Wednesday, December 31, 2014

added moons

Added the new Moons to my EPOC 2015 calendar...

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

will help on Monday

Asked Randy if he could help me review the Survey Monkey evals from the spring telescope clinic. He quickly replied. Happy to assist. But wouldn't be able to do so until the 5th. OK.

observing from Peter's yard (Etobicoke)

Headed to Peter's to drop off the repaired Dobsonian. Found him in the front yard with his little Newtonian looking at the gibbous prismatic Moon through thin frigid clouds. 26mm with a doubler. I aimed to the rich area near Clavius.

After I showed him the focuser repair, we noted holes in the clouds. We briefly spotted the Pleiades (Messier 45 or M45) straight overhead in a pocket.

We caught up. I shared that it looked like I'd be inheriting a classic 6" Newt soon. He sought advice on his Orion parallelogram.

Back outside, despite the cold, we did a bit of observing. The south-east had opened up. Peter loaned me a 31mm Nagler.

Took in the Moon after trying to adjust the finder scope. Weird lighting in Copernicus. Does it have multiple centre peaks?

Then I put the 8" on Sirius. While low, it looked OK. Some faint stars nearby. I was happy with the collimation. I could easily focus. I did not notice image shift. Huh.

From the street, Peter spotted Jupiter. I moved the loaner Dob and bulls-eyed the beige dot over the neighbour's house. Four moons. Two stars perpendicular. I knelt on the ground. The cloud bands appeared. A nice view. Later it swam in the heat waves.

Wow. First observing in a long time.

found an ALAMP project

I noticed a new ALAMP test site today. Anglesey Blvd at Royal York Rd. That's just north of Dundas St W. Went by in the daylight so no lights on. But I noted the cut-off heads and flat lens on the bottom. And antennae sticking out. Shared this on the RASC Toronto Centre Yahoo!Groups.

Peter was surprised as he thought the ALAMP project was dead or on hold.

Joe drove by and looked closer. Toronto Hydro changed all the shades to full cut-off. He found the lamp lens was absolutely clear. He noted the new fixtures put out a lot more light but the circle was tighter. The walls of the nearby apartment buildings were not lit. Curiously, he found they were definitely not LED.

He then tried to confirm his observations by visiting the "posted" website on that project sign - http://www.torontohydro.com/ALAMP - but the webpage was dead!

updated weather portals

Updated my Toronto weather portal page adding the Clear Outside embedded mini-charts. Also fix a bad link. And removed a dead script.

Monday, December 29, 2014

shimmed the focuser

I didn't like the action. The focuser was jamming after drawn all the way out. The little cuts in the top of the draw tube.

I backed out the tiny set screws. One was flopping around—clearly stressed from previous abuses. I wondered if a shim or sled had gone missing...


Added plastic shims to the "top" of the focuser casing. This greatly reduced the flop!


Ha! The shim material was "donated" by the old astronomy case α! The drawing action was smooth! Yes!

Very happy.

booked for Feb TSTM

Mr Markov asked if I would deliver The Sky This Month for February 25. Yes! I'm determined not to bail...

correction on web site

Checked the online updates for the 2015 Observer's Handbook. My correction, as per James's message, for the double star Σ2991, was shown.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

rebuilt focuser

Cleaned and rebuilt the focuser for the RASC Dobsonian. Used low-temp grease.


What a cheap, backward design. More pressure on the worm gear pushed the draw tube up and away from the plastic shims...

eerie

On a somber note, the interview of Chris Hadfield was written late October 2013. And he predicted an unpleasant outcome with the privatisation of space. "Eventually they'll crash one." Curious, reading this now, after the incident of October 2014.

she nailed it

Tanya nailed it! Lunar X is clearly visible in the photo she posted to Twitter and that Bill shared on Facebook.


Copyright © 2014 Tanya Oleksuik. Image used with permission. She shot this from Toronto, from her balcony, using her telescope and camera phone, around 9:30 PM or 10:00 PM. Proving my Lunar X calculations to be off a bit...

Hadfield with pug

Found this... A wonderful article at The Guardian. Hadfield and a cute doggie! Shared with Lora cause I know she loves cute doggies.

