Monday, March 29, 2010

WOW Picture - OK for me it is!

Full moon tonight with clouds failing at hiding her gaze upon me through the window. Winds are blowing at 70+mph with a chance of snow. Sierra foothills early spring! No Venus, no Mercury along with their dance to be seen in the west. No Mars, no Saturn. No just Luna in and out through the haze but this caught my eye on APOD and I'm wondering how did I miss this.

Kimble's Cascade and NGC 1502 which was featured on a recent posting on this blog. This duo is a favorite and I enjoy climbing up and down the cascade with my telescopic eye!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sun Earth Moon Tuesday Street Astro

I missed doing a Saturday program due to the weather but Tuesday bloomed pretty along with a open time slot for the Sidewalk Guy to get out and do some astro pollinating! Lots of folks out and about mid afternoon with temps in the 60's - perfect! This outreach pulled in 87 visitors to my celestial educational center. This group stayed with me for a hour+ with folks coming in and going and we modeled and discussed so many topics. The Sun Earth Moon system was our jumping off point to the cosmos!
Eric came by on his bike after a couple of fast laps around the park with his workout buddy. They were glued to everything and later Eric came back to enjoy some late afternoon Luna views. With map in hand he was off surveying everything the moon had to offer. When others came by he readily gave up his "box seat" and then was at it again. This went on for sometime! He was kind enough to help me with crowd control and handouts to interested visitors as he shared about his views through CR150 with his infectious smile and tales of discovery.

Seems like this pollination effort is showing some fruit already!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More March Madness: First Quarter Delights

After being clouded out on Saturday and wind blown on Sunday Monday unfolded with sunny skies, light breezes with very dry air. With Luna's half covered face at not quite at zenith this can make for some neat views of our tag a long moon - and it did. I left my camera at home so no pics of my peeps but I had some really interested folks this evening. I had 27 throughout my 2 hours out and many were totally floored by what Luna was showing. This is a easy moon for people to learn to navigate around on - just orient the correct image map, set the scope, give them a major landmark home base, let them loose. Autumn D'Amico was walking the marina with her dad and mom and before long they fell under the Sidewalk Guy's spell of March Madness. After a 10 minute SUG Lunar Lesson on to the scope. Autumn is a quiet sort of 15 year old but when Lunar light hit her eye she she let out a burst of glee. Before long she doing detailed sightings like the one in the pic which CR150/UA was happy to provide. Her dad John commented he's never seen her so excited about anything dealing with science before. Autumn is waiting patiently for her drivers license but she took an extended drive across our moon with her curiosity, openness to try something new as her permission slip. By the way she drove great with no mishaps and her folks did not break a sweat at all with her behind the wheel !

Friday, March 19, 2010

March Madness Under The Skies

With Spring weather and good skies it's time to hit the old Marina and have some fun. Last night was my kickoff of 3-4 evenings of street astronomy. So much to see and share. I started to set up my table around five or so and within 10 minutes 8 had stopped and inquired. Set up CR150 and my little outdoor school room was surrounded by a hoard of folks anxious for the show to begin with questions flying like a press conference! I did a modeling session of the lunar cycle and then turned them loose to locate our smiling waxing crescent. Here was a group of 12 + all facing west trying to locate this skinny moon - folks who never met before captivated with a single cause that only a few minutes before would never have entered their minds. I was busy with no down time and just time for this one pic of Jay and Theresa who were the first to spot Selene got the first look with CR150 digging on Day 3 Luna with Mare Crisium showing off its wares. Fifty six visitors this night. More to follow.............

Update 3/19/10 Friday night street astro is always a good time. Lots of folks out and about and the SUG was active sharing his cosmic wares to the public. I was marketing to small groups all evening, 5-7 folks at a time which made for fun modeling times in which everyone played a part. Someone is the Sun, another is Venus, another is Earth, another is Luna. How come we see Saturn's rings like a wire across it? Lets model it! What about the seasons or the lunar phases? Lets model it! The views were neat too. Just ask this young lady in the black coat. She was glued to the scope!

Mike and Jayde bought their kids Nathan and Chloe down to the cosmic market get some astro provisions. Views of Luna, star clusters, and Saturn ignited fun conversation and a good hour under the skies. This family loves science and the arts so we had a fun connection with both. I find that as I attempt to give a personal touch to all my visitors different points of connection open up. The sky is a wonderful catalyst for this. Needless to say my social bucket was getting full!

By the way Mr.Percival Lowell stopped by and asked that I specifically show off Mars and bragged about his very large Refractor telescope down in Arizona. I would expect nothing less from him!

