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)

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year! Recommendations for textbooks for astrophysics and light curve collection and analysis; Looking back at astronomical activity in the blog archive this time of last year

Greetings and Happy New Year from Palmia Observatory

Well this is the last day of this year and as we get ready to begin a new part of our journey around amateur astronomy and physicist wannabe activities, I am remembering where we were just a year ago on this journey.  It is interesting to look back and see what was going on a year ago, but before that let us

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Caldwell Objects; Quiet Sun Image; New physicist blog sites and Palmia Observatory website statistics; More Algol observing times; See you at the 229th AAS meeting in Dallas

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

We hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and stayed in where its warm.  At least the rain let up for Christmas day.  Resident Astronomer Peggy gave me a copy of "The Caldwell Objects" by Stephen O'Meara.  The Caldwell catalog was created by legendary amateur astronomer and author, Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore, and publicized in Sky and Telescope in 1995.   The catalog has 109 deep sky objects, just as many as the Messier catalog, These 109 objects are not objects to avoid, but include other worthwhile and beautiful objects to be observed in the night sky.  Many amateurs work their way through

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Astronomer just barely captures image of Algol during eclipse minimum; Christmas Lights? Bah humbug! Typical Algol Light Curve; Happy Holidays!

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, finally the Algol minima occurred on a night with clear weather.  Yes, the forecast was for poor observing, mostly due to high winds and wind gusts, but we were relatively protected here at the observatory, and we set up to do some observing and then experienced a couple of problems including

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Weather cancels more observing sessions; Are you ready for Python? Funny astronomy fails; Is time positive or negative? Revised Algol observation plan

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

This week the weather has just been terrible for most observing opportunities.  The planned observing of the light curve for eclipsing binary star Algol was itself eclipsed by clouds and rain.  The OCA black star canyon party was also cancelled, not because of clouds on Saturday, but

Monday, December 12, 2016

Weather looks bad for Dec 15, but Black Star maybe ok on Saturday; Aim for Dec 18 to capture Algol minimum instead; 28 year anniversary

Greetings from Palmia Observatory,

Well, the weather this week is not cooperating at all for doing any nighttime (or daytime) observing, unless you are an amateur meteorologist.  Look at the ScopeNights app forecast below and see just how bad it is supposed to be.  Yes, the weather might change, but

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Recognition of flaw in Algol minima observing plan; Adapting Algol observations to new observing location; Comments from the Searching for Life Workshop

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well this week has already been very busy with trying to get ready for the December 15 Algol eclipse measurement and with the ongoing workshops and meetings.  We will have a few comments to say about the Searching for Life though Space and Time Workshop and other ongoing calendar events in a moment, but first lets look into the recognition of a near fatal flaw in the

Thursday, December 1, 2016

What is on your calendar for December 15? Sterile neutrinos at the physics colloquia; Getting ready for eclipsing Algol and light curve measurement

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

So, what is on your calendar for December 15?  For me, I've already penciled in the night for observing and measuring the magnitude minima for the eclipsing binary star, commonly named Algol.  The last post from November 28 described how the visual magnitude would dip from 2.1 to 3.4 for several hours during the eclipse before returning to the normal 2.1, and this happens every 2.87 days.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Upcoming colloquia and workshops; Astronomer Assistant Ruby has Thanksgiveing reunion; Writing equations backwards in video lectures; Observation plans for seeing eclipsing binary Algol


Greetings from Palmia Observatory

This post covers four topics including:  (1) reminding readers of a couple of upcoming colloquia and workshop events, (2) Happy Thanksgiving Holiday reunion for Astronomer Assistant Ruby, (3) How to write equations full of Greek characters backwards?, and (4)  Observational plan for observing the binary eclipsing star Algol.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Resident Astronomers return to the observatory; Pages read = 30, martinis made = 3; Pages win!; Black Star Canyon clouded out; You can still sign up for the GR course; Cosmology and big picture theory not constrained

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, we are finally back home from our Mediterranean odyssey, with stops in Greece, Israel and Italy, and ports of call in several islands, and want to clear up a few loose ends associated with that journey before coming back to future observing plans.  First, I should comment about an issue that many cruisers face and that is how much weight gain is acceptable for a a two week cruise.  Well, I have no idea of what a norm might be, but can comment on my own personal experience, which resulted in

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Alert reader notices slipped digits; Surprising connection between LIGO and Fermi detection of merging black holes, Travelling through the Straights of Messina, on to Napoli and Amalfi

Greetings from Palmia Observatory (offsite in vicinity of Napoli, Italy)

Well we are still offsite and having fun seeing the Mediterranean sights.  Before getting to the fun stuff, we should look at the incoming mail.  I got an email from alert reader Science Squad Member and Gravity Guy, Ken, noticed an error in the previous post discussing

Thursday, November 17, 2016

More super moon apparent size discussion; Previous photo of plane in the moon; Wondering about the rate of supernovas in the galaxy and mixing of new elements