Mom's gift

Mom liked her gift.


I think it came out pretty good.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Jupiter low (Union)

As the guests departed, I spotted Jupiter above the garage through the neighbour's tree. Pointed it out to Mom.

Checked the weather. Clouds rolling in. I didn't bother to go out...

oh that's why

Did some online window shopping, researching 8mm wide angle lens. Spotted the very inexpensive Polaroid Studio Series Circular Fisheye. About $70 less on Amazon (Canada). Shared the find with Phil. He noted it did not have the removable petal cap. Oh. I hit the brakes.

grabbed finder

Retrieved my old finder scope, the little Celestron 6x, from Mom's observatory. This will go onto the barn door tracker...

Needs a new O-ring. Otherwise the finder may shift.

With the other parts, I should be able to finish the assembly.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

gifts 2014

Received a number of astronomy-related gifts this year from the family.


Darth Vader's head. In chocolate. From Regal Candy, who appears to make Pez. And Rockets! I find your lack of body disturbing. A fleece blanket with stars and planets. Shall I take that to the observatory? Or keep it in the camping gear? Index cards, 50, and a case, with a space theme. Except I'm trying to not use paper... Huh. I did have an unused set of index cards in astronomy box α... A hand-made knitted item from sis. Mom didn't recognise it. Steve, while she was making it, thought it weird bug. I recognised it right away. "Don't ride in anything with a Capissen 38 engine, they fall right out of the sky." A medium-sized button. Of a full Moon! Oh dear.

A magazine.


The October 2014 issue of Canadian Geographic with a feature article Canada in Space. Interesting...


A special issue by National Geographic entitled The New Universe. This might be mostly a review for me... It's all changing pretty fast!

A binder. Part of the National Geographic Space series. Featuring the Great Orion Nebula.


Tried to think of a way I might be able to use this... Some RASC paperwork? General astronomy paperwork?

The coolest item? Chris Hadfield's book You Are Here.


Looking forward to examining closely his wonderful photographs from on orbit.

Thanks sis, Steve, and Mom!

astronomical outlook

Bill posted on his Facebook page. Referred to Chris and me.


Makes our The Sky This Month presentations a whole lot easier!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

updated SkyTools

Chris sent out a note on the RASC Toronto Centre Yahoo!Group explaining how to add comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy to Stellarium. That reminded me to update SkyTools. Not that it will matter...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

received proofs

Jay sent over page proofs. Nice. I get to review in a near-finished form. The images looked good. He gave me a week. A tad busy at the moment though...

Monday, December 22, 2014

corrections applied

James was quick! Shortly after Dave's message, he reported that he applied the two corrections.

Dave agreed

After our messages on the 16th, Dave concurred, agreed that it looked like a typo. Michel meant F instead of T for the double star Σ2991. Further, he said, "I have corrected it for 2016 and James will post a notice online."

Sunday, December 21, 2014

lost in stars

Some new members posted a note on the RASC Toronto Centre Yahoo!Group. They shared that they had recently looked skyward and on seeing stars grabbed the binoculars and tried to find their way. "WE HAD NO IDEA what we were looking at, looking for or even which way to face."


I kicked off the discussion. I encouraged them to get a Star Finder or planisphere.

dropped off mount

He wasn't too far off the highway. Delivered Scott's Sky-Watcher NEQ 6 mount. Gave him the extra bits. I really wanted to set it up and give it a go. I had brought all the needed tools to adjust. Maybe it was because I was somewhat early? I think he was busy. It's that time of year. I carried on.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

picked up canvases

John called. Said he was almost done. I could pick up on half an hour. I drove downtown and parked out behind the shop. He was wrapped the prints as I arrived. He opened up the wrap to let me look. The igloo. It was dark. Darker than I had hoped. Oh well. Nothing to be done now.

And no frame. I thought I was getting a frame. Around the outside... Damn. More issues. Was I mistaken? I didn't know. Too late now.