47 visitors this time out and a tired Sidewalk Universe Guy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Astronomy Photon Phood Passion

Here I am again waiting for our skies to clear out. Our spring temperatures have arrived along with Venus low in our western skies, Mars high in the southeast, Saturn low in the southeast along with a new Lunar cycle with a waxing Moon all during early evening hours. Lots to see and share along with Orion wonders and star clusters scattered about the sky like so many islands across the oceans. But I and they will have to wait a little longer. Mr.Drive - by aka "Great One" so honored recently by the Buffalo Astronomical Association mentioned something about APPP - Astronomy Photon Phood Passion. I think you would agree that this is one unique astronomy blog. I will be posting my outreach activities when I am able to do them but in the mean time I want to have some fun. Mr.Drive -by is right, good food and good astronomy are things that fill my life with joy. I like eating well, I like looking up well into the heavenly vault...........

Something to eat with passion: Almond Anise Biscotti. Oh the power to please is in these twice baked cookies with a decided crunch, nutty and old world flavor in every bite. I had so much fun putting these together and enjoyed watching the way the they disappeared over the course of two days. No guilt at all enjoying them, they are lean with egg whites and low amounts of fat. Cindy enjoyed hers with a White Bloosom Tea & SUG with Earl Grey! Here's the before and after treats!

Something astronomical with passion: Looking beyond the eyepiece is an important part of my hobby. I like my sky to be personal, meaningful and one way to do this is to learn some names - star names! We grow in relationship with others with the introduction of names, and personal history hence the starry sky becomes more personal as I dig into this sphere of inquiry. And how meaningful it is. This book is in my opinion is the definitive work on the subject. Not a fast read, no this is to be pondered and read over the course of years. An exhaustive history it is and totally fascinating. No way can I remember all the names, but it is fun to rediscover them over and over again!

Like the delicate biscotti flavors which intensify as they sit in a container your taste for astronomical lore and history will grow as you pursue it. I never thought that this subject would intrigue me, but it has enriched my life. This journey is to be enjoyed all comfy in your favorite chair with a hot something in your cup with a biscotti nearby.

SLURP, CRUNCH & FASCINATION a complete package!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

SUG NewsFlash: CR150 Off The Shelf & Out of The Bag.

A wait of many months has paid off for my intrepid Celestron telescope the CR150. It's stock mount gave it up several years back from constant usage and a heavy load. I love this scope. With CR150 outreach events, double star surveys, open cluster surveys, Jupiter's prancing moons, and Luna surveys were a common treat. CR150 has been more or less on the shelf for awhile. The wait is over and this observing pal is back and ready to go!

This wonderful Alt/Az mount is from Larry over at Universal Astronomics and is able to handle this heavy and long tube. The mount with this pier on concrete has a "damp" time of 3 seconds and it should be less when mounted on CR150's surveyors tripod anchored into the ground! Cool as CR150 does not like the jitters. What a joy to use with smooth movement, balance, and stability too boot! Of course it goes without saying as I set it up first for a peek at the Sun the clouds rolled in just as I inserted the eyepiece - timing is everything! This mount will be able to handle all types of other scopes with ease and simplicity as I expand my outreach efforts this year. One of my dreams is to have a H-Alpha scope this year to piggy back on CR150 for those narrow band Solar views to wow the public. I wonder what CR150 thinks about this, being the pack animal for another scope!

The Reality Check:

Oh just to keep me humble Mrs. SUG took this pic today as a reminder has to how she "would like me to organize certain aspects of our kitchen". I may rule the skies of my backyard from time to time but she rules the roost. NEVER FORGET THIS!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Lynx & Lentils Healthy Eating And Observing Club

Here are two sublime items; one residing forever in your pantry and a bit of a mystery. The other in the sky hidden amongst more notable sky patterns hard to discern.

The Legumes: Lentils are funny. How many bags of these dried protein packed saucers are hanging out in cabinets and pantries unused I wonder and the greater mystery is how to use them. I love them! Simple, unpretentious and not a looked for item for most folks but still there waiting to be discovered. I found a neat recipe where cooked lentils are baked along with onions, peppers, artichokes, garlic, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, black pepper. I served this over angel hair pasta and topped with chopped green olives with a dash of olive oil. Oh my the flavors just exploded in my mouth with sweet, spicy, and earthy begging for attention. Oh the leftovers where totally delightful! Never underestimate the power of this legume to satisfy!

The Constellation: Dim and elusive hence the moniker Lynx. Tracking and slinking its way through the intersection of Cancer, Gemini, Auriga, Leo and Leo Minor and the nose and feet of Ursa Major. Not a mainstream constellation and it takes an effort to discern amongst the gaggle of near by star patterns. But once seen and located it is forever yours to enjoy! During my DeepMap 600 Blitz with Gemini riding high there was the cat purring away at me all most at zenith. I just had to sit down in my lounger and take a break just to enjoy this elusive feline once again. Just tracing out its form ignited my imagination of early astronomers dividing the sky up into sections for easier study and having to make sense of the leftover stars not connected to anything! This cat is a double star hunting ground for seasoned observers and a constellation catch for the cat like night visioned novice. Once you spy it you will know what to do with it; grasp it's tail to capture, explore it and savor its stealthy ways!

