Monday, March 31, 2014

first attempt at Mars (Blue Mountains)

Mars. First attempt. It was very windy, gusting, mount shaking. Low transparency. Medium quality seeing.

Shot with a Canon 40D attached to a Celestron 14-inch SCT (so f/11) atop a Paramount with no guiding. Manually focused. 1/200, ISO 1600, noise reduction off, RAW, daylight white balance. No processing other than cropping.

ADDS updated

Went to the NOAA Aviation Digital Data Service site. Different! They have revamped it. Took me a moment to get my bearings. But, curiously, for what I do, I think it is faster! Amazing. An updated web site that is actually better! Now, to reset a radar animation, I click Satellite and then the preferred type. On your bike!

It showed a big system moving in from the south west. Gah.

checked weather

Wanted to view and image Mars tonight...

The CSC was looking promising. But, of course, it has not been updated for a while...

From Env Can, for Collingwood.

Current Conditions. 2°C. Observed at 6:00 PM EDT Monday 31 March 2014. Pressure: 102.3 kPa. Tendency: falling. Temperature: 2.2°C. Dewpoint: -3.3°C. Humidity: 67%. Wind: NNW 4 km/h.

24 Hour Forecast. Monday 31 Mar. Clear. -1°C.

Detailed forecast. Issued: 3:30 PM EDT Monday 31 March 2014. Tonight, 31 March. Clear. Low minus 1.Tuesday, 1 April. Increasing cloudiness. Periods of rain beginning in the afternoon. Wind becoming southeast 30 km/h gusting to 50 in the morning. High 10. UV index 3 or moderate.

From the Davis weather station, sans cups.
wind from due south
outside humidity 35
pressure 10220
outside temp 8.8

Weather Network said clear tonight for Thornbury. Mon. Evening. Clear, 5°C. Feels like 2. P.O.P: 0%. Wind SE 15 km/h. Humidity 61%.

AccuWeather said "turning cloudy" tonight for Thornbury.

couple planets, couple doubles (Union)

12:42 AM. I had the netbook out in observatory. Wearing extra layers. It was getting warm in the studio. On my own. Donna and Steve had departed. Mom in bed. Probably OK. Needed some quiet time...
Intrument: Edmund Scientific 6-inch Newtonian
Mount: equatorial
Method: star hopping
Set up. Aligned on Jupiter. Telrad was way off. Went to Mars. It was small with no obvious features. Connected power so to track.

12:45. Set up SkyTools 3 Pro. Made a new list. Added Jupiter and Mars. Confirmed it peaked at 2 AM.

12:48. Weird. I had an internet connection!

12:51. Ha. Pulled the weather. Current conditions: clear, -2°C. Observed at the London Int'l Airport as of 12:00 AM EDT Monday 31 March 2014. Conditions were clear, 102.1 kPa and rising. Temperature was -1.9°C, dewpoint was -3.8°C, humidity was 87%, wind was WNW at 13 km/h, creating a wind chill of -6. The 24 hour forecast said Mon 31 Mar, sunny, 10°C, Tue 1 Apr, chance of showers, 40%, 13°C. Going down to 1°C. Rest of the week: rainy. Detailed forecast issued at 3:30 PM EDT Sunday 30 March 2014. Tonight, 30 March, clear, low minus 4, Monday, 31 March, sunny, high 10.

12:57. Had another look at Mars. I thought I could make out light and dark features.

The neighbour to the south has a bright white blinking light. Very distracting. A car alarm?

12:59. Configured the Interactive Atlas and Context Viewer to show Mom's 'scope. Mars is tiny! Made a note to confirm the view orientation. Phobos was magnitude 11.9. Wow! Deimos 13.0. Those would be easy in a big 'scope, like the C14 at the CAO...

Tracking issue. I tried locking the mount with and without bolt. Did not seem to work. I didn't think the bolt should be on. I surmised the clutch must be not working. Time to change it? Switch to a different material maybe? Something that could stand up to the cold?