Greetings from Palmia Observatory (offsite somewhere near the Straits of Massini and volcano on Stromboli)

Well did everyone enjoy the super moon?  I only heard from two amateurs, one who was interested in confirming how much larger the moon would appear to be and one who attempted to get a photo of the super moon.  So let's take a look at

Monday, November 14, 2016

Advance notice regarding the super moon; Ad on Finding location of ships at sea


Greetings from Palmia Observatory (offsite in Ashdad, Israel)

Well, we have made several earlier posts, primarily of the vacation kind, with just enough touch of astronomy to allow its inclusion in this post.  You can always take a look at those posts if you are interested.  In the November 13 post, I talked about an epiphany I had regarding how the Einstein equations of general relativity give more appropriate interpretation for the doppler shift for the expansion of the universe.   This post is just a quick announcement to be sure to look for the giant moon tonight and this announcement is made possible because

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Searching for Aphrodite's ocean birthplace; Counting pages read and martinis ordered; Finally got needed insight into Einstein's General Relativity

Greetings from Palmia Observatory (offsite and docked in Haifa) Well this has been a busy vacation week and I have just a couple of astrophysics and cosmological topics to go over today. First of all, Resident Astronomer Peggy and I have been having a lot of fun and had a chance to investigate the birth place of Aphrodite (or Venus if you prefer the Roman name. The legend has it that she was the daughter of Zeus and Dione and rose out of the sea near the island of Cyprus. Well, we went to Cyprus and looked

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trying to do astronomy from a moving ship and does the shipboard physics colloquia actually exist?




Greetings from Palmia Observatory (offsite at the island of Cyprus)

Well its been a busy week, what with trying to find our way around the cruise ship "Viking Sea", but we are getting used to it.  We also tried viewing the stars from the top deck and found that even though the skies are dark, the cruise ship itself is surrounded by lights.  There are lights illuminating the water and wake and even though it is

Saturday, November 5, 2016

What books do you take on vacation or a cruise?; Here are the half dozen or so books I am packing.

Greetings from (offsite) Palmia Observatory

Well, I've had quite a time deciding what books to take with us on our cruise vacation.  Resident Astronomer Peggy has a couple of paperback novels and some science periodical, like Science News, The New Scientist, Astronomy, and Sky and Telescope magazine and her Ipad, so she is good to go.  I had a hard time because as much as I want to read a lot of good books, I know that as often as not, the books

Friday, November 4, 2016

Resoution of Pluto's RA and Dec discrepancy and electing to try new astrometry software package

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, we left off last time with one remaining mystery regarding the different values of reported RA and Dec for Pluto.  What to do about these different reported values?  They don't differ by much and as long as you are just interested in getting Pluto in your camera frame field of view, both seem to be acceptable.  But if you want to use astrometry to verify that yes, indeed that dim object of just a few pixels in your image is Pluto, then, yes, you need accurate astrometry and the catalog location used for finding Pluto has to be right.  So this is what

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The most precisely tested physical theory; More analysis of Pluto images and validation of 95mm aperture viewing; Five events for consideration to be on your calendar: Offsite travel

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well we are finally resting up from our wild weekend at Nightfall in Borrego Springs just in time to pack our bags for vacation travel.  Last time, I described the attempted capture of an image, or at least a few pixels, of Pluto and how, as a lot of amateurs know, the first and second and maybe other attempts often does not go as planned.  Well Borrego Springs was no exception as we discussed earlier, but you might be interested in some of the other analysis I've been doing to explain what went wrong.  But before that we should

Monday, October 31, 2016

Where is that mysterious light we saw last time? More Nightfall in Borrego Springs; Watch out for "them"; Trying to capture Pluto again... and again; How to turn a 4 minute exposure into a 1 second exposure

Greeting from Palmia Observatory

Well Resident Astronomer Peggy and I are offsite attending the Nightfall 2016 event in Borrego Springs.  This is the second time we have been at this event sponsored by the Riverside Astronomical Society.  Long time readers of this blog will remember about our November 8, 2015 post where this strange mysterious light bloomed up as all of us attendees were gathered in the outside amphitheater at that time.  What is that mysterious glow?  Check out the November 8 post for the details.




Mysterious light in sky
We didn't see this mysterious lightshow this time at Nightfall
So, this time in Borrego springs, no mysterious light show, but wow, guess what we saw when we looked up in the sky this time?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

See you at Nightfall 2016 in Borrego Springs; TED talk; UCRiverside Are We Alone? lectures; Asteroid astrophysics; Halloween Fun!

