Monday, May 31, 2010

hbd DDO

Happy Birthday David Dunlap Observatory!

Questar specs

Digging out the specifications for the Questar...
  • focal length (for visual observing): 1150 mm
  • focal ratio: 13.0
  • resolution: 1.30 arc-seconds
  • maximum power: 175
  • minimum power: 13
The finder lens offers 4x or 8x with a 12° or 8° field.

The included eyepieces are a 26 mm Koenig-style and 13 mm Erfle-style, with a 50° and 75° apparent field respectively.

The integrated Amplifying/Barlow lens is has a minus 43.9 mm focal length.

Amazing machine.

checking 78

Trying to weave my way through the Washington Double Star catalog.

I found 78 Ursa Majoris:

2000 Coordinates: 13007+5622
Discoverer & Number: BU 1082
Date (first): 1889
Date (last): 2007
Number of Observations (up to 9999): 124
Position Angle (first - XXX): 76
Position Angle (last - XXX): 94
Separation (first): 1.5
Separation (last): 1.3
Magnitude of First Component: 5.02
Magnitude of Second Component: 7.88
Spectral Type (Primary/Secondary): F2V

Oh. 1.3 seconds of arc. No wonder we couldn't split it last night...

lost sticktion

The integrated dew shield on the Questar has lost its sticktion. It slowly slides down the tube, especially if vertical. So I threw an elastic band around the shield. When needed, the rubber band can be rolled off the shield onto the tube.

The tolerances of the Questar are so tight though that the band cannot be left on the bottom end of the shield. So, for storage, I flipped the dew shield tube.

warm evening (Toronto)

Kiron arrived, on bicycle, at approx. 10:45 PM, keen to do some astronomical observing.
Instrument: Questar 3½-inch Mak
Mount: equatorial table-top legs
Method: star hopping
When Kiron and I learned we were neighbours at some RASC Toronto Centre meeting (or perhaps during a NOVA course), we hatched plans to observe together. He asked if I would mind inviting him over when I was going to view from my back garden. As a new member without a telescope (and temporarily without binoculars) trying to work on his Explore the Universe Certificate, Kiron needs to lean on us. He attends RASC City Observing Sessions. He had recently attended the Open House at the CAO. I often enjoy observing with company so I emailed and phoned him in the afternoon to say I was intending to get out. He accepted my offer.

He brought his bike 'round back. We surveyed the sky. At first I mistook Arcturus for Saturn. Oops. That was Boötes overhead; Leo in the west. Ah, I spotted Mars below the sickle.

By 10:56 PM, we were on Saturn with the RASC's Questar. I started us off at low power, using the 40-80x eyepiece. Once again, I was impressed with the clarity of the view, despite old, tired eyepieces. Saturn and Titan were crisp and clear. I had Stellarium running on the red film-shielded battery-powered netbook nearby. I let Kiron fly the 'scope.

The software showed many moons flanking the amazing planet, Titan, Iapetus, and Hyperion to one side; Rhea, Dione, and Tethys opposite. (Mimas and Enceladus were tangled in the rings.) However we could not see any of the other moons at this low power (and small aperture). We moved the 'scope to a different spot on the picnic table to afford more comfortable viewing. Easy with this little thing! Then we switched to 80x, with the flick of a lever. The equatorial belt popped! Slightly whiter than the north and south regions. Some striations in the upper hemisphere. Also at 80x, I could just barely see moons on the west side of the rings. Computer says Rhea is 10.3, Dione is 10.9, and Tethys is 10.8. I could only see two, with averted vision, in momentary moments of stable seeing. So I must have been seeing Tethys on the inside and Rhea on the wing...

Kiron asked many questions about the view orientation. We discussed how a Newtonian generally rotates the image whereas a catadioptric, with mirror diagonal (like the Questar), laterally inverts. Stellarium was helpful for quickly portraying the normal, naked eye or binocular view, versus what the telescope was showing. I pointed to Polaris through the trees. It helped him get his cardinal points and a better sense of the ecliptic in the sky.

We discussed how, at this time, with Saturn's ring plane in-line with us that the rings became a pointer, showing the clearly showing the ecliptic. I think that further helped Kiron get his bearings.

The Oregon Scientific weather station said 56% humidity and 22.7°C air temperature at 11:31. Although I wondered if it was still transitioning from the living room readings.

We doubled the magnification with the 80-160x eyepiece. That left moon was now easy peasy. I asked Kiron to check the computer as I described the view. The moon I clearly saw at one ring width (or slightly more) from the planet he said was Dione! What? But it's fainter of the group. I tried to see Tethys between - no joy. I think I caught Rhea further out, at one point. Is the seeing worse now? Kiron returned to the eyepiece but was having a hard time seeing these faint moons. I wondered out loud if we were at the mag limit of this instrument. I encouraged him to try averted vision techniques.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed my new log book, the Stargazing Journal. It reminded me to capture details like conditions (clear skies, warm, 27°C when I checked Env Can at 9:30-ish, humid, no wind) and the Moon phase. Curiously, I discovered that there's not enough space for the full date! Sheesh, I hate that, you know, when a form doesn't leave enough space! Never noticed that... Maybe it's assumed that you will only supply the day and month and that in the journal elsewhere you'd note the year. I entered "2010" in the large gap between the Moon Phase label and the Moon icon.

I expected the circle for the Field Drawing to remain blank for the evening. Didn't feel like sketching. For future sessions, I shall roll backward, i.e. find unused blank circles. I'll just need to carefully date those drawings...

We agreed that the sky conditions were not as good as before (and they weren't great then). It had been pretty hot during the day and now everything was cooling off. Probably producing a lot of disturbances. I saw stars flickering. Also, Saturn was at 32° elevation... So we were going through a good piece of air.

I did a naked eye star test with the Little Dipper. Sadly, I could not see any of the stars fainter than γ (gamma) at mag 3.1. I could not see any of the 4.4 stars. So the transparency is not very good either.

Stupid Cherny neighbours to the east had all the lights on, as usual. Everyone else was pretty good. Dark in the west house. When Kris settled in his bedroom, we said hello through the window. He immediately closed his blinds and dimmed the overhead. Thanks, dude.

Kiron had questions about magnification and focal lengths. This evening I was quoting powers whereas during the Open House with the C14 I was referring to eyepiece focal lengths. He wondered why I had switched. I explained it was simply because the Questar people, in their wisdom, providing a turn-key solution, had pre-printed the eyepieces with the power values, vs. the focal length. But this also reminded I had not crunched any of the other numbers yet. I didn't know our field of view. I didn't know the upper and lower magnification limits.

At 12:15, Kiron thought that the view was improved slightly. I reminded him of the “magic number” time for urban viewing: after midnight, that light pollution usually decreases. He had heard that too. He reported being able to easily see Dione now.

I could feel the air cooling quickly. The weather station confirmed it: the temp is now 21.4. Humidity was rising; 58% now.

We discussed bright stars, in the winter and summer constellations. I popped into wikipedia (handy wifi working well) and we learned that in fact Arcturus was number 3! We're lucky to be able to see many from Canada.
  1. Sirius
  2. Canopus
  3. Arcturus
  4. Alpha Centauri
  5. Vega
  6. Rigel
  7. Procyon
  8. Achernar
  9. Betelgeuse
I suggested at 12:30 we try some double stars. We moved to Mizar and Alcor. It was very pleasing in the Questar at 40x. Sidus Ludoviciana sitting in the middle. Hint of colour between the famous pair. I asked Kiron his impressions. He thought Mizar A and B the same bluish white colour whereas Alcor had a touch of yellow.

The dew shield of the Questar kept slipping down. Not enough friction any more... But then it is 56 years old!

I cracked open The Cambridge Double Star Atlas (DSA) and found Ursa Major on map 4. It showed Mizar as a double (aka Σ1744) and the nearby Alcor. It does not note the Sidus Ludoviciana between. But then this atlas only goes down to slightly below mag 7.5. (Stellarium says it's 7.5 mag.)

My green laser was helpful for Kiron getting his orientation in the sky and seeing Alcor in relation to Mizar. We wondered, if in very dark skies, we might be able to resolve Sidus Ludoviciana naked eye. Something to try at the CAO. Or next Mew Lake visit?

Using the atlas, I noticed that 78 Ursa Majoris was a double. So we went on a hunt to find it. Kiron first tried star hopping but was not satisfied. I took a shot at it. From ε (epsilon) UMa, I located 78. But as I threw more power at it, I still could not split it. A quick check in Stellarium suggested it was a tight double. Too much for the Questar perhaps.

We moved to Cor Caroli. Took me a few minutes to finally tag it being at a slightly awkward angle in the sky. At 1:10, at 40x, we enjoyed the colourful pair. It's on map 9 in DSA, also noted as Σ1692. This is gonna be a great set of charts to work through... I explained how Canes Venatici represented the hunting dogs nipping at the heals of the big bear. I also outlined, with the laser, Boötes.

It was late and we were both yawning. Kiron said that he had to work on Monday with a 9:00 AM start. I packed up as he gathered a few more photons.

As he glanced to the front yard, he spotted the nearly full Moon. He asked if the telescope would work on it. You bet! But I reminded him it would blow out his night vision. So we jostled the little 'scope to a good spot and took in the gibbous waning Moon at 40x. Very bright but very beautiful. Copernicus was incredible bright (excuse me, Tycho). I noticed an incredibly dark crater eastern limb (Grimaldi). Kiron enjoyed the detail along the terminator. I could hear him breathing, taking it in.

I hope I haven't created a monster or two using this crazy telescope.

That was a fun session. Not too hot. Not too many mozzies.


This was a very interesting experience for me, using the Questar. This might be the right kind of 'scope for me to get, in terms of small, portable, quick-to-set-up instrument. I didn't think twice about using it, the view orientations. It was very comfortable using at the picnic table. Quick and convenient to move, if we needed to. So, form factor, tracking, equatorial orientation, all good. The aperture is an issue but, well, that's the key concession for this compact size.

Questars are not in my budget. I'll begin to research the current options for small, table-top catadioptrics...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

picnic table solar observing (Toronto)

Last night, Guy or Charles asked if I had done solar observing with the Questar. I said I hadn't. And I wasn't even sure if it had the solar filter included. When I had previously opened the case, it was dark...

Today, Sun ablazing, I opened old leather case. And there, tucked under the legs, was the off-axis solar filter. Only makes sense: this 'scope Ralph has taken on eclipse trips!

It was a good opportunity to try all the accessories! Read the small manual. Attached the included legs to turn it from an altitude-azimuth mount to equatorial. I plugged in the AC cord to activate the motor. Eyeballed NCP over my shoulder. And, of course, added the solar filter.

Nice view of the Sun (through very dirty eyepieces). Sadly, I could not see sunspots... They are too small (according to SOHO).


Could not enjoy solar observing with the Questar without cleaning the filthy eyepieces.

Gently, with puffer, with cotton swabs, and isopropanol, I cleaned the inside and outside of the two oculars.

Much better!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

webspotting 16 - logins

Eric published my article in the Jun/Jul 2010 SCOPE on logging into the various RASC web site resources instead of my regular "random" web site submission. S'OK. I don't consider it an official webspotting piece. But certainly I talk about web sites of interest to members and how to access them...

camera failure?

Charles, while we chit-chatted at Grace's b-day bash, wondered if the security server adapter / software had been the cause of the audible alarm at the CAO.

I said I didn't think so. It had been working fine after they had installed it. Spot checks by Dietmar, Tony, and myself revealed that it was working fine. It worked through the Open House as well.

