Astronomical events for September 2014.
The goal of my AOML project is to build an XML markup that can nicely capture the kinds of astronomical observations made by amateur astronomers. AOML is intended to eventually be useful to both casual observers who want to include a lot of free formatted text in a diary-like format, and serious observers who want a very data-oriented markup that can be readily interfaced with a relational database.
Currently AOML is in its infancy. However, this project is ongoing so hopefully AOML will eventually mature into something good. To follow the project, see the AOML GitHub page.
Here are the specific observing projects that I'm trying to pursue.
General Observation Log. This document is a free-formatted narrative of my astronomy related activities. It uses AOML to mix document-like content with more formally specified observations.
Sky Conditions. Since sky conditions affect all other observation types, it makes sense to me to treat the sky itself as an observable entity. This is also a nice project for people with no access to a telescope. Furthermore it has the advantage of being something that can be done in all weather conditions and in all locations.
Here are the observations I have collected so far.
Chronological XML Observation Logs. It is my intention to eventually record all of my observations electronically using AOML. I may also attempt to translate my old observations, currently in paper notebooks, to AOML format.
Here are the observations I have recorded here so far. The file names reflect the date of the observing session.
Deep Sky Life List. Most of my observing in the past has been focused on deep sky objects. Despite the limited equipment I've used, I've seen quite a few such objects—including some fairly obscure ones. Once more of my logs have been converted to AOML I will write a program that computes an index of all the various objects I've observed. Such an index will constitute my deep sky life list. I have a manually created index of messier objects and NGC objects I've observed, but these lists are very incomplete.
Note that in the past I've used a simple system of coding my deep sky observations to facilitate summarizing them. I have created a page that describes the deep sky codes that I've used. Not all of my observations are annotated with these codes (many are not), and I may well adopt a different system in the future. These codes were developed many years ago and are likely to be replaced or mutated into some sort of AOML solution eventually.
Double Star Life List. Double stars can often be observed in conditions that are marginal for deep sky objects. In recent years I've come to appreciate this aspect of double stars and I've taken to observing them more regularly than I have in the past. It is my hope to also eventually create software that will summarize my double star observations. I have a manually created index of double stars I've observed, but it is very incomplete.
Double stars also involve a lot of very regularly structured data. Thus working with doubles would be an interesting way to explore how that data can be manipulated with XML or how I might integrate a relational database into this site.
Variable Star Observations. At the moment I'm quite inexperienced as a variable star observers but I hope to do more with variables in the future. To make it easier to browse my variable star observations I've broken them out into separate AOML documents. You won't find any variable star observations in the chronological logs above.
Here are some documents describing observations I've made of various special events. This information will eventually get reformatted into AOML and moved to other areas of this log as appropriate.
Here is a list of various other items of interest.
Astronomical links. Other places on the Internet of interest to amateur astronomers. There are many astronomy links on the 'net and this is only a sampling. It is my desire to maintain links to the "best of the best".
Amateur Radio Astronomy. This document attempts to describe how an amateur with modest equipment can get involved with radio astronomy.
Naked Eye Observing. Many people believe that a telescope is required to really do amateur astronomy. However, that's not true. A lot of very interesting observing can be done without any optical aid at all—particularly if you have good skies.
My equipment is relatively modest. However, I am often surprised at how many objects and how much detail is visible with a small instrument. With some practice and experience it is possible to see quite a bit even with binoculars.
At the time of this writing, my primary telescope is a Unitron refractor on an equatorial mounting. The objective of this telescope is 75 mm in diameter and has a focal length of 1200 mm (f/16). Although it is a small instrument (due to the small objective size), it "handles" very well because of its excellent mounting. It's a pleasure to use and provides very good views for its size.
I do not have a lot of accessories. I use a star diagonal most of the time. Such an accessory is a must with a refractor. I have an x8 finder that shows stars to perhaps magnitude 8. The cross hairs in my finder broke long ago. I get along without them. I do not have a clock drive. I have done, so far, very little astrophotography.
I have a wide collection of Unitron eyepieces. Here is the list:
|25 mm||Ramsden||48||mid 1970s||My primary eyepiece|
|18 mm||Kellner||67||mid 1970s||Fell apart once. Seems to still work|
|12.5 mm||Kellner||96||mid 1970s||Good for medium power|
|9 mm||SYM (?)||133||mid 1970s||High power|
|7 mm||SYM (?)||171||mid 1970s||I don't use this much. It's too high power|
|6 mm||Orthoscopic||200||mid 1970s||I don't use this much. It's too high power|
In addition to my primary telescope, I have a set of Pentax 7x50 binoculars that I've had for more than 20 years and a recently acquired set of Celestron 10x60 binoculars.