Harvard Computers

Women in 19th Century Astronomy

In the late 19th century, Harvard Observatory hired a group of women for the job of Computer. The job was measuring the positions of stars and analyzing star spectra on glass plate photographs.  They painstakingly reduced the X-Y positions of the stars to Right Ascension and Declination via trigonometry, cataloging 855,000 stars.  Women were not […]

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Earth Orbit and calendar

Why does the Calendar give February only 28 Days?

Our ancestors had a Calendar where the months would drift through the seasons. In other words, the Calendar was not tied to the actual year.  They were based on special ritualistic numbers that had no relation to the external world.  Astrology was a major driving source for converting to 12 months for the 12 Zodiacal […]

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Starry Telescope

Tips for Setting Up a New Telescope

A new Telescope needs to be properly setup to perform successfully. Unlike binoculars, you cannot just point a new telescope in the general direction and be able to find what you are looking for unless everything has been properly aligned.  Here’s some tips to help you have a successful start to the hobby of astronomy. […]

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Astrophotography

Astrophotography – the next step in Astronomy

After casually viewing the sky with your telescope, the next urge is to take pictures – Astrophotography. A camera, telescope, suitable mount, and software to process images are the key requirements to do astrophotography. Digital cameras are rapidly improving. Cell phone cameras are adequate for Moon, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn images.  But, most other deep […]

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NGC253 Sculptor Galaxy

Galaxy Viewing – Seeing at Extreme Distances

Galaxy viewing is a tough Challenge Early astronomers described the dim fuzzy objects we now call a Galaxy as Nebulosity – cloud like apparitions.  They looked like the glow of the Milky Way.  Nebulae had few discernible features other than being dimly visible and literally milky, in Greek, a Galaxy.  Galaxies were theorized to be […]

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NGC 2264 the Christmas Tree Cluster

NGC 2264 the Christmas Tree Cluster

NGC 2264 The Christmas Tree Cluster is an open cluster with nebulosity. It is located in the constellation of Monoceros near the feet of Gemini.  It spans 30 light years in height and is 2,600 light years away.  In small and medium sized telescopes, it dominates the field of view of 50x to 100x magnification.  […]

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NGC 2169 - The "37" Cluster

NGC 2169 – The “37” Cluster

Located about 3,600 light years away in Orion is the open star cluster NGC 2169 – The “37” Cluster. Commonly called the “37” Cluster or “The Hitchhiker’s Guide Cluster” from its appearance as letters or numbers written in the stars.  As with all open star clusters, the stars are arranged in random patterns.  On casual […]

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M35 Smiley face

Observing Open Star Cluster Messier 35 – M35

In 1764 Charles Messier published the first installment of his famous list. M1 to M45 was in this partial list.  M35 is the object of interest for this blog post.  In his small telescope, it first appeared to be a misty patch.  Upon greater magnification it resolved into many stars.  This open star cluster was […]

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Eye Glasses

Telescopes and Corrective Eye Glasses

When looking through a telescope what is better, naked eye or corrective Eye Glasses? My usual answer is to keep your corrective Eye Glasses on.  Corrective / Prescription Eye Glasses correct for distance and astigmatism.  All images in a telescope are at infinity.  The telescope can be focused to compensate for individual distance vision differences. […]

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Messier, NGC, IC Catalogs - Messier 42 or NGC 1976

Messier, NGC, IC Catalogs : Keys to the Universe

Novices to amateur Astronomy are confronted early on with mysterious Messier, NGC, IC Catalogs alpha-numeric designations for the various deep sky wonders marked on star maps. Marked prominently on star charts are the Messier, NGC, IC Catalogs designations.  These are the catalogs compiled by Charles Messier (1720-1817) (M-Objects) and John L.E. Dreyer (1852-1926) (NGC-Objects and […]

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