What Magnitude Stars Can You See?

While we’ve been at home for the Great Distancing, I have been experimenting with what I can see from my suburban driveway.

I know that I can’t see the Milky Way from my driveway.  A long time ago, when I went to a star party in a rural area, I learned that Messier objects that are easily seen with my telescope with dark skies couldn’t be seen from my driveway.  But I can see the bright planets and the major constellations from my driveway.

I’ve been trying to figure out the limit on what I can see by going out with a sky map on my phone (I’m using GoSkyWatch), and looking at constellations and trying to find the dimmest star I can see.  With a quarter-full moon not in my field of view, I can see stars as dim as magnitude 3.5.  With no moon, I can see stars as dim as magnitude 4.

My next steps are to figure out the dimmest object I can see with the finder scope on my telescope, with the telescope itself, and with my camera.

What’s the dimmest star you can see in your skies?

Back from Seeing Alpha Centauri

Summer vacation this year took us to Peru, where we greatly enjoyed experiencing another culture and exploring the Inca ruins, including the magnificent Machu Picchu. I also enjoyed photographing the moon and stars that can only be seen in the Southern Hemisphere. The Southern Cross looks like a kite to me.

View from our Lima hotel room:


View from our Cusco hotel room:


View from our Aguas Calientes hotel room:


Moon through Inca doorway:


Shadow Selfie with Moon and Inca Stonework:


Moon with Inca Stonework:


Moon over Urubamba River with stone piles:


Southern Stars from Aguas Calientes – Southern Cross and Alpha Centauri:


Machu Picchu: