Welcome to astrofoto.org!

Moon, 2005 Mar 16Here you will find the fruits of our hobby. Well, for Maria it is a hobby; for Roland it is closer to an obsession. Still, this is where you will find some of the fruits of that work. In March of 2000, we purchased an 8-inch Newtonian reflector on a Dobsonian mount from Orion Telescopes, the SkyQuest XT8.

Using the telescope was a learning experience, especially since time and responsibilities did not allowed us to get to any star parties or meet members from any clubs in the area for nearly a year. Usenet news on sci.astro.amateur was a lifesaver. Most of the time we were viewing from our 3rd story porch in Queens (in the eastern part of New York City). Views to the west were compromised by massive light pollution from Manhattan and during the coldest months the city generates significant heat that ruins the seeing even as high as 60 degrees above the horizon. Still, there are plenty of things which can be seen with the 8-inch scope, or for that matter, with our 10x50 binoculars.

In October of 2002 we moved to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. We no longer have the 3rd floor porch, but the skies actually seem to be darker. Some of this is because we are near the water which means that in some directions there really is less light pollution. We've also acquired some camera equipment and a several telescopes as Roland has gone on a shopping spree (not really, it just kind of accumulates). At this point we have a couple of smaller scopes includeing a 90mm f/5 refractor, its bigger brother, a Orion 120ST 120mm f/5, and older Tasco 60mm f/11 (or so, not quite sure), and an Orion Apex 127mm. And since the imaging bug bit, I've acquired a Losmandy GM-8 mount with Gemini GOTO and an older "push-to" Mountain Instruments MI-250 mount. Storage is a problem, but having enough scopes for kids activities is not.

ASI120MM Astronomy Camera

I received this last year at the Rockland Astronomy Club's Summer Star Party as a raffle prize. Nice camera, designed as a planetary camera with 1280x960 resolution, small pixels at 3.75μm, compact and light-weight, and best of all, it has an autoguider port.

BSA Astronomy

Summers are always busy and this one was no different. But at least I finally got to do a little astronomy. First there was the update on writing a curriculum for Ten Mile River to try to get the scouts through the astronomy merit badge.

Gravity Tunnels, Falling through the Earth

I think I stumbled across this a while back but I can't remember where. The classic freshman physics question is, assuming a uniform density for the Earth and a perfect, frictionless tunnel cut through the Earth in a straight line, how long would it take to travel between any two points on the surface of the Earth? The answer is interesting. It's the same no matter how far apart the two points are, 42 minutes.

Superball Physics!

I'm trying to catch up on my reading by skimming through back issues of American Journal of Physics when I found this one in the March issue: "Impact behavior of a superball," Am. J. Phys.

Testing Astro Video Capture in Linux

I recently picked up an older Thinkpad T400 that had Windows 7 installed. After a bit of angst, I went ahead with my plan to scrub the disk and install Fedora 21. Why the angst? Well, I had originally thought of using Windows 7 32-bit to control my older Canon Digital Rebel XT cameras. They are no longer supported by Canon and not at all on 64-bit platforms. But the T400 came with the 64-bit version of Windows 7 thought they seller did provide a 32-bit install disk. However, I already knew I should be able to get basic functionality out of the cameras with gphoto.

Teach Foundational Language Principles (CACM May 2015, pp 30-31)

The authors point to teaching programming languages as opposed to logic as being a seriously weak spot in computer science education. While the “Hour of Code” has a lot of appeal and can introduce people to computing, they point out that new computing languages are continuously being developed to try to solve new problems. They make numerous examples and point to Dijkstra's classic “Go To Statement Considered Harmful” as examples of how understanding a problem has lead to new languages and new language structures.

Education: What Are We Doing When We Teach Computing in Schools? (CACM May 2015, pp24-26)

This article initally caught my attention with it's graphic and caption “SCIENCE:Gravity makes haveier things fall faster.” The author goes on to recount her experience with just such a poster in a local elementary science fair and her lack of success in having it taken down. The point: we have started pushing instruction of computing (and programming) into schools where there are non-specialist teachers who are expected to understand the material well enough that the students come away with correct knowledge. 

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