Sunday, October 9, 2011

I'm still here! I've been doing astronomy but not updating my blog much. Recently I've been going to a dark sky site West of Garner State Park. I've been using my 16" and 10" and occasionally doing some Solar Astronomy with a PST and a Sun spotter folded Refactor. I'm excite to see so much activity on the Sun recently. My focus of astronomy has been comet observation and tracking. I've had fun sketching paths of comets through the night sky though out the night.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Palomar Observatory October, 2006 Aluminizing

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Space Photos Reveal Art in Science

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

GOOD LOOK: Barcelona Street Lamps

Monday, April 25, 2011

Light Pollution Call to Action

Dear friends,

As you all know, SB 753 “relating to the authority of certain counties to regulate outdoor lighting near astronomical observation facilities” is getting a public hearing this coming Wednesday, April 27th.

The time of the hearing is 9:30 AM and the room is E1.028. SB 753 is the first item on the agenda.

Here is the notice/agenda:

IF YOU CANNOT ATTEND, please write letters of support to the Intergovernmental Relations Committee members. They are Sen. Royce West (Chair), Sen. Robert Nichols, Sen. Mario Gallegos, Jr., Sen. Dan Patrick, and Sen. Jeff Wentworth.

Their contact info is all here:

We need all the support that we can get on this one!

This is the real deal folks. The time to act is now.

If you are coming to the hearing, feel free to give me a call. As of right now, I will be there as will Bill Wren from McDonald Observatory. We encourage others to come to just to say a few words of support.

Dark skies,

Benjamin Jones

Texas IDA

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Time Lapse Star Party

This is a video I found with some nice time lapse photography in Italy. Enjoy!

ps. It looks like someone on the right side kept using a white light during the star party!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

SAAA in McAllen (Raw Video)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Northside ISD Finance - Plain and Simple

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Frio Cielo Ranch Star Party

Star Party
Originally uploaded by MPR

A few members from the SAAA drove out past Regan Wells, Texas at the invitation of Rick and Diane to be guests at their private ranch for the first star party at this dark sky sight. Rick headed out to do some Hershel List observing Friday night, so I lead a caravan of people from San Antonio out to the ranch. In the caravan was Diane, Ed, Blake, Ernest and myself. We left San Antonio around 11 am Saturday and drove to Bill and Rose’s Steak House in D’Hanis, Texas and ate lunch.

We left D’Hanis and arrived at the observing field around 2 pm. We arrived after Christine and Danielle had already arrived. Danielle had her Port-A-Ball set up on the Field near Rick’s 16” homebuilt dobsonian, Christine had her 10” Orion dobsonian set up and ready to go as well as her Pop-Up Camper over at the RV camp site. She was determined not to freeze later in the night.

After setting up our scopes, we crossed the river using large rocks as our way across and hiked around a mile to Rick’s “Sky Shed”. We arrived back at the covered pavilion in time to start cooking dinner. We had a wide variety of food and nobody went hungry that was for sure. Throughout the afternoon, other ranch owners and guests stopped by to chat and promised to come back later after dark.

With the exception of Christine (who had her pop-up) and Blake (who drove back to San Antonio that night) we all slept out by our telescopes.

The Ranch had a nice covered pavilion that we used as our kitchen and dining area. Next to the pavilion was the bath house with sinks, toilets, and showers. Free wi-fi internet was also available at the pavilion and some of us made use of that.

The weather was clear and warm during the afternoon. After sunset the temperature dropped drastically and the low as recorded by a thermometer out by the scopes recorded the low as 14 F that night. Despite the cold, viewing was excellent! We could easily see many Messier objects naked eye even “ET”. The Milky Way was clearly visible. I also got some of the best views of the Orion Nebula I’ve seen in a long time in my 10” Coulter dobsonian. Dew was not an issue, but by 11 pm some frost was dusting my eyepiece case. During the night we took multiple trips out to the pavilion for hot coco and to warm up using Rick’s Kerosene heater. I turned in around midnight and woke up around 4 am to view Omega Centauri and did an hour or so of meteor and satellite watching before going to the pavilion to make hot cocoa. Water in the pot had frozen so it took a while. Rick and I sat at the heater talking for a while and soon Danielle and Earnest joined us. Christine invited us into her popup around 5:50 am and turned on the heater and we got warmed up and sat talking until after sunrise.

Eventually we started on breakfast and the air was noticeably warmer even though the thermometers read 19F. We had a great spread for breakfast: Pancakes, Scrambled eggs, hash browns, veggie “sausage”, Spam and much more! We ended up leaving the Ranch in time to eat some BBQ in Sabinal, Texas. It was a great night. A member of the ranch retrofitted a light by spray painting the glass on it black… but it could use some 10-30 more coats because it didn’t block much of the light.

We saw deer, turkeys and even an armadillo in the afternoon but none of them came by to look in the telescopes….maybe next time! - MatthewCamping Trip Feb. 5, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Venus is close to Moon.

Venus is close to Moon this time of the year. Check it out.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year's 2011 - Star Party

Monday, January 3, 2011

Quadrantids Meteor Shower- January 3-4, 2011

Amateur Astronomers of Rhode Island Reports: "Typically, 40 or so bright, blue and fast (25.5 miles per second) meteors will radiate from the constellation Bootes, some blazing more than halfway across the sky. A small percentage of them leave persistent dust trains. This shower usually has a very sharp peak, usually lasting only about an hour."

Parent Comet: 2003 EH1

The website: reports:
"The Quadrantids are an above average shower, with up to 40 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower usually peaks on January 3 & 4, but some meteors can be visible from January 1 - 5. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation Bootes."

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

For more information: