Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Spent a good chunk of the day thinking about logistics for the next few. Trying to coordinate my ride to and from the CAO with Kiron for the mini-workparty, with tools necessary for the wall repair. Trying to coordinate with Trevor and Tony attending the air show thanks to their offer of VIP passes. Trying to figure out how the hell I'm going to get everything to and from Mew Lake, without complicating things for Lora and Phil. And I really, really want to have my bicycle there. Busy busy.

3 more payments

Received 3 payments for SkyTools3. Two picked up.

no I will not fix your battery

Sue's funny. Likes to remind me of my No I Will Not Fix Your Computer t-shirt which I had recently flaunted at the CAO.

She and Erich want to buy a portable 12 volt battery to operate their Starfest door prize dew heaters and the telescope motor whilst in the field.

I gave some pointers. Urged them to get a high Ah rating. Try to get a marine type battery. I pointed out a few good choices at Canadian Tire.

Monday, August 30, 2010

sun of a gun

I just learned, from the MallinCam Yahoo!Group, that the old Macintosh computers used the same style of mini-DIN 8-pin connector as the camera! How about that.

I have dozens of these old cables!

(That's what ya get for being a horder.)

fire and safety notes

Sent my notes from Scott's fire and safety draft document.

two more happy customers

As I returned from the CAO, coming down Hwy 410, I nipped into Charles's office. Dropped off his SkyTools3. He wanted to immediately install it on his ASUS netbook. I grabbed the external optical drive and plugged it into his USB port. His machine is SO clean!

While the Pro software and DVD data loaded, we had a little chitchat. Talked about double star measurement, illuminated reticule eyepieces, binoviewers, wide angle eyepieces, William Gibson, wireless access points, the mini-workparty, riding mower starters, stars twinkling, cordless tools, Eee PC speed control, paint scratches, tire wear.

Also gave me a chance to cool off in the air conditioning.

Once I landed home, I sent out the word.

Graham said he'd drop by. And some time later, thanks to GPS, he found me.

Space-Track account

Received my account information for Space-Track. I'll hopefully be able to use it as a resource to verify satellite TLE data.

video board help

Paul offered to look into getting us a daughter video board for the "new" dining room computer. We pulled the cover, photographed the mobo, took down the details. I forgot he works at ATI/AMD.

Triton, Oberon, SAO 48866 (Blue Mountains)

10:05 PM, Sun 29 Aug. Tried to see Triton beside Neptune. Murky. ST3 recommended looking after midnight, around 1.

10:09. Satellite went through the eyepiece field, again. Was looking at Messier 108 in Ursa Major. An edge-on spiral galaxy. Wikipedia says it is a barred spiral inclined at 75 degrees.

Very faint with the bright sky. Started with the 55mm Plössl eyepiece. So pretty wide field. That said, it was the recommended eyepiece by ST3. Bumped up the power. Still incredibly faint. Not great conditions. Definitely will need to look at it again. It's, once again, probably the wrong time of year. There are 2 bright stars nearby, kind of pointing to it.

Put the MallinCam on it. Detectable.

10:28. Moon just rose up over the trees.

10:33. Viewed M106. Looks like another edge-on spiral. It looked big even in the low power eyepiece. It was only 20° up. Again, it should be viewed at a different time of the year, when it's higher.

Decided to measure a double star, given the bright moonlight...

12:01 AM, Mon 30 Aug. I began timings on the Celestron Micro Guide centre Linear Scale. Used a star in Cepheus, SAO 19773, with a declination of 62° 41' 53" or 62.6981°.

Used the Psion StopWatch program's lap time feature. The second one was a little short. Run three. Smidgen early on start; nailed it on the end. Run four. Good start; good stop. They are all around 19 seconds. I was getting pretty consistent times so far...

12:12. Finished. My drift times were:


Average: 00:19.58.

The remote access via VNC to the Dell Latitude laptop was not working. I don't know why. Port problem on our router? It made this drift timing task painful... Lot of running about. Lot of time lost.

1:37. Just finished measurement of double star in Cygnus, SAO 48866. I got pretty good PA and sep. numbers.

standard method--
exit angle (inner values): 67°
ticks: 4.5
PA: 157°
sep: 10.14"

better method--
exit angle 1 (inner values): 49°
exit angle 2: 95°
PA: 162°
sep: 9.793"

Haas said the known binary Σ2588 had a PA of 159° and sep of 9.9" in 2002.

I was tired and very uncomfortable. Overheated.

1:50. Just saw Triton. I put in the 5mm eyepiece, as suggested by ST3P, but I found the view blurry. Then went to the 10mm. It was crisper. I saw a flattened triangle or jagged line with two stars and Neptune almost exactly in the centre. I knew that north was up, standing over the 'scope. During moments of good seeing, at about 5:30 position, I saw a faint point. It looked like it was two or three planet widths away from the blue disk. Surprising close to the very pale gas planet. The position corresponded well to the display in ST3P.

That planet was 29 AU away!

Had a shower to cool off. Hoped I did not wake anyone.

2:31. Spotted Oberon. It was very, very bright. Easy to see. The position didn't seem right though. The star at the bottom left is mag 11.64. Oberon is rated at 14.16.

It occurred to me that ST3P might not compensation for light time. Maybe that is why Oberon is a bit off. [ed: Au contraire.]

2:39. Finished off with Jupiter. With the 10mm, it was crazy high power. Could only see two moons. The GRS was almost front and centre, slightly to the west of the meridian. It was hard to focus.

Wind is shaking the telescope. Patchy cloud. Moon was overhead.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

2 more misses (Blue Mountains)

7:39 PM. I prepared for the first of two flyovers by the International Space Station. Connected to both the LCD monitor and the TV card in the laptop. Rerouted the cables to prevent strain. I had updated the laptop's date/time using U of T's internet time server.

I had loaded the satellite data from the web once again, as I've done successfully before. I noticed this time, in the Object Information window, when I had the satellite selected, I could see the TLE data. And as I had begun to understand the TLE, I could see the "metric" date/time stamp within window. It was not old; in fact, it was for tomorrow's date (day 241). I'm assuming it is in UTC...

8:00. Via instant messaging, I told Phil about the ISS pass. He was at home. He thanked me for the tip. He said he was going to head outside.

8:03. Paul popped into the observatory to see what was up with the pass. I told him it would be in about 3 minutes. He remarked that the sky was very bright. I pointed out that the station was to go to -3.5 magnitude brightness. Venus, at -4.4, which was now easily visible, gave a sense of what to expect. He wanted to know the starting location: slightly to the left of Venus.

I told him I was on Venus in the C14. He took a look. Noted the shimmering of the air.

Then he said, "Cool setup! Well done."

We talked about bugs and weather conditions.

I showed him the outline of the building structure in TheSky6, emphasising this was the optical limit.

8:07. I turned on the AVerMedia recording. I put the Paramount ME into satellite tracking mode. Paul remarked that it was a nice gentle motion. I reminded him that the station was 2000 km away; when overhead, only 350 km, it would book!

We talked about dew conditions. I relayed that it was very dewy last night down in the orchard. But I expected it to be fine, here, up on the mountain.

Paul headed out to the Observing Pad, where his 10" Dobsonian was set up.

Nothing appeared on the monitor. Nothing appeared in the eyepiece.

Remembered I still had the 27mm ocular in. I had meant to drop the power...

8:11. Michael came into the GBO warm room. "That is cool," he said.

From the observatory floor, I took a look at the station as it flew overhead. It was not a point! I thought there was some shape to it, oblong. I swear I could see detail! It was not a point source. It seemed a short line at times; then two separate points of light, attached. Paul thought I have very keen eyesight. I thanked Dr. Chou!

8:13. I observed that the 'scope had stopped moving, having reached the meridian.

We wondered why we didn't see anything. Paul asked if it was an alignment issue. I didn't think so.

I said that I would plan to use the Search pattern feature on the next pass. Hopefully, it would spiral outwards and find the object.

Paul went to get his point-and-shoot camera. He wanted to note the C14 configuration and activities in the (very) warm room.

I tested if the mount still worked. I sent the mount Venus. No errors reported. It moved. It looked good. Checked the eyepiece. Nothing. These satellite tracks seem to push the mount so far it must lose track of its position. I homed the mount to correct.

8:14. Phil pinged me. He said hi to Paul. They live quite close to one another, I learned.

8:17. Paul took a photo of "the control room" but his flash went off. I offered astronomy box α as a monopod, so he could shot without the flash, capture the room's red lighting. It worked! "It came out nicely," he said. I'll have to get the photo from him...

3 computers, 2 clocks, 2 telescopes, lots of red lights, too many Red Bulls

Spent some time learning SkyTools3 Pro. Built up a custom observing plan with the matrix of location, sky conditions, telescope, eyepieces, etc.

9:36. I readied myself for the next ISS pass. Dropped the C14 eyepiece to the 55mm to widen the field.

9:52. Failed to telescopically view or image the ISS, yet again. It was close, correct general area, correct general path. Probably off by a degree or so. Tried the spiral Search and I could see it would help with this problem, it is effective. But I didn't let it go far enough or long enough.

Is this epic fail?

took measurements

Not of stars, this time...

Geoff and Tony needed some measurements for the upcoming GBO mini-workparty. I measured the thickness of the south door flaps and the width of the sill between the east and west walls.

I also found the special stainless steel screws that Tony had put in the GBO but that had been moved. (I think I moved them.) Counted them and told Tony the number.

