About Dirty Skies

Welcome to Dirty Skies!

My name is Rob Kosinski and Dirty Skies is the online journal (web log or blog) I created to share my experiences and related thoughts regarding backyard astronomy in my light-polluted, sub-tropical St. Petersburg Florida neighborhood.

When I was a kid living in New England we had a telescope. I don’t recall the specifics of it but I do remember it was and 8-inch Meade “big white tube” scope… maybe a Newtonian Refractor? At any rate, that scope saw the light of… erm…¦ night, maybe a half-dozen times before it was never used again. I think this was mostly due to the fact that it was a pain to transport, setup, align and maintain.

Now some 20 years later I have purchased my own telescope, a Meade ETX 90AT. Why? Well I’ve had a subscription to Sky & Telescope magazine most of my adult life but I’d never really thought much about owning a telescope.

Honestly I was reading an issue of Sky & Telescope back before Christmas (I’m going to say it was Nov or Dec 2004 because although I’m tripping over these magazines all day long I can’t find the specific issue at this time) when I was bitten by “the bug.” The column was “Spectrum” which is their monthly version of “from the editor” — Richard Tresch Fienberg. He mentioned how he’d purchased a Meade ETX 90AT as a travel scope to accompany him on trips. Something clicked in my mind and I thought “if the editor of the most prominent astronomy magazine in the world thinks this is a good choice for his secondary scope, I imagine it would certainly fill the bill as my primary scope.” That was it, asked for one from my family for Christmas.

Why Dirty Skies?

When I first told people I wanted a telescope they acted like I was insane. They told me there is so much light pollution and atmospheric turbulence on our area that owning a telescope would simply be a waste of time and money. I was told I wouldn”t be able to see anything.

I’m glad I didn’t take all the “free advice.” While conditions here are less than ideal (OK they’re downright poor), I’ve discovered that there are plenty of things to see and do. If you look through some of the entries on this site at all you will find that some halfway decent lunar and planetary photography can be done. Solar observing? Hey this is Florida and Sun we got plenty of! Will I ever be taking hour-long exposures of nebulae or faint star clusters? Not with my ETX 90AT and probably not with any scope from my location, no matter how big the mirror. That’s OK with me. This is all new to me and the things I can do with my “Mighty ETX” from the backyard promise to keep me interested and occupied for some time to come.

I hope to share some of the joy and profound sense of wonder I get from astronomy in this blog. Perhaps there are other novice astronomers out there working under “dirty skies” who may be able to glean some worthwhile tidbit or inspiration from my successes and failures.

Please share your thoughts and wisdom on any of my posts by leaving a comment.

Enjoy your stay!


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Experiences in Urban Backyard Astronomy