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Amateur Astronomy

"Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another."

- Plato

Sears "Discoverer" 6305A 60 mm Equatorial Refactor Telescope

Sears Model "Discoverer" Model 4  6305A 60 mm Equatorial Refactor Telescope - Airplanes and RocketsHere is Melanie with my vintage, circa 1967 Sears "Discoverer" Model 4  6305A 60 mm Equatorial Refractor Telescope (focal length 900 mm, f15 optics). Purchased on eBay for a very reasonable price, it was in excellent condition optically and physically. There are a few minor paint scratches that I plan to repair. After disassembling all the mechanical parts, cleaning, greasing, and reassembling them, operation is very smooth. The sun projection screen will come in handy for the April 2024 total solar eclipse, and incredibly enough my house in Erie, Pennsylvania sits almost dead center in the path of totality. The shipping / carrying case came with the telescope. It is constructed with a mahogany plywood top and bottom surface and with solid mahogany frame pieces. All the hardware was removed and either polished or painted. The wood was sanded just enough to get it smooth and remove a couple very minor scratches. I was careful to not erase any of the original already faded ink stamping on the inside bottom; it has "JAS," with the rest being Japanese. Then, three coats of semigloss polyurethane ...

My Personal Criterion RV-6 'Dynascope' Telescope Adventure

Criterion RV-6 'Dynascope' Telescope Adverisement - Airplanes and RocketsIt was while I was in the USAF at Robing AFB, Georgia, that my interest in astronomy was rekindled and I decided to move from a cheap 2" Tasco refractor to a 'real' telescope that had more light collecting capacity and was on an equatorial mount with a sidereal drive system. My Air Force pay did not allow for anything as nice as a Celestron or Meade model, but an advertisement in Astronomy magazine by Criterion Manufacturing made the goal seem obtainable in the RV-6 'Dynascope.' For a mere $279.95, I could purchase a 6", f-8 Newtonian telescope with a pillar-type tripod mount and an equatorial drive. I immediately wrote a check and mailed it off to the company's location in Connecticut. Then, I waited... and waited... and waited, but no telescope arrived after more than ...

Free Amateur Astronomy Software

Free Amateur Astronomy Software - Airplanes and RocketsThere are some really excellent pieces of software available to amateur astronomers ranging in function from presenting the night sky in incredible detail and can even control your telescope (TheSkyX) to image processing (RegiStax). Screen shots and hyperlinks are given below. RegiStax is free to anyone, but to get TheSkyX free, you have to buy a Celestron telescope that bundles it with the hardware (as low as $80 for the PowerSeeker 70AZ). Stellarium is a totally free, open source sky chart program. It appears to do everything TheSkyX does, including

World's 1st Scale Model of Solar System in Nevada Desert

World's 1st Scale Model of Solar System in Nevada Desert - Airplanes an dRocketsThis is über-cool. A bunch of guys created a true scale model of the solar system in the Black Rock desert of Nevada. They used to-scale sun and planet diameters and traced out to-scale orbital paths in the sand. Earth was a blue marble and the sun was about a meter and a half in diameter. Posts driven into the ground at orbit distances had planet models mounted atop them. The accompanying video is very well done, and the slickest part is where their cars were driven around the orbital paths at night with headlights on. I was disappointed, though, that Pluto was left out just because a bunch of pointy-headed scientists demoted it to a 'dwarf planet' ...

New Horizons Sends Incredible Images of Ice Flows, Valleys, and Dunes

New Horizons Sends Incredible Images of  Ice Flows, Valleys, and Dunes - Airplanes and Rockets"NASA's Pluto experts have revealed new high resolution close up images of the surface of Pluto - and admit they are stunned by the planet. They reveal a 'bewildering variety of surface features' that have scientists reeling because of their range and complexity. 'If an artist had painted this Pluto before our flyby, I probably would have called it over the top — but that's what is actually there,' said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the SwRI, Boulder ..."

VHF-UHF Mountaintoppers, Rovers Asked to Observe Radio Quiet Zones

VHF-UHF Mountaintoppers, Rovers Asked to Observe Radio Quiet Zones - RF Cafe"The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) at Green Bank, West, Virginia, has asked that hams notify the facility if they plan to operate within 10 miles of either the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) or the Sugar Grove Research Station in Sugar Grove, West Virginia. The internationally renowned scientific research facilities ..."

New Crater on the Moon Named After Aviator Amelia Earhart

New Crater on the Moon Named After Aviator Amelia Earhart - Airplanes and Rockets"Purdue University scientists announced the discovery of a previously unknown crater on the surface of the moon. The crater, temporarily named after aviator Amelia Earhart, was discovered using data provided by NASA's GRAIL mission. The team of researchers behind this find say that the crater appears to measure about 124 miles ..."

NASA Tests the 'Ferrari of Rocket Engines' for Mission to Mars

NASA Tests the 'Ferrari of Rocket Engines' for Mission to Mars - RF Cafe"NASA tests the 'Ferrari of rocket engines' for mission to Mars - CNET If we're going to get humans to Mars, we're going to need a bigger rocket with a much more powerful engine. This is the RS-25, the engine designed for NASA's Space Launch System rocket, intended to launch the Orion spacecraft and, eventually, see humanity on its way to Mars: the ..."

