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Cherry2000
2005-Nov-03, 08:55 PM
Ok, ok, don't flame me!! I'm as about as amateur as you can get with astronomy. I probably couldn't pick out the moon without help. But I do have a serious question and can't seem to get an answer that satisfies me. For the last several nights my wife and I have seen a very bright object in the sky that we first thought was a star or planet. However it looked much too close to be either. I have a cheapie telescope (Polaris by Meade 114EQ-D) that we sometimes use. I'll try to describe what the object appears to be and hopefully someone out there will be able to tell us. Last night was low in the SW sky around 7-8pm. Appears more yellowish than white. Much larger to the naked eye that normal stars/planets. When viewed with a telescope, it is a round white/lighted object that has a black dot in the center with three equidistant bars connecting to the dot from the outside portions of the object. Actually looks like a satellite dish. We think this is some type of satellite but are not sure. We tried calling WSB-TV. The wife talked to Glen Burns but he told her satellites move too fast and that we were probably viewing Mars. Believe me, we are not viewing Mars Glen!! Has anyone viewed this and would you be able to shed some light? Thanks in advance.

NEOWatcher
2005-Nov-03, 09:08 PM
Well, this might not satisfy you either, but my 2 cents anyway.
If you can plainly see some kind of formation, then it's safe to say it's not something in orbit. (even the shuttle from Keck appears as a blob from the pictures I saw)
Satellites are only seen by the light that they reflect. Were you ever in front of a car that had it's high beams on? Nothing to see, just a bright light, no car.
A few questions that might help.
Same place every night?
About how high off the horizon?
Does it fade away eventually? How long? Is it seen from horizon to horizon as the earth turns?
Is that 3 bars effect only in the scope? (could actually be caused by the scope)
Otherwise, without actually seeing it, it might be pretty hard to determine.

Cherry2000
2005-Nov-03, 09:17 PM
I'll try to answer some of your questions. First time we viewed it, it was in the NE sky (Friday night) about midway up from horizon to top of sky. Last night it was in the SW sky, fairly low on the horizon and was out of our sight by about 8:30pm. Regarding the 3 bars effect, I'm not sure I can answer that question. I can't tell by naked eye or binoculars whether or not the 3 bar effect is there. I was worried that this effect could be caused by the scope. My only check was to look at another object (terrestrial) and did not see the 3 bars. If caused by the scope, wouldn't this effect be evident when looking at something else? If this is in orbit, it is a stationary orbit. If nothing else it has re-kindled my interest in astronomy to the point I think I am going to join a local club and also upgrade to a little better scope. Thanks for assisting on this.

01101001
2005-Nov-03, 10:24 PM
My only check was to look at another object (terrestrial) and did not see the 3 bars. If caused by the scope, wouldn't this effect be evident when looking at something else?
It sounds so much like you viewed the object out of focus. Checking a terrestrial object nearby might not show this, for it might be in focus. Try looking at the moon if it's available to focus on craters and mountains. Check other stars; they should all look like points of light. If the object in question is not a star, but a planet, it should look like a small disk, or crescent.

The black center and 3 legs that you saw really sounds like an internal mirror and its supports.

Does it look a little like this out of focus picture (http://homepage.ntlworld.com/robin.scagell/startest.jpg), from this article about collimation (http://homepage.ntlworld.com/robin.scagell/collimate.html)?

aurora
2005-Nov-03, 10:43 PM
When viewed with a telescope, it is a round white/lighted object that has a black dot in the center with three equidistant bars connecting to the dot from the outside portions of the object. Actually looks like a satellite dish.

You are looking at your secondary mirror and the spider vanes inside your Newtonian reflector.

This normally is not seen at night, so either it wasn't dark, or you are well out of focus, or something else is wrong.

Kaptain K
2005-Nov-03, 10:56 PM
1) I agree with the others that it sounds like your telescope is slightly out of focus. That is the classic definition of the image from an out of focus reflector, with three vane secondary support.
2) It sounds like you are observing two different objects. The one low in the NE in the evening is Mars. It was closest to Earth (and brightest) Sunday (10/30) and will reach opposition on Monday (11/07) when it rises near sunset and is visible all night long. The object in the SW in the evening is Venus. It is, by far, the brightest object in the sky (except for the Sun and Moon).

edited to change NW to NE

Cherry2000
2005-Nov-04, 01:36 PM
Yes, you guys are exactly right. I guess I need to kidnap a 3rd grader or something to teach me about telescopes. I did go out last night and experiment and I came to the same conclusion that I was grossly out of focus. With that being said, I think my scope is not very good. I was hoping I would be able to discern a few more details in viewing planets rather than just seeing a white dot against a black sky.

Kaptain K
2005-Nov-04, 04:38 PM
There's nothing wrong with your scope. Venus is about as featureless as an object can get. If you watch it over the next few weeks, uo will notice it getting more cresent shaped, but that's all you will ever see of Venus. Venus is 100% cloud covered 100 % of the time.
For the next few weeks, You might be able to see some surface details on Mars.
The only planet that shows lots of detail in small scopes is Jupiter, but it is behind the Sun right now. :(
There's always the rings of Saturn, which is currently rising later (much later) in the evening, but will be much better placed early next year.
Check out the Moon, which is currently a very slim cresent low in the west. Check out the area near the terminator where the low angle of the Sun exaggerates details.

Enzp
2005-Nov-05, 06:19 AM
Arnold Schwartzeneggar is on the moon?

rockinreel
2005-Nov-09, 07:28 PM
I have that same scope. I named it Ole Rickety. It is actually phenominal how easy it shakes. I think I can hold it in my hand better than the mount is sturdy.

Yes, I saw Arnold last night on the moon!