Tuesday, September 22, 2009

happy equinox

Equal days and equal nights. I don't know if I like the equinox. It signals the time of fastest change. We're on the steepest part of the slope. The change from one season to the other is happening quickly now. Maybe I'm discouraged because of the unusual summer. That said, the weather lately has been spectacular.

Monday, September 21, 2009

yeah but no but

The RASC Toronto Centre web site went down sometime on Sunday.

I emailed the web presence provider this morning. They replied! Said they'd look into it. A short time later, just before lunch, they said it was up. I tested it. Yep. But moments later, it lagged. Then went down again.

I emailed again. When the provider replied, they said, "No, it's working." I wondered if it was an issue with Sympatico, as I had seen lags and drops when hitting Yahoo! But further testing, upon calling various members, revealed it was down for all.

Finally, around 4:30 PM, the provider reported it was "down for a while but up again." It seemed stable this time. I began a round of general page edits. I updated the NO GO call for the City Observing Session for Guy. And I was able to finally adjust the general information and registration pages for the NOVA course for Leslie.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

others saw it too

Ah. Others, further south, spotted the phenomenon.

Caroline sent out this note at 8:52 PM:
Did anyone happen to be looking at Jupiter at around 7.50 this evening?

A friend and I were walking the dogs in York Region Forest, and had been looking at Jupiter. The sky was completely clear, it had just got dark and the only thing visible was Jupiter, which we were seeing in this huge expanse of sky. We had to look to our left and behind us slightly to see Jupiter, which I did every minute or so. I turned to look, and there to the right of Jupiter, slightly lower in the sky was something almost as bright, with a cone of white light behind it. Whatever it was must have been coming straight towards us as it did not move in relation to Jupiter. I did not see when or how it first became visible, but it had not been there a minute before. We saw it for probably ten seconds before it disappeared. It seemed to just fade out really quickly.

Geoff sent an interesting note at 9:44 PM:
This has been quite widely reported across the northeastern United States. It sounds to me like some sort of fuel or water dump by a satellite.
Frank said he thought it the search light from a helicopter. That was a good way to describe the appearance. Except that it wasn't moving, panning, flicking, or vibrating.

Randy, NASA expert, found the answer...

The Charged Aerosol Release Experiment (CARE) was conducted by the Naval Research Laboratory and the Department of Defense Space Test Program using a NASA four-stage Black Brant XII suborbital sounding rocket. Using ground based instruments and the STP/NRL STPSat-1 spacecraft, scientists studied an artificial noctilucent cloud formed by the exhaust particles of the rocket’s fourth stage at about 173 miles altitude.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

dew lake (Mew Lake)

They should call it the Annual Algonquin Adventure at Dew Lake!

Phil had warned me. Others had commented on it. I didn't go empty handed.

I had my 8" dew heater for the corrector plate of the SCT wrapped around the dew shield. I had the (new) 2" dew heater for the eyepiece. I had the Kendrick Type IV controller running full blast. I had the lead-acid portable battery fully charged. But it still wasn't enough.

Well. That said, the telescope proper was fine. But the finder scope was rendered useless by 11:00 PM. The equipment was soaked. Papers, books, charts wet.

The low temperatures, falling to 0°C or lower, did not help the battery output...

I was kicking myself that I had not arranged for a patio table umbrella for my little portable picnic table. Figured out some way to heat the battery (a couple of those hand warmers perhaps?). I had not attached my heat pad sheet under the triangle tray or computer. Although that would have depleted the battery faster. I had not rebuilt or improved upon my finder scope dew heater custom project. But again that would have put more load on the battery.

Maybe I need another battery...

Or a Honda generator!

Neptune confirmed (Mew Lake)

Neptune is not easy. But I definitely confirmed it. With the help of a park visitor and Stellarium.

A lot of other volunteers were aimed at Jupiter. I suggested we go for Neptune. The guest near me sounded intrigued. But I said that I had to cheat. I wanted to be certain that I was on target. I dug out the netbook and red cel. As the machine booted up, I put it on the adjustable chair near the eyepiece. I was starting to attract some kids, with the computer and red keyboard light. I searched for the 8th planet in the software, zoomed in, and rotated the field to match the finder scope view. I could easily see the 4th largest planet between μ (mu) and 42 Capricorni, 1/3rd the way from μ. Then I mimicked the baader planetarium eyepiece wide field of view and orientation.

