Sirius Stargazing

By Phil Plait | November 20, 2009 2:00 pm

I have few regrets in life, but if there’s one, it’s that I didn’t have access to all this amazing technology when I was a teenager and figuring out just how I was going to tackle my love for astronomy. How I would have loved podcasts, programmable telescopes, CCDs, websites with satellite pass information…

But that’s the way things are now, and lots of people are putting this tech to good use. Like, for example, Sirius Stargazing, a new YouTube channel with info on how to observe various astronomical objects. It’s just starting out but off to a good start. Here’s one video on the Pleiades. And who’s the dork in the tie introducing it?

If you have a YouTube account and are interested in observing the skies, then consider subscribing to Sirius Stargazing. They may just give you ideas.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy

Comments (23)

Links to this Post

  1. Ga sterrenkijken met Sirius Stargazing | Astroblogs | November 21, 2009
  1. Elit3squir3l

    Yeah AndromedasWake is a really good channel and I was really glad that TK started this channel too. It’s very interesting and informative.

  2. Yoweigh

    That 45 second intro was about 30 seconds or so too long.

  3. Very nice, well done and AFAIK, accurate.

    Two comments though, and the first one is only for this side of the pond: Pl*I*edies?

    And the other, lose the 60′s era dynamic mic. It’s a bit distracting, looking like you’ve got a metallic ice cream cone.

    - Jack

  4. Sili

    Tammy Plotner at Universe today is doing good work, too, introducing people to the night sky.

  5. Adrian Lopez

    How I would have loved podcasts, programmable telescopes, CCDs, websites with satellite pass information…

    On the other hand, I think today’s generation is less impressed by the view through a telescope than those of the “space race” generation. Light pollution, not enough public interest in space and getting used to the awesome pictures from Hubble and robotic spaceships is probably at fault.

  6. Messier Tidy Upper

    And who’s the dork in the tie introducing it?

    Hmmm … looks a bit familiar doesn’t he? Sure I’ve him before somewhere .. it’s wait, is it … P something, was it ‘Paul’ somebody or was that an ‘f’ .. Frank? Fineas? Nah, sorry dunno! Must be too obscure for me! ;-)

    Good video & like the glossary at the end too. Except “winter skies” of course applies only to the northern hemisphere.

    Another extra fact or two – The Plieades is known as Subaru to the Japanese – same as the car manufacturer and the Subaru badge displays the “7 sisters” cluster and also, I’m pretty sure that the Plieades actually used to be a constellation in its own right – it was listed amomg Ptolemey’s original 48 constellations!

  7. Thanks for the heads up!

    You know that they’re legit amateur astronomers because of the sign off, “Clear Skies”

  8. I don’t regret not having a computer driven scope when I was a kid at all. The joy of finally finding the damn Eskimo Nebula, or the Whirlpool Galaxy, or myriad other wonders, was too precious to lose to the punch of a button. I guess I’m an old geezer in that regard. Get your damn computer-controlled doo-dads off my lawn!

  9. Skeptic Tim

    “I have few regrets in life, but if there’s one, it’s that I didn’t have access to all this amazing technology when I was a teenager and figuring out just how I was going to tackle my love for astronomy.”

    Perhaps…. but: When I was “not yet a teenager”, (well before Sputnik confused the dark skies), I didn’t have access to “all this amazing technology” – oh, ready made telescopes existed; simple ones, mostly refractors and Newtonian reflectors from companies like Edson and Celestron, but they were far too expensive for a kid to afford so … I built my first telescope from a carpet tube and a set of cheap lenses that I bought from Fisher Scientific. I learned about equatorial and alt-azimuth mounts and built both from bits of wood and water pipe. This was the first scope that revealed the craters of the moon and the rings of Saturn to me. Then I wanted more!

    So I bought a mirror grinding kit – a 6 inch mirror blank (and a tool blank) and a bunch of various grades of carborundum and jewelers rouge. An old rain barrel and some wax to fix the tool; a carburetor screen and a sodium vapor light ‘borrowed’ from a janitor at my elementary school to test for appropriate mirror specs (I came close to one quarter wave, I think) and about 5 or 6 months later I had a usable mirror blank. I silvered that mirror (good old silver nitrate; snitched from the high school chem. lab within the first week of grade nine – didn’t get caught). Built my own Newtonian reflector and saw many wonders in the skies. I used that reflector for many years and now my grand nephew still uses it (the mirror was aluminised some years ago – silver tarnishes!)

    I don’t regret not having “all this amazing technology” because without it I had to really learn about astronomy and its instruments. I think that by the time I was 15 I had learned more real science by myself (astronomy included) than I did in the ensuing ten years of formal education including graduate school. Sometimes not having “all this amazing technology” can be and advantage because you to really learn if you want to explore the skies!

