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....MARCH NIGHT SKY 2019..MARZO 2019 CIELO NOCTURNO….

Moonlight wonder!

Moonlight wonder!

….

March is taking back the Spring, which starts the day of the Equinox, when the day and the night have the same duration, falling this year on March 20th. The air is now sweeter and invites to the contemplation of the Firmament, where the winter constellations are still very high in the sky in the first hours of the night. This is the case of Orion and the Great Dog towards the South, as well as the bright stars Sirius and Canopus, while in the zodiacal region Gemini and Taurus dominate the zenith, preceded by the mythical Seven Sisters, the Pleyades, who are escaping for ever from the great hunter. Another famous cluster, visible with naked eyes as a blurry spot, marks the faint constellation of Cancer: it is the Beehive (M44), which a telescope with a few magnifications can reveal in all its beauty.  From the East, Leo is now raising and announcing the great season of the galaxies we shall enjoy in the next months. 

If we make the effort to wake up very early, we have a chance to admire the bright planets Jupiter, Saturn and Venus towards the East, but in order to watch them in more convenient hours  we have to be patient a few weeks more. But the object which never fails her monthly date with us is the Moon, the most admired and interesting of all. Her Full phase falls just the same day as the Equinox, so the most favorable moment to admire her craters, her seas and her mountains, which only a telescope reveals us in all their magics, we recommend the previous nights, starting for the 10th.

Clear skies to everybody!

..

Marzo nos trae de vuelta la primavera, que empieza el día del equinoccio, momento en que el día y la noche tienen la misma duración y que este año corresponde al 20 de marzo. El aire ahora está más suave e invita a la contemplación del Firmamento, donde a primeras horas de la noche las constelaciones del inverno siguen muy altas en el cielo. Destacan hacia el Sur Orión y el Can Mayor y las brillantes estrellas Sirio y Canopo,  mientras que en la zona zodiacal Gémini y Tauro siguen dominando el cielo del cenit, precedidos por las míticas siete hermanas, la Pléiades, siempre huyendo del gran cazador. Otro famoso cúmulo, visible a simple vista como un manchón borroso,  marca la débil constelación de Cáncer: se trata del Pesebre (M44), que un telescopio con pocos aumentos nos revela en todo su esplendor. Ya desde el Este se asoma Leo, anunciando la llegada de la gran temporada de galaxias que nos espera en los meses venideros.
Si nos apetece despertarnos antes del alba, podremos admirar hacia el Este los brillante planetas Júpiter, Saturno y Venus, pero para verlos en hora más cómodas habrá que esperar unas semanas más. Quién nunca falta a la cita es el objeto celeste más admirado de todo el cielo: la Luna. La fase de plenitud se da justo el día del equinoccio, así que para disfrutar de sus cráteres, de sus mares y de sus montañas, que sólo un telescopio nos revela en toda su magia, recomendamos las noches anteriores, a partir del día 10.

¡Cielos despejados para todos!….

....AUGUST 2018 NIGHT SKY.. AUGUSTO 2018 CIELO NOCTURNO....

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….August is the month most expected by everyone who loves the shooting stars. The Perseids, called locally Tears of Saint Lawrence, are back and around the 12th of the month they are filling our island's skies with their brilliant lights. This year too, the absence of the Moon and the presence of the 4 major planets will make this event even more special, if possible. As a long time tradition, the Antigua's municipality organizes a public and free observation in the Prehispanic village of La Atalayita (information in 928 549653), but you can admire them from all the dark places of the island.

And back to the planets, in the Firmament it's easy to find Venus to the West in the first hours after sunset, while Jupiter shines very high during most of the night. A telescope reveals his dark atmospheric bands and his 4 major satellites, bright dots dancing restlessly around the giant. From the East, Saturn will leave you incredulous when admiring his famous rings, and sometimes also a few of his more than 60 satellites. Mars, the Red Planet, destination of so many exploring missions, is also reaching this area following his apparent retrograde movement.

The Moon accompanies us in the second part of the month. Her mountains, her seas and her craters are all a surprise due to their sharpness and closeness through the telescope, leaving us fascinated every time we admire them.

