Watching the moon from my attic room

Posted by Jonathan Milnus on

When I was a boy, watching the moon from my attic room was like taking a peek at an almost reachable neighboring kingdom. It kept me dreaming and gave color to the duller things in life. I guess for most astronomy fans the first and strongest fascination for the objects in the night sky started with the Moon. Some of them were way past adolescence when they drew, measured and named lunar landmarks.

Trying to reach for the moon with a telescope is both ambitious and instructive for a beginner, or at least it was for me. You get a satisfying feeling as you identify lunar surface features and learn things in the process, helping you become a professional amateur, to say so.

So if you want to chase the moon, you should start by getting a map of our beautiful satellite. There are a few lunar maps that have normal and reversed versions. That’s because many astronomical instruments provide you with an inverted (things are upside down) or a reversed (mirrored) image of the objects in the sky.

I won’t give you a full description of all possible telescopes; you don’t need all that. But there are a few things that could help you to reach a decision and it’s good to get acquainted with them from the start.

There are three basic types of telescopes: refractors, reflectors, and catadioptrics. The refractors are the ones you probably saw in movies and cartoons, and it’s basically a pirate’s spyglass with a larger glass lens. They have a longer tube with a lens that collects lots of light and an eyepiece that brings the sharp, detailed image to your retina.

The reflector was Sir Isaac Newton’s invention. He didn’t like the colors in the refractor (actually, I think he didn’t have enough money), so he scrapped the lens and used mirrors instead. They usually have larger apertures, so you’ll have a better image of the planets or deep space and finer tunes.

Catadioptric telescopes are a combination of lenses and mirrors, much more compact thanks to that, but the image isn’t the best you can get.

Considering that you can see the rings of Saturn with a 75X magnification, observing the moon or the planets doesn’t require anything fancy.

In my opinion, you should choose a refractor telescope. It doesn’t need cleaning or realigning and provides you more details and contrast. That’s what matters most when you are trying to get familiar with ridges and craters on moon’s surface.

In fact, you can even go for a binocular, given that it has a compact design, it’s lighter and easy to carry and offers steadiness for the untrained hand of a beginner. Plus, who knows, you might get to see some uncharted territory in your own neighborhood. A 7×50 gives you enough magnification power to go to the moon and back.

I hope this post is helpful and makes it easier for you to decide on the instrument you want to begin your quest with.

Enjoy your journey!


What I like to do in my spare time

Posted by Jonathan Milnus on


Life here in Tahlequah, Oklahoma is never dull, I tell you. There’s always something to do to fill whatever extra time you have in your hands. Because of the magnificent scenery, I so love exercising in the outdoors. Physical exercise helps me stay physically and mentally healthy. On weekends and a half hour after work, exercise gets my blood pumping and revitalizes my spirit by getting my endorphins flowing.

Thanks to exercise, I have been able to burn calories, build muscle and oxygenate my brain to give it that much-needed boost that can make me ready for a week or another day ahead. Thanks to exercise, I have been able to maintain self-discipline, which proves to be valuable considering the demanding work environment I exist in.

Knowing that successful people never stop reading new books, I have cultivated reading as a lifelong skill. I have no particular preference between fiction and nonfiction books, just as long as they provide me with a better understanding of the world around us. Each new character, new environment, new philosophy, new idea or new culture that is highlighted in written work is always helpful at helping me build new skills.

I go volunteering as well, and this has been beneficial not only for my sake but for the community’s as well. Knowing that I can make a difference in another person’s life provides me the satisfaction that I have made a difference in the world through my volunteer work. It has also given me a valuable means of networking, where I meet other people outside the workplace and this, in turn, can help drive my career forward. The local soup kitchen is my usual venue to achieve this.

Speaking of networking, I also take part in networking events outside the scope of my corporate hours. This has allowed me to move beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone while meeting new people. I am interested in networking with people who are into astronomy as a hobby since I own a telescope, you see. It’s been a whole lot of fun watching eclipses and observing the night sky on beautiful nights when the constellations seem to conspire to shine their brightest.