So, possibly; but unlikely.

beeping from the closet

Phil, while covering for another supervisor at the CAO, reported beeping in the middle of the night.

“Something” kept beeping in the Supervisor’s closet, he said. 8 short beeps, pause, 8 beeps again, repeat. He wondered if it was the server computer.

Nope. I told him it sounded like the UPS! I asked if there had been any power failures. He said all the clocks were working. Staying in the Honeymoon suite, he would have heard the generator fire up. I wondered out loud if it was a brown out or undervoltage...

I asked him to keep an ear out over the next evening.


I'm anxious to remote in. I have yet to resolve the security camera software issue when I use Windows RDP.

It could be checked manually...


I wonder if it was the weather station?! I didn't think there were any active alarms though...

Friday, May 28, 2010

computer delivered

Phil dropped the donation computer, from Andrew, via Gilles, to the CAO. Thanks all!

Monday, May 24, 2010

now the wordmark

Karen contacted me again regarding more media files for the impending DDO party. They want the RASC Toronto Centre wordmark. But now I'm in Montréal. I don't have Vaughn's number with me. I'd have to remote into my home machine, if I can get through the firewalls...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

good alignment

Sharmin said she had completed a full alignment. Vega was moving too fast with the 6mm eyepiece. So she used Polaris! Good choice.

She said she was finally observing. And sketching!

"It's more fun than I thought it would be!"

We told you!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dob aligned

Sharmin reported that she successfully aligned the finder scope of the Dob. She was curious what would cause this. From my Montréal hotel room, typing on a French keyboard, I explained that it is what it is...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Stu can't update

Stu phoned me. He could not update the web site for a DDO announcement.

He scared me. For a nanosecond I thought the web site was down! If it does down again I'm gonna kill!

I jumped in without difficult and updated the notice.

helped Sharmin align

Sharmin has one of the RASC Toronto Centre's 8" Dobsonians. In fact, I delivered it to her and gave her a quick tutorial on the balcony.

But when she relayed that she wasn't seeing or finding things, and then gave up, I started to wonder if the finder scope had been bonked. I thought we had checked it...

I walked her through some checks. Suggested she start in daylight, targetting a distant stationary object. Pointed out the two screws on surrounding the finder scope. Reminded her that precision is required. Then urged her to repeat the steps but with a higher power eyepiece. And then encouraged her to repeat this process once again in the evening with a bright celestial object like Vega.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Just reading about the Questar Corporation telescope over at the amazing wikipedia...

Made in 1954? Holy cow! That just makes this even more amazing.

I like the remark, "almost immediately this 'observatory-in-a-box' was considered the 'Rolls-Royce' of telescopes." That's a good way to describe it. Beautifully constructed. You can tell they spared no expense. Wonderful engineering.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Questar rocks (Toronto)

Viewed Arcturus, Saturn (and Titan and Rhea), and Moon (and little round craters like Bessel) through the Questar. Incredible. Beautiful views, smooth precise operation, incredibly compact, rapid setup and tear down.

I want a Questar!

How expensive are these crazy things?!

final NOVA

I helped out at the final NOVA course. Always bitter sweet...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

pick up by Gilles

Gilles, who lives a little to the south, picked up the computer Andrew is donating to the CAO. This computer I've earmarked to replace the CAO dining room computer. Thanks Gilles and Andrew!

skies clearing...

So torn.

turned down Stu

Stu phoned me as I travelled home on the bus from work. Said he was leaning toward calling a GO for tonight's RASC Toronto Centre City Observing Session. Asked if I could help. I had already bailed from cards with Malcolm. I had to turn him down. Gotta work tonight... Boo!

I gave him Tony and John's numbers. Hopefully one of those guys can cover.

Weather looks borderline. But, hey, he's the expert!

Monday, May 17, 2010

helped DDO team with logo

Karen contacted me about getting a copy, detailed, hi-rez version of the RASC Toronto Centre seal to be used with posters and shirts for the David Dunlap Observatory birthday event. I sent over a few versions including Photoshop format. She just replied, "Perfect!"

