Saturday, February 27, 2010

consolidated doubles

Did another tidy of my double star lists...

Made sure my online life list was up to date. Reconciled this with Sissy Haas's book. Updated my check lists for the field (in Excel files).

Found a couple of interesting discrepancies. For example, I had viewed τ (tau) Ophiuchi, a suggestion from Sky and Tel, noted it in my life list, but had not found it in double stars. On closer examination, verifying the coordinates in Stellarium and the Pocket Sky Atlas, I learned that it was, in fact, in Haas's tome. As star 69 Oph. So, the book got a check mark and an AKA note; the web page got the AKA.

Up to 105 viewed now.

posted my 14 AC Ari notes

Tom and Richard, of the s33 Yahoo!Group, asked to see my results. I finally got 'round to submitting them.

Friday, February 26, 2010

quick update

Huh. There must have been some serious issues to make for a quick release of a newer version of Stellarium. 0.10.4 is available for download.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

meeting night

When Jim heard me talking to Charles, he released me from setting up servers for the next day's TANDBERG class. I could come out and play! Yeh! Charles had invited me to join him at Jack Astor's for dinner. I hopped on the tube from downtown and made it to Pape fairly quickly. The platform was surprisingly empty. The bus pulled in after a couple of minutes. Good timing. Charles wasn't answering his mobile phone. I thought it was going to take an hour; it was probably about 35 to 40 minutes door-to-door surprisingly. We talked shop, ASUS netbooks, flat screens, TigerDirect, NOVA, DDO, Olympics. Received the unneeded laptop bag from Paul and my Earth grocery bag. I hitched a ride with Charles to the OSC.

When we walked in, the men's hockey was playing on the big screen! Later, when I saw Doug from A/V, I gave him a big thumb's up. The men were leading!

The lecture by Dr. Youdin was good. He was nervous. Did a brief review of our home system, showed a snap of directly viewed young solar systems, briefly discussed some of the exoplanets. Snuck a couple of hockey references into his short talk. His simulations of perturbations in clouds of primordial gas were very interesting. Planets formed in the spinning vortices, interacting with each other, like eddies in a stream. Like our atmosphere. I asked if he followed chaos, or rather, complexity theory, how large systems and small systems exhibited similar behaviors. Didn't seem like he gave it much weight.
I was very pleased to see my repaired presentation file used, followed by Ralph, along with the supplied handout, printed by Charles. Stuart H's background conjunction photo looked really good. The Uncle Sam image got a good laugh. Diane protested at her image being used. I didn't know that Scott had shot the photo.

At the Gastronomical Meeting afterwards, I sat opposite Uve. He took the last NOVA course. He was very complimentary. I was just happy to hear that he had become a member of the RASC! He had already joined the Yahoo!Group and signed out one of the loaner 'scopes, the Dob 8". We helped him with a number of issues, the biggest of which was sticktion. I reminded him about telescope cool-down time and dark adaptation time. I gave him my email. Chatted briefly with Matt. He offered a Linksys 24 port switch for the CAO. Nice! Then we can get rid of the dLink stuff...

Got a ride home with Tony. He also offered to take Denis home. Along the way, Denis and I chatted about the changes he had made to the prototyped membership pages I had built (and he changed without asking). It was clear that we were going to disagree on some items. But I believe he's going to follow the style that I've established for the Toronto Centre web site. For the balance of the ride to Denis's home, Tony and Denis discussed the possible membership fee increase and the role and skills required of the new staff person National wants to hire. Very interesting.

generous offer

Denis offered me use of his occultation gear while he's away. I believe this includes video equipment. Cool!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

message from Tom

I had asked Mr Teague for a confirmation of my interpretation of his use of the Celestron Micro Guide (CMG) calibrated eyepiece. Specifically, that his methods for measuring double star separations and position angles meant using the CMG in a way different than what Celestron instructed. He replied...

You are quite right. There is actually no contradiction between my CMG instruction and the Celestron instruction sheet, for precisely the reason you mention. As you rightly point out, my drift method involves using the scales in a different way from that envisaged by the makers. I can therefore confirm that you are not going crazy!

All the best,

Always good to know that some people don't think you're going crazy.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

14 Ari and Albategnius captured (Toronto)

Bound and determined, after all this gloomy talk, I felt that I had no excuse for not observing tonight. Well, aside from the mountain of paper work to catch up on, preparations for upcoming training work, interesting movies on TVO. No, really! In fact, one was Apollo 13 by Ronnie Howard. Man, that flick always makes me feel cold. So I set about making a plan for the evening. Not too ambitious but still with some serious astronomical objectives:
  • accurately measure a double star, 14 Arietis, with the CMG
  • view and sketch Mars
  • photograph Mars with a "special new technique"
  • first practice the new technique on the Moon
With some challenge items:
  • split α (alpha) Piscium, a very tight double star
  • view Vesta, shortly after opposition, naked eye
In addition to my usual sources of information, I took a look at CalSky and Tonight’s Sky. Weather tools suggested pretty good conditions although the CSC transparency ratings did not look great. And the Moon was nearing first quarter, so, unless there were some stunning globular or open clusters, I wasn’t going to aim for DSOs. I was in red light mode before dinner and ready to go around 7.

I remembered to check the latitude setting on the mount. Looked OK. I made a small adjustment, in hopes of eliminating the slight drift I saw before...

At around 7:30, I caught sight of a satellite. I picked it up in the west about 45° up. To the right of the Moon and heading to the zenith. It went through Perseus. It was not as bright as Mirphak (1.75) but about the same as δ (delta) Persei (3.00), definitely not the level of Capella (0.05). It remained steady, this slow mover, as it moved into Ursa Major (near the brightness of Dubhe and Merak, 2.00 and 2.30, respectively). Lost it in the neighbour’s tree at 7:34. So maybe magnitude 3? Funny, I wasn’t really expecting that. In fact, I had dismissed all the satellite flyovers suggested by CalSky.

Re-reading the CalSky list, it looks like I saw the USA 182/Lacrosse 5. They say it was to appear at 19h23m with a 7.3 mag at azimuth 231° SW on the horizon. It was to culminate at 19h30m with a 2.6 mag at an elevation of 75.2°. And finally, it was to disappear at 19h34m, 3.9 mag, az 42.6° NE, h 20.5°. Sounds right. As I watched it and considered its speed, and how long it stayed in the sunlight, the time some 2 hours after sunset, I wondered if it was higher than the ISS. CalSky says it is, over 700 km up.