Clear skies to everybody! ..

Agosto es el mes más esperado por todos los amantes de las estrellas fugaces. Vuelven las Perseidas, las Lágrimas de San Lorenzo, que alrededor del 12 de este mes llenan los cielos de nuestra isla con sus brillantes destellos. Este año, la ausencia de Luna y la presencia de los 4 planetas mayores en el cielo nocturno hará de este evento algo aún más especial. Como ya es tradición, el Ayuntamiento de Antigua organiza una observación pública y gratuita en el Poblado Prehispánico de la Atalayita (información en el 928 549653), pero el espectáculo podrá admirarse desde todos los sitios oscuros de la isla.

Y volviendo a los planetas, en el Firmamento destaca Venus, que se pone bastante pronto en el Oeste, así como Júpiter, que brilla muy alto en el cielo ya a la caída de la noche. El telescopio nos revelará sus bandas atmosféricas oscuras y sus 4 satélites mayores, unos puntos brillantes que danzan incansablemente a su alrededor. Cada vez más alto en el Este, Saturno deja a todo el mundo admirado al contemplar sus anillos, con frecuencia también acompañados por algunos de sus más de 60 satélites. También Marte, el Planeta Rojo destino de tantos programas de exploración, va acercándose a esta zona en su aparente movimiento retrógrado.

La Luna nos acompaña en la segunda mitad del mes. Sus montañas, sus mares y su cráteres nos sorprenden por su nitidez y su aparente cercanía a través del telescopio, dejándonos fascinados cada vez que los admiramos.

¡Cielos despejados para todos! ….

....FEBRUARY 2018 NIGHT SKY.. FEBRERO 2018 CIELO NOCTURNO....

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....February is possibly the most interesting month for the observation of the Winter night sky from the Canary Islands. With the constellation of Orion very high in the first hours of the night, it is possible to admire one of the most popular and most photographed objects of the Deep Sky, the nebula M42, a fantastic star nursery found in the sword of the mythical sky hunter. This same area is very rich of telescopic targets, such as the close Gemini and Taurus, starting from the many open clusters, one of the big views of this season, or other more exotic, such as the Crab nebula, famous remnant of a supernova explosion registered some 1000 years ago. 

While we are waiting for the big planets to be back at accessible hours, for the lovers of the Solar System the Moon is present as all months; her full phase is in the first days and then will come back in the final week. Her craters, her seas and her mountains, which a telescope allows us to admire from hundreds of thousands of kilometers, will always be a fascinating view for all people.

Clear skies to everybody!  .. 

El mes de febrero es posiblemente el más interesante para la observación del cielo del invierno desde las Islas Canarias. Con la constelación de Orión ya bien alta en las primeras horas de la noche, es posible admirar uno de los objetos más llamativos y más fotografiados del Cielo Profundo, como es la Nebulosa M42, admirable criadero de estrellas localizado en la espada del mítico cazador celeste. Esta zona, así como las cercanas de Gémini y de Tauro, es muy rica en objetivos telescópicos, destacando los numerosos cúmulos abiertos, gran atractivo del cielo de esta estación, y otros más exóticos, como la Nebulosa del Cangrejo, famoso remanente de una explosión de supernova registrada hace casi mil años.
A la espera de que los grandes planetas vuelvan a ser observables en las primeras horas de la noche, para los amantes del Sistema Solar como cada mes está presente el objetivo más llamativo de todos, es decir la Luna, en fase de plenitud en los primeros días de mes y que vuelve a brillar en la última semana. Sus cráteres, sus mares y sus montañas, que el telescopio nos permite admirar desde cientos de miles de kilómetros, no dejan indiferente a nadie.

¡Cielos despejados para todos! ....

....JANUARY 2018 NIGHT SKY.. ENERO 2018 CIELO NOCTURNO....

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....The New Year starts with the Full Moon, a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a night walk along the beach during the Christmas holidays. However, in order to enjoy the Winter sky in all its beauty, we have to wait a few days more, when the most typical constellations of the epoch will acquire all their protagonism. 

