Friday, September 19, 2014

dark overhead


At times, when under a tree, near a burnt out street light, it was dark...

A couple of bright stars overhead.

I spotted Cassiopeia at one point, with effort.

I've been monitoring the CSAC emails.

The walk home, extended, having missing my stop, somehow, partly because of the giggling high school dicks punking us all on the sardine bus, gave me a chance to take in the skies. No clouds now. But still hard to see anything. Light-pollution-unaware people all along Allanhurst Drive. Silly, all these lights, to illuminate their lowly ranch houses. Dick-waving. Competition. Oh, mine is better than yours. Just stop it. You're as bad as the teenagers.

I very briefly considering driving up to the park. But then, the weather reports came to mind. Why would I go such a long way to set up a tent in the rain? Yeah. That'd be a little crazy. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a random thought, an idea, something I had not considered at all: the CAO! What about jumping in the car and heading to the Blue Mountains. Far closer. Would  not have to tent. Why not? Why not?!

Too late... It was already after 8:30. A good portion of Friday night, the best night weather-wise, would be gone. The more-important issue: I likely would not be able to stay awake.

Tired, after a intense, stressful week. Good stress, overall. Busy. Regardless, it was draining. Long days. Lots of brain energy. And I've felt it the last few days. Going to bed earlier each night. Trouble focusing. Last night, 10:30, and I could barely move. Hopefully, I will recoil a little, acclimate.

I so want to put the telescope up in the back yard. Somehow, I sense this new neighbourhood is rather dark. And I think I'll be able to see more sky than Evelyn, Colbeck, or Byford. Darker. Better angles. That would be good. And, I'm anxious to test the Vixen. Maybe next week?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

NASA selected transports

Heard the news. NASA selected not one but two companies to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.

Congrats to Boeing and Space X!

reviewed report

Proof-read the CAO report by Tony before leaving downtown. Suggested noting that we're safer there now, with around 8 people trained on first aid. Off to the council before their next meeting.

he's back in

Mark reported to me in the morning that he saw emails coming through. Good. That verified Yahoo was seeing and correctly using his "main" email address. Then, in the afternoon, he shared, "I'm good now!" Sounds like it was a configuration issue when he was trying to bind his Yahoo account to his main address. Or it might have been trouble with his "foxfire" on his old iMac. Yep. Might have been. Bad cookies? Anyhoo, I was relieved. No further testing tonight. Although I still need to update the notes...

Monday, September 15, 2014

sent Tony data

Virtual meeting with Tony on the CAO report for council. Reviewed my "checklist" of things done since April, along with Lora's additions. Grace and I sent him a bunch of emails so that he could cull.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

hundreds of nanometers

Found an interesting note in Chamberlain's article on polar alignment.
To achieve that, the teeth on the perimeter of a gear with diameter of 8 cm must be machined with accuracy of hundreds of nanometers.
Hence the continued need for guiding, PEC, flexure and refraction modelling, etc.

polar alignment apps

Did a quick search for polar aligning apps for the iOS. Found a couple... Both cost about $2.
The app by Varros looks very good. Can detect one's current location or allow manual entry. Supports an inverted (rotated) view for a polar scope. Works in the northern and southern hemispheres. Display can be zoomed. Entire display in red and orange colours. Updated for years from 2010 to 2020. The most interesting feature is the augment reality with a camera.


Found Polar Finder for Android by TechHead.

prepped bio

Wrote up my bio for council for the 2015 RASC TC slate. Crazy long list. They sure have their hooks in me...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

found newer Polaris Finder

Stumbled across version 1.5 of Takahashi's polar finder tool. Back in July I had found version 1.2.

This newer version accommodates for use in the southern hemisphere, using sigma Octanis, in addition to Polaris. The outer circle of dashed lines (and outer tick marks) is for the southern celestial pole alignment; the inner solid circles is for NCP. I see it sports more detailed notes. Seems to check out with SkyTools 3 Pro.

The dates are set the same in each app. 25 Dec 2014 at 11:00 PM in ST3P; 26 Dec 2014 at 4:00 UT. The SkyTools Interactive Atlas chart is set to Horizon mode with the vertical and horizontal flip controls both on, generating a rotated view, i.e. a view rotated 180° as produced by a refractor telescope. I tried different dates and times. Different decades. Perfect correspondence.

The NJP documentation refers to the precession circles and scales. Points out that precession is covered from 1985 to 2015. I always like it when I see that they adjust for movement of the celestial pole.

I've noticed that the new "simple" reticules with drawn constellations, common in Synta 'scopes, do not.

viewed Malcolm's video

Malcolm posted a YouTube video shot with his Nikon DSLR from 7:00 to 11:00 last night. Wonderful.

