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- Amateur Astronomy Home Page Archive -

In order to provide for a reasonable homepage loading time, it is impractical to just keep adding items to top top of the stack and keep all the old stuff there too. Therefore, I have created these Amateur Astronomy Homepage Archives to maintain a historical snapshot of everything once on the homepage. Hence forth, if you recall seeing something on the homepage but it is no longer there, please check out these archive pages.





Celestron CPC Deluxe 800 CD

Telescope Setup for Sale

Supermodel Melanie with Celestron CPC Deluxe 800 HD Telescope and accessories - Airplanes and RocketsThis Celestron CPC Deluxe 800 HD telescope is for sale (bought in September of 2012). Unfortunately for me, a combination of lack of time and lack of opportunity has caused me to decide to sell my telescope setup and just make do for now with my Celestron 15x70 SkyMaster binoculars. Since everything was bought to work together as a complete setup, I would like to sell everything together. Doing so will make my life easier and it will result in you paying less overall for all the great equipment. Everything is in like-new condition and has received very little use. The main feature is the incredibly robust and high quality CPC 800 Deluxe HD telescope. I had an 8SE before this, and the comparison is like night and day. Whereas the 8SE was very shaky because of its single support arm and getting a good alignment was sometimes tricky, the CPC 800 Deluxe HD is solid as a rock and achieves an excellent alignment every time with very little effort...

An Experiment with Gravity

An Experiment with Gravity, January 1970 Popular Electronics - Airplanes and RocketsThis is pretty cool. If I owned a good receiver, I would definitely give it a try. In 1970 when this Popular Electronics article was written, a lot of Hams were still using tube receivers so the recommendation to let the equipment warm up for several hours prior to making the fine frequency adjustments was good advice. Nowadays the warm-up time and stability of receivers should permit 30 minutes or so to suffice (even ovenized frequency references need time to stabilize when first powered up). Unless I missed it, the author does not explicitly state that the frequency change measured over time is due to gravity acting on the mass of the crystal reference, but I suspect that is his intention since part of the experiment involves disconnecting the antenna and shielding the receiver from outside interferers. Over a lunar month period (29.5 days) we experience a leap tide and a neap tide which maximizes and minimizes, respectively, the vector sum of gravity and therefore should result in the greatest excursions. Maybe with a super-stable source, a larger scale phenomenon such as a planetary syzygy could be detected (but I doubt it).

U.S. Department of State Says

Spacesuits Are Weapons

U.S. Department of State Says Spacesuits Are Weapons - Airplanes and RocketsWho would have guessed that you need the blessing of the U.S. Department of State if you want to make and sell spacesuits? Yep, spacesuits are classified as weapons since, by bureaucratic logic (yeah, a non sequitur), if you have the capability to attain a presence at an altitude that requires a spacesuit, you can be a strategic threat to the nation. Here is a story about a startup company in Brooklyn, NY, that found out the hard way about the spacesuit-weapon requirement. There is a rapidly growing demand for functional-yet-stylish spacesuits for safeguarding wealthy space tourists who will soon be blasting off to the top of Earth's atmosphere where space officially begins (at about 50 miles / 80 km). BTW, I tried finding the official policy on spacesuit production the Department of State website, but their search engine keeps failing - must be busy deleting files on the Benghazi massacre.

Amateur Radio Astronomy

in QST Magazine

Amateur Radio Astronomy Articles in QST - Airplanes and RocketsQST is the official publication of the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL), the world's oldest and largest organization for Ham radio enthusiasts. Many amateur radio operators also have an interest in astronomy and as such, occasionally articles appear covering topics on amateur radio astronomy. There are also quite a few articles dealing indirectly with aspects of astronomy such as Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) communications where signals are bounced off the moon's surface in order to facilitate transmission (although it is really more of a hobby achievement). The October 2012 edition of QST had an article entitled, "Those Mysterious Signals*," which discusses galactic noise in the 10-meter band. Arch Doty (W7ACD) writes about the low-level background noise that is persistent in the high frequency (HF) bands. At HF, Cygnus A and Cassiopeia A are major sources of cosmic noise, for example. Low level signals come from pulsars...

