Got Telescope? Binoculars?

Last night I noticed some bright planet-like things in the western sky, so I dragged the old Dobsonian telescope out of the basement for the first time in years.  The objects turned out to be Jupiter and Venus.  I’m clueless at taking photos through my telescope, but I found some examples by the talented jpstanley to give you an idea of what you can see through a normal amateur telescope:

Jupiter and its satellites
Jupiter and its satellites (photo by jpstanley)
Venus (photo by jpstanley)

Even a good pair of binoculars will show you Jupiter’s moons and Saturn’s rings, and if you catch a half-moon (when the shadows are longest), it’s one of the most rewarding sites in the night sky:

Moon (photo by jpstanley)

The next time you see a half-moon, grab your binoculars, you’ll be amazed at the detail you can see.

More info:

Carrying the Fire

This summer, I picked up a copy of Mike Collins’s memoir Carrying the Fire at the Barnes & Noble in Melbourne, which is on Florida’s “Space Coast”. I’m a sucker for books about local happenings, even more so when there’s an adventure or geeky angle (or both, as with this book).

I just finished the book and recommend it highly to anyone interested in flying or America’s space program or Apollo in particular. Collins tells the story of America’s ambitious race to the moon from a personal perspective, and there’s lots of test pilot talk throughout the book.