I paid and left. Salvaged. At least I would not be emptied-handed to me family on Christmas day.

told Elaine the bad news

Emailed Elaine. Shared my frustration. Told her that John had missed two deadlines. And he was not returning my emails.

out of options

Emailed John at Exposures after not hearing anything all day. I was dreading the outcome. No problems delaying his completion. The canvas prints would not be ready and I had locked into to leaving Sunday morning. These major Christmas gifts to my family would not be ready. What would I do? What would I give them instead. What could I possibly given them?

I was very disappointed.

The worst part of it was, I didn't know what was going on. I didn't think that appropriate. John should have asked his staff to give me updates. At least I'd know that some progress was being made.

found glue

Took apart the focuser. It was like maple syrup!


The old grease had turned to goop. It was making the focuser very stiff.

There were also notches or cuts in the top side of the draw tube... Would need to figure out what to do about that...

Friday, December 19, 2014

a full year

Read an article about astronaut Kelly and cosmonaut Kornienko planning for their one year stint in space. This will be really interesting.


I still think it fascinating that NASA has Scott's twin brother Mark Kelly. Their launch is coming up soon, if I understand correctly, March 2015...

busy time without a plan

Allard relayed a message received via the web site. Another telescope donation request. I don't recall any discussion about my ideas around a new "intake" committee. Receiving this note now, at this time of year, I suspect will mean it will not (despite Allard's wishes) get dealt with in a timely fashion.

problems at the print shop

Still no email. Phoned Exposures. Got John on the phone. I was quite civil. Asked what was up. John said the first print run did not go as planned. A problem with "banding." And then he had consumed all his canvas supply. He hoped to finish later in the day. But there was the issue of dry-time. Wouldn't be ready for pick-up until tomorrow. "Saturday," I asked? He apologised. I said I wanted him to keep me updated.

This scuttled the morning departure.

called photo shop

Still no response. Sent an email message to John at Exposures. Asked if I'd be able to pick up my canvas prints.


I did not expect any delays. He knew my timelines. I think he knew this was for Christmas gifts. Maybe he's not good at estimating. Maybe some factors are out of his hands.

Still, I think communicating what's happening would be good...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

more organics detected

NASA confirmed the discovery of organics on Mars based on materials drilled by the Curiosity rover. This in addition to the methane detections from before. I read the article on the Discovery web site. Explaining both the organics and the methane will require far more analysis and likely not be answered with the current instruments. All that said, microscopic life would have a tough go, today, on the red planet. Still, it is encouraging to see markers, hints, tells of the possible building blocks of life.

not a peep

No call. No email. I had expected John to phone me to say the canvas prints were ready.

I was not happy. Not fun now.

At one point I had entertained taking the Friday afternoon off (I still had a half-day time in lieu). But with everything else going on, I decided to carry on. That meant the prints pick-up could slide to Friday.

I was going to leave for my Mom's on Saturday morning...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

checked magnitudes

I provided more evidence to support my argument that F was meant instead of T. To add some weight to Michel's hesitant note. The listed magnitudes for the Σ2991 are 6.0 and 10.0. Struve 680 Tau, with the same mag values, Michel listed as F.

looked like a typo

Michel replied to Dave's message. He guessed it was an error, should have been an F, not a T. Still, he authorised the change. He also said he'd confirm when he got home.

acquired hardware

My half-day time-off in lieu I used to go downtown. To get various errands done. One objective was to obtain fasteners for the barn door tracker project. To augment the parts from Ian's kit. I was very pleased to procure a long 3/8-16 bolt, for the ball head, along with some washers, some teenie, short #4 bolts and nuts (unfortunately I couldn't find matching washers so I took some #6 instead), some small #4 self-tapping screws, and some unusually-sized female blade connectors (in the auto department). The latter I was really surprised by.

