Astronomy: The Madscientist Observes the Heavens
Site Navigation for Astronomy
The Madscientist Observes the Heavens There are a lot of great astronomy sites on the web. Here are a few: Observers is a loosely coupled organization of "amateur" astronomers. Cornell's astronomy web site is a pretty interesting read. A good planetary introduction Backyard Astronomer has blogs, blog software, and more. The Navy has a helpful phases of the moon web site. The Hubble Telescope web site.

Trips I'm planning

It seems lots of folks travel to Montebello on Wednesdays. It's likely I'll travel up there for a while. It's cold, so bring extra warmth. I'll be going to Shingletown for a great star party.

Trips I've taken

Several of us went up to Fremont Peak on Saturday Sept. 20th for an overnight star viewing. Here's the trip report from that.


I'm just a beginner, but it looks like a lot of fun! I've enjoyed my evenings up in the mountains looking at the sky. A friend loaned me an 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and I'm enjoying looking at the sky with it. Here are some links for beginners:'s page for beginners seems very helpful. San Jose Astronomical Association's page.'s version of the same. Sky and Telescope has a great guide for beginners. Essentially, it's quite easy:
  • Warm clothes, hat, scarf, extra jacket, warm socks.
  • A red-filtered flash light (the mini-mag is a great size, larger isn't very helpful).
  • Patience, your eyes may take a while to adjust to the light.
  • Kindness, ask before you peer into someone elses telescope
Come on out and have a great time with us!

Things I've seen and learned so far

I've seen the Great Nebulae in Andromeda (M31), which was cool. Actually, that's quite visible through binoculars. I highly recommend them for star gazing. They have a much greater field of view. To calculate the power of an eye piece, one needs the focal length of the telescope and the focal length of the eye piece. Then, it's simply:
	Telescope Focal Length
	---------------------- = Magnification
	Eye Piece Focal Length
One can calculate the effective field of fiew of an eye piece. First you need to know the manufacturer's stated field of view of the eye piece and you need to have calculated the magnification, above. Then it's simply:
	Manufacturer's Stated Field of View
	----------------------------------- = True Field of View
With the true field of view, you now know how much of the sky is actually visible. I purchased a 2" eye piece with a 50mm focal length. Given the 2000mm focal length of the telescope I'm borrowing, I'm expecting the eye piece has about a 40x magnification. Then, it has a stated field of view of 45 degrees. So I should get about 45/40 = 1.1 degrees of sky in the eye piece. That's my hope.

Articles & Books

Nasa's article, "Solar Flares on Steroids" is interesting. I'm currently reading David H. Levy's book on basic astronomy, David Levy's Guide to the Night Sky. I'm enjoying it.