Friday, 13 February 2015

08:51 – Friday the 13th falls on a Friday this month. Barbara’s recovery continues. She’ll continue practicing driving over the next few days before returning to work on Monday. I just got back from walking Colin. It’s 23F (-5C) with a stiff breeze.

Congratulations to our friend Steve Childers, who just completed the Herschel 400 list. Barbara and I started working this list more than ten years ago, but quickly gave up on it. From our light-polluted region and using only a 10-inch telescope, it quickly became obvious that we had no chance at bagging all 400 objects on this list. Even the brighter objects were extremely difficult to see. Steve’s 17.5-inch telescope gave him a chance at bagging all 400 objects on the list, but even with three times the light gathering ability of our 10-inch it must have been extremely challenging, to put it mildly. But Steve’s persistence over the last ten years or so let him get it done. Steve joins a very small group of amateur astronomers who have successfully observed and logged all 400 of these objects.

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25 Responses to Friday, 13 February 2015

  1. OFD says:

    Very nice. We have some minor light pollution here, due to the bounce off Burlington and Plattsburgh to our south about 25 miles and Montreal 70 miles north. Also several streetlights that evidently stay on all night here in the village.

    Years ago we spent a week on the northeast coast of P.E.I. and the night sky there was amazing.

    It is sunny with blue skies here now and minus-7 with no wind; it may get as high as zero today. Mrs. OFD due back from Minnesota at 10 PM tonight when it will be minus-12 or so.

  2. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    St. Albans is actually pretty badly light-polluted. Here’s a map that overlays light pollution levels on Google Maps.

    It looks like St. Albans town is polluted to exurban levels.

  3. Lynn McGuire says:

    Our betters and future leaders at Yale cannot have their Global Warming rally since it is too cold:

    I’m not not sure that I understand the “Coal is Dry Water” protest sign. The last time I looked, coal had very little or no oxygen in it.

  4. OFD says:

    “It looks like St. Albans town is polluted to exurban levels.”

    Wow, cool map! I’m not clear on what the color codes mean, but we’re not right in Saint Albans “City,” but about three miles west of it right on the northern Lake Champlain shore, in Saint Albans Bay. Still, that is HUGE up around Montreal.

    We do the best we can here on clear and cold fall and wintuh nights with the binocs.

    “The last time I looked, coal had very little or no oxygen in it.”

    ” Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
    Late school-boys and sour prentices, ”

    Their ideological agenda trumps science, just as in the IT drone world now, being married to and in love with, Agile Framework, “lean” management, and Scrum trumps actual IT skillz. Like PC, to which it is tenuously allied.

  5. MrAtoz says:

    lol Look at Vegas light pollution compared to the rest of NV.

    I drink coal ’cause I’m a real man.

  6. Rod Schaffter says:

    Interesting atlas. Most of North Korea is pretty dark; wonder why? 😉

  7. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    The best is black. There aren’t any black areas to speak of remaining east of the Mississippi. Here’s a color-coded Bortle scale.

    When I started observing seriously in the mid-60’s in New Castle, PA (population ~35,000), my suburban backyard was Bortle 3. Nowadays, we’d have to drive at least a couple of hours to get to anywhere close to that good.

    We live on the extreme northwestern edge of Winston-Salem. Here’s my backyard currently:

  8. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    OFD, it would appear that you’re about Bortle 4.5, which as an old-time amateur astronomer I’d have rated as too badly light-polluted to observe. Nowadays, 4.5 really isn’t too bad.

  9. OFD says:

    Yeah, it’s ’cause of expanding ‘burbs here in Chittenden/Franklin County, VT, and the glow from Montreal. I have been sorely tempted to pop out a couple of these street lights if I can ever find the .22 I lost in the lake long ago. Someday we’ll take a week again up in the northern Maritimes and bring the binocs and a decent telescope. Maybe I’ll attempt to take pictures, too.

    Thanks for those links, very informative.

    Thirty years ago the only large black areas in the East were the Adirondacks and the western Maine mountains, but even those now are under relentless assault by Sprawl.

  10. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Keep in mind that those data are from 2006. You wouldn’t believe how much worse things get every few years. Sites that were dark enough in 2000 that you could run into people just walking around because it was too dark to see them are now bright enough that you can literally read a newspaper by the skyglow. My guess is that your home is now probably Bortle 5 if not worse.

  11. Rod Schaffter says:

    When we moved to Central Mass in 2000 I could see the Andromeda Galaxy easily from my back porch. Now I’m lucky to see the constellation Andromeda.

    The big culprit is a shopping center built on top of a hill several miles away. I can read the store signs with binoculars from my front yard….

  12. OFD says:

    Agreed on both counts, Dr. Bob and Mr. Rod. It’s gotten a LOT worse. I know the central MA area quite well, Mr. Rod, having lived and worked there throughout the 1980s when Worcester was the Paris of the Eighties, haha. Currently one brother and my sister live in West Boylston and our son, DIL and grandkids in the “Jefferson” area of Holden. I lived at various times in Woostuh itself, and also Oxford, West Warren, and Leominster. Spent my years three through eight in the lovely little burg of Whitinsville.

