Monday, September 30, 2013

POH to go on FB

Tony sent a note to the Facebook team asking to promote the Public Open House at the CAO.

dinosaur in space!

Astronaut Karen Nyberg, up on the International Space Station, unveiled her little craft project on Pinterest. Made from recycled bits on the output. Very cute. Thought of my sister... Tip of the beanie to Neatorama.

to discuss remote imaging

In light of the recent peak in internet usage and a member attempting remote imaging control and image transfer, a discussion about bandwidth, plans and fees, infrastructure, member expectations, support issues, impact for other members at the CAO ensure with some of the committee.

rocket found

Tom shared they spotted a rocket in the trees near the CAO. One launched during the OHAP that had a "guidance" problem... Tony identified it as The Blue Ninja.

Recovered. At last. Is there a salvage fee?

where'd it go?!

Sent Sharmin a note. Thanked her for the little b-day gift. Especially enjoying my coffee today.

I could almost hear the sound of the Tardis!

From the Unemployed Philosophers Guild... I read the manual! Believe it or not. Microwave safe; keep out of the dishwasher.


It was Malcolm who spotted the helpful instruction on the bottom of the mug.

observatory open house on Sat 5 Oct

We're having an open house for the general public at the E.C. Carr Astronomical Observatory on the evening of Saturday 5 October. If you're in the Blue Mountain area, come on by! We're conducting two talks. And then we'll be offering a tour the night sky, weather permitting, of course. Pick a talk and enjoy the dark skies. See the information page at the RASC Toronto Centre web site.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

a new fangled way?

In an email, Manuel asked if I had heard of "collimation without tools?" Huh? No. How is that possible?

Later he shared that this was based on something he had read in the October Sky & Telescope magazine. I shall have to track that down. He description of the process was not very clear... And would require a, um, a screwdriver.

they will cancel

Manuel sent me a note upon reviewing the weekend weather at the CAO. They are gonna cancel.

wire exposed

Lora accidentally snipped near the conduit of the propane tank at the CAO cutting away the insulation on the ground wire. Oops. We'll have to cover it up. Future work party task...

more lights smashed

Lora reported that more of the red-converted solar lights at the CAO have been smashed or removed without any notes anywhere.

Fine. When they're gone, they're gone.

Photo by Katrina. Cropped by moi.

tested arming

Ian tested the CAO alarm for us. Sent an email with lots of details.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

received Probus group

Meanwhile, up at the CAO, the crew hosted the Probus Group of Mountain View. Millie, Lora, Dietmar, Phil, Tom, and Ian W hosted 32 visitors with a Welcome table down in the Great Room. Unfortunately, while clear, it was very windy. The Dobs on the Observing Pad were rendered almost useless. One couple was heard to say, "This was a lot more fun than going to a movie." You're welcome! They offered a generous fee and donation. Thank you!

helped at TSF (Toronto)

Helped at Toronto Science Festival, specifically the telescope clinic part.

Decided to drive in. Heard that Andy needed a lift. Did some errands and then picked him up at his home. This allow him to lug the 8" beast.

Arrived at the campus and was shown to a free parking space right beside the observing site by an enthusiastic security guard. Katrina parked behind me. Received parking pass. Said hello to Sharmin and Leslie and Ralph.

Spotted Kiron in the early part of the evening, with his binoculars on a tripod. He was often busy or on the phone. Near the end when I went to say hello he was gone.

Met Michael Reid. Very nice. He was very thankful.

Helped members set up their telescopes.

A family arrived and asked for help with their new telescope. Yeh! They had only used it once before. A small reflector on an aluminium tripod. I sorted it out for them, got it working. Without a big quarry like the Moon or Jupiter, we went for some double stars. But by then, the clouds had rolled in. Still, they were very happy. The girl was cute with her little notebook. The little boy seemed pretty interested too. Dad was pleased for them.

Viewed the Ring (Messier 57 or M57) in Drew's big SCT with and without an oxygen filter. Viewed Albireo in Katrina's refractor. Saw δ (delta) Cep, the variable and double in Andy's 8". Viewed Uranus in Chris's big Lightswitch.

