Life in the Fast Lane?

I don't think I'm actually in the fast lane, but it sort of feels like it. The past month has had me away for two weeks, one with the Cub Scouts in Alpine, NJ and another at the Summer Star Party in Savoy, MA. Between that and being in physical therapy three days each week since the shoulder surgery at the end of April, time is passing too quickly and I can't keep up. Fortunately, most of our bills are in autopay mode, so the only bad thing happening is that too much paperwork is piling up and not being recorded and filed.

Modeling the Moon's Phases

I originally built these models a couple of years ago, but didn't realize it was something "novel" until I got some comments at this past year's NEAF where I had brought them for the children's section. Quite frankly, I think it works well with adults, too, as I've heard some well-educated adults propagating common misconceptions about what causes the phases of the moon. The idea is simple enough. One side of the moon is illuminated by the Sun, the other is not.

Performance of AstroTrac TT320X-AG

It's been a busy year. I bought this at NEAF back in April and have only just now been able to get out and give it a spin. The new feature, of course, is the autoguiding. With the original TT320, the specifications state a periodic error limit of 5 arcseconds per 5 minutes. As it works out, when using my Borg 45ED lens, the pixels in my Canon 350D are about 5 arcseconds wide. What I've seen is that I can, with great care, get exposures up to 4 minutes long, but some of them invariably show trailing and have to be thrown out.

Estimating Risks

The April 24, 2010 issue of Science News has an interesting article entitled "Gambling on Experience" which reports on research into how we (people) guestimate risk in real life. I call it interesting both because it is an interesting social question, but also because of a recent dialogue about the topic of cell phones and brain cancer risk reported in a popular magazine.

Light Pollution in Missouri

Missouri is my home state.  I grew up in what was then a rural area south of St. Louis, in Arnold.  Seeing the stars at night was no big deal, and something I took for granted. Arnold can longer be considered rural and in the intervening 40 years has gone through the typical suburban sprawl growth pattern along with major increases in bad night-time lighting.  During our family visit last summer (2009), it was apparent that the skies are only slightly better than here in Brooklyn, NY despite the lower population density of Arnold.  I'll come back to that in a minute.

Careers in Physics

Okay, here is a resource for your next career day.  The American Physical Society has put together a slideshow you can download.  I need to browse this so I can work on my spiel for career day at my son's middle school, IS 30.

Sun|trek Educational Site

The January 2010 issue of Physics Today's web watch section mentioned the Sun|trek web site which contains a number of resource for learning about the Sun and it's effect on the Earth.  The material is varied and the comment about being "devoted to teaching schoolchildren" is a bit vague on the age group, but the format includes a large number of images and other materials that make it engaging, certainly for middle school and possibly for older elementary students (depending on the lesson).  Of course, some of the material is clearly target

Bay Ridge Regional Science Lab Proposal

Tonight I attended a community meeting where the main topic of new business was a presentation by Thomas Greene, formerly a teacher at Fort Hamilton High School here in Bay Ridge and now an adjunct professor at Kingsborough Community College, part of the CUNY system.

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