Exoplanet Discoveries to Date

Are Just a Drop in the Bucket

Exoplanet Discoveries to Date Are Just a Drop in the Bucket - Telescopes & SkyScientific  American has a nifty interactive graphic showing the relative positions and distances of the 629 known exoplanets. According to a recent study, on average each sun owns 1.6 exoplanets.

Time-Lapse Videos

of the Night Sky

Goldpaint Photography Night Sky Time-Lapse Videos - RF CafeGoldpaint Photography has an amazing collection of time-lapse videos and still photos of the night sky. Shot from locations with very dark skies, these works are awe-inspiring. Living in a city environment as I do, it is hard to imagine seeing so many stars.

Squeal on CPC 800 Deluxe HD

Elevation Axis

My new CPC 800 Deluxe HD telescope has a loud squeal on the elevation axis when the clutch is loosened enough to rotate the OTA easily, but not enough to allow it to rotate under its own weight. Celestron claims this is normal. They graciously replaced my original telescope with another new one and it has the exact same squeal. I know it is not the same telescope that I returned because I had etched my initials on the bottom of the original.

I made a 35-second video demonstration of the squeal, which the Celestron agent viewed and determined it was OK.

I really like this telescope otherwise, and maybe I expect too much. Has anyone else noticed the squeal? Do you accept Celestron's claim that this is to be expected?

Notable Quote

"Jupiter's moons are invisible to the naked eye and therefore can have no influence on the earth, and therefore would be useless, and therefore do not exist" - Airplanes and Rockets Notable Quote"Jupiter's moons are invisible to the naked eye and therefore can have no influence on the earth, and therefore would be useless, and therefore do not exist." - Francisco Sizzi (Prof. of Astronomy), dismissing Galileo's sighting of the moons. Now there is a prime example of reductio ad absurdum absurdity.


Celestron 8SE Telescope

Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope for Sale - Airplanes and RocketsAfter a year and a half of using my Celestron NexStar 8SE telescope, I just bought a Celestron CPC 800 Deluxe HD to get into some serious astrophotography. Therefore, I am selling my 8SE. The best price I can find for a new NexStar 8SE telescope is $1,199.00. I will sell mine for just $675 in order to expedite the deal - that's a $524 savings...

First Light for My

Celestron CPC 800 Deluxe HD

Celestron CPC 800 Deluxe HD First Light - Airplanes and RocketsIt only took 32 years, but I finally have the telescope I have dreamed of having since I first peered through an 8" Celestron telescope at a meeting of the Macon Astronomy Club of Macon, Georgia, while stationed as a radar maintenance technician at Robins AFB, Georgia. In September 2012, I made the decisions to purchase Celestron's high-end CPC 800 Deluxe HD telescope. It is a fine piece of work. A year and a half ago I bought the Celestron NexStar 8SE telescope as my first scope in 20 years. At the time it did not seem prudent to spend north of two thousand dollars on a telescope when I didn't know for sure whether the enthusiasm would still be there after so long. The single arm of the NexStar 8SE mount gave me pause, but after reading comments by many people on some of the astronomy forums, it seemed to be good enough for casual observing and entry level...

Installation Video for

Feathertouch MicroFocuser

onto CPC 800 Deluxe HD

Video: Installing the Feathertouch SCT MicroFocuser on the Celestron CPC 800 Deluxe HD Telescope - Airplanes and RocketsAfter reading as many reviews on dual stage focusers, I finally decided on the Feathertouch SCT MicroFocuser for my newly acquired Celestron CPC 800 Deluxe HD telescope. I wanted a dual stage focuser with a light touch instead of an electric focuser. The instructions were available online and it looked like a cinch to install. In fact, it looked so easy that I decided to make a video in front of a live audience (the camera) without a dry run. Being fairly adept at such things, I figured that any departure from simplicity would be immediately obvious. Without rushing, it took 6 minutes and 15 seconds from beginning to end. The video is a little longer since I couldn't help editorializing for a couple minutes at the end...

