Monday, October 24, 2016

tested warmer

Found zippo lighter fluid today! w00t! At a strange, small convenience store with a lot of glass pipes. Hmmm.

The box of tins all looked pretty new. No dust. Bottom of the 133mL container had a dot matrix stamp: 091201615uvk. There also appeared to be another stamp overtop: 10/10/14 15 15. I hoped the stuff was fresh.

Added 20mL, with my little syringe, into the Restoration Hardware metal hand warmer. Again, did not overflow. Maybe I can try 25 or 30 next time.

I had the replacement burner installed. Also from zippo. Purchased from MEC? But, if I remember correctly, I never got it started with this new burner. It's made of some sort of fabric material unlike the original. The old was a metallic shield.

Did some research: the new type is "platinum-catalyzed glass fibre." Huh. Glass fibres.

Lit it with a BBQ lighter. It worked! Started it at 5:50 PM. It short order, it warmed. The entire length of the burner started glowing. All right. Toasty!

Winter is coming.


8:14 PM. Still going strong.

9:25. Still good. Almost too hot to handle.

12:10 AM. Cool.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

try a mirror

Helped Peter R with his new 80mm refractor. He was having trouble focusing. He asked about an extension. But it sounded like, to me, he did not have a mirror diagonal installed.

the rig with the new refractor (but without mirror diagonal)

It worked! Yeh.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

all sites used

I was very pleased to hear from Denis that his SkyShed POD was installed at the MODL 5 site. It feels, at long last, that the My Own Dome Lot project is complete.

tested the Tasco

Caught up with Rhonda. I was relieved to learn that she had not bought anything from the Snake Oil salesman instead planning to buy online. I, however, wasn't sure that a hybrid 0.965-1¼ mirror diagonal would work. The opening where the eyepiece would normally screw in was 0.82-something-something inches. Proprietary.

We also discussed the optical path. With a mirror, it would be longer. By about an inch. On a whim, I grabbed a prism. Happened to be a loaner 45° erecting unit. Jury rigged it to the OTA with little tiny rubber bands and a dash of hope. Popped in my ole Celestron Plössl 26mm and aimed into the back yard. Wow. I was able to focus on the trees! Huh. Was not expecting that. Unfortunately, it looked like I couldn't get the Tasco 17 EB to focus further than a dozen meters. We hit the inner focus limit.

I tried to remove the shaft at the back. It was secured with a small brass set screw. Once loose, I pulled the metal sleeve off. Oh. There was an inner metal tube—just as long. Damn. Still no way to get the mirror closer. Not without some major mods...

Still, it was a little inconclusive. The Moon would not rise until midnight. Shared that I did not like throwing stuff out if it might be made to work.

snow at the CAO

It snowed, briefly, at the Carr Astronomical Observatory. Report from Clayton.

news from the Planetary Society

Read Emily Lakdawalla's blog post on the ExoMars Schiaparelli lander. Looked at the before and after images captured by the NASA orbitor. Oh oh.

Friday, October 21, 2016

rejigged cases

Reshuffled things a bit. I had not found a home for the Williams Optics focuser (and the little spacer). Wanted something that would protect it. I also needed a spot for the focal reducer. Likewise, it needed to be padded. I also needed a place for the Canon-Backyard mirror lock cable. And the recently acquired Meade ETX adapter. Oh, and the USB-ethernet adapters! The old Blacks camera bag was vacated with all photographic gear now in the large thinkTANK Airport Commuter. The Blacks bag is now astronomy case φ. Somehow, thematically appropriate. While I was at it, I reevaluated things I was carrying about in the astronomy case α. Stuffed another sketch pad in case σ. Labelled the various NOCO cables in case ρ. Oh my: I have a lot of silica packs.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

plotted Jan-Oct SQM

Backed up the last couple of months of SQM-LE data from the Carr Astronomical Observatory.

line graph of SQM-LE readings for Jan through Oct

Wow! Still getting occasional readings over 22. We experienced a very high reading in August that almost broke 23!

getting started

Gave my neighbour a RASC planisphere and the Getting Started in Astronomy flyer. I also loaned her my medium tripod to try.

shared binocular collimation material

Nick pinged me. Asked if I still had my notes for the collimation of the 15x70 binoculars. Forwarded him the link to my online presentation archive. Told him to look for the March 2013 material. He was happy.

nice desktop

Sent Rhonda a link to APOD. The featured shot on the 19th was a lovely, colourful, dusty Pleiades. In turn, she forwarded me a snapshot with the image as her work Windows desktop. Sweet.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

even more galaxies

I read an article at the Astronomy magazine web site. It noted that the latest research and analysis shows that the Universe (purportedly infinite) is 10 times "more vast" than previously thought. That's a weird way of putting it. They go on to say that the observed galaxies is 10 times more. So from 200 billion to 2 trillion. That's better. They also said, "The universe seems a little less lonely today." To me, it feels the opposite. The Universe is big. Richer, now. And so far, it seems to be only us.

watched Soyuz launch

Watched a replay of the Soyuz launch to the International Space Station. Looks like everything went swimmingly.

signal stopped

Checked on the status of the ExoMars mission. The orbiter was working well; but ESA had not heard from the lander. Somewhere around thruster firing... Oh oh.

infographic for the ESA landing sequence

The curse continues...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

thanked everyone

Personally thanked all the work party volunteers. We had a good team at the CAO.

Monday, October 17, 2016

missed Antares launch

During the power outage, I was not able to view live the launch of the Orbital ATK rocket. Using new engines.

RD-191 engine

Image from the amazing Wikipedia.

When the internet came back up, I saw they had successfully launched and reached orbit. Glad to see them back on their feet again.

finished deck

Clayton and I finished the deck of MODL 5. Just before the rain, and the wind, and the black clouds to the north, and the power outage.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

clouds in the south (Blue Mountains)

Looked outside in hopes of seeing a clear southern horizon. Nope.

worked at the work party

Helped at the fall work party at the Carr Astronomical Observatory. We replaced the large bed in the Cygnus room, prepared the site for the MODL 5, built a work station in the white light lounge, replaced the kitchen sink and faucet, a number of small, odd jobs, along with the seasonal tasks. I think everyone had a good time.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

quickly processed NGC 1977

Just for fun and upon some subtle prompting from Geneviève tried colour processing in GIMP.

Used the raw data from this morning.

NGC 1977 in LRGB colour

Very interesting result even though I was using the old version, with 8-bit processing.

imaged NGC 1977 (Halifax)

The BGO robot imaged NGC 1977 for me. A diffuse nebula in Orion. One of the RASC Finest NGCs.

RASC Finest reflection nebula NGC 1977 luminance

Luminance only, 30 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; left is east.


Processed quickly in GIMP. Wow. It worked.