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Thread: Things you've missed

  1. #1
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    Things you've missed

    When I first started looking at the night skies with binoculars, I found it very easy to see both Uranus and Neptune. They were fairly close together, and both easily seen from my suburban skies. About seven years ago, Uranus and Neptune had been very close, within an arcdegree of each other. This won't happen again until the year 2165, and I missed it.

    Uranus has an orbital period of about 84 years, and Neptune is almost double that, 165 years. By the time Uranus makes the complete orbit, Neptune has moved half way around away.

  2. #2
    When I was in sixth grade, there was a total solar ecclipse, I believe, in which our town was in its path. This was around 1995. We were in school at the time, but the school did nothing to let us view this. They held us inside and even cancelled outside gym classes for that day. I geuss they didn't want anyone hurting their eyes. I desparately wanted to see it. I now consider it gross malfeasence on the school's part for letting this extremely rare educational opportunity slip by. I did manage to sneak a naked eye view by leaning out the window when the teacher had left the room. I caught a glimpse of about a third of the sun covered by the disc of the moon. It certainly left the impression on my retinas. But, I had to see it. You all understand.

    Mongo

  3. #3
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    The annular eclipse of May 10, 1994 went right through Indiana--and was even at greatest eclipse there, apparently about 95 percent.

    The total eclipse of Feb. 26, 1979 went through Montana. I was living in southern Wyoming at the time, but didn't go see it--had to teach in the morning. I think it was a Monday.

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    The total eclipse of 1970 passed just a couple hundred miles east of where I was living. But would my parents drive me to see totality? No!

    Actually what I really regret missing most is a Saturn V liftoff. That's my parents' fault, too.

    ToSeek
    Who is not bitter. Really.

    Everything I need to know I learned through Googling.

  5. #5
    On 2002-01-10 10:11, GrapesOfWrath wrote:
    The annular eclipse of May 10, 1994 went right through Indiana--and was even at greatest eclipse there, apparently about 95 percent.
    My memory apparently didn't serve me as well as I had thought. This was before I was really into astronomy. I just knew that I had a chance to see something very rare and I was missing it.
    Thanks,
    Mongo

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    In the 1980s I went outside with a friend in Michigan to watch the Perseids. It got a bit cloudy (and cold, even in August!) so we went in. A few minutes later a NASA mission dumped a load of barium into the way upper atmosphere to test the Earth's magnetic field (see here for more info), lighting up the sky like an aurora, and we were inside watching TV.

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    I was just south of the '79 eclipse path of totality and my parents didn't take me to see it (I couldn't drive of course!)

    I was in Trinidad in 1991 for the eclipse...about 60% coverage from there.

    The eclipse in February of 1998 was about 50% from Florida and I had an outdood luncheon with my students at the time [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    I showed off the 2000 Christmas eclipse even though it was only about 25% where I was to several people with solar projection.

    I saw the '94 annular eclipse from close to the path of maximum coverage and that was pretty good.

    I found a gap in the clouds for the 1999 total eclipse in Germany!

    It was cloudy here for the partial eclipse in December of 2001.

    I have seen a couple of other partial eclipses that I do not remember the dates as well, but that sums up most of them.

    I have already told my new employer that if I am still there, I will be taking a few days off around the total eclipse in 2017!

    Rob

  8. #8
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    I did finally get to see a total solar eclipse, aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean in early 1997. That's the way to do it!

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    On 2002-01-10 11:29, Hale_Bopp wrote:

    I have already told my new employer that if I am still there, I will be taking a few days off around the total eclipse in 2017!

    Rob
    Me, too! Well, I haven't told my employer yet, but I did tell my fiancee that we'd be taking a family vacation in August of that year.

    You started looking into hotel reservations yet? [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn

  10. #10
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    I did manage to sneak a naked eye view by leaning out the window when the teacher had left the room. I caught a glimpse of about a third of the sun covered by the disc of the moon. It certainly left the impression on my retinas. But, I had to see it. You all understand.
    Yes. I also understand exactly why the school held everyone inside...that wasn't a smart thing for you to do. Had you been outside, I guess you (or others) would have taken numerous such glimpses, and possibly done severe damage to your eyes.