With my guest, we confirmed the location of two bright stars (HIP 107407 and 107422) above the planet. My captivated guest noted the small arc of three stars to the left. I nudged the view to the right and we both agreed on the location of a faint double star. I put Neptune dead centre. And zoomed in.

I think part of the reason that it is so challenging is the angular size. It is less than 2.5 arcseconds! That's the same dimensions as a tight double star. That and using a high power eyepiece means the field is general void of other objects. The last planet in the solar system, at approx. 30 AUs, is not very exotic. Certainly the colour is attractive. But it's almost better to view at low power. At magnitude 7 or 8, it stands out against the background faint stars.

Showed Tony, Phil, Katrina, and others.

That was satisfying.

UFO (Mew Lake)

We stared, perplexed, at the strange bright cone of light, in the distance. Cone or funnel shape with bright apex. Very distant.

Near Jupiter. Approx. 15° away, to the right, slight down ... 15° in elevation. Jupiter alt/az at the time 17°/136°.

Something to do with an airplane? Was the Toronto airport in that direction? No... it was too high for aircraft. I had never seen anything like that before.

Of course, there were dozens of civilians visiting the park, standing around the Mew Lake beach. All looking at Jupiter. Suddenly, they all turned to us RASC members—the astronomy experts—for an answer. We were all shrugging and humming and scratching our heads...

OTA not magnetic

I've been wondering for a long time if I might be able to stick fridge magnets to the Celestron telescope tube, to hold notes in place, whatever. I had packed a thin magnet in with my gear to test. In fact, I had flopped it into the triangular accessory tray (which is clearly magnetic). Tried the SCT 8" diameter optical tube: nothing. Interesting.


If I'm not mistaken, Celestron made the tube out of aluminium.

first planet (Mew Lake)

Stuart N spotted Jupiter.

We saw two moons: Europa on the left; Ganymede opposite.

set up early

Friday night was a scramble. I vowed to not repeat that. Planned ahead. Had an early dinner. Remembered my Red Bull beverages. Got the dishes done. All the while coaxing Lora and Phil... We were at the Mew Lake beach and ready to go at 7:00 PM.

Remembered to install the Kick-Me-Nots.

I even had time to get my glow-in-the-dark stars out!

fixed laser

The freakin' green laser that I bought from Khan Scope broke (again)! The switch "fell" inside the case (this time).

I tried to use it last night when the China 200 mW (cheapo) special started acting up. I chalked its odd performance up to weak batteries. I simply put it down and grabbed the Khan 40mW (expensive) unit. After loading the second battery, I tried to hit the power switch. It was not protruding as per normal from the shell of the pen. When I pressed the button within the hole, the response was mushy. No positive click sound. And, obviously, no wonderous green laser light.

To carry on, at the time, I swapped the batteries from the Khan unit to the China product: joy! Bright steady green crowd-wowing beam.

At the picnic table, in the bright sunlight, I began to debug the laser pointer. Looking down the shaft, I could see the back of the business end, the spring contact for the battery, and the collapsed button. There didn't seem to be anything behind or beneath the button... It was flopping around. Huh. I tried to remove the emitter from the pen casing but it didn't move. Phil suggested it was probably crimped. I got an idea.

I wondered if the engine was rotating within the head. I asked Phil if he had a long-necked flat head screwdriver. Happily, he reappeared with one just long enough. I jiggled the pen until the button popped out the side hole, its regular OFF position. Then I plunged the screwdriver into the pen. It worked! I was able to turn the assembly inside the tube. With the squared shaped under the button, I gave it a press. Click! That sounded good. Tactile response! Felt good.

Popped the AAA batteries back in and put a green dot on the picnic table. Back in business.

The campers near our site must have covered the ears of their kids. I did not have pleasant words for Khan Scope...

checked portable picnic table

Last night, I had brought the portable picnic table out for us to use. At one point, Lora, Phil, and I were seated at it. Tony joined us. But I felt the table and seats start to shift. We were on a slight slope. I kicked Tony out and the tilting stopped.

In the end, it was because I hadn't engaged the leg locks.

In the daylight I checked over the supports. Nothing bent or damaged. One rail under one seat was askew but with Phil's help we coaxed it back into place.

Ready for service tonight. It will be the IYA workstation!

Friday, September 18, 2009

fixed dew heater controller

Last night, as I was packing everything up, the CLA of the dew controller broke.