We went the Einstein pub afterwards. An awful band. Extremely loud music between sets. We couldn't talk to each other. Absolutely terrible service. The server forgot my drink and never took my food order. Lame. Spoiled my mood. Older now, can stand the racket, when it's good.

Took Andy home and then headed west.


I was pleased that I was able to help one family out.

tested Google Apps again

Did more testing in Google Apps with an eye toward a group-edited presentation file.

Looped in Charles. Asked his impressions.

a bit of planning

Tony and I did some CAO work party planning. Including considering the supplies list for the garage lockers.

sent fireball info

Been a bunch of fireball sightings lately, it seems... A new meteor shower, perhaps? I surfed into American Meteor Society and International Meteor Organization sites.

Ah ha. Sent Phil a link to the AMS web site article, New Fireball spotted in Midwest.

missed the skies

So upset. Beautiful clear all week, a high pressure zone parked over Ontario for the week, and I couldn't go out and play. It would have been a lot of fun... to take a few days off. Particular because I had to work for the company on my birthday!

already have one

Dietmar was looking to make his CAO promotional video available. He reached out to Jason and I. Jason offered to help and set up a Vimeo account. I reminded them that we already had a RASC Toronto Centre Vimeo account. Told Jason I'd help Diemtar.

get a car adaptor

Sent Manuel a link for a Dell portable computer adaptor to operate from a car CLA socket.

Not sure which computer he has but hopefully he'll figure it out.

another fireball

Tanya shared seeing a large, bright, green fireball earlier in the evening, at 11:32 PM. She said it was quite spectacular even from downtown Toronto. Said it appeared to come from the SE and was heading in a NE direction.

Friday, September 27, 2013

invited out

Manuel sent an email. Apologised at missing my call. Said he was on his way back to the city having been at KW "getting a hard case."

He then said, "I think my battery pack is fine." Good. It should be.

He and Brian were looking into an adaptor for his laptop.

"10 minutes exposure is not enough." he opined for his Andromeda shots. "Have to go for 15 minutes to get details of the outside arms." Yep. More data the better. Improve that SNR... Still, these aren't bright planets.

Finally, he invited out. Him and Soler. "Would you like to join us tomorrow at the parkette?" Gah. Not a good time. I'd have to turn down his invite.

open notice

Ian W sent a note to the Yahoo!Group. Informed RASC Toronto Centre members that the CAO would be open for business. Weather was looking good. Pointed out that they'd be busy serving the Probus group on Saturday night.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

reducing their mail

Asked Ralph to forward, going forward, the Chamber Chat newsletter to the CAO committee, as opposed to the supers.

refined arming

Reviewed the arming procedure with Elaine. Refined.

avoid the inverter

Manuel bought a marine lead acid battery. All right! I was happy. Now he would be able to image anywhere.

But then he reported to me that it "did not deliver." The mount slewed slowly. And the battery "didn't hold a charge." Huh? I chatted with him to try to understand what he meant.

As I suspected, he had plugged his laptop into the integrated AC outlet. I said this is not a good approach. It would use the inverter. At first, he didn't realise that this outlet was connected to an inverter circuit; he thought an inverter could only exist outside the battery. I encouraged him to get the cigarette lighter power cord for his laptop. I think he had CLA plugs for all his other devices, the mount, the camera...

I wondered if the slew speed was a factor of temperature. I did not raise the issue.

When he said he didn't know how he could possibly connect more than one 12 volt device to the battery, I sent him a link to a 3-in-1 CLA adapter.

lock roll call

Asked all the supervisors to chime in on Lora's email regarding the new locks.

sighted Venus (Etobicoke)

Spotted Venus, low, in the west. Riding the bus "home."

asked Ostap

Checked with Ostap to see if he had been up to the CAO, unannounced.

lads booked during POH

Mr Soler and Guerrero booked for the CAO on the Oct 5 weekend. And they're bringing Christian. Good stuff. It'll be nice to see everyone again. Lora reminded them that the Public Open House would be going on...

up high

Manuel send an email. "Last night waited until midnight to get M31 at the meridian." I was so glad to here this.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

submitted slide material

Submitted content for the CAO for the next meeting presentation.

on the Chamber page

The Public Open House posting appeared on the Blue Mountains Chamber of Commerce page.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

referred to loan crew

A renewing member asked to sign out telescope at the CAO. Mmm, that's not really what they're for.

