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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.

Bright Skies

A few years ago, I remember sitting out in my back alley and trying to gauge the faintest star I could see. During the summer and early fall Lyra is high overhead and has several stars around magnitude 3-5. The Little Dipper is often used for this but from here in Brooklyn that involves looking north over Manhattan, plus it's lower in the sky. 

Painful Drupal 7 Migration

I've avoided this for a long time. Finally I launched into it to find what it would take. You'll notice the web site looks a bit different. That's mostly because I didn't try to migrate the old theme; I'll eventually go through and tweak things until it morphs back into something closer. But that's not the painful part.

M27: The Dumbell Nebula, Take 2

A few years ago, I took a image of this and didn't even record what I used. Recently, I've been playing around with new equipment, in particular an AstroTech 6" Ritchie-Chretien that hasn't seem much use since I bought it. This particular scope really needs a bigger imager than my little Meade DSI Pro II, but that's what I used here.

Preliminary Testing of Focal Reducers and the Mighty Mini for Occulation Timing

I've been giving myself a crash course in optics trying to understand how to set up the optical train for occulation timings. Actually, for the primary system I'm hoping to use, "Scotty's Mighty Mini," the IOTA Yahoo group has been very helpful where I can just build it from the recommended parts and go. But...


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.

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.


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