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well its mostly cloudy with a bit of rain here at the observatory and so no observing for these few days.  Actually, there could have been a little bit of observing lightning flashed early in the morning if you are into that kind of thing.  It was pretty exciting since we normally don't get

Saturday, October 22, 2016

AAS meeting comes to an end; Return to the observatory and start to get back to normal after repiping; Great T-shirt found

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, its been a long week in Pasadena and I'm completely worn out and in need of a break.  Attending the AAS/DPS meeting was a lot of fun and I heard about a lot of interesting science and astronomy, but I am definitely on overload, so I am back at the observatory for some needed rest.  Oops, what do I mean?  How can I get any rest at the observatory?  Remember, while this Resident Astronomer, George, has been off having fun in Pasadena, the other Resident Astronomer

Friday, October 21, 2016

Asteroid Families and the Yarkovsky and YORP effects; OSIRIS-REx mission to Asteroid Bennu; Gamma rays from Vesta and Ceres; Determining spectra for cold moon hydrocarbon oceans

Greetings from (offsite) Palmia Observatory

Well, I've been here in Pasadena for several days now and I guess I should take a stab at reporting some of the neat things I learned about planetary science.  There were a lot of interesting topics, but I think I will mention just a couple of things that I found interesting and

The old planet 9 and the possibly new planet 9, or the controversy continues as new discoveries in the Kuiper belt continue to amaze us; And New Horizons Team wins Planetary Society's top award, The Cosmos

Greetings from (offsite) Palmia Observatory

Well this blog is mostly about Pluto, the old Planet 9, and the controversy over its name change, and the new contentious and possibly new Planet 9.  So, there were quite a lot of fireworks and passion and emotion at the AAS/DPS meeting, so don't be mislead into believing that

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Resident Astronomer at the AAS/DPS meeting in Pasadena; Sad faces during live Exomars landing broadcast; Ceres asteroid and bright spots; Pluto losing its atmosphere?

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, I'm still offsite at the AAS/DPS meeting in Pasadena.
Started yesterday's meetings with a live broadcast from ESA covering the landing of Exomars lander, Schiaparelli.  Well, there were a lot of sad faces when the lander communication was lost just about a minute before touchdown.  Yes, we know it is hard to get to Mars and things don't always go right.  The latest news from ESA says that the premature ejection of the heat shield and parachute were found in the telemetry.  We will have to wait for

Monday, October 17, 2016

Resident Astronomer attends the AAS/DPS meeting in Pasadena; Math Whiz Dave's hat is well known; Remembering Carl Sagan; New Asteroid observation book for amateurs

Greetings from (offsite) Palmia Observatory

Well, the American Astronomical Society meeting of the Division for Planetary Science is off to a great start for a week long series of events at the Pasadena Convention Center.  Now this set of meetings is for professional astronomers and planetary scientists and students and they let in

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Resident Astronomer tours Carnegie Observatory open house; original glass slide of Jupiter; American Astronomical Society in Pasdena; Comet 67P; Missed opportuity to photgraph novae


Greetings from (offsite) Palmia Observatory

Resident Astronomer George is offsite this week at the Carnegie Observatory open house.  I had not attended the open house before and it was quite interesting to walk on the grounds and down the halls and sit in the library where the great observers thought and pondered the images taken at Mt. Wilson. Check out this photo taken in the library

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Hooray, Mystery of the "+" signs solved! Lessons learned about doing the blinking software; See you in Pasadena and be sure to check out Nightfall in Borrego Springs; And the Galaxy Song

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Hooray, we got some good feedback and help understanding the mystery of the "+" signs, which were found in the images of the asteroid Ceres, about which we posted last week.  Remember that at that time we first used the blinking software help us see a slowly moving dim object against the nearly fixed background stars.  It turns out to be quite a mystery, but first we should

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hooray, that darn blinking software shows asteroid Ceres moving; "Beautiful" sunset; Repiping the observatory and next week calendar showing Carnegie open house, AAS meeting and free Coursera course on emergence

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

I had every intention of getting some more observing in this week but couldn't fit it into the schedule because of events at the observatory.  First, as I looked outside to get a sense as to what the cloudy weather was like and found this "beautiful" sunset.  I say"beautiful" because one hand sunsets are beautiful and on the other hand,

Friday, October 7, 2016

Physics colloquia about topological insulators; Nobel prize announcement; Set Silence Packing demonstration on campus; Gamma-ray spectrometry; Energy Storage conference and the duck curve; And finally getting another image to try getting the darn blinking software to work

This has been a busy week with a couple of off site activities including the physics colloquia at CSULB and the Energy Storage North America Conference in San Diego.  We finally did get a chance to schedule one brief observing time to get another image of asteroid Ceres as part of our ongoing program of trying out the blinking software used to detect faint objects like asteroids.  But first we have several comments about physics, gamma ray detectors and astronomy and findings from the energy storage conference.  So lets get to the

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Mysterious white blobs and the Lyman Alpha forest; Is dark matter really real? Winning the Ig Noble prize; OCA Black Star Canyon Party and searching for Pluto and asteroid Pallas at the Candy Store; Helix Nebula and Lychee martini

Greetings from Palmia Observatory
This week had a couple of observing opportunities, one of which at Black Star canyon, resulted in all images taken while pointing at someplace other than the target, and one at the Candy Store on Ortega Highway, which was more of a qualified success.  But, before talking about that, let's check the mail which is just full of good astronomical odds and ends and a new mystery concerning white blobs, which just tells you that the mystery is not completely over until

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

First light from new lens and Astronomer finally captures image of Uranus; Physics Colloquia and Astrophysics SIG talk about effects of curved space time; Check out Roger Penrose lectures and get your free ticket; Astrometric analysis confirms it really is Uranus; Waiter, there is a sextant in my martini glass!

