I want to explain here what you can expect to see at the observing events, so there will be no any surprises for you and also to help you to make final decision about whether to come or no at the observing events if you are still in doubt. Also at the observing events I will try to give you short general comments and explanations about the objects we will observe. Also at the observing events you can ask me any kind of questions related to astronomy, and I will try to answer or explain them in a simple way, if I know the answer.
Let's start with the Sun. For observing the Sun three telescopes will be used. The first telescope is a special telescope for observing the Sun with build inside so-called hydrogen-alpha filter or h-alpha filter for short. H-alpha filter allows only the h-alpha light to pass through it which is created by the ionized hydrogen on the Sun's surface with a wavelength of 656.281 nanometers ( deep-red ) in the visible light so we can observe features on the Sun's chromosphere including the solar prominences and filaments. If the telescope is equipped with a second filter, this can bring improvements and we can see even more details and improved contrast observed on the Sun's disc. The scope used for Sun observing at the observing events is intermediate scope with 80 mm lens diameter with one h-alpha filter and can allow observing of the surface details like the sunspots, noticing the grainy structure of the Sun's surface and observing the filaments and prominences visible at the edge of the Sun's disk, if any prominence is going on at the time of observing (usually yes). The Sun appears with deep-red colour in this telescope. We will observe the Sun at various magnifications from 25 up to 150 times. With this telescope we observe the Sun's chromosphere – the 2000 km deep layer of the Sun above the Sun's photosphere and bellow the Sun's corona. To see how the Sun looks through this special telescope click and open the "HOW IT WORKS" page, the background image is of our Sun imaged with special H-alpha telescope.
The second telescope for observing the Sun is a small reflector telescope with special film filter for observing the Sun. With this telescope we can see the disc of the Sun in white-yellow color. All sunspots will be visible as small dark dots on the Sun's disc. Sometimes the Sun's disc is full with sunspots. With this telescope the filaments, the prominences and the grainy structure of the surface are not visible.
The third telescope is big reflector telescope with 20-inch mirror and equipped with special filter film for observing the Sun. The Sun with this telescope will appear the same white-yellow. We will use this telescope to see the sunspots and to zoom-in on them with big magnifications up to 500 times for their close-up observing. With this telescope the filaments, the prominences and the grainy structure of the surface are not visible.
With the last two described telescopes we can observe the Sun's photosphere. The photosphere is the star's outer shell from which light is radiated. The stars have no solid surface, and the photosphere is used to describe the Sun's visual surface. The sunspots are surface feature on the photosphere.
Please note that the image quality of the Sun when viewed through a telescope cannot mach the image quality of the Sun's photographs we are usually used to see on internet or in the astronomy books. That images are processed with not one or two, but with several different types of image processing software and the colors, the contrast and other parameters are artificially enhanced or removed from the picture in order the image to become sharper and with more contrast, so more surface details to be visible on the imaged object.
Observing the Moon and the planets: We will observe the Moon and the planets with the big reflector telescope with 20-inch mirror. We will use different magnifications, first smaller and after as high as we can, up to 500 or even 700 times depends how much magnification the atmosphere will allow. At small magnifications, we can see the whole disc of the Moon (the whole disc of the Moon will fit in the view of the telescope). We will use high magnifications for close-up observing of the Moon's surface features and to zoom-in on the details. Now we will see only small part of the Moon in the view of the telescope, but it will be highly magnified. This telescope can give very sharp images with great contrast and small surface details will be visible even at high magnifications if the atmosphere is stable. If the atmosphere is not average stable and does not allows, we will observe the Moon with lower magnifications. For planets we will also use lower and higher magnifications. At lower magnifications their discs appear small in the telescope, but sharper. With applying higher magnifications, their discs appear bigger, with some of their biggest surface features becoming visible. At the same time, the sharpness of the image is gradually degrading as the higher and higher magnifications are used.
Some of the planets appear as very small disks even at highest magnifications, like Mercury, Uranus and Neptune. No surface details are visible. Mercury shows phases as our Moon during its rotation around the Sun as it moves relative to our Earth. When Mercury is from the other side of the Sun, its disc is fully illuminated and smaller, and how the Earth and Mercury approach and come from the same side of the Sun, Mercury's disc apparent size gets three times bigger, and its illumination drops from 100% to 0%. That means before the closest approach the Mercury disc will look like our crescent Moon. Uranus and Neptune are too far and their discs appear very small in the telescope and no surface details are visible. The apparent size of their disc does not change too much when they come closer to the Earth and they are always 100% illuminated and do not show phases.
Venus and Mars appear bigger in telescope. Their disc can be easily resolved in a telescope. It is hard to see any surface details on Mars, except maybe when it is at its closest approach to the Earth, and that is when the Earth and Mars are from the same side of the Sun. Then its apparent size is the largest and about 4 times larger than when it is behind the Sun (when the Earth and Mars are from opposite side of the Sun). The disc of Mars does not show phases and is always illuminated between 95% and 100%. Also no details can be seen on Venus atmosphere. But Venus shows phases like those of our Moon as it moves around the Sun and also its size of the disc is getting bigger. The Venus's disc is fully illuminated when it is on the opposite side of the Sun, and it is also the smallest. When is it almost at its closest approach to the Earth, Venus's disc is crescent, and is largest, about 6 times larger than when it is from the other side of the Sun.
