Thursday, December 30, 2010

SAAA's 14" Scope Re-built

SANY0020, originally uploaded by kc5mip.

The "First" light of a newly rebuilt telescope from a 14" mirror that has been in the San Antonio Astronomical Association for a while. It really is good to see the SAAA taking this project on.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Light Pollution Video News Report

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lunar Eclipse In San Antonio, TX

Well since I didn't have to work Today. I stayed up late last night. I heard there was going to be fog and clouds on the radio earlier on Monday as I did my holiday shopping. I went outside around 1 am and saw that clouds were starting to form on this bright full moon night. I watched some re-runs on DVR and decided I'll go out at 2am again. I went outside at 2am and the fog was worse and I couldn't see the moon, but I could see the effects of the eclipse. It was now darker than before I didn't have a glow of a full moon night. Even though I didn't see the moon during the eclipse felt it's effect first hand and in someways that made this the best Lunar Eclipse I've seen. (I've seen a few of them in my life time).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Geminids Meteor Shower - December 13-14, 2010

Amateur Astronomers of Rhode Island Reports: "The most reliable meteor shower of the year, the Geminids are characterized by their multi-colored display--65% being white, 26% yellow, and the remaining 9% blue, red and green."

Parent Comet: 3200 Phaethon

To prepare you for this I found this wonderful resource that has been posted numerous times on my blog:

For more information:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

This Month's Light Pollution Video:

We can do it!

Monday, November 29, 2010

StarParty and BBQ- Bulverde, TX (vid from earlier this year)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Be Thankful for our Planet This Thanksgiving

Monday, November 22, 2010

McAllister Park with San Antonio Astronomical Assocaition- Nov. 17, 2010

The weather was cooperating rather nicely this week for observing so I headed over to McAllister Park with my “Big Red” dobsonian

I sat up next to John K. and Bill B. Keith arrived a short time later with this 12”. Before dark we were already looking at the Moon and Jupiter. I noticed a shadow transitioning across the face of Jupiter and John K. confirmed this with his Explore Scientific Refractor.

I spent a good time looking and the Moon and this night I really enjoyed looking at the crater Gassendi which is on the edge of Mare Humorum, Clavius and Tycho were included with the usual features I observe when I can. I’d like to thank John and Bill for offering a lunar filter to me which made viewing way more pleasurable.

After looking at the Moon I when back to looking at Jupiter and we saw the moon that was transitioning in front of Jupiter now as a little bump on the edge of Jupiter. I checked in to every so often to look at the Moon and Jupiter and saw it move away from the face of Jupiter little by little.

I also decided to challenge myself to search for the Veil Nebula… and I knew the chances were slim and I was unsuccessful. I was not surprised that I couldn’t see it…I would have been surprised if I did see it! Perhaps I’ll try again from McAllister Park to see if on a moonless night.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Esparza Elementary School – Tuesday, November 16:

The school event on Tuesday, November 16 was perfection. The weather is
clear and the viewing was steady. Despite a few misdirected lights in
the distance that area we sat up at was relatively dark for an urban
school. The children and the parents that viewed through my scope were
really well behaved and polite. Many had detailed questions about the
object I was showing with my telescope. I brought my scope named “Big
Red” and showed NGC457 the Owl Cluster a.k.a “E.T.” ; “Wall-E”
to the crowd of 175 or so. SAAA members present were: Don B., Bill B.,
Jay M., Danielle R., John and Amy E. and I. The school fed us Subway

Monday, November 15, 2010

Leonids Meteor Shower - November 17-18, 2010

Amateur Astronomers of Rhode Island Reports: "The Leonids are best known for their 33-year peaks, during which 100s of meteors per hour can be observed. The last of these peaks occurred in 2001."

Parent Comet: 55P/Tempel-Tuttle

To prepare you for this I found this wonderful resource that has been posted numerous times on my blog:

For more information:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Astronomical Beginning

My beginning in my interest in astronomy are truly difficult to track down. I remember as a kid some time in the early 1990s, I was riding in my mom's greenish white 4 door car. We were driving into our newly built garage at night. I remember looking up at the moon and being inspired by the astronauts that walked on it. At the time I was somewhere between the age of 6-10. It seems I always had an interest in space.

