Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lovejoy Rising

I have posted lots of pics of Comet Lovejoy and managed to get up early enough this morning and brave the chilly Tucson (below freezing...don't judge northerners!) temps to take some shots.

Saguaro National Park east is about a 10 minute drive from where I live. I wanted some pics with some nice foreground objects so I hiked into the park a little bit to get to the first batch of big saguaros. I got several wide shots with a 35mm lens. I used a feature on my Skytracker that will track at only half the rate the stars move across the sky. I did this to split the difference between the land and sky, keeping both of them reasonably in focus with minimal blurring during the 20-30 second exposures I was using.




Of course I felt the need to put on the longer (250mm) zoom lens and try a two minute shot of the comet. The tail is developing nicely and covers several degrees of the sky.

Comet Lovejoy was visible to the naked eye and it is definitely brighter than M13, probably a little brighter than 5th magnitude. Easy and nice binocular target, naked eye under dark skies. For finder chart, Heavens Above is a good place. Just set it to the time you want to observe. 

I should note that Lovejoy is moving farther into the northern sky. For much of the continental U.S., it can be seen after sunset and before sunrise, although it is much higher in the sky and easier to see before sunrise. The farther north you are, the easier it is to see after sunset (although Mike Weasner got it after sunset from Oracle, just north of Tucson a few nights ago so anything Tucson or north is fair game for sure!)
I am enjoying this comet, but could the next one please be a good evening object?

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Open Blog - Weekend

Maxine is a blast.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Four for Fridays

Hello everyone and welcome back! It has been a quiet week for me. Not much has been going on.... Could it be the weather? Anyways, here are your questions....

1) What cartoon do you still like watching?

2) Where is the funniest or the strangest place you have fallen asleep?

3) When was the last time you went barefoot in public?

4) What poems do you have committed to memory?

Enjoy your weekend!

Open Blog - Friday

Feel the love.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My kingdom for a spatula!

Which one of you wise guys hid or took my silverware during the move?  I have a fork, a butter knife, and a paring knife.  I've got dishes and bowls and pots and pans, but no utensils.  Well, that just keeps giving me an excuse to go to Top Dog Hot Dogs for food.  I hope I find my stuff before I go broke.

"Black Friday Shopping Chaos [Super Cut Compilation]"

Thanks to Racine Community Media for posting this video:

What have we become? 

Downtown Post Office Doesn't Pay Taxes

From Property Reports:

Why do Racine County taxpayers have to carry so many downtown properties on our backs?  Some of these businesses have owed taxes for years and years, and still nothing is done about it.  Lying John's friends play by a completely different set of rules than us..  Their tax debt is simply ignored while our services are cut and cut again.  I would be ashamed of bilking so many people out of so much money, but lying John's friends are proud of their crimes.

Read more:

Party on, lying John!

Star Trails Over Kitt Peak

I have always wanted to try a star trails picture. A couple of weeks ago, I had an evening at Kitt Peak. The Moon was waxing gibbous and very bright and lit up the domes very nicely. I was with a group over by the 0.9 meter telescope so I set up my camera outside, programmed it to take 30 second exposures for a few hours, and went about my work.
I ended up with 162 pictures by the time we were getting ready to go. I made some adjustments in Lightroom to tame the bright sky and then imported them into a free program called StarStax. StarStax will add the individual images automatically and create the star trails picture for you. There are some options you can adjust, but it's pretty automated. Here is the result. 
11216894843_961f75c538_oOverall I am pretty pleased with the first attempt. I can spot a couple of flaws to clean up (and I would like to figure out where they came from, but I might have to look closely at 162 pictures to find the bloody things!) You can see the north star in its tight dance around the celestial pole and many other stars making nice trails. The lights of Tucsonare off to the right.
I have some old pics I used to make time lapses. I might go back and put together a few more of these from those old pics. 
Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

"Downtown Racine Real Estate Prices Collapse"

From Racine Exposed:

Kenosha KOs Racine:

Racine property values go down hard.

But don't worry, because a solution has been found;

Life is great at the top.

Read all about it:

How Do You Tell When the United States is Pissed at Your Country?

When you look up and see a Tomahawk Cruise Missile fly overhead.

A Tomahawk can be launched 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles) from its target.

It has surgical strike capabilities meaning it will hit its target and be accurate within 1 meter (39 inches) delivering 1,000lbs of explosives or nuclear warheads.

All this technology for the mirror price of $1 million dollars apiece!


Open Blog - Thursday

Aw, that's cute.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my movers and shakers!  How are you?  I’ve been helping Mr. OrbsCorbs settle into his new apartment.  There is so much stuff.  I think the boxes breed when we’re not looking.  I’m exhausted and I’m just tapping out a short blog for this week.

Our wounded warriors from Green Bay fell again on Thanksgiving Day.  O woe!  They will meet their next foe, the Atlanta Falcons, on Sunday at noon.  Arise from your wounds and maladies, dear Packers.  Massacre the Falcons.

In the Irregular Football League, we are already into our playoffs.   Of note is that Mr. OrbsCorbs’ Orbliterators have fallen into fifth place while my Screaming Psychics remain in second.  I predict a late surge that will result in Mr. Hale-Bopp’s Half-Astrophysicists dropping to second place.

I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We should remember to give thanks more often.  An attitude of gratitude invariably snaps me out of the dumps.

Christmas is in the air.  The Salvation Army bell ringers have been out for weeks.  And there are the myriad displays of holiday lights.  Be sure to spend some time with someone that you love.  Like I love you.  Thank you for reading my blog

Have you been naughty or nice?

Stay warm and dry, my dears, to ward off colds and influenza.  Get your Christmas shopping done now to avoid the rush.  Bibliobibuli!        

Open Blog - Wednesday

Have a great hump day.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Air Glow Over Kitt Peak

Another shot from my night on Kitt Peak a few days ago. This is a wide shot taken from the Visitor's Center. 

You can see the iconic McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope in the background and the sky glow from Tucson on the left. However, if you look on the right side of the image, you will notice a faint green glow and possibly even fainter red if you look close. This is a real phenomena called air glow. Due to air glow, the sky is never completely dark. Airglow occurs all over the sky but is usually more pronounced close to the horizon since you are looking through a thicker layer of atmosphere.

There are several sources of air glow. During the day, atoms in the upper atmosphere are ionized by sunlight. When the ionized atoms and electrons recombine, they give off light...and oxygen can give off green light in the process. Cosmic rays striking the upper atmosphere contribute to air glow as well. Finally, oxygen and nitrogen can react with hydroxyl ions in the upper atmosphere and give off light through a process called chemiluminescence. 

Air glow is not visible during the day as it far too faint. Even at night, you need to be in a very dark site to capture it. Thursday night was the first time I have captured this elusive phenomena.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog. Shipments

On Cyber Monday, is expecting (estimating) they will have sales placed at the rate of 300 orders per second.

They are also working on Drones to deliver orders.  The order must be placed within a 10 mile radius of distributions centers and 5lbs or less.

You place your order on the internet; pickers at the warehouse(s) will package the order and place it on a conveyor belt.  The belt will transport the package and stop under a Drone.  The Drone will then reach down clamp the package raise it up and fly to a given GPS coordinate or your house.  Come down in your yard, set the package on the ground and fly back to the distribution center.

Elapse time from placing order to delivery at your home…30 minutes.

They are looking at a start up time frame of 2015 - 2017.

Source: President of Amazon on 60 Minutes

Useless Information

Did you know:
Sales on Black Friday where down compared to last year but sales on Saturday were up 37% compared to last year.

Open Blog - Monday

Have a good day, mates.