Astronomy teaches patience and humility and although I had the latter to some degree, this five week project helped me to develop the former. Not everything worked on the first attempt to find planets, stars, constellations, and other celestial objects. I started this project sometime in September actually, but was so discouraged by not seeing anything in the night sky due to visibility obstructions that I postponed it for another three weeks. When panic over deadlines got the best of me I finally forced myself to go outside to look up at the night sky and ask myself the age old question…”Is that a star or a plane.”
Observation day one started out with a bang from the fireworks display coming from Sea World. I was able to make out one possible planet and one constellation. The rest of the sky was too overcast and murky to see much of anything. Day two was the same in visibility and I was able to see a couple bright stars that shone through the hazy marine layer. Day three was a breakthrough as it was the first time I could record the visibility of the moon in its illuminating waxing gibbous. Day four showed planet Jupiter next to some open clusters and the visibility was the same as day one due to inclimate weather. Final day observation was marked by a Jupiter sighting and Betelgeuse shining bright in Orion’s belt. After each observation I had to check my homemade planisphere to see if I was remotely in the right ballpark. Some nights I was correct in my labeling and other times I had to look at the sky from a different angle or wait for clouds to pass.
I was only able to see the moon two nights of the five due to the fact that it had not risen yet or the weather was too occluded to view it. The stars did not move but they appeared to move as a group from east to west as the earth rotates under them in its daily west to east rotation.
Light pollution had a...