Observing with Street Lights

Observing with Street Lights
Dark sky sites not always necessary to see the Milky Way (This image was taken ouside of a B&B in Julian, CA)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Poor weather for observing, Bob Buchheim book "The Sky is your limit", adn the big bang "lithium problem"

Greetings from Palmia Observatory,

Well, it's been a week and no photos.  The weather has not been cooperating.  It's been warm and clear during the day and then cloudy at night.  Some observatory location we have here.  Should have gone to Anza.  Yes, I could have gone out for some solar observing, but I'm still dithering about the focus problem.  I'm now of the opinion for solar images, I should set the camera to display only red pixels, not black and white.  Remember last time I could get better focus with black and white on the camera LCD.  But, it seems that since the original camera image can only have red wavelengths, I should be ahead by. Only using red pixels and not rely on whatever the camera does when it converts to black,and white.  We will see.

Meanwhile my friend Gene, is trying to analyze my previous sunspot images, taken one day apart, to see if we can calculate the rotational speed of the sun.  It should be straight forward, but having trouble getting the required contrast on some of the images.  By the way, if you are interested in doing science from your backyard check out "The sky is your Limit" by Robert Buchheim.  Bob is the secretary for our OCA and is Really an accomplished amateur astronomer.  He has a second book coming out in August.  He describes how amateurs, with just their little scopes and a camera can do some interesting and valuable science in your backyard.

The sunspots are darker than the rest of the sun because they are cooler.  Sunspots are about 2000-4000 K, while the main sun surface is 5700 K.  Yeah, just a little bit cooler.

So, I've had to get by and get my astronomy fix at CSU Long Beach Physics Colloquium.  It's nice to get back on campus and the speaker from UCSD talked about the "lithium problem".  No, not the problem that you crazies from the 60's are remembering,  but how the modern measurement of lithium in the universe is about 5 times less than the predicted level based on Big Bang nucleosynthesis calculations.  The professor hopes to resolve the problem by measuring the amount of lithium in very old brown dwarfs.  It turns out that the leading theory of the discrepancy is that lithium is destroyed in stars by their internal nuclear reactions.  But old brown dwarfs never get high enough temperature for fusion to occur and so the amount of lithium there is projected to better represent the lithium levels present just after the Big Bang.  That sounds great.  The main problem is that brown dwarfs, since they have no fusion going on, are very dim.  Brown dwarf temperatures are just in hundreds of degrees, rather than the thousands of degrees for regular stars.  The professor has got approval for 8 hours on the Hawaii Keck telescope in a couple of months to find out.  I hope he doesn't get clouded out.

In addition it sure is nice to get back on campus.  It reminded me when I was a young student.  Now, I'm just an old student, so the illusion didn't last long.  I can confirm though, and this is no illusion, that short shorts are still in fashion.

By the way, the next colloquium is this Monday, March 23, and is on the latest cosmic microwave background data taken by Planck satellite.  Several folks from my quantum and Gravity study groups will be there and we will

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

First Light with new 127 mm refractor and solar image

Well, we had a successful first light image with the new scope, but first a meeting announcement especially for those folks in OC.  This Friday the 13th meeting of OCA will have Dr. Gorjian, CalTech, speaking on Lifting the Cosmic Vale:  Spitzer observations from our own backyard to the edge of the universe.  It should be great if you dare to be out and about on Friday 13

By the way if any folks want to meet for dinner, Resident Astronomer Peggy and I have been trying various restaurants arund the Orange Circle.   This time we will be at

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Well, the old 8 inch Celestron scope has been traded in and I'm still waiting to pick up my new 127 mm Explore Scientific scope.  In the meantime, I switched from optical observing to radio observing and assembled my radio "eggbeater" antenna that promises to ease the pain of trying to point my Yagi antenna at a satellite and track its path while twiddling my receiver knobs for the best reception.  This alternate antenna design is more

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Where are you going to be in August 2017? Start your eclipse planning, see you in Casper at Astrocon 2017, some videos in lieu of photos (poor weather)

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

So, where are you going to be in August 2017?

Well, we asked the same question and Peggy recommended, and I agreed, we should be at Astrocon 2017 in Casper, Wyoming.  Why you ask?  Well, the astronomy conference coincides with a total solar eclipse and it sounds like fun to do both.  The eclipse path, with 100% obscuration, is a swath across the U.S., including Casper, with the best viewing in southern Illinois and Kentucky.  We could show up at Peggy's brothers home in southern Illinois, but that is a long drive and