Friday, August 18, 2017

I can afford only a partial eclipse

The total eclipse is occurring for those willing to live in or travel to a 70-mile wide-band across the United States. I fear the desperate behavior that afflicts crowds, so I never made plans to attend. Astronomy offers my opportunity to relax, get away from bustle, and I can enjoy it any time. Though a total eclipse would leave me saying, "why didn't I do this before", I'm content to stay local and help others see the partial eclipse.

If you want to see the partial eclipse, come to Wildomar's Marna O'Brien park on Monday, Aug. 21, 9-11 am. If you have any doubt about the quality of your eclipse glasses, please attend and look through my safely filtered telescopes instead of dubious glasses. My solar filters are professional grade, and I've looked through them many times.

I hope to see you on Monday. Look for me and say hello. I'll be the frazzled guy trying to keep his sanity during the excitement.


Marna O'Brien Park:
20505 Palomar Road,
Wildomar, CA

Friday, July 21, 2017

Best ever circumzenithal arc,...

Best ever circum-zenithal arc and my worst camera met on the early evening of July 19, 2017. I drove to Riverside, and on the way, I became interested in the clouds and dispersal of a contrail. It looked like the conditions were right for hole punch clouds. I couldn't take any pictures, because I was driving.

Two hours later I emerged from a building and the sky over head smiled with the brightest and most long lasting arc I'd ever seen. I took numerous pictures with my aim-and-shoot camera and my iPhone. Neither of these devices captures the full color range of bright cloud effects.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Comet Johnson

This weekend, I took a few photos of Comet Johnson. These were 3-minute exposures using a 76mm refractor at prime focus. My camera was set at 800 iso. The comet is pretty faint. I couldn't see it in my 50 mm finderscope. I dabbled in different color balance treatments in Photoshop. 





Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Skeptical Science Projects

I'm a contributor to the website Skeptical Science. Mostly I help with illustrations and when I do, I usually share the projects here. However, I've been forgetting to share lately, so this post catches up on recent projects.

This is an illustration from a post entitled A Deep Dive into Polar Ice Cores:

I had a minor confusion corrected by this post. I thought the diffusion process primarily upward when the air in snow is squeezed by the weight of more snow. Though this happens, it's not as pronounced as the diffusion between air and snow that occurs. This post was part of a new idea of answering questions posed the site from readers.

Skeptical Science also started a new project of science analogies that provide experiments or observations one can make to understand the climate system. These diagrams are from two analogies:

SkS Analogy 3: Greenhouse Effect Is Like Clouds at Night

I'm having a private Ferrari vs VW thing going.


UPDATE: Some recent links to publications that mention Skeptical Science:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Lyrid, Meteor of the Century (again)

Smoke and Meteors:

I captured a Lyrid meteor last night, shooting 30-second exposures between 11:20 and 11:50 pm. I caught two meteors in this time, but one made it easy to quit for the night.

I didn't see the meteor, and noticed it only when examining my photo on the camera view screen. On a whim, I took a second exposure and noticed that the vapor trail was visible:

"This is interesting," I thought, so I tried to see how long the vapor trail would remain visible:

After about 5 minutes, the vapor trail drifted off of my field of view. I moved the camera twice before the trail was gone, and even captured a faint, second meteor next to the vapor trail. You will probably have to enlarge the image to see the 2nd meteor near the star cluster (Coma Berenices) in the top of this photo.

The last image I captured was very faint, so I boldy tweaked the contrast:

I also made a video of my images, but think just viewing the still photos in sequence is more effective:


Monday, April 3, 2017

Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Geological History of Vernal Pools

About 12 years ago I created this diagram for the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve. It has been on display at the Vernal Pool since then. I learned that it has been vandalized recently, so I'm posting it here should anyone wish a copy. 


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Comet 41p Tose

Ok. "Tose" isn't the name of the comet, but if you take out the 41p, hopefully the joke is obvious.

The night of April 1, I took photos of 41p using a 3-inch telescope at f5. My camera's remote shutter release has failed, so all my photos had to be shorter than 30 seconds:

30 second exposure at 3200 ISO

After some trial and error, I decided 20-second exposures at ISO 3200 produced a series of frames worthy of stacking (combining).

Before stacking:

After stacking 7 images:

After playing around with image-enhancement features that I don't fully understand:

I also put together a video to shore some motion of the comet seen in the span of photos I took:


Update: more photos from the weekend.