Finally, I relayed the dimensions of the water/ice barrier material that I had donated.

Geoff and Tony sent their thanks.

quiet time needed

Decided to stay on an extra day/night. Felt like I needed some solo/quiet time.

I forgot the Markov clan was due...

Regardless. It'd give me another shot at ISS flyovers. More sky darker than home.

Stellarium for iPhone

Cool. I just learned that Stellarium will run on the iPhone.

I will have to tell the group.

I will have to resist...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

better seeing

Found Tim flying the C14. I took a look at Jupiter. And could tell right away the seeing was better than last night.

But I was very tired. Didn't feel like observing.

Helped Pete a little with the Genesis telescope. In fact, I pointed out that since it didn't have a finder scope, that it would be a good technique to use a very low power eyepiece, like the 50mm, to ease locating targets.

happy attendees (Beaver Valley)

I delivered the second presentation with night sky show (of two) for the Farmer's Pantry, south of Clarksburg. It too was very successful. 2 hits for 2 at bats. Great weather both events.

This time we looked at the Venus, ISS, constellations, bright stars, Mizar/Alcor, Mizar A and B, an Iridium flare, Albireo, Jupiter, the Ring Nebula, and an orange Moon rising above the apple orchard. We used Mark I eyeballs, my tripod mounted binoculars, illegal green laser, and my 8" SCT with dew heaters on full.

It was brillo (lucky) timing on my part. As I concluded my presentation, my alarm went off for an ISS flyover. I wisked everyone outside and they watched the 6 minute pass while I packed up our presentation gear.

Young girls, 3 or 4 teenagers, some parents. Everyone had a great time, I think. One woman made strange noises not unlike Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally while viewing the Moon.

Pete, very new member visiting the CAO, assisted me with set-up and tear-down. He didn't seem to mind getting roped in. He had fun at the eyepiece too.

Via the RASC Toronto Centre education listserv Yahoo!Group, I thanked Leslie, Diane, Tony, et. al. for helping with projection equipment, giveaway SkyNews magazines, Star Finders, etc.


Forgot to do an alignment of the new finder scope. Fortunately, it was close. Found all my targets, including M57.

another stalker message

Received another threatening messaging from stalker "L."
Okay, maybe not as grand as you watching the shadow last night but I finally got a look at Jupiter just after midnight from our deck. I saw several bands/belts (those brown thingys), the four large moons and the GRS. It was a perfect night as not too hot/cold and no bugs to attack me.


Confidentiality Notice: The information contained in this email message is intended only for the personal and confidential use of the recipient(s) named above. This message and attachment(s), if any, is intended for the sole use of the individual and/or entity to which it is addressed, and may contain information that is privileged, confidential and prohibited from disclosure under applicable law.

In other words, do not post on your blog/FB!!!!!
I'll have to call my lawyer to see if this is legally binding...

shortened my presentation

I felt like my first Farmer's Pantry presentation ran too long. So I deleted a bunch of slides. But, I added another, to better describe the RASC.

Got my ducks in a row for the evening...

OK, I'll do it

Tim clearly didn't want to cut the grass. Tony urged us to cut around the GBO. It was long there.

Tim told me he didn't have a key to the garage. Told him it was in the kitchen drawer. Told me he had never used the mower before. Said I'd show him. Complained that the big garage door was too heavy. True, but it's gotta be done. He got lucky when the thing didn't start! Damn it.

After pushing and shoving on it, hearing a click, and charging up the battery, I got it started. I cut around the GBO, Observing Pad, and back patio. Pulled the red solar lights out to avoid collisions.

Tim said he didn't think it appropriate to disturb me while I was cutting. OK then.

I cleaned the deck, with the mower on the ramps. Back into the garage.

I sure had better things to do...

spot 1101 (Blue Mountains)

Viewed sun spot 1101 in white light at the RASC Toronto Centre E.C. Carr Astronomical Observatory.

Once again noticed a lot of distracting debris in the eyepiece. Enough to confuse the untrained eye.

I offered to clean the 55mm Plössl eyepiece. I removed the silver tube barrel to get a better look at the telescope-facing lens. It appeared to have residue, perhaps from being dewed up. I turned the 2" eyepiece over. The elements fell out! Oops! Thank goodness they landed on the carpet.

Took me a while to figure out how to put it together... Wikipedia to the rescue. Small flat edge near the eye, slightly concave large edge near the 'scope, convex surfaces facing each other with the spacer ring between.

Then we cleaned the mirror.

Much better!

Tim, official CAO supervisor, took a few looks.

Very new member Pete took a few looks too...

guest weirdness

While not a full Moon weekend, we were not expecting a gaggle of guests to the Carr Astronomical Observatory. That said, the weather was looking fine. So maybe we'd get some takers perhaps. At the last minute. And then there was our mystery person, Pete...

Wed 25 Aug

Dietmar pulled me aside at the pub, after the RASC meeting, to say that he had received a direct email from a person named Pete. He wanted to visit the CAO this coming weekend. But Dietmar didn't recognise him so asked Ralph to investigate. Asked if I knew him. No.

Thu 26 Aug

12:37 AM. Dietmar emailed me. He thought Pete was a new member but his application was still being processed.


8:24. Received an update from Dietmar. He said "the guy is not listed anywhere." Still trying to get more info.

8:40. Ralph communicated with Pete. Said he couldn't find him in the National database. Asked Pete for his 5-digit member ID.

9:17. Pete sent his ID number to Ralph. He said he had signed up earlier in the week and had spoken to Irina. He said on following up, he found his status to be pending. Some sort of glitch in the iMIS system...

6:04 PM. Tim sent a note to the listserv saying he was the CAO supervisor for the weekend. That the weather was looking good. And he'd make his final go/no-go decision on Friday morning.

10:17. Meanwhile, Margie sent an email, via the Yahoo!Group, to say that she and Bob would be coming up to the CAO but were not planning on staying.

Fri 27 Aug

12:39 PM. Tim sent a note to the group saying he would, in fact, open the CAO for the weekend.

1:07. Got some good advice from Katrina for helping me deal with white witch, ex-hippie, freeloaders, with half-eaten loafs of bread who might show up at my presentation tomorrow night... Breath deeply. And carry a membership application!

4:52. Ralph followed up with Pete. Welcomed him aboard. Told him how to sign into the Centre web site and told him to book his CAO stay.

5:07. Dietmar told me that Ralph had accessed the National database and confirmed Pete was a new member. But they still didn't know if he bought a CAO annual pass.

5:33. Pete said he was having login issues and National wasn't able to help him. I wondered if he was trying to use his Centre login info on the National web site. He then said he was going to come up for the weekend, leaving after rush hour. Departing on Sunday. Asked about protocol. Provided a cellular number.

5:57. Dietmar forwarded the email thread between himself, Ralph, and Pete.

I don't remember the time but Bob phoned at some point. Said they were on their way.

8:58. Tim and I discussed Margie and Bob coming up later in the evening. We were a little worried about them travelling so late at night. They could hit a deer, raccoon, skunk, rabbit, moose, bear, train, another car...

Late in the evening, Tim and I wondered what had become of Pete. Maybe he had changed his mind. Perhaps he had gotten lost. But we hadn't heard the phone ring...

11:57 PM. Margie and Bob arrived at the CAO. I saw their headlights along the walls of the GBO observatory. A few moments later, as I happened to be walking to my car to get something, I said hello. I reminded them to sign in. They headed to the house for a bit.

Sat 28 Aug

12:11 AM. A light-coloured car entered the driveway, did a 180, and left, within about 20 seconds... Who could it be? Driver didn't get out. Tim and I had no idea that this had happened at the time... It was only later on checking security records that we spotted the mystery car.

12:30 AM. Our intrepid couple visited the GBO. I asked if they had received my email (about booking a room). They didn't really respond to that. I asked why they didn't want to stay. They didn't really respond to that. But they did say, "Oh, we've stayed before." OK.

1:13. Margie and Bob looked through the eyepiece of the Celestron 14" SCT at Jupiter. I had been at very high power. It was a bit blurry and shaky in the marginal seeing. I dropped to 217x power with the 18mm eyepiece. Bob said, "Life becomes liveable."

We let them play with the Tele Vue Genesis on the equatorial mount. Tough without a finder scope. But, good for their learnin'.

1:49. Margie and Bob left a few minutes ago.


10:00. During our late breakfast, Tim and I wondered what happened with Pete.

10:45. I emailed Ralph and Dietmar saying that we'd keep an eye out. I asked if they had provided a map. Or our phone number.

10:50. We heard and saw someone walking around the deck. The living doors were unlocked so I head over. Found a young man looking a little lost. He introduced himself: Pete. Ah! The mystery new member Pete. We welcomed him in. Funny timing.

We remarked that he had successfully found us. Not trivial getting up here. Pete revealed he had started to travel from the east along 18th Sideroad but when he reached the warning signs stopped and asked for directions. Someone rerouted him correctly so to come from the west. I asked where he had received his map from. He said he had one, from about a year ago. Odd. I wonder where he got it. I pointed out on the new local map, hanging from the bulletin board, how I had updated the road numbers, added the roundabout, etc. (Tim mentioned that I might need to update it again...) Alas, he made it to the right stop.

We asked when he had come up, expecting him to say, now. He replied, "Last night. I got here around midnight." We were stunned. We asked if he had come on the property. Knocked on a door. Phoned us. He relayed that he had driven into the parking lot. Twice, in fact. But didn't see anyone. Thought there was no one around. He drove back to the bottom of the driveway and parked. Slept in his car!