Jupiter and Saturn are spectacular objects when seen through a telescope. Jupiter appears as a large disc and its atmosphere is clearly divided into several bands which are easily visible. Also the Great Red Spot is visible for three hours and after about seven hours is not visible, because of the Jupiter rotation around its own axis, which is about ten hours. Also the oval shape of the Jupiter's disc can be noticed. The planet does not show any phases, and always appears nearly fully illuminated. Also its apparent size of the Jupiter's disc in the telescope changes about 70% when it is from this or from other side of the Sun. Jupiter's four biggest moons can be seen in a telescope. Sometimes they can cast their shadows on the bright Jupiter's disc, visible as a small dark dots. Sometimes they pass in front of the Jupiter's disc. Sometimes two of the satellites can come very close to each other (apparently) and it looks in the telescope like they touch each other. Saturn is beautiful object when seen through a telescope, because of its rings. The tilt of the rings is changing as Saturn moves along its orbit around the Sun and currently their tilt we see is getting bigger and bigger. When the tilt of the rings is the biggest (and that will be again in the year of 2017), then they look most beautiful. In 2025 the tilt of the Saturn's rings will be zero degrees measured relative to the sunlight and they will disappear or will look as a line because no light from the Sun will illuminate them and also because we will see them edge-on. Last time they were positioned edge-on was in 2009. No details can be seen on the atmosphere of Saturn. Saturn's moon Titan can be seen in a telescope very easily. Saturn also does not display phases and its apparent size of the disc seen in a telescope changes about 30% when Saturn is from the opposite side of the Sun compared when it is at the same side from the Sun as the Earth.
Please again note that image quality of the Moon and the planets viewed through a telescope can not match the image quality of the Moon and planets' images we are usually used to see on internet and in the astronomy books because of the same reason mentioned before.
Stars: Stars' disc cannot be resolved in a telescope and they always appear as a small points, some brighter and some dimmer. Still stars can be interesting for observing. When we look at the stars do not forget that their actual age and their actual size is different and also their surface temperature and their colors are different. With time over millions or billions years, they change too, their age is changing, their size, their temperature and their color! That means when we look at the stars we also see them at different stages of their stellar evolution. We can observe unborn stars still in forming, young stars, middle aged stars and stars at the final stages of their evolution. Also we can observe small dwarf stars or giant and supergiant stars and even hypergiant stars. We will try to find some sun-like stars which have mass, size, color and temperature almost the same as our Sun. We will try to find so-called carbon stars, which are stars with deep-red color. Also we will see stars in the center of the planetary nebulae, showing the final stage of their stellar evolution. We will see also several supernova remnants. And also stars can be interesting to observe because some of them are not alone in the space, but have one or more companions and are part of a binary or multiple star systems. Or they just can appear apparently close to each other. They are most interesting to observe when they have almost the same brightness but the colors they have are different, for example one star is a yellow-orange star and the another is blue-white and so on. Some of the brightest stars on the sky we can see and observe from urban locations, but for their real observing experience the best place is some dark location out of the city.
Other celestial objects: For observing the other celestial objects, or so called deep-sky celestial objects, we need dark location far away from the urban places and the light pollution they create. In a dark location, the stars on the sky appear so bright and close, it seems that if you reach with your hands you will touch them. Also our galaxy the Milky Way is so bright, it cast shadows. Some of the brightest celestial objects on the sky we can see from the city locations with a telescope if they are in good position for observing on the sky, for example close to the zenith, and we will probably be able to see them at the observing events from the city locations, but they are not at all as beautiful as they look when observed from dark locations. At the observing events from location far from the cities with a telescope we can see many thousands deep-sky celestial objects. Open and globular star clusters are beautiful objects for observing from dark site. Some of the globular star clusters contain several hundred thousand stars and in a telescope hundreds and hundreds of them can be seen packed in a very small volume. Also some of the open star clusters are apparently on the sky so big in size that they can cover the whole field of view in the telescope. Also from dark location hundreds of nebulae are easily visible with a telescope. We will observe the most interesting planetary, diffuse, emission, reflection, dark nebulae and supernova remnants. We will see several nebulae where thousands of stars currently are being born and unfortunately hidden deep inside the clouds of gas and dust for us to see them, and also several planetary nebulae and supernova remnants which mark the last stage of the evolution of the stars, or the end of the life of the stars. Also one bright star cloud from our own galaxy can be observed. It contains thousands and thousands of stars, but because of their distance, we can not see the individual stars, but all together they look like a star cloud. Galaxies are hardly visible from urban locations, especially because of their low surface brightness. But they are nice objects to observe from dark locations far from the cities. In some of the brightest and the closest of them it is possible even to see their spiral arms in a telescope. When we observe the galaxies what we see in the telescope is their core which is the brightest part of the galaxy, but keep in mind that the galaxy in fact is several times bigger in size, but we can not see its halo of stars and its arms because they are dimmer than its core and harder to notice. Even with this limitations, galaxies are still interesting objects to observe. For example, some are not tilted at all and we can see them face-on with their spiral arms and some are tilted 90 degrees and we can see them edge-on, or like a line. Most of them are tilted at some angle towards our line of view. Also most of the galaxies are not in the space alone, but they are usually part of a group of galaxies, or even bigger concentrations of several groups of galaxies, known as galaxy clusters, and even several galaxy clusters can be seen close together, forming so-called supercluster of galaxies. That means when we observe the galaxies, sometimes we can see two or more, or even several galaxies close together in the same field of view in the telescope. For example, at one location in the sky where the Virgo cluster of galaxies is the most densely populated, we will see six or seven or even more galaxies if someone has sharper eyes in the same field of view in the telescope.
We will also try to find several quasars, which are several billion light years away, the furthest one which is half way far to the edge of the universe. They are the furthest objects we can see with amateur telescope. Because of their distance, they will look as a dim stars.
Sometimes on the observing events we can see also the International Space Station ( the ISS for short ) when it passes on the sky relatively close to the observing place. It appears like bright star on the sky and moves very quickly.