But then I said this should go through the regular channels, although John was actively in the process of handing over the reins of the Telescope Loan program.

tracking referral

Allard updated the POH form to ask people where they heard about the event.

miss the mark?

Another regular member filled out the POH form. Lora was starting to wonder if they thought it an event for members. She wondered if we should rewrite it...

what to do...

Really torn... The nice weather. Not too busy work-wise. The stars were calling. I could bow out of the TSF clinic. It was my birthday. And I wanted to go out and play. Argh...

Monday, September 23, 2013

2014 prep begins

Ralph sent out a note that he was beginning to work on the 2014 calendar of centre events...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

helped at VAB 2

Helped at the Volunteer Appreciation Barbecue. Unloaded food and beverages. Loaded beverages into the coolers. Helped with the food tables in the hall. Flipped burgers. And then helped with clean up.

Nice day. Decent turnout. No rain. Skeena showed up! Yeh!

Thank Ralph for transport.

Encouraged Tony to take a tour of the south dome and the refurbished R.K. Young 19" telescope on the Direct Current system...


Charles sent a nice note the next day thanking the team.

amazing result

And then a couple more... All done.

Looking north. Wow!

Looking east. I was pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

hitched a ride with Ralph

Made arrangements to ride with Ralph to the DDO for the Volunteer Appreciation Barbecue. Mid-day pick-up. We headed up early. He had some things to do. And I had offered to help be gopher...

spotted a peak

Reviewed our internet usage for the year. August: the highest usage ever. And the first time we had ever gone over our monthly quota. Started doing some analysis...

WIP photos received

Elaine and Tony sent down some work-in-progress photos. The Great Room was looking very nice in the new blue colour...

provided battery and charger tips

There was a discussion brewing on the RASC Yahoo!Group about batteries, how to recharge them, if they should be drained, etc. I sent out a detailed note.


The best type of portable battery for astronomical use is marine or deep discharge, with thicker metal plates.  While heavy, this type of lead acid battery is designed to be used over a long time with a slow and steady power draw.  Unlike a "booster" battery, with thin plates, used to start a car, with short intense bursts of power.

I believe the Nautilus battery itself is good.

The provided charger, like the Celestron wall wart, is putting out a lot of volts.  The proper voltage and amperage when recharging a lead acid battery is very important.  Each type of lead acid battery requires a different process.  Duration and temperature are other factors.

A well-designed battery and charger combination will charge the battery at the appropriate rate and intensity and protect from overcharging.  It sounds like the Nautilus is using a charger that tapers off, which is good.  But I would still not leave it charging all the time though, without knowing more about the charger or protection circuitry.

Someone have the manual handy?  Can they confirm the recommended charging process?

It is my understanding that the Celestron has no overvoltage protection at all.  If you leave it charging for days, you'll "cook" the battery. It probably should be charged for a few hours and then unplugged.

My old (15 years?!) booster pack with wall charger has overvoltage protection.  But when I recharge the booster in the car while driving there is no protection.  Had to be careful in-car.  Would only charge for an hour.


I would not fully deplete a lead acid!

Also I don't think that is specific to lead acid.  ANY rechargeable battery should not be completely emptied!  You should not run a battery very low.

I'd recommend charging your lead acid batteries with very smart chargers, if possible.  Or a good float charger.  If using a standard taper or constant voltage charger, recharge until full then stop.

Avoid completely discharging lead acid batteries.  If the Nautilus doesn't cut off automatically until 11 volts, I'd be mindful of this. For example, don't use it two nights in a row without recharging.

Recharge lead acid batteries immediately after use.  Don't leave it for a long time.  Don't forget.

Top them up regularly, say once a month, or once every two weeks, especially if outdoors in the summer when hot.  Top it up before the next observing session.  Put "recharging" on your pre-flight checklist!  Read the manual!


