sepdet: Mars Curiosity Rover's head (Curiosity)
I really really REALLY wish I had a camera I could clamp onto a good telephoto lens AND tripod, or else a camera that fit my ancient backyard scope.

Holding a point-and-shoot camera against the scope's eyepiece and trying not to breathe yielded these:

(Contrast boosted on most of them to try and make it more visible)

It seemed awfully dim after the first bright snap (top left).

Then I looked at the nearly full moon, and even it seemed awfully dim:

What was going on? Oh, right. Clouds. This is what I saw when I stopped trying to leave the shutter open long enough to collect a little light:

I'll have to try Saturn again on another night. Still can't expect much without the right equipment, but it's at a really good angle right now to catch the sun on the rings.
sepdet: (morningcomes)
I really, really need a camera for astrophotography.

Holding a point-and-shoot camera over the lens of my wee beginner telescope is not, repeat, NOT the way to do this. So these photos are not great. BUT!

It's a comet.

my Pan-starrs photos )

Taken at Orange County Great Park, almost exactly 8PM. I heard coyotes howling in the distance, which I find beautiful.

(black strips are some sapling treetops in foreground, which I was using to help me find the comet after spotting it with binocs.)
sepdet: Mars Curiosity Rover's head (Curiosity)
So I went out to the Great Park tonight to look for Comet PanStarrs, after failing last night because of fog on the ocean. I even got a new app, SkySafari, which lets you look up comets and everything else (Comet C/2011 L4 = Panstarrs)!, and then it draws a green arrow pointing to whatever the heck you're trying to find. IT'S OVER THERE, YOU TWIT!

Pannstars is tricky. It should be naked-eye by now, but it's hanging so close to the sun that there's only a very short window after the sun goes down and the sun-glare fades before Panstarrs, also, sets.

I had nearly given up when, suddenly, through the horizon haze, I spotted it (or so I thought) with binocs. YES! YES! THERE IT WAS! Fuzzy little ball with faintish wisp going up.

Except that after writing my "I saw Comet Panstarrs!" post, I found this photo taken five days ago, and now realize that I accidentally a different comet. What I saw looked more like "Lemmon" in this picture: the distinct snowball on the end.

By Juri Beletsky, Observatorio de Las Campanas, Chile [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Nevertheless, comet Panstarrs SHOULD be visible to the naked eye this week -- barely -- and quite visible with binoculars.

How to find comet PANSTARRS (visible March 10-20 or so) )

I will be trying again all week. There's an astronomy club demo at the Great Park on Friday with big telescopes, but the lines are always looooong. So, we'll see.

I sure hope comet ISON survives its close encounter with the sun later this year and puts on a show for us in November. If it doesn't melt away completely during its swing around the sun, it should be easy to see with the naked eye. Unfortunately, it's cutting the turn really fine -- only 100,000 miles above the sun's surface! -- so it could get vaporized. But if it survives, it may be the brightest comet since the 1600s.
sepdet: (humbug)

... you suck.

(However, this free app does not suck. Best used in conjunction with a Night Sky, as ISS Spotter only tells you, "the space station will be overhead in your location at X time on Y date" or "it's rising in two minutes" not, "it's right over there, that big white dot sailing past Polaris, you twit!")
Cover Art

ISS Spotter


Category: Education

Updated: Nov 30, 2012

39 Ratings

sepdet: (Georgie)
The White House has responded to an online petition with over 25,000 signatures urging the government to build a Death Star...

This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For

The response is great. Go read it. :)
sepdet: Mars Curiosity Rover's head (Curiosity)
Houston, we do NOT have a problem with this... 

It's really too bad that NASA only recently acquired some social media savvy employees to do their PR. I suspect that we'd have had a lot more public awareness of past NASA missions, particularly the wonders of the shuttle program, if they'd been doing things like this and MarsCuriosity's "GALE CRATER, I AM IN YOU!" Twitter channel all along. 
sepdet: Mars Curiosity Rover's head (Curiosity)
I went up to see how Endeavour's settling in to her temporary home.

She'll look more impressive once the new exhibition hall is built with a full-scale mockup of launch pad with solid rocket boosters and fuel tank, but I really enjoyed being able to walk right under her.

Here's a video I took with my patented "unsteadicam" technique.

Okay, okay, enjoyed isn't quite the right word. "Burst into tears with full lip wobble" sounds less dignified, however.

the rest of my photos from today.


trivia for the day: it's spelled "Endeavour" because it's named after Cook's ship. You know, the British explorer who thoroughly honked off the Hawaiians.
sepdet: Mars Curiosity Rover's head (Curiosity) slowly I was able to take 2 hour train and subway up to catch it.

It'll come right next to me once it makes the last turn.