Monday, December 15, 2014

looked for an adapter

Had a look in the Darrow donation equipment at the DDO for a SCT adapter for the CAO N11. Was not hopeful...

the first meeting

Attended my first RASC Toronto Centre council meeting as a councilor. It went better than I thought. The best part was that we were down early! Amazing.

caught up with Steve

Hitched a ride with Steve, not far from the St Clair West station, to the council meeting at the DDO. My first official council meeting...

delivered image files

Visited Exposures. Right where I thought it was. The woman at the desk called John. He invited me up to the studio. Transferred my two images to John's computer. Loaded into Photoshop. We had to fiddle with the igloo image given the way I had framed it and that "good" borders, for a canvas, were typically taken out of the image. The Ring Nebula was not an issue in that respect—lots to work with. Some colour and contrast corrections and we felt we were good to go. I could pick up on Thursday afternoon. John said he'd call me when ready.

made a recommendation

After some circular conversations, both parties guilty, I made a recommendation. I said that I thought it good to show in the written secretary's report the names of the volunteers who delivered presentations during the RASC members nights. Eric said he would do so. Thank you.

reminder to remind

Allard reminded Paul and Paul to remind our presentations to see the presentation guidelines document on our web site. Thank you.

magnetic paint

Checked the RSS feed from the European Space Agency. Wow. An article about the galaxy's magnetic field along the plane included a stunning image.


Like a painting! I forwarded it to Risa.

looking for a confirmation

From my message, Dave asked Michel if a change should be made regarding Σ2991.

reminder

Received another renewal email. "Time to Renew your RASC Membership!"

Sunday, December 14, 2014

thanks Astro Baby!

The EQ6 teardown and rebuild notes on the Astro Baby web site proved invaluable.


Only very slight differences. Some of similarities were eerie...

tidied loose ends

Finished the final items for the NEQ6 repair. Did another motor run. Added the gear cover screws. Installed the polar scope. Set the latitude to 44.5°. Cleaned the casing. Packed up the additional parts. Downloaded the various photos. Updated my repair notes.

checked location

Emailed Scott. Verified he was near Woodstock. Ah. I could drop off then...

readied for Monday

John said he could handle PSD, TIFF, or even large JPGs. He offered to colour-correct on his calibrated monitor. I prepared the files...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

project box completed

Made more progress on the barn door tracker.

Yesterday, after work, visited The Gorilla. Active on Queen. Headed straight to the far aisles. Found some nice single pole switches. I chose another one with a red switch, a bit larger this time, and with I/O markings. Oooh. Noticed aircraft switch covers, in different colours! A future project perhaps... Stumbled across the female CLA box so I grabbed one of those. For a future 12 volt cord extension... Then headed to the wire section. Picked up 2 metres of microphone wire. For the barn door motor.

After the noise-ban was lifted, I started work.


Soldered up about half the length of the mic wire between the motor and the RCA plug. Tested. Works!

Borrowed Will's hacksaw to cut down the debugged PCB to fit in the project box base. Drilled the four holes to mount to the case. But did not yet have the mounting screws...


Made all the openings for the controls in the clear cover of the project box. Mounted the controls. I will need some very short bolts for the N-S switch and RCA jack...

Wandering drill bits aside, I was very happy.

All I needed was screws for mounting the PCB and a few more very small bolts for the switches...

let's do it!

Replied to John. Said I wanted to go ahead. Feeling very happy. I sent over links to my images for him to preview. Asked about preferred file formats. Said I'd drop in Monday after work. I'd squeeze it in before the council meeting...

he could do it by Friday!

John replied again, quickly. Fantastic! Getting logistics sorted out before next week!

He explained that the proper way to frame a canvas was to have it put on stretcher bars. He quoted me on that. And then he said he should go into a frame (e.g. gallery style black frame). Again, he quoted me on that.

The best news was when he said, "Yes, we can have them by the end of the week if we order by Tuesday."

He encouraged me to visit and spend some time going over my photos.

tried Clear Outside

Byron found a new clear sky prediction tool. He shared the link, pre-programmed for Toronto, on the RASC Toronto Centre Yahoo!Group last night.

I took a look. Neat! A 7-day, hourly cloud and weather forecast tool. Designed by astronomers for astronomers. Takes into account low, medium, and high clouds, wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, dew point. And air pressure! I immediately adjusted it to be centred on midnight (that's like SkyTools). Oh cool! It shows ISS flyovers!