I remember my parents got a c-band satellite some years later after that experience I had in that greenish white car. I was fascinated by the fact that with few punches of a button the huge 10 foot dish would move across the sky and get information from things in space. Some how space seemed close as if right there in my backyard.

My dad is what you'd call a computer guy.. growing up in the 1980s, I remember playing with his Kaypro computers and trs80s. My parents were also one of the first internet shoppers they bought a washer and dryer from the Prodigy message board, back in the days of yellow and black monitors and handset phone modems. I grew up in a house full of technology.

It was with that technology that I gained access to things the fueled my interest in space. I remember watching NASA TV on the c-band and then going out side when the track showed it coming in over San Angelo. One time I remember there was a night landing of the space shuttle and it looked like it would come right over San Angelo so I watched and then ran outside on that night the moon was high in the sky. Then out of the west I saw a glowing fireball with the most awesome moon lit com trail that I've ever seen. I will never forget that most beautiful sight.

Speaking of beautiful sights I remember seeing many of spectacular astronomical events from the sidewalk in my backyard. I remember seeing the spectacular Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997, watching various lunar elapses and meteor showers. Some nights I'd just lay on my back on my parent's patio and stare into space.

In fifth of sixth grade I got a Meade Polaris 60mm Refractor and saw the moon and stars...but sadly it wasn't a quality instrument. The .0965" eyepieces were plastic and each point of light had a tail on it, everything looked like comets. In the day time I'd use a projection method with a binoculars to observe sunspots.

Sometime around junior high I hooked up with the San Angelo Astronomical Association
and there I gained access to come nice scopes. As it turns out a neighbor, Ted, whom lived a block away and a 16" Meade Starfinder Dobsonian this was the scope that I really learned on. I began to use a SkyAtlas 2000 and the telrad on that scope to starhop around. Occasionally I was lent a Celestron 6" dob that I used in my backyard. The 14 Year Old Me

Ted had a friend named Clyde Bone who was a telescope maker. Clyde was a stange man who drove a campervan around town. As strange as he was he was a great telescope maker. He made a 20inch Merenne Nasmyth telecope that I was granted access to. So my first real experiences doing astronomy was a junior high kid using a 6" Dobsonian, 16" Dobsonian and 20" Merenne Nasmyth telescope...and in some of the darkest skys Texas has to offer. If you want more info on Clyde's scope there was a write up in Sky and Telescope, volume 98, number 3, page 130. 09/1999 and "Amateur Astronomy" magazine #4 for Winter 1994, pp.45-47

I got my first job ever was a construction site working for Ted's business. Ted gave me my first job because I wanted to earn money for a dobsonian. That really didn't happen until 2007 when I moved to San Antonio.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Eldorado Star Party 2010

This past weekend I attended the 2010 Eldorado Star Party (ESP) near
Eldorado, Texas. This was my second time attending ESP. This years ESP
was different compared to last year in many ways. This year my wife,
Tina, came for her first multiple club/public star party. My wife is
no stranger to a telescope field and is into astronomy and can starhop
with the best of them.

We originally planned to stay out at the X-Bar Ranch (where the star
party is held) and sleep in the Honda Element. Then a few days before
our trip we heard reports of freeze warnings and we opted for a motel
room. At the registration table I heard the temp dipped into the 20s
the night before so I knew we made the right choice! Tina and I
enjoyed sleeping in a king size bed at the Days Inn Devils River in
Sonora, Tx. It was nice the motel room served hot breakfast thanks to
the Sutton County Steakhouse and the blackout curtains were especially
nice in the daytime so we could sleep in. Although it added some cost
to our trip and extra miles to the odometer on the Honda Element
(rolled over to 100k this trip) the motel room was worth it and made
the experience much more pleasurable.

