Saturday, September 26, 2009

More HEOC (Healthy Eating And Observing Club)

Part of a healthy eating routine I find is to take advantage of the things you have right around the house in your pantry and refrigerator. This way way you can stay away from fast and convenience foods which in large doses is usually not good for us. I do not mind making fast runs to the store to pick up on fresh items such as fruit, vegetables, bakery bread. For some reason - maybe mental but stuff just tastes better! Tonight's observe and meal is quick, easy, totally nutritious and will pump you up!

The Meal: Cous Cous with vegetables, black beans, toast. So much fun as just about any combo of vegetables and topping will work. Tonight I used red wine vinegar, lime juice, fresh ground pepper. How about some green salsa with some sour cream or plain yogart? A simple bowl meal easy to handle at the scope observing .................

The Object: The Moon, sunrise on the Apenninus Bench -crater Archimedes structure of dubious origin and the Eratosthenes - Mons Wolff Bridge ( my name). Fun and easy observe just at or past first quarter. Why is our most assessable celestial object so over looked? Like that box of Cous Cous in the pantry with simple preparation and effort it will deliver something good!

Eat well my friends!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Healthy Eating And Observing Club

Based on numerous responses to the "Pasta And Pizza Powered Astronomy" post of 9-19-09 on this famous blog page I have decided to kick off the HEOC - Healthy Eating And Observing Club. The goals of this club are to promote the benefits of "healthy" eating habits along with the observation of "healthy" celestial gems which dot our star studded sky. As the first official (and only) club officer I would like to kick off the first posting. Others members(its just me right now folks) are welcome to contribute by emailing me your pics and words which will be posted here. Every thing in good "taste" please. I realize "healthy" is a relative term - so feel free to send in your favorite food and sky gem combo which fuels your taste buds and imagination!

The Meal: Baked Turkey Loaf with Roasted Vegetables, Baked Potato, Tossed Greens with Vinaigrette. This meal positively fueled me last week for a busy night doing outreach astronomy with no backlash what so ever - this is a keeper meal for this household. When I got home it was stove popped Pop Corn with olive oil, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper. Don't laugh to loud because its really good along with "Universe" episodes on the DVR.

The Object: M8 - This massive star birth factory in our summer/fall skies is a source of wonderful views to fuel your imagination and never leaves you feeling bloated. You can come to this buffet with any size scope ( yes Marc even Pronto with his attitude issues) and get a great meal! One night last year at high altitude in the Sierras I spent 2 hours feeding off the light of this nursery and was fueled for weeks in my outreach efforts! In my mind anyway it looks like a "sunnyside down" grilled extra large egg with salsa, black beans, toast, fruit, coffee which is SUG's favorite after observe early a.m meal! You may see the egg part - the other things take time to see!

Bon Appetite!

9-23-09 Chasing A Spot And Luna Antares Dance

Our fall weather is fantastic and so are the views. Early on Brett and Thao came by to get their dose lunar light and preceded to navigate the moon's surface with the aid of a atlas using craters Hercules and Atlas as home base. Brett called them the "vampire marks". This was no small feat for him as he is a tall type of person and with the moon dropping in the sky he had to bend down a bit. Thao had no issues with this when it was her turn! Many throughout the evening were asking "just what is that reddish point of light to the Moon's left"? Well that my friends is the red Super Giant Star Antares that is 400 times the size of our Sun and hundreds of light years away! What an opportunity to discuss and model Luna's path across the sky, phases, stars and their great distance from us, and their life cycles!

Later on Cristina and Luis stopped by to take in the evenings views having heard that the Sidewalk Universe Guy makes it a 2-3x weekly ritual at the Marina. Because of the steadying air Jupiter was magnificent and these guys along with others got to see "THE SPOT" along with the shifting moons of Galileo distinction. Luis had questions about the North Star (actually one of several on this outing for some reason) so we preceded to dismantle the urban myths concerning this important celestial skymark and learned how to use to find our way around the sky. I try to give my visitors more than they ask and bargained for.

I haven't heard any complaints yet!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

9-22-09 Tilted Earth that Revolves Around A Star Street Astro

Why not celebrate the Equinox with a program? Wonderful fall weather here so lets go have some fun! Jun and Sonny came by and where treated to fine telescope views of Luna, Jupiter, Cassiopeia star clusters along with presentations of stellar size, zodiac, reasons for the seasons, lunar phase modeling,getting started in astronomy and........................lets just say it kept going on and on!

I had 42 eager visitors.


This past Saturday evening and Sunday morning marked the entry of one more into the throng of amateur astronomers - yes Edi has successfully completed The SUG ASTRONOMY BOOT CAMP with out killing SUG in the process. Yes Edi put all of his new skills to work navigating the sky like a seasoned pro, and was putting up with all the annoyances of being outside far from home, and learning a new skill set. He was doing it well this night. Later on his wife Billy and daughter Rachel joined us and before to long Billy was bagging constellations left and right! Later we shared a very early a.m hamburger and fries in celebration on his front porch. Way to go Edi!

Monday, September 21, 2009

9-20-09 Tanna Family Street Astro

Last April I met the Tanna family at one of my Reno events. They were enjoying the views of Saturn, Venus, winter star clusters, and were some of the most generous, respectable and appreciative folks I have met in this year of street astronomy. Well last night as I was setting up in my usual location at the Sparks Marina I hear a hearty greeting and turn around and there they were - this fine family taking some family time out around the lake. Before too long we were into views of Jupiter, Cassiopeia star clusters, double stars in Cygnus, Cepheus, Capricorn. With all this came Atlas education about Jupiter and star life cycles. Neha, Devyani, and Mr. Tanna are some very interested folks and are always a joy to be with!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pasta and Pizza Powered Astronomy in Buffalo

Well here he is in all his glory, Dr. Drive By Astronomy. Yes he is a legend in his neck of the woods. Not only is he a DC par excellence but has grown leaps and bounds in his observing skills and is quit the Double Star, Lunar, Solar observer. His exploits in outreach to the public are top headlines in the Buffalo area. His generosity to under served kids in his area needs to be applauded.