The mythical hunter Orion, with his fantastic star nursery M42, is no doubt the most popular and easy-to-recognize, but we should not forget to admire the 2 animals accompanying him: the Great Dog and his very brilliant star Sirius, and the Small Dog with his aster Procyon.

In the Eastern Zodiacal zone, it's easy to locate the big triangle of Taurus, high in the night sky, with its yellowish star Aldebaran marking the eye of the bull, as well as Gemini with their twin stars Castor and Pollux, reminding us of the adventures of  these mythical twins. Not far from there, we can find the interesting constellation of Auriga, crossed by the Milky Way and rich in wonderful open clusters, among the most fantastic of the season.

Clear skies and .. Happy New Year to everybody!  ..

Este año 2018 empieza con la Luna llena, una magnifica ocasión para disfrutar de un paseo nocturno por la playa en estos días navideños. Pero, para apreciar al cielo invernal en todo su esplendor, habrá que esperar unos días, cuando las constelaciones más típicas de la temporada adquieran el protagonismo.

El mítico cazador Orión, con su fantástico criadero de estrellas M42, es sin duda la más llamativa y popular, pero no olvidemos de admirar a los perros que le acompañan: el Can Mayor y su brillantísima estrella Sirio, y el Can Menor con su astro Proción. 

En la zona zodiacal del Este, destaca el gran triángulo de Tauro, ya bien alto en el cielo nocturno, con la amarillenta Aldebarán marcando el ojo del toro, así como Gémini con sus brillantes astros 'gemelos' Castor y Pólux, que nos recuerdan las hazañas de estos mitológicos mellizos. No muy lejos está el llamativo pentágono de constelación de Auriga, atravesado por la Vía Láctea y rico en cúmulos abiertos de gran belleza, entre los más bonitos de esta época.

¡Cielos despejados y .. Próspero Año Nuevo para todos! ....

....MARCH 2017 NIGHT SKY.. MARZO 2017 CIELO NOCTURNO ....

....As occurs every year, March is taking us into Spring. The nights are getting shorter day by day, until on the 20th, the date of the Equinox in 2017, the duration of the day is the same as the night, becoming longer in the following 6 months.

In the beginning of March the typical constellations of winter, such as Orion, the Great Dog and Gemini, are still very high in the night sky, allowing us to admire their precious treasures, like the fascinating Orion Nebula, the closest nursery of stars, the multiple system of Sigma, in the same area, or the glorious cluster M35, in the Twins. But from the East new and interesting objects are now appearing, such as the Lion and the Big Dipper -which in the last months had disappeared from our skies- messengers of the great galaxies’ season of the next months.

The planet Jupiter is finally back, appearing earlier every day towards the East horizon, balancing the protagonism of Venus, setting down early in the West. His satellites, dark bands and clear zones offer us, through a telescope a beautiful view we should not miss the opportunity to admire.

As we are already accustomed to this year, the Moon is the protagonist of the first part of the month. Nobody remains indifferent when looking at her mountains, craters, seas or highlands: in spite of the enormous distance, these details are clearly visible and really impressive.

Clear skies to everybody!

..Como todos los años, el mes de marzo nos trae la primavera: las noches se van haciendo cada día más cortas, hasta que el día 20, fecha del equinoccio de primavera en este 2017, la duración del día iguala a la de la noche, para después superarla en los 6 meses siguientes.

A principios de marzo, las constelaciones más populares del invierno, como Orión, el Can Mayor y Gémini, siguen bien altas en el cielo vespertino, permitiéndonos seguir contemplando sus más preciados tesoros, como la fascinante Nebulosa de Orión, el más próximo criadero de estrellas, el sistema múltiple de Sigma, en la misma área, o el glorioso cúmulo M35, en los Gemelos.

Pero en el Este ya van apareciendo nuevos e interesantes asterismos, tal como el León y la Osa Mayor -que durante unos meses había desaparecido de nuestro cielo- mensajeros de la gran temporada de galaxias que nos espera a partir de un mes.