I have been able to keep my list of contacts of people who love getting the opportunity to watch the skies display an incredible view on cloudless nights. We watched the Perseids meteor shower last 2016 and got rewarded with a view of the constellation of Perseus along with the astounding brilliance of the Perseids shower in everyone’s field of view.

Watching a meteor shower can take a considerable amount of patience sometimes. However, for those willing to wait long enough with a top quality telescope, the experience will be beyond rewarding because of its being utterly unforgettable. Stargazing is much more fulfilling, of course, if you have the best quality telescope on hand.




The best beginner’s telescope (in my opinion)

Posted by Jonathan Milnus on



Just as there are a lot of views on how to get into astronomy, there are also a lot of opinions about the best beginner’s telescope. What you may think to be the best instrument for beginners may not be what I consider good for such levels of astronomy. That said, I believe we can both agree that bad quality department store telescopes only create more horror stories than can be imagined.

A fantastic beginner’s microscope has to have an aperture of at least 6 to 8 inches to enable the instrument to grow as you do in your astronomy skills. An 8-inch aperture can reveal an endless number of deep sky objects under dark skies while providing the best aperture for viewing clear detail on the planets. This includes even faraway Pluto that can be seen in dark skies as a faint star in an 8-inch scope.

However, I believe Celestron has figured out an ingenious way to provide more telescope for your money. That said, you should be comfortable using digital devices. Doing away with the microprocessors in Go To scopes that require dedicated software codes along with specially-designed keypads connected to the mount, Celestron introduces its exclusive Astro Fi series of telescopes that make use of your Apple or Android smartphone or tablet as a suitable telescope controller.

My Celestron telescope only required that I download the free SkyPortal app from either Google Play or the Apple App Store and that I simply needed to sync with the scope through WiFi. There was no need to access a network since the scope itself already serves as a network. The instrument works even where cellular networks are rendered useless.

The Celestron Astro Fi telescope comes without a hand controller. Neither does it have a set of manual operating knobs. I don’t even need to connect a laptop to the mount. I simply hold my phone or tablet up to the night sky, and the scope performs accurate tracking of what’s in the sky at night.

I also need just to touch a target displayed on the unit’s screen, and the scope will slew to and put that object in the sky right in the center of the sight. There’s no guesswork involved, and what’s more, information about the celestial object also gets displayed on my paired smart device. Neat huh?

Although I still have to execute a process for quick alignment, it is no bother because the entire process is exceptionally easy. I only center any brilliant deep sky object in the eyepiece. I then repeat this for two other bright objects up there, and the scope does the rest in just a few seconds. This is truly the future of astronomy, in my opinion.

Celestron bundles this delightful Astro Fi technology into a 90mm refractor, which I got, but the 130mm Newtonian reflector model will not disappoint as well. The astro Fi 90 refractor is highly useful for observing nearby planets. Those who wish to get more with catadioptric hybrids can look into the astro Fi 102 Mak-cas, which works for stars and other point sources.

The 3.5-inch Spyglass is a delight to use. I get a fair share of contrast improvement due to the lens coatings. This model is not particularly speedy as it comes with a 10;1 focal ratio, but it works fine for my needs as I have no immediate plans of getting into professional astrophotography at this time.

That, in a nutshell, is my beginner’s telescope. How about yours?


What I like the most about looking at the stars

Posted by Jonathan Milnus on


As I have told you before, I am an amateur astronomer because I love looking at planets, the Saturn rings, the moon, and virtually any celestial body that I come across. My passion has been fueled by many years of study as I haven’t had the chance to dive into the topic while I was in high school. I didn’t have any subjects that could delve into the complexity of the topic nor were any teachers available for consultation in this sense. In other words, I had to research everything on my own.

The first thing that I remember was that I used to sit up late at night and look at the sky from the window of my room. My parents had no idea that I would sit up so late and that was why I always woke up tired in the morning.

I was fortunate enough to live in an attic room, so stargazing was pretty easy. I saved some money from the meager cents that my parents used to spare so that I could buy snacks to nibble on. Instead, I saved them all and bought my first telescope. Thanks to the design of my room, I was able to use it even in the dark and even through the attic window.

