Hello and welcome to Sky Observing website. I am Zoran Stojcevski, founder and creator of Sky Observing. I have been an amateur astronomer for 37 years and mirror maker and telescope builder for the past 4 years. When I was 11 years old, a geography teacher entered my classroom with some magazine for astronomy in his hand and asked if anybody of us want to subscribe. Nobody raised hand, except me. And that is how everything started. At that time, there was no internet, no computers, no astronomy software, no cellphones with star maps inside, no astrophotography, not even calculators. The only source for astronomy knowledge was that magazine and some books listed inside you can order. In every issue there were only two or three photographs of some celestial objects. In the last issue of every year there was big map of the summer sky, which I kept on secure place at daytime and used it at night to learn the stars and constellations. I remember the first pictures of Jupiter and Saturn from Pioneer and Voyager spacecrafts in that magazine. It was not only the astronomy knowledge I gained from these magazines. In every issue was also introduction written by the editor of the magazine. That introduction also made big impact on me, and I never missed to read it. It was talking about the human race, about the humanity, about the mistakes our leaders make and what instead they should do, about prosperity, about dignity, about the bravery of those who decided to go into space or walk on the Moon instead to stay on the ground and enjoy all the good things life can offer. That was the time of the cold war and no trade associations. Telescopes in the stores were very expensive. My parents bought me one small, good Japanese binoculars and I spent the clear summer nights enjoying the night sky with it. A few years later I ''made'' my first telescope - refractor using one eyepiece and one 2-inch lens, both inserted into a cardboard tube and mount made of wood. Today I observe the sky with my latest built telescope with one meter mirror diameter. My excitement when observing the sky with a telescope is the same - regardless it is big telescope or it is small telescope. I have spent thousands of hours observing the night sky and thousands of hours making mirrors and building telescopes. During all those years, my knowledge about the sky and telescopes have became big enough so that I can answer a lot of questions and explain a lot of things about the astronomy, the stars and other celestial objects and about the telescopes. That is how the idea about starting the Sky Observing was born. Sky Observing is registered business in Ontario with intention of holding sky observing events and also building and selling big telescopes. Sky Observing aims to become a leader in Canada in providing the public with observing experience and knowledge about the celestial objects visible on the sky. Those celestial objects are our Sun and our Moon, the planets and asteroids in our Solar System, the objects beyond our Solar System that still belong to our galaxy - all stars we can see on the sky with naked eye and with a telescope, several types of nebulae (planetary, diffuse, reflection, dark), open clusters of stars and globular clusters of stars, the spiral arms and clouds of stars of our own galaxy - The Milky Way, and the objects beyond our galaxy - mostly other galaxies than ours and some quasars. And also some other objects like comet, nova or supernova event, which from time to time appear on the sky.
The true goal of Sky Observing is to give you more than you expect, to give you one of a kind experience at each observing event you will attend. In one evening to learn about the sky and the celestial objects like never before in your life. Also in one night to see through a telescope a large number of celestial objects (stars, nebulae, star clusters and galaxies) like you never seen in your life together. At the Sun observing events, you will see the Sun with three different telescopes, one of them designed only for observing the Sun. At the evening sky observing events, you will look through a big telescope, that means telescope with large primary mirror. Why big telescope is better for observing that smaller? Big telescope has two advantages over a smaller one. The first one is that big telescope can collect more light than smaller one because of its larger primary mirror. That is necessary when observing the so-called deep-sky celestial objects, which are dim and not visible on the sky with naked eye. The end result will be that the image of the same celestial object will be brighter in the telescope with bigger mirror. And with the bigger telescope we will see more objects than with smaller one, because bigger telescope can show dimmer objects which the smaller telescope is not able even to detect them. That at the same time means that bigger telescope can show us more objects and they will be brighter. The second advantage is that big telescope has better resolution power because of its bigger primary mirror. With better resolution power more small details on the observed object can be noticed. And also, the contrast between the small details will be more obvious. In other words the quality of the image of the celestial object we see in the eyepiece will be better. There are other things which also dictate the quality of the image the telescope can give, and most important is the quality of the eyepiece used on the telescope. The several eyepieces Sky Observing uses at the observing events are the best one found on the market and cost around one thousand dollars each. And all these above mentioned advantages combined with observing the sky from dark locations (not from light polluted urban locations) should bring unforgettable and one of a kind experience which is main goal of Sky Observing events. From dark location thousands of deep-sky objects will reveal their complete beauty when observed in a telescope.