Huh. Struck by a crazy idea. With Vesta on my plan and seeing Juno was near Pisces, I thought, hey, I should view several asteroids tonight! So I started starhopping to Juno. Had to make a couple of trips into “the warm room” to verify the location. By then, I had all the necessary gear outside.

7:52. I noticed the low battery indicator again on the Oregon Scientific portable weather station. Once more, it does not like the cold. Or rather, these lithium batteries do not like the cold. I glanced at the temperature and noted 0.3°. But I forgot to check if that was minus. That said, I knew it was still acclimating to being outside.

Before departing from a Psc, I cranked up the magnification. And enjoyed the remarkably tight double again. So tight that the general appearance was a figure 8. Only briefly did they completely separate. I detected colour this time! The main star I thought white-blue; the companion burnt orange. The second star was only slightly dimmer. That sucker must be luminous though, still close to the main star in magnitude, to let me detect hue. Very interesting. I visually estimated the Position Angle to be 275°. Haas says separation is 1.9”, the magnitudes are 4.1 and 5.2, and the PA was 270 (noted in 2004).

My back was cold! Perhaps the light wind? Switched to a warmer coat.

Continued my starhopping to Juno. At 8:13, I did a sketch of the field of view in the Plössl. The humidity was 60% and the temp was -0.5°.

The drawing is inconclusive. I noted the star between HP 9557 and where (3) Juno should be. That’s a mag 11.00 star! And yet I did not see the mag 10.95 star near 9579? Nor the 10.55 star near Juno? Was it the low elevation? 23° up? I was going through lots of air... Too bad I could not have followed it for another hour. See which of those “stars” moved. Anyway, I was certainly in the area!

[ed: I reviewed this sketch against the charts in SkyTools3 and I believe the bright point on the left is the asteroid. It would have been useful to return in one hour... It was moving pretty fast!]

For the next hour, I calibrated the Linear Scale of the Celestron MicroGuide eyepiece. I chose ι (iota) Cassiopeiae. Apropos, the lovely triple! Quickly estimated the PAs to be 100 and 225; not bad: 115 and 230 according to Haas. First couple of calibration times I had to toss out—no 2x Barlow in place. Oops. Captured 7 good times using my palmtop Stopwatch program’s lap timer. Not just for race tracks.

Polar alignment was still off...

Checked the conditions at 9:14: 66% and -1.3°. Ugh. My target star was getting low. Only 30° up. That would affect seeing…

It was an easy starhop from Hamal to 14 Aries. I found a wide pair, pale yellow and pale blue. I measured the sep and PA. I captured the initial exit angle on the large circular scale. I noted the number of ticks apart on the linear scale. And then I performed Teague’s “advanced” method and captured the two “tilt” angles. All for later reduction.

While viewing the bright star in 14 Aries, with the 12.5mm eyepiece, I clearly saw diffraction rings. But, sadly, they were not uniform. There's no doubt now. Time to collimate.

I headed to Mars. And was shocked. The transparency was very good with the Meade 18mm. And then improved with the Barlow. I could see a ton of detail at 222x! The polar cap seemed very large, quite white. Immediately below it was a pronounced dark region with a triangular point (I learned latter was Utopia). The south pole was mostly dark slate blue. There was Syrtis Major again, to the right of the meridian (mirror reversed). But I could vaguely see detail in the pale orange regions between the north and south poles, hints of lines and streaks. Astounding. The view seemed to degrade slowly. Either that or I was getting tired.

I had my clipboard, various pencils, Pink Pearl eraser, red flashlight, and large log sheet ready to go. But as I tried to sketch, I found it… just awkward. I realised that my custom log sheet with the 16 cm circle was too big! This is OK for clusters or nebula or moons orbiting a planet. I remembered a web site where the author suggested sketching planets in pre-drawn circles. I ran inside for my older log sheets. This earlier edition featured small log reports, each with small circle, 1/4 the size of this large one. Much better. Then I grabbed my baseball cap clip light, the hacked version with red LEDs, I needed to free up a hand. But as I put the light on the bill, one of the two clips snapped. Crap!

Well, maybe that’s just a sign… An MEC head lamp (like the one I gave Mom) may be in my future.

Back outside, fumbling with lights and pencils, I completed a sketch of Mars. It was 10:07. I didn’t spend a lot of time at it but was pleased with the result overall. And I used the eraser to fix something! That was a first. When I compared it to the Mars Profiler from Sky & Telescope, I’m amazed. If I keep up at this, keep practicing, keep slowing down, I might get pretty good at this…

[ed. sketch coming soon]

I was intrigued by the sharp angle, the 90° bend between Syrtis Major and Mare Tyrrhenum, the light orange area of Libya. I also noted the gradually angling up of the dark region from the bottom left, Mare Cimmerium, toward Libya.

OK. Time for photos! First stop: Luna. I put the telescope on the Moon and inserted the 26mm Plössl.

The plan was to try the trick I had read about, in a couple of places, on the web. It was suggested that for a point-and-shoot camera used afocally with a telescope, you needed to get the light rays from the eyepiece emerging in a parallel pattern, not a converging one for the eye. So I grabbed my cheapo binos and viewed the Moon focusing the Bushnells crisply on the Moon. Then I looked down the eyepiece with the binos. Wow, huge! Very close up! But it made it easy to focus. I adjusted the telescope until it was good through the binoculars. That was pretty easy.

I bolted up the eyepiece-camera adapter (on loan from the RASC). Aligned the J20 camera, powered it up, and saw a good image! I max’ed the optical zoom and found the view very impressive. Shot photos from 10:18 to 10:22 adjusting the ISO from 100 to 400 and 800. I’m astonished with the results.

FujiFilm finepix J20, SP-C8, Celestron 26mm Plossl EP, eyepiece-camera clamp
1/17 sec, camera focal ratio f5.6, focal length 19mm, ISO 800
edited in Fireworks: scaled to 1/3rd, sharpened, flipped vertically, rotated, auto levels

In Virtual Moon Atlas, I identified the area. The photo is nearly centred on Albategnius with most of the crater in shadow save the centre peak just visible. Just peeking into the sunlight.

I wanted to try the same “parallel rays” technique for Mars. The photos did not come out well though. Oh well. The Moon ones make up for it! It is incredible that I can see craters down to 10 km in diameter.

I was feeling tired, a little anxious about tomorrow, and thinking I should not stay up late. Got lots done though. I packed up quickly in the garage again, not breaking down the ‘scope, just moving it inside the garage. It was great tonight being up to go outside and use it in minutes.

