Of the Moon and Messier Marathon

Composite image of Messier Marathon Checklist over Messier Object images. Messier objects by Michael A. PhillipsCC BY 4.0, Link

Beginning amateur astronomers soon encounter the term “Messier objects.” They learn that this is a list of objects outside our Solar System that are visible through small telescopes. This list was originally compiled by Charles Messier, in the 18th century, from his observations and those of contributors. The catalog has been updated over time, as recently as the mid-20th century, to 110 objects in total.  

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2019: Solar and Lunar Phenomena Overview

From Tele Vue’s patio, the Mercury Transit of May 9, 2016 was imaged in white light with our FoneMate™ adapter using a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 attached to an 18.2mm DeLite eyepiece and Tele Vue-76 scope. Mercury is in the lower-right quadrant and forms a diagonal line with sunspot regions 2542 and 2543 as it passed nearest to the center of the solar disk. Mercury was 12-arcseconds in diameter then and will be just 10-arcseconds for the November 2019 transit. Photo by Jon Betancourt.
Mercury Transit
The premier event of 2019 awaits the end of the year when Mercury appears to pass over the face of the sun (as seen from Earth) on November 11th from 12:35 to 18:04 UT.  Due to its diminutive size — only 10-arc-seconds in diameter —  eclipse glasses over your eyes will not do: you’ll need a properly solar filtered telescope, binocular, or telephoto lens to view it (see Viewing/Imaging Resources at bottom). Don’t miss it as the next transit of Mercury won’t be until 2032.

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Tele Vue-85: Portable, Powerful, Photo-Visual APO

Imaging a rare celestial event requires advanced planning, the right equipment, and often a lot of post-processing.  Tony Cook traveled from the UK to Paphos on the southwest of  coast of Cyprus (we suppose for the over 300 sunny days a year) to image the 2004 Transit of Venus with his Tele Vue-85, Coronado SM60 hydrogen alpha filter, Canon 10D camera, and Losmandy GM-8 mount.  The 85’s optical capabilities and airline portability often makes it a favorite for amateur astronomers chasing down rare events like this.
 
Transit of Venus – 8th June 2004 by AstroBin user Tony Cook. License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons. Used by permission. Tele Vue-85 APO refractor with Coronado SM60 hydrogen alpha filter and Canon 10D camera. This is actually a synthetic color image created from the luminosity of the green channel of the photos.  Click image link to read how post-processing was carried out to create this detailed composite image.

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2018: Solar and Lunar Phenomena Overview

Sun setting while partially eclipsed on May 20, 2012 during an Annular Solar Eclipse. Taken through Tele Vue-TV-76 with Canon 50D camera. Credit & copyright Edward Nash.
Solar Eclipses
First, some bad-news for all those newly confirmed “eclipse chasers” from the Great American Eclipse in 2017: there will be no total  solar or annular eclipses this year — just some partials.
Southern hemisphere observers will get a double-dose of partial eclipses starting February 15th. That event will cover an area from the southern part of South America to a large chunk of Antarctica. This will be followed by another partial event July 13th — mostly observable in the  waters between Antarctica and Australia — with the shadow making landfall in the southern parts of Victoria and South Australia.

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