Later, Tim and I tried to grapple with this. I remembered turning on the deck red lights to "send a signal." The roof of the observatory was rolled back. There would have been mine and Tim's car parked in the lot. Possibly Margie and Bob's too. Then, at 1:45 AM or so, Margie and Bob would have driven by.

Regardless, he was here. While Tim hovered at the dining room computer, I gave him a tour of the house, assigned him a bedroom, walked him through the CAO Site Facilities document, rules and expectations, and later showed him the observatory.

Tried to help him feel welcome.

I did feel bad for Pete. I imagined how intimidating it would have been to arrive at night, not knowing the way, not knowing anyone.

Gave him the Lyra room. So he'd have a bed to sleep in tonight!

I know... I'll recruit him into service!

first shadow; new career split (Blue Mountains)

10:49 PM, Fri 27 Aug. Visible ISS passes completed for the evening, I settled down to do some proper astronomical observing. I put the dew cap on the GBO C14, to hopefully get rid of some stray moonlight. Put the big cap on, with velcro strips, successfully, on the first try. But then decided to move it, thinking it a little crooked. Spent the next few minutes floundering. I hope no one saw me. Sheesh. Should have left it alone...

11:54. I emailed Phil. Told him I was trying to view the Great Red Spot on Jupiter but combined with the elevation and seeing conditions, the eyepiece views were not great. The gas giant was only 27° up. We agreed that it should improve as the evening wore on.

Tim took some looks from time to time.

I was very pleased to find that SkyTools3 could simulate the Jovian moon shadow transits.

12:25 AM, Sat 28 Aug. Upon reading Phil's urgent email, I viewed the GRS in the C14. I was still using the 27mm eyepiece. He said it was "fabulous." For us, the seeing was still spotty. You had to wait a few seconds, up to a minute, to get a good—brief—shot.

1:04. The GRS was just past centre. Easier to see. The Europa shadow just starting to show up.

1:08. No bugs this evening. Humidity was 69%. Light wind (although the anemometer was not spinning, again).

1:13. Margie and Bob looked through the eyepiece of the Celestron 14" SCT at Jupiter. I had been at very high power. It was a bit blurry and shakey in the marginal seeing. I dropped to 217x power with the 18mm eyepiece. We all thought it better.

Tim reviewed the Genesis manual. And found it a rough go.

1:16. The Sky Quality Meter read 16.09.

1:49. I was the last man standing. Margie and Bob had left and Tim had gone to bed.

I watched Europa move closer and closer to the king of the planets, touch the limb, black line between them slowly disappearing, and then merge, to become a bump on the surface.

2:18. Moved the ladder out of the way of the telescope. Almost had a collision.

I couldn't see Europa itself any more, as it moved over the disk of Jupiter. But the shadow was very pronounced now, with the planet up high. Easy to see.

That shadow viewing was kind of a first for me. It represented the first time that I planned for it and observed it from the beginning stages. Nice to get that under my belt.

Now I need to nail a dual shadow crossing...

Decided to view some double stars, for fun. Reviewed my summer list, based on Alan Adler's article at Sky and Telescope. But realised that most of the available, unseen targets were too low in the sky, or had already set. So I pulled the companion winter list. Ah, Andromeda and Aries were well up!

Looked at the double star 36 Andromedae. I still had the 18mm eyepiece in, yielding 217x power. Didn't mean to do that. I usually start with a lower power eyepiece... Still, with that high power ocular, it gave me a chance to view the star closely. Initially, it appeared to be one star but when I looked again, I could see it was two! It was a figure-8. Very tight pair.

Deep yellow or yellow-orange. Equal colours. Equal brightness.

2:23. The red film for the flat screen was rippling in the breeze. Very distracting noise (not unlike the old theatre production trick of using a metal sheet to simulate thunder). I taped it back up.

2:27. Turned Sony voice recorder VOR on but saw right away it didn't work. Turned if back off. Forgot that I had it in directional (mono) mode...

2:29. I had moved up the magnification power. I put in the 10mm eyepiece, kicking it up to 391x. This reinforced that the stars were the same colour and exactly the same brightness.

Sissy Haas, in double stars for small telescopes, says that these stars are 1.0 seconds of arc apart. This is also the same number quoted by the S&T list. Rather suddenly, this became my new career lower limit! Other stars below 1.0, I have not been successful with, and I intend to revisit, in better conditions. The previous lowest confirmed limit was with Σ1291 aka 57 Cnc at 1.5". Confirmed! I was happy.

Haas says they have magnitudes 6.1 and 6.5; the S&T list says 5.5 and 5.9.

Amazingly, this split was done very near the Moon.

2:38. Viewed the double star 56 And with the 27mm ocular.

Haas says they are super-wide. I agree with this. Haas: 200.5; S&T: 199.5.

She says they are equal in brightness. I agree with this. Haas: 5.8 and 6.1; S&T: 5.7 and 5.9.

I assessed the colours to be citrus-orange and pale or straw-yellow. She describes the colour as "whitish scarlet and whitish lemon." Huh?! Smyth says both stars are yellow. The winter list from Adler indicates a zero in the colour difference column which means the stars are the same colour. So, no one agrees.

Also interesting is that the winter list recommends viewing at 4x. That's very low power. In the range of binoculars.

I've noted before that at higher power, the colours of double stars changes. If they are more widely separated, the colours will not blend and merge.

2:44. Viewed 1 Arietis with the 27mm. Light yellow and pale, robin's egg blue. Very light blue. Very tight together.

Haas: sun yellow and ocean blue. I wonder if someone was enjoying a margarita as they wrote up this one... She says the separation is 2.9 arc-seconds.

Bumped up to the 18mm.

Viewed ε (epsilon) Ari. Tight. Both sources say 1.4" separation. Same colour, white. Didn't make good notes on this one... Should probably look again.

2:52. Wind was building. It's shaking the 'scope at times. Particularly with the dew shield still attached. Anemometer was still not spinning.

2:55. I was feeling tired. And a bit sore, uncomfortable. Sitting too long? Wandering around directionless. Decided to pack up.

3:08. Dropped the Sony recorder. First time. That's a sign I was getting dopey.

3:09. Outside, roof closed, I found Orion rising. The belt stars, over the horizon, were almost straight up. Betelgeuse was flickering orange; Rigel was flickering blue, shimmering wildly, at 2° above the tree line.

Pretty nice sky, overall. Not a lot of clouds. There was a glow all around the horizon.

Looked to the north to spot aurora. Wishful thinking. It's really the wrong time to look, in many respects.

Friday, August 27, 2010

shot the Moon (Blue Mountains)

I was kind of demo'ing the MallinCam to Tim after my ISS attempts.

As there was not much else to do, I targetted the Moon.

We thought it a pretty impressive image.

Tele Vue 101, MallinCam Hyper Color

I forgot however to fix the aspect ratio before saving the captured image file.

missed both ISS passes (Blue Mountains)

Sorta missed.

I mean, they happened, we saw (and enjoyed) them. But I couldn't get the Paramount to precisely track them...


4:00 PM. When I arrived at the RASC Toronto Centre Carr Astronomical Observatory, while I was here sort of "on business," I was thinking about the ISS...

Now that the ISS had phased, once again, into evenings for Ontario, I wanted to see if I could image the International Space Station with the MallinCam. Or perhaps record a little movie!

I began to set up the telescope and camera. The immediate plan was to choose a bright target to establish alignment and focus.

Entered data from Heavens Above for the CAO location into my palmtop calendar. Set alarms.

Used my Sony voice recorder to capture my log notes.

5:15. I had been in the Geoff Brown Observatory for an hour or so, using the Paramount ME with TheSky6 software.

Just recorded a little movie to test the AVerMediaTV hardware and software. Worked good.

I looked at Venus with the Celestron 14" SCT with the Tele Vue 27mm eyepiece (yielding 144 power). Venus was a big disk! Huge in this 'scope. Quarter phase. Very nice. Pretty well centred.

I had hooked up the MallinCam Hyper Color with the black photo extension tube. I found it pretty well aligned. Venus was a small shape on the monitor though. Bit of a let down compared to the eyepiece view though. Ironically, I thought I'd turn the camera's zoom feature on but found it already set. Ha! At least that meant the alignment was very good.

Focus remains a challenge. I recorded the amount of the focuser tube exposed using a piece of paper, to measure later (2-1/8"). Tony had previously estimated the shaft position (1-3/8") but that was when we were still using the mirror diagonal. I will need to update my MallinCam notes...

5:25. Used my personal Celestron Ultima 2x doubler with the MallinCam. It worked! This was good news. It means that we can functionally double the image size of small objects. It still doesn't explain why the Centre's PowerMate 4x doesn't work.

7:18. I took my doubler out of the MallinCam setup as I wanted to have as wide a field as possible, for my ISS tracking/imaging test. That said, I did turn the zoom on.

Did a quick test. Told TheSky6 to go to a different object. Then I slewed back to Venus. It appeared in the MallinCam view. Yeh. Alignment of the TV101 was good!

OK. It was a good time to be hands-off. No more screwing around with the configuration... I had good focus, good camera settings, good alignment, cabling good, ready to image or record, ready to view optically.

8:35. I readied myself for ISS pass. I had TheSky6 programmed with the satellite ISS Zarya.

This flyover was to go overhead. I wondered how the Paramount would do with respect to crossing the meridian off to the north... That is, would it act any differently than a southern sky flyover?