Done. 10:46. It was -2° at 70% humidity.


Indoors, I uncloaked and readied for bed. But I really wanted to see what I had accomplished with my double star measurement! No time for the whole blog but I could quickly crunch the numbers.

I exported the calibration times from the Psion Stopwatch program. I then pulled these into a Psion Word document, cleaned the data, and then copied the good times to a Psion Sheet. I parsed the text then averaged the numeric times: 42.97 seconds to travel along the centre linear scale of the CGM. I visually estimated the stars separated by 25.5 ticks. I punched these numbers, along with the declination of ι Cas, into my palmtop spreadsheet. It returned a separation of 105.4”.

It was at this point that something occurred to me. That when one measures the exit angle during the drift process, the reticule can be oriented two ways! While the centre linear scale numbers aren’t a factor, the zero value can either be near to or far from the main star in the double system. Which way? That means the exit angle could be off by 180°! Oh oh.

I punched the exit, tilt 1, and tilt 2 numbers into the spreadsheet and got crazy PA and sep numbers. I examined the reticule, turned it 180°, inferred a new set of numbers. Put these in the spreadsheet. Ah ha! That’s more like it. Based on Teague’s “advanced” method, I get sep 103.9” and PA 281°.

I re-read Teague's article and I found it, an almost side comment, at the end of a paragraph, that said one must put the zero mark near to the main star. Ah. Missed that comment. I'll need to add that to my notes...

In all of this, while comparing against the numbers in Sissy Haas’s book, I learned that 14 Aries is a triple star! Oh. And the AB and AC stars have about the same sep and mag! Well, then. I only measured stuff between what I thought were the two bright stars in the area. So, it seems that I measured the “AC” pair. Haas reports the 2003 sep of 106.7” and PA 278°.

So, I'm in the ball park, which is good. But it is interesting how different they still are from each other and Haas.


Had a funny thought during the session. Involving multi-night observing, storing the assembled telescope quickly in the garage, having access to a warm room. In particular, I was thinking about summer evenings where the enemy is dew. A couple of times last year, I used the picnic table with the umbrella opened. Works but it’s still a bit limited. The neat idea that popped into my head was to use the garage itself! I’m already kicking out the car to make it easy to move the ‘scope. So, I’ll have to remember this for the future. A couple of tables, I’ll be good to go! Just need to watch the trip hazards. And maybe mute the red light. It’ll be fun to try.

why I don't observe

This is a strange idea... But it is born out of this general... frustration, this general angst, with observing. It is an effort to better define what I'm doing, or not doing. Getting cryptic here, I know.

The main point of this rant is to isolate the times that I don't go out and observe the night sky. It might be because I don't have time. It might because I'm feeling lethargic. Perhaps the opportunity is brief—I don't have a 'scope that can be setup in minutes. Regardless, I want to look for patterns. What motivates me? What's holding me back. Increase my awareness and understanding. And in the end, do it less. Not not observe. Um, yeah, observe more! That's it.

I've been thinking about this for a while. Tonight I decided to formally start a list. In fact, I built a new page in the companion site and made an entry for tonight.

I wrote up details. Including weather conditions (maybe there's a trend in this). It was getting a bit wordy. It was then I thought that an entry in the blog proper would be more appropriate, with all the details; the list should just be fast, quick, a list. OK. Next, I noted a couple of recent misses that were high in mind. Then I started to search in the main blog for other instances of not observing. Using keyword searches like "lethargy," "lethargic," "too cold." When I typed "tired," I found about 20 pages. Going back to 2007! Uh huh. Jack pot! I started to document these, briefly noting them. When suddenly it hit me...

Dolt! Stopping rewriting. Tag 'em!

So, the all new tag, to be used henceforth: "didn't."

Kinda funny. Anyway, moving forward, I shall make blog entries as per usual. That will get the calendar history trail happening. I should note weather conditions, the clear sky window duration, perhaps a transparency and seeing rating, my location, if I have a 'scope at my disposal, the set-up and break-down times anticipated, and, of course, my mood. Then apply the new tag. For future analyses...

Why don't I observe? I don't know. Not yet.


And to get the ball rolling...

The weather today (er, yesterday) not looking good during the day. EC reports and the CSC did not look great. For Toronto. Or Richmond Hill. The Members-only Observing Session at the DDO (MOOS-DDO) was called off by Observing Chair Stu in the early afternoon. Just after dinner he was lamenting. He then changed to provisional GO after 7 PM. Jim said "unprecedented" and that he'd go. Winkgo said Mars was good from his backyard at 8:30 and that he might head over.

I grabbed the EC report observed at PIA at 12:00 AM EST. Partly cloudy. Pressure: 101.8 kPa, tendency: rising. Temperature: -0.8°C, dewpoint: -3.9°C. Humidity: 79 %. Wind: W 17 km/h. Wind Chill: -6. Predicitions: Cloudy, -2°C. Sat: Cloudy with sunny periods, 3°C. Tonight Cloudy. Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50 becoming light early this evening. Low minus 2.

I had no intentions of going to the DDO. Too far without a car. No noises of anyone in the 'hood going. A big deal for me in terms of preparation. But I could observe out back! My 'scope was setup and ready to go, in the garage. Could have fired it up in minutes. Do some quick observing, maybe just a couple of hours? Very quick teardown.

But I was feeling a bit lethargic. Feeling a bit anxious about homework I should be doing. Mildly tangled feelings aboug RASC observing. I was without a plan. Had not considered, during the day, something might happen. Pizza arrived around 7 PM.

It was probably good skies from sunset to 11 PM in the city. I could see stars when dinner arrived. Peeked out at 12:15 AM. Some clouds.

This one is a mystery. Was it that I wanted to observe with friends. What did Shawn say? "If nothing else, I'd like to make it a night out with some friends." I keep circling around this idea, that astronomy is a social thing. Yes, sometimes I want peace-and-quiet. But if I had wheels at my disposal or if the session was close by, would I have gone?

My telescope was ready to go. Very quick start up. But as I considered it, I wondered about targets. Do I want to look at Mars? Measure some double stars? I didn't know what to do... Is it the lack of planning?! This started a new idea, to make a new type of target list. Like "big targets" or "career targets," a general list of things to work on. Which I could use any where, any time, any type of equipment. That said, I've been trying to improve my "top 10" list. I have the winter (and summer) double star lists. That's the whole point of the ECU...

To get out there!

But I didn't.

