Saturday, April 22, 2006

A Dam Good Friday

It didn't look like it was going to be much of a night last night. The sky was full of crud, and every time an airplane flew over, it left a contrail that just fattened up until it covered a big stretch of sky. By about 11:00 most folks at the dam were packing up to go home, but I wasn't ready to give up just yet. There was a general clearing in the west, and I suspected that the reason those contrails weren't going away was that we had a pretty steady upper atmosphere, which would mean good seeing.

I'm glad I stuck around, because by 0100 the sky was completely clear. There was no wind, the temperature was reasonable enough to not require a jacket, and the dew was just holding off, mostly.

So here's the boring side of Jupiter, with Io just peeking around the edge. Unless I modify my camera, I don't know any technique I'm not using to get the most out of my setup. Collimation? As good as I know how to make it. Focus? The WO focuser is working well, and I've been bracketing my shots to try to find the sweetest spot. Seeing? I can't control it, but last night was as good as we've seen in a long time. Jupiter's altitude above the horizon? It's just 39° up at this point, but even at transit it'll barely top 43°. It's just not going to be a great summer for shooting Jove this year.

Anyway, here's a three-frame animation shot in just six minutes. The big guy moves fast!

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Military Life

I came across this curiosity today and thought, I didn't spend but a month sleeping on a rack like that and I didn't find it very much fun at all. This is a toy?

Then I wondered if I could get a little R. Lee Ermey doll to go with it.

It turns out you can.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

2006 LKY Ranch BBQ & Spring Frolic

The wind blew 30 mph all weekend, so no astro pics, but the rest of the photos and a short video are here.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Jupiter & Ganymede

Patience finally pays off. At 2:00 this morning Jupiter was 40° up, which is about as good as it's going to get. I could see the seeing rippling across the disc, even with 3/5 seeing. Red Jr. is just visible at around 2:00 on the image.

A couple of guys driving a 1970 Camaro and 67 Mustang stopped by looking for their dog. They both looked at Saturn, Jupiter & the Moon and were suitably blown away. It's funny--sometimes I think astronomy is about the geekiest hobby possible, but when 20-something hot-rodders proclaim the view of Saturn "the coolest thing they've ever seen," well, maybe it's not so geeky after all.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Star Hoping

That's when you point the telescope at the sky and hope you see something.

Like last night. I didn't want to set up the LX200, so I took the little 6" dob into the back yard with my red flashlight and Star Atlas. I did pretty good on M81 & M82, but totally failed on the Leo Triplett. To be fair to myself, the transparency was only so-so, 6 inches isn't a whole lot of aperture, and my star-hopping skills are practically non-existant.

Meanwhile, here's a new design at CafePress!