Questions Most Often Asked Herman in Order of Frequency
How much did that telescope cost?
$1,300 ih 1981 when I bought it. Today it would be around $2500 with the same optics but with a lot of computerization mine doesn’t have.
Can you see the flag on the Moon?
Don’t I wish - Then I’d “charge” $2/look! But, no, the smallest object even the Hubble can see on the Moon is about 225’ across, and the flag is probably only a few feet wide. Next time they go to the Moon, if they take a flag about a mile on each side and lay it flat, we might see it with my telescope.
How far can you see with your telescope?
Under a really dark sky my telescope can see objects as faint as 13th magnitude. At magnitude 12.7, Quasar 30 273 in Virgo is about 1.9 billion light years away. If I could spot it, my telescope can see at least that far.
How long have you been doing this?
My interest in astronomy started in 1946 in Miss Audrey Wicker’s 8th grade general science class at Garrison Junior High. I’ve been doing “street” telescoping since Nov. 13, 1987. I believe that everybody in the world deserves to
enjoy the Moon or a planet up close in a telescope at least once in their life, and I’m doing what I can to achieve tha ideal.
Do you believe we really landed on the Moon?
Yes, because it would have been harder to fake it than to do it. And if they were going to fake it, why did they go six times? Wouldn’t one time have been enough? Besides, if they faked it the Russians would have called their bluff!
Did you make that telescope yourself?
No, just the cardboard tube on the end. It’s a factory made, Meade 8” Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector design, a popular model with backyard astronomers. I bought it to use in my backyard, never dreaming I'd bring it to Fell's Point or Harborplace. Happily, it's the right one for those venues, too; the way it's configured, anybody, short or tall, can reach the eyepiece.
Is that the real (Saturn)? I don’t believe it!
If it looks fake, it’s in good focus! Nature puts on an incredible show!
How come I don’t see any stars with it (Saturn)?
If you look hard you’ll see one somewhere off the end of the ring, which is Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Otherwise it’s because of light pollution that we usuaiiy don’t see badkground stars in the city.
Can you see Pluto?
From a real dark place in the country - yes -, it would look like a tiny, dim “star” among many other tiny, dim stars. I’ve never seen it, because I’ve never tried.
Do you believe in astrological “signs”?
No. Before telescopes, most astronomers were astrologers, and vice versa. With the invention of telescopes in 1602, they parted ways. Astrologers remain interested in how the stars effect our health, wealth and love lives, Astronomers are interested in how far the stars and planets are, how hot they are, how old they are, what makes them shine, etc. One of the last astronomer/ astrologers was Johanne Kepler (1571—1630), discoverer of the three laws of planetary motion.
What’s that bright star that always follows the Moon?
The stars and planets seem to stay put from night to night (even though they are moving, too, as we revolve around the Sun, while the Moon traverses the whole sky every 29.5 days, Sometimes the Moon (sky’s 2nd brightest object) will spend 2-3 days
near Venus (sky’s 3rd brightest object), causing some to think bright Venus follows the Moon.
How do you know what there is to see?
I get two monthly astronomy magazines; ASTRONOMY and SKY & TELESCOPE which feature monthly planets and star charts. The Moon appears monthly and the planets appear seasonally.
Can anybody but God have made that (after looking at Saturn)?
I take the 5th amendment.
Why do I sometimes see the Moon in the daytime?
The Earth rotates every 24 hours, bringing us sunlight followed by dark
followed by sunlight, etc. All the while the Moon is orbiting above the spinning Earth
(avg. distance of 237,000 miles) every 27-1/3rd days. During that period,
when it is over our daylight side we can see it in the daytime.
But as it swings around to the far side of the Earth from the Sun
(our night side) we start seeing it more at night than in the day.
Actually, it is up as much in the day as night, but the bright daytime sky
usually makes it hard to notice. And no, the part of the Moon which
looks dark at night is not because the Earth is blocking the Sun's
light. It is because the Moon is being side lit by the Sun. It's the same as if you hold a tennis ball at arm's
length and shine a flashlight on it from the side. Try it!
Have you seen a UFO?
I'd love to. I've seen lots of very pretty things (like Saturn's rings!), but no UFO's. Anyhow, around the world there are 10,000 professional
and 200,000 amateur astronomers scanning the entire sky day and night
with equipment working in every frequency from gamma rays to radio
waves, and NONE have ever reported seeing a "UFO". They discover quasars, pulsars,
planets orbiting other stars, colliding galaxies, comets, and a lot more, but
no "UFO's"! 90% of the public's UFO sightings turn out to be the planet Venus.
Jupiter has nine moons, right?
That's what it was when we were in school! Now we know it has at least 63 moons, the most of any planet. Most are just big rocks or ice balls. Of its four largest - the ones we can see with my telescope - three are around the size of our moon (2,157 mi.) and one, Ganymede, is 1.5 times bigger, 3,280 mi, even bigger than the planet Mercury (3,029 mi.)! Amalthea, the fifth biggest, just
155 miles wide, was discovered in 1892 with the Naval Observatory's 26" telescope. The four big ones were discovered in 1610 by Galileo. We know them as Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto - or acrostically, "I Eat Gram Crackers." Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. Europa is thought to have an ice covered, watery ocean, a place where, who knows, there may be life. In the telescope, Ganymede is the brightest, Callisto the dimmest, while Io and Europe look the same. Because they orbit Jupiter so rapidly, every night we see them in different positions. Sometimes one or two briefly disappear behind Jupiter or directly in front of it. Always, they put on a great show!
Can you see Jupiter's "storm"?
We can see it in my scope. However, but because of Jupiter's rapid rotation (every 9h50m...at its equator it's moving in front of us at 28,273 mph!), it can be seen for only about 45 minutes each rotation - meaning you have to hit it just right. Another problem is that over the years it has shrunk and grown paler. It is no longer the big, blood red color spot it once was. Officially dubbed the Great Red Spot (GRS), it is a rotating cyclone which has been raging in Jupiter's atmosphere for at least 300 years. One explanation for its longevity is that there's no land beneath it to slow it down. It is driven by Jupiter's internal heat. Size-wise, even now it could hold 2-3 Earth's. It's reddish brown hue is believe caused by a mixture of phosphorous and complex organic compounds.