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...
Occupation: Computer Scientist, Software Engineer

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Martinis at Midnight

Monday, July 17, 2006

observation log ++

this past saturday my family and i attended the summer picnic at the graaa and had a real nice time. it was a clear evening and even though the observatory was going to be available, i decided to bring my family (and our guest) home for some observing here.

i set up my scope in the warmth of a typical july evening, only to realize that Jupiter had already moved further west than i expected. to avoid the trees i needed to move the scope down the driveway (south) . i took the tube off the mount and moved the mount + counter weights to a better position. now, sweating like a pig, i proceeded to mount the tube and balance the system. things worked out well from there, we viewed Jupiter and moons for a while. the bands shown nicely, however the red spot (and jr) were not visible. after a while of observing Jupiter i moved on to the Ring Nebula (which i can find now given a little time). i tried all my eyepieces on the Ring and decided that my 10mm worked pretty good, given the conditions. all in all it was a short/sweaty night of observing, but well worth it.

yesterday we took in the al gore movie "an incovenient truth". i'm not going to post a review, but i "got" the movie and i think people need to see it. our worlds future is at stake, we need to keep it safe. life is not all about money, but helping keep the Earth around for a while longer might be part of it.

today i watched the shuttle land; i was at work (i watched NASA tv online), it was a beautiful thing. i'm very glad that everything went well for this mission. keep it up NASA, you guys are awesome!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

a few months ago i told myself that i would be more committed to writing in my blog, and obviously that hasn't happened. hopefully i'll get back on track and continue to log my thoughts and adventures.

over the last few days i've kept one eye on NASA TV while going on about my normal fourth of july weekend activities. i wasn't too surprised that Discovery didn't launch on saturday or sunday, but i was hoping that i'd get the chance to watch the full coverage at home rather than secretly watching it online at work. i really hoped it would go either monday or tuesday. well, as everyone knows, Discovery took off yesterday in a flawless launch. i was glued to the tv for about 2 hours before lift off and about the same after. i did watch a little tennis and cycling in there too, so that my family didn't think i was completely nuts. before lift off, my kids would just look at me and shake their heads as i intently listened to the sporadic technical chatter and watched the shuttle on the pad; the only visible motion - gas venting out it's back end.

before launch day i learned the ISS and shuttle would both have an orbit that would allow them to be visible during the evening for the next day or two. once the shuttle launched i checked heavens-above for times and trajectories of its orbit and it turned out that we just might be able to see it.

to top off a great independence day, we went downtown to watch the fireworks. armed with shuttles local itinerary, we sat patiently waiting for the fireworks to begin, while watching the sky for Discovery. the city lights were bright and a thin layer of clouds formed around the moon and westward. my daughter sat with her camera, hoping to snap a picture of the shuttle amidst the blaze of fireworks, but the show didn't start when we thought it would and it was my son who first spotted the faint glow of Discovery emerging from the cloudy haze. the shuttle moved steadily across the sky but was too faint/small to show up on the digital camera. unfortunately we didn't get the picture we hoped and i only saw the shuttle for a few brief seconds, but nevertheless it was very cool.

the huge crowd downtown was oblivious to the event that had just taken place. would people have been interested if they'd have known what was happening, or do people just not care about science and space anymore? the fireworks started a few minutes later and were quite spectacular.

so, as NASA has returned to flight, i've returned to blogging. i hope that i'll have a few more posts before NASA launches Atlantis in late august.


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