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Star-filled Nights and Galileo Moments

Mercury Summer 2009 Table of Contents

KHW opening page

Image courtesy of Akira Fujii / Sky & Telescope.

by Ken Hewitt-White

I'll never forget my first "Galileo moment." It was January 15, 1966, and the sunset sky over Ottawa, Ontario, was crystal clear. A novice stargazer, I was outside with my 2.4-inch refractor (a telescope with a main lens 2.4 inches in diameter) that I'd bought with the profits from my newspaper route. I wanted to see some planets and on that particular evening I had a fielder's choice: Venus and Mars were sinking in the west, Saturn was a bit higher, and Jupiter was ascending in the east.

During this summer of the International Year of Astronomy, I urge you to head outside and stargaze. To help, I've selected a number of targets you can explore with small optics (or just this article and your imagination) that are visible from early summer to early autumn. Ready? Let's gaze skyward.

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