Friday, February 19, 2010

switched computers and versions

Some boring behind-the-scenes useless information that you don't need to bother reading, really. I moved the local host "master" copy of the companion lumpy darkness material to a different computer, John Smallberries, from an old computer, Lord John Whorfin, that I am slowly retiring. It was on Whorfin that I was using my terribly old version of Dreamweaver for Windows; Smallberries has a somewhat less old version. Should not affect how these pages look, per se, in theory, I hope (he says, eye twitching). If anything, the XHTML/CSS should be a bit cleaner...

The main reason? Convenience.

Fringe benefits? The CSS is rendered better as I edit. I can see Greek characters displayed! Me me me.

a temperature change

When I saw the house temperature rise on the CAO weather station page, I knew Tony and the scout pack had arrived! I phoned in to see how everything was going. They had arrived 30 minutes before, were getting settling in, and making dinner. Like us, they had not needed snow shoes for the trek in.


We talked a bit of shop. I explained where I had packed one of the 2-1¼" adapters in the GBO. I reminded him of our unwelcome visitors in the warm room. When I explained that I had been unsuccessful at opening the generator shed, he said he'd check the keys. When he saw all the cashish in the donation jar, I told him that I had seen some there on my trip; and it reminded me that I had spotted Mom putting in a $20. Forgot about that.

We also briefly chatted about the new membership application pages I had prototyped last night. Overall, he said satisfied with them, liked my wording of the headline text, liked my example for a family and the associate fee breakdown. That was good to hear. He also helped me understand the ongoing need for the Life Member forms.

98% done

Interesting shot as the shuttle backed away from the station.

Do you see it? Up on the starboard array? The shadow?

Very neat. Also shows how big the solar arrays are...


On a whim I searched the Yahoo!Groups with the text "double stars." Look at that. A few groups came up. I joined s33. Looks like the high water mark was in 2003. Still, there are a few current posts. 357 members! Seeing a lot of familiar names...

more practice

Gettin' fired up about double stars again...

Thought I'd do a little practice run, again...

And I found more errors in my notes! Sheesh. I thought I had this all shaken down. Turns out my spreadsheet notes about which set of numbers to use on the Large Circular Scale (either inner or outer) of the Celestron Microguide was correct but that I had a typo in the introductory notes. Especially strange since I had the same note later in the document—correct. Weird!

First test, after adjusting my notes, with super wide 56 Andromedea? Correct. Estimated separation to be 208" with a Position Angle of 297° using the Teague's standard method; sep 205", PA 298° with the "improved" method. Haas says 201, 299. TheSky6 says 3'21", 297. Sky & Tel: 200, 298.

Second test, 22 Orion, extra-super-wide. Not marked as such in Stellarium. Not listed in Haas's book. I got sep 246", PA 240°. TheSky6 says 4'02", 240°. The Sky & Tel list that I originally used for the suggestion: 242, 225.

The cool thing: I did not look at my notes on that last run. I just gathered the data and filled out my spreadsheet!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

what's it feel like?

While there's no up or down in microgravity, they still use 3D coordinates in the ISS. NASA TV announcers themselves have been making a point that the new cupola is on the nadir side of Node 3. Meaning down.

So, CAPCOM asked the ISS crew how they felt? Like a bat hanging in a cave or a prairie dog popping up from a hole. Split decision. Oh! Another vote: like in a glass bottom boat. So, that's 2 for down and 1 for up.

Curiously, the imagery is sideways.

hooks to National

From the Toronto Centre web site, I implemented new pages to the RASC National web site for new membership applications and renewals. Asked the Finance department to take a look. Ball's in their court now.

cute card

Mom sent me a Valentine's Day card. Rather apropos.

I was a huge fan of Chuck Brown, Snoopy, and gang as a kid.

Too bad you can't see it in the photo but there's glitter on those stars...

fly around due Fri eve

Be sure to check out the ISS fly around from NASA TV on Friday night, after 5:54 PM EST. Shuttle Endeavor, over the course of an hour, will circle around the new and improved International Space Station.

issued new PPT

After conducting a quick poll on the background image, I made some final changes to the PowerPoint presentation for the RASC Toronto Centre meeting nights. The main thing was to add the new photograph by Stuart Heggie (and credit him). It's a beauty.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

the dark side

I stumbled across Iain Nicolson's Dark Side of the Universe book at my local library. I renewed the hard cover as many times as the TPL (Toronto Public Library) would allow. Not an easy read. You definitely need to be paying attention. Still, he presents the material well, and supports it with good illustrations and real world analogues.

It is remarkable how much things are changing, in the short time since this book's publication. As I was reading the book, produced in 2007, I was also reading web site articles updating some of the theories and numbers. That's like watching some first season episodes at the same as second or third season episodes. Shows how exciting and cutting edge this topic is! How much we still don't know.

As I read this work from John Hopkins University Press, I was very intrigued by some of the ideas presented. Briefly toyed with some exotic theories of my own. The most interesting thing to me was the number of large-scale experiments in progress right now searching for the tell tale signs of dark matter and dark energy. And how many of these have failed.

cupola open for business

They popped open the shield cover number 7, the centre round window.

The ISS astronauts say the view is spectacular...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Astronauts Nick and Bob are unwrapping the gift to ISS...

Apropos that they flew over England.

Sun starting to come up...

We lost ku for a bit... Look at that!

another editor onboard

Just coached Leslie on the RASC Toronto Centre content management system. It is a good thing having more people on board.

Monday, February 15, 2010

cupola moved

The arm operators as well as NASA ground controllers moved the cupola from the end of the new node to the nadar port.


Waiting for RTL (ready to latch) signals...

It's gonna be an awesome view...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

'scopes in space

Previously, in the science page, on the companion web site, I had a couple of links to space observatories, notably Hubble. But with all the space telescopes and space probes out there, I thought this might merit a separate page. Not hooked into the menu yet...

chas is FAB

Charles, as we talked about the NOVA course, said he likes the new PowerPoint presentation file.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tony likes it

My new PowerPoint presentation... Especially the slide about the Granite.

chair repair

I found both the dowels loose in the seat of the "Big DOC." One essentially popped out. Grabbed my LePage SureGrip Carpenter's Glue. Fixed the right one.

Will wait for it to cure before gluing the left.

It is not too surprising. A lot of weight goes through these...

Guy's eye

Guy replied about my presentation. Spotted a couple of mistakes. He likes the star and moon bullet symbols!

improved presentation

Guy and I chatted today.

