First experience with telescope and stargazing

During my recent vacation, I happen to have my first experience with the telescope and I must say it was astonishing.

The hotel, where I was staying, had a beautiful lawn just next to the beach, which essentially meant a fully open sky and that too without much illumination around. As part of the guest entertainment programme, the hotel had invited one of the astronomy enthusiast to help the guest with stargazing. The person had brought a good telescope for this purpose and was using it to show the planets like Saturn and Moon.

Unfortunately, we didn't have a clear sky that day because of the impending monsoons. It had rained just a day before and the sky was still a bit cloudy. However, we could see the Moon and the Saturn very easily. The Moon had a beautiful hallow with diameter of around 20 feet and at the edge Saturn was shining. The person started with showing Saturn through the telescope. Initially he used lesser magnification as the queue was long. Now, you would say what's the connection. Larger magnification essentially means the view of the telescope will go out of ROI very fast and with lesser magnification more number of persons could view the object without changing the view. So, I could observe a tiny image of the Saturn and one of it's moon revolving around it almost every second. Firstly, I thought it was just my imagination that a tinier spot going round another tiny object, but after careful observation, I concluded that it's not imagination and convinced myself that it was really a moon revolving around the Saturn.

Next turn was of our own moon. Being much closer to earth as compared to Saturn, it was obvious to have a better view and surely we got one. The craters on the moon were looking just like small bubbles on the slide observed under microscope during the Std. 11th and 12th biology classess. The light and shadow effects were also visible, oh yeah, this was with higher magnification now (many people had left by this time).

Then we again shifted the focus to Saturn for a magnified view. This time it was much clearer. The size of Saturn (magnified image) was very much resembling the moon. And this time the moon making rounds of the Saturn was very much evident and needed no more speculation or imagination :)

By this time the nature decided to end the show by bringing in more clouds and we proceeded for the dinner.

Some interesting points:
  • The view through the telescope is very much subject to the wind - speed and direction both. You may start looking at one planet but soon after wind may change the direction of the telescope. If there's too much of wind, then by the time other person takes a look through, you are not guaranteed he/she is looking at the intended object.
  • The speed with which the object was going out of view was amazing. This happens because of the speed of the earth itself rather than the speed of the object under consideration.
  • There is set of stars - constellation - which is not visible from the most of the northern hemisphere including most of the USA and northern India (Delhi etc) and only visible from all of the southern hemisphere. It is called as "Southern Cross" or Crux. The intersting part is that many of the countries in southern hemisphere, such as Australia, display this cross on their flags.
  • And you need to be lucky to get a clear sky when the stargazing is planned :)


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