Check the old site for updates on general non-astronomy stuff...

Check here:

http://escher.squarespace.com/

 

That will be the site with all my personal updates and such... This blog will likely go away and I'll link over to that page... they are both on squarespace, but the other one is older squarespace 5 that I like to use because of the layout, it lends itsself to my other interests and family stuff...

Not much to report of late... Spring coming slowly..

Just the same old same old... it has been a painfully long winter and I'm hoping that we break 50 degrees soon.

I've been busy practicing my astrophotography processing and reworking old images... as well as enjoying my theater system in my Den..  Work is a bit laborious, as I suppose it should be, being work and all...

I passed 10 years at my company last month... I can't believe it, but I'm finally one of the old guys now.  

Site updates and Family stuff

Site Updates:

As you may notice (or not if you dont regularly check the site)... things are moving around a bit.  I'm adding and changing the way the site looks and also adding some blogs for various different activities.  Parts of this post is also repeated in the Promethean Visions Blog..

In a nutshell:

The Promethean Visions Blog will deal with news and items directly related to the observatory and my activities in that regard.

The Heliofocal Blog will remain focused on Solar Astronomy.  I *do* plan to get back into that in the future... lots of things going on with PVO though at the moment which are keeping me from working on that.

The Escher's Happenings Blog will be related to general family items and events.

General Stuff

well - lets cut right to the chase shall we.

Facebook is in a sorry state - if you use the site, and keep up with trends over there you have noticed some things.

1) Timeline:  Facebook forced this upon everyone in the last year - not sure as the reasoning, although it must align with some "facebook corporate" reasoning"

2) Ad's and "Suggested Pages You May Like":  Welcome to the facebook IPO.  Now, facebook is answerable to a board and must try to make its shareholders a return on investment - i.e. - they need to monetize their sevice.  So - Ad's, nags, and the like.  While I can't blame them, I also dont need to see them evertime I want to check up on what people are up to.

3) Political and Personal agenda's:  I would say that about 60-80 percent of the facebook posts I see are either political or follow someones personal agenda / platform.  I don't mind this to a point, and I have endulged in it from time to time - but the more I see it, the more it feels like one continuous advertisement.  I'm interested in what YOU are doing - I dont want to know about your agenda, your churches agenda, your political preference... I just want to know if you had something cool happen to you today.

So - you probably know what's coming - Yup - Bye bye facebook.  I will not be posting there much anymore... I barely do as-is... I just dont like any one organization have so much power and influence - and facebook is crazy in its reach.  

I have this site - and you all have my email and phone / text / facetime info - thats how I will be in touch.  

So - Check here at the Escher's Happenings blog for family stuff, and the other blogs if your into astronomy and want to see what I'm working on.

- Chris

Finally getting settled... Focusing on Astro Photography.

Well, I think things are finally getting settled down a bit... only took a few months.

My Astronomy setup has morphed quite a bit in the last few months, I've bought and sold about 7 scopes in 3 months in order to try out different options.  I think I have finally found the setup I will stick with.

Currently I have Two main scopes which serve two roles.  First, for deepsky - an 8" Newtonian Astrograph at F3.9 - this should eliminate some of my issues with star trailing and exposure times.  Second, for planetary - a Meade 7" Maksutov at F15.  This scope is more than 3X slower than the Astrograph, but that will be fine for planetary work, and Mak's as renowned for their excellent planetary images.

Lastly, I have a Meade / Terabeam 5" Maksutov as my travel scope.  This one runs at F12, but has upgrades to allow it to use 2" accessories.  Jim Wegat designed a custom back plate to replace the standard plastic affair that is found on the ETX series scope.  This scope is actually not a Meade production model at all, but a special version with no optical coatings that was to be use for telecommunications.