My palmtop alarm went off. It was about 15 minutes to go for the flyover.

Tim came out to the observatory with his binoculars. As we waited for the ISS, we looked at the planets in the west. I read off the magnitudes from TheSky6: Mars 1.5, Saturn 1.0, Venus -4.4. Checked the positions: Mars was up and to the right of Venus; Saturn was almost the same elevation as Venus but much further to the right.

8:40. I said, "This is so exciting. It better work!" I was clearly anxious about the ISS pass.

8:42. I spotted Mars naked eye. It was about 4° away from Venus. A little later, with Tim's help, I spotted Saturn, without optical aid. It was tough to see though, fading in and out, with distant cloud. Or thick air.

8:45. Showed Tim the plot of the ISS in TheSky6 software.

Tim has a funny sense of humour...

8:48. I yawned. Lack of sleep. I must nap.

8:49. After a couple of attempts, I started the satellite tracking feature in TheSky6. Told Tim it would become visible 10° up in the south-west.

8:50. Atop the little white stepladder, peering over the west wall, I spotted the ISS visually, going straight up. The 'scopes couldn't see it though, based on the elevation and azimuth, with the south wall door flaps up.

8:51. At this time, I thought the MallinCam rig should be able to clearly see the ISS. But there was nothing on the monitor. There was also nothing in the eyepiece. Too much power? I checked the computer settings. It showed it had it. The mount was clearly making a good path.

I asked Tim if he wanted to take a look through the eyepiece, as I checked the computer. He too did not see the station; he did observe stars whizzing past. I wondered if I had the wrong data.

8:54. The 'mount shut off, having reached the meridian. I was disappointed.

I asked Tim if he could see any detail in his "bins." He replied negatively.

8:57. Visually watched the ISS fade out in the north-east. That was a long pass, horizon to horizon!

9:00. Rebooted the Paramount ME and TheSky6 as they were not operating correctly after driving fast into the meridian no-fly zone.

I wondered out loud how to verify the orbital element data was correct...


10:38. The second ISS pass was a flop too.

Both times the mount was tracking well, starting in the proper area, following the correct general path through the sky through to the end. But off. Off by a degree or so. I wondered again if it was bad or old TLE data. If the space station orbit was boosted during the day, then the TLE data would probably be incorrect, off a little.

It's always going to be an issue.

Made a mental note to read about adjusting the mount's alignment, on the fly...


Weird. My attempts on Jul 9 and Jul 10 were successful. Very successful. Why was it not working now?

Was I lucky?

Is the norm to be off a little?

Thank goodness there was not a huge crowd tonight! That would have been a big let down...


I noticed some distance numbers in Heavens Above, on the detailed pass page, with the overhead map. Never noticed these values before. It was very interesting to note that the ISS was about 2000 kilometres away when it would first become visible. At zenith, a mere 350.

first DSO image (Blue Mountains)

I believe this represents my first attempt at a deep sky object image.

Between the ISS passes, with the MallinCam attached to the Tele Vue 101, I demonstrated to Tim how the setup worked. We visited some DSOs.

And then settled on Messier 51, the Whirlpool.

Tele Vue 101, MallinCam Hyper Color. North is bottom-right; east is bottom-left.

Tim and I thought it looked fair on the monitor. It does not seem as good on the PC. Is that because I'm using the BNC port and component vs. S-video?

inside a C8

Brian posted a message on the Classic Celestrons Yahoo!Group.

He had taken his SCT 8" apart!

Then photographed the process.


installed ST3P

While doing ISS prep, I thought I'd install SkyTools3 Pro to the netbook computer. I unpacked the external optical drive from the Toronto Centre's old laptop. Plugged into the USB port.

6:50 PM. Began the installation of SkyTools3 software proper.

7:03 PM. Put in the extended data disc.

Is it a DVD vs. a CD?

Now I gots some learnin' to do... Looks like the Getting Started tutorials will be a good place to start.

power tank charged

3:50 PM. Arrived at the RASC Toronto Centre Carr Astronomical Observatory. Ultimately here, with projector, laptop, telescope, and lots o' giveaways, to deliver my second astronomy presentation at the Farmer's Pantry apple orchard.

4:30. Started charging the gel cell batteries, in preparation for the Saturday night. Rolled my heavy battery tank mobile cart from the driveway to the Geoff Brown Observatory. Grabbed the MotoMaster 12 volt battery charger from the garage. This smart charger is the one I picked up, during a sale, for the society from Canadian Tire.

Hmmm. The front plate is off kilter. It would have required a lot of force to do that. Looks like the thing's been dropped! I wonder if that happened during the snake discovery... I set the charger on the ground, off to the side, under an observatory table.

Connected to the primary battery in the tank. With the buttons on the front panel, I put the charger to gel type battery and on 15 amp mode.

5:21. Tried, for the first time, the "divide" feature on the Sony voice recorder. There was positive feedback on the little screen: a pair of scissors snipping. Also, the time stamp updated. It worked good, upon playback.

This means, in the future, all I need to do is make sure, at the beginning of an observing session that the time is synched. And then, when I hit the DIVIDE button, it will essentially mark the time. I can not worry about reading a clock. I can let the recorder run continuously. Cool.

Heard a car coming up the drive. I suspected it was Tim. He had said, on the Yahoo!Group, that he was going to open the CAO at 6:00 PM. I recognised his car.

Gave him his own personal key for the supervisor's closet.

5:43. The first battery showed as charged. I connected to the backup battery to boost it too.

7:13. While monitoring my batteries, I took some photos of the smaller garage alarm 12 volt battery, for Tony. He suspects it is very old and won't hold up during a long outage...

Checked it for dates. Nothing was stamped into the plastic casing. The date code on the top sticker, unfortunately, was unreadable... Splashed with water. Or acid.

7:20. The second gel battery reported itself charged.

I put the leads back on the primary battery but with the charger at 2 amps, trickle level, just to keep it topped up.


Later, Tim would remark that it looked very suspicious what I was doing... Funny guy.


Couple of other things to do in preparation for the apple orchard event: make sure the laptop computer is working OK; freshen up the presentation file; and phone the orchard to go over (and improve) logistics... Oh, and program calendar alarms in my palmtop for the ISS flyovers!


Arrived at Diane's work.

Unhappy memories of this neighbourhood...

They called her from the back. Her smiling visage greeted me. She also had our Panasonic digital projector. Yeah!

I gave her Paul's ST3 Pro package.

And I was off!

unpacking SkyTools3

Stupid DVP was clogged so I had to make part of the journey via Don Mills. It actually worked out pretty good. On non-rush hour times, the third lane is available. I probably could have continued up to York Mills.

Arrived at Phil's shop on Steelcase and backed into a parking spot. He came out. "I could hear you," he said. Then suggested we take two cars so I could make a rapid getaway. Giddyup.

We lunched at Shopsy's. Before the great corned beef sandwich arrived, I let him open the package. We found two separate stacks of nicely printed cardboard optical disc covers in bubble wrap: Standard Edition isolated from the Pro. We counted them. He took a Pro for himself. The Pro package had two discs vs. one.

I reviewed the waybill. My address was correctly specified by Greg, with the correct door noted. Silly postie I guess didn't read that...

Next stop: Diane's shop.

Then: the Blue Mountains... Phil suggested a route different than my plan. He suspected that Hwy 400 would be bad, with early cottage traffic. He told me that they always take the 404 as far as it goes, right to the end, to Greenline. Cautioned me that Davis from the 404 would be too slow. Only at Bathurst would they come back down to Davis. Then continue, as it changed to Hwy 9, on into Orangeville.


Should have photographed Phil happily unboxing.

phoned Phil back

I telephoned Phil back. Told him I suddenly found myself ahead of schedule. As I was to meet Diane at a new time of 1:00 PM, I had 1.5 hours to kill. Asked if he had lunch plans. He heartily accepted. I concluded my packing and began the journey.

A spin-off of this revised plan was that I would be a little bit further ahead of the early rush hour / cottage crowd...

let group know

I sent a message to the SkyTools3 purchasers to let them know I had the software. And bemoaned that I had not received it 2 days previous. It would have been convenient to hand out at Wednesday meeting. Alas. I informed people I was heading to the CAO, and taking the package with me. Offered they could meet me there...

Had a brilliant thought. I phoned Paul at home. Was a little surprised when he picked up. Offered, since I was meeting Diane, and that they live close to one another, or might bump into one another at the DDO, that I give his copy to her. He was happy.

Phone Phil and made the same offer. He suggested, instead, that I drop by his office after visiting Diane. But I was feeling a little anxious. Wanted to get out of Dodge. He accepted my proposal.

Then I called Charles. In jest, every time he phoned me recently, he demanded, "Where's my damned SkyTools3?!" I dangled the carrot...

package from Crinklaw

Dropped by my local Canada Post outlet on Dundas St West. Handed over my delivery notice; showed my driver's licence. He said, "Sign here." Then handed me the package. I glanced at the hand-completed waybill. Saw "Crinklaw." Oddly, I didn't see SkyHound. But the last name was all I needed to observe. Yeah! I finally had the SkyTools3 software in my hands!

No duty or taxes due. I left the store. And almost phoned Phil in my excitement...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

delivery notice

Hmm. Was home all day. Didn't hear door bell ring. The goof balls must have tried the wrong door. Traced the delivery card notice number: it's an international item that was sent on 20 Aug 2010 at 3:26 PM...

practiced setup

I did a practice run with Denis's occultation gear to make sure I understand how to connect and operate everything.