The beta product is provided by First Light Optics in the UK. I think I'll add it to my weather portal pages...

quick and dirty TSTM

Feeling badly for not delivering The Sky This Month, I issued a quick bulletin on the RASC Toronto Centre Yahoo!Group... I had already done a bunch of the research.
Hi,

Due to a work conflict I could not attend the RASC meeting and deliver my The Sky This Month presentation.

Regardless, I wanted to share a list of upcoming events. Enjoy.

* Geminid meteor shower. Active until Dec 17. Peak this weekend! Can produce up to 120 meteors per hour! That's a higher rating than the Perseids. Associated with the Palladian asteroid.

* Quadrantid meteor shower. Active from Dec 28 - Jan 12, peaking on Jan 4. Up to 120/hr! Another good event! Moon should cooperate. Appear to radiate from a point between northern Boötes and the handle of the Big Dipper.

* Globe at Night. Measure sky brightness and submit your results. Runs until Dec 20. The January campaign starts Sun 11 Jan. http://www.globeatnight.org/

* Visible evening passes or flyovers of the International Space Station continue until Mon 29 Dec with a couple of bright ones on tap. Morning passes start 5 Jan. http://heavens-above.com/

* 3rd quarter Moon. Sun 14 Dec.

* Moon Anniversary. Sun 14 Dec. Last human visited the Moon (1972).

* Dark sky observing session star party at Long Sault Conservation Area. Weather permitting. First clear night of Mon 15 - Thu 18 Dec.

* Asteroid Bonk near earth. Tue 16 Dec.

* SpaceX Dragon launch to International Space Station, Commercial Resupply Mission 5. Fri 19 Dec. Revised date.

* New moon. Sun 21 Dec.

* Solstice! Sun 21 Dec.

* Young Moon near Venus. Mon 22 Dec.

* Jupiter night! Io's shadow, Io's transit in front of Jupiter, Ganymede's disappearing-reappearing act, Europa's reappearance, along with the Great Red Spot. Bonus: Moon near Mars. Wed 24 Dec.

* Keep an eye on NORAD! http://www.noradsanta.org/

* 1st quarter Moon. Tail end of Lunar X may be visible (we'll have many good chances in 2015). Sun 28 Dec.

* Moon very near Uranus. Mon 29 Dec.

* Another Jupiter night! Europa and Ganymede disappear in Jupiter's shadow. Io casts its shadow on the planet. Io transits. Along with the GRS!

* Mercury reappears in evening skies. Thu 1 Jan.

* Double moon shadow transit on Jupiter. Moon near Aldebaran. Fri 2 Jan.

* Solar observing session star party. Weather permitting. Sat 3 Jan.

* Earth closest to Sun (at perihelion). Full Moon. Sun 4 Jan.

* Double shadow transit on Jupiter. Tue 6 Jan.

* Yet another Jupiter night! GRS, Io's shadow, Io transiting, Ganymede disappearing. Apropos given the anniversary of Galileo discovering these moons. Earth's Moon near Jupiter. Wed 7 Jan.

* Mercury and Venus less than 1 degree apart! Starts Thu 8 Jan and continues to Mon 12 Jan.

* Jupiter show! Double shadows. Io and Europe transiting. Then reemerging. Amalthea at greatest elongation too.

* 3rd quarter Moon. Mon 12 Jan.

* Mercury at greatest elongation (or separation) from the Sun. Wed 14 Jan.

* Speakers night meeting. Wed 14 Jan.

Keep looking up!

regards,
Blake
It's better than bad; it's good.

curious about turnaround

I was excited! Maybe, just maybe, I'd be able to make these special Christmas gifts happen! Thanked John for the quick reply. Asked the cost of framing or mounting. Asked if he was open on Monday. And the all-important question: How much time do you need? Told him my deadline: Friday.

received quote for canvas

Wow. John replied quickly. Received the cost for printing an 11x14 on canvas. He encouraged me to ask more questions.

learned about mounting and the wrap

Elaine and I chatted by SMS. I asked her about her canvas prints, how they were mounted. She told me about the border for the wrap.

asked for a quote

After checking the web site for a price list, I sent an email to John at Exposures on Wellesley. Said I was referred by Elaine and Tony. Inquired about getting some astrophotography images printed up, around the 11x14 size, ideally onto canvas. Asked for some approx. prices.

