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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.
Palomar Telescope Pyrex Mirror Blank by Corning, in the May 29, 1948, edition of the
Saturday Evening Post.
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.
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.
"Like buried treasures, the outposts of the universe have beckoned to the adventurous
from immemorial times." - George Ellery Hale
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 the scope.
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
New York, NY Provides lectures, classes and observing sessions
to better enjoy astronomy, whether intellectually, aesthetically, or both.
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
908-276-2730 / Cranford, NJ Club info & links.
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.
Large list of links to observatories &
Amateur Astronomy Observers Log
This site lets amateur
astronomers share their observations with each other.
Amateur CCD Astronomy
This 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
Dallas, TX Bringing Amateur Astronomy to the World.
Ames Area Amateur
Ames, IA Club information & links.
Astronomes Amateurs du Luxembourg
Luxembourg Club information & links.
New Hampshire Resources & tutorials for amateur astronomers.
Links to planetarium and sky simulation software.
Backyard Astronomy for
The Netherlands Introduction to astronomy.
Cedar Amateur Astronomers
Cedar 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, NC Club news & astronomy information.
Our goal 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. Now called the
Science Center OmniSphere.
An easy method of determining how clear your sky is
by Veikko Makela.
Canada A group of individuals dedicated to the enjoyment
and advancement of astronomy.
Ford Amateur Astronomy
Dearborn, 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
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
Isle of Man Promotes amateur astronomy
Kennedy Space Center
Florida Dedicated to the Understanding and Knowledge
of the Heavens God Made for Us to Observe.
Lehigh Valley Amateur Astronomical
610-797-3476 / 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 Richard Bright.
NASA's World Wind
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.
From the Grove Creek Observatory.
North Shore Amateur Astronomy
Massachusetts 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.
Lincoln, NE Dedicated to encouraging the study of Astronomy and
related subjects for the benefit of its members and the general public.
Bill Arnett's backyard observatory.
A group of avid amateur astronomers.
Shoreline Amateur Astronomical
Holland, MI A not-for-profit organization created for the
purpose of furthering the enjoyment of amateur astronomy.
South Florida Amateur Astronomers
Sunrise, FL A registered non-profit educational amateur astronomy
Spitzer Space Telescope
818-354-4200 / 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.
Relevant information and product reviews for stargazing freaks. Blog entries include
Stargazing Events for 2019 infographic.
Tri-Valley 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 welcome.
Tucson Amateur Astronomy
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.
Pictures and a bit of explanation of a couple dozen of the more
spectacular nebulae in the night sky.
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.
Largest Optical Telescopes
Lists all the major optical observatories
in the world today.