As I unplugged the Cigarette Lighter Adapter male plug of the Kendrick dew heater controller from the 3-way female splitter, the centre metal "button" popped out and the plug puked out its innards. I heard it all happen, in the darkness, rather than really seeing it.

Happily, I had my carpet remnant under the telescope.

I found the metal pin. Upon examination, I remembered that it held a glass cylindrical fuse in place inside the plug. I couldn't see the fuse anywhere. And I wondered about a spring. I was hoping the spring mechanism was firmly contained within the CLA plug but that I couldn't recall. Regardless, I looked for a spring. No joy. I looked under the various bags and boxes on the carpet. I looked in the area surrounding the 'scope. Nothing.

I was too tired to persist and resigned to fix it in the daylight.

Happily, I found "backup" fuses in the Ziploc bag for the controller.

When I had upgraded the fuses to 7 amps, I had put the original and spare into a little plastic bag with the controller. Thank goodness for thinking ahead!

As I pushed the spare fuse into the CLA, I felt increasing pressure. Whew! The spring was integrated into the plug. I was good to go. I did a quick power on test. The red LED glowed. Back in business.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

the adventure begins (Mew Lake)

Today, I was to go to Mew Lake. To connect with other RASCals for the Annual Algonquin Adventure. To share a camp site with Lora and Phil and "the kids." To enjoy some stunning dark skies. I slept in...

I was probably awake around 8:00 AM or so but I kept rolling over to catch a few more winks. On one hand, it was the beginning of a mini vacation. I didn't need to rush. I didn't need to stressfully follow a strict itinerary. There wasn't a hard deadline. That said, I didn't want to blow the whole day. I certainly did not want to get caught in the afternoon/evening rush hour. That was the main objective: be ahead of the traffic exodus from the city. If I made Mew Lake for some evening observing, that would be perfect!

First things first: tie up some loose ends from last night, from the RASC astronomical (and gastronomical) meeting. I asked Charles if everything was in the box for the XO OLPC computer. He admitted he hadn't yet checked. I sent David the BOG and Handbook inventory numbers, the count of books at my home and at the Ontario Science Centre. I confirmed with Leslie that I would deliver the first course of the NOVA program on October 14 (since Denis would not be available). I blocked off that day from others. I know I'll want that day free and clear of other distractions.

Having received (and tested) the Panasonic digital projector, I affixed the small-sized property sticker to the replacement remote control. It fit perfectly. I packed up the unit to deliver to Tony, at the campground.

Took care of some general admin, nursing some Sumatran coffee, including backing up my palmtop, and downloading as much email as I could from the server. I assumed I'd have zero internet access in the park.

Packing began in earnest. It was a multi-faceted affair. Perhaps more so, given the multiple purposes of the trip. This wasn't just a camping trip. This wasn't just some dark sky observing. This had elements of a star party. I was transporting IYA materials for Tony (which were still at John's house). The other "gotcha" was that I would be staying with Lora and Phil so I didn't need to bring a lot of my normal camping gear, when I must ordinarily be self-sufficient. Unpacked some items from the night before. And, finally, I had to unpack a few items from the recent Buffalo roadtrip with Will.

By 1:30 PM, I felt I was done. I gave Nancy one more scratch and hit the road.

I picked up a medium box from John's. It's a good thing Tony hadn't ordered more IYA stuff. I'm not sure where I would have put it.

Got some fuel at Old Weston Rd. The attendant said the gas price was expected to go even lower. I thought 94 cents was pretty good.

As I pulled away from the station, I realised I was a stone's throw from Tony's work. I popped in to say hello and reminded him I had the IYA box and the projector. He said he didn't need the projector until the CAO work party. Seemed strange then that I was hauling it 300 kilometres... Oh well. Too much of a bother to unpack.

It was around then I got the sinking feeling that I had forgotten something. I often get that feeling. But I pushed it from my mind. And I really didn't want to be in the city any longer. Headed up Keele a few blocks. When I suddenly realised I was going the wrong way. On this occasion, I did, in fact, want to take Black Creek and the 400.

In short order, I was northbound and moving fairly well, listening about the knots of cars elsewhere, as described by 680 News. Blue skies, all around. Felt the anxiety ebb out of my body.

I had to stop at Webers, for old time sake. Incredible. There was not a line up out the door... By 5:30 PM, I had made Gravenhurst.