I reviewed the equipment provided.
  • recording: Canon Elura 80 miniDV camcorder
  • live image capture: AstroVid StellaCam3 camera
  • time stamp insertion: Kiwi OSD video time insertor v41
  • monitoring: Oslon LCD 7" TFT Color TV monitor
  • accurate time date: Garmin 18 LVC GPS
  • live viewing, alignment: Vixen flip mirror
I found a number of items were pre-configured and connected. So, assuming they are not mucked with, these items just need to be double-checked.
  • camcorder battery is charged
  • a tape is loaded into the camcorder
  • Kiwi connected to 12v power, GPS, camera, camcorder
  • monitor connected to 12v power, Kiwi
  • monitor positioned at good viewing angle
  • microphone is connected to 12v power, camcorder
Then in preparation, the following items need to be completed before an occultation.
  1. connect gear to telescope
    • attach flip mirror to telescope
    • insert camera into flip mirror
    • insert eyepiece into flip mirror
  2. place GPS receiver with clear view of sky
  3. connect cables to camera
    • video output port (BNC) to video camera input cable (yellow)
    • remote control keypad (black)
    • power cable (red)
  4. prepare camcorder
    • connect camcorder video input port (1/8") to Kiwi video output
    • set camera POWER to Play (VCR) * note: Play; not Camera (record)
    • set camera menu VCR SETUP option AV->DV to ON
    • open the LCD panel
    • press the REC PAUSE button
  5. power the entire rig
  6. power the monitor
  7. wait for...
    • GPS to aquire a time signal
    • camera COOLING to complete
  8. press the PLAY button to begin recording
I'm still not sure how the flip mirror will come into play, exactly, with my gear. I don't understand yet how it will connect to my 'scope. Maybe it needs an adapter. Perhaps I'll not be able to use it.


The second sub-step of 4 is a gotcha. Normally, with a camcorder, to record, you activate Camera mode vs. Play (VCR). If in Camera recording mode, you will not be able to access AV->DV option.


Phil slipped me an item after the RASC meeting last night. It was a DVD. But wrapped in a plastic bag, I could not see what it was.

Popped it into Magic Bag v3 without looking as we bailed out of the Ontario Science Centre.

This morning, unpacking, I discovered it was Big Bang Theory. Woo hoo!

People have been telling me about the show but I never sat down to check it out. And then, I wanted to start at the beginning. Looking forward to it.

blood red

Funny article over at Gizmodo on the Iron Samurai digital watch.

"Yes, the Iron Samurai has been known to increase its wearers' strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma by as much as 20 points each! "

No mention that it improves vision (of the amateur astronomer).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

posted TSFTNTW article

Did my The Sky... presentation tonight at the Ontario Science Centre for the RASC Toronto Centre. Normally for the month. Hence The Sky This Month (TSTM) moniker.

Posted my handout content on the RASC TC site with a downloadable calendar.

Surprisingly big crowd for an August meeting. I think I ran out of handouts. I had made 65 and kept one for myself...


Bob asked a question about the background pano images of the DDO and OSC in Stellarium, how they are made. I briefly explained. And encouraged people that they make an image of their backyard or other preferred viewing locations so to help predict sight lines.


Link killed. Look on the lumpy darkness companion site's presentations page.

First Light

Diane and Sharmin announced the First Light program for new members of the RASC Toronto Centre.

They've asked me to be one of the mentors, along with Katrina, Stu, Paul, etc.

Starts Tue 14 Sep up at the David Dunlap Observatory.

returned motor

Erich was very happy to receive his repaired declination motor.

I asked him to do a full-up test, installed on the mount.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

fix Erich's motor

Repaired Erich's Skywatcher declination motor jack.

I found a nearly equivalent 6-pin, 4-conductor RJ-11 jack at Sayal Electronics in Mississauga. It is slightly taller than the original.

Desoldered and removed the 2 broken pins from the PCB. Vacuumed the board. Cut the outside pins from the base of the new plug. Cut the plastic mounting pins, as they did not match the PCB holes. Slotted the new jack into the board and soldered 'er up.

Erich had provided the hand controller for testing. Fired it up at 8x. It worked.

So, overall, a quick repair. It still cries out for a redesign. But that would require a re-think and some time and effort. Not surprisingly, I found that others over at Cloudy Nights have been thinkin' the same thing.

In the meantime, this needs to be glued to the board...

Phoned Erich to arrange a drop-off.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Phil caught it

I shouldn't be offering to do the September TSTM; I'm planning to be in Algonquin! Damn!

I need to better plan my astronomy plans.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

playing with Stellarium

Lookin' like a rainy weekend... So, jumped into Stellarium to tune it.

Added the Potentially Hazardous Asteroid 2009 SH2 so that we can watch the fly-by at the end of September. That's right, fly-by. Please don't fly into us!

Added comet 103P/Hartley 2. This looks like it will provide a great opportunity in early September.

Then I hacked the Jupiter texture in Fireworks to bleach out an equatorial belt.

Friday, August 20, 2010

from memory

I kept thinking about the North American nebula. Had I actually seen it at the CAO while we were meteor watching?

I grabbed a piece of paper and quickly sketched what I remembered seeing... Completely from memory.

It will be interesting to see if it matches in any way. In terms of relative sizes or position.

Sep 8 TSTM too

Paul asked me to confirm that I'll deliver this one too.

It's kinda weird how the dates fall. How the RASC Toronto Centre meetings were planned. The Sep 8 meeting is two weeks after the Aug 25 meeting.

That affects how much time I'll cover in the first presentation...

Mike to help

Chas called me. Finally met up with Mike, as he picked up his race car bearings. Mike said hi. Recounted me walking about the paddock with a helmet atop my head. Chas did his pitch and Mike said, in fact, he could get us some projectors cheap. Wanted to know what we wanted in terms of lumens, throw, ports. I reminded Chas that I had documented all this back in June and stuffed the doc in the Council group.

ST3 heading north

Greg emailed me our SkyTools3 order confirmation, with tracking number. I'm giddy! Now, what will be interesting, is if the order will arrive before the Wednesday meeting... If it does, it'll feel like Christmas morning!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

gave Jason access

Created an account on the RASC Toronto Centre web site CMS for Jason. To let him explore.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

met with Jason

He's keen to improve the RASC Toronto Centre web site. We came up with lots of good ideas.

I was most impressed that he's cautious: he wants to research what people want, he wants to analyse expectations and requirements. Wow.

Then he said The Magic Phrase: I believe Form Follows Function.

ST3 order being processed

I heard from Greg at SkyHound. He said he received our order today. Shipping tomorrow! Exciting!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

TSTM again

Eric was the scheduled presenter for RASC Toronto Centre The Sky This Month on August 25. But it turns out that he'll be away. So I'm the stand in.

wrapped the adapter

The little red square of film I had taped over the crazy super bright blue LED of the netbook power brick had dislodged itself some time ago trashing my dark adaptation when using the computer near the telescope.

it doesn't look like it but that's an ingot of lava

I reapplied the tiny red film square. But this time I wrapped a strip of packing tape around the adapter. Should last a bit longer this time. We hope. But who knows how the intense heat will affect things...

Now I need to turn my attention to the computer itself: its red film, covering 3 blue and 1 green/red that aim straight in your right eyeball, has dislodged also!

Monday, August 16, 2010

not in the mood

Clear tonight, remarkably, in the city. But I was tired. That the house mates had all their lights on was not great either. Had a couple of beers. It was muggy.

But I was just not in the mood.

Burnt out?

gremlin's work

Mom reported receiving the Jul/Aug issue of SkyNews.

Like Earl's List, the Universe corrected itself a little bit today.

sent report

Submitted my detailed report to the CAO Committee. On one bad apple. As neutral and factually as I could. Even though I was not the official supervisor in charge. While everyone thought I was. I was unfortunate to be the last one up. That was unpleasant...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

bummed out

I am a little sad and disappointed. I went to the CAO on Aug 6 in hopes of getting a gaggle of clear nights. The weather was unsettled.

Now, I'm back in Toronto. And the Clear Sky Chart for the CAO shows Sunday and Monday nights will be great.


negative and positive

Lots of bad news when I got home [sic].

But the newest issue of SkyNews (Sep/Oct) greeted me as well. Hopefully, it will lift my spirits.

I noticed it came in a plastic bag. The address was directly printed on the bag. Nice change. The front cover image is not obliterated. But, this all might be a blip. There was an insert for the Museums of Canada...

so tired

As I drove home from the CAO, I felt incredibly tired. Despite a lot of relaxing. I guessed it was because my sleep patterns were all shot to hell... Occasional late-night observing; then getting up early to baby sit badly behaving adult-shaped humans.

I think I need to get more proactive about day-time naps... I normally get tired around 3 or 4.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Rumours are starting to reach us that 2000 humans showed up the DDO for the Perseids! Absolutely incredible!

cleaning support

Phil and I offered up our cleaning kits to Kiron so that he could clean the objective and ocular lenses of his new Nikon binoculars. Phil had his LensPen; I had isopropanol. Took him a couple of attempts to get whatever goo was on them.

Phil watched from afar.

pulled the plug (Blue Mountains)

Got hazed out or clouded out trying for the Gerda occultation.

hazed out (Blue Mountains)

Katrina joined me in the THO for the 122 Gerda occultation.

We were tuned to the US time signal station from Colorado. I had the long wire antenna snaking out the window and aimed south.

