Time To Pull The Plug

This is a subtitle. There are many like it, but this one is here.

Astro Log June 7th 2015

| Comments

Equipment: 16” Dobsonian, 55mm, new 9mm & 6mm Edge-On Planetary eyepieces, Paracorr

New objects observed: Iapetus

Previously viewed objects: Saturn, Titan, Tethys, Dione, Rhea

It’s been a pretty brutal time for trying to get viewing time in for a while now. It was finally “clear” last week, so I took the Dobsonian out to try out the Edge-On Planetary 6 and 9mm eyepieces from Orion that I got a while back. I tried to knock off some Herschel 400 objects, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me that night. I did get a look at Saturn and saw five moons: Titan, Dione, Rhea, Tethys, and Iapetus. Iapetus, as far as I can tell from my notes, is a new one at least. Unfortunately planets aren’t so great in the Dobsonian, but Saturn looked reasonably attractive as usual — just not as clear as I might have liked. No complaints about the eyepieces, though. I want to try them with a faster telescope sometime, and in better (and clearer) skies to see how they perform there.

Moving Along

| Comments

I am sad, but also excited, to announce that after 11 years I am leaving Daily Kos and joining Raintank, where I will be working on monitoring software and doing devsy-opsy.

It’s been a long and interesting ride at Daily Kos. I went through many election cycles, met lots of interesting people, learned a lot of things, had to solve a lot of difficult problems, and worked with some amazing people. It’s the only job that my kids have ever known me to have. Hell, Daily Kos even once saved my life.

I’m sad to be moving on, but I’m very excited about what I’ll be doing now. It doesn’t have the glamour of politics, but monitoring is important. I’m looking forward to it.

Kossack friends, I’ll still be on Twitter, reading the site, and hopefully poking my head up from time to time. Rest assured that my political opinions remain unchanged, and that I will not become a conservatist once I’m out the door. You’re in good hands with the rest of the tech team; they do good work, and you won’t have any problems with them. One nice thing about my moving on, actually, is that it provided the catalyst to address a lot of tech debt that had accumulated over the years, so it should be even smoother now in many ways.

Good luck, and farewell. See you on the Internets.

Astro Log: December 14th, 2014

| Comments

Equipment: 102mm Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope, 32mm, 25mm, 15mm, 12.4mm eyepieces, tabletop mount, AstroMaster 76’s mount.

New objects observed: none

Previously viewed objects: Messier 44, Messier 45, Messier 42, NGC 1981, Jupiter, Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto, Trapezium

New equipment! A 102mm Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope from Orion with a tabletop mount, suitable for packing in one’s luggage and taking on a trip.

Click the image for a larger view.
Click me.

There weren’t any new observations this night, but I did get first light on a new telescope. For a while now, I’ve wanted a small portable telescope that I could fit into my luggage and take with me on a trip. My other telescopes are portable, sure, but they take up a lot of room and can be hard to fit in the car if there’s too much other stuff. This telescope is a 102mm Orion Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope paired with a tabletop equatorial mount. This was the first clear night since I got the telescope, and I was determined to make use of it. I bundled up like I was going skiing and headed out.

I only used the tabletop mount briefly. It worked fine, but unfortunately I didn’t have a very sturdy table to use, and the 45º erecting prism wasn’t really enough to get convenient looks through the eyepiece. I think it will work fine on a more stable surface, and I’m getting a 90º star diagonal as well which should make it easier to use as well. Despite its small size, the mount appears to be quite sturdy. Polar alignment’s a little tricky, but that can be worked with. Even if I did astrophotography, though, I don’t think I’d use this mount for that anyway. The telescope does kind of push the mount’s boundaries a bit, but it’s still within the weight limits listed for the mount. This telescope fits the mount that came with my Celestron AstroMaster 76, though, so for convenience’s sake I just switched it over to that for the rest of the night.

