RAC Articles
The Great Asian Eclipse 2009
Most of us thought Okinawa would get darker skies during a 95% partial eclipse, but we forgot to figure in three things...

The Galileoscope
The Galileoscope™ is a small telescope shipped as an assembly kit specifically developed for outreach activities in the International Year of Astronomy 2009. It is so designed as to offer children and adults all over...

Saturn 'Looses' it's Ring
No worries, it won't disappear physically, just apparently. While the ring system measures 282,000 km in diameter, its thickness hardly exceeds 1000 meters. When the rings are edge-on...

A Planet for VB10
VB10 is the designation for one of the smallest known stars located in the constellation Aquila, The Eagle. It is a nearby star just over 19 light-years away, but extremely faint...

Mira Honors Its Name
Mira is the popular name of a star designated Omicron Ceti, located 350 light-years out in the constellation of Cetus, "the Whale". Mira is Latin for "amazing", "wonderful" or "astonishing", and, indeed, the star does amaze with...

Polaris
How often have you been looking at Polaris, the North Star? Well, at least as many times as you aligned your scope equatorial north, but have you ever mused about this so useful star? How far out there? How big is it?

Astronomy Day 2007 Public Event
Today's RAC meeting was postponed a week to coincide with this year's International Astronomy Day. As so many astronomy clubs around the world, RAC, too, was hoping to offer...

Which Way Is Up?
As most folks know, in space there is no true up or down (and since there is no air, sound doesn't carry, so Darth Vader's tie-fighter doesn't make cool "whoosh" sounds). But, since most folks are ...

Cassini-Huygens Mission Links
Major web links to mission details and new discoveries in the Saturnian system...

Cleaning Optics - Part 1: Glass Surfaces
You should first note that it takes a LOT of contaminants before your optical views will be compromised. And, cleaning always runs the risk of putting small "micro-scratches" on the surface of the optics...

Cleaning Optics - Part 2: Mirrors
As explained in Part 1, it takes a LOT of contaminants before your views will be compromised. More importantly, mirrors are much more delicate than glass surfaces and cleaning always puts a least a few "micro-scratches" on the surface...

Observing the Moon
The first object most of us saw through a telescope was the Moon. The Moon is by far the largest object in the night sky and provides a great amount of detail with even modest optical aid...

Useful Formulas for Amateur Astronomers
Professional astronomy is heavily laden in mathematical simulations and complex formulas. While the amateur astronomer can simply grab some gear or just use their eyes to enjoy the night sky, there are several formulas that become useful as your experience and equipment list grows...

Sky Coordinates
Besides the constellations, we also refer to other imaginary boundaries in the sky. The horizon is the line where the land meets the sky. The zenith is the point directly overhead. The meridian is the line running from the northern horizon...

Astronomy Software
The modern computer has changed the world of the professional astronomer. Intense calculations that took many hours to perform by hand are now completed in fractions of a second by a computer...

Magnitude
More than two thousand years ago, the first recorded attempt to quantify the brightness of sky objects was undertaken by the Greek astronomer Hipparcos. His scale of measurement varied from first to sixth magnitude...

Observation Logs
Many amateur astronomers record their observation sessions in a log. In simplest form a log is a small notebook where the observer records the date, the objects viewed, and a short description of each. On the other end of the scale are complex databases running on a personal computer that...

Planetary Nebula
The term planetary nebula came from some of the first astronomers with access to telescopes. The brighter planetary nebulae that they were able to detect were similar to planets in the size they presented in the eyepiece, yet they were obviously gaseous in nature...

Field of View in a Telescope
After spending just a little time exchanging the eyepieces in a telescope, you will soon find that more than just the magnification varies with each eyepiece. One of the primary differences is the total amount of sky you can see with each eyepiece, also known as the field of view or FOV...

Observation Technique
While buying a larger telescope is one way to see more difficult astronomical objects, improving your observing technique plays a big role. Experienced observers can always see more in the eyepiece than a newcomer. Here are some pointers...

Seeing Conditions
Other than the obvious difference between a clear and a cloudy night, most folks don't realize how variable our view of the night sky really is. Some nights you can make out great detail on Jupiter, while other nights you are lucky to see two bands...

Messier Objects
Often you notice we refer to objects with an "M" number or Messier (think hockey) number. There are other designations such as NGC (New General Catalog) or IC (Index Catalog); all are simply catalogs or lists of objects that were located and mapped to celestial coordinates...

Star Party Etiquette
Like most things referred to as 'etiquette', there are no hard fast rules on behavior at star parties (or when observing with folks you might not know that well), but there are some things almost everyone agrees upon...