So, in the end, I think the Nautilus is a good solution for astronomers looking for a convenient, relatively inexpensive solution for portable power.  It's not perfect but I think of all the products at Canadian Tire, it is the best for us.  Do-It-Yourself people?  Build your own!

Review (on the old web site) my "powering your gear" presentation, handout, and notes for more info:

Friday, September 20, 2013

a bad link

François let loose a virus laden link in an email that hit the RASC Toronto Centre Yahoo!Group. Odd. I thought he was in the computer security business. I locked down his account and access in the other Yahoo!Groups. And cautioned fellow members.

Phil offered his first copy

Oh oh. Packed my new copy of Photoshop Astronomy by Mr Ireland. Somewhere inside the locker... Or at Mom's. Couldn't not remember where I had put it. Asked Phil if I could borrow his.

He said he was reading his. But, curiously, he had found another copy! He had purchased the first edition some time back and forgotten about it. He offered that.

It'll do. Awesome!


Found it!

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Manuel offered me a ride to the CAO on October 5. I was curious when he'd be able to get away. My timing might not work...

captured the new yard

A grey day. Oh ho! Shot photos of the new backyard for an omnirama for Stellarium.

another sale

Sent Manuel a note about the battery going on sale. Increasingly, I'm not sure he's all that interested. He thanked me for the note. And said he'd visit the Canadian Tire near his office.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Orbital away

Orbital launched successfully.

The second US commercial company is stepping boldly into space.


Did we promote the Public Open House incorrectly? A few members started to sign up for the weekend. We had to make it clear—if they were planning to stay overnight—that it wasn't a work party, they had to bring their own food, bedding, etc., fees applied...

looked into hyperlinks

Charline and I discussed URL links in emails. She was wondering why links were incomplete. That is, only a portion of the full address was hypertext. This only happened in digest messages from Yahoo!Groups. I explained that it was difficult to know for certain what was causing it. Highlighted my experiences in various tools and products. But, unfortunately, it looked to be a problem on the Yahoo side...

wait a second

When Risa asked for a receipt for the replacement dew heater, provided detailed shipping instructions, particulars about charging it back, it suddenly occurred to her that I was a fifth wheel...

"Thanks so much..."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Really on the fence. Anxious. Uncomfortable. Should I go? I should. Do I really want to? That's the question...


I just think it is so cool that International Occultation Timing Association is conducting its annual meeting at the David Dunlap Observatory. But, another booked weekend for me... October 4 through 6.

suggested dual

Risa and I discussed her dew heater controller situation. The options Jim was presenting. Logistics, etc. She wanted to know what I'd do.

Argued for a dual channel controller...

I warned ya

Risa said, "There is dew out west. Sigh."

acknowledged new helper

Sharmin let me know that Kersti is helping out now with First Light. And that she'd be sharing the email account access. I thanked her for the update.

Monday, September 16, 2013

RASC RSS madness

There was some discussion of RSS feeds from RASC web sites. National's is available from their general feed page, way down at the bottom... The Toronto Centre's was noted too but it is a crazy format. Not brief or with excerpts for some articles; in some cases a full article with large pictures!

opened the rate topic

Started revisiting group rates for the CAO. We don't seem to have any clear or specific information. I think we could benefit from a simple formula. Or perhaps a couple. Probably need to flex for corporate or private businesses versus other non-profits.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

shouldn't we be?

Just noticed the Toronto Centre is not linked from the CASCA web site.


Discovered a link to the RASC National. Makes sense.

on VisitBlue

Our posting for the Public Open House (POH) on went live.

Looks good!

fantastic focuser

Manuel sent me an email after testing his new C11 micro focuser. "It is fantastic! It will work pretty well with the focusing software. I am very pleased. All SCT should come with it."

That'd be nice.

helped the first lady

The president was still away. But Elaine wanted to issue a reminder note for the Volunteer Appreciation Barbecue. I walked her through the steps. And watched for the message...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

couldn't find keys

Phoned Ralph at the observatory. We tried to find some of the new keys I had cut, so to get one to Tim H. Alas, Ralph could not find them.