It would be better if this scope shipped with a 90º diagonal instead of a 45º one, but I don’t have any other complaints about this telescope. The optics looked good, and while the main reason I got it was for the portability I think it will be useful for looking at planets, double stars, and other small but reasonably bright objects. Jupiter looked pretty good, although seeing was kind of crap. M42 was easily visible, although obviously without the same majesty you would see in the 16” Dobsonian. I think it will work great for what I wanted it for, but I wouldn’t want it to be my only telescope or anything.

I had some trouble with eyepieces dewing up, and the AstroMaster’s mount isn’t exactly the most stable mount in existence, so I didn’t get to use the telescope’s full potential. Still, it was pretty cool, and I look forward to using it more.

Modern-xiafs Updated to 3.16.4/3.17.0 Kernels

| Comments

I’ve been busy with work and goiardi lately, but I recently checked to see how modern-xiafs did against the 3.16.4 and 3.17.0 Linux kernels. The file ops functions changed subtly again, so there’s a small update to modern-xiafs to work with those kernels. The same update fixes it for both kernels, at least, so there’s only one version of the module for both kernels.

Usual warnings and statements from before, as always, still apply.

Astro Log: July 27th, 2014

| Comments

Equipment: 16” Dobsonian, 55mm, 12mm TeleVue eyepiece, Paracorr.

New objects observed: NGC 6756, NGC 6802, NGC 7086, NGC 7128

Previously viewed objects: Messier 13, NGC 6755, Coathanger

This was only the third night I was able to get out this year. It sucks, but I did get some new objects at least.

Messier 13 is, of course, not a new object. My six year old son had expressed a desire to look at something in the telescope though, so I went and got it in view before I went to try and wake him up. He insisted he wanted me to wake him up to look at stuff in the sky, but when it came time to actually get out of bed, he dug in and stayed there.

After that I headed off to try and tackle some more difficult objects. Of the various Herschel 400 objects, with the light pollution here and the time of year it is most of the ones I can get end up being open clusters. In addition to reobserving NGC 6755 and the Coathanger, I viewed NGC 6756, NGC 6802, NGC 7806, and NGC 7128. NGC 6756 was particularly difficult, only barely visible with averted vision with the 12mm eyepiece. None of them were particularly interesting either, sadly.

Astro Log: July 26th, 2014

| Comments

Equipment: 16” Dobsonian, 55mm, 12mm TeleVue eyepiece, Paracorr.

New objects observed: Sadly, none.

Previously viewed objects: Messier 13, NGC 6229, NGC 6207, NGC 5866 (aka “Messier 102(?)”)

This has been a terrible year for observing. Last night was the second night that I’ve been able to get out and observe anything. It was only a so-so night on top of it, and I started getting kind of sore while I was out there. Tonight (as I write this) is supposed to be better, so I left the telescope and viewing shelter out in hopes that I can go out again and see more stuff.

NGC 6207 was exceedingly difficult, but it was high enough in the sky that I was just barely able to pull off seeing it with averted vision. Messier 13 was lovely as always.

Life and events conspired against me going to Goldendale for the TAS star party this year, but hopefully I’ll be able to travel to a dark site sometime this year.

Modern-xiafs Also Works Fine on 3.15.3 Kernel

| Comments

Another kernel version, another uneventful update. Once again, the modern-xiafs module needed no update to build, load, and mount filesystems with the 3.15.3 kernel. As before, the README has been updated, but that’s it; all previous warnings still stand, just like last time.

Goiardi Updates and Doings

| Comments

I’ve been a busy bee as of late, except for posting updates on what I’m doing here. There were two more goiardi releases in June: v0.5.2 – Block of Dirt, adding import/export of data, and v0.6.0 – Order of the Elephant, adding Postgres support and a lot of other fun stuff.

I also turned my hand to knife plugins for goiardi with knife-goiardi-reporting, forked from the official Chef knife-reporting plugin for a goiardi reporting extension, and knife-goiardi-event-log for the goiardi event logging facility. There will be some more neat stuff coming down the pipeline soon, but it’ll be ready when it’s ready.

Sadly the weather hasn’t been cooperating, so there’s no astronomical news to report.