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Welcome to Sky Insight's Astronomy Articles

This is a collection of articles and information on topics related to astronomy, astronomical events, astronomy related equipment and activities (e.g. observing, astrophotography, etc). The articles on this site are not reproductions of copyrighted works, unless permission had been granted by the original author.

Featured article

Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann

Skyhound web page dedicated to Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann and its observable fragments. There is a news section, fragment tracker, nightly observability by latitude, and finder charts.

Archive of 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann pictures and info by Dennis Persyk

Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann pictures

Meade LX200R 10 inch Telescope Review

by Art Stithem

I am relatively new to amateur astronomy. I’ve had a Meade ETX-125 for about 6 years, but it is only within the last 2 years that actually I found time to use it. Although it is a very capable telescope for its size, I wanted a bigger light bucket that was better suited for deep sky objects. I spent several months investigating all the available telescopes in my planned price range, but couldn’t really make a decision. I was seriously considering the LX200 model, although I was concerned about the weight. Then in January Meade announced the LX200R with Ritchey-Chrétien optics. I immediately placed my order for the 10-inch UHTC version, and waited.

The telescope arrived approximately 6 weeks after I ordered it. It came by ground delivery in two boxes, one for the OTA/fork unit, and one for the tripod. Both boxes appeared to be undamaged, although the box with the tripod produced enough rattling noise when handled that it made both the delivery driver and my wife nervous. Click here to see the entire review

60mm Finder Scope Project

by Joe Guzman


I have never been satisfied with the finder scopes that the telescope companies provide with our instruments. Most are cheap junk, some even with plastic lenses and not even worthy for spying on the neighbors.

The better constructed ones do a decent job for what they are supposed to do...locate the object in low power, but I have always been disappointed in the "Straight-thru" mini refractor types, regardless of superiority. What is needed is a right-angled diagonal for comfort and ease of use. Straight thru finders not cool.

For some years now, I have been using a homemade finder scope made from 10X50 binocular parts and other doo-dads, and have been quite satisfied with it's performance. It utilizes a focuser, right angled diagonal and interchangeable eyepieces...and sat on a modified microphone stand. But I always wanted to use one of my 60mm refractors as a low powered finder scope for some time now. What kept me from accomplishing this was proper mounting rings. Now, I have experimented in constructing my own rings, but it never worked the way I wanted, so I abandoned the idea...until recently. And besides, the longer focal length of a regular 60mm tube would put the eyepiece waay on the other end of the main OTA...close to the primary mirror. It would work, but very inconvenient. Click here to see the entire project


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We are organizing a new astronomy club in McHenry County, Illinois. Click here for more details.


Upcoming events

Check out the Sky Insight Astronomy Event Calendar for more events.

Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann

Archive of 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann pictures and info by Dennis Persyk

Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann pictures

Skyhound web page dedicated to Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann and its observable fragments. There is a news section, fragment tracker, nightly observability by latitude, and finder charts.

Astronomy Survey 2005

See the summary results of the Astronomy Survey 2005

Astronomy Site Listing

Check out the Million Dollar Astronomy Page and make sure your personal site, your club or society's site is listed!

GuideStar LX200

GuideStar LX200 Software Emulator beta is available here.


The 2005-2006 Apparition of Mars

The 2005-2006 Apparition of Mars By: Jeffrey D. Beish

During 2005 Mars will not be as close to Earth as it was in the last apparition of Mars in 2003; however, it will be higher in our sky so every astronomy enthusiast will have the opportunity to see and enjoy Mars. We want to heighten your awareness of Mars in the coming year and, by explaining what kinds of observations are possible and how you could be making such observations, enlist your support as a Mars observer.

What the Mars Section of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO) are asking you to do – sketch and take images of Mars from your backyard - may seem old-fashioned and unscientific compared to the accomplishments of the space missions to Mars. These missions mapped geological features and monitored atmospheric phenomena of the planet from orbit. But the spacecraft for monitoring atmospheric conditions of Mars are no longer in operation. Until the next missions reach Mars, everything we learn about Martian phenomena will come from terrestrial telescopes - and amateur planetary observers. Read more about observing Mars...

Observing Mars at the Yerkes Observatory

By: Al Degutis

On Friday Oct 28, 2005, my neighbor Dave, his long time friend Roman and I went to Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin for a special observing session of Mars and a few other deep space objects.

Yerkes observatory, which houses the worlds largest refractor telescope (a 40-inch), typically only gives morning tours of the buildings and telescopes on Saturdays. Because of the close encounter with Mars, they were hosting two evening observing sessions: 1) observing Mars through small telescopes in the yard for $5, and 2) observing Mars and other objects throught their 24-inch reflector telescope inside their second largest dome. Dave, Roman and I had reserved spots to observe through the 24-inch telescope. Attendance was by reservation only and was limited to 10 people...