Telescopes & Observing:
This year left the 16" dobsonian at home and brought the 10"
dobsonian. This decision was done mostly because I was under the
weather earilier and didn't want to remove the seats out of the Honda
to fit in the 16". We arrived on Friday evening and set up the 10". We
stayed out until 9pm that night. I was still a little under the
weather so I didn't want to get too cold. I observed some usual
objects with the 10" like m57, m31, Ngc457, etc. It was fun but short.
Saturday, I decided to pack up the 10" in the Honda and just use my
eyeballs and my binoculars (Celestron 20x80s). Saturday we sat next to
some friends from our San Antonio club and we used an 18" scope of a
friend to look at a few objects. I star hopped to the Veil Nebula with
the 18" and a Telvue ethos. We looked at the blinking nebula, m77 etc.
There were some rather impressive rugs out at ESP mounts and scopes
that cost more than the cars that hauled them out to the ranch! My
scope was mild by comparison, it's a red tube Coulter 10"f/4.5
dobsonian and the only finder I had was my telrad. I didn't attempt
the observing list this year because I knew I wasn't feeling well
enough to stay out long enough to complete it.

People of ESP:
Being my second time attending ESP it was nice to see some familiar
faces. We had many friends in attendance from San Antonio and that was
fun. Like last year there were over 150 people in attendance. There
seem to be more vendors this year but I didn't see the Meade booth
this year but with my view of Meade lately that isn't much of a loss.
This year I seemed noticed the majority of the field was full of
imagers, something I'm not that into but I admire the dedication of
those that do it. Tina & I missed the guest speaker on Friday but we
heard the speaker on Saturday, Lucas Marci from Texas A&M department
of physics speak about determining the age of the universe. The
lecture we informative and lively. We both enjoyed it. Later Saturday
evening I bumped into, David Moody the author of one of favorite
Astronomy books Astronomical Sketching part of Patrick Moore's series
of astronomy books. Tina and I talked with David for an hour or so in
the warming hut at the observing field Saturday night. The San Antonio
Astronomy Association (SAAA) had good turn our of members and this
year (more than last year) and the SAAA was offically sponsors of the
ESP event this year. Blackie a friend of mine and SAAA member created
this year's ESP observing list and Mark an SAAA member was the MC for
the guest speakers.

Note: I'm having some computer issues... So photos coming later. This
entry was typed on my iPhone so I apologize for typos.

Monday, November 1, 2010

This Month's Light Pollution Video: Turn off your porch light

Turn off your porch lights in 2010!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Orionids Meteor Shower- October 21-22, 2010

Amateur Astronomers of Rhode Island Reports: "This shower produces a peak rate of 20 yellow and green meteors per hour, which are fast moving at 41.6 miles per second and are known to produce fireballs."

Parent Comet: 1P/Halley
Moon Phase: Full

To prepare you for this I found this wonderful resource that has been posted numerous times on my blog:

For more information:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Draconids Meteor Shower- October 8-9, 2010

Amateur Astronomers of Rhode Island Reports: "Expect a peak rate of 10 meteors per hour under clear, moonless conditions."

Parent Comet: 21P/Giacobini-Zinner
Moon Phase: New

To prepare you for this I found this wonderful resource that has been posted numerous times on my blog:

For more information:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Comet & Good weekend of observing

Comet tracking
Originally uploaded by MPR

This weekend I enjoyed two nights under very dark sky at a private observatory of a family friend.

One of the goals of the nights was to see the approcahing comet. It was in Cassiopia near "ET".

I first spotted it with my celestron 20x80 binoculars. Then to the 10"
Dobsonian. It was clearly visible with both. I looked it around 8:30pm then started starhopping around. Then went back to it at 9:45 movement through star feild was noticable. So I decided to sketch it but all I had on hand was post-it notes and a pen, not the best.

I made 2 sketches: one @ 9:55pm the another at 11:25pm. I then overlaid the two post it notes and was able to measure the amount it moved and created a scale to predict it's movement in 1 and a half hour increments. The result is below:

See composite sketch and prediction:

List of other objects seen:
Ring nebula (sketch here:

M27 (very nice)
95 her- double star
Saturn Nebula

Happy observing!
-MatthewTracking the movement of Comet hartley 2 night of Oct. 2, 2010.

Sketch post-it note with pen looking through 10" f4.5 dob with 18mm ep.