  10. 6. Messier Tidy Upper Says: “The Plieades is known as Subaru to the Japanese – same as the car manufacturer and the Subaru badge displays the “7 sisters” cluster”

    True, but for reasons I don’t understand, they only show six stars on the badge:

    http://www.thepostwardream.com/pics/car/badge/07.jpg

    - Jack

  11. Hey, that was… really nice! And informative, and well-produced, and so on :)

    I don’t quite YouTube seriously enough for subscriptions, so post more as they’re released please!

  12. Buzz Parsec

    Jack -

    Only 6 of the 7 Pleiades are visible to the naked eye. With the slightest optical aid (e.g. Galileo’s telescope) dozens of stars are visible. It’s a bit of a mystery why the ancient Greeks identified the Pleiades with the 7 daughters of Atlas. Perhaps one of them faded slightly in the last 3000 years, or maybe they ate more carrots than we do.

    (BTW, “Pleiades” isn’t in Firefox’s spell checker. Maybe that’s why it’s spelled so many different ways in the comments. :-)

  13. GenericMeatUnit

    Whatever happened to that guy, Mark “Nibiru will kill us all in 2003″ Hazelwood?

  14. Tomorrow’s astronomers – today’s teenagers will later regret not having now whatever it is they will have then.

    Hell, they had to get by with crummy programmable telescopes and podcasts.

  15. StevoR

    @ 12 Buzz Parsec :

    It’s a bit of a mystery why the ancient Greeks identified the Pleiades with the 7 daughters of Atlas. Perhaps one of them faded slightly in the last 3000 years, or maybe they ate more carrots than we do.

    Light pollution answers that conundrum methinks. :-(

    The ancient greeks had wonderfully dark skies – no electric lighting, no gas lighting, no big gaudy flashing neon signs and lit up sports stadia. They (& other pre-industrial civilisations) were familiar with the stars and planets in a way we can hardly imagine because they could see them so much better.

    Of course, while they could see the stars clearly, they didn’t really know what they were or have the science to send spaceprobes out to the “wandering stars” or predict “long-haired stars” (comets), “shooting stars” (meteors) or “new stars” (novae & supernovae.)

    I guess we don’t realise how lucky we are – or they were respectively.

  16. Plutonium being from Pluto

    Every generation stands upon the generations before.

    Every generation will give something to generation that comes afterwards.

    One generation saw the stars clearly without the polluting murk

    Another generation understood the stars better.

    Perhaps a future generation will know them better yet or even reach them

    And see alien vistas and new pristine skies where our Sun is but another white dot in the sky.

    To some small extent we make the future every where

    & every now.

    We shape it in our minds and by words and deeds.

    We cannot control our times, we have no say over our birth and the world born into

    BUT … We do have a say over how our children are born

    And the world they shall see,

    We help decide and play a role in how it comes to be.

    - Semi-rhyming doggrel by StevoR / Plutonium being from Pluto. Feel free to forward on or use as best suits.

  17. @ StevoR:

    Indeed! When last I was on the wee little Greek island of Antiparos (sighhhhh….) the darkness of the night flattened me. Literally! I was outside almost every night, flat on my back on an old stone wall, staring up at the deepest sky I’d seen since visiting Egypt 25 years ago. I swear I could see the North American nebula with the naked eye.

    There are many, many benefits to modern conveniences, but more than a few downsides.

  18. Forget Sirius Stargazing. What’s the corresponding XM channel?

  19. Melusine

    Videos like this are great – keep ‘em coming. While M45 is easy to see in CT light pollution, it’s good to know how to find the double stars with my binoculars. M45 was a favorite in Jr. High and made me interested to buy Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, though I called it my “shopping cart” constellation. Looks like an Amazon.com cart. (:

    My mythological dictionary says: The seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione; they were the virgin companions of Artemis. Pursued together, with their mother, by Orion, they prayed for rescue to the the gods. Their prayer was answered and they were changed into doves and later into stars, forming a constellation.

  20. $20,000,000 launch costs.
    One lift, one satellite, expensive.
    One lift, six satellites and 200 passengers inexpensive.
    $20,000,000 launch
    200 passengers pay $40,000 each.
    Six satellites pay $2,000,000 each.
    We have not lowered the cost but we share the price.
    Reuse the rocket hardware in orbit as infrastructure.
    Six rockets attached, cleaned and renovated and rented out as hotels.
    Meat me, second floor first Unit.

  21. Yeah, you probably would be meat, after breathing all that hydrazine. ;)

  22. Blizno

    PHHHTTT!
    When I was a sprout there were a handful, actually fewer than a handful, of computers in the entire world. Science was done by eyeballs carefully studying vernier scales. Calculations were performed on slide rules. A “calculator” was a human being who performed calculations. I spent my first year of engineering college with the slide rule I found in my high school bathroom. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I could afford to buy an eight-digit calculator. I still used my slide rule for trig but for basic math the calculator was a boon.
    The world is rocketing forward. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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