    I personally do not think that children should be allowed to view solar eclipses without direct adult supervision...and that means many more adults than one per 30 kids.

    That said, back in '79 (9th grade for me), the eclipse was 96% in our city. We were also shut inside, even though it was mostly overcast that day. Still, many kids peeked out the window (as did our teacher). As it was, the thinner parts of overcast allowed fleeting filtered glimpses of the sun's occulted disk. Not exactly a smart thing to look at either but, hey, you understand. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    Only a limited number of students in science classes that day were allowed outside...as they had built pinhole viewers.

    I remember arguing with my classmates over the myth that the eclipsed sun is actually *more* dangerous to look at than just the sun. It isn't actually more dangerous to look, just that it presents a more dangerous situation...since one is rarely tempted to look directly at the sun otherwise.

    Eric

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    I missed Neil Armstrong landing on the Moon.

    I was the "budding young scientist" of the family, heavily into not only the science fiction common to my age group, but had gotten both a microscope/slide set and a chemistry set for various birthdays or Christmases. I was reading young people's science books (especially the old "How and Why Wonder Books" series) and the like. Needless to say, I was far and away the biggest NASA supporter on the block.

    Mom had put in her name for a drawing for a "free vacation" at the previous Texas State Fair (September/October the year before) at an Arkansas location called Bella Vista. You know the type--as a part of the deal, Mom would have to sit through a buy-a-lot-and-cabin sales pitch, but for the several days (three, I think, but maybe it was four) we were there we'd get to enjoy fishing in their very own trout farm-fed pond and stream, trampling around the woods, that type of thing. Also, the cabin we were staying in had not only running water but also a TV.

    Apollo 11 landed on the moon then. The whole family--Mom, my older sister, my grandparents, and of course myself--parked ourselves in our cabin in front of the TV. As both the youngest (12) and most science-prone of the bunch, I had the "place of honour" on the floor right in front of the TV; much closer than Mom would normally have let me get away with (although the 'living room' in the cabin was also a bit smaller than ours at home).

    And before the Eagle actually landed, I was sound asleep. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif[/img]

    Needless to say, breakfast the next morning was excrutiating. I got to hear all about it, punctuated with constant references to "But you slept through it!"

    The only thing that came close to saving that vacation for me was that the trout were fantastic, I caught the most (tied with Grandfather) out of our family, and Grandmother had them into a frying pan almost before they stopped flopping around! [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img] Yum!

    The (still hanging my head in shame, though) Curtmudgeon

  12. #12
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    I was in the middle of the totality band for the 1999 eclipse, and it became cloudy about
    20 minutes before totality until maybe an hour after. Then we spent 6 hours in traffic jams to get back home.
    Friends of mine raced around to see it in a clearing in the clouds but we couldn't.

    I missed the leonids this year too. I actually have never seen a meteor shower!

  13. #13
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    On 2002-01-10 14:30, frenchy wrote:
    I was in the middle of the totality band for the 1999 eclipse, and it became cloudy about
    20 minutes before totality until maybe an hour after. Then we spent 6 hours in traffic jams to get back home.
    Friends of mine raced around to see it in a clearing in the clouds but we couldn't.

    I missed the leonids this year too. I actually have never seen a meteor shower!

    ------------------------------------

    "All things come to those who wait, (I say these words to make me glad), But something answers soft and sad, 'They come, but often come too late." -- Violet Fane, (1843-1905)

    Better luck next time.