Friday, October 1, 2010

This Month's Light Pollution Video: Snow Party

Take a stand on Light Pollution in 2010!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Life of a Booster Rocket

Ever want to know what it is like to be one of those Shuttle Rocket Boosters?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

This Month's Light Pollution Video: Wake Up

Stop Light Pollution in 2010!.... WAKE UP!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fish Tank Theory- Gravitational Lens Deflections

So I was looking at the Astronomy Picture of the Day for today, Galaxy Cluster Abell 1689, (August 24, 2010) and I started to think about how much we still don't understand about the universe.

The photo dealt with gravitational lens deflections and how it is helping us humans theorize about the universe. 

Then it hit me! We are like mere fish in a fish tank. 

Think about it: When you look into a fish tank the water acts like a lens and can distort the image we see. Sometimes it doesn't distort at all perhaps dark matter is the same way.

 I wondered if fish in the tank in my living room have been developing theroies about the things they see from their fish tank. 


Sunday, August 15, 2010

First light for a friend

Saturday evening a few friends gathered at Falcone Park to do some observing. Eric posted on the yahoo group that he'd be out and "company would be nice". Anne, Tina, Stephanie, Randy and Randy's dog Max enjoyed the night sky. It was nice but a little windy at times.

Anne was busy taking photos with her Canon G7. Tina sat and chatted with Randy's girlfriend Stephanie while watching the stars. Eric used his 10" SCT and video setup to show everyone various objects. Max laid on the grass while I helped Randy use his 10" dobsonian. this was Randy's first light with the Orion Dobsonian. I sat up my 20x80 binoculars and looked at the moon.

Randy toured the heavens and hit the following targets: Moon, Saturn, Mars, Venus, M7, Butterfly Cluster, m57 "the ring", Jupiter, and M31.

I think Randy had a great first light! Congrats!

Friday, August 13, 2010

2010 Perseid Meteor Shower Report

2010 has not been good for astronomy around my area it's just been to cloudy and wet. Things might be changing:

Aug. 13- Unfortunately, I had my jeep at the dealer all day for a computer reprogram as part of a software now days!

Anyways, I didn't get it back until 6:30 so Tina and I couldn't make it to the viewing party that the Sky Observers group was holding at a private viewing area.

Not all was lost Tina and I did head out highway 16 to the Bandera/Medina county line and watched for about an hour 11:50pm-12:50am. We saw only five meteors. Two of them were an estimated magnitude -3 or bighter (using Jupiter as a reference). Each was slow with a nice green hue and trail.

From our spot we could see magnitude 5.6 stars the Milkly Way was clearly seen.

It is a great spot. I have gone there before I usually drive the Jeep way off the highway or up a hill and it gets us away from passing headlights and we just sit with the top off the Jeep watching... works out really well; astronomy without getting out of the Jeep!

I guess it's the next level of astronomy we have had arm-chair astronomy; Now we have drive through astronomy! Haha

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Perseids Meteor Shower - August 12-13, 2010

Amateur Astronomers of Rhode Island Reports: "This shower produces about 60 meteors per hour, and its performance is farily consistant from year to year."

Parent Comet: 109P/Swift-Tuttle

To prepare you for this I found this wonderful resource that has been posted numerous times on my blog:

For more information:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

This Months Light Pollution Video: A Documentary Trailer

Trailer of "Blackout" a documentary on light pollution by María Ángeles Vivanco.

To find out more please visit or

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Capricornids Meteor Shower - July 29-30, 2010

Amateur Astronomers of Rhode Island Reports: "The Capricornids are characterized by their often yellow coloration and their frequent brightness. They are also slow interplanetary interlopers, hitting our atmosphere at around 15 miles per second. Though you can expect only 15 meteors per hour at best under dark sky conditions, the Capricornids are noted for producing brilliant fireballs."

Parent Comet: unknown

To prepare you for this I found this wonderful resource that has been posted numerous times on my blog:

For more information:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower - July 28-29, 2010

Amateur Astronomers of Rhode Island Reports: "At peak time about 20 bright, yellow meteors can be observed per hour. Because these meteors nearly broadside the Earth, their speed is a moderate 25.5 miles per second."

