Article by Ron Korngiebel
My first experience with the skies of Nebraska was at Harlan County Reservoir. I was camping with my daughter as she was visiting local clients. When it got dark, I set up my telescope, a Celestron with an 11-inch diameter objective. For those not familiar with scopes, this is a fairly robust piece of equipment. Fortunately Saturn was high in the sky and that is where I pointed the scope. WOW! I had seen Saturn before but never so clearly. A few moments in rural Nebraska convinced me that this was an excellent place to practice my astronomy hobby.
After I retired almost 10 years ago, I was looking for a learning challenge as well as something very different from my long career in worldwide marketing. I had purchased a telescope many years ago, but my travel schedule prevented any significant time looking through the eyepiece.
New technology makes star hunting easier
When I started looking through today’s literature, I was pleased that the manufacturers had coupled computer pointing and tracking technology into their products. The process of finding something to look at was no longer a frustrating process of hopping from one star to another (using an upside down, left-right reversed finder scope) but a simple matter of entering an object’s identifier into a handset. Then the computerized mount would automatically move to the desired location. So even with a short viewing window I was able to view lots of galaxies, star clusters, double stars, as well as all the major planets. The variety really never ceases since the earth’s orbit brings new objects into view as the seasons change.
If you are interested in night sky viewing and photography, I recommend subscribing to a few Astronomy Monthly magazines published in the U.S., as well as the United Kingdom. The Internet is also a great source of basic information.
Check out local astronomy clubs
There are plenty of local astronomy clubs in Nebraska. This is a great source of information since most have guest speakers who cover many aspects of the science of astronomy. Most also have public star parties where you can look through different scopes at different objects and determine what you may want to put in your own back yard. My mount and scope is set up on my rear patio with a weatherproof cover.
After several years of enjoyable visual observing, I started to experiment with deep sky astro photography. This is a very challenging aspect of the hobby that sometimes keeps me awake into the wee hours of the morning. A few examples are included in this article.
Rural Nebraska is a great place for astronomy with many places where big city lights do not mess up the beauty of dark skies. Even without a telescope, look up and enjoy!
Astronomers around the world always close with the expression “Clear Skies.”
Ron Korngiebel is a retired marketing executive from Loveland, Colorado who enjoys traveling the country with his wife in their RV, usually to places far away from town lights, with his telescope in tow.
Night Skies Photo Essay
We asked readers and fans to submit their night sky photos for our photo essay this month. The array of colors visible in the night sky is stunning.