También el planeta Júpiter vuelve a  aparecer en el horizonte Este, quitando el protagonismo a Venus, que se pone temprano en el Oeste. Sus satélites, sus bandas y sus zonas claras nos ofrecen a través del telescopio un espectáculo maravilloso, que no debemos perder la ocasión de admirar.

Como va siendo costumbre en este año, la Luna es la protagonista de la primera parte del mes. Nadie permanece indiferente a la visión de sus montañas y sus cráteres, sus mares y sus Tierras Altas: sus impresionantes detalles nos dejan asombrados, a pesar de la enorme distancia que nos separa.

¡Cielos despejados para todo!

....

CONVERSATION WITH ANDY, CARLY AND MARISA

I had a great email conversation with photography enthusiast Andy Bailey the other week that i had to share his questions with our resident photographer Carly Higgins and here were our  answers: 

MARISA AND ANDY

I sell a lot of full spectrum cameras to astrophotographers but I have never been able to use one here in the uk due to light pollution. 

1) would I need to use a full spectrum camera or would a unmodified one be ok?

2) where is the closest point to corralejo where I could capture the Milky Way.  Could I achieve this in a single image or would I need to stack several shots?

3) I understand that at around 28mm I could use a maximum exposure of around 30 seconds. Does that sound right?

Could you advise what settings you would use?

I have various compact, bridge and dslr camera to choose from but would like to carry something practical and as cheap as possible. 

Hi Andy

You don't have to use a full spectrum camera. Most of our photos are taken with dslr's. As a collective we own full frame Canon body's and 3/4sensor bodies. Our previous photographer and the founder are Nikon lovers. As you can see from our website: www.starsbynight.es and Instagram account: instagram.com/starsbynightfv/ you can still produce amazing photos with basic equipment. 

We are very lucky in Fuerteventura that you don't have to go too far out to see the milky way or to see stars at night. We do observations just 5mins away from the RIU hotel near the dunes which is about 10min drive from the centre of Corralejo. You won't really see the Milky way in April. From July onwards we have a good view but September/October are the best months to see it with with the naked eye. Yes, you can take a photo of this in a single image. 

As for your 28mm lens... well that depends if its a full frame, APSC or Micro4/3  camera, what fstop of your lens ( this will change the light qualities depending on what sensor size you have)? What iso? as a general rule and depending on what you are shooting - be it milky way or stars in general, or light/star trails  you would be looking at anything from minimum of 20sec-30secs for a night photo ( depending on what you are photographing). 

If you are specifically looking at taking night time photos i  would recommend bringing a dslr with the widest and brightest lens you have. If this is not what you have then a good start would be something with a lens that is f4 and/or brighter (f2.8, f2, f1.8, f1.2 - are nice to play with). Yet you can still take a good quality photo with even a standard 18-55 kit lens if its only milky way that you want to shoot. 

 

CARLY AND ANDY

"Have you ever tried using a Ricoh theta S fir astrophography"

No I have never tried 360 degree photography

"The Milky Way is the object that I wanted to try and capture. I have several apps on my phone to help track it. I guess planets and nebulas would potential need longer exposures and equatorial mount. " 

You can capture images of the planets (looking like stars) using only a DSLR and actually as some are very bright you don't need a long exposure, but If you are looking to take more deep space images yes you would need a very long exposure so an equatorial mount or tracker of some kind would be essential.

"This is the style of photo I'd like to achieve. Astroscape!  Is the following a series of images (foreground / background) or still just the one?"( see above picture for reference)

This is all one image in camera, where possible I prefer to do this and reduce processing time

"If it's easy to explain how would you achieve the above image? "

This image is just a single exposure of 15s at f/2.8 and ISO 2000 and would be very easy for even a beginner to take, its the kind of image we will learn to take on workshops. It was a beautiful clear night and the milky way was clearly visible to the naked eye. There is of course a little post processing in Photoshop

"Finally one last question, assuming there was a clear sky with no foreground subject like the windmill, how would you advise achieving the image of the Milky Way like it is in the image above (assuming I was using an APS C with kit lens)"