Parent Comet: unknown

To prepare you for this I found this wonderful resource that has been posted numerous times on my blog:

For more information:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

This Month's Light Pollution Video:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Excellent Exo-Planet Video

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lyrids Meteor Shower - June 14-16, 2010

Amateur Astronomers of Rhode Island Reports: "
The June Lyrids is a low-rate shower during which you could see up to 10 meteors per hour during its peak."

Parent Comet: unknown

To prepare you for this I found this wonderful resource that has been posted numerous times on my blog:

For more information:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Key Steps (Video 7/7)

Last of this video series.

Cut down light pollution in 2010!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Video 6/7 -which Bulbs ruin eyesight!

Last video will post tomorrow.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Jennifer's Light Tresspass (Video 5/7)

STICK UP For Dark Sky in 2010!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Good/Bad Lighting Tags (Video 4/7)

This one is very educational.

Next Video Tomorrow!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lighting Fixtures (Video 3/7)

Next Video Tomorrow


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Video 2 of 7. (Future Generations)

Same disclaimer on the video... close your eyes, it is slow, and ignore the lawnmower.

Next Video tomorrow... it is better I promise

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Most Commonly Ignored Problem on earth

Video 1 of 7.
Are we in the Denial period?

I'll admit it is a little slow and the cue card reading is obvious but if you close your eyes it is better. (ignore the lawnmower)

Next Video will be posted Tomorrow!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Jet in front of the moon!

Cool video:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Chandra Shines New Light on Dark Energy

Chandra over view

Monday, May 17, 2010

Early Days of Hubble- Video by Phil Plait

Found this wonderful video on youtube and thought I'd share:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Filters Anyone?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

No More Ground based Astronomy in 2050???

Interesting.. sorry for the voice... but this is interesting. I really don't think this is the case but it is possible. Perhaps another reason to go green!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Light Pollution Video

Thursday, April 22, 2010

ATM: Simple Homemade Telescope

Fun little project:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fred Watson on Dark Matter

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Eyepeices Anyone?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Invisible Sky NASA Unveils Cosmic Images Book in Braille

Breaking down astronomical barriers for the vision impaired.

Simply amazing.. if there more more people like Noreen in the world it would be a better place.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

This Month's Light Pollution Video:

Stamp out Light Pollution in 2010.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sidewalk Astronomy Event Timelapse

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sunspot 1057 with an iPhone 3Gs!

So one of the great things about my new solar telescope is that it is a projection system so astrophotography fairly easy. Today I wanted to take a look at Spot 1057 which has doubled in size since I saw it yesterday. I was able to take an image with my iPhone using the Sunspotter Telescope as it projected the image on a piece of paper. The reason the image has grain is because of the nature of the paper. The Image was edited using GIMP 2.6.6. (Levels, Unsharp Mask, Transform).

There is the raw image:

Here is an image of the sunspotter telescope:

Other raw images:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunspotter becomes Moon Spotter and SLR Imaging on a Sunday Evening

News: Annie M. had a group of people over to her house last night in celebration of the Moon's Occultation of the Pleiades. She was able to take some images and stack them using HDR processing and they were published on Congrats to my fellow amateur astronomer and friend for getting published... and it was exciting being there as she was taking those images!

Ok... so Annie inspired me to try some imaging...
I spent the last few hours of my spring break enjoying the night sky. I decided to try my newly purchased Sunspotter Solar Telescope on the moon... and what do you know it works! Now I need to modify it to hold a Regal Finder... and I'll be able to trace the moon. The only issue is that the image isn't bright enough... I need to find me a nice 4" or 6" objective and make a folded projected refractor for lunar observations. (More on that later!)

Image of Sunspotter not being used correctly:

I decided to take some images of the Sunspotter with my D-SLR camera and then I decided to try my hand at some astrophotography. I've been toying around with the idea of getting a Astrotracker for my DLSR but haven't been able to justify to $600 cost. Here I was trying my best to image without a tracking mount. The following images were taken with my Canon 50D, and a 400mm f/4 L lens and 1.5x teleconverter. I used mirror lock up and a Velbon Carbon Fiber tripod. I triggered the camera using a remote shutter cord.




