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Thread: StarLog Observing Report - 3/31/16 - Some fun with my nephew

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    Default StarLog Observing Report - 3/31/16 - Some fun with my nephew



    I can't believe that the last time I really got out under the stars with my telescope was February 12. March has been a miserable month weather-wise. To be honest, the conditions tonight weren't that great, either. The wind was strong enough that I had to tighten down the bolt connecting my rocker base to the ground board in order to prevent the telescope from blowing off course. But, my 9-year-old nephew is staying with us for a couple of weeks and he has been wanting to look through my telescope as much as I've been wanting to show it to him.

    So, wind or not, at least the sky was mostly clear. The transparency seemed decent, but the seeing was terrible. We had an overcast sky this morning and the front was apparently still pushing its way through.

    Since I was going to be showing off a few objects to my nephew and wouldn't be able to track down anything new, I decided to just set up in the front driveway. I wheeled the Biggie Z out right as the first stars were beginning to show up in the twilight sky. I needed to align my RACI, so I decided the first target would be something easy -- Sirius. I zeroed in on it using the Telrad, centered it in the eyepiece, and then adjusted the RACI to match. I let my nephew look through the eyepiece. "What's that bright spot?" he asked. "Sirius. It's a star." "Oh, cool!"

    He was really wanting to see Jupiter, so that's where I aimed next. I put it up to 100X, and had him take a peek. He saw a few of the brownish cloud bands and was impressed. I explained to him that the 4 "stars" he saw in a line next to Jupiter were in fact a few of its moons. He said, "Wow! It has more than one?"

    Orion was already sinking in the west, so I pointed at M42. I explained it was a cloud of dust and gas in space, and that the stars in the center were lighting it up and making it glow. He thought it was pretty and confirmed that he saw 4 stars of the Trapezium.

    I next aimed at M36 in Auriga. He thought it looked like a headless snowman, with the line of bright stars in the center being its buttons.

    Next up was nearby M37. He was amazed at how many stars he could see.

    For something different, I decided to show him a couple of multiple star systems. The most obvious one was Alcor/Mizar. He didn't seem overly impressed with that one, so I tried a better one: h3945 in Canis Major. He really liked the colors on this one, and thought it was cool.

    He seemed to really like the open clusters, so I went to M35 in Gemini. He liked it, but M37 was still his favorite.

    So I showed him M41. "Oh, this one's my new favorite!"

    Finally, I showed him the Pleiades. He really enjoyed that one, especially since he could see it with his naked eye.

    By this time, the wind had really picked up and it was starting to turn a bit chilly. I decided to try for one more object. I swung the Z around to the Eskimo Nebula. He saw the "fuzzy" star and wasn't that impressed until I explained that the star had exploded and that was why it looked fuzzy. That made his eyes widen.

    I could tell he was starting to get a bit bored and I was running out of things to show him from my driveway, so I packed it in for the night. Nothing new to log, but it was a fun evening, and I know my nephew really enjoyed himself.

    One thing I was especially impressed with tonight was my dolly conversion. When it came time to put the scope away, I simply reached around and grabbed the strap, snapped it in place, tipped the scope back and pushed it into the garage. Fast, stable, and easy! The wheels got in my way a bit at times, but I was able to reposition my observing chair and observe unhindered. If they don't bother me any more than they did tonight, I will just leave the wheels attached.

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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 3/31/16 - Some fun with my nephew

    Ha! What a fun session Tom!

    M36 a headless snowman?!? Say, your nephew isn't named Calvin is he? Stuffed tiger named Hobbes?

    Though my son and my nephew Will are a bit older (now 13 and 15 respectively), it's always a treat when either one of those boys comes out with me. They tend to hammer me with questions, or ramble about "off topic" stuff, but they seem to be impressed with the observing (or maybe just good at humoring the old guy).

    And, it sounds like your base dolly attachments are a real time and back saver, Tom. Awesome!

    Thanks for the great report, friend. I really enjoyed the read.
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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 3/31/16 - Some fun with my nephew

    Fun times Tom. I agree with your nephew, M41 is a really nice cluster and easy to see to advantage even from light polluted skies. However, NGC 2392 (Eskimo) is not the result of an exploding star. Planetary nebula are the result of low mass stars aging into red giants and ejectiing their outer layers. But the exploding star sounds more impressive, and he doesn't know any different, so that made it enjoyable for him. That's what its all about, making it fun!
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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 3/31/16 - Some fun with my nephew

    Nice session with your nephew, Tom. Fun report to read as well.

    Thanks for the share.

    Clear, Dark Skies
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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 3/31/16 - Some fun with my nephew

    Quote Originally Posted by KT4HX View Post
    However, NGC 2392 (Eskimo) is not the result of an exploding star. Planetary nebula are the result of low mass stars aging into red giants and ejectiing their outer layers. But the exploding star sounds more impressive, and he doesn't know any different, so that made it enjoyable for him. That's what its all about, making it fun!
    Alan,

    Yes, I know that a planetary nebula is the result of a star ejecting its outer layers, and I started to explain that to him, but when I told him stars were big balls of gas, he was thinking "gasoline" and so I tried to just keep things simple and told him the star exploded. He understood enough to at least be impressed by it.
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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 3/31/16 - Some fun with my nephew

    It is great that you were able to share this experience with your nephew. Nine is a tough age, but it sounds like you dealt with him well. You never know, you may have planted a seed that will grow within him and bloom at some point that will totally surprise you. In general, kids like the bright shiny objects and tend to be less impressed with the dimmer fuzzier objects, eevn though they may be more impressive if you reflect on them. (Hmm... reminds me of the Senior Leadership team at work.)

    And the dolly set-up sounds good for you too. Anything that makes set-up and teardown chores easier is a good thing!

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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 3/31/16 - Some fun with my nephew

    Glad that you could get out and share the experience of the stars with your nephew, must have been very rewarding Tom. Thanks for the report and best wishes for many more clear nights.
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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 3/31/16 - Some fun with my nephew

    Great, fun report Tom! I can't wait to have some good sessions with my grandboys!
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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 3/31/16 - Some fun with my nephew

    A great night Tom, I love spending time at the scope with my family it can make it a lot more fun
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    Default Re: StarLog Observing Report - 3/31/16 - Some fun with my nephew

    Fun night! Kids (and most adults ) are not impressed by doubles. I don't get why, I was into doubles since I was a kid.

    Planets and moon are always a hit for kids. Among all DSOs galaxies are special for my daughter. I think this is because she reads astronomy books and realizes what those fussy spots represent
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