You would need to use your widest angle lens to get as much of the sky in as possible, if you have a kit lens I am guessing something like 18-55mm which on a crop sensor is equivalent to 27mm on full frame - not massive wide but definitely workable. You also want to use the lowest aperture possible f/2.8 or below if you have it. Using the 500 hundred rule (something else we teach on the workshop) you can workout how long an exposure (shutter speed) you can have without starting to get star trails. For 27mm I would recommend no more than 18 seconds. You will then need to adjust your ISO to get a properly exposed image balancing it against the other 2 elements of the exposure triangle Aperture and Shutter Speed. It would be really great to have you attend a workshop as I can demonstrate exactly how to capture and image like this and work with you to get exactly what you want.

To note: content has been edited slightly to remove places and dates. 

who is Andy Bailey: INFRAREADYUK & BESTGHOSTHUNTING

 

BUYING A TELESCOPE

I wrote this article in 2012 when StarsbyNight was just a passionate project that Karen (founder of SBN) would brainstorm with me on how to make her passion into a reality. We were both uber excited and it was a massive learning curve, even in buying equipment. After the years have passed we know a lot more and technology and equipment and brands  are evolving but the theory and idea behind buying your first telescope still apply. 

I just want to add , just like buying a new camera lens, that the most important characteristic of a telescope is its aperture — the diameter of its light-gathering lens or mirror, often called the objective. Look for the telescope's specifications near its focuser, at the front of the tube, or on the box. The aperture's diameter (D) will be expressed either in millimeters.  Your telescope should have at least 2.8 inches (70 mm) aperture — and preferably more.

The little bit I know about buying a telescope - 21/12/2012

Let me start by saying I am no expert. My experience in the past is selling and using photographic equipment in a professional capacity. I wanted to buy a telescope. After doing a lot of research I found its really similar to buying a camera. My colleagues are in the process of buying a high end telescope for our clients to view the night sky here in Fuerteventura, but I would like one so I can learn at home in the meantime. Sure I can use the fancy one they will buy, but I’m occasional user, I have more of an amateur interest rather than a professional one.

Questions I used to always ask my customers in photography. ‘What is the main purpose for?’ ‘In what conditions?” ‘How often would you use it? ‘Is it for you? ” ‘what previous experience do you/or other person have?”  “What do you really want to do with a it?” ‘how much money do you want to spend?”

I’ve done a lot of research. What I used to find often with cameras is people have too much money, buy the latest thing that has all the bells and whistles and never use it to its full capacity and it sits in the corner of the room gathering dust and just looking pretty. It appears its the same with telescopes. I also asked an ex colleague who worked for a company who specialized in astronomy gear and he said the same. He said. “ If someone wanted to spend under £200 I would probably recommend a good pair of binoculars that last a lifetime. Often what happens is the  kind of telescope people think they want and what they really need are two different things.”

I was told do not even consider a telescope that advertises it power on the box (300x, 500x,650x, 725x).  Avoid telescopes that are advertised by their magnification — especially implausibly high powers like 600×. For most purposes, a telescope's maximum useful magnification is 50 times its aperture in inches (or twice its aperture in millimeters).  Even the best telescopes are limited to about 50x-75x per inch (25.4mm) of aperture. The big number with a ‘x’ after it, I was told  is actually a  marketing ploy and high-powered scopes tend to have fixed eyepieces. What you want is a removable eyepiece. Also even though these type of telescopes appear attractive advertised with a high number, all this means is the high magnification the light is gathered and spread over a larger area making it fuzzy and faint.  You should look for the magnification in the eyepiece. You calculate a telescope's maximum useful magnification by multiplying the size of the lens or mirror in inches by 50.  I was also told that alower power/magnification in the telescope tends to provide a better viewing experience.

Start with binoculars. If you don’t have much money and don’t want to spend over the £200 mark you may be happier with a very good pair of binos. Even for travel its actually quite a good idea to have a back up anyways of about 10x50, 7x50 for a more general use or an 8x56 or a 9x63 for something a bit more ‘astro’ and its less heavier, but can be slightly expensive. Buy something you can use, not something you will get frustrated with . If it rattles when you shake it, try a different pair of binos. Good telescopes will be expensive regardless of the type. Cheap binoculars are much, much more useful than cheap telescopes and  good binoculars can last you forever.