DFM removed

U of T took the DFM mount back to the city.

an astoundment of astronomers (Markham)

Sneaky dogs.

Thought I was headed to Lora & Phil's to help them out with repairs and computers. They sprung a surprise birthday bash on me. With Millie, Dietmar, Elaine, Tony, Elaine, Katrina, Grace, Tony. And Skeena of course. Very sneaky on Elaine and Tony's part: not a peep the night before... Charles wanted to be there.

Turned out to be a beautiful afternoon. We hung out on the deck. Viewed the Sun in Phil's PST. Tony and I argued about the Moon phase. I got my wires crossed; he was right, of course.

Good eats. Great desserts. Lots o' beer.

Katrina gave me some nice Glencairn glasses from the 2013 GA. Ha!

And I received a can opener! So next year's Starfest I'll be well-equipped. Or can assist Katrina, if needed.

Fun day.


Sharmin sent a note. Was sorry that she couldn't make it. Told her I missed her.

Friday, September 13, 2013

SkyTools coaching

Helped Elaine and Tony with SkyTools, at their place, after a lovely afternoon and rich dinner.

Gave me a wonderful opportunity to test the new materials, the outline, the rhythm.

controller weirded out

I heard from Jim. After running Risa's controller for several hours, it eventually started doing weird things. He said he'd replace it with new Micros (i.e. a new build) or he'd provide her an upgrade minus the purchase value of the original Micro. I forwarded the news.

keeping it safe

Reviewed some fire and safety issues at the CAO.

will open, late

Ironically, two minutes after a troubling message from Lora, Tim H sent a note to the RASC membership. He would be opening the CAO after his arrival at 8:00 PM. The upstairs bedrooms were full.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

on, no, off

Manuel booked then cancelled a visit to the CAO within 30 minutes. Was it that it was the full Moon? Or that there would be no supervisor on duty? Or that he'd have to unlock and lock up on his own? I think he mixed up his dates... Bedazzled by a distant weather forecast?

finalised POH newspaper copy

Sent the final version of the POH notice for the local newspapers for Lora and Tony to review and then for them to submit.

developed SkyTools course

Finished the development of the SkyTools 3 Pro level 1 training materials in late August... Took another look today. Made a few edits.

Ready to test.

tagged up on TSF

Sent a message to Sharmin and Leslie regarding the University of Toronto's TSF event, to make sure we were all on the same page.

MODL threads

Did some MODL lease follow-up with Ian and Ostap. There are still some loose ends...

readings received

Asked Risa to test her dew heaters and report back the numbers. I also requested the models and sizes. And, finally, I wanted to know the voltages from her Celestron power pack and charger...

After borrowing her friend John's multimeter, she replied.

Kendrick 1¼" Firefly: 58.1 ohms.
8" Firefly: 12 ohms.
Celestron Power Tank: 12.7 volts (with the light showing fully charged).
Charger: 15.2 volts.

updated loan team of Dob

John, while reviewing matters with the new telescope loan people, contacted me about the Dobsonian I had signed out. Asked its status. I reminded him that this unit was going to live, until further notice, at the CAO. And we were still thinking about getting a new Dob, perhaps a collapsible 10-inch, for the loan programme.

form fixed

Allard updated the POH form with the date and a link back.

form problem found

Eric told Lora who told Tony and I and then looped into Allard and Jason. Eric had "googled" Dunlap Observatory and then followed a link and ended up at the sign-up form for the public open house at the CAO but noticed the form did not have any date information on it. So, out of context.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

a dormant 'scope

At the meeting after the meeting, Tony, Dietmar, and I discussed flipping the mount under the Genesis. We're unhappy that rather good telescope is sitting unused. Tony attributes this to the quirky old Losmandy mount. So we discussed selling the Losmandy and getting a new modern EQ go-to mount. I made a note to talk to Phil about it...

POH customers

First POH bookings received! And it begins...

met Marc

Met Marc. One of the new telescope loan people...

announcements backup

Ralph delivered the announcements presentation on behalf of the president. It looked like to me an old template was used. And there was no handout provided.

