Monday, 23 February 2009

Got the goose!

The title is of course, a reference to a post by falconer, here. The goose was a comet. Comet Lulin, visiting us for the first and last time.
I had been too tired to accompany Falconer and Abba when they tried to spot it a few days ago. Last night, I decided to give it a go myself. Too lazy to setup the telescope. I thought it would be easier to try and spot it through the viewfinder (which is basically a very small telescope, a sidekick of the big one). And spot it I did. A few degrees east of Saturn, in the constellation of Virgo. Looked to me like a faint blur. Not visible to the naked eye, just visible through the viewfinder.
Thanks to last night, I've come up with a new way to use the viewfinder. We tend to use it with only one eye, closing the other so we can concentrate on the view we see from the finder. Last night, I used it with both eyes open. The right eye at the finder eyepiece, looking at the magnified sky, and the left eye open to the heavens. If you have a suitable finder, this is a great trick to use. The left eye gives you a picture of the sky. The right eye can see the cross hairs of the finder. When you want to point at a particular object in the sky, just bring the object (visible in the sky, thanks to left eye) into the cross hairs of the finder (visible in the finder, thanks to left eye). And viola! You'll see it as clear as day bang in the centre of the cross hairs in the finder as well.
The human eyes. Quite amazing. Not only do the presence of two of them, as they are, give us a sense of depth, but the juxtaposition of images that takes place from both eyes lets us perform little tricks like these!

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