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    Sunday, May 26, 2024

    Galaxy Glimpses: Viewing the stars and planets from Connecticut

    View of Saturn.
    View of Jupiter
    Andromeda galaxy
    Whirlpool galaxy

    If you are interested in astronomy, there will be some excellent opportunities for viewing the stars and planets throughout the winter. Although Jupiter, Saturn and Mars have passed “opposition,” and their positions closest to the Earth in the fall, good views of them are still possible.

    In addition, the moon always provides fascinating views with its craters, lava fields and lunar mountain ranges. Galaxies are also visible, with one notable example being the Andromeda Galaxy, which is about 2.5 million light years away. It is the closest galaxy to our Milky Way, and is present in the northern sky.

    The Orion Nebula, which is within the “sword” of the constellation Orion, is also a fascinating object, and can be seen in the southern sky. Many of these objects are visible with just binoculars.

    I have been involved with amateur astronomy since 2020, and became interested in astrophotography last year. I started in the hobby with an 8-inch-diameter Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and basic alt-azimuth mount, taking pictures using a simple camera or cell phone through the telescope eyepiece. However, I have since upgraded my equipment to capture detailed digital planetary and deep sky photos. It is really quite amazing what you can see with the right telescope and camera.

    My membership in the Thames Amateur Astronomical Society has been key for me in learning about this hobby. It has given me the chance to meet like-minded amateur astronomers and learn a lot about astronomy and astrophotography. In addition, it has given me the chance to use the club’s wide-open astronomy observing field in Salem, where a much larger view of the sky is possible.

    I advise anyone interested in this hobby to start slow, and join a local astronomy club in order to see what equipment other people are using first. Club members are always willing to share information and let you look through their telescopes, so you can experience the different types of equipment and make a sound decision on what to buy beforehand.

    You can learn a lot just being out with a club for a few nights. Finally, it is important to buy from a reputable telescope equipment dealer, where they guarantee their equipment, provide good support, and can give you expert advice before buying.

    I encourage you to spend some time looking at the stars, moon and planets, even if only with binoculars or a small telescope. You’ll be amazed at what you can see.

    John Natale is an amateur astronomer from East Haddam, and took these photos with his telescope and specialized astronomy camera. If you are interested in the astronomy hobby or astrophotography and would like more information, he can be contacted at jsnatale@att.net

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