable tables of numbers, rather than images. Amateur astronomers
can find these data collections useful in looking up the properties and locations
of celestial objects. This can help amateurs plan for observing sessions, and help
them to better understand what they've observed.
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York
York, NY Provides lectures, classes and observing sessions to better enjoy astronomy,
whether intellectually, aesthetically, or both.
Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton
Princeton, NJ Promotes astronomy-related activities for members and non-members,
novice to expert. A wide spectrum of astronomy interests are explored at the AAAP
through regular meetings, workshops, use of the two club observatories, public outreach
and regional star parties.
Amateur Astronomers' Inc (AAI)
/ Cranford, NJ Club info & links.
Amateur Astronomer's Notebook
Joint effort by two amateur astronomers, Joe Roberts and Peter Chapin, includes
information on a variety of topics that may be of interest to both casual star watchers
as well as experienced amateurs.
Amateur Astronomical Observatories
Large list of links to observatories & observatory vendors.
Amateur Astronomy Observers Log
lets amateur astronomers share their observations with each other.
Amateur Astronomy & Space Website
UK Amateur astronomer's website.
Amateur CCD Astronomy
webpage is devoted to showing examples of astrophotography that this author, an
amateur astrophotographer, has taken with the CCD - Richard Jacobs, M.D.
The American Association of Amateur Astronomers
Dallas, TX Bringing Amateur Astronomy to the World.
Ames Area Amateur Astronomers
IA Club information & links.
Astronomes Amateurs du Luxembourg
information & links.
New Hampshire Resources &
tutorials for amateur astronomers.
Links to planetarium and sky simulation software.
The Astronomy Store
/ Lexington, KY Astronomy books, telescopes, space toys, calendars, posters, prints,
Backyard Astronomy for Amateur Astronomers
The Netherlands Introduction to astronomy.
Cedar Amateur Astronomers, Inc
Rapids, IA Promotes the study and interest in astronomical topics within the membership
and among the public via dissemination of knowledge and ideas through lectures,
meetings, presentations, displays, discussions, and outdoor activities, are a member
society of the Astronomical League & operates Palisades-Dows Observatory in
cooperation with the Linn County Conservation Department.
Charlotte Amateur Astronomers Club
Charlotte, NC Club news & astronomy information.
Cloudy Nights Telescope Reviews
at Cloudy Nights is to assist amateur astronomers in better understanding the equipment
that goes with the hobby. We strive to accomplish this goal in three ways: by providing
a forum for reviews of telescopes and accessories, by providing a forum for commentary
articles on the many facets of the hobby that touch equipment, by encouraging and
sponsoring events and contests to get kids and beginners interested in the hobby.
Delaware Valley Amateur Astronomers
Philadelphia, PA Club info & links.
Edward R. Zane Planetarium
Greensboro, NC 87-seat hall in Natural Science Center of Greensboro.
Estimating Limiting Magnitude
An easy method of determining how clear your sky is by Veikko Makela.
Hamilton Amateur Astronomers
A group of individuals dedicated to the enjoyment and advancement of astronomy.
Ford Amateur Astronomy Club
MI Club info & links.
FotoSearch Astronomy Image Library
Waukesha, WI A massive collection of astronomy images from, galaxies to planets
to NASA images and much more. View world-class photography and art free of charge.
It is the digital, online equivalent of a massive image library. Browsing through
the library is free, and there are no access charges, registration requirements,
or usage limits.
Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association
616-897-7065 / Lowell, MI Participates in public education activities, comet watches,
meteor observing, as well as opening the observatory to the public two nights per
month. Besides the public education programs, members involve themselves in many
other pursuits from observing programs to astrophotography and CCD imaging.
The Isle of Man Astronomical Society
Isle of Man Promotes amateur astronomy.
Kennedy Space Center Amateur Astronomers
Florida Dedicated to the Understanding and Knowledge of the
Heavens God Made for Us to Observe.
Lehigh Valley Amateur Astronomical Society
/ Allentown PA The LVAAS is a public-oriented nonprofit educational organization
dedicated to serving the interests of the community in astronomy and related fields.
For both professionals and amateurs alike, LVAAS has much to offer through our many
programs and observing facilities.