Telescope & Sky

Website of the Stars

Telescope and Sky - Website of the Stars

There is a new computer font available to astronomers: Galaxy. Well, not really, not yet, but at some point there probably will be. The rendition of "Telescope and Sky" shown here was generated automatically by a website called "My Galaxies." Thanks to thousands of volunteers worldwide that have participated in The Galaxy Zoo's project of classifying galaxies, a set of letter-shaped galaxies has been identified that can be used to write words like "telescope and sky." It appears that so far God (or the Big Bang - take your pick) did not create a full set of upper case letter-shaped galaxies. Some letters can be considered upper or lower case, like Cc Ii  Jj  Oo  Pp  Ss  Uu  Vv  Ww  Xx  Zz. As you might imagine, there are number-shaped galaxies as well. After all, mathematics is the language of the universe. Judging by the shape of the number "1," I'm guessing that particular galaxy is French, possibly in deference to early astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini, who among other...

Home Planetarium from the

1969 Sears Wish book

Home Planetarium from the 1969 Sears Christmas Wish Book - Airplanes and RocketsHere on page 544 of the Sears 1969 Christmas Wish Book is a home planetarium setup. The 7" diameter star projector had over 60 constellations. For an extra $19.99 you could buy a plastic hemispherical dome that would actually make the star projector useful. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' inflation calculator, the total cost of the star projector and dome ($35.98 in 1969) would equal $224.61 in 2012 money.

Telescopes from the

1969 Sears Wish book

Telescopes from the 1969 Sears Christmas Wish Book - Airplanes and RocketsHere on page 545 of the Sears 1969 Christmas Wish Book is a selection of three refractor telescope models. I can remember having an el cheapo (a little Spanish lingo there) telescope as a kid living in Annapolis, Maryland, and being dumb enough to screw the sun filter into the eyepiece to look at the sun during the total solar eclipse of 1970 (12 years old at the time), when the path of totality ran just 50 miles or so south of my home. Telescopes usually don't include solar filters that screw onto the eyepiece anymore for safety reasons.

Blue Moon

August 31, 2012

Blue Moon on August 31, 2012 - Airplanes and RocketsThis photo was taken at around 11:00 pm on August 31, 2012, a few hours before the moon was completely at full 13:58 UTC (09:58 EDT) next morning and would be below the horizon. A blue moon originally referred to the third (not the fourth) full moon in a single season with four full moons. Those seasons were not determined by the strict astronomical alignments used today, but instead were based on ecclesiastical dates determined by the Church...

In Memory of Neil Armstrong

Tranquility Base Photo

Neil Armstrong Commemorative Moon Photo, August 25, 2012 - Airplanes and RocketsApollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong died on August 25, 2012. As most Americans over the age of 30 know, Armstrong was the first human to step foot on the moon. On July 20, 1969, in fulfillment of President Kennedy's 1961 challenge to put a man on the moon and return him home safely by the end of the decade, Armstrong made a giant leap for mankind. That day in 1969 I launched an model rocket as part of Estes' commemorative effort. Last night, in his memory, I took this photo of the Tranquility Base region of the moon. Thank-you, and rest in peace, Mr. Armstrong.

Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory Lands on Mars!

Curiosity Lands on Mars!!! - Airplanes and RocketsPASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's most advanced Mars rover Curiosity has landed on the Red Planet. The one-ton rover, hanging by ropes from a rocket backpack, touched down onto Mars Sunday to end a 36-week flight and begin a two-year investigation. "The Seven Minutes of Terror has turned into the Seven Minutes of Triumph," said NASA Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld. "My immense joy in the success of this mission is matched only by overwhelming pride I feel for the women and men of the mission's team..."