Cassiopeia and "E.T."

ISS PASS... some tripod movement... in this one


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Planisphere revisited

Just a re-cap from our November set on buying a telescope:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Travel Picks: Top 10 places to sky watch

I found this little article while surfing around, maybe you can use it to plan your next vacation. Click here to READ THE TOP 10.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My New Sunspotter Telescope

Cool Solar Telescope

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Yogie and Steve's Webcam

These are two friends of my wife and I. I really like their little show, and it has some good information on how to modify a webcam. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My Last School Outreach for this School Year

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Symphony of Science - 'We Are All Connected'

Symphony of Science - 'We Are All Connected'

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Oberving Galaxies - Astronomy Magazine

Monday, March 8, 2010

Classic Look at a star party

Originally uploaded by MPR

This is an image that I took at the San Antonio College Star Party. This image really looks like a classic black and white photos. I like all the texture and the busy background. The scope is my modified Meade Lightbridge 16". Those are my 20x80 binos in the back left and Danielle's 12" Port-A-Ball on the right.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Couch Potato Telescope

Couch Potato Telescope
Notes after building the CPT Binocular Chair

I’ve seen the design for the Couch Potato Telescope (CPT) binocular chair many years ago. Sim Picheloup of Houston is the inventor and despite the name Couch Potato Telescope title Sim gives his invention it nothing to do with telescopes. The “CP Telecope” is strictly for binocular astronomy. The CPT allows it’s user to recline comfortably at various angles and swivel around horizontally. The beauty is while the view is reclining and spinning around the binoculars are suspended exactly in front of the user’s eyes.

After getting Celestron 20x80s I knew that I could have to do something about a mount because my neck was telling me that the photographic tripod just wasn’t cutting it. My astronomy pal, Rick, purchased a hardware kit from the Sim directly at the 2009 Texas Star Party. Mr. Picheloup sells his invention at various levels: Plan only, Plan and tubing, Hardware kit with plan, fully assembled. I obtained copies of the plan and decided to purchase the hardware at the local Home Depot.

The plan is 27 pages in length and at sometimes very unclear. There is a huge parts list of a mixture of parts, including a 12-inch lazy Susan bearing; polyethylene tubing; carpet tape; bicycle inner tube, screws of various sizes, and much more, about 160 parts total in various sections of Wal-mart and Home Depot. Having Rick helping was good because the plans are often sometimes confusing so even buying parts was challenging. It took two trips to the Home Depot each one about two hours in length to find all required parts. Some parts we couldn’t find so we had to come up with a substitute. The plan called for thin a specific pipe tubing but we found a copper pipe worked just fine and was much easier on the pocket book. If I had to
work on it again I would have purchased the hardware kit from Sim, which was listed on this site for around $100. (Yahoo shut down so Sim’s website is no longer up). Parts cost me around $85 locally.. I would have gladly paid the extra $15 to avoid the headache of staring at the hardware isle at Home Depot for hours.

The construction took about 10 hours total spread out across 2 days. As stated before some parts of the plan were confusing but we eventually figured it out. You start by pre-drilling holes in various parts, PVC pipes, electrical conduit elbows, and a few more random parts. Next you have to think back to your scouting days and tie some knots in rope. Then, friction joints that are the whole secret to the whole CPT design.

Some basic woodworking and mechanical tools are need and once the little sub assemblies are done the construction is fairly quick.

There are some improvements that Rick developed that we implemented in the design
and we also developed a few modifications of our own we developed while building my CPT. Some simple ones were attaching bungee cords to hold the chair down, adding a head rest to the beach chair, tying the clevis pin to the base.

As in typical fashion anytime I get something new it is cloudy for a good while afterward and that is the case now. The forecast doesn’t look promising.

I’ve tested the chair in my living room and it easily supports the weight of the 20x80 binoculars and Rick has even mounted 25x100s on his with success. One possible major over haul I might eventually do is to replace the ½” thick swivel board with a thicker board. I’ve read other CPT reviews on the internet and many have made this modification. For now I haven’t used the chair under real observing conditions so I’ll decide if that overhaul will be worth it.