I asked about how the Wednesday RASC meeting had gone. He said the hand outs I prepared were well-received (although they printed too many). Better that then not enough... Cost of doing business.

I was very pleased to learned that in fact he had used my new presentation file (with the left-justification, consistent style, reduced font size, etc.). Just not the latest-latest version! The one I had worked on Wednesday morning and sent to Charles. The one with the great graphics. That I had told everyone Charles had! That Charles went to the trouble of downloading and copying to a USB key drive. And taking (with the hand outs) to the meeting. Oh well...

Looking forward, I asked if he wanted to work with me on the new presentation file to make further improvements. It was a productive session with a bit of training / coaching too. Lots of good changes. All tolled:
  • repaired text containers: so to permit easy extraction of text for handouts; looks like people have deleted some in the past and added free floating text boxes in their places
  • reduced font size, both title and body text: so to be less overpowering on the large 15x20 screen, and to let us fit a wee bit more text on (hopefully people won't abuse that)
  • made dates consistent: Guy suggested Metric format; I suggested civilian time
  • applied various grammatical changes as directed by Master Guy-san
  • broke up long text slides into separate smaller ones: also allows us to fit in an image
  • added general notes in a hidden slide and specific notes to certain slides: to hopefully assist users in future, keep things consistent
  • added notes for making handouts!
  • added my contact information!
  • added nearest city to Dark Sky Observing Session slide
  • added graphics, images, photos of presenters: to make the presentation more visually interesting
  • made a better map to Granite: the existing one was pulled from their site; confusing
  • noted free parking at Granite
  • noted we sit at the back in the Granite
  • apply a consistent transition between the slides
  • changed bullet symbols: used some astronomy-themed ones like stars...
  • added pure black slide at end: for an elegant fade-to-black finish
I took the reins, finished off the presentation, and then shipped it out to some of the councillors for review.

Meanwhile, Guy sent over some images for review. I'm searching for a high resolution image to replace the current background image.


Popped into Konfabulator. 27 views of my widget article. OK, 16 of those are mine. Still, people are looking. Cool.

And one user reported some errors! OK. Stuff to sort out.

Friday, February 12, 2010

peer review

Submitted my Clear Sky Charts Yahoo! Widget beta to the Konfabulator Test Ground...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

got photons (Toronto)

Hungry for photons. Willing to take what I could get. Needed a break. And the Clear Sky Chart for Toronto looked rather good. It's February... Cha! What's up with that!


Knew that I needed to start early, to avoid getting discouraged. More correctly, spread out the workload. So, around 3:30 PM, I set up the tripod and the mount. Close to the garage. Prepared the motor controller. Prepared the tripod light. I didn't want to load up the OTA immediately as the mount was in full sunlight. Still, the tube was in the garage, along with the eyepiece case, already at ambient temperature.

I hadn't seen it in a while but I located the CLA-power adapter (in the new "dew heating" aluminium case).

Later took the Oregon Scientific weather station outside so to acclimate. Me: back inside to warm up and wait for sun-down.


Around 6:00 PM, I installed the Celestron 8" SCT atop the Super Polaris mount (I guess it is the SP-C8 now). Brought out the observing chair and TV table. Ready to go. Now to wait for dark skies. Filled the handwarmer with NIBO. Yeah! Well, until I ran out. Huh. Thought I had more. Did it leak? Evaporate? Anyways, let the fuelled handwarmer sit for a while. Then lit it, successfully, after the second try. Burn baby burn.

Added the orbital data for the 118P / Shoemaker-Levy 4 comet into Stellarium 0.10.2. It matched the location shown in Skyhound.


Headed outside at 7:00 PM. Somewhat on impulse. I had been considering waiting until the housemate on the top floor shut off their stupid bedroom ceiling light. But then I thought: let's go now. See what you can see. Never know when they're going to wise up... Take a quick peek at Mars now. If the neighbour light is bad, I could come back in.

Outside, I realised, in fact, I wasn't ready to go. Yet. Not completely. No power was nearby; I dragged out the orange extension cord from the garage, stiff from the cold. Dug out the CLA-power adapter. No red LED. Hmm. Inspected the orange cord deep in the garage. Ah. Not plugged in. I dragged this end to the block heater cord and connected there. Red light! Plugged in the motor. I fired it up. Attached the dew heaters and powered them. Attached the visual back, mirror, and popped in the low power eyepiece. Now I was ready!


8:00 PM, 53% humidity, -4.7°C. Using the Oregon's pale blue backlight. Seeing a low battery warning. Huh. These are relatively new batteries. Doesn't like the cold...

After star hopping, I viewed Mars at low power in the baader planetarium Hyperion-Aspherical 36mm 72° AFOV 2" eyepiece. The fourth planet, a mere 0.694 AU away, was a lovely pale orange. I could see some surface detail. Just a hint of the polar cap at 56x.

Bumped to 111x with the Meade orthoscopic 18mm 40° AFOV 1¼" EP. I noted a dark mottled region in the centre of the disc. Actually, it was a little west of the meridian. It seemed to be an upside-down T shape (I learned later, thanks to Sky and Telescope's Mars Profiler, this is Syrtis Major). The polar cap was very bright, almond-shaped on the limb. I did a very small sketch.

Returned to Meissa, atop constellation Orion, to see if anything looked out of place. Really didn't need to now. It was clear, in my mind. Still, it was nearby... Take a peek, shall we? Nothing unusual. I stared for a long time at the space between the A/B and D stars, to see if I could spot fainter stars. Nothing. Curiously, I thought I saw a low mag star below Meissa, averted. Same distance and orientation but the opposite direction as mag 10 star above the group of 3. I was surprised to see it. But the more I looked, the more it seemed to fade or disappear. I checked the planetarium programs. It is noted as mag 11.99 in TheSky6 and 12.30 in Stellarium. If Stellarium is correct, then this I believe is a new low mag limit for backyard observing for me!

8:45. Orion was clearing the roof. I wanted to revisit M42. It was lovely in the wide field. I slowly amp'ed up the power, ultimately to 222x with the Celestron Ultima Barlow 2x and the Meade 18mm. Pretty clear. Good seeing?! I usually am not satisfied with Barlow views.

Did a sketch of the visible stars. And stared for a time at the Trapezium stars, wondering where the E and F stars were. The 2 faint stars I saw to the north, I wondered if they were the other stars. But something didn't seem right about that...

I decided to keep the dew heater system on the lowest setting. The humidity was not high. Even the finder scope was working fine without any heat.

