Astro Training II

Last Tuesday night we had another session of training with the TiS volunteers. The skies were clear, the night was warm and obviously the previous week was such a hit, everyone wanted to come along, so the crowd expanded somewhat. We were also joined by a couple of newcomers to the program and I am sure you will hear much about them over the coming year.

A local Year 6 student Dian and her mum who heard about the program through Shane were eager to come along as well, see some stars and take some photos. They turned up just as we were setting up the telescope. Introductions were done and we were up and running.

While the students set up the telescope and got to know each other, we waited for the cricketers to finish up and the stars to come out. Vikram also worked out which stars we would use for the alignment- Aldebaran and Castor. Now Aldebaran is an old favourite and one we use quite regularly as it is bright star in the Northern sky, at the moment just above Jupiter. The other star, I had independently read about as one of the 12 cool things to look at during a Star Party. Here is that blog post if you want to know what the rest were. Turns out the star, Castor, is actually a triple star system and each one of those stars is actually a binary system – so there are in fact 6 stars in this system! We will definitely be heading back to Castor for a closer look next time. You can find Castor in the Gemini constellation. Here is another article for 10 things you can see during the day too.

After the alignment, we went to Jupiter. The 40mm eyepiece was still in, as was the focal reducer, so we were looking at Jupiter with the widest field of view. We saw all 4 Galilean moons and while there was some question initially as to whether they were really seeing the colours, greater appreciation was expressed when everyone realized those spectacular bands of orange and brown were real. Everyone immediately want to ‘make it bigger’. Which was exactly what we did with stunning results and much oohing and aahing.

TiS trainees gathered around the telescope taking photos

TiS trainees gathered around the telescope taking photos

Next, demands for Orion were uttered and we headed to the Great Orion Nebula. Thankfully it lived up to everyone’s expectations and more delighted comments were expressed. It was then time to take some images. Olia, had her camera again and quickly hooked up and started focusing and snapping away like an old pro!

Great Orion Nebula taken by Olia Borzyak

Great Orion Nebula taken by Olia Borzyak

Dian also connected her mum’s camera up to the telescope and took some photos of the Orion Nebula to add to the photos she had taken on her own camera to take home.

Lastly we had a look at Omega Centauri which is a globular cluster. Difficult conditions as we were looking close to street lights, meant that the number of stars in this cluster was quite diminished, and yet we were speechless at the number of stars we did see! More photos taken by Olia;

For the Orion nebula shot I used a 25 second exposure and a 600 iso. This made the colours of the nebula come out without disrupting the contrast too much. For the star cluster, the shutter speed was a bit less, 10 seconds, with an ISO of 600 too. These are my first real photos of space and I am extremely excited to take more in the future! Had a great night observing on Tuesday, never done anything like it before. PS- Jupiter made an appearance on my camera too that night!

There has been a little amount of manipulation done with the images to bring out more colour and we will investigate this in the website soon. Unfortunately there was a lot of atmospheric turbulence due to the heat when looking at Jupiter and the photos taken using the DSLR could not capture the planet well enough to do it justice.

Omega Centauri taken by Olia Borzyak

Omega Centauri taken by Olia Borzyak

Another sensational night of viewing, getting to know each other and learning the finer points of the telescope. I also noticed a few of the Volunteers trying out their explanations on Dian, much to her delight and education! Dian was last to leave, and would have stayed except we turned the telescope off. So I will leave you with a quote from Dian’s mum about their ride home;

Dian said three times on the way home.  ‘They were all really nice people Mum.’  We only live in North Melbourne!


Thanks to you both for sharing part of the universe!

I agree, they are really nice people and I am going to enjoy working with them over the coming year and I know the schools will too.

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