Sep 24 2010

Just saw Uranus in person for the first time

Published by at under space

I had stashed some Galileoscopes at the end of last year, primarily for youngsters, and just put the one I kept together last weekend. It’s been cloudy all week, but finally tonight it’s clear, and it works really well for $25, mounted on a standard camera tripod. It has a 25x and a 50x lens configuration.

You can see the moon quite well, and looking at Jupiter I could also easily make out the four Galilean satellites, three of them lined up very uniformly on the right (lens flip). I came in to take a look at Stellarium to see what it should look like, and realized that Uranus was right there, just to the upper left of Jupiter. This is an unusually close alignment. I’ve never had a good telescope, and this $25 piece of plastic didn’t seem good enough either, but given how easy it would be to locate with the close landmark of Jupiter I ran back outside to take a look. Accounting for the lens flip, I could make out a faintly blue point just at the edge of the field, if Jupiter was still in the field (see below). Later checking on Stellarium indicated Uranus was a little over 1 degree from Jupiter, and the Gallileoscope 25X field of view is 1.25 degrees, so I’m quite sure that was it.

Not bad for a $25 scope. And they’re still available – a great and inexpensive way to introduce a young person to astronomy. Also, putting it together is a good learning experience in itself.

Uranus - easy to find this week.

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