Friday, December 12, 2014

asked for advice

Put a message to the RASC Toronto Centre Yahoo!Group looking for advice on a print shop who could do nice work with astrophotography enlargements. Received a great number of responses! But it was Elaine's that intrigued me... For I had seen the results.

colourful Moon (Etobicoke)

Spotted the waning Moon with prismatic glow. A bright dot to the right, 5° away. Jupiter.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

water debate heats up

Read the article on the European Space Agency web site about Rosetta's surprising discoveries and how it's cometary water vapour analyses show it to be quite different than Earth's oceans. This seems to be stirring the pot about the origin of water on our planet.


I think I need to read more about this. Can you do an apples-to-apples comparison? Would some variance not occur given time-frames and interactions? That is to say, the water on our planet has been, um, recycled a few times now. It is a vexing question. We're 2/3rds covered with salty water. Where did it all come from?

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

debugged the circuit

Had another go after the disheartening results Sunday.

7:37 PM. Tried to sort the motor direction issue. Tested the barn door tracker control circuit without the harness. It worked. Manually switched connections on the output of the board, clockwise then counter-clockwise. It worked. That was really good news for I felt that was the trickiest part of the circuit.

But still there was no motor light. The red LED was not illuminating as the motor turned. I directly tested the LED. It worked. I must have misread it and installed it backwards. Did further debugging of the LED. Finally decided to install a new one.

With the harness, things were still not working correctly. Did more reverse checks. And at long last I found it! An interconnection to an isolated circuit! There was no circuit between pins 4 and 14... I made a new circuit and tested. Not working! Sheesh.

Wait. I did more checks from a different direction... Checked the PCB and discovered the purple wire had fallen out. That's not exactly the right way to say it. It wasn't connected. It looked like, somehow, it had desoldered. Not sure how that could happen...


9:08. Connected everything up, including the harness. Everything worked! w00t! What a relief.

Upshot of all this...

My schematic diagram was perfect. My printed circuit board diagram was perfect. I made one mistake while soldering. I was still not exactly sure what had happened with the LED... No matter. I was good.

Monday, December 08, 2014

no TSTM speaker

Paul filled the slate. But no one would be doing The Sky This Month. I felt bad.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

traced the board

Started tracing. Tried to find the fault. Immediately I found the power switch was not working! What?! Or at least the pole I used didn't work. Shorted the switch. No LED. Damn. Wait... a sound. The motor! The motor was turning, clockwise, in fact. Holy cow. It did work. Dialled the speed up and down. Yes. The barn door tracker control circuit was working... partly. Tried the N-S switch—stopped. OK, I was not out of the woods yet but I was very happy with my progress. It was not a catastrophic fault. Perhaps a simple matter on one side of the hemispheric circuit...

§

Other continuity tests, further downstream yielded peculiar results. I must have a short, I thought...


Then I found a dead resistor. Yes, a dead resistor. The 470 ohm for the LED. No continuity! How the heck does a resistor fail? Readied to swap it out.

I was discouraged. I decided to sleep on it...

PCB didn't work

First attempt. No joy. Gah. My first try at the barn door tracking control unit, with the improved layout, did not work. Always a risk, wiring up a custom breadboard...

decided on new layout

Now that I had all the circuit board parts, I started working positioning, considering layout and interference.

Settled on the new layout for the barn door tracker control unit.


Ready to solder.

tuned motors and worms

After reinstalling the motor, performed tests. All OK. Adjusted tension on motor gears. Adjusted worm gears. Feels really good. The NEQ6 is essentially ready to go.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

got 'em

Kept forgetting this things. Finally received items from the Horvatins at last: RASC calendars; the Midland radio.

New Horizons awoke

Watched the New Horizons probe wake up. Gettin' real... Pluto research will be happening soon now.

clarified deadlines

Tried to get some clarity on the Journal submission deadlines. I thought I had met one and the next was accelerated. Jay apologised for any misunderstanding and included a schedule. For 2014 mind you; but next year's dates should be similar. I entered reminders into my agenda.