Astronomy in the News

JPL Infographics Site Wants You and Your Creativity - Airplanes and RocketsJPL Infographics Site Wants You and Your Creativity

Mars Landing Sky Show of Planets - Airplanes and RocketsMars Landing Sky Show of Planets

Two Solar System Puzzles Solved - Airplanes and RocketsTwo Solar System Puzzles Solved

For NASA, There's No Liftoff from Politics - Airplanes and RocketsFor NASA, There's No Liftoff from Politics

Crowd Sourcing Comes to Astronomy - Airplanes and RocketsCrowd Sourcing Comes to Astronomy

Watch an Asteroid Fly by Earth Live on Sunday - Airplanes and RocketsWatch an Asteroid Fly by Earth Live on Sunday

Sun’s Temperature Painted in Amazing Colorful Display -Sun’s Temperature Painted in Amazing Colorful Display


Lunar Libration with Phases

Lunar Libration with Phases Animation from TomRuen - Airplanes and RocketsTom Ruen released this animation of the moon showing its monthly phase progression. We have all witnessed the phases of the moon, but have you noticed that its apparent size varies due to its elliptical orbit (0.0549 eccentricity) around the earth? What the animation really emphasizes is something you may have never noticed - a libration motion, also due to the elliptical orbit and the moon's 6.7° axial tilt wrt its orbital plane. Libration causes the pronounced rocking motion. If you viewed the planets from the sun, they would all display the same combination of motions because all have eccentric (elliptical) orbits...

Moon's Age Calculator

Moon's Age Calculator - Airplanes and RocketsThere are a few nice calculators online for determining the age of the moon past the last new moon. Some only present the current age and some allow you to enter a day of the year, but this one allows you to enter both date and time to get a more precise number. It has a one hour resolution, but that's 24x as precise as the others. There might be another calculator that allows an even finer setting down to the minute or second, but I don't know about it...

Tamaya NC-2 Astro-Navigation Calculator

Tamaya NC-2 Astro-Navigation Calculator - Airplanes and RocketsWhile visiting the USS Flagship Niagara Museum here in Erie, Pennsylvania, I spotted this NC-2 Astro Navigation Calculator manufactured by Tamaya circa 1976. Its age is betrayed by the green fluorescent numerical display. Quoting from the NC-2 user's manual, "Tamaya NC-2 Astro-Navigation Calculator can perform navigational calculations quickly and economically. It eliminates painstaking tabulation from conventional tables, and is not only faster but more accurate. Included in the navigation programs are Dead Reckoning, Course and Distance by Mercator...

Hi-Fi at the Planetarium

Hi-Fi at the Planetarium, January 1955 Popular Electronics - Airplanes and RocketsAudiophiles of the 1950s undoubtedly were impressed by the mention of a Rek-o-kut twin turntable with Pickering arms and pickups for playing records, let alone a twin Ampex tape system used both for recording and reproducing. That was awe-inducing stuff for the day, especially when applied to a planetarium show with visual and sound effects realistic enough to , "make adult members of the audience duck under...

Mt. Palomar Telescope Pyrex Mirror Blank Ad

Mt. Palomar Telescope Pyrex Mirror Blank Ad - Airplanes and RocketsHere is an advertisement by Corning from the May 29, 1948, edition of the Saturday Evening Post. The Hale 200-inch telescope mirror was dedicated for service at Mount Palomar on June 3, 1948, at the in honor of George Ellery Hale. As a side note, it is interesting that in the magazine of the era (which were typically quite large in width and height), actual photographs like this one were rarely used in advertisements. The vast majority of artwork was... artwork - pencil drawings or actual paintings...

Eavesdropping on Satellites

Eavesdropping on Satellites, February 1963 Popular Electronics - Airplanes and Rockets1963 was five years since America's first communications satellite, Echo, was placed in orbit. Echo was a passive, spherical reflector that merely provided a good reflective surface for bouncing radio signals off of. By 1963, the space race was well underway and active communications satellites were being launched at a rapid pace. Spotting and tracking satellites has long been a popular pastime with two types of hobbyists: amateur astronomers using telescopes and binoculars, and amateur radio operators using antennas and receivers...

Venus Transit from Erie, PA

 - Airplanes and RocketsEven though thousands of astronomers, both professional and amateur, would be photographing the transit of Venus across the face of the sun, I was determined to try to get one of my own. Since I do not have a solar filter for my Celestron NexStar 8SE telescope, I figured the next best thing would be to get a piece of #14 welder's glass and attach it to the front of a digital camera. The welder's glass worked as advertised, but unfortunately its 1/8" thickness caused unavoidable internal reflections that under magnification...