Took a break from the cold and searched for some clarification on the Trapezium stars. Found a helpful web page on Theta Orionis by astrophotographer Jerry Lodriguss (why is his name so familiar?).

[ed: Upon review, it is pretty clear I saw the E star. It is magnitude 10.3 and almost evenly placed between A and B, being slightly closer to A. But I do not know what is going on at the question mark! There doesn't seem to be a star there, according to Jerry. Is it possibly I was seeing the G star?! That's mag 14.5... How could I miss F at mag 10.2. Other than it being lost in the glare of C, at mag 5.1. To be continued!]

I believe it was around this time that I finally brought a flashlight outside along with the Pocket Sky Atlas.

Next target: a comet! Looked for 118P Shoemaker-Levy for a while. A bit of back and forth between the eyepiece and "the warm room." I star hopped to 134 Tauri and oriented myself with the triangular pattern of stars of 131, 135, 137, 133, etc. But I couldn't see anything in the finder scope or the baader. I gave up at 9:54.

Looked for M1, the Crab Nebula. No joy. But I wasn't entirely surprised. It seemed small to me in the C14 at the CAO! I knew it would be even smaller in my "little" 'scope. And fainter in the city, of course. I double-checked my star hop from ζ (zeta) Tauri. I gave up at 10:05.

Would filters help?

I returned to the Trapezium at 111x and looked very closely at the 4 main stars, A through D. At 10:20, I did a new, zoomed sketch. I definitely saw the E star between A and B, no problem, slightly outside the trapezoid shape of the 4 bright stars. I thought I saw something between C and D, in-line. Other times... I wasn't so sure. I guess I didn't have a bead on the F star.

Wanted to spot some more Messiers. So, without being able to see Sirius behind the neighbour's gabled roof, from the snout of the dog, I star hopped to M50. I found a loose, dispersed open cluster of fine pale bluish stars on a background of very faint fine stars. There seemed to be an overall triangular pattern to the main stars, nicely framed in the low power ocular. It was 10:33. The humidity was slowly rising, 58% now; the temp was slowly falling: -6.5°.

data: FujiFilm FinePix J20, 1.49 sec, f5.6, ISO-100

Around 10:50, tried photos of Mars with a special clamp (on loan from the RASC CAO) and the PNS camera at the eyepiece. Focus issues. I wasn't surprised. That said, Mars was much brighter now, near the meridian. And the contrast was worse. Harder to see detail. The Syrtis was gone, the red world turning.

I felt myself starting to wind down...

OK. Let's try a couple of doubles.

At 11:13, I found μ (mu) Canis Majoris, very near shimmering Sirius. Even at high power, it was a super tight double of two golden stars. Did a drift. Then I estimated the Position Angle to be approximately 310°. Haas says the separation was 3.2" in 2004. Seemed tighter to me. She reported the PA of 345. Wow. I was close, just eyeballing it. She described the main star as grapefruit-orange while the companion was "a shadow." What the hell does that mean? Webb said they are yellow and blue. I seem to agree with Hartung: "a beautiful orange pair."

Next up was φ (phi) 2 Cancri. Star hopped from Pollux, via faint stars φ and χ (chi) Geminorum and then ω (omega), ψ, and χ Cnc. Mildly challenging hop but worth it. At 11:23 I found, at low power, two equally bright stars, equal also in hue, both blue white. I estimated the PA at 225°. Haas said they were 5.2" apart in 2003 with a PA of 218! Smyth described them as "silvery white."

Conditions: 59%, -7.1°.

Nice way to wrap up the evening.


One of the objectives this evening was to set the telescope up. Up. And not take it down. So to speed future observing. So I quickly stuffed the 'scope in the garage. Done.


Light was still on in the upstairs bedroom... Stupid.

Consistently used the "laser goggles" going in and out. The deep red goggles definitely helped preserve my night vision. The school lights were diminished. The neighbours to the east had their stupid useless backyard light on constantly. I opened my (white) garage door as much as possible to reflect less light from the noisy upstairs neighbours. Huh. Another argument for a black car...

The whole evening I wondered if the SCT was off, misaligned, overdue. It got bounced around a fair bit in my back seat last summer (without the huge truck case for extra protection). I wondered if I should collimate again. Let's wait till it's a little warmer...?

The views were drifting all night. I'm not sure why. I thought I was polar aligned. Never did check the latitude. One of the clutches felt funny. Cold? Slipping? I dunno...

test ground

At long last I have an account on the Yahoo! Widgets Konfabulator forums. This will facilitate me uploading my beta Clear Sky Chart widget and getting some feedback from experienced developers.

sunward pointing

Shortly before the final separation, the simulator showed a nice image of the SDO stack pointing toward the Sun. Apropos.

I understand the separation went smoothly, the solar wings are deployed, and the Solar Dynamics Observatory is pointing toward the Sun.

new solar observatory away

The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) atop an Atlas V launched from Florida today.

This was the second launch attempt. Yesterday's launch was scrubbed due to weather violations.

The RASC Toronto Centre expedition to the Cape tried for the original launch date yesterday. Sadly, their trip had ended so they missed today's launch--live.


They used an interesting simulator to show what's going on with the craft and payload.

It gives a good sense of what is going on, along with the narration.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

analyses complete

I concluded my research into the multiple star system λ (lambda) Orionis a.k.a. Meissa tonight. The mystery is solved. Actually, it's not so mysterious... What I observed first on 16 Feb 09 and on subsequent viewings is correct. There is nothing unusual about what I saw. The crude sketch on 23 Feb 09 shows a faint star below Meissa (approx. PA 180°); the detailed sketch on 1 Mar 09 echoes this (intriguingly, my random letter assignments completely correspond to Haas's notes). And my recent sighting on 6 Feb 10 showed everything in the same place.

The photos Paul shot for me and the images I was able to pull from digital sky survey websites showed the stars I had seen.

The only thing mysterious or peculiar about all of this, is that all the software planetarium applications I have access to (and some I don't), do not show this part of the sky accurately!

Stellarium 0.9.x shows a faint star between Meissa A/B and D. I did not observe this star. It looks though like there truly is a faint star there. Stellarium does not show C at PA 182° with a ½° sep. Stellarium 0.10.3 shows fewer stars...

TheSky6 does no show anything between A/B and D. Nor does it show C.

Cartes du Ciel appears to show even fewer stars.

I was most surprised that Starry Night Pro Plus 6.2, like TheSky6, did not display the nearby stars I saw (from my light polluted backyard one year ago).