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

This week started with the first light from the new spotter scope lens and finally capturing a blurry dot called Uranus and inside activity included very interesting presentations, one at OCA Astrophysics SIG, on the precession of Mercury and one on quantum field theory in curved spacetme at the CSULB physics colloquia.  But first, some comments from smart alecs who responded to the question presented in the September 12 blog post, what are the strange

Friday, September 16, 2016

Stay away from this Freeway Traffic Jam? Good time at AIAA Space 2016 Conference, Decadal astrophysics survey plans for next observatories and Solved: White Blob mystery explained after consultation with Bob

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well this week I've been offsite at the AIAA Space 2016 conference in Long Beach and that means that Resident Astronomer Peggy and Astronomer Assistants Danny and Ruby are in charge.  Actually they are always in charge anyway, its just that

Monday, September 12, 2016

Astronomer tries to take photo of Pluto and it's hard since it is no longer listed as a planet and discovers strange white blobs at same time; Comparing brightness of Pluto with background skyglow in city lights

Greetings from Palmia Observatory
After the recent success of finding dim Neptune and locating its fuzzy smudge of light right in the position calculated by the current star catalogs, it was time to go after the top prize in planetary imaging, Pluto.  Oops, first of all, Pluto is not a planet (any more), so I guess it is not

Friday, September 9, 2016

Successful astrometric analysis confirms target as Neptune; Yes, planets do wander so be sure to use the correct Right Ascension and Declination; OCA General Meeting

Last post we showed the successful attempt to get a good enough alignment that the goto scope capability could get Neptune in the camera field of view.  We were quite excited about this success, but as usual the amateur should follow up with some analysis to confirm that the object identified is really the target in question, in this case, is Neptune.

Last time we discussed the two follow up methods proposed to look at the identity of

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Amateur finally finds Neptune; Check out the AIAA Space 2016 Conference; Sir Roger Penrose to speak at Chapman University; What to do with all your old paper tubes?

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, this week has finally culminated in a successful finding of Neptune.  Or at least, I am relatively confident of that, even though one more rigorous test using the star chart overlay is needed to be completely sure.  Anyway before describing that picture and success story, we should check the calendar for upcoming special events.

First the AIAA Space 2016 Conference will be in Long Beach next week, September 13-16.  Check out the conference website for details if you are interested.  There will be

Friday, September 2, 2016

More on planetary atmospheres and heat balance; Max Tegmark and the Multiverse and Theory of Everything; One physicist wannabe's ongoing journey; and the sad and failed first attempt to capture Neptune

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, I had hoped tonight to redo the hunt for Neptune, but the weather is really overcast and the viewing is really poor.  I will tell what happened during the first failed attempt a couple of days ago, but first let's talk a little bit more about the previous discussion of heat transfer with the Earth's atmosphere and use this as a basis for

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Is the galaxy upside down or is it just me? Are you using an eyepiece, a camera, or a star diagonal? Getting ready to put the spectrometer on.

Amateur astronomers observe at night but that does not mean they get to sleep all day.  No way, and its not because they are physicist wannabes and are studying all day.  No, the reason is they often have to ponder all sorts of questions about the images they collected the night before, such as "Is that picture of that galaxy upside down?  Let's take a look at some of the telescope optics and devices that might be used during a night of observing and astrophotography that give rise to this type of question.

First, we know that a lens in the system will tend to invert the image and any mirror in the system will

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Atmospheric Lapse Rate and Planetary Science; Learning physics from the weather ladies Bri and Ginger and pop singer Iggy Azalea?

Today has been a planning day for observations to be made (hopefully) later tonight, when I have a chance to get an image of Neptune, of which I forgot to do while at Black Star Canyon.  Anyway while waiting, I returned to a topic found in planetary atmospheric science, which is measuring the temperature of a planet or its atmosphere remotely with telescopes and spectroscopy.  I didn't quite get into all of that tough stuff, but I did get intrigued by

Monday, August 29, 2016

Black Star Canyon; Dragonfly optics and nebula; Astrocon 2017 and AIAA Space 2016; Polar Alignment, Camera ISO and Binoculars; M8 and why ring nebulas, Forgot to shoot Neptune, but got M13, M57 and M8; Ruby makes a discovery

Well this week had a lot of practice alignment sessions and we were ready for fun and successful observing Black Star Canyon Star Party and Astronomer Assistant Ruby makes an interesting discovery.  But first, lets look at the calendar and the mail.  It's not to early to plan for Astrocon 2017 in Casper, WY., but it might be hard to find a