1:08. Confirmed the view orientation. Spotted HD 116881 and PPM 196511 to the ESE at mag 8.5 and 10.2 respectively. And the little faint triangle between... Viewed LU Virginis, TYC 04965-0591 1, and TYC 04965-1069 1 to the ENE at mags 8.0, 10.4, and 10.4. All beyond the edge of the field. Saw HD 116569 to the SW at mag 8.8, fairly close to the planet.

The eyepiece kept fogging.

1:17. Tried looking for the moons. Should have been above for me.

1:37. Viewed 35 Com. A wide pair, yellow and blue, very diff. mags, 4 or 5 different, perhaps? ST3P reports AC is 28.7", 4.9 vs 9.1. Good guess!

1:46. Noticed the Black Eye was in the 'hood. Popped over. So-so.

1:48. Checked my notes on 35 Com. I had viewed the AC pair before but had not split AB. Still no joy.

2:03. Found 17 Vir. An electric-S to the right (north), flattened triangle at bottom (west). Yellow and orange. About half the sep of 35 Com. The notes, in the RASC Observer's Handbook, say blue and orange. Wha?

2:09. Had another look. Blue and orange, eh? I dunno. White, maybe.

Viewed Saturn! Wow. Rings really canted. A couple of bright moons above and below. Maybe something to the right or east. Ha, in Libra!

2:16. Oh. I learned there was a field star to the south, HD 136700, opposite Titan. And about 2 or 3 times the distance.

2:30. The telescope and chair and mount were back inside and packed. Couldn't stay another night, sadly. I shutdown the computer.

Also enjoyed views of the constellations Corvus, Coma Berenices, Boötes, Lyra, and Cassiopeia tonight.

Friday, March 28, 2014


Perez is the first person I've heard say, like me, that the parity of reflections in a telescope affects the view orientation. Stumbled across this while beginning chapter 4 in Observing and Measuring Visual Double Stars (second edition).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

a good process

I successfully made the case a formal, reasoned training process for new CAO supervisors.

lost one

Learned that we lost a CAO supervisor. Damn. Good thing I've been ramping up new people!

found fibers

While at Sayal getting rectifier diodes for the Dell monitor power supply, I picked up an inexpensive fiber optic light.

I hope to harvest it for an individual strand so to make a "pico" light false or artificial star.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

lost motivation

Put out the word on the RASC TC Yahoo!Group to see if anyone from the west end wanted to go to the Long Sault. No one. Unfortunately. Then after errands after work by the time I got home, thinking of dinner, I started to wonder if it was worth the very long driving. Lost my mojo.

still struggling with power

Interesting. Manuel asked the Yahoo!Group for advice on an adapter for his laptop computer. Something that I tried to help him with last year. I guess he's still struggling to get his computer working in the field with the marine battery. And clearly he needs to work somewhere remote without AC power.

I was somewhat impressed that he reached out to the group. And a little surprised that he was still struggling with this issue four months later.

He didn't tell people the particulars of his laptop, forcing general responses.

Terry piped up first. Referred to a product from Amazon. It is a CLA adapter that can put out up to 24 volts. But, of course, the amps drop as the volts climbs. Would it be enough for the laptop in question? If used, and the amperage require was mismatched, what might get damaged?

Denis chimed in. Immediately noted his response was of a general nature. He remarked on a solution that worked for him that cautioned that it was model and vendor specific. Quoted amperage values. And shared that his newer power-hungry laptop exceeds the amperage capabilities of the DC-DC adapter. So must resort to his AC adapter (and inverter) with the lead acid battery.

That made me think two thoughts. Would the technical aspects be lost on Manuel? He's just not wired that way (sorry, and sorry). And given the mention of the AC adapter, would he view that as me, previously, giving him incorrect advice. Well, he'll have his harsh awakening. If he can get one or two hours out of the laptop battery, maybe he'll be OK. He already knows that running the inverter degrades the marine battery rapidly.