Radio Measurements in Space

Radio Measurements in Space, May 1967 Electronics World - Airplanes and RocketsThe first thing I learned (or re-learned) in reading this article is that in 1967, "Hertz" had only recently been assigned as the official unit of frequency. According to Wikipedia, International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) adopted it in in 1930, but it wasn't until 1960 that it was adopted by the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) (Conférence Générale des Poids et Mesures). Hertz replace cycles per second (cps)...

Weather Surveillance by Satellite

Weather Surveillance by Satellite, March 1967 Electronics World - Airplanes and RocketsWe take for granted most of the technology that surrounds us. Unless you were alive 50 years ago at the dawn of microelectronics and space flight, it would be difficult to imagine a world without cellphones, desktop computers, color TVs, the Internet, and even satellite-base weather forecasting. Everyone likes to make jokes about weathermen being no better at predicting the weather than your grandmother's roomatiz[sic], but the fact is...

Celestron NexImage Camera Teardown

Celestron NexImage Camera Teardown - Airplanes and RocketsSince the warranty period is over on my NexImage camera, I decided to go ahead and open it up to see what's under the hood. The pictures below show the components on the printed circuit assemblies, and identify  most of the major components. There were a couple that I could not find datasheets for, but of those I could find, there are hyperlinks to them...

Telescope & Sky Observatory Complete!

Telescope & Sky's Official Obeservatory - Airplanes and RocketsThe official Telescope & Sky observatory is complete! Last night (May 19, 2012) marked its christening with a polar alignment of the equatorial wedge and the Celestron NexStar 8SE telescope. It is also the first time with the JMI electric focuser attached - boy, does that make a difference! A little more than 3 hours were spent under a clear Erie sky with very light breezes. The atmosphere was a bit turbulent, but I managed to get a good shot of Saturn, and, with a good GoTo alignment, was able to easily steer to quite a few Messier objects...

How the New 200 Inch Telescope Works

How the New 200 Inch Telescope Works, April 1938 Boy's Life - Airplanes and RocketsWe are all acquainted with the common telescope in which a series of lenses is mounted in a long barrel, which can be shortened by sliding the segments together. This is technically known as a refractory type. In building a giant telescope it is impractical to make a barrel long enough to accommodate the giant lenses. So a system of mirrors is combined with the lenses, and we have what is known as a reflecting telescope. The 200 inch lens of the new telescope described on...

Reaching for the Moon

Reaching for the Moon, April 1938 Boy's Life - Airplanes and Rockets1938 was only twelve years after Robert Goddard's first successful flight of his liquid-fueled rocket. Goddard's proposals for flight beyond the earth's atmosphere, including launching of scientific instruments and even humans, were met with derision from many fellow scientists and especially those men known for their keen insight into humanity - newspaper editors. Even the idea of using a parachute for recovery was deemed ridiculous. NASA's predecessor, NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics), had not yet...

Telescope & Sky Observatory Construction Underway

Telescope & Sky's Official Obeservatory - Airplanes and RocketsAfter a year of using my Celestron 8SE telescope on its tripod, and in alt-az mode, I decided it was time to commit to a location in my back yard and build an observatory. My yard sits on a unobstructed north-facing ridge in Erie, Pennsylvania, which looks directly over Lake Erie and into Canada. Although there is a fair amount of city lighting to the north (I'm about 2 miles from the lake) and especially to the east, the southern and westerns skies are not too bad (for a city, that is). I bought a used Celestron equatorial wedge - the heavy duty one made for the C-11- and I bought a used JMI electric focuser on eBay...

Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope Teardown Report

Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope Teardown Report - Airplanes and RocketsSometime around 2006, Celestron introduced the NexStar series of telescopes that offered a relatively low cost introduction to its renown line of high quality catadioptric scopes. Computerized "GoTo" controllers were incorporated to allow even entry level amateur astronomers an opportunity to learn his/her way around the night sky. In order to keep prices down, the 30-plus-year tradition of using a dual arm fork type mount for holding the optical tube assembly (OTA) was replaced with a single arm that produces a cantilevered support. Heavy duty worm gears were replaced with standard spur gears. The ramifications of those two changes will be addressed as I discuss the photographs taken in preparation of this teardown report...

