Friday, May 27, 2022

AIR day 19

The following is a blog post from the Astronomer-In-Residence (AIR) web site, reproduced here. Text and images used with permission.

Day 19 blog entry.

Friday 27 May 2022: Busy Day

Surprised by the 8 AM alarm today. TGIF.

Reviewed my weather and sky resources. The Aviation Weather Center showed winds pushing from the SW, gradually clearing. The Clear Sky Chart was not updating even after clearing the cache. Env Can said mainly cloudy tonight, hiss; clear Sat, meow. Astrospheric said it wouldn't clear tonight until 11.

I noted a good ISS flyover at 10 PM. If clear, we could photograph that. The NOAA space weather page showed kp-index values of 4 in our early evening and through the night. If clear, if we saw a glow in the north, we could photograph that.

Headed to the Kchi observatory and shot a bunch of videos to augment the written guides.

barn door tracker on the slab after minor surgery

Then trundled to the maintenance building hoping I could borrow some tools. They graciously let me use their cordless drill, a large bit, and a spanner. I modified my barn door tracker, moving the camera mount closer to the curved rod. Hopefully this will improve the balance.

12:59 PM. I was ready to upload the videos so I set up my laptop in the observatory, connected to the hard line, and pushed the MPEG files to Google. It predicted it would take over 2 hours for the 19 files. OK. I can take lunch now.

lunch in Killarney

Headed to Killarney and enjoyed a classic fish-and-chips meal at Herbert Fisheries. Yum. Walked down the street to the Gateway Restaurant. Busy, lots of people at the picnic tables by the channel. I bought some treats! Had a laugh on seeing a photograph of Ron Swanson in the restaurant.

Back at camp, I heard a loon. Not the first time: a couple of days ago I heard one.

Around 2:30, I returned to the dome. Holy Universe! Google said it needed another 2 hours for the remaining 10 files. The original estimate was off by half! Ah, it ain't internet by fibre optic here.

Did more tidying up. Made more labels. Dried out some electronics. Put silica packs in cases with sensitive equipment.

4:12 PM. Had a quick meeting with Marisa about the "Getting Started in Astrophotography." We lamented that it was going to be cloudy.

Ah ha! I learned why the Clear Sky Charts were not updating... The Ottawa region was still recovering from the big storm about a week ago with hydro only being restored now... Mr Danko reported: "POWER FAILURE: A power failure has shutdown main chart-updating computers. So chart updates may be delayed or limited to one per day depending how I can scrounge generators, gasoline, and internet access..."

Checked the Clear Outside weather resource. It too showed clouds to midnight or 1:00 AM.

6:03 PM. The upload finished, at last.

Light low-carb dinner again. My last pork chop.

Set up about 30 minutes before show time. The blackflies were bad tonight. Forced me to fetch my bug jacket.

10:26 PM. We concluded our presentation. Clouded out again, sadly. Lots of good questions though. I showed classic shooting with my Canon 40D camera on a tripod. Or smartphone held to tripod with a bungee cord. Or smartphone on deck railing. Showed an inexpensive intervalometer for remote control. Then tracking the sky, in this case with my home-made barn door tracker. I showed through-the-telescope imaging, using the Meade 16-inch and Canon 6D as a sample. That's a big lens! I also showed the rather sophisticated features on my motorola e6 smartphone camera, including a full manual mode, and the ability to save files in RAW format.

Another day done.

The Astronomer-In-Residence program is coordinated by the Allan I Carswell Observatory (AICO) at York University with the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (KPPO).

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