Time To Pull The Plug

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

Astro Log: December 14th, 2014

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Goiardi Version 0.5.1 Released

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Version 0.5.1 of goiardi has been released.


  • Add log levels (from debug to critical). This makes -V/—verbose useful.
  • Add an easier option in the config file to specify log levels by name.
  • ipv6 already worked, but accidentally. Now it works in a more deliberate fashion, preventing mishaps with addresses, colons, and port numbers.
  • Authentication protocol version 1.1 now supported.
  • Remove a sort on run lists that was there for some reason. I have no idea what it was put there for, but it was wrong.
  • Add an event log to log changes to objects like nodes, clients, etc. See the README or godocs for details.
  • Add support for reporting (http://docs.opscode.com/reporting.html)

Full announcement, as usual, is here.

Astro Log: May 1st, 2014

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

New objects observed: NGC 4435, NGC 4443, NGC 4419, NGC 4450, NGC 4350

Previously viewed objects: Messier 89, Messier 90, Messier 87, Messier 86, Messier 84, Mars, NGC 4478, NGC 4438, NGC 4458, NGC 4477, NGC 4459

This was the first night I got any telescope since last September, ugh. The weather the entire winter was not at all cooperative.

I didn’t have high hopes for the evening, since the fence between my neighbors and I got replaced over the winter because it fell over, and it’s letting more light into my yard. Some strategically draped old curtains and sheets helped a bunch though, and I was able to observe a healthy number of Virgo Cluster galaxies before the high thin clouds started coming in. Most of the galaxies I observed this night were averted vision objects, but I was able to see much dimmer galaxies than I expected, considering the surroundings.

Not a bad night, all things considered. It went better than I expected it to, and it was really good to be able to get back out there again.

Goiardi Version 0.5.0 Released

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Version 0.5.0 of goiardi, the chef server written in go, has been released.


  • MySQL support added
  • No longer redirect /environments/NAME/roles/NAME to /roles/NAME/environments/NAME
  • Update documentation, reformat godocs
  • Split actors apart into separate user and client types, made new Actor interface that encompasses both users and clients.

Full announcement here.