Karsten was the last to jump into the fray, taking the DIY approach, suggestion Active Surplus. And hinting he could make his own. Ah....

I'm very curious what he'll take away from that. And hopefully we wont blow up anything.


Sent blurb, bio, and pic to Malcolm for the Starfest page.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

can't party (Mississauga)

Hauling garbage to the curb. A beautiful sky. Jupiter almost straight up. Rather cold. Windy. And I have to work tomorrow. "Don't party hard," I told my class. Damn.

kick back notice

Charles sent out a note to the RASC Yahoo!Group. AstroCATS is looking for volunteers.

Monday, March 24, 2014

one week to increase

RASC fees increasing. The national board of directors approved a rate increase at their March 22 meeting. Going up on April 1. Thanks for the warning.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

teardown again

Decided to have another go at the Vixen mount. Still not as smooth as I'd like.

Friday, March 21, 2014


Surprised at the number of photos being taken at the Dunlap Prize event when they clearly stated unofficial recording was not permitted.

found the signature

There's been a lot of talk lately about the beginning of the universe. I enjoyed the Piled Higher and Deeper comic of  19 Mar.

Made by Jorge Cham of Image used without acknowledgement. I asked, nicely, but he did not reply.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

meteor near St Thomas

A meteorite went down north of St Thomas! The camera on the roof of the Carr Astronomical Observatory caught a bit of the flash, helping in the triangulation. Yes!

The image above is from another camera in the network. The University of Western Ontario report is available.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

new documents sent

The notice went out to the CAO supervisors with the 2014 schedule and the new responsibilities document. The email also addressed the linens issue, new Automated External Defibrillator, fire extinguisher checks, etc. Game on.

updated presenting notes

When Charline asked about presenting at the Ontario Science Centre along with some technical questions, a discussion started up with Alan, Doug, Ed, and Ralph chiming in.

Meanwhile, I updated the documentation on our web site for all our members.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

on deck June 4

Asked by Markov to deliver The Sky This Month presentation on Wednesday 4 June. I accepted.

in my left eye (Mississauga)

Moon hit my eye... ouch.

not a lot

Tried to drum up interest in the lockers at the CAO. But one member I doubted would be visited the observatory on the Blue Mountains again. Other potentials declined. The family I had recently asked was interested but didn't think it would work this year. I readied my argument to the CAO team that we put it on the back burner again.

Monday, March 17, 2014

viewed one double (Mississauga)

Viewed φ (phi) Tauri with the Celestron 8-inch in the backyard.

Widely separated pair (at low power). Lovely colours. Primary is a shimmering gold; the attendant is an intense blue. Very different magnitudes, I guessed 3, Haas says 2.5.

There was a bright unrelated star a good distance away, 5 times or more the separation of A and B, opposite direction of secondary, and it is a startling orange-red!

The three together make a stunning showpiece for star colours.

caught up with Ian

Chatted with Ian. The Dobsonian is repaired. A lock is now on one of the primary mirror collimation screws. A new progressive counterweight (i.e. chain) is installed to keep it steady with big eyepieces. Ready to go back to the DDO. Good.

We also talked about auto racing and astronomy education and outreach.

this sounds like a job for...

I was asked by the North York Astronomy Association to be Telescope Repair Man at Starfest 2014! Cool!

to committee for review

Lora circulated the latest version of the supervisor's responsibilities document to the CAO committee. Almost done.

download photos

Rescued photos. I forgot I had two memory cards for the J20. When I filled the original 8GB card on the weekend, that's when I stumbled across the 16GB Lexar. And I found a bunch of images. Saturn afocal shots, which I had already processed. But I found Sun halo pix and some data of Ian working on his SkyShed. These latter shots I had never downloaded. Oops! That's a good reminder. End of the weekend workflow: transfer photos.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

viewed phi Tau (Mississauga)

Spent some time in Stellarium and SkyTools. Reviewed my double stars life list. Noted φ (phi) Tauri. Near the Pleiades. About a finder field-and-a-half from M45. To the north-east.

