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)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Found an eclipse viewing chair that fits in airline luggage; Solar beach tent; New dashcam on the ready for lucky seeing of meteor fireballs; Choose MUFONOC meeting or OCA Astrophysics SIG?

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

We have been busy getting ready to travel to Casper for our hopeful viewing of the upcoming solar eclipse, and, oops, I misread the size of the portable chaise lounge chair listed in the previous post  and have to report that it will not fit in most airline sized luggage.  So, while we were trying to resolve this issue, we got an advertisement from Viking cruises about their upcoming 2019 ocean cruise along the coast of Norway up above the artic circle to see the northern lights, which we have seen before but so immensely enjoy seeing and enjoying, and given the uncertainty we were already under, agreed to sign up for that cruise as well.  When you are surrounded by uncertainty, bury yourself with more uncertainty and plan to do something at a certain date in 2019!

Anyway some of the current uncertainty about where to sit was resolved, however, when I spied a little folding chair that seems to fit fairly well, at least according to its online dimension specification.  One thing I really appreciate about this chair is that, well, how to say this, well, it has no armrests between which you must fit when you sit.  It looks just right for me!

This folding chair looks comfortable, for a portable chair, while waiting for the eclipse and it should fit in airline luggage
This folding chair looks comfortable, for a portable chair, while waiting for the eclipse and it should fit in airline luggage

Having a chair of this type should really be a welcome feature on our trip because we have no idea yet how far away from our vehicle or hotel room we will be able to set up to observe the eclipse.  We also have no idea how close our viewing neighbors will; it could be 1 meter, maybe, hopefully a little bit more.  We are planning to be as self sufficient as we can be, since we will be away from the observatory and won't have ready access to many accustomed things.  Another environmental concern we had was how to deal with being out in the sun for several hours before and after the eclipse.  Yes, a nice wide brimmed hat will help, but it also be nice to just plane get out of the sun.  Check out this lightweight beach tent, that only weights about four pounds and easily folds up to fit in airline luggage.  This one I know fits in luggage because we set it up in our living room, barely, and then, found it disassembled a little easier than when we tried to set it up, but it all went back in the carrying case.

Beach tent, selected and tested by Resident Astronomer Peggy, for staying out of the sun until totality

Our friendly suppliers at Amazon have helped out many times and once again we found another astronomical tool, not for use as it turns on the eclipse travel, but for just ordinary car travel around the area and that is the dash camera.  We had first considered getting one of these devices after OCA Dave Kodama showed some interesting video where he was just driving along and not meaning to, but succeeded in capturing a bright meteor fireball.  Well, maybe we all should keep our cameras on while we are just driving around.

The dash cam just mounts over the existing rear view mirror and you still have a rear view mirror except for the little rectangular area where the image that the camera sees is displayed.  You can see in the photo below, other cars visible in the rear view mirror and what the camera see on the right hand side of the mirror.  The camera, just under the mirror, can be swiveled and adjusted as required.
Dash cam installed, ready to capture the next meteor fireball
Dash cam, ready to capture next meteor fireball, installed in telescope delivery vehicle (Source: Palmia Observatory)
I took this image of the dash cam setup while parked in Costa Mesa for the meeting of the Mutual UFO Network, Orange County (MUFONOC).  Hey, this new dash cam accessory might be able to capture UFOs while they fly in front of the vehicle prior to abducting me.  So, if I disappear without a trace, be sure to check the dash cam micro disk for possible abduction evidence!

Anyway, Math Whiz, Dave, suggested that we should attend at least one of these monthly meetings, so I showed up there and met up with Science Nerd and Theatre Impressario, Scott, too.  They let newbies and first timers like ourselves in for only $10 per person.

Waiting in third row seats, in a MUFONOC crowd of 60-70, as Jeremy Corbell, Investigative Filmmaker, is introduced
Waiting in third row seats, in a MUFONOC crowd of 60-70, as Jeremy Corbell, Investigative Filmmaker, is introduced

The featured presenter was Jeremy Corbell, an investigative filmmaker, who has interviewed many of the witnesses claiming visitation by UFOs and extra terrestrials and has a big movie release coming out later this year.  I enjoyed the show and liked seeing some of the promos of upcoming films dealing with these issues.  I felt like I must of felt back in the 1990's and 2000's when I would listen to Art Bell and then George Noory on Coast to Coast AM into the early hours of the morning.  I had almost forgotten some of the old names of personalities at the time, including: George Knapp, Bob Lazar and alien propulsion, John Lear, Dr. Roger Leir and Patient Seventeen, and scalar waves and gravity wave amplifiers.  Do you remember all of this stuff?  Anyway to me, most of the presentation was short on evidence, or what was claimed as evidence was really just boxes of interviews, both written and video tapes, of those whose claims involved various out of this world encounters.  If you want more information on MUFONOC and other upcoming events and meetings, check out their webpage: www.mufonoc.org

For me as a physicist wannabe, I prefer more evidence based approaches to the world and someone's account of having something very extraordinary happen to them needs extraordinary evidence to validate the claims.  It was interesting to compare the attendance at this monthly MUFONOC meeting to the monthly OCA general meeting which as maybe twice the attendance, or the OCA Astrophysics SIG, which has about 1/3 the attendance.  My next meeting this Friday will be the OCA Astrophysics SIG at the Heritage Museum where the OCA coordinator, Hikes a Lot but doesn't Bring a Scope, Bob, will present a couple of video lessons, one on the nature of spacetime and matter curvature and one on the Antennae Galaxies and captured galaxies of the Milky Way.  Now we are talking neat, scientific stuff and both OCA meetings are free!  It's great that none of the OCA events have to charge for attendance, unlike the other professional astronomy and physics conferences that I attend.  In addition, they are all based on real science and evidence.  See you all there!

Until next time,
Resident Astronomer George

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