Saturday, February 25, 2006

Team TotL'er Credited in April S&T

Team TotL'er Charlie Ridgway is credited in April 2006 Sky & Telescope Celestial Calendar column. David Dunham closes the column by recognizing Charlie's occultation maps using Google Maps. Charlie's maps are found here.

Great to know that amateurs from New York City can contribute even though there is a popular misconception that one can't do astronomy from the city (at least observing ;^D). Congratulations on your efforts & contributions, Charlie!

-- peter

Sunday, February 19, 2006

.:: first nBlog post ::.

in path removed /RPC2
trailing /api in nBlog prefs
googled on gavin mckenzie nblog
used cached from
nBlog in Newton

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Coattails or bandwagon

Either way, I jumped on board catching the ride. It's too easy to sign up.


I've read on
Matt and Dave's blogs about Frappr! When I signed in to join Dave's a screen appeared with the Frappr! url followed by a text box to add a friendly name. Easy - 4 letters: t, o, t, l.


Another cyberroom for the growing astro-blog community.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Dark Sky?

Not here in the Big Apple.

Charlie blogs on a report where the skies are described as:
"...Can’t-seea-cat-in-a-coal-bin black."
He found the article at Columbia Dispatch.

The last line of the article is a real kicker.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Yet Another Astro Blog Listing (yaabl)

Best of the Web astronomy listing is growing. Lotsa new sites added.

Other useful lists already discovered by others are:

Blogshares (Search others' blogs to check out the incoming and outgoing links.) [found through davep's blog]

Sky & Telescope listing [found via Matts's boyruageek blog]


Saturday, February 04, 2006

20060203 - Wrap up the work week in the park.

Session Name: 20060203.2040

Location: TotL, Central Park, NYC
Site Classification: Urban
Dates/times: 03 Feb. 2006, 8:40pm ~ 12:30am
Handheld Binos: Fuji 7x50
Tripod-mounted Binos: Takahashi 22x60, fov - 2.1°
Tripod-mounted Reflector: 'Harry 6', homemade 6" F/6 newtonian


Transparency/Seeing (1 worst - 5 best): 2/3
NELM: --
Conditions: Initially clear sky with patches of high cirrus clouds (milky way-like in the wrong part of the sky), mild temperature, and ocassional light breezes. Conditions deteriorated and packed gear around 10:30.
Observing party: Kin, Charlie, and me
Passersby: Carol & dog, Times Up! (better than a dozen riders), a few other pedestrians


Last night I arrived at TotL where Kin was already setup with bins. I setup the Tak bins while the reflector cooled down. Began to starhop across the sky starting with Saturn & the Beehive Cluster. I'm pretty impressed by these bins (22x60), was able to make out Rhea again, in addition to Titan. I haven't checked ephemerides but I am guessing that a *star* just north of Titan was Iapetus. I don't know if seeing these objects in small optics is common.

Shortly afterward I moved on to M41 on my way to M42. Just a quick stop since M41 is an easy hop from Sirius. I saw it the other day and not much changed :^) As for M42, I really was more interested in the Trapezium. The bins resolved the Trapezium. . At first glance, one may see a mickey mouse arrangement of stars, the center C star is brightest. The A star sits to the west of C and the B star is to the northeast of A. The A-B pair at 8.7" resolved cleanly. The Great Nebula appeared best with averted vision. Almost like the blinking effect with many planetary nebulae, Orion's Nebula undulated in size with direct and averted vision.

A couple and another guy had stopped by at this time. I showed to them these objects and Moon. Pretty prominent to the eye, Theophilus, Cyrillus, and Catharina were cramped almost center of the disk just east of the morning terminator. All them remarked about this feature. Posidonius was also conspicuous situated on the rim of Mare Seranitatis.

Kin left to join with Times! Up cyclists for the Central Park Moonlight Ride. He would return with his longboard not having met them. Times! Up would arrive around 11pm and stopped by to say hello as they typically do. A nice bunch of persons - makes one wonder that they the can upset the Law.

After the trio left, Carol stopped by with her dog. We chatted for a bit. I had been curious to know where she was from asking if she was from England. She replied UK and in conversation she spoke of the Welsh shores, so I am guessing she is west of Big Ben.

She asked great questions while pointing to different areas of the sky. She pointed out an arrangement of stars that hadn't taken notice. Betelgeuse, Aldebaran, and Mars formed a very shallow arc across the south western to western sky, the separation between the 3 looking pretty equal. If one wanted to they could continue the arc further east, though the separation was bit greater, to Saturn. I especially liked the 3 red objects lined in the sky.

Everyone was gone by now, I through Harry 6 up on to the tripod. I was after NGC 2841 in the knee of UMa. I have seen this galaxly before and consider it an easy object, at east that's the impression it left me when I last observed it. Last night, I didn't detect it in the 6". I was surpised, maybe the skies as they were going south at the this time. Still I thought this one would be easy - hmmph!

If I'm at the park, and the sky has gone for the bad, it is common to have a slow, leisurely wind down. This is when Kin returned with the longboard and Charlie would arrive shortly afterward from an event at Columbia University. We checked out a pretty interesting pari of raccoons munching out on some delicacies found in the nearby receptacle, no doubt. We would talk and talk and greet those that stopped by. The sky was not entirely covered yet, the Winter Hexagon still pretty bold. The waxing crescent would grow a halo and set behind the trees.

I've mentioned this many a time - but I do like these meetings under the night sky in the park. Clear skies or not, the good company, a friendly public, conversations, laughs and all is a fantastic way to wrap up the work week.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

20060201 - Venus, No go

This morning I stepped out from the office to look for Venus. From the window the sky was clear and blue, some tufts of white. Walked down to north side of 42nd St. in front of the CUNY building, across the street from Bryant Park. I looked for the shadow line where a tall building left an impression and blocked the Sun. Using my hand to measure off some 27.5* in a 2:00 ~ 2:30 location relative to Sun, I searched above a building top. After spending 10 minutes or so, I gave up not being able to detect it.

The security guards became curious, approaching me to ask if they could help me, I poliltely told them that I was looking for Venus. He shrugged not really understanding, but I was left to my own to throw my hand in the air, thumb and pinky spanning the distant buildings - then 3 fingers more.

A pair of bins could have helped because I didn't know how the brightness of Venus would appear. The last times I saw Venus during the daytime were early December. Not much effort was required then. Today there was no brilliant 'star'. In spite of a discouraging weather forecast, I'll be packing a pair of bins hoping that a clear moment will arise. Once I see it, I'll know how to set my expectations.

One artefact from the brief session was seeing clouds form from almost nothing. Swirls and white stuff coagulating to larger tufts and floating away. Simplicity.