I took the Hwy 169 exit and spotted the Sobeys. I phoned Phil from the parking lot to see if they needed any more supplies. They were good. Phil said I had another hour to go.

I shopped briskly and remembered everything except the ice for the cooler. Damn it! They had block ice too! Back in the parking lot I decided to press. I could get ice at the park store.

The leaves were just starting to turn.

I counted down to 30.

I finally made it to Mew Lake. I spotted the beach, behind mirroring lake, through mostly green trees, moments before turning in.

Phil was right. I checked into the park office at around 6:30. Paid my fees and headed to site 61. The pups greeted me as Lora and Phil were beginning to prepare their dinner. Upon Phil's suggestion, I set up my tent. That would avoid a late-night assembly in the dark. Good plan. I loaded the tent with various non-essential items, ensured all my observing items was in the car, then had a light meal as the sun set.

After tiding up, putting on some clothing layers, strapping down my large cooler, and sealing up the tent and T@B, we all made our way to the beach area. Lora and Phil walked ahead to show me the way to the parking lot. Happily, I found a spot beside one of the openings in the fence. There weren't actually that many vehicles.

As Phil simply uncovered his 'scope, I set up nearby. Around 9 PM, I was ready. I realised I had forgotten to bring to the beach my portable picnic table. Oh well.

I had pulled the Oregon Scientific portable weather station from within the Astronomy Box α earlier so I knew the readings would be a bit off. At at 9:19 PM it showed the humidity to be 62% and the air temperature to be 11.3°C.

I took in the whole beautiful sky. It was surprisingly dark despite not being officially past astronomical twilight. The Milky Way was very bright with pronounced dark lanes. Wow. It pays to drive further away from big light domes. I spotted the Coathanger naked eye, nestled beside Cygnus! It was easy to make out the overall shape. With averted vision I could see the individual stars of the hook and the hanger. I had Phil point out nearby Sagitta.

Without a formal plan, and with the public component coming up, I thought I'd shake down my "top" list (which I had finally printed in hard copy).

Kemble's Cascade was a little too low to observe at the time.

I examined μ (mu) Cephei. Once again, I felt this star colour was merely orange. Not "garnet." There's nothing else terribly interesting nearby. I also found it a bit challenging to find despite the incredible skies. So during a light-polluted public observing session, this might not be a good option. Maybe it's better as a wide-field object... Maybe that will make the colour more stark.

It was 9:45 and the OS weather station was reaching ambient conditions: 80% and 8.4°. An hour later, it was 92% and 8.0°.

While I struggled with some double stars, Phil was chasing old Messiers and other faint objects with the new Obsession. The familiar friends he reported looked completely different. He began to contemplate redoing the Messier list.

He showed me the East (NGC 6992, Caldwell 33) and West (NGC 6960, Caldwell 34) Veil nebulae. They were incredible, stunning. Huge objects (still cropped by the 35mm Panoptic), vivid, detailed, rich with filaments throughout (with O-III filter). The Witch's Broom was fantastic, like a comet, fanning outward from bright stars, including 52 Cygni.

On one hand I felt like I was getting in the groove. But my body was protesting. I was yawning at an increasing frequency. I had also forgotten to bring down a Red Bull.

I really wanted to tag some deep sky objects near galactic centre but clouds were not going to let it happen. Dark moonless sky. No wasteful human light. And Clouds. Damned clouds. Phil had said rain was predicted... After sketching the field where I thought Neptune was, slowly, I packed everything up. Then I was really tired. I followed Phil back to the site, using only my running lights.

I passed out pretty quickly.

I would have slept through the whole night, even the light rain, if it wasn't for the bear...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

day light Venus with Moon (Toronto)

Got 'em!

I had entered a note in my agenda to try to find Venus in the day time, using the nearby Moon.

I was busy as hell today but I forced myself outside.

I hid in the shadow of the house. After a bit of scanning with the binoculars I finally found the thin Moon. Once I knew where it was, it was easy to spot naked eye.

Now to Venus, up and to the left. Pow! There it was. I could see it was not fully round in the binos.

Without optical aid, it was doable. But tricky. Venus is bright. It really is unmistakeable. But it is so small...

That was fun!

OK. Back to work!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

P4 testing

Trevor loaned me one of his computers, a MDG system unit. I planned to use it as a Known Good base platform in further diagnosis into the failure of the RASC CAO donated P4 machine.