The only weak areas I can see at the moment are 1) My lack of a guide scope setup and 2) My Mount carrying capacity   I am looking for a cheap Meade Imager that I can use to rig up a guide scope..  but for the mount - that will take some time.  I want to get a CGEM, but they are about $1400... and selling my CG5 will only bring about 1/3 of that.  So, I will do what I can with what I have for the time being.

Look for lots of imaging posts through the winter months.  My planned targets:  M31 before it gets out of range, M42 of course, M45, Jupiter and Saturn.  There will be others thrown in, but those are the main goals for this winter.

CS!

- Chris

Changes are 'a comin..

I'm up in the air about what to do with these web pages..  The Solar side has waned since I made the decision to sell my solar telescope - and focus back on traditional astronomy.

Since I installed an Observatory (Skyshed POD XL3), I spend almost every clear night out.  I think the website will shift focus to that side.  I'll keep the Heliofocal stuff around, but will be registering a different domain - based on my Observatory name.  www.promethean-visions.com, since the Observatory is "Promethean Visions Observatory".

So - if you are reading this - the site will be changing over the next few weeks as I try some different things...

Site Transition - HelioFocal.com

Well.... so you may have noticed the complete revamp of the site.  I suppose a littel explanation is in order.

Let see - First of all - Squarespace released V6 recently - which made me start thinking about a revamp of the site.  Second - I'm not much of a blogger, but I am quite active in my hobbies - and recently - very active in astronomy with a deep interest in Solar Astronomy.

So - since there aren't *that* many dedicated Solar sites, and since there are probably only 4-5 people who actually read this page, I decided to take some creative license and indulge my hobby.

Heliofocal is born.  

I *wanted* heliocentric... but that was taken.  Heliofocal may actually be better though.  I think it better serves my purpose here - Focus on the study of our Star.  

So, why now, why change from nighttime astronomy to daytime.  Why the expense of a solar telescope and a complete revamp of the site?  Simple - SLEEP!!!  I simply cannot spend very much time observing at night.  I do intent to still practice more traditional astronomy, but my "Focus" will be on Solar observing.  

The other reason?  Well, it hit me about a month ago - I'm so busy looking at stars which are millions of miles away and only show up as pinpoints in the night sky... but we HAVE our VERY OWN star, right here in our back yard!!  Then I saw the images by Harald Paleske - which you find in the heliofocal gallery, which are just stunning.  Its like you are walking along the surface of the sun looking down at the roiling atmosphere below you.

So - Have a look around - the old stuff is still here - moved to the "Escher's Happenings" blog.  But the new stuff should really get your attention.  Have fun and drop me a line if you like it.

- Chris

Our Star

 

Above is the current image of the Sun from the SOHO (Solar and Helipospheric Observatory) EIT 171 instrument.  Details about this instrument below:

"Full-disk image of the Sun at 171 Å (17.1 nm) wavelength from the Extreme ultraviolet ImagingTelescope (EIT) on the SOHO spacecraft. The 171 Å line indicates Fe IX/X and shows the coronal layers of the Sun at about 1.3 million K temperature."

I had the opportunity to use a solar telescope last week when I visited another amateur astronomer, it was an amazing experience.   It kindled an interest I have never had before in our Sun...

 

The image I saw was a Hydrogen Alpha wavelength image - not like the one above - it was similar to this:

 


I am seriously thinking about selling some guitar gear to get a dedicated solar telescope - it is an amazing thing to study a star up close.  amazing.

 

Here is a link to the SOHO site - where you can view the current state of teh Sun in various wavelengths of light, infrared and magnetic spectra:

http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/home.html

 

Wow, long time no post..

Sorry folks... Life has been hectic the last few months.. Hopefully things will settle down after mid-June...

I checked site statistics, and no views in a while... I hope at least someone has subscribed to the rss so they know the site isn't dead now..

Regardless, lots of things happening. Izak is a little motor mouth now, amazing me with how many new words he is learning!

Aryanna is also starting to get some words, and signs, under her belt. These kids are growing way too fast!