But the goal of Sky Observing is not only about observing the beauties of the sky. It is about learning too. I will try to explain some more things about the celestial objects we observe on a particular event, and everyone can join the discussion if want with own knowledge. When we observe the sky through a telescope we can learn a lot of things. Do not forget again that when we look at the stars and other celestial objects, each of them is at some stage of its evolution. We will try to understand the evolution of the stars, deep-sky objects, galaxies and the universe as a whole. For stars, the initial mass of the star when it was born is the main factor which determines how fast that evolution will be, what kind of life the star will live and how it will finish its life. We will observe sunlike stars (stars with same surface temperature, color, mass and diameter like our Sun), stars smaller than our Sun - red dwarfs, and stars larger than our Sun - like red giants, and some interesting stars like carbon stars (stars with really red color), blue giants, yellow hypergiants, 10 billion years old stars, young stars and still unborn stars which are about to become normal stars. Also interesting to observe are visual double and multiple stars which by chance happen to be close in the line of our sight but in fact one is closer to us and another is further from us, and true binary and multiple star systems where stars orbit around their common center of mass, we will observe stars at the final stage of their evolution - supernova remnants and planetary nebulae. Also we will observe all kinds of so-called deep-sky objects like open star clusters, globular star clusters, all different types of nebulae, galaxies, galaxy clusters. We will observe many star clouds when we look at the spiral arms of our own galaxy.
Another advantage of a telescope with big primary mirror is that it can show colors of the stars and deep-sky objects we observe. Yes, with smaller telescope we can start noticing the colors, but observing with bigger and bigger telescopes, at one point, usually when the scope has 25-inch mirror, colors become more noticeable. The human eye at night cannot resolve the colors like in a daytime. Eye's night vision for colors does not work. Think this - at night we can notice a parked car far away from us but we could not tell its color. That is the same when we look at dim celestial objects. If the celestial object is dim we cannot tell its color. A big telescope as stated previously can collect enormous amount of light and thus show us the stars and the celestial objects much brighter in the eyepiece, and this will result in revealing their colors.
Please try to notice the colors of the stars while you look through a telescope. For main sequence star the color of the star is directly correlated with its initial mass that star had at the moment when it was born. The mass of the star when it is born is directly correlated with the intensity of the hydrogen fusion inside its core and that intensity is directly correlated to the temperature of the star in its core and on its surface, and the color of the stars on its surface is what we see and is directly correlated to its surface temperature. Think about our Sun which we say is typical normal main sequence star (a main sequence star is a star which burns hydrogen inside its core and fuses it into helium). The color of our Sun is yellowish and its surface temperature is around 5600' C (astronomers also call our Sun yellow dwarf). If the mass of the star when it was born was smaller that would translate into smaller core and surface temperature and thus its orange color and red color for even smaller initial masses (red dwarf star). If the initial mass is bigger the star color will be yellow-white, white, blue-white and blue for the most massive and hottest stars (blue dwarfs) with surface temperatures higher than 30,000 'C and initial masses bigger than 16 Sun masses. We can correlate a lot of other things about the stars and learn even more.
Also other interesting thing when we observe the stars is to know at which stage of stellar evolution they are at the moment. That does not mean how actually old they are, because a star can be only several million years old and in its latest stages of its evolution and will exist only one million years more, or the star can be like our Sun and can be 5 billion years old and will exist 5 billion years more. And some stars like the red dwarfs can live up to 10,000 billion years. How long the star will live depends again of its initial mass (the mass when it was born). If the star has less initial mass then the nuclear fusion in its core will be less intense and the star will live longer (red dwarfs), if the star has very big initial mass then the fusion inside its core will be very intense and the star will spent its fuel in only several million (hypergiant stars). Again to stress the mass of the star is what determin how fast the evolution of the star will going on. So again I will say when we observe the star it can be in various stages of its stellar evolution, and that is interesting feature to know. The star can be still unborn and astronomers have found a lot of places in our galaxy where the stars are currently forming and are being born and some we can even observe. We will observe stars in all stages of stellar evolution. We will observe still unborn stars, we will observe all kind of main sequence stars from red dwarfs through sunlike stars and up to the most massive hot blue dwarfs , and all kind of out of main sequence stars like subgiants, giants including the most popular for observing red giants and carbon stars, bright giants, supergiants and hypergiants. And we will observe planetary nebulae with white dwarfs in their center, which are the last stage of the stellar evolution - or the end of the life of a star. Also we will observe brown dwarfs - objects which did not have enough initial mass to start fusion of hydrogen in their core and thus luck to become stars.
