The Night Sky over Gladstone

I received this email earlier this week:

“Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. By the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30 a.m. That’s pretty convenient to see something that no human being has seen in recorded history. So, mark your calendar at the beginning of August to see Mars grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month. Share this with your children and grandchildren. NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN!”

Now, as someone who has dipped their toe into the huge pool that is astronomy, I’ve come to regard these sort of announcements with a bit of cynicism.  Actually, quite a lot of cynicism…

Earlier this year, I upgraded my dinky little telescope to a more powerful unit, and have been a tad disappointed with it to be honest.  There are no instructions with the unit, so I’ve been left fiddling with it in the dark trying to see the wonders of space that have eluded me for many years.

Unable to locate anyone in my town with a telescope who knew how to get the best use out of it, I’ve been bumbling along sporadically, dragging everything outside, and risking Ross River fever from swarms of mozzies, as I change lenses, eye pieces, and crawl about on the ground looking for bits I’ve dropped. 

But lately the skies have been crystal clear, and although it’s warm enough for mosquitoes there have been any around (even though I was shocked to see a cane toad hopping about last night!), and I’m thinking of using this brief window of opportunity to work out how to use my new ‘scope.

So, tonight, I’ll drag it out of the shed, set it up on the driveway, pour a glass of beer and hope to lock onto something interesting.  And if I really crack the jackpot, I’ll be able to focus it long enough on Mars which has literally been diamond bright in the sky for the past few weeks, and if my luck holds the girls will get to see it as well… 

Here’s looking at the skies!

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