  14. #14
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    On 2002-01-10 13:46, EckJerome wrote:

    I remember arguing with my classmates over the myth that the eclipsed sun is actually *more* dangerous to look at than just the sun. It isn't actually more dangerous to look, just that it presents a more dangerous situation...since one is rarely tempted to look directly at the sun otherwise.
    Actually, the eclipsed sun is more dangerous to look at than the "normal" sun -- the pupils in your eyes dilate in darkness and contract in bright light in order to regulate the amount of light entering. Thus, your pupils are wider when looking at the eclipsed (dark) sun than when looking at the normal (bright) sun. Since the eclipse does not block a significant portion of the UV rays (which are what actually damages the eye), your retina would receive a higher dosage of UV during one second of looking at an eclipse than it would during one second of looking at the normal sun . . .

    Of course, the temptation is also greater, which is why looking at even partial eclipses (which don't significantly darken the sun or widen the pupils) is still warned against.



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  15. #15
    On 2002-01-10 13:46, EckJerome wrote:

    Yes. I also understand exactly why the school held everyone inside...that wasn't a smart thing for you to do. Had you been outside, I guess you (or others) would have taken numerous such glimpses, and possibly done severe damage to your eyes.

    I personally do not think that children should be allowed to view solar eclipses without direct adult supervision...and that means many more adults than one per 30 kids.

    That said, back in '79 (9th grade for me), the eclipse was 96% in our city. We were also shut inside, even though it was mostly overcast that day. Still, many kids peeked out the window (as did our teacher). As it was, the thinner parts of overcast allowed fleeting filtered glimpses of the sun's occulted disk. Not exactly a smart thing to look at either but, hey, you understand. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    Only a limited number of students in science classes that day were allowed outside...as they had built pinhole viewers.



    Eric
    I know it is dangerous, but don't you think that the school had a responsibility to let all of us students experience the event? It's not like it was an unexpected event. They had plenty of time to prepare. Or at least provide a way for only the students who wanted to see it. It could have been a great experience. To this day I haven't seen any kind of solar ecclipse. Well, unless you count that time that mercury went in front of the sun, I forget the techinal term. I managed to catch that on film.

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    On 2002-01-10 15:48, MongotheGreat wrote:
    To this day I haven't seen any kind of solar ecclipse.
    That's amazing. It seems like I see 'em all the time. Last December, Christmas; February of 1998; May, 1994; July, 1991. OK, four in ten years. I guess that's not bad.

    One time, I stood on the back deck and showed my daughter that the little dot of sunlight showing through the pinhole had a chunk missing--so it really was an image of the sun. We did a quick set of similar triangles (she knew how far away the Sun was) and we figured out how big the Sun was.

    Another time, I managed to schlep my 3 1/2 inch over to the elementary school and set it up with a solar filter outside. I'd drilled the class on the dangers, and we made pinhole viewers too. The most impressive thing? They were amazed that the shape in the telescope was the same as the pinhole image.

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    A friend who lives well outside of town said Hyutake was the most spectacular thing he'd ever seen in the night sky. I never got around to going someplace dark to see it! And then one guy saw the space shuttle streak overhead in re-entry one night. I missed that too.

    But I was cross-country skiing during a partial eclipse once--the specks of sunlight under the pine trees were all crescentric instead of round, very striking.

    --Don

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    Hukutake is the best comet I have ever seen,yes, topping the better known Hale-Bopp. I saw Hyakutake from the Everglades and the tail dominated the sky, easily 90 degrees long! Hale-Bopp had a brighter nucleus and could be seen easier from urban areas, but its tail couldn't match Hyakutake!

    Rob

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    Hukutake is the best comet I have ever seen,yes, topping the better known Hale-Bopp. I saw Hyakutake from the Everglades and the tail dominated the sky, easily 90 degrees long! Hale-Bopp had a brighter nucleus and could be seen easier from urban areas, but its tail couldn't match Hyakutake!

    Rob

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    Does anyone remember Comet West, or am I showing my age? (I barely remember Comet West, but I do recall it being spectacular!)


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    Never saw Comet West, but did see Halley's last time around.

    Pluto was closer to the Sun than Neptune for about twenty years, and it is now headed back out towards the edge of the solar system. If you missed it this time, it's going to be a while before the next time. Check out the images from Tenegra Observatory, taken one day apart. In that time, Pluto moved a full arcminute.

