Intrigued by the clarity of the night sky and the absence of any artificial light we joined the Dorset Astronomy Club. Our first question, like many others, is “what can I see through a $200 telescope?” The short answer – a lot!
Star Gazing at Pond Mountain Inn Without a Telescope
Let’s begin by mentioning what can be seen without a telescope – quite a bit! The International Space Station (ISS) passed by twice last week while having dinner outside with friends. And, with an untrained eye, having ISS Detector app on my telephone is the best way to distinguish the space station from roaming satellites. After only a few sightings, the two are easily distinguishable – the space station has a much larger and brighter footprint. Satellites are quite common – we saw three in fifteen minutes the previous Sunday night!
The broad swath of milky light stretching across the night sky is, of course, the Milky Way Galaxy that never disappoints. The Big Dipper sits directly above our home in the summer, which is somehow very comforting. And, the annual Perseid Meteor Shower two weekends ago was disappointing again this year with large amounts of cloud cover. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for next year…
We see shooting stars about 30% of the time – last summer we saw an incredible meteor streaking across the night’s sky that lasted just a split second – absolutely magnificent!
Planets are easily visible to the naked eye, especially the notable three – Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, but are virtually featureless. The meteor strikes on the moon are nicely apparent with a pair of department store binoculars.
And, there is so much more to see….
A $200 Telescope Certainly Improves Things – A Lot!
The Moon’s craters come alive with a telescope and it’s easily the most impressive object in the sky given its proximity to earth. There are now eight planets, with the absence of Pluto. Jupiter, Saturn and Mars are the “big three” in the sky revealing nice surface characteristics that we hope to share with you in the future!
Kay and I certainly look forward to learning so much more about the night sky and will share photographs of what we see and experience from Vermont… Stay tuned! And, it may be even better in the winter!