Thursday, August 25, 2016

See you at Black Star Canyon; Kavli Prize interview with winners/ inventors of LIGO and the human side of the story; New planet discovered around our next closest star; How real science (sort of) gets done at the bar and through bets; and finally some a nostalgic look back at my years at Big Oil research in Brea

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Remember when you get to the blog site you can sign up to get announcements, when new posts are posted, and not have to wait for an email from me (hooray!) and remember you can also search through the archives, using keywords, etc., to see what was going on in the almost 2 years of postings.  I had almost forgotten about all the trials and tribulations, failures, and some successes that have happened over the years.
 
Well its time for the Black Star Canyon Star Party this Saturday night and

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

New blog format, homebuilt crosshair frame for camera, galaxy rotation curve, and 600mm full moon photo

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well this is the first post since we transitioned away from a weekly email newsletter to an actual blog.  I think this format is much better to meet the goals which I originally had when I first started emailing little notes about my journey as a physicist wannabe and a new beginning amateur astronomer, making the transition from pure armchair cosmology.  Although, I initially

Friday, August 19, 2016

Get Polar Aligned and goto selected target Right Ascension and Declination

Well this week has been pretty spectacular in terms of good observing weather and the marine layer has gone missing at night with our really warm temperatures. Last time I mentioned that I had just received the repaired AVX mount from Celestron and was eager to get

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Big Bear Solar Observatory Tour and Pleides Meteor shower viewed from the lake and discussion of amateur asteroid size determination by occultation timing

This week lets begin with a question submitted by Searching for Gravity Waves and New Drone Pilot, Dr Gary, who asked how the 20 km scale factor shown in last week's image of the Sky and Telescope's asteroid occultation

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Astronomer Assistant Ruby ignores general relativity, quantum mystery, asteroid occultation timing and Jupiter and Moon conjunction

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, this week has  mostly consisted of study.  First of all it was necessary to find out how to return the Celestron AVX mount for repair.  When the motor drive command system failed last week, I had a sense of dread because I was about to enter the unknown, but quite regularly described as poor service in internet postings, of getting the mount repaired.  Nonetheless, I finally made

Monday, August 1, 2016

Fire cancels our scheduled viewing on the Mt Wilson 60-inch, connection between gravity and time, autoguider cable hookup snafu, mount motor drive failure leaves scope pointed at Polaris and one way to get a lift above the rooftop

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well this week still had a bit of disappointment about not being able to do any observing at the 60-inch telescope on Mt. Wilson, so Resident Astronomer Peggy and I started dreaming about signing up for a night of observing at Kitt Peak in Tucson.  Now that will be a little more expensive, but at least

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Kip Thorne gravity wave lectures, quantum spin with margarita spin, getting lightcurves for eclipsing binary Sheliak, and fire cancels Mt Wilson 60-inch telescope viewing

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Most of this week was spent catching up on studying general relativity and gravity wave physics.  It has been slow going trying to understand this stuff, but I found a

Friday, July 15, 2016

Gravity wavestudy sessions, trying new mount for pointing at dim objects using RA and Dec and using 600mm camera views of Albiereo, M57 and Sheliak in preparation of practicing for AAVSO observation of variable stars

Well, this week, in between gravitational wave study sessions, has been able to gather a few astro photos and begin the quality control check out of the new telescope mount.  As I've mentioned previously my goal of collecting light curve data from eclipsing binaries and other variable stars is now able to move forward.  Since some of the target stars are

Friday, July 8, 2016

Trying out new lightweight alt/az tracking mount, using just 600mm telephoto for Saturn and Mizar and comparing software enhancement differences

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, the night clouds have been arriving about a couple of hours before midnight, so that meant a chance to get in some preliminary testing of this new Ioptron, self-aligning mount.
As you probably already know, I have been experimenting with several products to get quicker alignments because, well, I might as well just say it, I'm kind of lazy when it comes
to

Monday, July 4, 2016

Exploring El Dorado Illinois as possible Eclipse 2017 viewing site, Reading "Gravity from the ground up", Catching Lighning Bugs, Happy 4th of July!

Well, we're back in SoCal now after visiting relatives, Resident Astronomer Peggy's brother, Don in rural southern Illinois in the little town of El Dorado.  Now it turns out that that location is on the total eclipse path for the August 2017 eclipse.  So, we had to check out where

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Strawberry Moon and other photos, scope setup at Black Star Canyon, Marcello's great image, and make your plans for eclipse in Casper at Astrocon 2017

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

This week's report, after last week's digression into astrophysics and astronomy conferences, finally can share some real Astro photos.  First up is a photo, taken with just a 600 mm telephoto at Palmia Observatory, shows the "strawberry moon", which just refers to a full moon that

Monday, June 20, 2016

The American Astronomical Society meeting in San Diego and Society for Astronomical Science meeting in Ontario, If Iggy didnt show to teach you physics, check with your cat, and now you can do amateur radio astronomy too!