Noted a little triangle nearby.

Found it! Viewed with the 36mm. Gold-yellow and blue. Companion is maybe two or three magnitudes fainter. Widely separated. Lovely. [ed: The ST3P Context Viewer shows the primary is 5.0 and the secondary is 7.4. Also known as 52 Tau.]

Four or five times the distance away in the opposite direction is a deep red star. A variable perhaps? Intense. Neat. [ed: HD 27482 is not noted as a variable star.]

saw the shadow (Mississauga)

Viewed Jupiter in the C8. Vixen tracking was working fine. Despite the extreme cold.

Bumped to crazy high power. Immediately saw a black spot, Ganymede's shadow, on the same side as the two moons, Io and Ganymede. Up and to the left for me. Kind of sketchy view at the high magnification. Although the seeing was good. Dropped back to 222x and the view improved, the shadow spot was darker, better contrast. Almost at the edge of the disc.

Great view of the planet. Good detail on the surface of the planet. Wasn't expecting that.

tried collimation mask

Did not set up the camera for collimation.

Tested with the new Duncan collimation mask on the Celestron 8" SCT. Used the Tele Vue 9mm with the Celestron doubler which yields 444 power. It looked good. I could see the curved arcs. Near focus they suddenly flipped to resemble a three-pointed star. I did not notice pronounced asymmetry. Maybe off a tiny bit. Hard to tell. Overall, it looked pretty good.

Maybe the collimation is OK, in fact. I considered doing some traditional checks.

looking good

Checked weather predictions.

The CSC as of 11:24:22.

Environment Canada as of 6:00 PM.

Current Conditions. Mainly Sunny. -9°C. Observed at: Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport.

Condition: Mainly Sunny. Pressure: 102.8 kPa. Tendency: falling. Temperature: -9.3°C. Dewpoint: -22.5°C. Humidity: 34%. Wind: NNE 23 km/h. Wind Chill: -18.

24 Hour Forecast. Sunday. A few clouds. -17°C.

Detailed forecast. Issued: 3:30 PM EDT Sunday 16 March 2014. Tonight, 16 March. A few clouds. Wind north 20 km/h becoming light early this evening. Low minus 17.

rebuilt the Vixen

Rebuilt the Vixen mount after honing and regreasing. Ready for testing.

black and white

Let Stu know that the SKYnyx is black and white, not colour, as noted in the most recent SCOPE newsletter. We have the "M" model.

He acknowledged.

visited The Sage

Visited Dave. He helped me with the Vixen rebuild. Made some new clutch "buttons" for me. Plus a spare. I'll be able to replace the cracked one now.

It was fun seeing, at last, his workshop. It was everything Tony had described. And more.

made it neutral

Tony and I chatted live about the plans to offer a ticket (or tickets) to the NDT lecture. He agreed with my feelings, the initial inappropriate bias, and drafted a new proposal to the executive.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

webspotting 33 - dark sky planner

As published (with minor edits) in the Mar 2014 issue of SCOPE, the newsletter of the RASC Toronto Centre. Republished here with permission.


Are you an imager after faint deep sky objects? To collect as much data as possible, you need long dark nights. Are you planning a public star party? It is always rewarding to show the Moon through the telescope, hearing the oohs and aahs and OMGs. Near the first quarter Moon phase is the best time, with the stark terminator emphasising the devastated surface of our neighbour. And it's not too late for the kids. A visual astronomer working on the Messier certificate or going after elusive Herschel 400 targets? Or steeling yourself to tackle the Messier Marathon? You need to completely avoid that... Moon.

I recently stumbled across the dark sky calculator at the DVAA. A handy site which may prove useful for all kinds of astronomical purposes. In fact, I'm a monthly visitor to Delaware Valley Amateur Astronomers web site. This club site serves the enthusiastic hobbyists near Philadelphia.

I return regularly for Dave Mitsky's Celestial Calendar. This fairly detailed schedule with notes is one of my trusted sources for The Sky This Month presentations.