Whats keeps him going with such a busy life of mending others to health and expanding their horizons? Pasta and pizza - lots of it! Note the "power lunch"the other day! He discovered a whole new class of objects that are tomato sauce based in Pi Aus . Before a public event with his local club it was pizza "to improve my visual sensitivity" he was quoted as saying. This man is truly a astronomical powerhouse.

I feel very fortunate to know him.

Friday, September 18, 2009

9-16-09 Jupiter And A Garnet Star Street Astro

With a cool late summer evening and time to spare lets go out and share some photons with the public. Jupiter is seen early at sunset and is a obvious target to help spread the cheer and excitement about the IYA and Galileo's first peeks at the night sky. Most visitors love seeing Jupiter's banded atmosphere, and the Medici Stars. I always give along with their view through the scope a brief 5 minute picture book presentation on Jupiter which will in most cases move into a longer one dealing with its structure and environment, and moons. But with fall around the corner the N.E sky holds a stellar treasure that must be shown - Mu Cephei "Herschel's Garnet Star". Even with the local lighting there is so much I can show the public and this one never disappoints with it's ruby color set against the starry background of fainter stars. When my visitors see this stellar gem and it's beaming color most want to know more. So now we can do brief presentations on stars, stellar life cycles, star comparasion and before you know it 30 minutes have gone by and folks are engaged! All because of a simple stellar gem.

Sherri is one of our local dedicated public servants who in her regular rounds checks in on me and talks up my programs to visitors at the park. Tonight she was able to stay a while and really got some education. She has a real interest in aerospace and astronomy. But her radio went off and it was time to take care of some business.

Charles and Tina stopped by and were engaged right at the start. Tina said "it is time to put my 6th grade science education to work - lets go"! By the time we were done with it all 40 minutes had flown by and Tina mentioned "hey they didn't teach me any of this stuff"!

That is why I am here!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

RED Catches A Few Winks

Hi telescope fans, here I am after a evening of perusing the skies with the SUG. All nice and snug with my hi-tech plastic bag cover and knit blanket with the early morning Sierra NV cool. I'm tired today because SUG was really pushing my crude optics last night doing a Double Star blitz with Mr.Drive By Astronomy. Oh I like double stars as much as the next telescope but my f/4 optics along with a crude mirror cell, plumbing piece focuser make for some challenges in getting a perfect collimation in order to split anything under 5". I can show the delicate star colors well in spite of these things. SUGGY loves me just the same. Time to catch some winks - SNORE!

Monday, September 14, 2009

SUG'S Other Scope

How would you feel about being stuck on a shelf in the garage in a canvas bag waiting and waiting to be taken out. Whats up with this? My owner says he"loves me to death", purchased numerous items for me like a fancy pier/tripod to mount me on. A really awesome 2" diagonal and eyepiece set just for me to enjoy. Last year he even upgraded my focuser so I'm smoother than ever! Why am I not a more active part of the SUG outreach effort? I show the sky like no other! People love to see and look through me -what is wrong with this picture! Can anyone help me?

SUGGY is very quite about all of this.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Red Show'n His Peeps

Hi telescope friends, ever since my first posting (SUG has yet to find out) inquires have been pouring in by the thousands for a full profile shot of me and that of my homies! Here it is showing my best side. My peeps are OK -both somewhat geeky but they love me with all my little eccentric details! And I really like it when Cindy takes me out for a view - she always smells real pretty(not like SUG), has a gentle touch(not like SUG), no garlic breath(not like SUG), and she whispers sweet nothings in focuser(SUG will attempts this once in while but it is not the same)! Here we are last fall before SUG takes me on a walk across Auriga star fields!
By the way somebody tell SUG to retire that hat AND I want Cindy around more - without you know who!

9/14/09 Due so many email requests I have another pic of Cindy and me - I was not able to photoshop the SUG dude out of the pic so just ignore him if you can. Many have said that the old Red Coulter and Cindy can make beautiful observing together - I could not agree more! Don't tell SUG about this please.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Red Photon Collector

Hi I'm SUG'S trusty side kick "Red". Or is SUG MY SIDE KICK? Some people refer to me as a cannon, but I'm really a telescope(photon collector) with a very colorful history. I feel really good today because SUG gave me some new bushings on my rocker box(seen in the pic along with my tubular body and plumbing piece focuser) so now I can glide and stick to the fun celestial objects he shows his visitors. I live to(along with SUG) gather photons and disperse them in peoples eyeballs! It is so much fun to hear the laughter and joy of their discoveries. I am kinda old fashioned (like SUG) and not very fancy(also like SUG). My optics are a bit temperamental(like SUG) to line up with my old push/pull wood mirror cell and thick metal secondary holder. And my focuser unit is a work of art(not like SUG) - a metal draw tube mounted in a plastic plumbing piece with a plastic washer. I have a thick cardboard body and my mount is a particle board box held together with bolts and glue! I can eat photons all the time and never gain any weight while SUG has to watch what he eats so he can graze and feed his high metabolic rate throughout the day. People ask me all the time if I take pictures? - yes and I would be glad to pose for you - do I automatically track the sky?- yes, but only if you move me - was I expensive? - yes, but only if you had no money - do I see aliens/UFO's? - no, never do but there's a first time for everything - what happens if you look at the sun? - I get get really hot and uncomfortable and so will you. I live in SUG's garage along with his other telescopes and in the back of his SUV. I love to get taken out except when other seasoned astronomers make fun of me and people tug and grab me without SUG's permission and I get knocked over by kids out of control or drunk folks! SUG and I have shared so many fun moments together by ourselves and with others. We love doing open/globular cluster surveys together - and yes outreach! SUG and I are a perfect match, simple without pretense, built to go the distance, and we love the universe.