Once in a while, I would start asking myself why I was so fascinated by the universe. I did a little research on the topic online, but couldn’t find any answer that would satisfy me. Some people simply say that we’re attracted to the stars because they’re beautiful and unreachable, much like a love lost forever. Others say that the stars are like muses that help them have nice dreams and sleep better if they take the time to look at the sky several minutes every evening, before going to sleep.

Researchers from the University of California-Irvine have found that people who like stargazing are more helpful, altruistic, and have an overall positive social behavior. Otherwise said, looking at the stars can help you become kinder and perhaps assist you in better understanding the world around you and the people that you generally come in contact with on a regular basis.

The last likelihood for my fascination that I feel the need to mention belongs to Cornell Astronomy. A web page from 2015 details the fact that stargazing is like taking a peek at your own past because the light that we now see reflected in those celestial bodies might just as well be from thousands and thousands of years before. Those stars might very well not exist any longer, which makes my hobby even dreamier.


Things to do in Tahlequah

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Situated in the “Lakes Country” of Northeastern Oklahoma in Cherokee County, the City of Tahlequah happens to be Oklahoma’s oldest municipality. It holds the distinction of being the capital of both The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and The Cherokee Nation. Singular in its location, the city is nestled right in the center of the Illinois River Valley.

The city also has Lake Fort Gibson and Lake Tenkiller nearby to provide breathtaking scenery and unique recreation options both for locals and tourists.

The upper 70 miles of the Illinois River is nurtured for its scenic value. It runs through the heart of the breathtaking Oklahoma Ozark Hills noted for their always changing oak-hickory forest for beautiful scenery the entire year. An easy-flowing river, the Upper Illinois River offers spectacular scenery along with several stretches of mild rapids.

Providing an excellent fishing stream, the Upper Illinois River is a source of largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, flathead and channel catfish, as well as a range of other species. Aside from angling, canoeing is also a popular activity on the Upper Illinois River. You can make the most of 70 miles of sometimes challenging but always interesting water. Boats, tubes, and canoes are available for rent at different segments along the river course.

The Lower Illinois River runs below Lake Tenkiller Dam with its clear, cold water. It is a lovely flowing splendid river that has had fishermen coming since 1965 when it was established as the first year-round trout stream in Oklahoma. More and more anglers have found the hard-fighting trout a great fishing prize. Stocking takes place along the 7.7-mile river stretch at four locations.

The most scenic recreational lake in Oklahoma is Tenkiller Ferry Lake, which was created with the building of the Tenkiller Ferry Dam by the US Corp of Engineers. The river derives its name from the local Native American family that operated a ferry service for the Illinois River. The dam was once the country’s tallest at 197 feet high.

Occupying 1,190 acres adjacent to the reservoir, Tenkiller State Park is the first of two state parks situated on the lake. Sitting atop wooded bluffs that overlook the lake, the park offers some amenities for camping, with a swimming pool, rustic cabanas and cabins, hiking trails, a nature center, boat ramps, a floating restaurant and full-service marina as well as a scuba diving park.

Just north of the Highway 82 bridge is Cherokee Landing State Park, which provides a huge campground at the water’s edge, as well as swimming beaches, a handicapped-friendly fishing dock, and boat ramps. A 2600-acre public hunting area is on the west side of the lake.

The best in a four state area, scuba diving at Tenkiller Lake is offered by varied terrain and clear water that entice thousands of divers every year. There are interesting caves and sheer cliff drop-offs interspersed with gradual slopes to create 20 feet of diving excitement for the scuba diver. Choose from fishing, boating, scuba diving and skiing on the beautiful blue waters of Tenkiller Lake.


Offering the best birdwatching in Oklahoma, the lake area allows the birder to observe over 250 species of birds year round. During the winter, the Bald Eagle makes its home in various areas including Carlisle Grove as well as the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge close by. Each fall, as many as 85,000 Snow Geese can be observed as they make their way to their winter home at the refuge.

If you are up for a bit of history, why not go on a trip along the Tahlequah History Trail? The stops include Rosamund House, Franklin Castle, Seminary Hall, Norris Park, Bailey Falls, and some others that will open your eyes to the plight of the Indians.