Star Gazing

For years my youngest son has wanted to get a telescope. Not your average run of the mill telescope but this beauty, the Orion XT8. He actually wanted a BIGGER one but this is what he could afford so he settled for it....for now.

As you can tell, this is NOT your typical telescope! Even with this he was worried that he wouldn't be able to see anything worth seeing.

Of course until the day this arrived the night skies had been clear and the weather kind of warm, but that night the sky was full of clouds and he was so upset, but kept going out to check things out. Eventually they began to break up so he took the telescope out and right away we looked at Mars !

Then we just looked at some random stars that appeared here and there. Eventually me and my grandson, who is 11, got cold and went inside. But Tony stuck with it, at 24 he is able to stand the cold more I guess, plus he had the excitement of doing something he had waited so long to do to help keep him warm.

I'm glad he did, because around 11 he ran in and said "MOM! Come see Jupiter!!" I was thinking no way is he seeing Jupiter....but when I put my eye to the scope and saw that planet, stripes and all (we need a better eyepiece and filter so we can see the red spot though) and it's moons...well...WOW! Just wow!! I ran in and got my grandson to come out and see it too...lol

It was just so totally awesome to think that we were sitting in our driveway looking at Jupiter.

We went in after that, but Tony went out AGAIN later because he was determined to see one more thing. Which he did and woke me up around 2:30 to see if I wanted to see it. I just couldn't get up so he took a photo for me instead. This is what he saw....recognize it??

Again I was blown away by this. But not as much as the night of the 28th when I saw it for myself! Along with more looks at Jupiter and Mars on a much clearer night. And then..Tony started looking for two specific things that he wanted to see that night....and found them! The first was this galaxy...photo isn't that great, we need a camera adapter (see how this love of his has become a shared one now??) but it is a photo that he took of what we saw. The Whirlpool Galaxy and the galaxy it interacts with. These two galaxies are 23 (give or take four million) LIGHT YEARS away....can you imagine? And we were looking at them..

To top off the night, he found the last item on his list for that night: The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules
We don't have a photo of that but you can see one by clicking the above link.

I have to admit that I am so thrilled with this new hobby and look forward to many nights spent looking at the sky and seeing stars, planets, galaxies, and nebulas that we have only been able to see on TV or in photos previously. It is an awe inspiring moment when it happens...one not soon forgotten!

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