Monday, August 30, 2010

NOSS 3-2(A) and NOSS 3-2(C

While photographing Perseid meteors two weeks ago, I observed two bright satelites travelling in what appeared to be tandem. I turned the camera to their path and caught the photo above. I was surprised to see that they were actually travelling in parallel courses, but with one following the other.

Friends have helped me identify these as possibly Naval Ocean Surveyance System satellites NOSS 3-2(A) and NOSS 3-2(C).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stars and Strips

I've said before that the light needed to illuminate a flag is not a major problem in light pollution, but I've also said that automating a lighting task (whether its for security or patriotism) often leads to complacency and then to neglect. I think this flag in a Temecula business park shows the concept well: this business was patriotic the day it mounted the flag and lighting. The flag is nearly gone, but the energy use and upward lighting continues.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Public Star Party, Saturday June 28, 7:45-10:00

This weekend the Temecula Valley Astronomers will set up telescopes at Marna O'Brien Park. My best guess at how the evening will play is as follows:

At 7:45, Venus is visible in the west, and maybe Saturn. Saturn will be low and barely detectable to the naked eye. I do not know how well it will be viewed in scopes, but a view is possible before it sets around 8:30 (allowing for the high western horizon).
8:00 pm is the official start. I'll be doing a shortened version of my presentation on Exoplanets. Bring your own chair. During the presentation, people are welcome to wander about looking through the telescopes.
By 8:30, the presentation will end and it will be dark enough to see some star clusters, globular clusters, nebulae, and double stars.
At 9:00 there will be a drawing for Galileoscopes donated by The City of Wildomar. I described these in more detail in a previous post.
At 9:10, the gibbeous moon rises. The moon will wash out the fainter objects but be a fine target itself. Also by this time, Jupiter should clear the trees to the east and be visible in telescopes.
Experience tells me that after telescopes are given away, the crowd thins out, so I'm guessing an end time near 10:00pm.
Below is a map.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Light pollution articles and letters in local press

Here's an example of what I'm trying to preserve by drawing attention to light pollution:

(Of course, I'm trying to protect our window to this view;  I don't claim to be personally saving the galaxy.) I was trying to photograph Scorpius, but I couldn't help getting a part of Sagitarius and the milky way.

This photo was taken in the desert under a cresent moon. I think the exposure was around 3 minutes with a 28 mm lens.

Of course, I'm over-joyed when writers speak to the topic of light pollution:
And I followed up with a letter: Light pollution letter, The Californian 8/18/10.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Perseids, part II

A couple more Perseids from the morning of Saturday, Aug. 14.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Perseids and Imposters

Between 3 and 4 AM on Aug 13, I watched for Perseid meteors from my backyard. Along the light pollution theme, I'm glad to say faint meteors are still visible from my community, but barely.

This photo shows a meteor from last night:
...but I can't claim it as a Perseid. The original wide field image shows that it is an interloper, coming from a different direction than the Perseids (which radiate from Perseus):

A Perseid is in the following photo. The constellation of Perseus is in the lower left and the meteor is in the lower right, however, Blogger's image compression erased the meteor trail, so I've added a closeup below.

I was photographing with a 28mm lens at f4 and ISO of 400. Exposure times varied between 30 and 60 seconds. I will try again tonight using a faster setting, e.g., F2.8 and perhaps shorter exposure times. The faster setting will make any meteors brighter, but I'll need to user shorter exposure times to minimize the sky glow. The disadvantage of shorter exposure times is that I may miss meteors in the time between exposures.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Eemian is pronounced 'aim-ee-un'

In climatology, Eemian refers to the previous interglacial period about 125,000 years ago. I've only read the term, so I needed a proper pronunciation. Web searches, dictionaries, even the Academic Press Dictionary of Science and Technology failed me, so I asked a scientist who joked that being raised by meteorologists left him no clue on how to pronounce the word.

Then, I contacted the Dutch Consulate. I'm posting the reply for the benefit of others who may have to pronounce this word:
I understand that it can be difficult to pronounce Dutch words, such as the river Eem. You would pronounce Eem, as in the English word 'aim' (as in: I aim for something). So: Eem = 'aim'. For the pronunciation of Eemian, it would be: 'aim-ee-un'. So the letter 'i', you would pronounce like a 'e'. And the letter 'u', like in the expression 'um'.
My thanks to the Dutch Consulate.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wildomar Star Party, August 28, 2010, Marna O'Brien Park

The City of Wildomar and the Temecula Valley Astronomers are sponsoring a star party at Wildomar's Marna O'Brien Park on August 28. A show will start at 8:00 and run for a half hour, followed by observing through telescopes; and last is a drawing for telescopes. The telescopes being given away are the Galileoscopes: a low-cost, yet functional 50mm telescope. This telescope is best suited as a learning activity, as it needs assembling. I put one together last year, and found the directions easy to follow. However, I do recommend reading the directions and test fitting the pieces (to ensure you're putting the correct piece in its place) before assembly.

This is the third annual star party Wildomar has sponsored in its three years since incorporation. Last year, the event was announced by the Press-Enterprise, which interviewed me, and the Press-Enterprise article was reported on by The Californian here. But best of all, the Valley News sent a reporter to the event and published a follow-up story that is no longer on their website ("Astronomy outing draws standing-room-only-crowd"). It is a shame that the Valley News article is not available, as I wanted to commend the reporter for not only being there but for not using flash photography.

As last year's event drew 300 people (a conservative estimate based on the number of raffle tickets --one per person), this year's may be equally large.

Update: Last, I should add that the person most responsible for making this event happen, this year and previous years, is Community Services Directory Paula Willette. Thank you, Paula.

Update 2: map to Marna O'Brien

Depending on the position of Saturn in the sky, viewing may start first to allow attendees to see Saturn before the show starts.