Category Archives: Thoughts & Ramblings

New Scope

I had not intended to purchase a new telescope as I’m barely finding the time to use the one I have. My wife had gone out shopping with a friend who works at a well known retailer. This friend was enjoying a 50% discount on EVERYTHING in the store today by virtue of it being “Black Friday” and the fact that she was also an employee. I should mention that this particular retailer is NOT known for it’s electronics/optics… in fact I expect it’s rather shunned in this regard, but I digress.

I was sitting at home with the kids when I received a call from my wife, whose keen eye had spotted a lonely Meade box up on a shelf. She’d asked the clerk if this was included in the 50% off and was told yes. She was calling to see what scope I had and/or if I was interested in a Meade ETX 125EC. The box was labeled $720.99 but she would get it for $310 plus tax…


But the story does not end here my droogies, for when your humble narrator — yours truly — opened the box at home he found not an electronic controller (EC), but a #497 Autostar. Further, upon examination of the optical tube assembly (OTA) he discovered a UHTC label… Ultra High Transmission Coatings. This particular scope with the Autostar and UHTC sells for $1094.

Nearly all of my ETX 90AT accessories will work with the new scope. I will need to purchase a new solar filter and motorized focuser at some point, but doing without isn’t going to stop the show. The only downside to all this is that I think I just got my Christmas present. 🙁

Needless to say I can’t wait to get it outside!

Pumpkin Pitatus?

First have a look at this LPOD – lunar photo of the day entry.

Then examine this photo I took of a similar feature… 🙂

click for larger

I wonder if any analogies can me be drawn between the way my pumpkin pie cooled and the way crater Pitatus cooled after it initially formed. Are there similar dynamics at work here or is it just coincidence? After extensive core sampling of pie (yum!) I am no closer to an answer.

At any rate I thought the name was apt.

Happy Thanksgiving!

My imminent return

With the temperatures finally beginning to fall (mid 70s overnight), I once again begin my observing season. Last week before the full moon I was able to pull the scope out in manual mode and snap this portrait. The upper and lower halves of the image were snapped 10 seconds apart, + and – 5 seconds of the stated time in the annotation.

click for larger
Moon - October 4, 2006

Although I have been reading “astro-blogs” throughout the year, it will be nice to once again be a contributing member of the “sphere.” See you again soon!

Another Mars panorama on the way?

I was browsing the latest posted raw images from the Mars rover Opportunity and I couldn’t help but notice a sequence of Panoramic Camera images overlapped at the edges. I stitched together 5 of of these images (Left Panoramic Camera : Filter 2 (753nm near-infrared) : Non-linearized : Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 891) to create the panorama below.

click for larger

Raw image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell

If you’ve read any of the recent posts here you’ll know I’m a huge fan of the “gee whiz” factor when it comes to astronomical/space related images, so for kicks and giggles I created a colorized version as well. This is in NO WAY an accurate representation of true color. It is simply my “gee whiz” approximation.

click for larger

Raw image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell

I’d love to tell you exactly where the rover is and the direction these images represent but the “Where Are the Rovers Now?” page is about 13 Sols (Martian days) behind the current position. I believe Opportunity is somewhere near Beagle Crater on it’s way to Victoria Crater. Perhaps in a future update I will be able to add the geographic details regarding these images. Here was the location as of Sol 878.

Image credit: OSU Mapping and GIS Laboratory