Saturn and Mars Photos

Saturn on 4-7-2012 in Erie, PA - Airplanes and RocketsMars on 4-7-2012 in Erie, PA - Airplanes and RocketsThese images of Saturn and Mars were taken on April 7, 2012, here in Erie, PA. The sky was very clear, winds slight. The nearly full moon had not risen above the eastern horizon yet when the Mars photos was taken, but was about 5-10° above the southeastern tree line when Saturn was imaged. Mars was high in the sky, about was about 10° east of due south. Saturn was still pretty low at only maybe 30-35° above the southeastern horizon. Saturn's rings are open close to their maximum due to its orbital position relative to Earth. There are times when we see the rings edge-on and they are barely detectable...

Video of Wind Turbine on Barracks Beach

Video of Wind Turbine on Barracks Beach - Airplanes and RocketsThere is a clear shot of the Barracks Beach wind turbine (~2.7 miles away) from our upper back porch. From our vantage point, just the turbine and about the top 10-20' of the 120' tower are in view. I used a Celestron NexImage camera with my Celestron 8SE telescope to make this short video of the wind turbine in action. The image quality is pretty bad since I recorded it in a very low resolution mode in order to avoid jerky motion. The camera is normally used with the telescope to record images of the moon and planets.

Venus / Pleiades Conjunction, April 2012

Venus / Pleiades Conjunction 2012 - Airplanes and RocketsVenus had a very close conjunction with the Pleiades asterism in the constellation of Taurus. It is evidently very rare for the two to come this close together. From what I read, April 3, 2012, was the closest approach, but the sky clouded over and prevented me from getting a shot. Fortunately, the next evening, April 4, was crystal clear. This picture was made with a Panasonic HDC-SD80 camcorder mounted on a tripod. At 640x480 resolution, the optical zoom goes to an incredible 60x! It was somewhere around 40x in this shot. I could have used...

Phases of the Moon: A Daily Image Collection

Phases of the Moon: A Daily Image Collection - Airplanes and RocketsAlthough the typically cloudy skies of Erie, Pennsylvania, will make it a challenge, I have decided to try to capture images of the moon on as many of its 29.5 day cycle as possible. It would be really cool to be able to get 28-, 29-, and 1-day-old moon shots by being able to occult the sun's disk in the aperture, but I don't have the equipment necessary. People have been successful at getting 27- and 2-day-old moon shots pretty easily...

Waxing Gibbous 10.7-Day-Old Moon

Waxing Gibbous Moon, 4-2-1202, Erie, PA - Airplanes and RocketsThis photo was taken from by back porch on an absolutely crystal clear night in Erie, Pennsylvania, April 2, 2012. I used a Panasonic HDC-SD80 camcorder in the picture mode, at 640x480 resolution. Doing so allowed me to get a 60x optical zoom. A tripod was used, with a 2-sec auto trigger to minimize vibrations.

Some of My First Astrophotos

Some of My First Astrophotos - Airplanes and RocketsHere are a few side-by-side comparisons of my photos to those in A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets, by Donald H. Menzel, published by Houghton Mifflin Company of Boston, copyright 1964. My photos were taken with a Minolta XG-1 SLR mounted on top the 8" Newtonian telescope that was my first real telescope. This wide of a field of view cannot be obtained through the telescope eyepiece. The scope was located on a pier with an equatorial mount in my parent's back yard in Holly Hill Harbor, Mayo, Maryland, sometime around 1982 or 1983, shortly after I got out of the USAF...

Total Lunar Eclipse of February 20-21, 2008

Total Lunar Eclipse, February 20-21, 2008 - Airplanes and RocketsThis particular photographic session paid off big-time with some excellent photos of the total lunar eclipse of February 20, 2008. My Canon Power Shot S2 IS digital camera was mounted on a tripod that has been around since my USAF days (1978-1982). All of the images below were obtained using this setup, with only the lens that came with the camera - I kid you not. The only software enhancements made to the images were cropping, resizing, and adjusting the contrast. [../borders/300x250-GA-inc.htm] The next total lunar eclipse viewable from North American will occur on December 20–21, 2010...

