Thursday, 24 March 2011

Upcoming observing trips for 2011

Skies are getting clearer, the snow is melting away and sky conditions are improving. This all is also reminder of the inevitable end of the season with only roughly a month left to do some kind of observing. There are some good news in the astronomy front none the less. After a 3 year hiatus, I've planned not one but two observing trips for this season. The years 2011 and 2012 will probably remain as the last possible chance of doing observing trips in the northern hemisphere before moving to Australia for a year in 2013. This will also provide a good chance to strike down some of the (mostly) unmapped northern constellations still left in my observing lists.

The first trip will take place in August-September (19.8 - 5.9.2011) with a 2 and a half week vacation to California and Arizona. This will include several observing chances under the darkest skies in the entire US as well as trips to Lowell, Lick and Palomar observatories. My own equipment will be probably be limited to simple naked eye observing but can probably have access to my friend Steve Waldee's large range of telescopes: from 80mm refractor up to an 11 inch SCT. Main focus will be on observing and sketching objects in the Sky Atlas project.

Palomar observatory. Image copyrighted by California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

The destination of the second trip will be a little close: Tenerife, Spain. This will be my 3rd observing trip to Tenerife and 7th to the Canary Islands. Not one of the most interesting places to visit but familiar and probably cloud free as well. The trip will be for a week in November. Observing will done from sites above altitude of 2000 meters (6500 feet). Main focus will be again on the Sky Atlas project but also trying to update minimum apertures for some neglected constellations such as Pisces, Phoenix, Cetus and Eridanus.

Pico Viejo and El Pico del Teide. Image copyrighted by Jaakko Saloranta.

Compared to the previous trips, I'll now be travelling with an Unihedron SQM-L meter and a weather station for "accurate" humidity, air pressure and temperature measurements. Observing equipment include a whole new set of high quality Baader Hyperion eyepieces. Let's hope for clear skies.