It all became clear when I did my own scaled drawing in Visio. Yes, Visio.

So, on one hand it's a little disappointing that I didn't "discover" anything new. For a time I had wondered if I had found a fast-moving double star or maybe a nova. But, it also satisfying to know that I in fact observed all four stars as noted by Haas.

Thanks to Paul, Eric, and Geoff for their assistance in this project.

Geoff sent a chart

Geoff sent over a star chart of the area surrounding Meissa. It came from Starry Night Pro Plus version 6.2. It is showing stars down to mag 14. And there's nothing near λ (lambda) Orionis A or B...

lateral pass

Still more support of the RASC TC presentation and handout. I asked Charles if he might run with it. He said he could mule the presentation and print / copy the handout. But I said that I'd have to reach Ralph first: he might have already handed this off to Paul or Guy.

When I reached Ralph, he relayed more changes! Paul had asked Stu to add DDO bits which Stu did and then sent to Ralph. Which he now passed on to me. So I added these new items to the new PowerPoint file. And, again, revised the handout. And these new files I then forwarded to chas. The ball was now in his court.

ISS hits 1 million

With the current payload aboard the STS-130 shuttle, the Node 3 (Tranquility) and the Cupola, to be added to the International Space Station (ISS), the stack mass now exceeds 1 million pounds.


Not mini.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

be careful

...what you wish for...

I had urged RASC Toronto Centre Council members to prepare handouts for future presentations. For branding. To ensure first-time attendees have a take-away. With our URL. In particular, I was thinking of the impending meeting on Wednesday, and the "what's up" presentation often made by a member of the executive. I wasn't too worried about Brenda and her The Sky This Month. Eric would surely have some DDO Doings there. I wanted to improve on our meetings, inspired by the recent strategic planning conference.

So, what shows up in my inbox? A message from Ralph, with the presentation file attached, saying, "So how do we make a handout from this?"

Rather than explain it, I performed the procedure myself. It was a PowerPoint 2003 file so I used the File, Send To command. And it was then I learned just how badly constructed the file was. Took me twice as long to make it. Still, 15 or so minutes later, I sent Ralph a sample handout in Word 2003.

While waiting for his response, I decided to improve the PowerPoint file. It was a dog's breakfast. I thought it might be best to build a new file from scratch. When done, I sent this to Ralph as well. It looks so much better with better font colouring, consistent (left) alignment, smaller font size (so less overpowering), more graphics, final black slide, good transitions, consistently styled URLs, consistently styled dates, and so on. The proper use of the default layouts will improve future efforts at making handouts...

Along the way, I found a number of typos and missing bits of information. Some of which affected the handout. So I reissued the handout and also sent the "new and improved" PowerPoint.

It was then Ralph revealed that he wasn't going to the meeting. Gah! I told him I wasn't either.

Monday, February 08, 2010

0.10.3 getting mixed reviews

I've been watching the commentary on the latest version of Stellarium. And it is very mixed. Some are reporting significant problems, crashes, bad frame rates, flicker, poor font rendering, and so on. I'm hesistant to use it. But then, others claimed good results, nearly instantaneous startup, good new features like the oculars plug-in...

Yesterday, on a computer I don't care too much about, I downloaded 0.10.3. Fired it up. And noted the rapid startup. Wow. Wiggled the mouse to the bottom left corner of the screen to pop up the menus. They appeared with familiar icons. But I too found the font rendering poor, a little hard to read. Activated the Locations panel, typed my city, and went to close--BOOM. Crash. With a Windows bug report send prompt. Oh. That's not good.

Relaunched it, expecting more sudden implosions but it was fine. Successfully changed my location. Then I noticed it getting slower, sluggy. I watched the frame rate plummet before my eyes. When I recalled a recent suggestion from the forums. I changed the option in the MAIN section of the CONFIG.INI file from it's true setting as follows:
use_glshaders = false
Now it works well. Next up: build oculars for the family telescopes and eyepieces...

lethargy (Toronto)

Sky looked really good tonight, on the way home from work... Really clear. Not a cloud. Meanwhile, Stu made a GO call for the Dark Sky Observing Session at Long Sault. I almost started setting up in the back yard upon arriving home. But I had not eaten breakfast or lunch. Was really hungry.

After dinner I stepped outside. Orion was bright, Sirius burning. Mars rising, getting closer to Gemini. Pleiades over head, I could easily see 5 individual stars. But as I walked back into the kitchen, I suddenly, instantly, abruptly felt... I dunno. I can't describe it. Just this powerful feeling that I didn't want to do all the preparation, set up, dressing (for the cold), dark adaptation, calling the neighbours, choosing of targets, making the most of it, all of it, all the work to ready... I just didn't want to do it.

I was shocked at the intensity of the feeling.

I resolved to not worry. Go with the flow. Don't force it.

Moon and Antares (Toronto)

Was up and out the door early today. The whole sky was stunning. Incredible dark and clear. Wouldn't you know it... The Moon was very attractive, a waning crescent. I caught sight of an deep orange star to the right. Took me a while to figure out that it was our summer friend, Antares.

STS-130 away

The space shuttle launched this morning. Congrats and godspeed to all.

Katrina and entourage from the RASC Toronto Centre are in Florida. They were a little bummed out by yesterday's scrub; I imagine euphoria is present today.

Phil got some incredible photos on Facebook...

Sunday, February 07, 2010


I don't think I was trying to be sneaky... I believe that the root of the idea was simply that I wanted some good quality family time. Without any other shit or distracting stuff going on at the same time. Sorry. Sorry to be crass. But the Xmas and birthday celebrations are detracting from important stuff. Quality. Capital Q quality time. Us time.

When Donna told me they could only spend one night at the CAO, I must admit I was sceptical. Yes, cat care is an issue. Pets are important. I'm the first to acknowledge how underrated this is. Still, my sis and bro-in-law do long trips. Their good neighbours / friends regularly help. I'm guessing but it just felt like they were not keen on the whole idea.

But I knew, I just knew, they'd love it. I think Mom is generally supportive of what I do, so she'll take some interest in it. That said, she seems to have a core, fundamental, personal interest in her (cosmological) surroundings. I think she is truly intrigued by astronomy. Steve, I know, loves the outdoors. He likes winter! (Go figure!) I knew he'd get a charge out of the environment surrounding the CAO. I knew he'd like the virgin snow, the groomed trails, proximity to the Bruce Trail, the quiet, the open sky, the flora and fauna. Donna was the wild card. But she does, generally, like nature. And there's lots of that at the observatory. In the winter.

