Jupiter on the Back Walk

I decided that, despite my claims in a recent post, I might have an optical instrument in the house with more power than those binoculars. I charged up the Sony handicam and set it up on its tripod. A quick look at Kstars gave the rough coordinates of Jupiter in the sky, and I headed out into the back walk of our cottage.

I setup the handicam on the loose gravel and aimed it up at the *very* bright speck in the night sky that is Jupiter. A few taps on the focus and zoom and I grabbed some video of Jupiter transiting the sky as the earth rotates. I fired up Kino on the ole Linux box and grabbed the DV off the camera, then snapped the still below:

“Fuzzy image of Jupiter taken with a Sony Handicam”:img:wp-content/uploads/jupiter-handicam.jpg


What’s neat is that there is a fuzzy little object just below and to the left of Jupiter, which *might* be a moon. I wish I could confirm that!

Stopping to smell the roses…

It’s a cool, grey, overcast day here in Redwood City. It’s not raining – at least, it’s not supposed to rain. However, the sky is the color of dusty milk and there is a gentle breeze that makes shorts and a tee-shirt a little uncomfortable.

That’s why I was so struck by the contrast in color and spirit from the roses growing on the trellis wall outside our cottage. I grabbed my camera and “captured the sight some of the rose formations”:/home/sekula/photos/roses/. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

In the footsteps of Galileo

It was in the early 1600s that Galileo gazed at the heavens with his telescope and first saw the mountain and scars on the moon, the moons of jupiter, and many other wonders. Tonight, here on the West Coast, it’s a nearly cloudless night. I decided to step outside into the brisk night air with my binoculars and do a little skywatching.

This is a particularly gorgeous night for looking up. Two of my favorite things are happening tonight: a full moon and the bright presence of Jupiter. In fact, it’s quite nice that these are the very objects that Galileo once stared at and learned about the true place of Earth in the heavens. My binoculars, which once belonged to my Grandpa, aren’t super-powerful, but they are more than adequate for a full moon.

The moon is bright and pregnant, and the curves of its surface are very evident with the full glow of the sun reflecting off it tonight. It’s an awesome sight, and if you’re reading this get outside and have a look!

Jupiter is a little harder for me. I’d prefer to have a telescope for this one, but all I’ve got is the binoculars. It’s so damn bright! I’d love to see its moons chasing each other around, but I’ll have to settle for just knowing I’m looking at it tonight. SIGH.

I’d like to thank “Stardate”:http://stardate.org for keeping me up-to-date on the latest astronomical happenings. And since I can’t see Jupiter’s details clearly, here’s a photo from the Kitt Peak National Observatory that the program “Kstars”:http://edu.kde.org/kstars/ gave me when I clicked on Jupiter.

“Image of Jupiter and some of its moons, from KPNO”:img:wp-content/uploads/jupmoon4.gif

A weekend of small projects…

My wife has gone off for two weeks to Wisconsin and Minnesota. Her trip is one of mixed business and personal events. First, she went to her home in the northwoods for a wedding shower. Then she’s off to Minnesota for a stint at the Soudan Mine, where her experiment is housed. Finally, she’s going back to Wisconsin for a big physics conference in Madison.

I’m left to my own devices for this period. The weekdays will be easy – I’ve got a ton of physics to keep me busy. The evenings and weekends will be a little harder. This weekend, for instance.

I had a long week, punctuated by seeing my wife off (never the happiest part of my week). So, I decided to keep my activities to catching up on small projects I’ve been putting off. I spent today editing some Handicam footage Jodi shot a few months ago at the Soudan Mine. I’ve put together a short little movie using Kino, a digital video editor for Linux. It’s got about six chapters of various lengths, and I’m currently converting it to a DVD. Not bad for one day!

I’ve also been cleaning out our home network and server. I’m planning to work on some Python code for a letter-writing campaign tracker for “open.cooleysekula.net”:http://open.cooleysekula.net. We need this for getting people to pledge to write, then follow up on, letters to legislators about important science issues.

Whew! Well, I’m going back to my “Nature” special on Himalayan snow leopards.