Clear Skies Y’all! - Matthew

Friday, March 5, 2010

My Telescope On Static Display

This at a school event earlier this year.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Astronomy in the Park

Feb 24, 2010:
Area park- This event was really a spur of the moment event. The sky was looking nice after a day of snow here in Texas. I text-ed Rick early in the morning to see if he wanted to head out to our dark sky site but with moon phase and the fact that I was working later than normal we decided to try observing from a park we scouted out a few weeks ago. I decided to sent out an invite to astronomers I knew that lived near the park. Before I knew it we had a small group!

It was fun!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Astro Club Sets up at Realestate Events to promote Dark Sky

This is cool! Hats off to this astronomy club.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Solar Observing

How to safely view the Sun with your telescope!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Solar Max Series 4 of 4 (Last Video)

We have come to the last day of the Solar Max Video Series on my blog and I hope you have enjoyed it. On this video you'll learn more about the 4 satellite fleet that was mentioned at the end of video 3.

In 2001, SoHo became a useless space junk and this video will take you through the drama of it. Despite being frozen solid for three months it was revived. As you enjoy these amazing images in the video remember they are REAL and not computer generated.

Travel around the world on this video to learn about the cultural importance of the sun.

I really liked the Solar Plane in the video that I've seen before. I really feel that we humans have only begun to tap into the energy of the sun. Studying and learning more about the sun will hopefully lead to cleaner energy.

As with videos 2 and 3 you'll have to click the link and go to YouTube to view the next video in the series: Solar Max video 4 of 4... enjoy!

Next Solar Max info from TelLieVision1 on Youtube:
The last solar maximum was in 2001, and the next one has been predicted for Dikpati's forecast puts Solar Max at 2012. On March 10, 2006 NASA researchers announced that the next cycle would be the strongest since the historic maximum in 1859 in which the northern lights could be seen as far south as Rome, approximately 42° north of the equator. This projection was based on research done by Mausumi Dikpati of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and David Hathaway of the National Space Science & Technology Center (NSSTC). As of May 2009, NOAA predicts the Solar maximum for cycle 24 will be below average.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Solar Max Series 3 of 4

I truly hope you have enjoyed the last two videos in this four part series.

The video that I'm linking to today takes an in depth look at SoHo and the Trace satellite.

As we approach solar maximum it is interesting to consider our reliance on the satellite network and the impact the next solar maximum will have on this network. We have had 2,000 more satellites launched in space since the last solar maximum. This video will also explore the varying solar cycles and the impact they have.

On this video it is interesting about the to hear the singing of the Sun!??!! (A possible up coming blog about that... I'm interested in learning more).

As with the last video I can't post this one into my blog so you will have to go to the YouTube site to watch this excellent video. Link to Solar Max Video 3 of 4

Come back and post a comment about what a you think about the possibility of a super-flare hitting us and what such a super-flare would do to the ozone and the satellite network and society as we know it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Solar Max Series Day 2 of 4

I'm sorry to report that I cannot post the second video directly from YouTube because embedding has been disabled. Not all is lost, please visit the YouTube video by following this link: Solar Max 2 of 4 (9 minutes long)

When watching this video I wonder what life would be like if the "Early Church" accepted Galileo's findings rather than ignoring them... would there have been the division we have today or would there be harmony between faith and scientific thought?

Make sure you come back here to post your comments!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Solar Max Series Day 1 or 4

If you have been following my blog lately you will know that I do a lot of videos. For a while I have felt bad that they are just videos and I haven't had time to type my own materials. But occasionally there is a video that comes along that is so good that it really makes you take notice. The next four days I'll be posting such videos. If you are an astronomer that follows the Sun you'll know that 2010 has been a very active year so far. Looks like we are heading to Solar Maximum.

The Sun is a wonderful object to study safely (more on that later until then AVOID looking at the sun with your telescope/binoculars/camera, etc!) I found this video on YouTube and I decided to do a four day series on my blog about it. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. The more I hear about global warming the more I wonder that role the Sun plays in all of it. The Sun is the closest star we have and it is also very well studied compared to other stars, but in my mind there are still many things that we don't know about the Sun.