Fired up the MDG at my place with a spare PS/2 keyboard, spare PS/2 mouse, spare LCD monitor, and spare power cord. It booted up fine. I shut it down and let it cool.

I swapped the Intel Pentium 4 type 478 from the ASUS motherboard to the MDG box. Booted it. It worked! Woot! So we didn't fry the CPU after all. Put everything back.

I swapped the Radeon 7000 AGP x4 video board from the ASUS to the MDG. Booted it. It worked! Sweet! We have a good display board. Looking more and more like a bad mobo.

I wanted to test the memory but they are different types.

Didn't care about sound card or any other peripherals. I pulled the ASUS motherboard. The bottom of the mobo looked fine. Those 4 caps above the CPU don't look good. Seems I'll be making another trip to Sayal soon...

I sent a big thank you to Trev The Great.

finally at the DDO (Richmond Hill)

Finally I was able to help at the DDO.

I travelled directly from Tony's (after helping with renos). The Gardiner and DVP were busy at parts but overall the journey was easy. I exited at 16th Avenue this time. Made the observatory early. If I remember correctly, I was at the gate by 6:10 PM. Paul let me in.

The first to arrive, I set up on the north edge of the front lawn (as far as my extension cord would reach). Being so early afforded a leisurely pace at setting up. I remembered to attach the Kick-Me-Nots to the tripod legs. And one to the top rail of the step ladder. Paul said he could see me from the dome!

I had brought my new bug suit attire which proved useful. The mozzies were out in full force at dusk.

I set audio alarms for the International Space Station flyovers. The crowd enjoyed both of them. I tried to photograph the first one but I suddenly could not remember the mode, with adjustable exposure time (Fireworks), required with the J20 digital camera. I shot four still tripod-mounted photos. If you look really closely, you can see the ISS!

Early on, we served up views of Jupiter and four moons. I checked Procyon on my palmtop to determine the positions. The satellite closest to Jupiter was Io. Then Ganymede and Callisto. On the opposite side was Europa. I misread my software. Io was not closing in for a transit. The cloud bands and festoons were clear during moments of good seeing. Around 8:00 PM, I could see the GRS in the NEQ.

Eric offered his Nagler 10mm. Tremendous magnification and transmission. But everything was a blurry with the seeing and low elevation.

Later, we offered views of the Double Double in Lyra, Albireo, The Ring Nebula, The Blinking Nebula, etc. Big crowds! Great questions!

I tried to find Neptune. Late clouds dimmed the view.

We had a wrap party, with some of the volunteers going a nearby Kelseys.

Friday, September 11, 2009

another clue

I heard back from the RASC National Office (NO) today. Got a step closer at learning who affixes the address labels to the SkyNews magazine.

Phil had said he thought it was the NO.

I asked Ralph if this was true. He didn't know. Suggested I ask them directly. I did.

Jo replied today. She said I wasn't the only one complaining about "giant labels." And she revealed that NO sends the addresses back to SkyNews. The magazine is responsible for the labelling... We closed off agreeing to both contact SkyNews.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

ISS over clouds (Toronto)

I headed outside about 8:15 to prepare for the ISS flyover (I would have gone out earlier had I known about the HTV). And maybe see the shuttle well ahead... Phoned Malcolm and left a message on his home voice mail. When I spotted the station low, orange, steady in the west, I phoned his mobile. He picked up. I got Malcolm looking in the right direction and he spotted it. I could hear someone in the background. They both seemed to enjoy it.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

no sightings for the MacLeods

Malcolm dragged his kids outside twice tonight to try to spot the ISS and Space Shuttle. No joy.

I'm not sure what happened... Were they looking in the right direction? Was the scattered cloud cover interfering? Was it because I myself wasn't outside coaching them?

I sent him the Heavens Above web site address and encouraged him to try again.

fixed Centre Telrad

The Telrad on the RASC Toronto Centre loaner 8" Dob was broken. Specifically, the knob. The power switch and dimmer knob thing. Somehow, the entire levered knob and metal shaft had been snapped off, up high, right near the body of the reflex sight. Perhaps because the original shaft was a split design, for a compression fitting...

In the dark, the control proved difficult to manipulate. Heck, even in the light, there wasn't much meat left on the nub. Last time I used the 'scope, I decided to simply leave the thing on for the entire session rather than fiddling with the crippled spinner.