Still, going into the weekend, I was... I was not expecting much. That's not the right way to say it. My expectations were tempered. I was neutral. Come what may. Perhaps a little downtrodden. Maybe that's why I went early. So to get some personal time with nature. Me time before the Us time.

So, their reactions, aprés, their gushing overwhelming happy positive reactions...? On one hand, not surprised; one the other, thrilled they enjoyed it. Tempting to say, "I told you so." But I'm just happy. Motorsport, I just could not seem to connect with Donna and Steve on. Perhaps they are deep-down opposed. It is wasteful and polluting. No way 'round that. Not so with astronomy.

Astronomy is green.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

neither worked

Neither green laser pointer worked tonight. Sheesh! So frustrating.

Mars in C14 (Blue Mountains)

The fourth planet was spectacular in the Celestron 14.
Instrument: Celestron 14-inch SCT
Mount: Paramount ME
Method: Go To
I popped out the back door after dessert and saw that the southern skies were pretty good. I told the gang that I was going to go out to the observatory, target Mars, and assess the conditions. I'd call if it was really good.

And it was.

With the 18mm eyepiece, the view was fantastic. Good clarity, good detail. The polar cap stood out. The surface, pale orange through dark grey blue. When the view steadied, it was impressive. This is a great telescope.

With the 13mm, it was a bit too soft.

I returned to the house and stuck my head into the kitchen. Everyone was gathered in the living room. I told them Mars was amazing. I wondered if they might want to look now. Mom said, "Actually, yes. We're not sure we can stay awake to midnight."

They joined me one by one and took a look. Mom and Steve really enjoyed the views. I think Donna struggled a little with the focus. Mom particularly liked when I showed the zoomed in view on the computer.

I was tempting to sit down and sketch.

Very beautiful, at just over 101 million km.

I don't know if I remember a view this good. Even when I view it at 56 million km... Mind you, in an 8", in the city limits.


We viewed a couple of other targets.

The Christmas Tree Cluster (part of NGC 2264) I showed everyone. It just fit in the 55mm. Mom enjoyed it. I heard Donna say, "Why is the bright star in the trunk?" I only looked briefly and could not see any of the surrounding nebula. I did not notice the Cone Nebula.

We took a peek at the Great Nebula in Orion. Huge. Filled the eyepiece. I glanced quickly and could see 4 stars of the Trapezium.

I moved the C14 to M1, the Crab, Messier 1. Found a small puff ball. I didn't think it would garner much interest. My quick glance did not coax out any detail.

Everyone was getting chilled and thinking about returning to the house.

I returned, at long last, to Meissa. Steve and I could both split the bright stars. But clouds moved in dimming the view. But not before I spotted my "C" star...

H-alpha fun for the whole family (Blue Mountains)

It looked like the clouds were breaking up. I was seeing lots of blue sky to the north. And occasional rays of sunlight blasting into the kitchen and living room. I headed out to the GBO to bolt up the Coronado filters onto the Tele Vue 101.

Photo by Donna with Kodak c330, f5.1, 1/547 sec., ISO 80.

Once complete, I opened the roof the minimal amount. Dropped the south-west flap. And set about focusing the thing. When I finally got it (and the clouds stayed away), the view was good!

I rang the house on the intercom. Steve picked up, wondering what was going on. I told him to gather the troops and head over. He acknowledged.

Mom, Donna, and Steve were very impressed with the views. Steve quickly made the comparison to the skin of an orange. We took in a group of 3 or 4 small sunspots.

And then I tuned the filter! Steve reported that the surface detail improved. In fact, it drew out a number of flares on the disc edge. And it completely changed the appearance of the sunspot complex, making it much more dimensional.

We all could have looked at it longer but it was very chilly (-9 with a slight wind).


Mom exclaimed, on entering the GBO, "Now this is how I should have built my observatory!"

I let her close the roof. She was excited like a little girl!

Friday, February 05, 2010

it's sorta clear

At the CAO near Collingwood. With a roll-off roof observatory and robotic 'scope at my disposal. Could have fired everything up (and then tore down) in minutes. But the slightly patchy skies were bothering me. Definitely feeling lazy. Creature comforts. Wanting to stay warm. Not compelled to observe solo.

Tomorrow's weather looks promising and there will be people around!

ice dogs (Blue Mountains)

Spotted a parhelion left of the Sun as I walked along the groomed trail to the Carr Astronomical Observatory. Just a hint of the halo...

Data: FujiFilm J20, ISO 100, 1/950 sec, f7.8.

As I cut diagonally across the field to the CAO, it brightened a great deal, becoming prismatic. Finally, when I reached the house, I was rewarded with both, dual spots, parhelia.

I was pleased that the lens was wide enough to catch both.

Data: FujiFilm J20, ISO 100, 1/850 sec, f7.8.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

a face to the RASC

In an effort to humanise the RASC Toronto Centre, I uploaded photos for many of the council members and committee chairs. I think one or two people clued in to my shooting photos at the Strategic Conference last weekend...

I've wanted this from day 1!

Four hours of work to get it all done. But the "staff" page looks so much better now.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

SkyNews Mar/Apr 2010

Latest SkyNews showed up in the mail. Cover article is on Saturn's rings. And I see they will be doing some mythbusting on 2012...

I successfully peeled the address label off the front cover.

OH glitch found

Denis confirmed that the second RASC Observer's Handbook sent to me was due to a glitch in the new system. He's implemented a fix immediately.

Told me to not worry about the second book, to keep it.

I'll donate it to the Toronto Centre, for the Carr Astronomical Observatory (CAO).

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Willie saw his shadow

Proclaimed Wiarton Willie: "My shadow I see - six more weeks of winter."

From the Canadian Press: "Earlier today, both Nova Scotia's Shubenacadie Sam and Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania also saw their shadows, making it a unanimous forecast."

See the article on the internet. It must be true!

Monday, February 01, 2010

navigating by Orion (Napanee)

Was not 100% sure of my bearings after one of my pit stops on the way back from Ottawa. Had shut off Will's GPS. But as I glanced over my left shoulder, I saw Orion rising. Good! I was going west.

Actually, it was bright blue Sirius that kept catching my eye.


It occurred to me that the Moon should be rising... Behind me. I scanned the driver's side mirror. And caught it peaking through low clouds.

Celestron turns 50

Not my telescope; the company.

Happy birthday Celestron!