Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Beginning

What is Ashrunner's Skies?

The simple answer is that it is an astronomy blog I have started.

The not-so-simple answer is that it is a blog where I will talk about my adventures in Astronomy.

I know there are probably thousands of astronomy blogs on the internet...and the majority will be better than this blog for the most part.

I started this blog as a way to keep me interested in what I see in the night skies.  When there isn't a lot of snow on the ground and the temperature is above 20F and I have nothing better to do, I will be outside watching the night sky, photographing meteors in the night sky, or peering through a telescope at the night sky.

I have always loved the night sky.  When I was 14 or 15 (give me a break...I'm 65 now), I developed an interest in astronomy.  For Christmas that year, Santa brought me a 6 inch reflecting telescope on a German equatorial mount.  As soon as I could, I dragged the scope to my backyard in south suburban Chicago and looked through the eyepiece.  I didn't point the scope anywhere in particular, I just pointed it up at the sky.  When I looked through the eyepiece, I was amazed that I was seeing a lot more stars than I could see with my eyes alone.  I was hooked.

A year or so later, my father read about a public star party at an address near where we lived.  On the night of the star party, he dropped me off and began to mingle with the gathering people.  I learned a lot of interesting things that night, looked through some really good telescopes and met a number of people who would become good friends.

The star party that evening was hosted by the Lowell Astronomical Society of Burbank, Ill.  One of the people I met was president of the society and he invited me to join...and I did.  I remained a member of the society until I joined the U.S. Air Force.  I stayed in the Air Force for more than 20 years and although my interest in astronomy remained, I never had a telescope...binoculars...yes, but no telescope.  Even after I retired, I couldn't afford a decent telescope (my 6 inch reflector disappeared four or five years after I entered the military).

But that as all changed.  After retiring from the military, I began nature photography.  I don't make a living at it, but through time and the assistance of a friend, I have acquired a good camera and several excellent lenses.  I have used the camera mostly to photograph the sky during meteor showers, but I will also occasionally photograph a random part of the sky hoping for a beautiful sporadic meteor.

Along with the camera (it is a Canon EOS DSLR) I have two telescopes.  Both are small scopes, but are of excellent quality.  One is the Meade ETX-80 Observer, an 80 mm f/5 refractor telescope.  I have owned this scope for about two years and have used it to view the moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Venus mostly.  I have also looked at the Pleiades star cluster and the nearby Beehive cluster.  Both are beautiful sights in the fast f/5 scope.

Most recently, I took delivery of another telescope...the Meade ETX-125 Observer which is a 127 mm f/15 Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope.  I have yet to view anything through it as the night sky has not cooperated since the scope arrived on my doorstep.  If the optics on the new scope are as good as those on the ETX-80, I'll be very happy.

I also have several cameras which connect to my telescopes.  I hope to be doing some astrophotography in the coming days.  And as I learn the trade, I'll post to this blog for those who read Ashrunner's Skies.

Stay tuned for clear skies!

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