Ralph made a PDF of the announcements and uploaded it to the Yahoo!Group. 6-up slide handout.

no thank you

Accolade from Jason during the demo (with Allard) of the new web site. Thanks.

dropped the ball

We forgot to follow up with Millie's brother. Damn. I'm near my limit... I can feel it.

dropped off controller

Visited Jim. We tested Risa's controller. It seemed to behave. But he asked to keep it to run it for a longer time. Good idea. He wondered if the heaters straps might be the problem. He sent me the benchmark resistance values for the standard Kendrick wraps.

2014 publications announced

The national office of the RASC sent out a sales pitch. The Observer's Handbook and Calendar for 2014 would be going on sale. Of course, we'd get the handbook for free...

Oh, the Veil...

stood on standby

While Charles was out of town, Ralph prepared the announcements for the upcoming RASC meeting. I stood on standby to assist. Wondered about the "volunteers needed" slide. Sharmin would be able to update us.

fixed the invite

When Lora directly sent me some missing names, I felt obligated. The president was away. I logged into evite. Confirmed a bunch of people were missing from the VAB invite. Yikes. Added them. Every which way. Could not tell what had happened exactly.

Oh, and I fixed the spelling error in the observatory name.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

POH poster completed

Jon prepared an updated poster for us, for the CAO Public Open House. New date. New URL. Looks good.

We're going to print up a bunch to distribute in the region.

one for each

Lora prepared documentation for the new CAO lock for the different types of users. Thank you.

POH article live

The webteam replied, with a link. The POH article was up. They changed it a bit. For example, dropped the descriptions of each talk. And there was a form to fill in. Asked the CAO committee to review. Allard and Lora had already tested the form.


Lora, Ian, and Tony all thought the talk abstracts were important. Tony said he'd follow-up with the webteam.

provided POH content

Finalised the content. Submitted the Public Open House article to the web team. I sent copy and photos.

researched spy sat

Determined the satellite we had spotted last Thursday at 11:26 PM. Lacrosse 5, the US military reconnaissance satellite.

Shared the info with Grace, Tony, and Katrina.


Itchy. I took on a few bites over the weekend. Fortunately the cool weather kept many of the mosquitoes at bay.

Monday, September 09, 2013

calibrated the LCDs

Calibrated the Kim Chi laptop LCD. Earlier I had calibrated one of the Dell flat screens on Charles but I ran through it again.

John Kim Chi was the first computer I had installed Photoshop on; but probably John Charles will be the better one to use for serious work.

Then packed up all the Datacolor Spyder gear and software disc to return to Elaine and Tony.

received roofer referrals

Asked Brenda for some local roofers. For the observatory.

reviewed numbers from the monkey

Allard shared some MailChimp stats, for the SCOPE newsletter notice. Interesting.

I'm still curious Eric's experience.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

suggested Vimeo

Dietmar asked for some help with his CAO promotional video. He was curious who to talk to and where to upload it. I offered to help. And suggested we use the RASC Vimeo account.

tagged up after AAA

Touched base with Manuel. Shared my 10-20. He was curious about Mew Lake. Shared that he picked up from KW a "micro focuser" for his new C11.

shared materials

A follow-up message was sent from the Starfest 2013 team. In it they shared links to the presentation materials from a few talks, including Dave Cotterell's double star talk and mine on SkyTools.

In fact, ours are available on the Starfest archives page.

clouded out again

Clouded out Saturday night. We congregated in the yurt for movie night. I voted for Up; the very violent Olympus Has Fallen was chosen.

Glad, now, I had not brought my telescope. Didn't even get out the binos.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Great Room prepared

Elaine and Tony did a lot of work preparing the Great Room at the CAO. The next steps were to decide on the new paint colours...

Chapmans stepped down

Lil and Bob announced that they were stepping down from running the Annual Algonquin Adventure. Sad but understandable. They've been doing it for a long time. And it's time that the reins be taken one by another Toronto Centre member.

Guy and Tony thanked them for their excellent volunteerism. Presented them with a licence plate holder. Nice touch...

received moose!