Have SUG tell you about my really hi-tech orange plastic milk crate he places me on - I'm fancy!

09-10-09 Street Astro Challenges And Rewards

I had my time free up last evening with some moderate sky so why not hit the streets! Well it was one those evenings - my visitors where less then interested, enthusiastic, and some where just down right rude and impolite. I would say that 90% of my encounters are positive experiences for me and my visitors but that 10% can be a dozy! Everything from "let me tell you how it is" to "you are wasting your time doing this", or " no one really cares about this B.S." or "let me share out of my "sound bite" science knowledge to all these people you have gathered and go ahead and lead them like lemmings down the road of science nonsense, conspiracy, all because I have a mission in life to do so and to distract your efforts to encourage knowledge and enjoyment of nature". OK I hope you get the drift! This is how it went last night - why not just go home! But this fine young couple came along - Brett and Thao. Both are students at our local community college with Brett in the nursing program and Thao working on her A.A degree. Brett at his young age is also a veteran of the Navy where he was a corpsman serving our sailors and soldiers. For a young guy he already as has a wealth of life experience. These two were a joy to be around with enough questions and interest to cover 30 visitors. This is why I do this - thanks guys for stopping by and making my effort worthwhile!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

9-07-09 More Jupiter Fun Stuff Street Astro

With the end of a holiday upon me I though that one more session out with the public would be a fun way to close out this weekend. After a yummy chipotle steak salad dinner with ice coffee I was fueled up and ready to go. When I arrived at my usual spot the Marina it was very quiet and I thought maybe I should go home and wait for a time later in the week - but as I began to set up once again people began to gather, get on their cell phones to spread the word and before long the Sidewalk Guy was back in business - I had 38 visitors last night. Nick in the pic was one of my most inquisitive partakers. He has always had a fervent interest in the universe, and owns a extensive collection of space flight coins which he started to collect back in the early 60's but has had little opportunity to view through a scope. Every view he had brought a smile to his face and a twinkle to his eye! He was able to view Jupiter and its moon show for the evening - which included 2 moons coming together from our line of sight here on Earth! Later on the Moon captured his attention with its wonderful eastern limb craters in stark review. Nick had a confession to make last night which involved him having astronomy books from the library at home that he acquired when he was a kid. He loved them so much he could not return them and they became his when his parents paid the library for them! Sounds like a space geek to me!

Monday, September 7, 2009

9-06-09 Jupiter And Sagittarius Street Astro

I was not sure who would be hanging around the Marina last night with it being a holiday and all but I wanted to get out and do some outreach. My astrobelly has been really full lately from the wonderful show of "Jupiter's No Moons - Triple Transit Treat" the other night and my latest online vto with my astropal Mr.Drive By Astronomy. As I was setting up the park ranger stopped by and inquired as to my celestial menu for the night and informed me that the park attendance was low. Undeterred I continued on my set up and low and behold people started coming out of the wood work to find out what was going on! Views of Jupiter and its foursome of intrepid moons keep them occupied at the scope as yours truly spent time doing Atlas presentations as to what they were viewing. Just before dark Torrie stopped by (bottom pic) with her genuine and friendly nature - "I am so glad your here, I need some astronomy!" she said. She has been a regular passerby and taker of celestial treats for many months now and really likes this astro outreach stuff. So last night she had her first opportunity to man the 10"Coulter(with the plumbing piece focuser) and move it around, point it. I wish you could have seen the smile on her face. She attentively watches and listens to my presentations and offers encouragement to passerby's to come and look. She left with a Star Atlas in hand and will be growing her information base in order to engage the public at a later time!

The fun gang in the top pic made several laps around the park and each time stopped to view and ask fun, intelligent questions concerning the universe. They were treated to views of Jupiter, Luna's terminator bisecting Mare Crisium, various Sagittarius star clusters(now out of the street lights!) and double stars. We shared presentations about scale sizes -stars and planets. All in all I had 42 visitors - I was a busy outreach guy!

Monday, August 31, 2009

8-30-09 Galileo Experience #4 Street Astro

This was my final outing for this week's astronomy blitz with the citizen's of Reno-Sparks NV. I had a nice evening with cool temps and lots of walkers about. I will try to change my location here for my next series of outings, not sure where yet but I know I will get inspired. I have had alot of fun with these latest events, very receptive folks who seemed genuinely appreciative of my effort to show off the universe to them.

Forrest here was one of my last visitors. He is a quite and polite young man who really pondered his views of Luna and Jupiter. In his own way you could see the gears turning in his head as he looked through the scope! I had 43 stop by to enjoy the celestial show and listen to the SUG's banter.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

8-29-09 Galileo Experience #3 Street Astro

What are some fun things that you like to do on a Saturday night with your friends and family? I realize that there are endless activities that can be said that will fill this time slot but I had a totally awesome time last night out on the byways of the Sparks Marina meeting and greeting locals and showing the biggest show of all - the universe. After a warm day the winds cleared out the air of its smoke from southern Cal fires which afforded us nice views of Luna and Jupiter. Folks were stopping by in droves to catch a view and get some education. The Moon and Jupiter provide a wonderful springboard which I use to move into different arenas of space science with my visitors. Most of my visitors have very little knowledge of Galileo, and just how significant his work was.

This fun group in the picture stayed with me 45 minutes taking in views and getting astrofied and then left to round up other family members to only return for another round of viewing. Their fellow family members where treated to the same fun telescope action in addition to views of the elusive Neptune, various double stars, poster presentations, and the opportunity to see 1 of Jupiters moons pass in front of another so they saw the blended light of these moons as one - COOL! Hangout with the Sidewalk Guy and things are gonna be happening!