We talked about various things. For example, getting one's observing chair in a good spot so to be comfortable during the entire time window. Which eyepiece I had chosen. Previous occultation attempts and their results. Right-angle finder scopes and 1x red dot/circle finders. She's thinking about switching from a Telrad to a Rigel, although the Rigel does not use standard batteries. She really likes having both styles of finders. I said that I expected the 1x finder would be best for star parties when you needed to target something quickly.

12:17 AM. I remarked that the eyepiece view was sketchy. I was having a hard time, despite dark adaptation, seeing the stars. Katrina said that clouds near Sagittarius were gone.

We talked about meteors. She had seen 20 so far. She was surprised how low they were. I enjoyed looking at the radiant.

Katrina noticed that where she was standing was affecting the radio.

12:23. I wondered out loud why I do this! I knew the constellation was sinking. I wondered out loud, why I chose to do this.

12:24. I noticed that the stars brightened. A cloud must have moved away.

12:25. I thought them dim again. I switched to the 18mm eyepiece in hopes of improving the view. Nope.

12:27. Murky. I switched back to the 9mm. I thought there were clouds. The bright star lower in the field was much dimmer. I thought it indeterminate. Just seemed to be getting worse.

12:29. I asked Katrina how it looked in the south. She could see all the main stars. But she said it seemed hazy. I told her that I would not be able to call it. If the star went out, I would not see it.

12:32. I said that it was a bust. Offered a view of the eyepiece. She was quiet for a long time. Then she said it was too bad that it wasn't the bright star in the field.

She turned off the radio for me. Thanked me for inviting her.

Katrina was seeing Perseids from within the THO.

She spotted my Turn Left At Orion. She met Brother Guy the first time she went to NEAF and got him to sign her book. Said he was very nice. Very unpriesty.

We headed back to the Observing Pad for more meteors...

occultation prep (Blue Mountains)

Used LightWedge NightVision in the lowest setting with the Pocket Sky Atlas. It's a good red colour. More than enough light. The biggest challenge is my degraded close vision. Must wear my bifocals to read the underlaying chart.

Used the right-angle finder. I noticed the viewed motion that is as the telescope moves the right the stars move in an appropriate direction, i.e. to the left. Oddly, I kept turning the knobs the wrong way. I must be manipulating the controls with some muscle memory.

Settled on π (pi) Sagittarii.


Prepared for the occultation. Radio hooked up and working. Star hopped and put in the TV 9mm. Turned the roof a bit more. On (or near) target star.

It's really faint. Due at 4:35 UT.

Tempted to go to the C14. But that's a big deal. Lot of running around. Would need to move radio and recorder. An unknown quantity is if I the 'scope would be able to see the target at such a low elevation given that the south doors are not to be opened...

Trying to get dark adapted.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bob phoned

Bob phoned saying that he and Margie wanted to visit the CAO, to see some Perseids, but not stay over...

It puts us in a bit of an awkward position, this kind of request. It makes us responsible for an immediate and highly accurate weather prediction.

I told Bob that the weather was unsettled of late, we had no idea how it was going to turn out, and that it was an awfully long way to drive, particularly if it didn't pan out and they were not planning on staying.

Friday meteors (Blue Mountains)

I joined a gaggle of people near the Observing Pad. They were watching for meteors again, one day after the peak. I recorded the audio. It's pretty funny.

I could hear Millie, Sue, Fred, Phil, Kiron. And wind noise (without the sock).

Fred was shooting wide angles of the Milky Way hoping to catch something in his net. He did. And he posted it on his Facebook Misc. imagery page.

I spotted a meteor in Ursa Minor heading toward Polaris. It must have been an Aquarid.


I uploaded the sound file to my companion site for one's listening pleasure. Scroll down to the "meteor watching sounds" section.

fixed Phil's light

Phil had given me an USB keyboard LED light which he had tried to fix on his own. He successfully removed the white LED but had trouble working with the short leads.

On this trip, I had remembered all my gear: electronics toolbox with soldering iron, solder, alligator clips, DMM, helping hands, sinkwrap, etc.; my spare electronics parts tray with deep red 660 nm LEDs and resistors of various levels; my other spare electronics parts tray (if needed); and my heat gun.

I repaired it at the picnic table as strange guests arrived.

back to the workshop

Erich asked, in the morning, if I could look at his motor adapter plug on his mount. He was having some trouble with it. As I looked closely at it, after dismounting the motor assembly from the head, I found that the RJ connector was completely separated from the circuit board and some of the wire pins were broken. With no chance of a quick field repair.

Like the Grinch, I'll need to take it back to my workshop.

spinning again

The anemometer started spinning again.

10x50 finder installed

I completed the installation of the 10x50 Orion finder scope.

Thanks to Phil and Tony and Tim. Phil brought his tap and die kit to the CAO; Tony brought me a little piece of steel. Tim reinforced I should not drill into the C8 tube (at least while fully assembled).

The holes for the Orion dovetail did not match those of the cheapo Celestron finder scope mount. One option was to drill into the rear cell, make a new hole, and then thread it. That unnerved me a little. One of these days I will take apart the C8... Tim replied quickly to an email shot across the bow and he said the mirror should be removed before drilling.

An alternate approach popped into my brain. Get a hunk of metal plate. Screw it to the original Celestron mounting holes. Then in the plate make different, new holes for the Orion.

It worked!

Note the original hex head round-top screw holding the new steel plate to the OTA. You can just barely see the opposite round head under the Orion dovetail.


It did not occur to me in selecting a new finder scope, with its own dovetail, that it would be removeable. That I can remove the finder scope means that the OTA will be that much easier to pack and transport.


All that said, this just lengthened the set up time for the SCT. The finder scope needs to be mounted and aligned for each session...

lots of Perseids (Blue Mountains)

We saw lots of Perseids here at the CAO this evening. Last time I heard, Millie alone had seen 42. Combined, we've probably seen 200 or so.


Corrections... Millie reported a final count around 70. Katrina was in that ballpark. Others saw anywhere from 25 to 50. Combined we probably saw well over 100 unique.

uncomfortable incident

I was not the official supervisor for the weekend at the CAO but everyone seemed to think I was. Regardless, as the only one awake, I had to deal with an "emergency." One of our members fell down, loaded up on powerful sleep meds and booze and no food.

It made for a very uncomfortable situation and upset a bunch of our members.

Why does crap like this have to happen?

I don't get it: why would an amateur astronomer take sleep medication?!

NA naked eye? (Blue Mountains)

We had a pretty good sky for the Perseids. We were getting so dark adapted that everything seemed bright!

I asked if one could see the North American nebula (Caldwell 20), with the Pelican nearby, naked eye.

No one seemed to know.

But I was noticing some extremely bright concentrations of stars and nebula near Deneb, between Cygnus and Cassiopeia. The shapes were very evocative...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

received the library crowd (Blue Mountains)

Tony, once again, delivered his astronomy talk at the Thornbury library and then brought his charge to the CAO.

He gave them a brief tour of the grounds, sliced them into two groups, and then let them loose.

Dietmar and I flew the Paramount ME in the GBO. We offered eyeball viewing through the C14. I had strapped up the MallinCam to the TV101 with the flatscreen monitor. We showed Messier 13 (M13), Messier 57 (M57), Messier 27 (M27), and Messier 16 (M16).

There were lots of good questions. Planning ahead (for a change) I had prepared some notes with details of the selected objects, including their distances.

Later in the evening, members and guests started counting Perseids out on the lawn.

It was a fun night.


Had to play with some of the MallinCam settings quickly and on-the-fly. It will be good to get some documentation settled down...

Remote control will be awesome, if possible.

Moon and Venus (Blue Mountains)

The evening kicked off with a young Moon and Venus.

Couldn't see Mars and Saturn.


You can just see the TV101 and C14 inside the GBO. I had the MallinCam on the Moon. I could see the Moon live and on the monitor...

whole Sun (Blue Mountains)

Wanted to make a image of the whole Sun.

Used the camera's horizontal flip feature.

Use MS Photo Editor on the Centre's laptop to stitch the two images togethers.

more spots & proms (Blue Mountains)

Fired up the GBO 'scopes. We viewed the Sun in Hydrogen-alpha and white light. Spotted the new complex of spots, 1098, moving towards the meridian. There's a huge fountain-like prominence at the 6 o'clock position.

I got everyone to take a look. Michael, John, Katrina, Fred, Sue, Grace, Millie, Dietmar. And Tony too.

Katrina is tweeting this as I blog... Fred is Facebooking...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mom's SkyNews continues

My Mom emailed me to say that she had received the Sep/Oct issue of SkyNews.

That was a good sign that the gift subscription is working. Again. Properly.

She wanted to know if she would ever see the Jul/Aug issue...

anemometer stuck

I noticed that the Davis weather station anemometer stopped spinning a couple of days ago. With Dietmar spotting me, I got myself atop the roof of the garage. Gave it a poke with broom handle. I could tell it was binding. Making a light scraping sound. Bad bearings? Checked the FAQ. Sent a message to the Davis support team...

Fred arrives with gifts

Katrina and Fred arrived with new trailer, new canoe, new telescope. And LightWedge NightVision. Everyone was excited to try them. And curiously, there was a shortage of AAA batteries.

day time ISS attempt (Blue Mountains)

I just tried a day time observation of the International Space Station.

The challenge was seeing (and recording) anything with the MallinCam. I had the camera hooked up and ready to go. Shutter speed to 12000. But I didn't know if the alignment was good, if the focus was good, if any other camera settings would have been necessary. I was hoping the alignment and focus would be OK. I hadn't touched them from the day before...

