Monday, April 23, 2012

Astronomical Sketching

One of the activities we've been doing in astronomy is astronomical sketching. We take time to view different celestial targets through a telescope/binoculars, and sketch the field of view into the eyepiece. This activity helps sharpen an astronomer's visual observing skills, and also helps the observer to be more familiar with the object and how it really looks like through the eyepiece. The process is much more time consuming (some open clusters can take roughly 30 mins to sketch), however the results of a good sketch can be rewarding.

To the left is a lunar sketch of the Copernicus crater.
Lunar sketching helps you practice your ability to do shading and helps you study the structure of the moon's surface.

Here is a sketch of the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8) in Sagittarius as observed from a 6" Newtonian with a 25mm WA eyepiece. The sketch has been inverted in MS Paint to resemble the actual appearance as seen in the eyepiece. The nebulosity is created by gentle smudges of pencil. One can make use of a paper stump to get better smudges.

Here is a sketch of the Scorpius Jewel Box (NGC 6281).
For open clusters such as this, one will strive for accuracy in their drawings. What I usually do is form triangles between stars, or lines of three stars, taking careful note of the spaces between them.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bausch & Lomb Legacy 10x50 WA Binoculars

Last Friday, me and my fellow graduate school student in astronomy were in Aringay, La Union to do some astronomical sketching. One of them brought along a Bausch&Lomb Legacy 10x50 wide-angle binoculars  with a 7.5degree field of view.

We also brought our Celestron UpClose 10x50 binoculars (see past post for review) and got to compare the quality of the two binocs. In comparison to the UpClose, the Legacy gave superb bright and sharp images that overpowered the UpClose. The rich open clusters like the Beehive cluster in Cancer, Melotte 111 in Coma Berenices, the Ptolemy's Cluster and Butterfly Cluster in Scorpius appear beautifully and brightly over the Legacy. We also could easily spot faint stars such as the Sidus Ludovicianum. Switching between the Legacy and the UpClose showed that the images on the UpClose were not as bright and as rich as those with the Legacy.

For those unfamiliar with binocular specs - the number 10x50 represents a magnification of 10x and an aperture of 50mm. The optics are multi-coated with anti-reflective layers that prevent light from reflecting back out allowing the image to be brighter. It makes use of a BaK-4 Porro prism design (yielding a brighter and sharper image compared to the commonly used Bk-7). The Legacy offers good eye relief and weighs 794g. It is also tripod adaptable for ease in viewing. The legacy is water proof and fog proof making it suitable for outdoors against temperature and humidity.

The Bausch & Lomb name here is not the same Bausch & Lomb that creates contact lenses, but is the Bausch & Lomb Sport Optics that is manufactured by Bushnell. Hahn stores all over Manila sell Bushnell binoculars, spotting scopes and even telescopes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Filipina Who Proved Einstein Right

My father recently brought home a Filipino-Canadian newspaper from Canada and on it was an article entitled "The Filipina Who Proved Einstein Right." It was an article on Dr. Reinabelle Reyes which refers to her work on how galaxies are clustered together as would be predicted by Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity.

The original article is found here in

In science, part of the work is to prove/disprove or even improve concepts and theories so that they would become a reliable basis on our understanding of the universe. Take, for example, the concept of a Sun-centered view of our solar system - it took more than a decade and lots of scientists who have lived and died to overthrow the Earth-centered view. Every time a scientist argues they add new concepts or data that strengthens the theory.

Likewise, in modern physics, most theories are theoretical and based on our knowledge and understanding of universe. For every theory we try to put it to a test by subjecting it to experiments to verify it or see its applications in other situations in nature. What Dr. Reinabelle Reyes did was use Einstein's understanding of gravity and apply it to some situations in the universe to see if the predictions match the observations.