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well as we mentioned last time this week has been taken up with the AAS conference, sponsored by professional astronomers, in San Diego and the SAS conference, sponsored by amateur astronomers, in Ontario.  Resident Astronomer Peggy maintained the observatory and Astronomer Assistants Danny and Ruby, while I flitted about

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Oops, here are the fuzzy photos of Jupiter and Mars, travelling to AAS meeting in San Diego and the SAS meeting in Ontario

Oops, I messed up and didn't have the Astro photos of Jupiter and Mars attached correctly.  I'm still getting used to gmail and have now discovered that photos, once attached, will sort of fall off if you leave your IPad unattended till it falls asleep.  Then When you come back and finish off the typing, sometimes the photos are gone.  So here are the fuzzy

Get your copy of Quanta magazine, looking at Mars and Jupiter, June gloom, nuclear R-process, Iggy Azalea will teach you physics and explanation by Jimmy Kimmel

Greeting from Palmia Observatory

Let's get to the mail before we look at some photos of Mars and Jupiter.  Retired Big Oil Chemist, Dr Arnold, forwarded a web reference for a great, online, free science type magazine called Quanta Magazine.  I've enjoyed it and signed up.  Thanks Arnold.  If you're interested in

Saturday, June 4, 2016

HIgh school graduates grow up and move on, geology video shows look back time just as does astronomy, and the 4-D man question

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well we didn't get much Astro observing in this week.  I guess I'm feeling the effects of a cold and maybe even some jet lag.  We did manage to get out to a high school graduation ceremony, but not much Astro observing.  This next week should have some good observing opportunities, especially now with Mars being in its closest approach to Earth.  We should all take a look and see if

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Offsite in Amsterdam, Reading Sean Carroll's The Big Picture and a video by Lisa Randall's proposed connection between dark matter and dinosaurs

Greetings from Palmia Observatory (currently at Okura Hotel in Amsterdam)

Well our fantastic vacation along the Rhine River from Basel to Amsterdam, in this mostly cloudy region, is coming to an end and all we saw in the sky was Jupiter and a few stars and the moon poking through the clouds.  Oh well there was a lot to see on the ground.  I also had some free time to read email and get started on reading Caltech's Sean Carroll's book, "The Big Picture", so I can offer a few comments in lieu of an Astro photo.

First, Searching for Gravity Waves, Dr Gary, commented on my recent photo of a large sundial mounted on the side of a church.  He told an interesting anecdote about

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Motoring down the Rhine river, Astronomical Watch and old sundial show timekeeping and sky watching through the ages

Greetings from Palmia Observatory Staff, currently somewhere on the Rhine River,

Well we are offsite this week and haven't much luck with the weather when it comes to seeing anything but clouds in the night sky.  Astronomer Assistant's Danny and Ruby are off visiting with Got a Whole House Full of Dogs, Bob and Resident Astronomer's Peggy and myself are free to enjoy the cruise ship, Viking Eir, and don't need to worry about

Friday, May 13, 2016

Kip Thorne lecture at Chapman U, Larry cell phone photo of H Alpha, BBSO image, and other solar images

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well this has been a busy week as Resident Astronomer Peggy and I get ready to fly to Switzerland for our Rhine river cruise.  There was still a little time for some activity including a lecture by Kip Thorne, some astronomical/physics hydrogen-alpha spectrum and photos and a final note on telling time.

First I received an email from

Monday, May 9, 2016

Transit of Mercury, One good image before we got clouded out, same luck for Larry in San Diego, Scientist scribbling equations on plane gets questioned as suspected terrorist

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, the most promising image(s) for this week are for the transit of Mercury.  Did you have any luck with the weather and capture the transit? The forecast was for some sun and some clouds and yes, that forecast was mostly right except for the mostly being cloudy part.

I slept in and just finished my first cup of coffee and found

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Amateur radio astronomers plan annual meeting in Greenbank, VA, July, Planning for May 9 Lunar Eclipse, Evaluating new 600mm lens, and for fun A Capella Science video

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well the weather this week has been pretty bad for us local amateurs.  It makes me want to start observing in a different part of the electromagnetic spectrum.  Hey, I know, we could take up amateur radio astronomy.  If you want to consider the transition then you should check out the upcoming radio amateur astronomers annual meeting in GreenBank, WV, July 10-13.  It takes place at the National Radio Astronomical Observatory there and just being able to visit that

Monday, May 2, 2016

Thinking about gravity waves and working through the rubber ruler paradox and three hydrogen alpha images of the sun

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well the skies this week have been overcast and cloudy but with some stars poking through.  So, I mostly did some catching up on theoretical understanding of gravitational waves, but did manage to get the solar scope out and took a few photos of the sun.