I hope you enjoy this 10 minute video about the sun and I hope it inspires you to think about the Sun a little more.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Carl Segan Be-Bopping!

Who says scientist can't groove!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Aperture Mask

Well I got around to making an aperture mask for my 16" Meade Lightbridge. It really helps with viewing details on planets. Rick and I made the mask our Sunday telescope making project. We usually do some telescope making project about once a month. As you can see the masks has an opening for the secondary screws, this is really just because the screws are up above the secondary spider mount. The secondary blocks out any light that comes in the center hole. This mask vastly improves the details Mars by taking out the diffraction lines and central obstruction that normally isn't an issue with Deep sky objects. Also stopping the aperture down allows image to not be washed out. I spent about 2 hours looking at Mars and the moon tonight with and without the mask. I seem to like it!

I decided that I'd mount some Velcro on the top of my rocker box to hold the mask when it isn't in use

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sketching- A Worthwhile Effort- Recommended.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Outreach Videos: #5

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Getting Started in Astronomical Outreach - Video 4

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here is today's outreach video:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Getting Started in Astronomical Outreach- Questiongs

Video #2

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Getting Started in Astronomical Outreach

Some encouragement of you to go out to and teach someone with that new telescope you got for Christmas. If you are interesting in volunteering contact your local astronomical group to see what events are coming up.

Friday, February 5, 2010

400 Years of The Telescope - PBS Documentary

Monday, February 1, 2010

Light Pollution Awareness Video

Great video for light pollution awareness.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Video Short

Star Party "" July 4, 2008 from Madonie Mountains (Sicily-Italy)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mars will NOT be as big as the Moon... E-mail hoaks

Image represents about 4 am CST from San Antonio, Texas looking West on Jan. 29th.

No the planet Mars will not be as big as the moon. You'd be amazed at how many times people at public star parties come up to me and say with complete confidence that Mars will be as large, as close as the moon. I don't know who started this rumor but I've been hearing that line from the general public at star parties for years. On January 29, 2009 Mars will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph Mars. But sorry is isn't going to be as big as the moon in the sky.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

2005 Video of Meteor Impressive

Monday, January 18, 2010

Earth Eclipse seen from Moon.

Solar eclipse as seen from Japan's Kaguya Lunar Orbiter.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dealing with Dew - What you need to know.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Viewing "Faint Fuzzies"- Video about viewing Galaxys and Nebulas with your new telescope

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Fly above the Moon!

This video is a 3-dimensional topography where Hubble Advanced Camera for Survey data was overlaid on top of the model of the Taurus-Littrow Valley, the landing site of Apollo 17. A fly through of the valley views the Camelot crater.
Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Shirah and A. Kekesi (GSFC/SVS), and G. Bacon (STScI).

Friday, January 1, 2010

End Light Pollution in 2010! (Happy New Year)

I love living in San Antonio, but I hate light pollution. I grew up in a West Texas town of San Angelo, Texas. San Angelo has about 100,000 people and it's own share of light pollution. San Angelo as far less than San Antonio. In San Angelo I would dive about 10 miles to the east of town with my little 90mm Mak-Cass Go-To that I had when in college. After that short drive I had some of the clearest sky in the area. San Antonio on the other hand is an issue.

I moved to San Antonio because my wife and I graduated from Angelo State University with our teaching certificates and the job market in west Texas... well was small. We moved to San Antonio after getting offers from Northside ISD and Northeast ISD.

San Antonio is unlike San Angelo, in that it is growing. That is great news for the economy of San Antonio, but a big drawback for an astronomer like myself. I get sick of seeing all the ever growing urban sprawl. It just makes me sick thinking of more street lights, more ignorant homeowners with safety light and more business with bad lighting.

There are organizations that focus on raising awareness of light pollution. I live near Helotes, TX which has some lighting restrictions. I would like to see more people become more conscious of good and bad lighting so last January I used my skills a photographer to document lighting found within a .5 mile radius of my house.

These are those photos:
Light Pollution Set  1

Light Pollution Set 2

Light Pollution Set 3

Light Pollution Set 4

Light Pollution Set 5- Full Cut Off Lights