I suspected there was a rheostat inside. It felt like a classic pot. Since I was working in Mississauga for a couple of days, I thought I could try to find a replacement at Sayal on Matheson. I took both the RASC Telrads currently in my possession (the broken one for the loaner and the spare from the CAO) to Malcolm's for analyses. I packed my DMM.


After work Tuesday, I opened the "good" unit, sliding out the battery cover, and tried to peer inside. The angle was not conducive. Through the lens I could see a slightly magnified, slightly distorted view. It was a pot! Two wires leading in... A free pin. A resistor? A resistor jumped across connections! Lots of connections on the pot. Hmmm. A non-trivial set-up. Still, I could not see enough of the rheostat to spot a make or model. I could not properly reach the leads to perform resistance measurements.

Suddenly I noticed 4 screws holding the mirror assembly backing plate to the end of the main Telrad box. Ah. Let's see if we can open it up.

I put down the "good" unit and grabbed the "broken" one. No use it potentially damaging a working Telrad... Interesting, the little tiny piece of mirror. I gently set that aside. I removed the nut on the outside of the pot. As I pushed the switch inside the Telrad body, I noticed stamping on the shell of the pot: B10K. All right! A 10 kilo-ohm rheostat. Off to Sayal then. Hmmm. Hold on a sec. It was getting late. At Malcolm's computer, I discovered that they were open until 6:00 PM. Malcolm's computer said 5:39. Shoot. I resigned to visit Sayal Wednesday night after work...


As a stepped inside Sayal, I recoiled. Whoa. They had expanded. Significantly expanded. The floor space to the west doubled the previous footage. Wow. The cash was behind me now. Cool. And then it hit me. Oh no. Everything was moved!

I started scanning. It took me a good 30 to 45 seconds to find the new location for the potentiometers. The first few selections were clearly the wrong type and the thought flickered through my brain that this was going to be futile. There weren't that many choices here overall. And half the space was filled with round and pointer knobs. I found a 10K pot but it was much smaller, a very different design. If worst came to worst—hold the phone!

I spotted another 10K unit. Holy crap! It looked right. Wow. I had been in the store 2 minutes and found exactly what I wanted. The pins, the size, the little tab to prevent rotation in the chassis. From Mode Electronics, model 62-244-1, I was holding a ½W c/w 1 Amp Switch rated at 10K (linear). Everything looked right. I was very happy. $3!

Sliding back along the display stand, I scanned the knobs and finally settled on a 2-pack of 15mm diameter, 12mm high round knobs. Also from Mode (54-122-2). $6 (sic)! Not too garish.

It was tempting to explore the new, the new huge, Sayal. But I had a dinner date with Ken!


After photographing the wiring configuration (with a FujiFilm FinePix J20), I desoldered the old pot organically and wired up the new unit. Fired it up. It worked! Cleaned everything and bolted up the mirror. Replaced the battery cover. Attached the new round knob, aligned the tick with the OFF position. It still worked!

The shaft is a little long so the knob sticks out a little further than stock. Oh well. It's so easy to use now.

The knob features a tiny grub screw with very small Allen socket. I'll need to rummage in the garage in daylight to complete this final task...

Heh. I'm not gonna say anything. Let's see if John notices... ;-) Don't tell anyone!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

great flyover (Mississauga)

Happily, I checked my email around 9:00 PM. Randy, president of the Mississauga Centre, had sent a quick note out on the RASC Toronto Centre Yahoo!Group listserv about the Shuttle and ISS flyover... at 9:18 PM! Yikes.

I said to Malcolm, "We gotta go outside right now!" Hurry. Hurry harder! Standing in the middle of the street in front of his house, making the neighbours talk, no doubt, we reminisced on the other dual flyover that we both witnessed (wow, over 2 years ago), although we weren't together then.

A moment later we spotted them. Fantastically bright! Seemed to go right overhead. The first one was fainter. I suspected it was the Shuttle (confirmed after re-reading, closely reading Randy's email). Station seemed to brighten up much more than Jupiter.

They fell into the shadow heading toward Cassiopeia. A great show!

Friday, September 04, 2009


While working through the night on Wednesday and Thursday into Friday, I watched (from a low-rent Buffalo district) the Moon slide past Jupiter. I was frustrated on one hand that I could not put a telescope to the Jovian moons, to watch them hide in the shadow of the giant, or make spots. Alas, it just reminds me that sometimes life gets in the way...