What you can see with a pair of binoculars look at this link: http://www.lightandmatter.com/binosky/binosky.html

binocular basics: http://www.chuckhawks.com/binocular_basics.htm

Should I get a refractor or a reflector telescope?

Now I had to get some help to explain this from another website as I couldn’t think of the any other way to explain it but share someone else’s informationhttp://www.astronomyforbeginners.com/equipment/telescope.php:

Reflector

Reflectors have one open end and a curved mirror at the back. Light is reflected and focused by this mirror onto a secondary mirror, which reflects it up into the eyepiece. Refractors are generally cheaper per inch of aperture and are in general better for the beginner on a budget, but aren't very good for ground observing, as the image is upside-down.

Refractor

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A refractor has a lens at the front which refracts light from the stars and focuses it at the eyepiece (often by means of a 45° mirror-in which case the image is reversed left-to-right). The image is the right way up meaning that these are better suited if you want to do ground observing as well. If the optics are good, then refractors can form better images, but are usually more expensive per inch of aperture.

Reflector telescopes have one optical surface (less mirrors) and tend to be cheaper and have no chormatic abberration. The mirror in this type of telescope may need recoating after years of use but if you are a beginner like me and will not use it outside on a rough surface (and tend to use it on your balcony like me) and not have much money then these type are a quick fix to look at the sky.

Refracting telescopes the light bends from one medium to another. A refractor uses two lenses. At one end, is the larger lens is called the objective. On the other end is the lens you look through, called the ocular or eyepiece. Also an advantage of a refractor is that by default they have a totally clear aperture and are low maintenance. A disadvantage is that some telescope lens/glass pieces will give off  chormatic aberrations. The only way I can describe it with my experience is light fringing around a subject like you get where you take a photo with a cheap lens on a sunny day sometimes the object has a faint fuzz around it, also kind of like a lens flare.  Inexpensive refractors have problems with false color, but they are often more compact and therefore better for traveling. Also, refractors tend to give more pleasing views when used in the daylight. Most reflectors tend to be very large by comparison, but will have better light gathering capability.  I was also told that whether buying either telescope look out for2.4 inch (60mm) and 3.1 inch(80mm) refractors and 4.5 inch and 6 inch reflectors are popular for most amateurs. Your new scope should have at least 1 eyepiece, and often 2 or 3. An eyepiece is rated by millimeters (mm), with smaller numbers indicating higher magnification. A 25mm eyepiece is common and appropriate for most beginners.While a higher magnification eyepiece may provide more details, it may be harder to keep an object in view, unless you are using a motorized mount. They also require the scope to gather more light to provide a clearer image.

A lower power eyepiece makes it easier to find objects and keep them in view. Lower magnification eyepieces require less light, so viewing dimmer objects is easier.

Remember the view through a telescope with not be exact to what you see in astrophotography on the internet or magazines. Planets will be tinier and some not in fantastic colours .

I started getting lost looking at all the brands. It seemed for over the £200 mark, the Meade does a introductory good telescope for anything over the £350 you are looking at more advanced Meade, Newtonians, Dobinsonians and Stellarvuemodels.  Lower cost options can include Maksutov-Cassegrains and “long” achromatic refractors.  Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescopes (SCT) can also offer pleasing views of the planets.

I recommend trying before buying. Observe through as many telescopes as you can, and ask as many questions as you can think of. Ask about setup time, maintenance and accessories.

This is a great list of things to help you set up your basic kit: http://www.astronomy.com/Equipment/How-To.aspx

To me it really is buying an extension of my camera equipment. Learning about glass wear, apertures and brands from various websites, magazines and asking professionals has helped me. Hopefully it won't just sit in the corner of my room.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional but someone who is interested. Within our team we have a professional astronomer but I write this article out of pure interest and passion for a subject am learning about.