I had 63 visitors and I was treated to a fun specialty Soda Pop and snacks by one kind group - thanks!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

8-28-09 Educator Enrichment Astronomy Time

I have not done any educator oriented things for quit sometime when Sierra Nevada Journey's contacted me a few weeks back to work with some of there educators on sky navigation/constellations/Lunar phase cycle I jumped on the opportunity to do so. What a fun time we had! This group was not prepared as to much is involved with the changing sky above us. But after 3 hours of exposure to SUG-RADIATION as my pal Drive By Astronomy calls it, and active hands on involvement they had a greater confidence, and knowledge base to lead their young charges to tackle the patterns of the sky. Next up with this fun group of high energy educators will be a lesson on employing the IYA GALILEOSCOPE and just what fun, simple observations can be made with it! Time to WOW some youngsters!

Thanks Adam for the opportunity, and your awesome organizational skills! (Lower -R)

8-27-09 Galileo Experience #2 Street Astro

Fun session once again with lots of curious and energetic visitors. Even with the assault of intermittent clouds and smoke from a fire down in Yosemite CA which decided to move in just as I was setting up we managed a fun time for my visitors of which there were 47. Lots of fun responses over Jupiter and the Mendez clan in the pic here really picked over my brain about the Solar System, nature of stars, planets, and Pluto's reclassification!

I think everyone should understand Jupiter's interior structure and the nature of Hydrogen gases under enormous pressures, temperatures, densities, don't you?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

8-24-09 Galileo Experience Street Astro

Hi every one I am back and ready to go with more sidewalk astronomy from Sparks NV. It has been a long hiatus but I now am able to do programs due to cooler temps and bright objects to see. I have looked forward to this season for sometime as we are celebrating the IYA and we have every one's favorite Jupiter to share. I am calling this new series of events "The Galileo Experience" as we will be reliving his observations of the heavens! With the Moon and Jupiter with it's moons being so available to see even in city setting there is no excuse to not go share these delights with my neighbors. And they will be able to share a similar view with the simple IYA GALILEO SCOPE purchased for this purpose to relieve with their own eyes events of the past that have shaped our world ever since. FUN!

My first outing had over 53 stop, look, ask questions and just get inspired a bit. This fun group in the picture were the first to use the Galileo Scope on the Moon and Jupiter. Lots of fun hands on education was happening and many excellent, thoughtful questions were raised about our Moon, and planets. I like this stuff. The lady on the right with the blue/white beach hat had such a look of excitement on her face has she viewed and listened to my presentations. When I offered a fun Moon navigation/Jupiter Moon transit session this Thursday she just about fell over!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Edi's Somewhat Dark Sky Outing With His Tag A Long Neighbor

Hi I'm Edi, and I am a growing astronomy addict. I have always had an ardent interest in the universe, science in general, and mathematics. So here I am with a crazy neighbor(SUG) to help spur me on, and my inquisitive daughter Rachel who likes anything new and novel. I decided it was time to get my scope out of my backyard and do some darker sky stuff. I realize I risk a lot to have SUG come along with me - he can get worked up easily, needs lots snacks, tends to commandeers others observing property and may even fry my brain as he mentors me in this stuff. But it is a risk I must take for every move I make is seen by him from his front porch has he monitors his house, lawn, shrubs, and the universe. Like early yesterday he's doing windows and Moon gazing at the same time. Anyway we head out North of Reno to a park in the foothills with the coyotes, sage hens, lizards, and snakes. We set up at dusk and Richard is already foaming at the mouth with a look of glee. "It's gonna be good" he says as he lines up my optics. Armed with my Telrad Charts, Deep Sky 600 I am ready to do this stuff. After some basic orientation from SUG I am let loose by him to do some celestial savaging - but he is nearby, never far off. I can hear him in the background cheering me on. Even with my vision weakness I can really see a lot - SUG says "just look, train your eyes, you will be able to see more than you think!" I'm learning the constellations and guide stars with polar north as my home base, and SUG's right, this is easy!

With my charts, map and new 10"Dob I start my hunt and I'm banging out Messiers left and right in Sagittarius. Photons from M 22, 28, 8, 20, 21 fall into the optics of my Dob in quick secession. M24, M17 fall as prey beneath the powers of my scope and new observing skills. Quick on to Scorpius before it gets to low is now corralled with M4, and M80 in my grasp. This is fun, easy, and a GREAT WAY TO SPEND A NIGHT WITH MY DAUGHTER. THE UNIVERSE IS MARVELOUS AND EASY TO LEARN AND ENJOY. There's more, hard to find M39 and M11 are now easy for me. "No time for a break" says SUG "lets look West and North West. I'm learning more constellations than I bargained for and it's back to my scope. M13, 92, are in my bag now and SUG swings my scope to the North East "now we are in our fall sky Edi, treasures are waiting for you - go get them pal"! More constellations, guide stars objects to there an end to this session with SUG? He's just warming up and I'm wearing out, but I press on under his tutelage. M103's little triangle of stars enters my view with SUG saying "it's a cute little thing", and you know he's right! M's 31, 32,110 are my first galaxies, cool! It's late, Rachel is asleep in the car and it's time to go but I hear in the background "one more Edi", "we can't leave yet". "OK" I mumble, and with my laser, which I got back, SUG says "point your scope here and just take it in and then we'll go". Oh my, I never saw such a sight and I'm not that ready to leave.................