I've been trying to understand how gravity waves impact matter that happens to be in their path and you will remember that last time I said I was skeptical that we could hear

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The APS meeting in Salt Lake City, meeting up with relatives in my college town, and thanks to Dr Karole who found a reference to a vocoder that makes Stephen Hawking sing and SAS meeting announcement

Greetings from Palmia Observatory
Well, I've been offsite this week at the American Physical Society April Meeting in Salt Lake City.  I missed the other observatory staff including Resident Astronomer, Peggy and Astronomer  Assistants Danny, Ruby and Willow.  They missed me too, I guess, and Willow did not have much of an appetite until I returned.  Anyway I was able to meet up some of the

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

After vacationing in Key West, met Dr Janna Levin at Science Salon, Coursera Big History Course, Physics Today article showing solar element abundances, and just for phone another Symphony of Science video with Stephan Hawking singing

Greetings from Palmia Observatory,

Well, this week has been busy getting back on my diet following the calorie and alcohol binge from vacation in party capital Key West, FL. It was a bit raining and cloudy there just like it has been here this week, although the skies here are starting to get very clear.  Nonetheless, I spent most of this week inside.

Resident Astronomer Peggy and I signed up for the Science Salon in Altadena.  These salons are a lot of fun and end with book signings and wine and hors d'oeuvres.  Wow, I never thought I would be attending salons, but they are a lot fun.  The salon was held in Harmonica Playing and Steam Punk aficionado, David's fabulous home, with great views overlooking the city below.  Thanks David.  We met up there with Math Whiz, Dave and we all heard astrophysics professor Janna Levin talk about her new book, "Black hole blues and other songs from outer space".  I had previously read her earlier book, "How the universe got its spots" and can

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Vacationing in Florida and touring Thomas Edison's summer house and sadly Dr Gary can't make APS meeting in SLC

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, we are out of the observatory having a fun time in sunny Florida so we haven't set up the scope or tripod at all.  We've been enjoying the hospitality of Packed up and Moved to Florida, Bill and Bene.  We've been enjoying the warm weather and sun and have one photo we wanted to share and that is of the approach of sunset from our harbor cruise.  We weren't quite able to see the actual

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Physics colloquia and Lie Algebra and orbits of moons and dark matter and how it might lose angular momentum to sprial inward

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well this week started off with just one physics colloquium and no Lie Algebra class.  So it's been a pretty quiet week and next week is spring break at CSULB so I should have even more time to work on the orbit calculations.  Hey, wait a minute now, why should I do some work on orbit calculations while the rest of physicist wannabes are off from school?  Ok, ok, maybe just a little work and a little break.

Anyway, before discussing what little bit I did getting ready to do

Monday, March 21, 2016

General Relativity at 100 Celebration in Pasadena, Eddington's measurement of the bending of light during an eclipse, Collecting images of Pluto moons and measuring locations to plot orbits

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, this week has been a busy one with collecting images of Jupiter's moons as part of my interest in collecting real data in order to calculate and predict the orbits of the moons and more generally, orbits of other planets or asteroids.  There are plenty of data sources on the Internet and even apps for your phone which can identify the orbital and observational parameters, but

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Physics colloquia and General Relativity Celebration at 100 at the Huntington Library and personal recollection of the events in Huntington Gardens

Greetings from Palmia Observatory,

This is the first blog delivered from my new gmail email address.  Hope all goes well.

Again this week the weather has been a little cold with a bit of rain, so this week's activity has been mostly inside.  I started the week with the CSULB physics colloquium where Professor Long, UCR, described the search for supersymmetry at the LHC.  Later in the week, Nobel laureate Steven Chu described the science of climate change and mitigation at the UCI lecture series.  Finally, there was the weekend series of

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Observing clouded out for the week and Astronomer Assistant chews computer power cord and just for fun, a video of Wintergatan Marble driven music machine

Greetings from Palmia Observatory,

This week has been clouded out and rained out.  The Blackstar Canyon star party was cancelled and we couldn't get any astronomical observing done this week, so I elected to tackle one of the most difficult tasks that I've postponed for years.  That difficult task is to change email providers.  Have you stopped and considered how many services that you use that are web based and are tied to your email address?  I have over 90 sites so far and am still

Friday, February 26, 2016

Two physics colloquia and back to plan for measuring and duplicating the determination of the orbits of moons of Jupiter

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

This week I've been busy trying to turn images of Jupiter moons into real data about their positions and orbits.  To that end, I'll show a couple of images taken 1 day apart and the analysis used to determine how the moons positions with respect to Jupiter was determined.  But first, I wanted to offer some brief comments about the weekly physics colloquiums that I attended this past week.  Both colloquiums presented topics of interest to

Monday, February 22, 2016

Busy with physics colloquia and the smudge was not a comet, but M81 instead, OCA author Bob suggests website for star field identification and auto alighn tool fails as resident astronomer see his shadow and teenage amateur attempts duplication of Roemer's determination of speed of light

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, this has been a pretty busy week, what with physics colloquiums at UCI and CSULB, trying out a new self aligning tripod for a camera and trying to resolve whether the image shown last week was really the Comet Catalina or not.  So along that line of activity, I have some good news and some bad news.  The first good news is it is always good to get back on campus, especially during this summer like warm spell and the colloquiums have been very interesting too.