When I visited the site at the turn of the month, Mr Mitsky had not yet posted his report for the next period. So I wandered the halls. It seems like the DVAA does a lot of the same things we do. Checked out their benefits of membership, their public star parties, their observatory. I noted the Astronomical Data section. Ooh: binary stars! Some Messier Marathon lists. Neat. Then I spotted the Darkest Hours Planner. Interesting.

You must provide your observing site latitude, longitude, and time zone offset. Indicate the first month and year to display. You can make the calculator show up to 12 months of data. A listing appears. Today's date is highlighted. Within each month we see each day noted in a row. The day row includes the Moon rise and set times, the Sun rise and set times, along with the Astronomical Twilight times. Once a week or so, the Moon phase appears. The final phase is properly noted as 3Q; not LQ. Equinoxes and daylight saving time changes are also noted. But the most interesting bit is the Darkest Hours column.

I show [a portion of] the March 2014 listing. March 1st is the longest night, with over 9½ hours of dark. Immediately the Moon begins to interfere. By first quarter, the sky is completely dark only for 2.8 hours. The "none" indicator shows around the full Moon. Clean the eyepieces or camera on those nights. Then on the 18th, darkness returns, briefly, less than 1 hour. The next maximums occur on and after the 27th, with 3 nights of 8 hours of blackie blackness.

Surf into the dark calculator. Add it to your favourite bookmarks.

Another tool for your planning toolkit.

started Vixen teardown

Began teardown of Vixen Super Polaris mount. To clean, degrease, inspect, and add new grease better suited to Canadian conditions...

Friday, March 14, 2014

helped April

Helped April and her son with their NexStar 130 SLT. They did not know what the previous location was so I explained how to access the location settings and had them use Toronto. We simulated the full three star Sky Align process, indoors, where I emphasised the two-step with the Enter and Align keys. It worked, although the model was screwy.

I suggested precision in the location, the date and time, for planetary work, and to ensure the mount was level. Finally, I encourage them to visit during a City Observing Session. They were very happy. Sounds like they might join...

made a sky above app

Last night, I made a Rainmeter skin for the sky above. I'm pulling the data from John Walker's fourmilab site.

It was a little frustrating: took me a while to get it going, even though it is a very simply app. The forums, at last, helped me out.

Mucked up the update timing. Sorta that out this morning. It updates once an hour now... Yeah! I like it.

windy (Mississauga)

Just spotted the Moon in the east, looking pretty full. Still windy and gusty. I'd like to get the telescope outside to do some collimation work but... I dunno. My Rainmeter weather thingee is saying 51.5 km/h winds!

Ugh, seeing is looking very bad.


Over a month later and no acknowledgement from the Toronto Centre that my RASC membership is renewed.

collimating binoculars materials online

Missed one! Overlooked adding my March 2013 presentation on collimating binoculars to the new presentation section of the lumpy darkness companion web site, after it was deep sixed in the RASC Toronto Centre web site switchover. Both the presentation and handout, in PDF format, are available in the for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

NEAF notice

Received a notice from the Rockland crew. The North East Astronomy Forum is only 30 days away...

Thanks for the reminder...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

helped register first aid candidates

I became more involved in the planning for the St John Ambulance Emergency First Aid (Level C) - CPR + AED training programme for our volunteers. I took on the registration process.

Monday, March 10, 2014

made a Duncan mask

Noticed the last couple of times using the Celestron 8-inch that the collimation is off a tad. Remembered seeing something in the SCT Yahoo!Group about the "Duncan Method." So, out of curiousity, I made a custom mask in Visio and printed it on regular paper.

Couldn't get the 8" version to fit on a regular piece of paper. I turned it so one of the cut-out openings would bleed off the page. Easy to cut with scissors.

I look forward to giving it a try. Fan say, after selecting a bright star, to use it at 400x! And centre with a reticule eyepiece. Roger. I also want to try with the camera. That might need a 2x. If it works I'll try this with the C14...