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ed's Growing Astronomy Addiction

Hi I'm Ed and I am getting hooked, well no I already am. I am finding out the sometimes little things make a difference. I want to share the sky with my inquisitive daughter Rachel, my friends and neighbors - yes that includes Richard(SUG) who is right across the street constantly monitoring all I do. In fact he's looking over from his green lawn as I take this picture! So some other purchases were made:
  • How about a new laser pointer.
  • How about a DEEPSKY 600 chart which the SUG very passionately recommended for my growing observational skills, "this will keep you busy for awhile Ed" he quipped with a smile like a crescent moon on his face. "With this and your Telrad Charts you are set, and I'm always here to help". Yes you are SUG, but will you leave when you need to?
  • And what about this fine yellow cart with the big tires to move my little observatory around? Richard went through the roof with this -yellow is one of his favorite colors and the "big wheels will help keep the scope stable as we move it" he said with excitment. And I'm thinking "what do you mean by we?".
I have not been able to do much observing due to weather, heat and family stuff. But August is going to be fun. SUG said to "observe the Moon anyway" but if I do will he leave at a reasonable hour, will I be able to look through my scope, will my brain be overloaded with Moon stuff from SUG's banter! How do I manage myself and this other guy? Your comments are welcome :>.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Here's my new IYA Galileo Scope just arrived yesterday along with my GTNF to the Drive By Guy.

GTFN: Our roving reporter sends this in from Sparks NV. (Galileo Telescope NewsFlash)

  • The Galileo scope is assembled - even a SUG can do it our reporter claims! It is now mounted on his son's nice camera tripod.
  • First light is a thin 2 day moon 11 degrees over the horizon, craters and rough terrain sighted but with trouble due to atmospheric conditions.
  • Spica is reported to be a fine point with different colors of red blue yellow emanating from the point.
  • Saturn is spied as a disk of orange, no rings or moons seen at this time.
  • Antares is a bright orange red blue point of light.
  • The stinger stars of the scorpion fit nicely into the field of view of the low power eyepiece.
  • M7 sighted as a loose collection of stars flickering in the moving air.
  • Stars of the scorpion's head observed - dbls not sighted.
  • Gamma Sag is seen as a pretty yellow with rainbow effect.
  • B Lib is a pretty sight with magnitude/color difference easy in this scope. "Very pretty" says the telescope tester.
  • B Cyg is a cinch with fine pinpoint stars of orange and blue. Fun sight says the SUG.
  • Alpha-Beta-Gamma Aql all observed with Gamma showing striking yellow tunes. Our report says that the SUG's neck is getting a tough workout with these last two observations due to neck strain with using a straight through telescope design on his son's camera tripod. He will be making a appointment with his D.C.
  • Polaris is seen as a fine yellow/rainbow point. Its B component not seen but parts of the "engagement ring" are a easy catch.
  • Alpha Ursa Majoris is a awesome sight. Yellow and blue components split easily. The SUG is very impressed and decides to keep going.
  • M6 Is a disappointment due to weather - only a handful of stars are seen with it's pretty lucidared giant stealing the show. It is a very pretty red in this scope. The basic outline of the butterfly shape can be inferred
  • Epsilon Peg(Enif) very impressive red/orange with faint wide companion of blue color. SUG
  • M15 is seen s a very condensed fuzzy ball - "pretty cool" says SUG.
  • M8 is sighted! It's brighter cluster members and nebulous haze can be inferred.
  • Jupiter is seen through the trees of the SUGS S.E. backyard corner by his favorite spot to read and drink coffee in the morning. 4 moons can be seen with atmospheric banding visible.
  • "Neptune is ours" cries out the SUG as a pretty blue point . The SUG is pleased to share in the same observations as his predecessor a Dr. Galileo Anzalone D.C.
  • SUG tells our roving reporter to "look at this buddy boy - I can barely see and split my all time favorite Dbl Star Eta Cas". Its ruddy components are just split - a patient observation is required. The SUG IS FLOORED!
  • M103 is barely seen as a small triangle of points - and the raven says"nothing more".
  • Phi Cas cluster / ET. Owl cluster is seen with only the brightest members seen. Phi is a wonderful yellow.
  • Alpha1-2 Cap is pleasing yellow orange duo!
  • Beta Cap is "one wonderful sight" exclaims the SUG as he grabs our reporter by the arm to look.
  • M25 Sag open cluster is seen as 2 parallel lines of faint stars.
  • M22 Sag globular is seen as a fuzz ball.
  • M28 Sag on the threshold of SUG'S vision, but seen!
  • Lambda Sag pale yellow.
  • Mizar/Alcor system observed. it reminds SUG of his first scope as a 10 year old as the view is very similar. He wipes away a few tears from the joyful memory.
  • M23 Sag Star Cloud is a river of star points across the whole field of view. SUG waxes respectfully that he feels honored to share in the same view that Dr. Galileo Anzalone D.C. had so long ago..................and bows his head in silent memory.
  • Gamma And is a lovely orange, but no partner stars sighted.
  • Delta Cep is a "stunner" cries out the SUG, even though his neck is whacked out by this observation. 2 wonderfully colored stars of yellow/blue.
  • Mu Cep (Garnet Star) "is incredible with this small scope - the golden red is so intense" exclaims SUG as he falls over with delight and glee.
  • IC1396 Cep is seen with its famous triple star center only seen as a fine Dbl star with a reddish primary.
  • NGC884/869 Per Double Cluster along with Stock Cluster? held by a chain of stars from the former. The double cluster fits snugly into the field of view of the 20x eyepiece and is a "wonderful sight not to be missed by any living person" screams out the SUG.
  • SUG reports to us that one of "Jupiter's Moons is being eclipsed by this giant gaseous orb and is clearly seen with this primitive scope".
  • This observation was made by the SUG using the IYA Galileo Telescope of simple a design. Viewing conditions were Mag 3.5 at best with turbulent air. The low power 20x eyepiece was employed for every target. SUG estimates a field of view about 1.25 degrees. Stars where all seen as very nice points, and their color was very obvious.
Note that star color is easy with this scope even with the rainbow effect on the brighter ones.
Here is another example of getting "sucked in" by the sky and just having a plain good time with a simple toy. what started as a"quick view honey" turned into 2 hours of backyard enjoyment.