  22. #22
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    On 2002-01-11 09:16, GrapesOfWrath wrote:
    Never saw Comet West, but did see Halley's last time around.
    I waited twenty years to see Comet Halley. What a disappointment!


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    When I was in first or second grade, I did one of the stupidist things in my life. I set the small junk newtonian my parents had given me up in my backyard and tried to look at the sun with no filters!

    I guess I was lucky. I only passed my eye over the eyepiece very quickly, and it doesn't seem to have hurt me much. My right eye is a little nearsighted and astigmatic, but I'm not sure if this was the cause or if it's for some other reason. To this day I wonder how my friend fared though, as he took a peek also (he moved away shortly after that, so I never found out).

    But hey, I've seen the surface of the sun through an unfiltered telescope. I consider it worth it. BUT DON'T ANYONE ELSE TRY, YOU HEAR!!

    Other memorable events: I remember the scenes from Viking when I was about 9. But with more clarity I remember the Apollo-Soyuz rendevouz. I was 11 then, and I remember being fascinated by it and fought to get tv access to watch it.

    In '79 I was in 6th grade, and I remember the eclipse. It was 78% in Denver where I lived, and my school had special viewing activities set up for everybody. They taught all the different ways to see an eclipse, and I remember being amazed by some of them, like looking at the shadows under a tree. My school certainly took the event as a teaching opportunity.

    Saw Halley in University, and I was conveniently taking an Astronomy course at the time [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img] Our observatory set up a special observing night. It was only a smudge on the horizon, but hey, it was HALLEY! It was best viewed in binoculars. Years later, Hale-Bopp kind of struck me the same way.

    IN 1991 there was a cool arrangement of planets, with Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter all lined up in the evening sky. It was my one and only sighting of Mercury.

    Saw the annular eclipse in 1994 from OK City. I drove clear up from Dallas to see it. Used my binoculars to project an image on the ground for passers-by.

    Hyakutake was a downer for me. Dallas was wall to wall clouds for 3 days during closest approach, and because of my schedule I couldn't take the time to drive out to beyond the clouds. I would have, but it came and went too suddenly to get any time off from work. Saw it before and after that though when it wasn't as spectacular.

    My dreams for future observations are: a total solar eclipse, a really spectacular comet, and a true-life meteor storm. I also want to see the remaining 3 outer planets in a telescope, if I can get a good observing chance.

  24. #24
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    On 2002-01-10 15:48, MongotheGreat wrote:

    They had plenty of time to prepare. Or at least provide a way for only the students who wanted to see it. It could have been a great experience. To this day I haven't seen any kind of solar ecclipse. Well, unless you count that time that mercury went in front of the sun, I forget the techinal term. I managed to catch that on film.
    As I just said, my school had a great viewing event during a partial eclipse. They did it right, and they did it for the whole school. I wish more schools would look at events like this as educational experiences. (Actually, today, they'd keep everybody indoors and black out the windows for fear of liability suits. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img] )

    The term for a planet crossing the Sun's disk is a transit (Add that to my observing wish-list).

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    On 2002-01-11 10:27, David Hall wrote:
    IN 1991 there was a cool arrangement of planets, with Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter all lined up in the evening sky. It was my one and only sighting of Mercury.
    Get out there tonight! Mercury is easily visible after sundown, at -0.6 mag., in the WSW, about 6pm, depending on where you're at. It'll still be 11 degrees up in the sky when the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon, so no problem. You can't miss it--all the other bright objects in that direction, Mars, Formalhaut, Altair, will be almost a couple magnitudes dimmer.

    My dreams for future observations are: a total solar eclipse, a really spectacular comet, and a true-life meteor storm. I also want to see the remaining 3 outer planets in a telescope, if I can get a good observing chance.
    When you view Mercury, use binoculars. There's a fifth mag. star 3 degrees down to the right. Just beside it, 12 seconds to the left, will be Neptune at magnitude 8. There's a fifth mag. star 12 degrees up on the other side of Mercury, and Uranus is just 30 seconds to the left, about mag. 6.

