Thoughts and essays about music, physics, martinis and pretty girls.

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Name: Roger L. Smith
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Interests: Astronomy, Science,  Bicycle Racing, Music,  Photography, Tennis, and why...
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Martinis at Midnight

Thursday, January 26, 2006

roving mars

wow, tonight i had the privilege of getting a sneak preview of the new disney / imax movie roving mars. through the entire movie i was totally taken in by the mix of real film footage and computer animation. disney did a pretty good job making the transitions to and from the animated sections of the movie, however i was hoping to see more of mars in real life. the real life stills they had in the movie seemed like shots i had already seen.

of course they had a number of cool, big, loud scenes when the delta 2 heavy put the rover on a path to mars, and topped it off with cool effects when the rovers entered the martian atmosphere and bounced to a stop.

amazingly, i think the best part of the movie was when they were building the rovers in the clean rooms. the clarity of the film was stunning and the robots were absolutely beautiful. it kind of makes me feel weird to write that. stunning, beautiful robots... (ok, i'm a geek)

the big bang for this movie will be with kids. i took my 12 year old son and he is now (or again) inspired by space and science. i think this movie has the potential to do the same thing to a lot of young people across america. inspiring young minds is an awesome thing!

Monday, January 23, 2006

question of the day

lets say that in the near future we gain the expertise to travel out of our solar system and to a nearby solar system. lets also say that we travel to a planet that is inhabited with a plethora of small un-intelligent creatures (wild animals). lets add that it took us a fair amount of time to get there. the question of the day is as follows: do you think our space travelers would kill and eat these alien creatures? especially if it looked better than the nasty dehydrated food they brought with them? this has probably already been dramatized in a book or movie, but i haven't seen or read it. please post a comment if you have an opinion or know of a book or movie i should enjoy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

comments welcome

the new template is done (for now). leave me a comment on what you think. i'd appreciate it!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

observation log - January 14, 2006

last night it was clear again and i took the scope out to more solid ground (the driveway).

the moon was wicked-bright! dang, i needed sunglasses to view it for very long. i'm going to have to invest in some sort of filter if i want to do that again.

considering the conditions, it was a pretty good night. i viewed the moon in my 2" x 35mm eyepiece and it was really beautiful. i cranked up the magnification with the 1.25" x 10mm and took a long look at tycho and copernicus. the moon is simply amazing!

during my time out i also viewed saturn with the 10mm and the 2X barlow. that seemed to be too much magnification for the sky. i spent a bit of time on the orion nebula (m42 & m43) and also the pleiades (m45).

all in all it was a good night of observing. i packed things up rather early (i hate hauling that thing inside when it gets really late).

Friday, January 13, 2006

observation log - January 12, 2006

finally the clouds cleared last night. this was the first time we've seen hardly any of the night sky since mid-november. right after dinner i decided to set up the scope, only planning on viewing the moon. i didn't think there would be much else to see since the moon was full and majorly polluting the sky.

i also have a new eyepiece that i've been wanting to try out. about a week ago i ordered a 2 inch - 35mm eyepiece from orion. it's not a high end eyepiece, but i had a few $$ and wanted something that could get some nice views of the winter nebulae.

since i was only intending on viewing the moon, i set the scope up on the deck and waited for it to cool. i did view the moon as it was rising through a couple naked maple trees, but couldn't get a good clear view of this criminal that was trying to steal what could be the only clear(ish) night all winter. as i waited for it to rise above the branches, i took a quick gander at mars. i needed more power to see it clearly, but then the slight wobbles of my deck made getting a steady view of mars almost impossible.

i didn't have a lot of time or patience, and decided to cut my observation short. before packing it up for the night i viewed andromeda for a while with my new eyepiece. it was extremely faint and quite un-impressive. this was only due to the moon and the slight haze in the sky. i'm quite happy right now with my eyepiece. i can't wait for a good dark, clear, cold night. however our forecast is quite murky for the next few days.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Martinis at Midnight - 2005 Top Ten List

it's been a week since the beginning of the new year, so i've waited long enough to hear of any last minute additions to this years top ten list. remember, this site is about physics, music, martinis and pretty girls, but mostly astronomy. :)

drum roll please....

10. cosmos 1
the russian attempt at a solar sail spacecraft. read more about this nifty disaster here.

9. e=mc^2 + 100 years
did you know that it has been 100 years since Al Einstein came up with all his crazy ideas? well, most of them have been proven as fact.

8. nickel creek releases - why should the fire die?
awesome third album from the trio (not counting any solo albums or the MAS release)

7. space elevator comeptition
a healthy competition to build a machine that will climb a ribbon and eventually walk off into orbit. if you'd like to enter the competion, go here.

6. darpa grand challenge
almost 2 years ago i watched and waited to see if teams (mostly from universities) could build an autonomous vehicle that could (on it's own) navigate through a series of GPS points on a course that covered over 100 miles in the desert of california and nevada. i was dissappointed then that none of the vehicles even made it 10 miles, but i was thrilled to watch this years race when 5 teams completed the 132 mile course. the team that did it first walked away with $2 million. find out who won here.

5. danica patrick at indy (here's the pretty girl portion of the list)
i have always been a supporter of equal rights for everyone. i firmly believe that gender should not be a factor in type of competition. danica is an awesome indy car driver. she has single handedly regained my interest in indy car racing. in the past few years i have gravitated slightly towards nascar, i bite my tounge. indy car racing rules.

4. the 10th planet? 2003 UB313
rewrite the science books; well maybe they should wait another year or so. who knows how many planets we'll have in our solar system by the time it's all said and done. xena? really?
find out more.

3. deep impact kisses tempel 1
there were more than just ordinary fireworks on july 4, 2005. deep impact was a mission to discover the mysteries inside a comet. deep impact did more than kiss comet tempel 1, it became "best friends forever" with that dirty snowball. read the whole story on the deep impact website.

2. nasa - space shuttle return to flight
space shuttle discovery returned to flight under enormous scrutiny. there are inherrent dangers with flying in space, and somehow most people think it should be like walking to the fridge for another can of pop. in my opinion, nasa is doing an incredible job with the money they have to put humans in space. in the near future, being an astronaut will be a dangerous job. with the information gained, someday space travel will be safe for everyone.

1. cassini/huygens
in my opinion, the most amazing things from 2005 all revolved around cassini/huygens. from inserting cassini into orbit around saturn (through a tiny gap in saturns rings) to the huygens probe dropping to the surface of titan to the images we are now getting back from cassini, this mission topped the best of the best for 2005. nasa and esa make an awesome team.

read more about the european huygens probe at esa.int


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