Sunday, March 09, 2014

watched Neil reboot Cosmos

Watched the launch of the new Cosmos series on Global TV.

I had heard about Obama's introduction. I thought it was good, short, invigorating, with passion.

The program I thought overall was very good visually. Somehow, less words than I was expecting...

I did not like the portrayal of the solar system. They made the asteroid and Kuiper belts look crowded, and even dodged some objects. That's incorrect. I would have liked to see more myth-breaking. They have an opportunity to set a lot of records straight.

I detected a hint of resistance regarding the status Pluto. Perhaps they should have mentioned one or two of the other dwarf planets.

Sound in space? I did not enjoy to swooshing and swishing. They should leave that to worlds with atmospheres. But I know why they did it.

The blocking was weird. Staring at Neil's back? Was this symbolic? It made him seem superior, like he was a leader. Maybe that's how he sees himself, blazing the trail. I wanted to yell, "Down in front."

I found Neil a bit... heavy handed. A bit theatrical. Never got that from Carl. Watching the old Cosmos, I felt like Carl was talking to me directly, as if I was sitting across his kitchen table. Carl always seemed humble. And in awe. Only when Neil showed the agenda book and spoke of his Ithaca trip did I connect with him.

The first show. Not bad. We will make the comparisons. We won't stop. If we view it on its own, will it touch a new generation of young people and inspire them? I hope so.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

sorry, not this time

van Heerden has cancelled from the next RASC Toronto Centre The Sky This Month. Two weeks away. Markov emailed me and asked if I could do it. Sorry. Too much on my plate.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

received OMVDS v2

The plan is to ramp up on double star observing and research this year. A long time ago I had borrowed Denis's first edition; recently, I ordered the second edition of Observing and Measuring Visual Double Stars for myself.

The book from Springer arrived today. Cool. A new chapter by Mr Perez talking about sketching. Lots of updates throughout. I didn't recall colour printing in the first edition. I'm really looking forward to this!

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

raging RASCals

I watched, with some dismay, the kerfuffle with the tickets for the Dunlap Prize Lecture with Neil deGrasse Tyson. And frankly I was surprised at the remarks made and anger displayed by of some of the RASC members.

Many people were interested in attending the lecture. Within our ranks there was a great deal of interest. And many, rightly, expected that the event would be very popular.
  • 20 Oct: It all started. Members started sharing that Dr Tyson would be in Toronto in March 2014 to receive the Dunlap Prize from the Dunlap Institute. He would also deliver a free public lecture. Registration was required.
  • 21 Oct: The Dunlap Institute issued a press release. 2014 would see the inauguration of an international award recognising individuals making remarkable achievements in astronomy and astrophysics. The prize ceremony would take place on the afternoon of Friday 21 March 2014 at the University of Toronto with invited guests in attendance. After the ceremony the free lecture would take place in Convocation Hall.
  • December: RFP issued for medal, a tangible trophy, made in glass.
  • Winter: 4500 people signed up for notifications.
  • 2 Jan: A member invited me and many other RASC members to attend the DI event.
  • 11 Feb: The DI began issuing their Event Horizon updates.
  • 21 Feb: A member reminded friends on Facebook that registration would open on 1 Mar at noon.
  • 28 Feb: A member reminded all that tomorrow was the date to register for tickets. Registration would open at noon. A registration was restricted to 2 people. The DI Facebook page reminded interested parties to review the "small print." They also made a point that they were not accepting group bookings.
  • 1 Mar: There was a lot of excitement and buzz in the morning. And then, just after 12:00 PM, members shared their results. Some obtained tickets; some did not. Some shared that they saw the status change before their eyes, in the moment it took for the page to load, or reload, to select the quantity, and hit the Register button. Many went immediately to the Wait List.
  • 2 Mar: A member shared notes from the Dunlap Institute Facebook page.
  • 3 Mar: A member shared that Tyson would be speaking at NEAF. A couple more pointed out that Tyson would be Winnipeg on 13 Mar.
  • 5 Mar: Some people on the wait-list received tickets (often singles).
  • 19 Mar: The DI stated the lecture sold out. They noted all tickets were released and no additional tickets would be made available. The event would not be streamed. On their Facebook page, they recommended people line up earlier. And were cautious. "We do not anticipate that large numbers of rush seats will be available." The warned that people arriving late would be turned away.
Many people were disheartened. Some very upset. Frustrated. The first remark I saw was: "How disappointing." A prominent member protested: "Humbug!" One was perplexed, "How can it 'sold out' when the event is free?" Many "couldn't believe [it]." Another prominent person opined, "I think they messed up big time." Lots of sour grapes.

