Wednesday, April 14, 2021

I have a telescope. There are maybe four cool things I can see with it.

Saturn isn't quite this big in my telescope, but it's still awesome.

A few years ago, a church friend gave me an old Jason telescope from Sears that he wasn't using.

It isn't exactly the Hubble Space Telescope or anything, but it's certainly more powerful than anything I've ever had.

I've figured out how to do the following things with it:

  • I look closely at the craters of the moon. I never tire of doing this. For whatever reason, the view seems better when viewing a crescent moon vs. a full moon. Or at least the craters appear to be more sharply outlined on the crescent moon.
  • I zero in on Saturn and can clearly see its rings. This is also extremely cool, though it's still not much larger than a sharply defined dot in the viewfinder. Still, you can see those rings, which on average are about 800 million miles away from Earth. Given how long it takes light to cover that distance, it means that what I see in my telescope is how Saturn looked more than an hour earlier. I think that's pretty amazing.
  • I train the scope on Jupiter and can see its four largest moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto). I can barely make out the bands of Jupiter itself, but those moons are all very visible, if still pinpricks.
  • I have also taken a look at both Mars and Venus, and while they're definitely bigger in the telescope than when viewed with the naked eye, there's really not that much to see in terms of detail.
I could probably see nebulae, other parts of the Milky Way, and maybe even a larger galaxy or two(?) if I took the telescope to an area with less light pollution and knew where and how to find these things. 

But really, just seeing a few planets and the sharply defined features of the moon from my driveway is more than reason enough to haul it up from the basement once or twice a week.

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