Comet C/2021 A1 Leonard

  Sketch of the comet, when I finally saw it.     A few days ago I went out to try to find the comet. I left my yard, travelled across another set of back yards and front yards to get to a street with a better treeline, and stared for like 30 minutes with binoculars, trying to find the comet. And I succeeded! I even found it again, by accident, when I returned to my yard. (the asterism i used was gone, so i couldn't repeat my fluke recovery) Sky conditions have been pretty bad lately so it wasn't until today, the 22nd, that I could actually go back out and try to find the meteor. Looking at the position of the comet in Stellarium, I figured i'd be able to see it from my yard more easily this time. I went out at about 5:40 with my Zhumell Z130 OTA on a Vixen Porta Mount & Tripod (which, being fairly tall, would see slightly higher above the trees), and a 16mm Nagler eyepiece. It took a while of just scanning around in the rough viscinity with the 8x40 finderscope I'd

Two new reviews: Zhumell Z130 and SkyWatcher FlexTube 250P

Two new reviews are up on AstronomySource.

Solar System Sketches: The Lunar X, planets, and a mission critical unaided-eye detection of Jupiter just after sunrise.

 Finally the conditions are starting to favor good seeing, and I've been able to do some high-resolution observing with the FlexTube 250P, primarily involving the Moon. I've also done some interesting things with smaller scopes.

Some sketches done with an affordable 5" Tabletop Reflector

I Picked up a Zhumell Z130 for a review. It has flaws, but for the money it's absolutely terrific. A review on AstronomySource will happen eventually. For now, here's four sketches from tonight.

A year of pandemic astronomy

Something has gone horribly wrong. But we all know that. A couple weeks ago we had a set of virtual TriStar lectures, an attempt to run the TriStar amateur astronomy conference online. It worked great, though it rather lacked the social aspect found in real-life TriStars at GTCC. One year prior to TriStar 2021, we had TriStar 2020. By then we were already beginning to see how the coronavirus disease was changing our lives. We were encouraged not to shake hands and to take extra care if we were ill, but we still had the meeting, and we still had the special Saturday observing session at the Cline Observatory. I hosted in the dome that night. Next Friday was cloudy, and by the Friday after that the WHO declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. There hasn't been a Cline Observatory viewing session since TriStar 2020 and as of yet none are scheduled. Prior to this, I had been volunteering at the Cline Observatory since April 7th 2017. It was nearly my 3rd anniversary of getting into

Straight Thru and RACI: A Powerful Duo

 A discussion of finderscopes on astronomical telescopes.

Tube Rings for the Orion SkyScanner

For Christmas, I bought my cousin Quinn (19) an Orion SkyScanner 100, one of the telescopes I recommend most for beginners on a budget, especially but not limited to kids. As noted in my review and pretty much any time I talk about it, the position of the red dot finder and the eyepiece is... frustrating, to say the least. The eyepiece ends up too high and the straight-thru finder too low. While teaching Quinn, how to use the telescope, we found that due to some motor disabilities she deals with, the telescope was ergonomically almost unusable. So I had to work to fix the eyepiece and finderscope problem.