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Quickie Astro Blitz - Orion DeepMap 600 Survey

Really unusual weather pattern for us here in NV. Cloudy weeks on end but a opening between storm fronts so why not take advantage of it! Yes it is time from my twice yearly Orion DeepMap 600 Blitz - how many of these 600 celestial buggers can I bag in one evening observing session & one morning observing session. Sometimes I will do this over the course of a few nights but with another storm on the way it looks like my window of opportunity is just this one evening. As it turned out I had 3 hours of reasonable seeing in my suburban Reno area backyard and dealing with a neighbors overly bright front porch lights and impending storm front building in the west over the mountains!

The DeepMap 600 is an incredible tool for any observer at any level. I have all my astro newbies buy this along with a star wheel to begin their telescopic safaris. Each constellation neatly displayed with all its treasures at your disposal. Any one can learn to star hop with this neat tool and I taught plenty of folks in just a hour or two how to use this map and soon they are bagging objects and learning the skies. For me tonight it is my road map for a intense survey, "catch & release", and to relearn my skills after a long down time. It is amazing to me how everything looks so "fresh" after a long time away from the deep sky! It was a 3 hour blitz with 72 being bagged and tagged before the clouds rolled in. I did pause to savor a few but like a long haul trucker I had to stay on the gas peddle!

RED the 10" Coulter Scope with the Plumbing Piece & Draw Tube Focuser joined me for this observe. Usually 12.5 is used for the Blitz but Mr.SUG 's lower back was sore so RED get to go on this trip with me. He was up to the task. His crude optical system lined up very nicely and stars where very nice points with good color for a f4.5 scope. Mrs. SUG even joined us in our drive across the sky and surveyed some star clusters in Taurus & the Unicorn.

Here's RED under his blanket all SUGGY SNUG under the morning clouds after a 3 hour prior evening workout - he was tired and I got photon filled!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

SUG Spuds & A Overstuffed Horizon Hugger HEOC

Here go once more with the over active imagination of your blog host. As I was preparing dinner I got to thinking about our Solar System and a little rocky world we are just now beginning to understand in harmony with more questions.

The Munchies : SUG Spuds version 2.1 - Twice Stuffed Baked Potatoes. So much can be done with a spud but this is a family favorite. I like to take my baked spuds and carve out the insides and mash them up, mix them up with assorted veggies; in this case frozen mixed peppers and peas par cooked along with mashed steamed winter squash. Seasonings include sea salt, black pepper, paprika, sage, cumin, season salt. All this mixed together with a bit of Greek style yogurt and olive oil. Place the mix back in the spud shell till over flowing & bake till done. The combination's are endless has to how you stuff 'em and season them. A little work but worth it. Tonight's will be served with fresh garlic green beans.

The View: Mercury that little Inner Solar System Planet that speeds about the Sun and dances in our line of sight for precious fleeting moments - sometimes morning, sometimes evening. Never far from the furnace which blasts it environment. This place is indeed twice stuffed & baked and a joy to see in the twilight sky with its orange/tan glow. Baked & stuffed twice over by a impact which most likely renovated the whole place with a super large core and a active magnetic field!

In my years at the eyepiece I have had only a handful good views - just some shades of light and gray, and patches. Go to the Mercury Messenger website for some great pics and info. But the naked eye view of this place is always a treat for me. It is common to see Mercury in conjunction with our moon. Now here's 2 twice baked impact morphed and formed objects side by side in our skies! One near, one far.

Check it out folks!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More Funky Weather So Let's Eat And Dream

The title says it all so lets have a virtual munch:

What to eat: Oven Roasted Cauliflower, Squash & Pan Seared Garlic Basil Chicken Breast. So fast and easy to do. Really any combo of your favorite veggies will do which are cut to size, coated with olive oil, sea salt, fresh ground pepper - roast in foil . Use a very hot pan, olive oil, fresh minced garlic, basil, and a little season salt with the chicken. Total prep time for this dinner 30 minutes. Cindy found some really good brown Basmati rice at the store so that rounded out this dinner. There were scant leftovers!

And a virtual dream time:
What to look at : Here's NGC 1501 another gem to be found in the faint constellation of Camelopardalis the Camel. I had a very mystical observe with this planetary nebula last season and in my opinion this is one of the finest and I like it much better than the famous M57. It resides over 4200ly away yet it stands out like a cosmic gem stone being presented to you. It's color is striking along with the ripples seen in its annulus. Oh the star field that surrounds this has been star is outstanding.

Like the roasting veggies in my oven I imagine the 11th magnitude super hot white dwarf star of NGC 1501 providing plenty of ultraviolet energy to "roast" the gas and set it aglow! You will come back for seconds with this one!

Hey if I can't observe and outreach I will eat well and dream! If you want to you can email me your food and object idea for the Healthy Eating & Observing Club and remember "healthy" is a relative term!