    You can easily bag all three tonight.

  26. #26
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    On 2002-01-11 10:27, David Hall wrote:
    When I was in first or second grade, I did one of the stupidist things in my life. I set the small junk newtonian my parents had given me up in my backyard and tried to look at the sun with no filters!
    This is speculation on my part, but... it's possible your scope didn't work very well, or at all, in the UV band, which would have protected your retina somewhat.

    I'm sure the visible light alone would have been enough to cause damage, though, if you'd looked for more than a few moments. And a small telescope probably focuses IR pretty well; you might have cooked your eyeball.

    On the general topic of looking at eclipses, I have heard that directly observing the sun isn't quite as harmful as the news media generally make it out to be (when eclipses come along). There were some early astronomers who observed the sun routinely, a few seconds at a time, over a period of years. Yes, they suffered vision loss, but not immediately and not necessarily due to their star-gazing. Looking at the sun for a second or two will not strike you blind, though it's not a good idea (especially now that we have safer ways to do it).

    However, the argument that looking at an eclipsed sun is worse than the normal solar disc is a new one to me, and intriguing. Sounds plausible, too.

  27. #27
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    On 2002-01-11 10:58, GrapesOfWrath wrote:

    Get out there tonight! Mercury is easily visible after sundown, at -0.6 mag., in the WSW, about 6pm, depending on where you're at. It'll still be 11 degrees up in the sky when the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon, so no problem. You can't miss it--all the other bright objects in that direction, Mars, Formalhaut, Altair, will be almost a couple magnitudes dimmer.

    When you view Mercury, use binoculars. There's a fifth mag. star 3 degrees down to the right. Just beside it, 12 seconds to the left, will be Neptune at magnitude 8. There's a fifth mag. star 12 degrees up on the other side of Mercury, and Uranus is just 30 seconds to the left, about mag. 6.

    You can easily bag all three tonight.
    Thanks Grapes. Unfortunately, I have to work until 7pm tonight. Ugh. I just ran the sky through my freebee copy of AdAstra and it looks like it'll be below the horizon before I can get out. Not that there's a clear horizon anywhere in this city in the first place.

    I may get a chance to go out tomorrow. I'm going to a party, and if I can, and if they have a view of the western sky, I may be able to get some of the guests out for a quick view. I've printed out a star map and I'll take my binocs along. I'm afraid Uranus and Neptune might be beyond my ability in the middle of the city.

    It looks like there'll be a better viewing of Mercury come March though. I've got to get me some better software.

  28. #28
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    On 2002-01-11 11:49, David Hall wrote:
    It looks like there'll be a better viewing of Mercury come March though. I've got to get me some better software.
    Not sure about that. It may be brighter, but it'll be closer to the Sun, no? And you'll have to get up in the morning to see it.

    Uranus is naked eye, right now, so you should be able to see it in binoculars, even in suburban skies.

  29. #29
    On 2002-01-11 10:38, David Hall wrote:
    As I just said, my school had a great viewing event during a partial eclipse. They did it right, and they did it for the whole school. I wish more schools would look at events like this as educational experiences. (Actually, today, they'd keep everybody indoors and black out the windows for fear of liability suits. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img] )

    The term for a planet crossing the Sun's disk is a transit (Add that to my observing wish-list).

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    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David Hall on 2002-01-11 10:39 ]</font>
    Just get ready for the two transits of venus, one in 2004, one in 2012. They always appear in twos about a hundred years apart. The last two were arounf the 1880's. With mercury the shadow was incredibly small. Hoping the transit of venus will be better. It was still an amazing experience to see the relative sizes of mercury to the sun.

    Mongo

  30. #30
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    I did solar projection outside my school for the transit of Mercury. Several students in clubs and sports teams stopped by to see it. We could see it move over the course of several minutes, so we knew we had the right object.

    I hope I get good weather for the transit of Venus!

    Rob

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