Sunday, May 16, 2010

another OHAP done

I sent Dietmar a detailed report of general chores done, Open House chores done, general observations, findings, notes regarding the CAO and GBO.

  • I installed 8 of our red solar lights with fresh AA batteries.
  • Tony delivered and I installed an extension cable for pagoda red LED lighting so that both west and east tracks work. At the work party they had installed the top plates and west string. They reported pleasing illumination.
  • Phil and I inspected fire bottles (as a number of them had not been checked at the work party).
  • Helped cut lawn and do some weed whacking.
  • Checked generator status: FAB!
the house
  • Found that a number of items in the kitchen and dining room had been moved and could not be found.
  • Found water at base of stairs Thu night, water markings on the east wall at the bottom of the stairs, and water damage below double doors leading to the deck; reported to Tony.
  • I printed and installed a new version of weather station quick reference sheet, with battery removal instructions.
  • Installed fresh C batteries to the Davis weather station.
  • Inspected the server computer.
the garage
  • Rescue the Rocket Recovery Team. Tested the ATV battery.
  • Inspected the THO observatory.
  • Removed extension cord running through window for dehumid.
  • In warm room, thoroughly cleaned the counter top.
  • Noticed the south wall flaps hinges are tearing out, particularly on the east door. Reported to Dietmar and Tony.
  • Found the C14 objective cover askew and crimping dew heater sensor.
  • Found one of the 2" mirrors was not working properly, thumb screw jammed or stripped; gave to Gilles to repair at his magic workshop.
  • Found the outside door not closing properly. Reported to Tony.
  • I upgraded the C14 / TV101 eyepiece matrix document, printed and installed new versions.
  • Cleaned the windows of the warm room.
  • I updated the sign-in sheet; reviewed with Dietmar and Phil; printed 10 new sheets, 3-hole punched for binder.
  • Flew the Paramount for the Open House.
  • Reported who slept in house both nights despite booking for camping.
  • Received personal apology from John for the incident with Karen last fall.
  • Reported improper invitations to third parties for "free camping."
  • Delegated to another super to deal with a minor domestic issue.
  • Discovered that many people used my bath towel in the downstairs bathroom. Yuck.
  • Explained to a member that we do not "reserved" rooms.
  • Collected money from members staying Sunday night.
  • Left Stu and Steve to lock up.
I was assisted by many. John B, Geoff, Dean, Ralph, Lora, Phil, Sharmin, Elaine, Charles, Bob, John L, John H, Matthew, Pat, Nicole, Gilles, Denis, Leslie, Bren, Trevor, Tony, Katrina, Dietmar, Terry, Chris, Fred, Tom, Scott, Stephen, Stuart, Jean, Paul, Guy, David, Joel, Millie, Brenda, Jerry, Jason, Kiron, and the boys!

They helped me get everything done for the Open House.

solder job

Phil brought a cable from his telescope up to the CAO. I had brought my electronics repair toolbox. Atop (my accessible) picnic table, al fresco, I soldered up the special plug to the line. Lots of helping hands!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

no live cam

Everyone was pretty busy. Running around. Prepping. Earlier in the day, in anticipation, I had mounted the repaired flat screen (damn, those screws don't seem long enough). Later, I got out the MallinCam. But having never hooked it up, I didn't know what to do exactly. Then, people were starting to arrive, ready to look through the big 'scope, and I didn't want to flood the observing area with bright light. No time left. So I made the exec decision: no live video with the camera and TV 'scope. This time. I shut the screen off. Will have to wait to the next event...

rallied the troops

As members started rolling in Friday night and Saturday day, I begged their assistance in preparing the E.C. Carr Astronomical Observatory (CAO) for the Open House.

donated 2 books

I donated two books to the Fred Troyer library of the RASC Toronto Centre (while at the CAO). In fact, I handed the books to Tom, the librarian. The books were Longitude by Sobel and Moonshadow by Manners.

