Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

I want to see the Milky Way

Tags:
  1. Dec 30, 2004 #1

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I'm thinking about taking a little road trip this spring. I have never seen the Milky Way and I am looking for a good viewing spot. I live in California and I am thinking about Joshua Tree for the location. Any other ideas? Thx.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 30, 2004 #2

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Joshua Tree would be a great place, and if you follow this link, you will see that there are monthly star parties there.

    http://www.nps.gov/jotr/activities/stars/starparties.html

    Google on "star party" using various location names, and you will find some scheduled gatherings. These are usually in dark-sky sites, but not always, so ask! Some folks host star parties in fairly light-polluted areas, partly due to travel/time constraints, and sometimes because they want to expose people in urban/suburban areas to astronomy. This is really important bridge-building for those of us that want to influence governmental agencies (local, state, and national) to try to reduce light pollution.

    Lots of amateurs have really nice telescopes and will gladly show newcomers around the sky. Be sure to look through a variety of telescopes if you get the chance - some instruments are very large and optimized for light-gathering (perhaps at the expense of aberrations like coma), but are great for detecting the "faint fuzzies". Some are very highly corrected (like my 6" APO refractor) and really shine at close double stars, and planetary views. Highly-corrected small scopes can give great views of low-contrast objects that can stump bigger scopes, but in astronomy aperture-fever is rampant, so you may et to look through some really large scopes. (Don't fall off the ladder! I'm not kidding...)

    By all means, take along a decent pair of 7x50 binoculars so you can scan the skies while you are waiting in line for looks through the more popular instruments. At a dark-sky site, 7x50s are very impressive instruments, and if you don't own a pair, I'll bet you have a friend or relative who does, so you can borrow them. If you want, before you go, do some Google searches and make a list of objects you'd like to see with your binoculars, then print up some finder charts, so you'll know how to locate them. If you've never seen the Milky Way before, you may just want to explore on your own the first time out, but I always had more fun planning observations. It's a great way to enjoy astronomy when you're clouded in or have obligations that keep you at home.

    And please, please (you'll thank me!) go to your local bookstore and buy a copy of Peterson's Field Guide to the Stars and Planets. It's a book that can help you plan your observations, and it's not only useful for beginners - it can be a handy quick reference for seasoned observers.
     
  4. Dec 30, 2004 #3

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    turbo-1, you are THE BEST!! Thank you SO much! I am going to try to go to one of the star parties. For the past year and a half I have been trying to get a group of friends to go do this with me (one friend has a really good telescope) but they've flaked at the last minute every time. These scheduled meetings sound like the way to go!
     
  5. Dec 30, 2004 #4

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Here is a rather clunky-looking website, with excellent content on binocular-friendly objects. The presentation is spare, but the content is high-quality.

    http://freespace.virgin.net/m.poxon/tableofc.htm

    If you will get a Peterson's guide (please do it), you will be able to see what constellations will be visible when you plan to attend a star party, and you can then refer to this website to see what objects this fellow recommends for binocular viewing. I have browsed a few of his pages, and his recommendations look pretty good.
     
  6. Dec 30, 2004 #5

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Thanks, turbo. I really appreciate your help. And I promise to get the Peterson's guide. I am going over to Barnes and Noble later, so maybe they will have it.
    I am mostly excited about seeing the Milky Way. I have heard stories of people seeing it for the first time (because of a city-wide black-out) and being absolutely terrified because they didn't know what the heck they were seeing!!! I think it's going to be a really incredible experience. :smile:
     
  7. Dec 30, 2004 #6

    ohwilleke

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    One could, but one wouldn't have to go that far. Light pollution should be modest enough at least by the time you get over the ridge of the mountains to the East, or either side of Santa Monica, or a few miles out to sea to the West.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: I want to see the Milky Way
Loading...