Off To The Show.

I am heading out this morning to the RTMC and the Starlight Festival. I have gone to the bank just in case there is some little astronomical trinket that I cannot live without, and packed my camera.  I should have some photos for you for next weeks posts.

I hope those of you that can make it stop me and say hello if we meet.  You may not recognize me without the suit, but the face is a great give away.  That and the fact that I might have some drool out the corner of my mouth if I am near any of the high-end astronomy equipment (gee ma, it’s only $10,000 for that astrocamera!).  Of course my mantra usually is:  “I’m happy with my setup, I’m happy with my setup, I’m happy with my setup…”  As any of you that have any sort of hobby were equipment is involved (baking, RC vehicles, etc.), that mantra is a lie.  You can never have too much or not need the latest and greatest.  I think the thought goes like this: “If I have this one (or more) new piece of equipment, I’ll be able to do X, or I will finally be able to do Y, or I will have everything I need to accomplish my goal of Z!”  Really, that one thing will make me better at, or finally able to do the pinnacle of my hobby!  I’ll be able to turn professional!

Such are the dreams of hobbyists everywhere.  Never give up your dreams for the mundane.

Have a safe and festive holiday if you are in the U.S., and don’t forget to remember our veterans on Monday, we have a lot more now in need of help and acknowledgement than we have had since WWII.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.

Ahhh a classic song for a classic satellite.

Almost as classic as those shorts!  Anyway, 36 years ago, on August 12, 1978, the International Cometary Explorer (ICE) spacecraft (originally known as International Sun/Earth Explorer 3[(ISEE-3)]) satellite, was launched.

It was part of the ISEE (International Sun-Earth Explorer) international cooperative program between NASA and ESRO/ESA to study the interaction between the Earth’s magnetic field and the solar wind.

There were three spacecraft, a mother/daughter pair (ISEE-1 and ISEE-2) and a Heliocentric orbit spacecraft (ISEE-3, later renamed ICE).

On a historical note, ISEE-3 was the first spacecraft to be placed in a halo orbit at one of Earth-Sun Lagrangian points (L1). It was later sent to visit Comet Giacobini-Zinner and Comet Halley, and became the first spacecraft to fly through a comet’s tail.  Unfortunately, ICE is not equipped with cameras, so no pretty pictures, but it did gather some great data.

Due to costs, NASA shut down the spacecraft On May 5, 1997, or did they.  It turns out that ICE has be fully functioning since the “shutdown” command was sent.

Now a group wants to retrieve the satellite, get it back into position and chase another comet.  NASA needs about $125,000 to bring ICE back to life and send it on another comet hunting mission.

So a crowdfunding campaign was started here and has gone passed the half way mark.  Most of the funds are from average people (a testament to how much people like space).  If they are successful, it would make me revisit my Let’ Buy A Space Station idea.   You should also check out the other projects on Rockethub.  You might find something that interests you.

Of course you know this post could have been titled ICE, ICE baby.

P.S. you knew this was coming so don’t blame me.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Weekend Star Party Recap.

Well, not much to report.  The weather gods still hate me.  First, cloud cover during the lunar eclipse earlier this month (of course, only during totality, it was perfectly clear on either side, just blocking out the main event).  And now this weekends wind storms ruined another opportunity to image the Universe.

New Roof 20140412~ (1)

I did manage to get some work done on my new roof for remote observing.  I have what I think is a better idea for the roll off roof for our climate.  I thought that I had come up with a great new idea, but it turns out that other people have been making wedge shaped roll off roof observatories for a while (at least one other person has, that I have found).

The frame construction is made from Unistrut(r) and all the bracing as well.  The roof will be covered by either 1/4 or 11/32 inch plywood sheets to add rigidity and keep it safe from the elements.  I am going to waterproof the wood exterior and then cover is with a self adhesive rolling roof base sheet for additional protection.  I have a 1hp DC garage door opener that I will use to open and close the roof remotely.

I still have to install the internal cameras to make sure that the scopes are clear before the roof opens and closes and I am still working on remote waking the computers so that I don’t waste electricity.

I am trying to set up a Raspberry Pi to remote wake on lan the other computers, because it runs at about 0.8 watts when operational and lower when just sitting there.  However, to date, I haven’t had much success using a reverse autossh tunnel to bypass my ISP’s firewall to give the commands.  If anyone out there can help me with this, I would greatly appreciate it.

Hopefully, by the end of May, I will have a fully functional remote observatory.  I’ll post some images and some video when it is done.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Let The Battle Begin!

In this corner, the newcomer, SPHERE!

The Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch telescope trained and managed exclusively by the European Space Agency.

And in this corner, another newcomer, the Gemini Planet Imager! Born and trained in North America.

Both these bruisers are set to battle it out for the title of King of Exoplanet imaging!

File:Beta Pictoris.jpg

While most of their contemporaries find planets the old fashioned way, these two imager’s are going to take actual pictures of exoplanets!

Fighting it out down in Chile.  This battle is not to be missed!  And who will win this battle?  Why, we will!  Good luck to both teams and may the data flow begin.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Herschel Finds Water On Ceres.

Scientists using the Herschel space telescope have made the first definitive detection of water vapor on Ceres.

Ceres is the largest and roundest object in the asteroid belt and is classified as a dwarf planet, a solar system body bigger than an asteroid and smaller than a planet.

Photo : CNRS

Scientists think that plumes of water vapor shoot up from Ceres when parts of its surface are warmed by the Sun.

 

In 2015 the Dawn spacecraft will be able to provide more information, hopefully confirming and expanding the data, when it arrives at Ceres next year.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Wake Up!

The ESA’s Rosetta comet probe has woken up to make its rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Rosetta’s mission will take 10 years to complete.

During its trip Rosetta passed by two asteroids, Lutetia and Steins.  The image above shows landslide that happened on Lutetia.

When Rosetta reaches the comet, it will deploy a 220-pound (100 kilogram) lander called Philae.

Once on the comet’s surface the pair of craft will accompany the comet on its journey through the inner solar system, observing at close range how the comet changes as the Sun’s heat transforms the cold surface to a boiling gaseous mass.

Rosetta is about 500 million miles (about 800 million km) from Earth near Jupiter’s orbit.  At that distance radio transmissions take 45 minutes to reach Earth and vice versa.  What is fascinating is that, due to gravity, the radio signals don’t travel in a straight line back and forth.

Once Rosetta’s on-board alarm clock went off it took seven hours to warm up its star trackers,  fire thrusters to slow its spin, turn on its transmitter and send a message back to Earth.  And with all the advances in science the drumming monkey clock was the best we could do (just kidding, atomic clocks were used, although the monkey clock would be fabulously hilarious).

There are a lot of firsts for Rosetta, but the images from the comet as it starts out-gassing should be spectacular.  I just hope Philae doesn’t land on one of the explosive vents that many comets have.  We will know later this year as the comet passes by the Sun.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman