Wednesday, December 15, 2021

grim day

Darkness abounds.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

in the end

To my loyal readers... I'm still around. "Not dead yet." To quote Monty Python. But I'm still shell-shocked by what happened to me on October 16...


Today was pivotal.

I sent a formal letter to the RASC Toronto Centre. We'll see what happens...

My blood pressure is high.

My doctor is concerned.

Clearly, I need to chill.

Astronomy is good. In many ways. And under normal circumstances it makes me calm. That's a feeling I often experience when I look at things through the telescope: calm. Extreme, deep calm. 

The Universe slowly churning away, spinning, evolving, and letting us have a look around. Developing our theories and insights and rules.

I will endeavour to find some time under the stars. That's what matters. That said, it's hard this time of year. But I continue to closely watch the Clear Sky Charts...

In the end, there's no reason to be mean or vindictive or hold a grudge. But some hold grudges. They MUST win. No matter what. But they don't get it. Funny/odd when astronomers don't understand that. There's NO, zero, point in fighting. 'Cause you're gonna die, sooner or later.

Friday, October 15, 2021

avoid these terms!

I really like the and regularly visit for solar activity updates, sunspot identification, and interesting photographs.

But on skimming today's article on curious comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, I grew a little anxious. I hope this does not spurn other media outlets with phrases like "giant space volcano" headed towards Earth or comet in "superoutburst" ligthing up the whole sky.

Oh oh...

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Stellarium webinar tomorrow

Free Stellarium webinar tomorrow! For anyone interested in the computer-based Stellarium product. 25 hours to go!

Monday, October 11, 2021

registered a gaggle

RASC Weekly included a mention of the Stellarium webinar. Signed up another 19 people today.

still can't edit

While John G found he could work on the Toronto Centre web site, I still cannot edit the national pages. This an authentication problem.

reviewed a .STX file

Received Melody's first SkyTools observing list plan .STX file. Reviewed the entries and gave some suggestions for the tricky ones. Good progress. She's gonna have another go. That I did a big of digging to find planetary nebula Jones 1...

Sunday, October 10, 2021

still locked out

Still can't get into the RASC national web site, cannot edit my Obs Comm pages. I got saw some issues and then finally got kicked out on the evening of the 6th. This crippled other editors.

locked out of the RASC web site

And the problem is cascading into centres. In Toronto, we cannot edit our site nor perform other member services. What a... mess. Absolute mess.

cut a circle

Finally cut a Teflon pad for the big Dobsonian I'm repairing. Used one of my hole saw bits, without the pilot, in the drill press, to cut a small circle. The 1-1/8" (28mm) bit. It's a tad smaller than the original but close enough (from an airplane). The issue is that these saw bits are measured by their outer diameter; the next size up, 1-1/4" (32mm), would make a circle too large. With a box cutter, I chamferred the top edge. Next steps: sand with course grit the bottoms of all and re-glue into the Dob ground plate... Dizzard! I'm all out of epoxy.

Friday, October 08, 2021

free webinar on Stellarium Oct 13

I have scheduled a free online webinar for the Stellarium desktop software for Wednesday 13 October at 8:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time. Open to all.

See the information page on the Toronto Centre web site.

This is a webinar aimed at people interested in the Stellarium software, either completely new to the software, or with some limited exposure. I.e. beginners.

The Zoom webinar size is limited to 100 people.

Send a message to stellarium AT rascto DOT ca if you'd like to attend.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

had a quick look at Stellarium

Started poking around the newest version of Stellarium, 0.21.2.

Saw what Chris saw: the Bookmarks feature is re-jigged. Or rather, bookmarks are gone. Now there is the "Observing List" feature...

There's something different about the location settings, I think, maybe? Subtle labelling.

Overall, looks similar.

used the smartphone

Did a review of making a custom landscape for Stellarium. I wanted to prove the process that a panoramic image from a phone or tablet could be turned into a background texture in the software. I expected it to work but I had never done it. In fact, I jumped up in the middle of the afternoon, popped out back, and shot a panorama with the motorola e6 smartphone and built-in camera app. Perfect uniform grey sky for the task at hand.

The image looked good when done and was an odd dimension of course, 9400 pixels by 1700 pixels, approximately. It took me a few tries but I got it work. With GIMP, I produced a 4096x2048 PNG with transparency. Hacked the INI file. It all worked. 

So a good review in the end as I had forgotten a few of the particulars. Touched up my notes in the Advanced Stellarium Quick Reference Card. Prepped sample files for training. Proof of concept met. And I'm better prepared now for my upcoming level 3 training rehearsal with the Stellarium team!

no activity for the second day in a row

No progress. I sent the Executive Director a list of open items from the Observing Committee many of which require support from the national office. Over 20 items. And some of them are big. And they did not fix the web site access problem either...

the focuser is ready

Sent Alister a quick update. The new focuser 3D design was complete with better inner threads and a bevelled/chamferred edge on the tube. Did some quick checks in Cura too. Exciting. It is ready for a test print!

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

wasn't me!

Learned that other editors are having trouble with the RASC national web site. I was applying my final edits and I got booted. I thought it was because I had triggered a too-many-too-rapid-too-many-uploads flag. Sounds like I didn't break it... At least I was able to update to the new general certificate application form.

Ooooh. Maybe that accounts for the radio silence today...

asked if we can hide it

Pinged our webmaster to find out if we might have an orphaned page on our site that will not be visible to the crawlers...

no stars (Bradford)

Curbed the recycling. Cloudy! I need to check HR 6043.

coached on list-making

Did some over-the-phone coaching for Melody. Showed her how to make a list in SkyTools 4 Visual. She's gonna have a crack at the Deep-Sky Challenges program!

reviewed a viddie

Reviewed a short RASC TC RAN video before release.

no replies

The list grows. The requests are piling up. I thought I'd hear from the staff at RASC national office today. I think I have 10 open pending queries with them. And at EOB, nothing. No replies, no call backs, nothing. Sheesh.

lots of paper in an office

There are a lot of members in the lurch here... it's not just me.

skimmed SkyNews

Looked quickly at the new SkyNews in bed before fading. I look forward to reading the article on the James Webb Space Telescope. No article from Yours Truly in this issue.

redid the tube

It worked!

After a lot of tests and trials of OpenSCAD and MeshMixer, I had a rethink. I believe it was during my catch-up chat with Ward, while trying to demystify meshes and solids, that I decided to redo Alister's focuser tube from scratch in TinkerCAD.

Not trivial. Took me some time, some YouTube videos and 3D design tutorial pages, to learn The "Tinker" Way of doing things.

Celestron First Scope focuser tube from TinkerCAD

This is version 1. Overall it's good but I want to redo the tube.

The inner threads don't look deep enough. I need to make the cutter 1 mm bigger I think. 

Also the edges of the tube are not chamferred. I didn't think this possible in the new tool but I learned today how to do it. 

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

made some lists for motors

I finally got 'round to making some motor maintenance lists as well as the parts-supplies-tools list for the impending CAO mini-work party. I'm on duty for winterising the mowers and changing the oil for the generator.

Ah, ah, winter! No no no no.

Need to double check if we have all the supplies on site.

a special meeting

Attended the special council meeting of the RASC Toronto Centre on the matter of land acknowledgements.

a gap

Reminder (late) arrived in the electronic inbox. Journal submissions due.

I declined.

I wrote 41 articles for the RASC Journal starting for the February 2015 issue. Consecutive. This will be the first gap.


Sent the mount-control notice for the next Stellarium level 2 gig.