Images from the Digitized Sky Survey as posted on alt.binaries.pictures.astro by
NASA's World Wind Satellite Imagery
World Wind lets you zoom from satellite altitude into any place on Earth. Leveraging
Landsat satellite imagery and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data, World Wind
lets you experience Earth terrain in visually rich 3D, just as if you were really
there. Virtually visit any place in the world. Look across the Andes, into the Grand
Canyon, over the Alps, or along the African Sahara.
The Nine Planets
A Multimedia Tour of
the Solar System: describes the history, mythology and current scientific knowledge
of each of the planets and moons and other objects in our solar system. In addition
to the usual pictures, there are also sounds, an occasional movie and many links
to other net resources. The text is written for a general audience not necessarily
knowledgeable in astronomy; technical terms are linked to an extensive glossary
by Bill Arnett.
NGC Images Archive
From the Grove Creek Observatory.
North Shore Amateur Astronomy Club
Two of the principal goals of the NSAAC are to promote a wider appreciation of astronomy
and to help people choose the most appropriate telescope or binocular for their
interest and budget.
Various astronomy links.
Piedmont Amateur Astronomers
Statesville, NC A group of individuals who meet to share an interest in astronomy
and to promote astronomy education.
Prairie Astronomy Club
NE Dedicated to encouraging the study of Astronomy and related subjects for the
benefit of its members and the general public.
Ptolemy's Supper Club
A group of avid amateur astronomers.
Shoreline Amateur Astronomical Association
Holland, MI A not-for-profit organization created for the purpose of furthering
the enjoyment of amateur astronomy.
South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association
Sunrise, FL A registered non-profit educational amateur astronomy society.
Spitzer Space Telescope
/ Pasadena, CA
The Spitzer Space Telescope (formerly SIRTF, the Space Infrared
Telescope Facility) was launched into space by a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral
on 25 August 2003. Spitzer will obtain images and spectra by detecting the infrared
energy, or heat, radiated by objects in space between wavelengths of 3 and 180 microns
(1 micron is one-millionth of a meter). Consisting of a 0.85-meter telescope and
three cryogenically-cooled science instruments, Spitzer is the largest infrared
telescope ever launched into space.
Ecliptic Finder Design
Plans is a design plan that shows how to build the Ecliptic Finder. This simple
instrument is a variation on the sundial. AstroCalculator© is a calculator program
for general time and astronomical calculations, conversions and corrections and
much more. OptiCalculator© is an optics and imaging calculator. This just released
tool is a full featured function set for astrophotography, whether using CCDs or
Film. It also covers basic optics for telescopes and more. Featured in "Sky and
Telescope" February 2005. Binocular Mount Design Plans is a design plan booklet
to help you build your own for $60 to $120 instead of the purchase prices ranging
from $200-$300. Easy to build and use. Fully articulated and balanced arm for all
position viewing. Sundial Calculator© is based on AstroCalculator but is focused
on just the sundial calculation, time and solar system calculations at a lower cost
for the dialist community.
Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIfA)
A leading centre for astrophysical research in Australia, at The University of Sydney.
Transit of Venus
A brief report on our viewing of the 2004 transit of Venus from Bill Arnett.
Stargazers (TVS) is a registered non-profit astronomy club serving the areas in
and around Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin, Fremont, and Tracy, California. Public
outreach and astronomy education are promoted collectively by the club and individually
by members who present public programs and monthly meetings. Membership is open
to anyone with an interest in astronomy. Amateurs and professionals are equally
Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association
Tucson, AZ A resource for anyone interested in Astronomy. Our mission is to nurture
a person's natural curiosity about the night sky. By giving people a knowledge and
understanding of Astronomy, we enhance their enjoyment of the solar system
beyond. Through our public activities and school evening observing sessions, we
bring Astronomy to persons of all ages. Our regular meetings and observing sessions
offer members a forum to meet others with similar interests and experiences and
to learn from one another.
Twin City Amateur Astronomers
309-438-2496 / Normal, IL Club info & links.
The Web Nebulae
and a bit of explanation of a couple dozen of the more spectacular nebulae in the
A full report on a trip to the 1998 solar eclipse
in the Caribbean.
Valhalla, NY A not-for-profit organization
open to people of all ages with the desire to learn more about astronomy and who
share an interest in viewing the universe. We range from enthusiastic amateurs and
educators to casual stargazers and families.
Wollongong Amateur Astronomy Club
Australia Club info & links.
World's Largest Optical Telescopes
Lists all the major optical observatories in the world today.