Greetings from Palmia Observatory
Well, smoke and ash filled skies give us a red Martian landscape look, but the clouds are expected to clear away for a chance to again see the latest Starlink "string of pearls."
This Heavens-above prediction, of magnitude 2 - 3, for early morning OC viewing on Thursday beginning at 5:59 am PDT, is shown below. The timing for Wednesday morning is about the same, but Thursday, Sept 10, the weather forecast shows much better conditions with the clouds and smoke having been blown away. You can pretty much use Mars as a guide as to where to look. This star chart is for the OC area, but you can elect to get a viewing prediction for your preferred location. The Starlinks, right after launching, are often bright enough to be seen with naked eye in city lights, so get up early and check it out. If you can't make it out on the 10th, the next day is pretty good prediction too, except now the orbital path swings past Venus.
|Heavens-Above Starlinks predicted viewing from OC for Sept 10 (Source: Palmia Observatory)
If you are interested in the technical details of the orbit and what its path around the Earth looks like, check out this additional information available from Heavens-Above.
|Starlink Satellite 1751 Technical Details and Orbital Two-line Elements (Source:Heaven-above)
It will be nice to look up at the sky after spending all last week tied to the computer screen with zoom meetings. Recall that the Humans To Mars 2020 Summit was concluded last week and I had hoped to see one of the guest speakers, Harry Hamlin, actor and entrepreneur, speak at the summit. It turns out that he was missing for some reason. Resident Astronomer Peggy and I were talking about how I missed hearing from him at the summit and how we used to watch him in the TV series, "LA Law." It by chance turned out that she was just reading one of those Hollywood scandal sheets, that some of you just don't pass them by at the grocery store, but on occasion, actually read. So Peggy let me in on the article that she was just reading in the Globe.
The article was about Hamlin's romantic relationship with Ursula Andress, which occurred over 40 years ago. Hey, I remember Ursula Andress, who is still alive at 84, but way back in the past she portrayed Honey Ryder, in the 1962 James Bond film, "Dr. No." At that time, I have to say, as just barely a teenager, she was my first imaginary girlfriend, in addition to Diana Rigg, who played Emma Peel, on the TV series, "The Avengers." You can check out the Hollywood news, below, and then let's get back to Harry Hamlin, the entrepreneur.
|Harry Hamlin, as seen in the gossip magazines (Source: Globe Magazine, Sept 7, 2020)
So, that is one view of Hamlin, but I was more interested in some of his exploits as an entrepreneur. It turns out that he provided some of the initial funding for a fusion energy research company here in OC. That event from 1998 is recreated here at a recent get together at TAE, where Hamlin is speaking to the researchers with a large facsimile of the $1000 check donated to create the company.
It was interesting for me to consider the career path of how one goes about getting into fusion energy research. Hamlin and I are about the same age and my path took me through a study of engineering and pulsed power and dabbling with plasma physics and wanting to ultimately work in fusion power, but try as I might I couldn't enter the fusion research field. Hamlin, on the other hand, started in Hollywood, with all the perks of that career and still managed to become a big supporter of projects like fusion power. Hmm, I guess when we consider our career histories and choices we make you just never know how things will turn out!
Well, after reading that article, I was just lazily turning the pagers, when another article caught my attention too. This time the article was about an ex-mayor killed by a guacamole machine. What? Well, as I started reading the article I recognized immediately the connection of the guacamole machine and a previous engineering project that I had worked on some years ago.
|Exploding Guacamole machine kills former mayor (Source: Globe Magazine, Sept 7, 2020)
I don't know what type of machine blew up during the testing mentioned in the article, but one of the leading manufacturers is Hiperbaric and we see their Model 55 in the screenshot below. The guacamole, or other food product is passed into the high pressure chamber by riding in the little blue containers in a batch process. High Pressure Processing (HPP) can effectively sterilize food and kill bacteria without heating the food. Some machines can achieve pressures as high as 87,000 psi. For guacamole, HPP can increase the shelf life of store bought products from 3 days to as long as 30 days, all without affecting the great taste.
|Processing guacamole at high pressure in machines like this is common (Source: hiperbaric.com)
The reason I already knew about HPP was because years ago I had conducted a design review of a power project whose goal was to supply electrical power for a group of sea-bottom seismometers and other instruments. The group of instruments were to be installed along a 52-km long cable that was powered from shore. All of the instruments and power electronics had to work and be protected by the water pressure at the bottom of the seabed, which could be up to say, several miles below the sea surface. Check out a typical installation like that shown below for the MARS Observatory.
|52 km cable to deep sea Mars Observatory (Source: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)
When I asked how the company was going to pressure test the equipment and make sure it would survive on the seafloor, they took us on a tour of the factory where they had just purchased a guacamole machine in which they could test their equipment. So, why had they got hold of a guacamole machine to do this? It turns out that all of the required safety testing and permitting was easy to get if they used it rather than designing or building their own test setup and it could achieve the pressures that would be experienced on the seabed.
You can get a sense of what some of these proposed underwater monitoring laboratories look like as seen in this graphic for the MARS Observatory.
|MARS Observatory with sea bed instrumentation connected to shore (Source: www.mbari.org)
So, as we wait for our morning chance to see the Starlinks, what did we learn from this little side issue of reading the Globe magazine? Well, first of all whenever you catch someone looking at or reading those gossip sheets don't make a judgement about what they are into. That person might actually be reviewing his career choices!
Until next time, here from our burrow, stay safe, as we recover more of our freedom,