Another piece of good news, is that the new self aligning tripod for light weight cameras mostly worked.  This new tool will simplify the taking of photo metric stellar light curve data with just the tripod and camera.  Setting up the telescope for these types of measurements is just too time consuming.  The new tripod is so

Monday, February 15, 2016

Two drawings from first LIGO public released paper showing gravity waves and new auto alignment tool might have pointed to a comet? -- we will see next time

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

First thing this week I wanted to share a couple of images from the paper announcing the detection of gravity waves from the merging of two black holes.  As an APS member, I get the paper as part of my membership as a physicist wannabe, but you can probably still find

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

First public LIGO announcement, bike with built in bar and some more Jupiter position measurements and IPAD app for gas giants locations

Greetings from Palmia Observatory,

First thing we need to do is pass on this LIGO announcement heads up from Searching for Gravity Waves, Dr. Gary.  Thank you Gary.

http://www.ligo.org/news/media-advisory.php

The LIGO Collaboration will make a status announcement, tomorrow, Thursday regarding the possible detection of gravity waves.  Check out the reference above.  Also, we heard from Science Squad member, Ken, that the rumor

Friday, January 29, 2016

Gruncle duties, Quantum Summit at Caltech, importance of camera image flats and funny video about "why Hitler didn't get into physics graduate studies"

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

The has been a daytime busy week with the physics colloquium at CSULB, "gruncle" activities with great nephew Jackson in San Diego, attending an AIAA meeting on climate science and attending the Quantum Summit at Caltech. It's been a busy week.

The Quantum Summit included half dozen presentations by quantum computer experts describing the progress being made to achieve the quantum computer dream.  I probably doubled or quadrupled what I knew about quantum computing and that was only after taking lots of notes and pretending that I understood what was being described.  I can only remember and provide this high level summary of

Friday, January 22, 2016

Played hookey from conference, but snapped aircraft just missing moon and used visible Sirius as test object for RA and Dec determination and finally read more of OCA author's book

Greetings from Palmia Observatory,

Well this week has been quite cold and cloudy.  I was going to speed three days at a synthetic biology conference at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, but was pretty much tired out after one day.  The second day would have been interesting, but Astronomer Assistant Ruby had a scheduled puppy training so I played hookey.  Paying attention at a biology conference, where the subject is more difficult and vocabulary so different  than

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Using Big Dipper images and astrometric software to measure magnitudes and compare with star catalogs magnitudes and RA and Dec

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, we didn't win the Powerball drawing, so plans of spending a billion dollars on a new large telescope are put on hold and it's back to astrophysics full time.  The skies have been mostly cloudy with a bit of clear viewing so this week we're in for some more indoor astrophysics.  It's a convenient time to try some astrometry on the last week's  image of Ursa Major.  No, that's not a misspelling; astrometry is about

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Use Powerball $2 ticket, and wait for $1,000,000,000 winnings to build larger observatory and AIP4WIN analysis of stars in Big Dipper in meantime

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, it hasn't quite been a week yet, but time is passing very quickly and I wanted to be sure I got a blog out this week before the Powerball drawing tonight.  I couldn't resist making a $2 investment for a possible payout of over a billion dollars.  I've already got big plans for all that money.  I think about 99% will be allocated to

Friday, January 8, 2016

Determining star magnitudes by relative comparison with standard candel stars and check up with local OCA experts for camera linearity tests

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, the El NiƱo weather has brought so much rain that this week's photos are technical charts and graphs based on an astro image captured last week.  Sorry about that, but performing astro photometry and doing technical analysis ties observation together with astrophysical theory.  This makes a good combination and It's fun too, so stay tuned in.

Remember last week I showed an image of Polaris and my measured estimates of some of the stars in the neighborhood.  In one image you could even see

Monday, January 4, 2016

Things (even batteries) go wrong for amateurs and professionals, keep going anyway (but keep everything warm), Operating the touch screen with gloves is problematic, Polaris, first attempt at measuring star magnitude, and Barlow and focal length adapters

Greetings and Happy New Year from Palmia Observatory

We hope everyone is off to a good and happy start at this new year.  This is the time to reevaluate our goals and progress.  My goals at the observatory for this coming year are to (1) Continue with ongoing physics and cosmology study and build more experience with making astronomical observations, (2) develop some science type observation plans, which can actually contribute to the amateur input to valuable professional astronomical studies, (3) make measurements of the visible magnitude changes associated with variable stars and eclipsing binary stars, and (4) move more fully into measuring spectra from stars and other objects.

To meet these goals, a few new skills and equipment are required.  First,