Monday, May 29, 2017

Added Some New Astrophotos

New in that I took these 10 years ago, but just put them up on my astrophoto page.

Like this gibbous Moon:

And a crop from an existing picture:

That's the crater near the middle of the above image.  Here you can see the rebound peak that happens at the center of substantial impacts.  Meteor Crater in Arizona has a very small one somewhat obliterated by the start of 20th century iron mining attempt.

I have many hundreds of astrophotos on my computer, some quite good.  I just need to organize them.

I Am Sure This is Just Panic-Mongering

5/29/17 U.K. Sun reports Hawaii Emergency Management Agency is preparing nuclear war survival plans because of Short Fat.  Glad that Boise isn't high on his list, and I have a radiation/flash barrier in the way, if he decides potatoes are a strategic item.

Someone reminded me that Mountain Home AFB is not in the business of dropping potatoes.

Miami Vice

My wife and I were driven into a 1980s nostalgia moment by a passing Ferrari, and she suddenly wondered if Miami Vice was available on Netflix.  No, but it is available here for free.  This was a show that ran from dark to sometimes amusing, and always with enormous style, fast cars, awesome guns, amazing sound track (remember the Phil Collins song "Inthe Air Tonight." in one episode as Sonny drives through a dark Miami?), and often awesome acting, and the occasional guest actor.  Remember G. Gordon Liddy just acting naturally as "Captain Real Estate?"  Nice touch: a real picture of him with Henry Kissinger in the background.

Of course my Sanyo LCD TV has an SVGA input from my PC, but SVGA does not carry audio, so it's time to get an HDMI cable.

That Islamophobic Attack in Portland?

I thought mental illness more than Trumpism.  Indeed, research into the suspect's postings shows a fairly unhinged white supremacist, Bernie Sanders supporter.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Happy to Report the Digital Setting Circles (DSCs) on the Big Scope Was a Worthwhile Purchase

I had this rebuild done before my stroke.  Among the options I splurged on were digital setting circles.  If you have no idea what analog setting circles are, a brief introduction.  Every object in the sky has a position analogous to latitude and longitude on Earth.  Instead of latitude, declination from 90o N (roughly Polaris, the northern pole star) to 90o S.  Right ascension (RA) is the longitude equivalent, measured from where the Sun crosses the celestial equator at the vernal equinox.  Analog setting circles were pretty, usually aluminum cylinders with markings that you would use to aim your telescope at a particular declination and RA (measured in hours and minutes).  Because they had to be produced with a dividing head, they were expensive, and seldom finer than about 5' in RA or 1on consumer grade telescope mounts.  Here's a picture from my favorite telescope mount maker, Losmandy.

Some years ago, as electronics became cheap, some clever people grabbed the 1 in 4096, then 1 in 8192 optical encoders to build the digital equivalents.  These attach to the declination and right ascension axes of an equatorial mount.  Once you have sighted in two or three stars and pressed ENTER, the display shows you your current RA and declination.  Positioning to your perhaps faint target is now possible.  (We call deep sky objects like galaxies and many of the other items whose distances are measured in light-years, instead of millions of miles, "faint fuzzies," although not all are really that faint).  Just a bit more math and these work on Dobsonian, alt-azimuth mounts, too.

I have used these on my equatorial mounts with good results.  Because the rebuilt scope arrived just before my stroke, I had never actually used the DSCs.  Tonight I stayed up well past my normal bedtime, rolled it out and used Polaris and Vega for my two alignment stars,  I told it to show me M13, the Hercules globular cluster.  Just on the edge of my field of view.  Then M57, the Ring Nebula (a smoke ring of incredible size).  And there it was.

Some of these targets can be found by hopping from bright star to fainter and so on as well.  M57 is about 40% of the way between the the two most southernmost stars of Lyra, and M13 is a bit more than halfway between two stars in the Hercules quadrilateral.  This is much easier and for some objects (like the Whirlpool Galaxy) I have never found star hopping adequate.

At least part of why both M13 and M57 were on the edge of my field of view is that I used a very wide field eyepiece to center my alignment stars. Tomorrow night, I will center them at 154x.

Strictly speaking this is an invasive weed but it says so kind of pretty call white top


I Sure Hope Hell is Real

I started watching a series documentary on Netflix titled The Keepers, about the 1969 murder of a nun in Baltimore.  Shortly afterwards,  another pretty young lady was also kidnapped and murdered.  Serial killer, right?  No,  it was a crime that makes all the pedophile Catholic priests seem tame by comparison.   (And yes, I am aware the Church has aggressively worked to prevent any repetition of these crimes.)  Two priests at a Catholic high school were raping the girls, and Sister Catherine was about to raise a ruckus about this.   One of the victims was taken to Sister Catherine's body the next day by Father Maskill and told this is what happens to people who say bad things.

So, how did these two priests get away with these crimes?  Father Maskell had extensive contacts with local police, and one of the girls described  Maskell encouraging a uniformed police officer to rape her in Maskell's office at the school.  There is an implication that local police might have covered up the murders to protect Maskell and police officers on the rape charges.

The other murder victim had no connection the school; she was probably murdered to distract attention from Sister Catherine's efforts to stop this evil.

I can't watch the rest of this series.  I can handle some pretty rough stuff; but watching these now grown women (some terribly damaged by what happened) explain what happened, and how Father Maskelll phrased it in religious excuses, is more than I can handle.