Received my Moose award! Five times visiting the Annual Algonquin Adventure.

Grace received her Ten! Before the group photo.


Oh! And Fred too.

reported in

Checked in with Lil and Bob. Forgot to review "the book," the binder of past Mew Lake adventures.

no joy Friday night

But still had fun.

No observing Friday night proper. Unfortunately. Instead, many gathered at the Wheelbands for a warm campfire and smores! Somehow, we lost Fred and Katrina!

Stars tried to punch through the clouds. Alas, we were too fire-adapted, tired, and wobbly to take advantage.


It was clear at 2:00 AM.


But not at 4:00.

Friday, September 06, 2013

received heater

Received Risa's dew heater controller from Phil. At last. Her Micro FireLite Controller was acting wobbly. My job is to take it into Kendrick (since she was back out west), have it tested, and look to getting a replacement. Or upgrade.

It was a little weird that it had to go all the way to Algonquin...

new notice arrived

First notice, via MailChimp, received. It looked good.

I'm curious Eric's experience...

CAO will open Friday

Dietmar said he was going to head up to the CAO for Friday. But given the forecast for the rest of the weekend, he said he might close early. Wingko and Nick wanted to go.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

brief beach observing (Mew Lake)

Arrived, at last, Mew Lake. We stopped at our site, 38. Piled out of the minivan. Unlocked the yurt. A beautiful dark sky greeted us.

Walked down to the beach. There was a good crowd. Lots of 'scopes. Funny. Couldn't see anyone but recognised voices. Bob, Katrina, Lora and Phil, Ian W, Guy, Jason. Lance was around too.

Took a look through Bob's latest home-made Dobsonian with helical focuser. Looked to be about 10". He was on a faint NGC galaxy. It was a nice view.

Ian offered views in his big 20" Dob. Beautiful. The Veil, NGC 6960, rich and bright. The Ring Nebula, Messier 57 (M57). The Dumbbell, Messier 27 (M27).

I tried to split 52 Cygni but could see the collimation was off a little. Later I tried to split Sheliak. Or Sulufat. Something was very wrong. Blotted soft stars. Dew? Seeing? Phil, Ian, and I checked the collimation. Ian then turned on the mirror fan. That helped a little.

We saw a somewhat bright satellite in the north, moving near the Big Dipper, west to east. Wondered if it was the International Space Station. [ed: Nope. Was it the Cosmos 2184 or 2074 rockets? Paths didn't seem right... Ah. Thanks, Heavens Above. It was probably the Lacrosse 5, the US military reconnaissance sat, starting in Boötes, moving through the Handle, and carrying on, low, toward Auriga, brightening from magnitude 5.7 to 4.0.]

It grew increasingly dewy. As the temperature dropped. The north sky went away... Some started packing up.

Grace, Tony, and I left the beach. We were all tired. It had been a long day for all...

Wonderful to be back at Algonquin, under the stars.


Allergies started up.


The East Veil Nebula is also known as NGC 6992 and Caldwell 33.

The West Veil Nebula is also known as NGC 6960 and Caldwell 34.

he installed the focuser

Thierry reported in. He had received the new focuser assembly and installed it. He said it was cinch. "Focus movement now sure is smooth. The inner, fine-pitch adjustment makes it better than the previous knob." He also thanked me for removing the strand of hair from the inside the corrector. "That bristle would have annoyed the hell out of me!"

He has yet to star test the rig.

missed it twice

Oops. Mr Soler appears to have sent the same message on the Toronto Centre Yahoo!Group again... Perhaps? Regardless, he's possibly doubling his embarrassment and irking members. He said Jason's message about Dyer's imaging workshop did not contain a link. When it did. Kersti, and now Stu, pointed that out. Slow down!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


Learned that an IFLS event was scheduled for the Ontario Science Centre on September 27. Great line up, including Phil Plait, Dr. Carin Bondar, and organiser Elise Andrew.

Unfortunately, the same weekend as the U of T Toronto Science Festivus! That might split the group...

an exciting Journal

The October edition of the RASC Journal was made available. In short order, I downloaded a PDF copy. Looks a great issue!