Where My Interest in Amateur Astronomy Began...

Where My Interest in Amaetur Astronomy Began... - Airplanes and RocketsAmateur astronomy is one of those hobbies in which I participated avidly for the four years in the U.S. Air Force and for a couple years after separating. During that time I observed as often as time and atmospheric conditions permitted. While at Robins AFB, in Warner Robins, Georgia, I belonged to the Macon Amateur Astronomy club and spent quite a few Friday evenings operating the museum's/club's 8", 10" and 14" Celestron telescopes both for private observation and for assisting the public after the planetarium show. The club took a couple trips to the Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta and got to look through their 32" reflector, which at the time...

Jupiter and Venus Photos

Jupiter and Venus Photos, 2/9/2012 - Airplanes and RocketsThis is my most recent image of Jupiter, taken on February 9, 2012, here in Erie, PA. I'm getting a little better. The sky was exceptionally clear, winds nonexistent, and the nearly full moon had not risen above the eastern horizon yet. Jupiter was about 15° west of due south, high in the sky. My Celestron NexImage was used with a 2x Barlow lens. The photo is a composite of about 500 short time exposure images recorded at 5 fps. This really helped avoid atmospheric scintillation. If I had done a better job on the focus, the detail might have been even better. RegiStax v2 software was used...

Largest Full Moon of 2010 Photo

Largest Full Moon of 2010 - Airplanes and RocketsJanuary 29th, 2010's full moon was the biggest and brightest full moon of 2010. This being the first full moon of 2010, it is also known as the wolf moon, a moniker dating back to Native American culture and the notion that hungry wolves howled at the full moon on cold winter nights. Each month brings another full moon name. [../borders/300x250-GA-inc.htm] The picture below was taken out of my back door (through the glass), at around 10:00 pm local time (Erie, PA), with an outside temperature of 6 °F...

80-Page Tall Chart of Solar System Exploration

BBC's Scaled Graphic of the Solar System (part 1)BBC's Scaled Graphic of the Solar System (part 2) - RF Cafe Cool PicBBC's Scaled Graphic of the Solar System (part 3)BBC's Scaled Graphic of the Solar System (part 4)BBC's Scaled Graphic of the Solar System (part 5)What the heck is this? It is a humongously tall poster of the solar system that the BBC website posted showing various benchmarks for human presence in space, both animate and inanimate. It is so tall that 5 separate images are used. It is so tall that it takes 83 Page Down key presses to see the entire graphic set. The scale changes 5 times. According to them, it would take 22 million years of continuous scrolling down to see the end if the graphic was extended to cover the edge of the observable universe. The first communications object on the graphic is the Russian Mars 1M probe at 120 km; launched in 1960, it never reached Mars. Odd that neither Sputnik (7.3 km) nor Echo (1.6 km) appears. The last object on the graphic is Voyager 1, which according to today's news from NASA is that Voyager is transitioning out of the solar system and into interstellar space, a region about 21B km away called the heliopause. A radio signal takes a little over 8 hours to reach us from there. V'Ger was launched in 1977 and provided the first close-up pictures of Jupiter and Saturn. Next stop: The Oort Cloud, in about another 35 years.

Venus - Moon Daytime Conjunction

enus / Moon Conjunction of 2012 - Airplanes and RocketsVenus had a very close conjunction with the moon on March 26, 2012. The image below was captured at around 2:38 PM EDT from my driveway in Erie, Pennsylvania. Venus is slightly east of the 3.8-day-old moon, and is about 4 moon diameters (~0.5°) away, so it is just a little more than 2° away! Ata brightness magnitude of -4.3, Venus was easily seen in the clear daytime sky. Jupiter, farther west, was also easy to spot in my 8x40 binoculars, but I never could see its magnitude -2.1 dot with the naked eye...


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Carpe Diem! (Seize the Day!)

Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain some form of model building activity. This site has been created to help me chronicle my journey through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which all began in Mayo, MD ...

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