What’s Up with “Up There”? ..

Something is happening with the Night Skies…

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

     I do not profess to be an astronomer of any kind, but, whenever I get a chance, I love to take a telescope out and take a trip around the Universe from my backyard.

     I own several telescopes; refractors and reflectors. My two favorites have “on board” computers which allow me to level, set-up and…just start pushing buttons and look around. It’s a blast!

     However, over the past year, I’ve noticed that it has become very difficult to see anything worth seeing in the night sky. When I first came here, in Kingston NH, some ten years ago, unless the sky was overcast, a clear sky meant just that…a clear sky! Recently, except in rare cases, a “clear sky” consists of a “soupy” athmosphere where, if you are lucky, you might see the Moon, a few of the brighter stars and, possibly Polaris(the North Star). It leads me to wonder if Athmospheric pollution, in barely two years, could have increased to this point. Rare, now, are the nights when you can observe the Milky Way and stars beyond stars, beyond stars, ad infinitum. Or, could it have to do with Earth’s recent change in behavior.

     Stargazing has become a fun and interesting hobby for me. Like everything else, I started out, some twelve years ago, with a “cheapie” sixty millimeter refractor. Then, discovered that I had caught the “bug”. From there, of course, I went to bigger and better. It is a hobby that I would encourage anyone(especially kids) to take up. It can be as inexpensive or as expensive as you want to take it. Of course, if you want to go the whole “nine yards”, you can go from simple observing to photography…but that can get pretty pricey. For a newbie or a child, I would recommend an simple refractor telescope of small aperture. For two reasons. One: You can buy one for about $100 or under; and you would be surprised how much you can see. Two: Refractors are what most everybody envisions a telescope to look like…lense in front and lense in back. And they require no alignment or special skills to operate. And, if you lose interest, you haven’t lost your life savings on the project.

     Reflector telescopes are a “horse of a different color”. They allow you to see a larger chunk of sky for less money than the same size refractor. But there’s a catch: They require collimation(alignment). And that is a skill in itself which calls for the proper tooling and a lot of time. Having said all that, however, stargazing is a great hobby and a great educational adventure. I highly recommend it.

     Anyway, I guess I’ll just have to wait for my “clear night” or throw my favorite scope in the car and go for a ride…

     By the way, for as much as I have scoured the skies, time after time, I have yet to see the proverbial “triangular or saucer alien space ship” that so many talk about…hmmm…

                                                              Clear skies, everyone…

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2 Responses to “What’s Up with “Up There”? ..”
  1. dazzlejazz Says...

    On September 15, 2011 at 3:33 am

    Great article. We’re lucky to live in a lesser ‘light polluted’ area and the night sky is amazing. We’ve seen many ’shooting stars’ and even satellites. But, like you, still not seen any UFOs!
    Thanks for the share.

  2. Stlpkr Says...

    On September 15, 2011 at 3:52 am

    Thanks for the great comment, dazzlejazz. You are right; light pollution accounts for a lot of my problems with stargazing. There has been talk in Astronomer Circles about trying to convince cities and towns to “shade” lamp post lights and the like to keep light where it belongs…shining down. That would be a terrific improvement on the present situation. Take care.

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