Radio Astronomy

Radio Astronomy, June 1954 Radio & Television News - Airplanes and RocketsSuper-low-noise-figure receivers are absolutely essential in radio astronomy work. The need has driven major advances in the state of the art of cryogenically cooled front ends with noise temperatures near absolute zero. Antenna technology has also benefitted from radio astronomy due to the need for precision steering and narrow beam widths. Phased arrays for interstellar targets requires that element spacing being large enough to require separate antennas as the elements, which creates a very large effective aperture, hence greater angular resolution. Networks located continents apart are synchronized with the use of atomic clocks to allow signal time of arrival and therefore phase to be accurately measured. This story gives some of the early efforts. 

Notable Quote

"Jupiter's moons are invisible to the naked eye and therefore can have no influence on the earth, and therefore would be useless, and therefore do not exist" - Airplanes and Rockets Notable Quote"Jupiter's moons are invisible to the naked eye and therefore can have no influence on the earth, and therefore would be useless, and therefore do not exist." - Francisco Sizzi (Prof. of Astronomy), dismissing Galileo's sighting of the moons. Now there is a prime example of reductio ad absurdum absurdity.

Inside Pages

Sears "Discoverer" Model 4  6305A 60 mm Equatorial Refactor Telescope

My Early Amateur Astronomy Days

My Dynascope RV-8 Newtonian Telescope

Celestron CPC Deluxe 800 HD Telescope

My Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope

Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope Teardown Report

Astronomy Articles from Vintage Magazines

Celestron NexImage Camera Teardown

Installing the Feathertouch SCT MicroFocuser

JMI MotoFocus for the NexStar 8SE Telescope

Criterion RV-6 'Dynascope' Telescope Advertisement

Tamaya NC-2 Astro-Navigation Calculator

Find Your Birth Star

Jupiter and Venus Photos

Neil Armstrong Commemorative Moon Photo

Venus / Pleiades Conjunction of 2012

Moon Craters - Registax Enhanced

Full Super Moon of 2013

Sunspot Photos

Comet Holmes Photo

Video of Wind Turbine on Barracks Beach

Total Lunar Eclipse of February 20-21, 2008

Telescope & Sky's Official Observatory Construction

Telescope and Sky - Website of the Stars

Free Amateur Astronomy Software

Amateur Astronomy News Archive #3

Amateur Astronomy News Archive #2

Amateur Astronomy News Archive #1

Cosmic Radio Signals from Sun and Stars

Cosmic Radio Signals from Sun and Stars, March 1948 Radio Craft - Airplanes and RocketsNational defense needs have pushed back the frontiers of science and technology since time immemorial. Mechanics, chemistry, medicine, mathematics, psychology, astronomy, electricity, and as of the late nineteenth century, electronics. Astronomy was useful as a navigational tool and required a very sophisticated knowledge of geometry and algebra to make it accessible to seafaring men, cartographers, and land surveyors. Since the early 1900s, radio astronomy has played a huge role in the advancement of super-sensitive receiver designs. Most people think of information arriving to them in two or maybe three forms: sound, visible light, and some (but not many) even consider radio waves. As over-the-air AM and FM radio broadcasts die out, even fewer people are aware of radio

Asteroid QE2 Close Pass to Earth on Friday

Frank & Ernest Asteroid Comic, May 13, 2013 - Airplanes and RocketsYou have probably seen the news about asteroid "QE2" (1.5 miles wide, like the one which eradicated the dinosaurs) that will pass within 3.6 million miles of the Earth on May 31. That might seem like far, but it is only 15x the distance between Earth and the moon. Anyway, this Frank and Ernest comic strip appeared on May 13th and I cut it out to remind me to post it today, on the eve of QE2. QE2, BTW, is a nerd pun on the potential destruction to Earth that the government's Quantitative Easing policy might cause.

Glowing Trees a Problem for Astronomers

A Dream of Trees Aglow at Night - RF CafeA controversy brews over the merits of breeding plants that glow like a lightning bug. Proponents say glowing trees could eventually replace electric street lights, thereby reducing pollution created by generating stations. Opponents say messing around with tree genes is dangerous and should be disallowed since it could lead to unanticipated environmental ramifications on both plant and animal species. The unique aspect of this effort is that it is being pursued primarily by genetic hobbyists rather than corporations - at least for now. There is bound to be a huge financial potential for such a copyrighted line of plants. My opposition to the concept is primarily a concern for light pollution projected skyward. Astronomers have a difficult enough time with ever-encroaching sources of ambient light, but a planet overrun by cross-bred and mutated glowing plants (and possibly animals), especially if they are capable of emitting levels high enough to replace street lights, would effectively blind billions of dollars of investments in telescopes ...

Amateur Radio Astronomy in QST Magazine

Amateur Radio Astronomy Articles in QST - Airplanes and RocketsQST is the official publication of the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL), the world's oldest and largest organization for Ham radio enthusiasts. Many amateur radio operators also have an interest in astronomy and as such, occasionally articles appear covering topics on amateur radio astronomy. There are also quite a few articles dealing indirectly with aspects of astronomy such as Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) communications where signals are bounced off the moon's surface in order to facilitate transmission (although it is really more of a hobby achievement). The October 2012 edition of QST had an article entitled, "Those Mysterious Signals*," which discusses galactic noise in the 10-meter band. Arch Doty (W7ACD) writes about the low-level background noise that is persistent in the high frequency (HF) bands. At HF, Cygnus A and Cassiopeia A are major sources of cosmic noise, for example. Low level signals come from pulsars...

About Airplanes & Rockets 

Kirt Blattenberger, Webmaster - Airplanes and RocketsKirt Blattenberger

Carpe Diem! (Seize the Day!)

Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain some form of model building activity. This site has been created to help me chronicle my journey through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which all began in Mayo, MD ...

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