Friday, March 07, 2008

night sky

Tonight I saw one of the coolest things I have ever seen with my own eyes (and not a picture). I saw Saturn.
And it really looked like that! It was tilted at just the angle of this picture. I couldn't see any of its color - it was just a bright white ball. Way more beautiful than this picture. I couldn't see that darker stripe in the rings, but I could see the shadow of the rings on the planet, and the black spots on their side of the planet between the rings and the planet. It was amazing. And it wasn't a picture - it was the real thing. I learned that to date we've counted 60 moons around Saturn. A satellite of Saturn recently found 12 more. And this just out: last Saturday they discovered rings around a moon of Saturn's - the first moon found with rings ever!

I've never done anything like this before. One time, when I was in a park in Utah, a ranger had a sun-telescope set up and I got to look at the sun and see a sunspot. That was aMazing.

I can't believe I've never done it before. It's free - I can just go to the observatory and hang out there and look at the sky, and it's only a few miles from my house. The whole observatory is on top of a little building, and it's like the Black Maria - the roof has a hole in it and it rotates to see a piece of the sky. And in the middle of the room is a huge telescope. A computer operates the whole thing - the astronomer just types in what he wants to see and the ceiling and telescope start moving. And he explains very nicely what you're seeing. I also saw a star that's actually two stars - looked like headlights coming sideways. Binary star? And a cluster of stars - beautiful. M34 maybe? Can't see them with the naked eye - but you could with binoculars. And a fuzzy nebulous with stars in the middle in Orion's sword. M42 I think. And then I waved at the Little Prince on B612 and went home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If we have a clear night when I'm in Atlanta, I'd like to take a look at the night sky from the observatory!