Some people expressed anger at not getting tickets. Many lashed out at the university, the DI, and the ticket agency Eventbrite. Some were rather unkind. Conspiracy theories quickly developed. Some accused the DI of hoarding or pre-allocating tickets. Of mismanaging the event. Not choosing an appropriate venue. I was very surprised at these accusations and suspected people were speaking out of turn and without considering the issues. And subsequent responses, while they came across with a slightly defensive air, from the DI explained a number of matters.

The Eventbrite system did not fail; in fact, it worked very well at processing a couple thousand requests in a couple of minutes. They had not restricted the majority of tickets. They reserved 300 of the 1500 seats. They wanted as many people from the public as possible to attend. They wanted to have the event on their property. They wanted to use a venue that was free for them. They wanted to keep costs down. "Larger commercial venues would have meant charging admission." They were, as much as anyone, surprised by the response. "By the time the sign-up list exceeded the capacity of the hall, we were already committed to that venue."

So then, to me, it became clear. It was simple. First come, first served. A free event for a popular person in a metropolitan area with 6.1 million people. The process was fair.

There were only a few reasoned voices above the din. "Selling out Convocation Hall in a matter of seconds is a great accomplishment for the DI." And another excellent point was made: "This puts them on the map again." Think about it.

Monday, March 03, 2014

beautiful sky (Mississauga)

Now that is a stunning sky. Even from this light polluting city. Damnit.

Moon on blue (Etobicoke)

Spotted a thin Moon in the darkening sky when waiting at the terminal. About 40 degrees up.

have to prep

Stu called a GO for the RASC Toronto Centre City Observing. Sheesh. I have to work. Teaching a new course for the first time... OK. So I can't go; but I was also thinking of the participants of the telescope clinic.

lovely morning (Mississauga)

Mars was very bright as I turned toward Hurontario. Bright and intense. And very orange, above the flickering blue-white Spica. Almost vertical. About 3 degrees apart. As I turned toward Eglinton, I took in sandy Saturn. Much fainter, compared to the red planet. And as I cleared the neighbours houses, there was brilliant Venus. While waiting for the Rathburn bus, I tried to find Mercury. Astrolabe said it was 7 degrees above the horizon, almost exactly between the Sun and Venus, and magnitude -0.5. But wispy clouds were forming in the very cold morning skies. Maybe it was behind a tree or lamp post. No luck.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

insecurity lights

Stumbled across that phrase in The End of Night. I like it.

People think in general that more light at night improves safety and security. When no evidence supports this. So, people adding more light to their yard and property is a marker of their insecurity and fear. They erect security lights; they should be called insecurity lights.

In fact, light at night is bad.

cups missing

Charles reported that the wind cups, of the Davis weather station Integrated Sensor Suite, are gone. Explains why we're not getting wind speed data from the CAO anemometer....

Saturday, March 01, 2014

asked to help April

April was still having trouble with the telescope alignment. They tried about 5 times after the clinic without success. Lora referred her to me.

reminder it's rare

Charline said, on the RASC Toronto Centre Yahoo!Group, that she's never seen aurora. A good reminder that it is still a relative rare event for many. I've been lucky.

Bill shared aurora shots

Bill shared some of his northern light shots. Finally! He got aurora at his favourite dark sky site! Yeh!

See his personal gallery for more. Copyright Bill Longo.