I like how the aurora becomes apparent as the sun sets and the clouds fade away. Best viewed in HD.

received HC and power cable

Received the controlled and hacked custom power cord from Scott. Showed him the bottom RA bearing. Little grease. No damage. Full steam ahead!

posted TSTM Sep 2014

Posted Chris's notes for The Sky This Month for September, and a bit of October.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Gaia spots a supernova

Gaia discovered a supernova! SN Gaia14aaa occurred in a galaxy 500 million ly away. Of course the primary mission of the European Space Agency probe is to measure one billion stars in our galaxy but researchers stumbled across an "anomaly" to later learn it was not a fault. After analysing the spectra, they thought it a Type Ia, offset slightly from the centre of the galaxy. From an article at the ESA site.

aurora out there somewhere

Big aurora are predicted for tonight. Kp index is at 7! But a good portion of Ontario is under cloud. Unfortunately. Katrina cancelled her CAO trip—a good call I think. Nicole and Bill headed out in search clear skies. Malcolm is sticking close to home in Prince Edward county.


Bill said the whole sky lit up. Before the clouds rolled in. Shared a picture of a picture on a Facebook chat.

Malcolm got some! Shared on Facebook.

Nicole started a chat on Facebook. We invited Phil, Ian W, Malcolm, Drew, Chris.

must wait some more

My double star helpers request did not appear in the Journal. Two more months...

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Read a piece entitled Interactive dark matter could explain Milky Way’s missing satellite galaxies over at the Royal Astronomical Society. The brief article talks about the discrepancy between computer simulations and observations. We see far fewer small galaxies around our spiral home than what the predictions say. One suggestion is that dark matter was scattered in the early Universe due to interactions with photons and neutrinos and gravity. Microscopic particles affecting large structures. When the scientists tune the simulations to allow dark matter to interact they see fewer neighbouring satellite galaxies. Smoother. Less lumpy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

enjoyed the evening

Enjoy tonight's recreational astronomy night meeting. And that's not just because some of my photos were featured.

Learned from Tom about the recently relocated mirror—in fact, they're blanks. Helped set up RASC signs once security let us in the OSC. Gave Knox his toque, the one he won at the Star-B-Q. Shared Porco's Starfest fumble with Canadian winter hats. Said hello to Jacek. Chatted briefly with Bill and Phil. Chris's The Sky This Month was very informative, as usual. I made a few notes. Mr Mortfield talked about radio astronomy and "listening" to the Sun (indirectly). Guy talked about a new light pollution problem in Frontenac county. Put out the petition for people to sign. Steve shared anecdotes and photos from the Algonquin Radio Observatory trip. He showed the Optimism motivational (spoof) poster I made. Ha ha. Acknowledged Ms Carr's efforts at setting up the ARO event. Then Paul returned to the lectern, in Charles's absence, to relay the usual announcements.

I noticed Tony distributing St Johns Ambulance certificates. I don't know where mine's gone. Gave some suggested exposure settings to Al for capturing the Milky Way with a kit lens on a DSLR. Chatted with Mike about his damaged Celestron power board. Chatted with Chris about his "damaged" 8SE. Which he know says slews fine but doesn't track. I was left confused.

Tony and I headed to the pub. Caught up with Guy. Showed CAO roof photos. Chatted with Eric about telescope repair. He introduced me to Norah. Learned that Paul has been a member for a long time.

Rainy night, for a change.

X flare went off

The Sun popped today, producing a X-class flare, aimed directly to the Earth.

Might produce strong aurora in a day or two.

Monday, September 08, 2014

a fast read

Finished reading The Martian by Andy Weir. I guess I was interested in the book given how quickly from start to finish I got through it. I plowed through it! One night, when I couldn't sleep, I think I read for a marathon 4 or 5 hours. And I'll take that to mean I was drawn in and it was enjoyable to read.

Now, being a spaceflight junkie, I kept wondering about technical accuracies. And yet nothing jumped out at me in the hard SF book. The biggest stretch I found though was the solar power regeneration.

I was left, however, at the end kind of hanging.

Spoiler alert! Stop here if you've not finished. You've been warned.

The big thing I wanted to see happen was a frank chat, when earthbound, between Watney and Captain Lewis. It would have been interesting to see her perhaps break, finally. A reconciliation. Bringing it full circle.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

opened NEQ6

Started tearing down the NEQ6 mount. Looks like there's not a lot of grease in the bearings.

Declination axis.

Or RA.

I was to receive the controller and power supply today but we waved off...