Comet hunter David Levy is featured. The article includes a photo by Randy of Sharmin with David and Bill's excellent photo of David from the lecture night back in June. There is an article about winning over astrologers. Should be interesting. Jim published his article of the folded refractor with lots of diagrams. Blair talked about how to restore star colours in astrophotographs in Photoshop! Uh huh. And Rick talked about Raspberry Pi projects! Wow. Ideas, churning... Usually it is one article I am somewhat interested in. This one's packed with cool stuff!

responded to an add request

Responded to an urgent request from Stu to add a new member to the RASC Yahoo!Group.


Turned out the person Stu met at an observing session lied to him...

changing lights

Randy sent out a note. They were installing new lights in his Mississauga neighbourhood. Replacing the high pressure sodium cobra heads with full cutoff LEDs. Huh. Already installed on Malcolm's street...

Photo from the Earthshine web site.

didn't lose cap

Was worried that I had misplaced my new Starfest cap. In the shuffle. At one point I had taken it off in the van. But I didn't lose it... Yeah. Already has lots of sentimental value. And I wanted to wear it at Mew Lake.


Manuel sent an email. He did not go to the dark sky observing session despite the good skies. He was hoping to do something Friday or Saturday from his local parkette. Also, he said he was planning to go to CAO the second week of September. And he has received his QHY9C cigarette lighter cable. Yes!

contacted Phil

Checked in with Phil at Mew Lake. With 1 bar of signal he was able to check his email. He said it had been "very clear skies last night, not too cool... and no dew all night." Nice!

sighted planets (Mississauga)

Saw Jupiter. Maybe Mars. While hauling the garbage to the curb...

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

let's try MailChimp

Allard and I chatted about MailChimp vs. MailMan for Eric, for notifying members of the next SCOPE newsletter. I suspected MailChimp was the better tool. I urged Allard to try it.

keep looking

In the RASC September Bulletin, Richard Huziak of the Saskatoon Centre, urged people to continue  observe Nova Delphinus 2013.

More data "is essential for classifying and understanding what kind of nova this is."

no go for me

I really wanted to go to Long Sault. Told Manuel that I couldn't come out to play.


Stu reported they had a great time!

changes at SkyNews

Eric sent out a note on the RASC Toronto Centre Yahoo!Group list...
The website for SkyNews magazine has recently been overhauled, and it looks like Gary Seronik has more direct responsibility for it, although the list of associate and contributing editors looks pretty much as before (and Terence Dickinson is still the magazine's editor).
And then a email came in directly from the magazine. A blast to all their customers.

Some welcome changes. The old site was very... a little intense!

Sunday, September 01, 2013

received POH talk title

Ian sent over his presentation title, Messages in Starlight, and a brief description for Tony and I. For the Public Open House (POH). We thought it good.


Confirmed accommodation plans. Grace invited me to stay with them in the yurt. This would mean I could pack even less gear.

Mustn't forget the warm clothes...

much to do

Lora and Phil were at the CAO. Testing the new locks. Clarifying what our London visitor wanted to do. Taking pictures of cluster flies.
We had clear skies for a short while last night but humidity must have been 99.9999%.  Millie did some bino viewing but the rest of us just lounged about.  Beautiful sunny morning here.
I so wanted to be up there. But there was much to do in the GTA... All over the GTA...

Hadfield recognised Starfest!

The NYAA crew shared the Chris Hadfield tribute video shown at Starfest. Their video included Chris's music video and then a slide show of various photos, from on orbit and the ground, and finally a video clip, from the International Space Station, courtesy the Canadian Space Agency. Holy cow! Chris greeted us "Starfesters."

I was impressed then. And again, today.

thanks but not right now

Nice. Katrina invited me up to the new place. On the way to the AAA. Wished I could have gone. Next year, for sure. Hopefully, perhaps, before then.

national database changing

After a high-importance note from the national office about the "new RASC secure website coming in September," Phil asked if, at the end of the month, we could get together to go over the membership database again. All due to the "family" member type. Sure.