A comprehensive Lunar report/GTLONF will be forthcoming to a Blackberry near you. (Galileo Telescope Lunar Observe NewsFlash)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ed's Astronomy Adventure With The Sidewalk Guy

Hi my name is Ed and my life is changing and my head is spinning - let me explain. Several years back I, my wife and daughter moved to Sparks NV. Our neighbors across the street Richard and Cindy Smith welcomed us with a pizza and snacks as we where moving in, and we have had friendly contact since. I have noticed over the years that Richard is a little different than our other neighbors - he seems to spend a lot of time looking up at various times of the day and is obsessed with his front lawn! A couple of weeks ago I noticed Richard holding a large Moon chart in his hand as he was attempting front lawn management, by the way his green lawn drives me crazy! Anyway in spite of my shyness I had to go over and ask "what's up with this?" Well as you readers already know Richard let out a burst of excitement and preceded to do a astronomy PR job that everyone should be exposed too. After some views through the Ricardo 10"Coulter which has a plumbing piece focuser in his backyard I was hooked and I need to buy in to this astronomy thing again which I attempted in the past without much success. Of course by this time Richard is in a state of euphoria and it's time to go shopping for a scope. With Richard's guidance and experience I set my budget and make a wonderful purchase of a Zhumell 10" Dob with some of the observing stuff I need to get started on the right footing. This is starting to get exciting!

My scope arrives and the Sidewalk Guy is already worked up, as he is easily excitable and loves astronomy stuff. "We are gonna have some fun here Eddie my man" as he pours over my Telrad Charts, "you are gonna love this, trust me". Well I really have no choice for the money is spent and Richard is standing in my family room already planning my every move -he has taken over! He is very impressed with this scope and says I will have "tremendous experiences using it". I'm not really sure who is more excited about this whole thing. Later with his continued input I learn how to set up my scope, adjust the optics, how to point it, focus it, and how to properly look through it to gain the best view with my challenged eyesight. He is even showing me how to move and use my scope for extended times without back or neck ache. Richard is really a full service kind of guy. Right now he has me practicing setting up the scope along with pointing at bright guide stars - just getting the feel of things. With his trusty laser Richard leads me to the major guide stars of the summer sky and is getting me familiar with the northern circumpolar which of which he says"is of extreme importance to my navigation skills". He has me pointing and focusing my scope on these stars and says"get to know them". In between all of this he stands in the background watching my every move and drooling over the new scope. I must relent some I let him play with it and he precedes to knock out some star clusters in a constellation I never heard of like it was a drive to the grocery store. "Ed these optics are really nice, the whole scope is a wonderful value.................can I "burrow"it for say 2 months?" he inquires. The problem with this is if he "burrows" it I will never learn! I offer him a beer instead and he simmers down. He points my scope to a corner in Cygnus and says "just play around here, look and train your eye. As I move the scope I see clusters, star chains, holes in the background and even star color! "Don't concern yourself with finding stuff, just sight see" my mentor says," just take it in"- with a burp from his beer.

We are off and running. I ask Richard about doing outreach with him............wait what is happening to me, why do I want to expose myself and my new scope to the hordes in public places? Am I ready for the energy level of my neighbor as he ventures on to the walkways of life and engages the great "unwashed". I need to heed Sidewalks advice and take a month or so of just taking it in and learning some basics and getting use to his energy level and need for constant snacks. The hordes will always be there as well as the sky, just enjoy my new toy for awhile and I will. But how am I going to manage my astronomically inclined neighbor with the green front lawn and 10"Coulter with a plumbing piece focuser - can anyone give me advice?

Richard also mentioned something about the Moon.................what's up with that?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Under The Stars And Streetlights With Everyday People Sparks Marina Street Astro

Tim and Felicia are local residents of the Marina neighborhood and have been keeping a keen eye on the activities of this stranger and his telescope. What are his neighbors and other Reno-Sparks people getting so excited about anyway? Well in spite of a hurting right ankle from a July 4th fall Tim and his Mrs. wheel on over to the cosmic outpost(which was no small feat with a wheel chair Tim was employing at this time) of yours truly and embarked on a journey that will span the galaxy and beyond. Stars we see across the sky are different ages, temperatures, sizes/mass, and distances away from us. Of course stars lead us to other things like galactic structure, size, distance. By the time we where done a hour plus later this nice couple had a much better understanding of these things and a lot to think about. Tim made many observations in spite of his hurting foot, and I could see the wonder of it all in Felicia's face............. now they are ready to do a Lunar viewing come Sunday night with the Sidewalk Guy. They are going to encounter Luna in a big way folks!

Alex and Angela are your typical young couple people with lots to talk about and do. But astronomy is for most young people something not on the to do list of life. But as fate would have it they run into the Sidewalk Guy as they take a stroll around the park. They stop and listen to my star talk with other visitors and are soon engaged in a big way! After numerous views of stellar combo's dancing in the night including Polaris, 61Cyg, Beta Cyg, Gamma Lyr they are hooked in to this astronomy thing. How about comparing the color and brightness of stars with our eyes with the aid of a laser pointer? These guys where starting to understand this star thing is really very special if you take a little time to just look for yourself. Oh look there's Jupiter - lets have a peek. Now we have to be exposed to gas giants and we need to understand these a bit more after some WOW views! "What about Pluto?" asks Alex. How can I not answer this? Now it's Neptune time, yes that little blue dot near Jupiter is a massive Ice Giant Planet on the fringes of our Solar System neighborhood. These guys show no signs of calling it a night! "Why not come by on Sunday evening about 8 p.m. for a little walk across the Moon" I suggest. Not quit as good as a ticket to the latest concert but pretty good I think. They are planning accordingly!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sucked In By The Sky - Again

Yesterday we had one of our local range fires so I was not expecting to do any observing when I arrived home last night about 10 p.m. With the smell of burned sage and pinion pine in the air I wrote the evening off. So I thought I would set up the 10"Coulter with the plumbing piece focuser in hopes of a early morning before house husband chores Lunar observe with Lunar News Flashes to Mr. Drive By. I went back out at 11:15 and behold we have a clearing! I do a quick Messier Round -Up around the sky with M22,8,20,21,28,11, 29,39,15,27,56. I head over to Cepheus and check out the Garnet Star and IC1396 with it's wonderful triple header struve 2816. Let's knock out some clusters in Cygnus: NGC 6819,6940,6866. OK by this time say 45 minutes I am hooked and I want to keep going. Everything is looking pretty good in spite of the smoke. What is wrong with me - I need to go to bed but I am getting a serious fix. The celestial goose is honking away at me so I must beckon to the call.