Once again, the RASC Toronto Centre's Paramount ME worked flawlessly. It tracked the ISS well. I know this because I could see it in the small finder scope!

It started off a point of light. But as it rose in the sky, and got into the darker blue of the sky, and as it drew closer, I could see some shape or shapes: initially it seemed a white line with a bulge in the middle; later it seemed rectangular. Actually, two white rectangles overlapping and offset.

The station is challenging to see against the blue sky. Dietmar looked through the finder and he couldn't see it.

While Dietmar was at the eyepiece, I tried—using the tubes as pointers—to spot it naked eye. Ha. No.

We don't know the magnification of the finder but it's probably around 8 or 10 times.

So, back to the drawing board...

don't rush

Up early today... Relatively early. After hitting the snooze alarm a couple of times, I grabbed the computer. Checked for flyovers. There was one in 10 minutes. Ah no. Next one was at 9:49. That gives time for breakfast...

translucent viewing (Blue Mountains)

8:00 PM, 10 August 2010. I got myself ready for an evening of observing. Conditions looked reasonable. Venus had been visible for some time now. Mars and Saturn should have been nearby. Looked forward to that. This evening I would be joined by Millie and Dietmar. I planned to observe, again, in the Tony Horvatin Observatory of the RASC Toronto Centre.

8:15. I finally spotted Mercury in the Celestron 14" SCT. And it was faint. Very low in the sky. Could not see in the MallinCam. Could not see naked eye.

8:35. I returned to the THO. I did a bit of prep for the session. Opened the roof flaps to start cooling things down. Set the netbook into red light mode. Looked up and saw Venus. Looked like it was about 15° up.

Decided not to use the audio recorder.

8:52. All right! I found the hexagon piece for the Manfrotto head of my big metal tripod. In astronomy box α! Woo hoo! When it went missing a couple of nights ago, I felt dreadful. Did I leave it in Toronto? In my garage? Was it packed away somewhere in my recent, rapid tiding up? Was it floating around in the trunk of the car? I wasn't worried that I had lost it. But it was making the entire tripod useless and that was frustrating. But in a moment of clarity, I considered that it was in box α which is where I normally stored the binoculars "mount." This line of reasoning proved correct. Yeh!

Not that it mattered. Mars and Saturn were so faint and occasionally blocked by clouds that I decided to skip photographing them.

9:38. I was running very late. I finished dinner. Did my dishes. Headed outside. With a bit of scanning and averted vision I saw Mars, Saturn, and Porrima. Surprisingly dim. Visited Dietmar in the observatory. He was working the cone angle for his GEM. Visited Millie on the pad. She was in the middle of her alignment process. I trundled off to the hut.

10:21. Added bug spray to hands and head. Nasty mozzies. Just viewed Messier 94 (M94). Again. 26mm then 9mm. Dim. Didn't seem as good as Friday. I should quit while I'm ahead.

10:41. Star hopped using Pocket Sky Atlas. View of Messier 51 (M51) was unsatisfying. Very hard to see in 9mm. It was a bit better in the 18mm. Curiously. Was the sky off?

Tried viewing M19 (aka NGC 6273). Disappointing. I think again the transparency was way off. With the 18mm I could not detect structure in Messier 19. I wanted to say it was a globular but that was really just a guess.

Maybe it was affected by the same cloud system I could see to the south-east.

11:21. Chatted with Millie. She spotted a few meteors. We both saw one. Definitely a Perseid. She asked if I had seen M30. I couldn't remember...

I checked my Messier list. In fact, I have not seen it. It's below Capricornus. Right in the middle of all that cloud. It would cross the meridian around 1:40. I decided that I would wait until then.

11:37. Saw a flash. It lit up the inside of the THO. It might have come from the north east... A bollide? Checked with Millie. She too saw it, out of the corner of an eye.

11:38. I saw a slow moving meteor between Cap and Sagittarius. The direction was from the north west. Weird. Not a Perseid or a Aquarid.

11:50. Viewed M75 (aka NGC 6864) near Cap in Sagittarius. Dim again. Messier 75 was a compact object. It was 23° up. I thought that I needed to view higher objects in these conditions.

Break time. Happy 11 August 2010.

12:06 AM. I returned from my little break. Had caffeine with me. In the house, I changed out of damp t-shirt. Changed out of jeans. Too hot and humid. Fresh shirt and shorts. Yep. Shorts. Beautiful whole sky going on. I enjoyed the view as I walked across the parking lot. In the THO, I put on my bug suit, jacket, and pants.

1:02. Reviewed Turn Left at Orion. I discovered that I had completed almost all the summer objects. Viewed 51 Cygni, an "in the area" suggestion. The first star we found planets around. It was not easy to get to. It was faint too. Probably not a worthy subject in city observing when trying to discuss exoplanets.

It is visible naked eye here at the CAO. It's mag 5.40.

1:15. Tried the society's 55mm ocular in my 'scope. Dietmar was right: I saw the central obstruction.

1:34. After all these years, I finally saw Messier 110. Confirmed. Messier 32 (M32) is easy. But I've always mistaken 32 for 110.

With the baader planetarium wide field eyepiece, I did a bunch of scanning and searching. Compared various star patterns. Used Stellarium to confirm everything.

M110 is very faint! Holy cow. That doesn't help matters.

The cool thing is that I was able to fit all three objects in a single field. Which was interesting. This was a very good indicator that the TFOV for this 36mm eyepiece is over 1 degree.

Millie let me try her 40mm Plössl. It was really no different than my 36mm wide field. Intriguing.

2:12. Viewed NGC 752 (aka Caldwell 28) in Andromeda. It is a loose, large open cluster. I counted over 50 stars in a 1 degree field.

2:17. My eyeglasses strap just broke. Gonna need a replacement. Perhaps I can find one that uses a different design. I've never really trusted this one.

2:50. Tried to split the ultra tight pair of γ (gamma) Andromedae. Used the new 18mm. That eyepiece widely split the main stars and improved the star colours—classic yellow and blue. I roughly estimated the position angle to be 50 or so (Haas says 63). I put in the Ultima doubler. And, in the middle of the yellow diffraction rings, I could see a peanut. Not a single star point. Could have been two stars touching. Or I need to collimate. That was 444 times. And I still could not split the close pair...

Did I try splitting the wrong star? Is it the blue star?!

3:03. We were clouded out! Fog in the distance. OK. That meant I needed to close up shop.

I found dew on the corrector. So, even in the THO, I can get dew...

3:24. Just figured out a way to "hang" the Sony recorder on the telescope tripod with a couple of Velcro straps.

I could heard Dietmar closing the GBO roof.

I headed to the house.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

MallinCam day

Weird, how many things MallinCam occurred today...
  • connected our MallinCam Hyper Color to our Tele Vue and successfully imaged the Sun in Hα on our flatscreen monitor
  • corrected the flatscreen monitor representation with 4:3 ratio
  • Dietmar told me about a MallinCam article in the latest issue of SkyNews
  • when Denis arrived the CAO, he handed me the said issue to read
  • before Denis left, he gave me a piece of computer hardware that enabled connection to a computer and the capture of live video and snapshots
  • I easily found and installed and operated the software for live video viewing of the MallinCam
  • Dietmar brought a 3" custom photo extension tube made by Dave S.
  • I found a standard 2" photo extension tube in the eyepiece cabinet
  • I was able to halt the society's processing of my gift-in-kind of a new 2" photo extension tube
Some weird nexus. Strange how it all happened at once...

and this (Blue Mountains)

I just zoomed in.

There's sunspot 1093 at the bottom left and the 1096 complex in the middle of the surface of the Sun. Look at those prominences!


All of this is possible because of Denis dropping by today. As he was demonstrating his occultation gear to me, he handed me a PCMCIA card. He said it was an analog TV card that he wasn't able to use anymore. I knew my netbook couldn't work with it. But I accepted it.

After he left, I looked up the company web site. Lo and behold, AVerMedia is a going concern. I found the drivers, application software, and user manual for the 501R CardBus. Installed everything. Unpowered the MallinCam. Plugged everything in. Returned to the Dell laptop. Oh oh. Black Screen of Death. Not good. But after hard booting, everything worked great!

Absolutely amazing.

how about this (Blue Mountains)

I just took a snapshot of a live video feed from the MallinCam.

Like that?!

COS back in the city

Stu called a GO for the City Observing Sessions, both at Bayview and High Park. On this occasion, Stu planned to be at the High Park location, so that he could see for himself the lighting issues, and evaluate the utility of the site.

It's too bad, in a way, that I can't be there to receive him...

round Sun (Blue Mountains)

Just crawled into the LCD monitor's settings and changed the Aspect Ratio option from Full to 4:3.

Look at that... The Sun is round again.

occ gear demo

Denis popped into the CAO. He's on his way to StarFest. While here, he gave me a demo of his video occultation gear. He's going to give it to me next week, for me to care for, and hopefully successfully use, while he's on sabbatical.

daytime pass?

I suddenly remembered to try for a daytime passes for the ISS, to view with the help of the Paramount ME and possibly image with the MallinCam...

Checked Heavens Above. Found times at 3, 4:30, 6, 7:47, and... Damn!

Missed my chance: 9:22 and 10:58 were the last ones, for the day, for the region.

Damn. I didn't consider that. Of course, they would not be all day long. Duh. Depends on orbit.

Tomorrow: 3:26, 5, 6:30, 8:14, and 9:45. I'll have to set alarms. No more sleeping in!

Sun on MallinCam (Blue Mountains)

Holy crap. It worked!

After observing and sketching the Sun with the RASC Toronto Centre equipment at the E.C. Carr Astronomical Observatory, I decided to hook up the MallinCam. Powered up the LCD flatscreen and unhooked the red film...

Forgot that we had installed a short brown 2-wire extension cord into into the Paramount ME wiring loom to reduce the strain on the MallinCam power supply. I considered leaving out the new photo extension tube given that the SolarMax blocking filter is about the same length. Well, the blocking filter is slightly shorter. Was curious what would happen.

So I had the following configuration: SolarMax energy filter, Tele Vue 101 refractor, SolarMax blocking filter, 2-1¼" adapter, and MallinCam Hyper Color. I connected the data line and then the power. Couldn't see anything on the monitor (at first).

Turned to the camera and accessed the menu. That popped on the monitor: a good sign. And that's when I noticed a red glow in the bottom right of the LCD. Huh? What's that?! Duh. This is a colour camera. Mentally, I had been expecting a black and white image. This red glow was the Sun in Hydrogen-alpha. Just out of focus and just off centre.

I began to move the focuser out and the image improved. With the hand controller I had to shift the 'scope slightly. Continued adjusting the focus until I hit the stop! Damn. The focuser was fully extended, no more room. So I released the thumbscrew and slid the MallinCam out a little. At about 5mm out, the image came into focus. I moved the camera out another 5mm and clamped it down. Extended 10mm out will give a bit of room either side of perfect focus.

Look at that image. Brill! I was blown away. It was fantastic. It works! It all works. The extension tube, the monitor, the camera, the camera with the SolarMax and the Sun!

Same curious colouring as I've seen in the point-and-shoot camera: purply-pink in the middle vs. orange-red to the eye.

(This showed the aspect ratio of the monitor is goofy. The Sun is egg-shaped.)

I started reviewing settings. External switches: integration is off; PEC is off. The menu: Sense Up is off, ALC/ELC is ALC, BLC is off, AGC is off. I found the shutter speed was already set to 2000. Higher or lower degraded the image. So 2000 is the magic number. Could see surface detail and proms. Played with the level setting but did not see any difference. I changed the white balance from ATW to AWC (whatever that means), improving the proms.

Then I zoomed in! Whoa! Look at that.

Amazing. I was giggling away. I was very happy.

We'll be able to put on good shows at the CAO for the public showing the Sun in Hα. Podcasts?!

I'll need to make some more updates to my MallinCam notes too.


Why the hell did ViewSonic put the bumpy wavvy frame about the monitor? Very distracting. And why on three vs. all four sides? They need a good industrial designer.

sunspot sketching (Blue Mountains)

Hoped to bust clouds today. Installed the Hydrogen-alpha and full-spectrum light filters on the two telescopes. Ran the voice recorder (without the wind sock).

Emptied the water bucket in the dehumidifier after discovering an alert LED. The hose inside the unit must be leaking...

Remembered to start the computer before the mount.

Tried a timing trick to eliminate the oscillation during roof opening. Nailed it after a few attempts. Dietmar said it is due to a loose belt.

11:21 AM. Saw a sunspot, near centre. Small one beside it.

Through the refractor, with the mirror diagonal, and 12mm CeMax, I put north up.

Viewed a big prom on the north edge, made up of a couple of elements, floating off in space, a low-lying prom on the right/east edge. There was a filament near the equator, just under half-way from centre to the east edge, very large.

The spot in the centre is actually two. A figure-8 shape. Separate, just touching. It's actually just north of centre. Slightly to the west. Headed toward the 11:30 position.

Another filament also on the east edge, near the limb, about the 4 o'clock position, very large structure.

Oh. I located an additional little sunspot, to the north. Slightly to the right. Amazing detail.

There was another filament. Fairly small. Aiming toward the 4:30 orientation.

Oh. Huge prominence on the southern limb, slightly to the west. Shaped like an animal, perhaps a lion, with two legs reaching down to the limb.

Lots going on today!

11:30. Switched to white light. All the dust and gloop on the eyepiece makes it difficult though. Needed cleaning again. Where was my puffer? Centred the Sun in the 55mm Plössl 2" Tele Vue eyepiece. You need to back up from this eyepiece...

Could see the big sunspot, or rather, the two touching sunspots. Two dark umbra. They are separated but the penumbra surrounded both.

Above, to the north, I could see a small sunspot. On closer examination, I could see at least 3 or 4 very small ones. It's like a archipelago. The big one was a complex element. There were a bunch of little black dots. In general, they were trailing away, in a string or line, to the 10 o'clock position. As the seeing stabilised, I could see more spots. There were a lot!

Spotted another one! West. Just below the equator. A lot smaller. Smaller than the others. Pretty well on the equator. Played with the focus. Possibly it is two spots...

Aligned the Tele Vue 101 to the C14. Got the Sun centred in both 'scopes.

Looked where I saw the spot near the equator in white light, then in Hα; it could be easily missed. Very small.


Retreated to the warm room (or should I say, cool room).

Checked the local weather station readings. Weird. Discovered the wind speed readings at zero. Visually inspected the station. Noticed the anemometer not spinning. Jammed. Humidity 89, pressure 101.28, temp 23.1, heat index 24.4. Wow. Received 9.4 mm of rain yesterday.

11:40. Viewed the Spaceweather web site to identify the objects seen. Initially, it showed a very different Sun but I realised it was cached data. Ah ha. Wow. Look at all those spots! Saw centre large spot complex, 1093; archipelago style complex to the north was 1096; and the small one to the south, 1095. Huh. 1096 is the newest one! And then they showed a new spot on the east limb. Kp index was quiet or 1; the 24 max. got to 3...

Went back to the 'scope. I located the new spot, 1097, in white light, on the limb. I could see a disturbance in the Hα view, although it was challenge. Not easy.

Checked my orientation by turning off the tracking. Everything was drifting into the 10 o'clock position. I tuned the white light mirror to match; I set the Hα parallel.

Now, the archipelago was in a 10 o'clock orientation. Tuned it a bit more.

Didn't have my cap with me. Needed that to reduce glare. Still had my PJs on. Shorts would be smart...

Noticed condensing water on the floor of the warm room.

Noticed the big proms dimmed in the 12mm eyepiece when off centre. Perhaps it is advantageous to use the low power eyepiece.

11:49. Returned to the observatory in shorts with cap, netbook and wireless mouse, eyepiece-camera adapter, PnS camera, eyeglasses strap. Emailed the RASC Toronto Centre listserv to urge people to view the Sun.

Returned to the eyepiece in white light. Chair was hot. The 1096 grouping was fascinating. It reminded me of the Hawaiian islands. Wanted to zoom in using the 27 mm eyepiece, so to double the power. The eyepiece started fogging! I warmed it in the Sun. I also bumped up power in Hydrogen adding the doubler with the 12 mm CeMax. Sheesh. A cloud went over as I tried to tune the Etalon. Put the dry 27 mm in. It too was dirty. White light emphasises the crap in the eyepiece. I centred on the huge grouping. Fascinating. Decided to go higher, with the Nagler 13 mm. Aired it out. Meanwhile I tuned the Etalon. Found it harder to focus with the 2x. Finally added the 13 mm to the C14 and focused. It was a fair view. During moments of good seeing, I moved the sunspot complex into a clear, dust-free space in the eyepiece.

The 1096 was a large grouping of objects. The main spot was complex. It was not round.

I removed the 13 mm. I didn't like how dark and dirty it was. Switched to the 18 mm. Dirty. Found it had fingerprints on it. Dried it in the sunlight.

Did the math with the Hα 'scope. I was finding it too hard to focus with 6 mm effective. Too much. I put the 18 mm in with the 2x, i.e. 9 mm. Showed the whole disk. Viewed the big prom at approx. the 10:30 position. Large structure then a deek left. Tiny prom near the north. Pretty well something everywhere!

I would not get any sleep... if I had one of these at home...

12:08 PM. Just loaded the 18 mm. Still hard to see with all the flaws and debris. Easy to look at the wrong thing. Tried to find a clear spot, again, in the eyepiece. The Radian 1¼" eyepiece was good. Oh wow. It moments of clear seeing, it coaxed out amazing detail. I could see a dozen or so small spots all together. Hmmm. Let's draw this!

12:19. I returned to the warm room with all the sketching gear. New case with pencils, erasers, etc. Clipboard with large log sheets. And music stand (which took me a while to set up).

Before the Sun reached the meridian, I sketched the spot complex 1096 after showing the disk and north. Birds were chirping, cicadas were vibrating in the distance. It was hot! Me, the observatory, the chair.

I discovered I didn't have any hard pencils, like H or 2H. Huh. Thought I had procured some... Those might be useful in the future for doing light work or very fine, thin, outlining.

Pretty happy with the sketch, although the umbra spots are not dark enough.

It was the first time using music stand. Worked great. Very handy. Everything at my fingertips. Could take the forces of the light breeze, me handling it, sketching on it.

12:49. I moved accessories to the north table by the door to get them out of the sunlight.

Photoed the sketch. I'll scan it later...


Here's the hi-rez scan...


On a number of occasions I found my voice on the recorder drowned out by wind noise. I should maybe make a point of using the windsock, if I'm outside, possibly subject to wind...


Huh? Both the Dell and ASUS fell asleep. I found everything unplugged in the GBO warm room. I wondered if it was a bit paranoid...