- I started Astronomy Hacks
with 69 days to reach 100% completion. I've now used 27 of those days
and have 42 days left. I've submitted drafts of 25 hacks, most of them
pretty long ones, and I'm at about 65,000 words. The month of March
will be heads-down writing. I plan to complete somewhere between 30 and
40 more hacks in March.
My goal is to have the book pretty much ready to go by 1 April. I'll
spend the first ten days of April doing clean-up stuff, incorporating
comments/revisions from my reviewers and editors, writing a last few
hacks, and so on. On 10 April, the book goes to O'Reilly's production
folks, come hell or high water. On or about 15 June, it hits O'Reilly's
warehouses. By late June, it should be in the bookstores, just in time
for the conclusion of the Deep
Impact mission on 4 July.
On 10 April, I'll take a break to do our taxes. Then it's back to work
on the next edition of PC Hardware
in a Nutshell, which I'll finish up this fall. It should hit the
bookstores late this year or early next. When I finish PCHiaN, I'll
jump immediately into another astronomy book for O'Reilly, although
we're still talking about exactly which one that'll be. I have half a
dozen astronomy books in mind, including the one we almost started to
write instead of the Hacks book.
It's going to be a busy year for us. I won't have as much time as I'd
like to keep up this journal page, although I'll continue posting.
Barbara's mother was admitted to the hospital again yesterday. It's
nothing life threatening, more an adjustment of her medications than
anything. Still, she's nearly 80 years old, so we're all very
concerned. Barbara spent the day at the hospital yesterday. She went to
work today, and will head straight for the hospital when visiting hours
commence at 4:00 p.m. I'm sure Barbara will have more up on her page
- The first-magnitude star Antares in Scorpius will be occulted
by Luna this Thursday morning, 3 March. It's well placed for us in
Winston-Salem. Ingress occurs about 0558 local time during morning
twilight. Egress (what we've taken to calling outgress--"This way to
the egress...") occurs at about 0721, after sunrise. Antares is bright
enough that we'll be able to view outgress by putting some power on to
darken the background sky. It should even be visible with a binocular.
The pair will be located almost dead south, and for us will be at about
Those further west will be able to view ingress and outgress in full
darkness, which means ingress and outgress will both be visible
naked-eye. Sky & Telescope magazine has a page
that lists times for several hundred US cities.
- The push continues. I'm up to 30 completed hacks now, and hope
to get about the same number or more done this month. Then it'll be
re-write mode and the mad dash to completion over the first 10 days of
Don't forget the Lunar occultation of Antares tomorrow morning. Barbara
and I will just get up a bit earlier than usual tomorrow morning and
observe it from our front yard.
- Barbara and I set up our 90mm refractor in the front yard to
watch Luna occult Antares this morning at 0558 local time. I'll head
about in about 15 minutes to watch the egress, or "outgress" as we've
taken to calling it. This time I'll just use a binocular.
I'm continuing work on Astronomy
Hacks. I have 31 hacks posted so far. The minimum number
acceptable for a Hacks book is 50, which I should hit around mid-month.
At that point, I'll pretend the book is done, and spend some time
getting things organized--reordering the hacks and assigning them to
chapters, incorporating review comments, shooting images, writing the
preface, and so on. At that point, the book will be ready to go, and
I'll use the remaining time to add more hacks, right up to deadline on
Although I confess that when I started work on this book I thought it
would turn out to be an okay book but not a great one because of the
very short deadline, the more I get done on it the more I'm impressed
with the way it's turning out. This really is going to be an excellent
book, if I do say so myself.
- Barbara's mom is coming home from the hospital today. They did
an MRI scan and found nothing out of the ordinary for a woman her age,
so apparently her mom's confusion and other problems were caused by her
medication being out of whack. We're all very relieved, of course.
Barbara is going out with her parents for dinner tonight for a belated
birthday celebration for her mom.
I've just submitted Hack #36 for Astronomy
Hacks, so if anything I'm a bit ahead of schedule. This book is
turning out to be a lot of fun to write, and it should be a lot of fun
to read. Basically, we're trying to make this book a stand-in for an
experienced astronomer looking over the shoulder of a newbie or
intermediate astronomer and giving him tips and tricks learned by
hard-won experience. It'll be interesting to see how it all comes
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 by Robert Bruce Thompson. All