Caught Tom reading Longitude later in the weekend...

late Friday night (Blue Mountains)

12:36 AM. Viewed Saturn in the C14. Saw several moons: Hyperion, Dione, on the left of Saturn, then Tethys, Rhea, and Titan on the right. Seeing is poor.
Instrument: Celestron 14-inch SCT
Mount: Paramount ME
Method: Go To
Cars are coming and going.

Viewed M13. It has several hundred thousand stars. It is 145 ly across. It is 25 100 ly away.

1:00 AM. We viewed the Double Double, aka Tim Horton star, aka ε (epsilon) Lyrae. Poor seeing. Still, it was easily split at 217x with the 18mm TV ocular.

1:09 AM. I piloted to M57 but didn't look.

We viewed M81 and M82 in the C14 with the 55mm but could not fit in the same field. Oops. Should have used the Tele Vue 101! Next time...

1:24 AM. We viewed the Sombrero galaxy, M104, in Virgo. Wow! In the 18mm, it was beautiful. Could clearly see the foreground dark dust lane. Averted vision to nearby star made the dust ring pop! I could see a glow on the other side of the disk. Fantastic. 29 Mly away. So cool! A career first for me.

Helped Kiron use Pat's big binos on tripod.

We were seeing quite a lot of meteors.

2:21 AM. Everyone's pretty tired. Some clouds still on horizon. To the north is good. The Milky Way low in east.

Friday, May 14, 2010

multi-tasking at the CAO

While on-site at the CAO, as the impromptu supervisor, while in a teleconference webcast, I watched the Space Shuttle blast off. Godspeed STS-132!

hand held H-alpha (Blue Mountains)

Tried a photo of the Sun in Hα with the CAO Tele Vue 101, Coronoda SolarMax system, and the little FujiFilm J20.

Not great.

data: 1/60, f/3.1, ISO 100, exp. comp. 0, 6mm fl

But, if you look closely, you can flares.

Flares, man!

H-alpha observing (Blue Mountains)

It's partly sunny and windy but we're observing the Sun in Hα. No spots but lots of flares...

oh I get it...

Yeah. OK. I see now. Nobody's flinching... Nobody's saying anything...

Wrangling humans, assigning beds, settling domestic disputes, unlocking, opening, activating, powering, flying 'scopes.

Volunteering to go to the CAO on the Thursday before the Open House makes you the site supervisor for the weekend...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

hurry up and wait

Ah. Oft heard at the race track, the whole day today felt like that... Doesn't help when Sympatico goes down.

Then Sharmin sent me a message that she could be home around 4-ish. Vs. the original 6 PM target. So, if I could get the car rental earlier, then, well, we could begin the journey northward sooner.

OK. I have to pick up the pace...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

helped Sharmin (Don Mills)

I helped new member and NOVA alumni Sharmin get going with visual observing. She booked the RASC Toronto Centre 8" Dobsonian, which I had on loan. So, I transferred it directly from my garage to her living room. I helped her get oriented.

She has a great little balcony facing due east. It will be excellent for morning planets.

We viewed Vega, the Double-Double, and Albireo. We consider some clusters. M13 will be good but it was a little too high, as the evening wore on, for us to spot.

received Questar

Don't tell anyone! But I was able to sign out one of the RASC Toronto Centre Questar telescopes!

received projector

I had arranged to take a digital projector to the CAO. Having it with me would afford watching a movie, if the weather was inclimate. Ultimately, we needed it for the presentations on Saturday, during the RASC OHAP.

red film a hit

I took the 25 foot roll of Lee Filters 026 "bright red" film to the RASC NOVA class and meeting tonight. Lots of people were interested! I probably sold more than half of it! We'll have to get another roll...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I printed up the final version of the media release form. I'll get members to sign them. And then I can finally start loading people's images and videos to the RASC Toronto Centre web site.