Again about learning - when we look at open and globular clusters of stars through a telescope, do not observe them just like a bunch of stars and for only two seconds. Many interesting things can be observed. Looking at one cluster the different colors of its stars show us that the stars are not the same mass. Also in one cluster of stars all of its stars were born approximately at the same time, so they are the same age. Also they are approximately at the same distance away from us. That means that we can directly compare the stars in one cluster - which ones are with more mass and larger diameter and which ones are with less mass and smaller diameter. Also we can notice that the stars are not with the same brightness in the cluster. And because we now observe a cluster that means that all stars in that cluster are almost the same distance away from us - that means that we can immediately compare which stars have higher absolute brightness and which one lower. And professional astronomers with a bit more thinking and computing can conclude a lot of other interesting things - how old is the cluster, the movement of its stars, its diameter and so on.
One interesting thing to know when observing deep-sky objects is that how further they are in the space - we see them how they looked back in time. Telescopes are like back in time machines. When we look at some star on the sky which is lets say 10 light years away, the light from that star need ten years to travel through the space to reach our eyes (because the speed of the light is infinite and roughly 300,000 kilometers per second). That means that if I look at that star at this moment, I do not see the star how it looks right now, but how it looked ten years ago. If that star is suddenly exploding as a nova at this moment and become thousand times brighter, we will not see that explosion right now, but after 10 years because the light needs to travel ten years to reach our eyes. But one will ask what is interesting here? The interesting thing here is if we observe celestial objects which are very far from us, billions of light years away. If we observe one a galaxy which is 5 billion years away from us, that means that we are looking at it how it was looking 5 billion years ago. And if we look at some galaxy which is 10 or 11 billion light years (images of Hubble Space Telescope) we look at that galaxies as they were 10 -11 billion years ago. Maybe some will ask what is the point - the point is that we look at that galaxies when they were young - maybe 1-2 billion years old. And astronomers can study how they looked immediately after they were formed and the processes which happened when a galaxy is young. So conclusion is that further we see the galaxies, younger we see them. Again think the previous mentioned evolution - now called galactic evolution. At one point in time they were born, they live their life and at one point in time they were finish their existence. The goal of building larger and larger observatory telescopes by astronomers is exactly this - to look further in space and that means to reach and look early in time - to reach so early in time so they can see the galaxies in forming - how they were formed, which processes took place then and so on, so they can explain even the evolution of the whole universe - how the universe was born, how it was looked in its early days etc. Today's Hubble Space Telescope and other big ground based telescopes with mirrors as large as nine meters have reached very close to the edge of the universe. The galaxies they observe are in they early stages of formation and a lot of different processes are going on compared to already formed galaxies. The goal of the next generation of enormous ground based observatory telescopes (three of them - with 25, 30 and one with 40 meter mirror diameter starting around 2021-22) will be to reach even earlier in time, time when the universe was very young or even when it was in the process of creation. And again I will say we will observe to enjoy the beauties and to learn some basic things, but astronomers think deeper then us - for example comparing the galaxies at different distances (think different times in the past) how they interact between each other, astronomers concluded that in the past the universe was accelerating at slower speed than today - and they concluded that the universe will expand forever (as per today's theories) and to explain this astronomers introduced the dark energy.
A few words about the big observatory telescopes which have mirrors up to nine meters in diameter or have multiple smaller mirrors which act together. Modern astronomers do not research and study the sky and the universe with observing through above mentioned telescopes. These telescopes are not intended for visual observing. The spot where the image of the objects is formed is point where some research instrument is placed - like CCD camera, or spectrometer, or photometer or some other instrument. That means that we can enjoy some nice image of a galaxy or star cluster which was imaged through these telescopes, but we cannot enjoy to see that image visually with our eyes through them. The only way for us who like to enjoy visually looking at the celestial objects directly through a telescope is to build as big telescope as we can or to go on observing with a friend who already has big telescope (do not try to help with the assembly of the telescope - assembling the telescopes is usually half an hour by the owner or 45 minutes if somebody else helps the owner).
(will be continued)