So: "TOP TO BOTTOM AND SIDE TO SIDE CONSTELLATION SURVEY TIME" and our host is the constellation of Cygnus. Just what did we see - here's some of it:

  • Because of the size of the goose we will cover it in small areas with bright to moderate guide stars. And because of the conditions I'm after star clusters and doubles.
  • Needless to say when you explore this bird you are on one of the major arms of the Milky Way - every telescope field is filled with something worthwhile.
  • I started with ETA CYG and the wonderful cluster NGC 6871. What a joy to behold. It has 2 destinct parts one like a stellar thread weaving it's way across the sky and the other part like a dim clump of stars as a after thought. I spent a good 30 minutes surveying it's treasures of doubles ,triples, and stars of all colors. I could not locate a pic that would do it justice. This cluster is a gem!
  • Near by was the "Albireo Killer" Struve 394 wonderful orange and blue members.
  • Using 34 CYG we head on to a "Cluster Cloister". These are in the picture above with 34 CYG as the glue star that holds it all together! Oh my the hidden treasures of the sky. 34CYG is a pretty yellow variable in which these clusters seem to be revolving around. These clusters are Dolidze 39,40,41, and my main target IC4996 which is 7 o'clock position from 34Cyg in the pic. This cloister kept me occupied for an hour. Check it out folks! All these grouping have something special as they weave their magic into your eyes. More of the goose to come!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Back in the Saddle/Star Comparative Street Astro.

After a long break it was time to start meeting the public again. Cooler than normal weather for a mid July evening is going to bring people out - and out they were in droves! Just setting up the Sidewalk Guy has folks stopping by left and right, forward and to my back they came to see what this is all about! "Are you the astronomy guy we've heard about" was asked over and over. "We have been waiting for you to show up" was heard many times over. Nice to be wanted! Jeff in the lower pic was very excited to see me. "You are getting me out of my ignorance of the universe" he said and "I am learning so much from my visits with you, my whole neighborhood waits for you to show up and I want more astronomy!" WOW! Well Jeff could not stay long this night but he got an eyeful of Saturn and a NASA DVD that will feed him for now. "When will you be back with another fix" he said with all seriousness. Jeff left proudly wearing a IYA button and bookmark in his shirt pocket - another junkie is borne!

The Garcia clan on the top with my friend Jerry who offers continual moral support for my efforts really got a show of shows last night:
  • Views of colorful double/multiple stars such as 61CYG, BETA CYG, OMICRON CYG, BETA LYR.
  • Views of star clusters in Cygnus.
  • How about Jupiter with it's moons in a row.
  • How about Neptune which they were some of the first to see it this year.
  • Hey how about a massive stellar traffic jam M22 in Sagittarius.
  • And lets not leave out a pretty 3rd quarter Moon on the rise in the eastern foothills!
And these guys wanted more but it was time to go. Hopefully the NASA handouts will keep them busy for awhile! I had a total of 63 visitors. I drove home with the Moon guiding me in my windshield view, awesome night!

UPDATE: 7/19/09 Star Comparative Street Astronomy.

Sunday night outreach at the Marina featuring the universe's primary constituent: Stars. We compared star color, magnitude, size/mass, and stellar life cycle with the fun Chandra Stellar Evo Chart and views through the scope. I had 46 visitors with one special family who received a National Geographic Star Atlas as a gift for their interest level and enthusiasm. Dad was speechless, their daughter smiled with glee, and mom was bought to tears. Here's a wonderful opportunity to learn about and explore the cosmos. After they spend sometime studying the basics they join the Sidewalk Guy to learn how to use the star charts. Hook'm and Reel'm in!

Monday, July 13, 2009


One of my favorite things is a early morning late summer/fall Sierra foothills backyard observe time. Cool temps and dry air can make for some fun times out in the yard. Our cooler than normal midsummer temps are allowing us to have this experience earlier than normal so let's take advantage of it! I did not have a scope set up due to very hazy skies the evening before so to my bino's we go for enjoyable session with the moon. Armed with day old chilled mud and simple fold out lunar map and my western facing backyard bench and very good skies we start. The moon is passing from waning gibbous to 3rd quarter - I never ever tire of seeing this in the morning sky. It's contrast with the blue sky is awesome! One look with the bino's and my mind is racing again with astronomical delight. Here are some of the delights:

  • Bino's give you the big picture - my foldout map in the pic shows just about what I saw. I really enjoy looking at the shape/curvature of luna. Early this current lunar cycle we had a wonderful eastern tilt - it is now south westerly! Oh my where do I start with all of this. The southern curvature is breathtaking and the crater fields go on forever! The northern pole is hidden waiting for another time to discover it's treasures.
  • The Ocean of Storms is simply enormous and glorious!
  • Mare Orientale stands out on the extreme western edge like a scar and a gouge. Even in the 10x60's its rims, ponds, main floor are clearly visible!
  • Grimaldi against the blue sky is a black hole and my coffee is really strong an creamy!
  • Aristarchus mound is brightly lit and it's uplift is easy to see.
  • Crater rays abound in all directions across the Ocean of Storms. Ok my mind is getting overloaded!
  • The lunar Alps, Caucuses, and Appeinne are being kissed by shadow - it is getting hard to contain myself. I have to tell/share this with someone!
  • Back to the big picture, I am seeing the large scale structure of the moon and it is very complex! No maria are alike, no crater exactly the same, subtle color/shade differences I have to stop before my mind shuts down due to photon imput.
OK I have to start the rest of my day...........will my brain be able to shift gears?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Naming Lunar Landforms and Discovering Their Origins