We have made our vacation schedule for the summer and it looks like we will not be around too often from late July to mid September.

Well, boring update I know.. I'll try and find something interesting to post soon!

- Chris

Maksutov Cassegrain telescope design

I've been updating my telescopes and eyepieces in anticipation of some deep dark skies this summer.

This is my (new used) Meade LX200 7' Maksutov Cassegrain.

DSC00854

What makes this telescope a bit diferent is that it is excellent for viewing planets and double stars. The reason for that is that the Maksutov design uses a fixed secondary mirror which does not require collimation.

In astronomy, the "holy grail" of telescopes is the refractor, but there are several issues which make them difficult to mass produce in large aperatures. First and foremost, the larger the aperature in a refractor, the more the light is scattered based on its wavelength (thats a poor explanation, but its all I got right at the moment). For example, when viewing a bright object such as a planet or the moon in a large refractor, you will see purple colored halos... this is called chromatic abberation. In order to combat this, you need a much more complex and expensive design which compensates for this. These are called Apochromatic "APO" telescopes. A large APO telescope in the 4-5 inch range can cost from $1200 - $10,000 depending on quality, etc.

The Maksutov design does not have these issues being a reflector. Of course it has its own issues, but suffice it to say, you can get "near APO" quality for a fraction of the cost.

For reference: Collimation is the alignment of the optical system in a telescope. When a telescope's optics are not collimated, the images will be fuzzy and will not show much detail.

So - a link to some history on the design of the Maksutov telescope:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maksutov_telescope

Grace Hopper and Debugging.

Have a look at this Picture:

That is a page from a log book kept by Grace Hopper while working on a Mark II Computer at Harvard University in 1947. It is the first officially recorded use of the term "Debugging"

Some research into Ms. Hopper shows that she was very instrumental in the devlopment of computer programming as we know it today. She wrote the first real complier, taking us from simple numeric operations on the computer to the ability to write structured programs. Her work on the language FLOW-MATIC evloved into what we know as COLBOL.

She was a Rear Admiral at the time of her death, and gave many lectures on computing... its truly a facinating study.

See her wikipedia page here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_hopper

And as always, a video is most appropriate. Here Ms. Hopper discusses the distance light traves in one nanosecond:


A little astronomy....

First up - Nasa's Astronomy Picture of the Day.  THis is from a couple of days ago - and its actually a video of the Northern Lights.  Very nice video:

Aurora 2012 from Christian Mülhauser on Vimeo.

 

 

Next, One of my favorites - This is a HiDef video compiled from actual photos taken when the Cassini mission passed through Saturn's rings.  

5.6k Saturn Cassini Photographic Animation - Expanded, Improved from stephen v2 on Vimeo.

 

3D Marching zoetrope

zo·e·trope
noun /ˈzō-ēˌtrōp/ 
A 19th-century optical toy consisting of a cylinder with a series of pictures on the inner surface that, when viewed through slits with the cylinder rotating, give an impression of continuous motion

--------------------------------------------------------

I'll admit - I had to look that definition up.  I had seen this type of thing, usually in its standard form with either a flip book type animation or a spinning disk.  This one is quite interesting. 

Using a 3D printer and some electronics knowlege, [Tobias] turned the concept into a true 3D experience.

See video and be amazed at what people come up with in their spare time...

 

 Heres the linked story from hackaday.com

http://hackaday.com/2012/01/11/3d-printed-zoetrope/#more-65248

Internet Live Music Archive

I just discovered this - the internet archive has a live recordings archive.  

Whats VERY interesting, is the HI DEF recordings... use the search tool for "flac 24 bit"  and you will find 24bit, up to 192khz recordings... some AMAZING stuff..

These can be burned to a DVD-A and played on some DVD players..  Its like being at the concert... great great stuff!!

One of my current fav's - a little modern Jazz Fusion:

Garaj Mahal - Live a Keene State Solarfest

Its eclectic, but the sound is unbelieveable!