Monday, May 10, 2010

way too much going on

On the weekend, I considered maybe going to the Long Sault Deep Sky Observing Session. I didn't have to be up early the next day. That's usually the main constraining factor for me. The skies were looking promising, while the rest of the week looked poor, Stu called a GO, and lots of people were ready to participate. But there's so much else going on... Ramping up for future technical training with a new client, trying to repair the car, getting company paperwork done, responding to other client requests, coordinating other RASC stuff. It's kinda weird. The old, when it rains it pours effect, clearly.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

tested Dob (Toronto)

Waited for the housemates to go to bed...

Tonight was the first clear night, I think, since I collimated the RASC Toronto Centre's loaner telescope. I had tuned the Dobsonian in daylight. But I needed to test it with stars. Particularly before I handed it off directly to Sharmin, the next person in line.

I put it on Arcturus. It and the nearby stars looked pretty good. Better than before, better than the last time I used it, that's for sure. The faint stars came to razor sharp focus. Despite no cool down time. Despite me not being dark adapted.

I then target Saturn. Thin rings. First at low power; then high. Saturn looked good. I could see the lighter white colouring of the equatorial belt. Hey, hey, look at that: two moons very close together. I knew one was Titan. Stellarium told me the other was Rhea. Tried to spot Enceladus in between without success. The view was good, with brief moments of clear seeing and clear eyeballs.

It is satisfying to note that I did not break the society's Dob.

order completed

I have a Chapters / Indigo / Coles / World's Biggest Bookstore iRewards membership card. Gives a few points off, of course. Usually, you receive a gaggle of coupons when you renew. Often, items apply for free shipping.

I like to buy books, movies, music here, to utilise these benefits. Most often I'm buying gifts for family or friends.

It is with this company (or rather family of companies) that I made some of my first career online purchases. Huh. The online history shows my first order in September 1999. 11 years! It has always been very convenient, easy, and generally fast.

But it is a little disappointing that, at this present time, I cannot pay by debit, via my bank. Bunch of the major banks support it... I faced a quandry, if I wanted to buy without using my credit card.

Recently, I realised a way out of this dilemma. I went to a nearby store and bought a gift card. I knew I could then use the gift card against an order. What I didn't know was that I could "store" funds in the online account. That was cool.

Today I wanted to order the Stargazing Journal by Potter Style as well as the Cambridge Double Star Atlas.

Panic set in when I couldn't immediately locate the recently obtained gift card (with handsome amount). Happily, after a 2 hour search, I found it.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

helped Tony

Tony, while swamped, found some time to work on the RASC Toronto Centre web site. He posted an article on the recent CAO work party. I helped him with some layout challenges. I referred him to my online help reference guide.

It is still a thorn in everyone's side that the CMS we use can't do on the fly image adjustment (like blogger!). But, at least with his Windows 7, he has a decent built-in tool.

As well, we continue to experience 406 errors with Firefox...


A little accolade caught my eye. As Tony thanked the volunteers, he had included me, for my remote assistance of the video security system at the CAO. Didn't do much... You're welcome!

Monday, May 03, 2010

beautiful sky (Ottawa)

Pretty dismal this morning. Heavy rain, even though I only had a short walk.

Tonight, an incredible sky. Venus bright over The Hill. Mars high up in the west. Lots of stars.

Despite a lot of city lights...

Saturday, May 01, 2010

3 more cameras

The crew up at the RASC Toronto Centre CAO installed 3 more video cameras and power/data lines. I think Charles got the short straw, having to don the HavMat suit, to climb into the attic. I helped Tony get into the server to verify the new gear functioned. Wow. 4 feeds now. Just need to do some fine tuning in the software.

Tony later announced he wants to replace the first camera. The new design has less IR feedback.

remote station help

Trevor reported that the Davis weather station console at the CAO was reported low batteries.

That's on schedule; we switched to battery power last fall (to eliminate USB cable interference problems).

I walked The Trev through the swap out.