Night Sky at Starry Meadows

Jay Landis at the telescope with Zack Perdue at Starry Meadow Farm. Photo by Sharon Landis.

Headwaters members are treated to guided star gazing of the early spring sky

On March 26, 2023, Zack Perdue led a stargazing party at Starry Meadows Farm in Linville. Sadly, this event had to be postponed due to cloud cover earlier in the week, so only four Headwaters members could come. The sky this night was clear and beautiful! Venus put on a show. So did the crescent moon. The bright moon did hinder some of our views, as even the Milky Way was not visible.

We were able to see quite a few constellations: Andromeda, Orion, Cassiopeia, Canis Major with Sirius the Dog Star, Pleiades, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, and even Mars with the naked eye and binoculars. Seeing the moon through a telescope with a moon filter lens was really a treat!  We all enjoyed using binoculars and Zack’s refracting telescope. We saw a reddish tint to Mars and that Sirius was bluer than Mars. Blue stars are younger and hotter stars. I learned that Cassiopeia is a constellation in the Milky Way, and how to use the moon to find Pleiades, Aldebaran, the fiery eye of Taurus the Bull, and Mars.

We especially enjoyed seeing images on our own phones connected by Wi-Fi to Zack’s EvScope, a telescopic camera that can take very long exposures. 

Using the EvScope we saw Sirius (so cool!), M42- Great Nebula in Orion, Uranus, M51-Whirlpool Galaxy, M1 Crab Nebula, and M46- an open cluster of stars with a planetary nebula in the middle! (A planetary nebula is not related to planets but is a cloud of gas shed from red giant stars late in their lives.) 

Zack told us the “M” stands for Charles Messier, a French comet hunter. The Messier Catalogue might be the most famous astronomy catalog, detailing deep-sky objects such as galaxies, globular clusters, and nebulae. It includes some of the best objects to see in the night sky with a telescope. But the Messier Catalogue didn’t start out as a list of desirable astronomical objects: rather, it was Messier’s record of targets to avoid in the night sky since he was chiefly interested in comets. 

Sharon Landis, Cohort VII, March 2023

All photos by Sharon.

Click on an image to start a slide show with captions. Thanks to Sharon for these great labeled shots and Zack for his expertise and cool equipment!