Wednesday, March 29, 2006

eyes are good

Visited my eye doctor today for a full check up. Overall: A-OK.

Part of the reason I went was because in the last year my close-up vision has deteriorated. I'm not surprised, at 42 years of age. I need now or will need soon bifocal glasses. It's becoming a point of frustration with astronomy sessions...

It turns out my distance vision is improving! Huh. I just assumed it would get continuously worse. But it's improved slightly. Which means my regular eyeglasses are now too strong. Which is exacerbating my close-up problems. So, now lenses and frames are on order.

My doc says that my close-up vision is OK and does not yet merit bifocal lenses. Unless, he said, I'm trying to read my email while driving my car... (Funny in joke there as he is, like me, an advanced high-performance driving instructor.) Ah, no!

So, overall, that's good. In the meantime, I'll continue to remove my eyeglasses for close up work.

That said, I think I will have a problem if I'm telescoping and wearing my contact lenses. But then, if I have a "weaker" prescription, it won't be as much out of focus. Or I can get reading glasses to negate the contacts...

During my tests, the doc put that yellow anaesthetic and then clear fluid to cause dilation. I remembered to ask him to measure my pupil diameter then. And I was thrilled to hear him say 7.5 mm. Woo hoo. Good pupil size (under drugs) for astronomy!

Monday, March 20, 2006


I've been experiencing this for some time now... I can see things floating in my field of view. It is easy to spot in bright conditions. If I look a solid, consistent, bright object—a cloudless blue sky for example—I can see out-of-focus shapes drifting and floating.

Some searching on the internet allayed my concerns. "Floaters," bits of protein suspended in the vitreous humour, are common as people age.

I'll ask my eye doctor to verify everything is nominal for me...

Monday, March 13, 2006

weather info in my pocket!

I first spotted the Oregon Scientific Handheld Weather Forecaster on the company's web site in early January. I wanted it! But I had some questions about it...

Repeated email enquiries to head office went unanswered. During the numerous phone calls, I got disconnected on one attempt and then lost in their complex telephone menu system so had to voluntarily break the connection. An email reply finally came back but they clearly had not read my question... Sorry, getting distracted here. My advice? Buy from a reseller!

I sourced an Oregon vendor in the Greater Toronto Area, called Radioworld, and they were very helpful! They set up an account for me, immediately ordered the product, created a priority back order, let me know when the product had arrived, and put it aside for me! Went to the store: Hello Mecca!
So, today, I finally have the Handheld Weather Forecaster (model eb313hg)!

The unit has some features very useful for backyard astronomers...
  • displays a 12 to 24 hour weather forecast with animated sun and cloud icons
  • severe weather alert indicator (hope I don't see that)
  • displays temperature (in °C or °F) and humidity (and tracks minimum and maximum values in memory)
  • clock with day-of-week or seconds
  • crescendo alarm and snooze function
  • date display (m/d)
  • moon phase indicator
  • barometric pressure trend indicator (rising, steady, falling)
  • HiGlo™ electro-luminescent backlight
  • operating range: -4.0 to +144.0°F (-20.0 to +60.0°C)
The package included the needed two CR2032 batteries.

The moon phase indicator is interesting. They use 8 icons to show the phase. It supports "previewing." That is you can force the calendar ahead or back to see what the phase will be on that day! Slick.

I was a little concerned about the backlight, that it would be bright, possibly upsetting dark-adapted vision. But the glow is very soft. It stays lit for 7 seconds.

They're pitching that it can be used for hiking and camping. But it will prove handy for bike and car trips too, jaunts to the cottage, etc. Heck, I'll take it to the car race track for driving schools or when I'm crewing.

The unit is small and light. It's smaller than a deck of cards. It can easily fit in your pocket. Be careful though: the lens or "jewel" covering the main display is easily scratched. I've already added a protective sheet. I didn't know the unit would include a belt clip which can also be attached in such a way that the unit stands on a flat surface. And there's also a spot (on the top left corner) to attach a neck strap or lanyard.

Finally—and I didn't see this noted anywhere—there's an excellent key lock feature.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

comet hunting 2 (Union)

Got up at 5. Very clear conditions! Could see the Milky Way when I got dark adapted.

Could see Delphinus well.

But no comet. Damn it.

Double below Delphinus, also below Altair. Each about ½° apart.

Jupiter: moon to left close, other 3 to 4 times away (Callisto), maybe one between on right, 2 bright stars beneath in line at 40 degrees angle (closer one is v or nu Libra, then SAO 159030). Actually, Ganymede and Io were on the left but I could not separate them with the binocs.

I really should upgrade to better software so to avoid confusion between stars and moons. Maybe it's time I make the move to "pro" software.

Meteor at 5:26 from zenith to SSE, yellowish. A sporadic? The Quadrantids are long done and the Lyrids aren't due for 40 days...

I need to ask Mom how to turn of road-side light and back basement door security light.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

comet hunting 1 (Union)

Location: Union, Ontario.

Got up about 1 hour before sunrise (5:55) to check conditions. It was clear! And very cold.

I headed outside and shut off all the security lights (side door, deck, and garage). Headed to the driveway which offers surprisingly good east exposure. The light near the road was on and annoying--I must learn how to turn that off.

Couldn't see any smudges... Headed to the backyard.

Jupiter was bright to the SSW, about 10 or 15 deg right of Scorpio. Could see 3 or 4 points through the binocs. At first, I mistook all these for moons. The bottom left is not a moon; nearest is G, then E and C, moving up and to the right. Io was moving in front of Jup...

Venus was spectacular.

Stayed out for the sunrise. Came in at 7:08am. Noticed the pink and dark violet banding in the west... I can't remember what that is called and where I read about it...

Couldn't find the comet. But then I didn't know exactly where to look.

Came out a little late, I think.

Rooster, crows, and others birds waking. Blue jays are back! That's a sure sign of spring.

Forgot my watch. Didn't know where my red flashlight was. So, tomorrow, I'll try again and be better prepared. My glasses kept fogging up. Should have brought my contact lenses...


Sketchy notes. Was it comet PojmaƄski, officially designated C/2006 A1, that I was trying for?