Surprise: Jay and James accepted my proposal to publish the deadline within each issue.

A side benefit is that I can ease-up on the current article!

Friday, December 05, 2014

happy for Nicole

Another aspect of the Orion launch that was rather exciting was that my friend Nicole Mortillaro was in Florida, on assignment, for Global News. As much as possible I followed her blog and Facebook posts. I was very proud of her. Her first launch. And I wouldn't wish it on anyone but I'm glad she experienced the scrub too.

let bed go

After a friend posted a bed frame for sale on Facebook, I consulted with the CAO crew. But we decided it was too far to pick up and that we had no were to store it in the interim. We let it go.

missed it

Missed the launch. Grrr. Spotted a piece on CP24 while grabbing a coffee in the Oasis. OK. So it got away all right. Good!


NASA is gettin' back on the horse. The Orion was lifted to orbit atop ULA Delta 4-Heavy rocket. 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

discovered a conflict

I suddenly discovered a conflict. For a long time, I was on the docket to deliver The Sky This Month at the December RASC Toronto Centre Recreational Astronomy Night Meeting. But work had scheduled me to deliver training courses to the Asia-Pacific clients—in the evening in this time zone! Damn! I let Markov know in the hopes we could find another presenter...

phone fixed

Bell Canada repaired a bad wire between the CAO junction box at the foot of the drive and the other side of the road. Yeh.

let's be clear

Read the letter-to-the-editor by Karen Mortfield posted to the York Region Metroland Media Richmond Hill Liberal. It made it very clear—I think—that the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada - Toronto Centre has been effectively and successfully (and correctly) operating the David Dunlap Observatory for over 5 years now, serving over 20 000 visitors. It also addressed the issue that another group is trying to make it seem like they have done a lot to maintain the facility and will, in the future, be conducting public outreach when in fact they have done nothing. And will not.

The RASC runs the DDO.

he haggled

Phil scored the case for me from the Markham. At a great price. Wow. He inspected it too.


Said it looked very good. Lots of storage space. Although, he didn't think it would take full sheets of paper. Or books. Can't wait!

web site updated

Allard sent a note. The 2015 events have been added to the web site calendar. Good stuff!

watched the attempt

Monitored NASA EFT-1 Orion launch attempt with the Delta rocket. They scrubbed due to a valve problem.

Jupiter ensnared (Etobicoke)

Found Jupiter in the Sickle.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

more parts

Received Digi-Key parts. So fast! A couple of project boxes. The rectangular cables (assembled) and the headers. All right! Following my schematic, I can proceed with the barn door track circuit board build!

received busted Dob

Peter had received the broken loaner Dob from Stu and offered to drop it off. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

a Markham shop

Learned of a case supplier in Markham, not far from Phil's work. Looked like a good option for replace astronomy case α. Asked if he could help me out.

is there a budget?

Asked Stu if there was a budget for the RASC loaner Dobsonian telescope repair.


I found low-end new focusers for $100. At least it uses bearings!


And good ones for $200. Dual speed!

A new 8" Dob, fixed-tube, is probably a few hundred dollars new...

hot in cold (Etobicoke)

Saw a blue-white start between the clouds.

Monday, December 01, 2014

updated Lunar X for 2015

Prepared my Lunar X spreadsheet for 2015. Looks like a good year!


Sent to Phil so to check my numbers...

sent bio and pix

Sent Jay my bio and a couple of pictures... For the Journal.

SN arrived

My copy of SkyNews arrived. To the current address. Yeh.

Funny timing, having recently received the Nov-Dec issue, now I had the Jan-Feb issue to absorb.

Looking forward to the highlights for the new year...

camera-tracker interface

Picked up a good ball head from Downtown Camera for the barn door tracker. On sale too!


The Sirui G-20KX has an Arca-Swiss type mounting plate with an anti-slip lock. Two bubble levels. It supports up to 20 kg! The package includes a pouch. I discovered it has both a D-ring and regular bolt with hex included! 3/8" bolt on the base.