During our last VLO Mr.Mike came upon the pictured land mass in the lunar dusk. When I was able to spy it hours later in my neck of the woods I decided to call it "Mike's Pile". He promptly responded back with "Richie's Ridge"as being the very top of the pile running SE to NW. What is "Mike's Pile"? Here are some guesses:
  • Maybe an old volcano mound - it is somewhat darker than the surrounding area.
  • The rim of a crater smashed by other impacts?
  • How about lunar material that was thrown out from a great distance away from the impact and creation of a lunar basin?
  • How about a pile of old dirty laundry and rubbish from Mike's teenage years bedroom - the ridge is really 1000s of old sweat socks and worn tennis shoes. This may also qualify as a archeological dig site on the Moon.
Your thoughts and theories are welcome!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Showing The Right Spirit

Once again Mr. Drive By Astronomy aka Miguelacutty, Hockey Puck, Mr.Plucky, McG, and the Sidewalk Guy hooked up for a virtual coast to coast observe time with Luna and Jupiter as main targets, and a fine Cygnus variable V460 tucked in the wing feathers of the celestial goose. Mike also was ready with his day old, microwaved warm, 2x creme, in a big blue mug from the office brewing device coffee. After setting up his gear he donned his forehead red flashlight and started in several hours ahead of the Sidewalk Guy. What did we see?
  • Mare Crisium through the evening was putting on a show. Rim features, shadowed floor craters, Dorsum Oppel stealing the show.
  • Crater Cleomedes showed us fine lit rim peaks in the early morning hours.
  • Crater Endymion recession into nightime left only it's western rim exposed to sunlight - we had fun climbing the rim ridges with our scopes.
  • Mare Fecunditatus Dorsum Ridges where awesome as the terminator moved closer and closer.
  • Sunset on Petavius and the "discovery" of new lunar feature which we are calling "Mike's Pile". It is a nice mound just to the N.W. of crater Wrottesley which was casting fine shadows as the evening/morning progressed.
  • Even the western rim of the Moon under a lunar high noon light was killing us. Mare Orietale with it's lakes and rim features, Byrgius crater rays, Schickard's multi-hued floor.
  • Jupiter gave us a show of moons disappearing and reappearing with in a 10 minute time span. One in and one out! I am not sure what moons they were, I was to engrossed to care as I just wanted to enjoy the show!
It was a fun night sharing all this stuff and more. We were connected by our computers, satellite radio with 60's music, coffee in big mugs, red headlamps, charts and books, telescopes, but more than anything just a childlike love of the universe.

Hey Mike, I still cannot find my Rukl Lunar Atlas with the broken binding!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Of The Moon And Coffee

I know I am really pushing things here on this blog lately. I will be starting outreach again to the public next week so for now we have an assortment of random stuff. Here's some more. The add said "Bali Blue Moon Coffee Medium Roast, Maximum Taste" in the grocery store's advertising . Why does this stuff keep happening to me - everything in life somehow becomes astronomical in nature. OK don't fight it just go with it so here we go:

  • "Once in a Blue Moon we discover a coffee that sends us over the moon - this is that coffee". I became a coffee drinker just this year. With both my kids working for Starbucks I got started on drinking the stuff in the morning and I like it. Armed with all sorts of coffee drinking tools and paraphernalia supplied by my boys I like my coffee strong and with attitude! I have been observing the moon since I was 10 years old and I am constantly sent jumping over it all the time and that does not require a 2 full moon month to do this. I find the moon is always filled with character and a attitude which says "just try to figure me out". And you have to keep coming back for more just like coffee!

  • "This coffee has us all moony-eyed" says the add. One thing I know for sure a good way to start the day is with a good cup of joe and a waning moon in the morning sky. July, August, September are great months for this and I can't think of a better way to start my day! After a fun filled observing session with the moon I am not at all earth bound ! Coffee may stay in my system a few hours but a moon view will carry me for days!

  • "Bali Blue Moon Coffee is exceptionally full bodied, has a rich smooth flavor, with a bit of chocolate finish and acidity throughout. Like other Indonesian coffees it is robust with a hint of creaminess but less earthy". OK where do I begin. The moon is always "full bodied" it just depends on your perspective in space and earthshine does a great job of lighting up shadowed sections of the moon's face from time to time! Is it smooth, well that depends how you define smooth! Some parts of the moon are smoother than others but that is a relative term! I have never tasted the moon but the Apollo astronauts say it "smelled like gun powder" after they retreated to the lander after a foray on the surface! A really good dark chocolate bar and a coffee with the moon in your telescope is one sure way to stay up all night! Is the moon robust? It certainly is because it is the largest moon in our solar system in proportion to it's parent planet. The moon is creamy every now and then; are there clouds rolling in? But is the moon really "earthy". Most researchers will tell us that the moon's origin is due to our planet earth being impacted early on and the leftovers formed it so it is "earthy"!

  • "This coffee is good anytime of day" And how true of the moon. I just enjoy it whenever I see it in the sky and even when I can't at new moon. Just knowing it is there hidden in the glare of the sunlight is kind of neat! I am starting to like this iced coffee thing too in the middle of the day. I better buy some teeth whitener!

  • How do I like my moon? Easy answer; all the time. How do I like my coffee? Strong with honey and rice milk to the brim please! How do you like yours fellow astro peeps - I want to know!