I sat down and sketched it after it pulled up behind the hangar. Ipad doodle warning:
sepdet: (Uhura)
A little hard to see when you're directly in the path of something going 230mph, but how many people can say they've stood UNDER a space shuttle in flight? (The UFO at lower right is a parking lot light)

-- the rest of my photos here
sepdet: Mars Curiosity Rover's head (Curiosity)
 I've seen a launch live. Never saw a landing live, but I'm heading up to the top of the Disneyland parking structure tomorrow to watch piggyback shuttle fly by. I've always thought it looked very cute that way.
Strange feeling. I watched the Challenger launch; Endeavor was built to replace her.

ETA: More thinky thoughts written at midnight after watching "NASA's When We Left Earth" Ep. 5 and 6 on Netflix...
sepdet: Mars Curiosity Rover's head (Curiosity)

From the rover's ever-sassy Twitter feed:

I touched up the contrast, since the original was a bit murky (taken through the dust cover before it was removed): 

I enjoy poking around on Curiosity's photo album for the latest shots.

sepdet: (Uhura)
I read that Neil Armstrong's family asked us to go out and "wink at the moon" and think of him, if we wanted to honor him.

So I lugged out my wee spotter scope and point-and-shoot camera for the first time, to see if I could photograph the moon. This was my best attempt (click for full-sized):

There's your rabbit doing the backflip, Inle.
sepdet: (furaga)
Okay, I know how this magic trick works, but I am STILL AMAZED:

sepdet: (Takei the Fabulous)
I'd written a general-public article about a week ago explaining the Mars Curiosity mission: what it's there for, why it's cool, and why I was so excited about this one.
I started to update that page for tonight, er, last night's landing. Then I decided...what the heck, why not just LIVEBLOG THE LANDING!

And then I found out that JPL had this 3D visualizer, like a video game, streaming live data of where the spacecraft was, what she was doing, superimposed with computer graphics to let us "see" what was happening while it was happening, based on the telemetry Curiosity was sending back.

Here's a screencap from the visualizer that I grabbed on the way down. Click to read my notes and see the first photos of Curiosity on the surface of Mars:

"See that mountain, inside that giant crater? I'm going to motherfucking
LAND MYSELF NEXT TO IT. I'll call you when I'm down." -- Mars Curiosity Rover
sepdet: (Georgie)
Well,I feel a little less lonely than usual in my passion for space doings. The current mission is actually getting a tiny bit of news coverage.

i've been following some of the mission briefings. Bummed I missed the invitation to bloggers and social media folks -- I will have to figure out if there's a way to get on the list even if I'm operating out of Twitter and other venues rather than Facebook. At this point, with almost 50 space-is-cool articles under my belt, and with the amount of space news that creeps into my Twitter feed, I might start to qualify.

Anyway. Good luck Curiosity!

Its twitter channel is a hoot; whoever is answering questions on the robot's behalf at JPL has a great sense of humor. Pretty quiet now, though,as they enter final countdown.

i don't think any of myDW/LJ friends are going to be following this, but just in case, I'm going to join the livestream on the rover's website when it starts at 8:30. if I can, I'll be claiming the handle sepdet [UPDATE: but too busy liveblogging to keep up with the chatroom].

They'll have live video from mission control plus a chatroom. Crossing fingers and toes!
sepdet: (Takei the Fabulous)

August 5, 2012, 10:21PM PST. Six days. Curiosity Website here

Am I the only one on tenterhooks about this insane, utterly THIS... IS.... NASAAAAAAAA.... attempt to drop a car-sized rover onto the Martian surface?

Trying to land heavy things on Mars is HARD. Yes, even harder than the Moon. 

And to think I teased my Dad for the airbag bouncy-bouncy-bouncy-bouncy-bouncy deployment of the little Pathfinder rover (the size of a skateboard, so it didn't take so much effort to slow it down, just big airbags and a lot of bounces). He worked on the airbag portion of that project. It was silly, but at least it wasn't something that appears to have been designed by the Mythbusters on an all-night bender. 

ETA: Curiosity Rover has its own Twitter Channel. The robot is answering questions about itself. Good luck, big guy!

ETA: Curiosity hands out snark over NBC Olympic coverage: 

  Only a 14 min delay from Mars! It can't be helped; it's the one-way light speed time for signal to reach Earth.

sepdet: (Takei the Fabulous)
...I've been on this astronomy kick ever since the eclipse. Also, I've been watching a buttload of astronomy-related shows on Netflix.

So here's a random article I wrote mostly as an excuse to dig up gorgeous space photos from the depths of NASA:

Super Moons: Our Solar System's Mini-Worlds

Because, yo...

This sort of thing rocks. BECAUSE IT'S REAL.

(note volcano erupting on dark side of Io. Yes, this IS a photograph. Or actually, two photographs stitched together. A little odd-looking because Jupiter was snapped in infrared -- hence the Great White Spot -- while Io is visible light.)
sepdet: (SephiroWTF)
Wow. This story is several years old now and has been taken down from the Waco Tribune where it was posted, but thanks to the Wayback Machine...

Fundamentalists freak out and and leave the room in protest when Bill Nye says the moon receives its light from the sun.

It's getting mighty stupid out there, folks!


sepdet: Samhain worshipping the veggies. Oooommm. (Okay, yes, catnip was involved.) (Default)

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