Click here to read the entire account

About Yerkes

by David Drizner

On the shores of Lake Geneva, in the small town of Williams Bay Wisconsin, sits a world famous, and world-class observatory. Yerkes observatory (pronounced Yer-keys) is named after Charles Tyson Yerkes, it’s principal benefactor. Yerkes came to Chicago in 1881 – hoping to escape his tarnished and scandal-plagued reputation in Philadelphia. It was here that he hoped to make his fortune.

Click here to read more about the history of Yerkes

Recent Events

  • 10th Planet Discovered in Kuiper belt - An object that appears to be larger than Pluto has been discovered beyond Pluto on the Kuiper Belt. It was discovered by Dr. Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology and his colleagues using the Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory near San Diego. It is currently about 97 times farther from the sun than Earth, or 97 Astronomical Units (AU). For comparison, Pluto is 40 AU from the sun.
  • The Supernova SN 2005cs in M51 is slowing dimming - A supernova (SN 2005cs) has been discovered in M51. It's magnitude could reach the mid 12's. This will likely be the brightest supernova in many years. It is located in the first spiral arm, roughly opposite of NGC 5195.
  • Venus and Jupiter Conjunction Sept 1, 2005
  • The Perseid Meteor Shower 2005 peaked on Aug 12]] - the Perseid meteor shower is one of the most popular meteor showers because of when it occurs (summer in the Northern Hemisphere) and the large number of visible meteors. These two factors explain why this meteor shower attracts more non-astronomer observers than the others.
  • Dr William Hartmann visits Woodstock IL - Dr. Hartmann, who was a member of the Mars Global Surveyor team member and has had many books and textbooks published, did an hour-long presentation accompanied by a slideshow. The basis for his talk was the content found in his newly revised "The Grand Tour: A Traveler's Guide to the Solar System".
  • Mars will be as large as the Moon - This is a hoax or actually a misunderstanding. Read more.


Digital Astro

Digital Astro FAQ

Talking Telescopes

The Talking Telescopes Yahoo Group Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) answers questions about telescopes (e.g. which one to buy), about eyepieces and telescope maintenance.

Meade Deep Sky Imager (DSI and DSI Pro)

The Meade Deep-Sky-Imager FAQ answers questions about using the Meade DSI and DSI Pro, as well as hardware and software questions and solutions.

Orion StarShoot Color Imager

The Orion StarShoot FAQ answers questions about the Orion StarShoot DeepSpace and Solar System Color Imagers.

Meade LX200, LX200GPS, LX200R

The Meade LX200 FAQ aswers questions about the Meade LX200 line of telescopes, inclusing the LX200 Classic, LX200GPS and LX200R.


SCT-User Yahoo Group FAQ

Astrophotography and CCD Imaging

Imagers and Cameras

  • Orion StarShoot Color Imagers - NEW
    • Orion StarShoot Deep-Space and Solar System Imagers - rion will be shipping their new StarShoot Deep-Space Color Imager and StarShoot Solar System Color Imager in Nov 2005. These new products offer a lot of features at an entry level price. Both imagers will include a copy of MaxIm DL Essentials Edition to control the cameras, capture and process images.
  • Meade Deep Sky Imager
    • Deep Sky Imager FAQs
    • Obtaining Your First DSI Image - The Meade Deep Sky Imager is designed to be an easy to use single shot color camera. Along with it’s dedicated software, Autostarsuite, it is capable of imaging thousands of objects in the night sky with relative ease once the user understands the software settings and some of the basics of CCD imaging. This document was written to help those who are new to the DSI and/or the Autostarsuite software.
    • How to connect the DSI to a Meade LX200 Telescope with the Microfocuser and a Meade f/3.3 CCD Focal Reducer/Field Flattener by Mike Luckow
    • Meade Deep Sky Imager

Image Galleries

Articles and resources

Imaging Projects

Lunar Atlas Project

The purpose of the Lunar Atlas group is to produce a new high-resolution atlas of the Moon. Through our close assocation with the Yahoo Lunar Observing Group, we have connections to many of the finest Lunar photographers and sketchers on the planet. However, with the inexpensive technology now available to amateurs--webcams and Registax--you don't have to be a "prominent imager" to be able to contribute meaningfully to this project!

Click here for more info on the Lunar Atlas Project.

Latest Lunar Images

Hardware Projects

Astronomy Podcasts

Podcasts are audio and video programs that are available via subscription, typically free of charge. You do not need to own an Apple iPod to subscribe to, or listen to a podcast. Podcasts can be played on most MP3 players.

For more info on Podcasts, check out this Wikipedia page


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