I'm Stargazing

As you may have figured out, I like to involve a lot of real science, or at least real science theory, in my writing. Sometimes it's meant many hours spent on the NASA website playing with imaginary thrusters using the real equations, but recently my ventures into space, without leaving the Earth, have taken a much more visual and visceral turn. One of the big items I got at the end of 2013, from my wife (Love you baby!) is a Celestron Powerseeker 127EQ. It hasn't even been a month and already, like the dork that I am, I run out with it on my shoulder every clear night.

Celestron Powerseeker 127EQ
Photo by Michael Formichelli 2014

These first couple of weeks have been "getting to know you" time between me and the scope, but the last time I was out I felt confident enough to try and snap a few pictures through the eyepiece.

I don't have the right type of camera yet, so for the time being my iPhone and my old Sony Cybershot will have to do. It's harder than one might think (at least, than I thought) to get them lined up with the eyepiece lens, but for a first timer, hopefully, I didn't do too bad.

Jupiter- Blue Filter - 250x
Michael Formichelli 2014

Jupiter was a bit evasive that night, but I think I know what I did wrong (I forgot the Barlow lens- it magnifies the magnifier) and I was shaking a bit so I couldn't get a clear shot. Also, without the proper mount, I can't leave the camera on long enough to get all the light and hence, the 4 moons that were visible around it (shout out to Galileo!) Maybe next time around I'll do better.

The Moon, however, was very obliging and I got several good ones. This one here was taken with a "Moon Filter" in the eyepiece lens. Basically what it does is cut down the glare so you can see details. If you get close in on this shot you can see the craters framed against the darkness of space (which is caused by the moon being so bright in comparison to the starlight behind it. Remember, space isn't black, per se, it's really full of stars. I mention it here because the blackness around Earth and The Moon in pictures is cited by conspiracy theorists for all kinds of crazy statements. Also the blacker darkness around the image is the telescope).

The Moon - Moon Filter- 250x
Michael Formichelli 2014

Here's the lunar surface with the Moon Filter up. The level of detail is pretty astounding through the telescope. It's amazing how much you don't see looking up at night without one. (The pictures don't do it justice.)

The Moon - Blue Filter - 250x
Michael Formichelli 2014

And finally I'll end here, on the blue moon... Just kidding, it's a filter effect again. I'd put it on to see if I could bring out the contrast in Jupiter's bands (failure this time) and just left it in the lens after turning the telescope on good old Luna here.

That's all for now. I'll post more photos as I get more interesting things on digital record (I miss saying film).

And just in case you're wondering, or are a mega-layman when it comes to telescopes like me, the Celestron I have is a Newtonian telescope—yes, the style was actually invented by Isaac Newton—which means it uses mirrors instead of lenses to capture the image (the only lenses are in the eyepiece, not the telescope body). It is one of three major styles, Refractor (the best known type, think giant pirate telescope), Newtonian, and Cassegrain (which is like a mix of the two).

You can look at the whole line of Celestron telescopes on Amazon.com or at http://www.celestron.com/.

AND be sure to come back around next week for my interview with my fellow science fiction author, Alia Gee!

Suncatcher, a new science fiction novel by Alia Gee!
Airships. Pirates. Gene kidnappers. Just another week in thesky!


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