    I can certainly read the paper at night here either via the streetlights or the full moon when we have it. It’s often one of those things you don’t miss until you do, when you find yourself out in really dark country and look up and see the zillions. Not many peeps that I can see even bother to look up anymore, and thus miss a lot, even without dark skies.

    To that end I’ve long recommended the book “Outside Lies Magic,” by John Stilgoe.

  13. Miles_Teg says:

    OFD wrote:

    “Years ago we spent a week on the northeast coast of P.E.I. and the night sky there was amazing.”

    One of the few things I miss about driving across the Hay plain between Canberra and Adelaide is the very dark skies between towns. It was a wonderful view. Hell, even near Yass, 50 km NW of Canberra, where a mate had a small farm, it was damn good. Another mate brought his 10″ Meade down from Sydney and we had a great night vieing the moon and the rings of Saturn.

  14. Lynn McGuire says:

    The USA population is exploding at over 1% per year. Four million babies, three million deaths, one million legal immigrants, and one million illegal immigrants.

    All of these people gotta live somewhere (a lot of them are in Texas) and their night lights sure are blocking the sky at night around here. We are supposed to use special street lights that do not illuminate the sky since there is are 36″, 18″, 14″ and 11″ telescopes ten miles south of here:

    I just wondering when we will building those PRCs. Talk about budget busters!

  15. OFD says:

    So, according to “official” estimates, roughly 3-million peeps a year added to the current pop here; and by the time I and others here check out, probably about another 60-70-million. Close to a pop of 400-million, behind Red Chiner and India. No wonder the global elites would welcome mass die-offs; and then you see on the other side of the argument, counter arguments that the planet can sustain LOTS more peeps. Which is it, one wonders?

    Methinks not many will wanna come and live in the Northland territories, but the increasing pop will undoubtedly push more people up this way eventually, esp. as climatewarmingglobalchange happens and we are growing bananas and pineapples in Saint Albans Bay.

    I now invite comment from our Canadian correspondents on this:

    Does this seem accurate to y’all?

  16. OFD says:

    Them is good gunz, Mr. Lynn; pick one or more and CARRY THEM on your nighttime jaunts amidst howling coyotes and two-legged felons, rustlers, outlaws, whatever.

    Mr. OFD wants a Mossberg 20-gauge and a Sig-Sauer P226 Elite.

  17. rick says:

    In spring of 2013 we sailed our boat from Friday Harbor down the coast to Astoria. Once you get a few miles off shore, the light pollution disappears. If it’s cloudy, it is really dark. If it’s clear the stars are incredible.

    Currently it’s 55 and sunny here in Portland. Web camera showing our new place is at Our house is barely visible at the top of the marina on the left edge of the picture.

    Rick in Portland

  18. Lynn McGuire says:

    Them is good gunz, Mr. Lynn; pick one or more and CARRY THEM on your nighttime jaunts amidst howling coyotes and two-legged felons, rustlers, outlaws, whatever.

    Mr. OFD wants a Mossberg 20-gauge and a Sig-Sauer P226 Elite.

    I am going to break down and get my CHL. We have a new indoor shooting range with CHL classes every week or so. Then I need to get a carry revolver that weighs a pound or less. Can’t load up for my walking!

    I am told that once you get their paperwork, filing it through the state takes three months. Or so. Typical.

    Why a 20 gauge? Why not a Remington? The Mossberg is only $330 though.

  19. OFD says:

    The 20 is lighter, less recoil, and easier to maneuver inside a compact house that was designed for, built by, and lived in, by hobbits. I can lug the 870s, loaded with all their stuff, fairly easily, but it’s a little tricky for left-handed Mrs. OFD, who also doesn’t look where she’s going sometimes. The 20 is also nice for vehicle defense.

    Glad to see you’re gonna get squared away down there, son. Take them classes. Practice, if not weekly, monthly. Realistic scenarios. I also recommend, as do others even more experienced, to involve your other family members living with you in home defense stuff; what if you ain’t there, and you’re out gallivanting with coyotes some balmy summuh night and bad chit happens back at the ranch? Again, another great solution might be the 20’s. And knowing how to shoot any of the handguns.

    Speaking of shooting….here’s the brave warrior hero cops, at least four of them, doing that famous spray-and-pray tactical shooting technique, wherein rounds bounce all over the fucking landscape and potentially through other peeps. A terrifying guy is hurling rocks at them, so they blast away. He runs. They chase him down and blast him again. WTF? Four big heroes couldn’t take this guy down without killing him? I had worse calls than this to respond to BY MYSELF back in the day and didn’t kill anybody. Jesus wept.

  20. Lynn McGuire says:

    Sorry, gonna pass on that video as I do not like seeing people die in real life. Whereas in “The Blacklist”, I have to admit a certain amount of “yup, he earned that” when James Spader’s character killed Luther Braxton.

    Don’t throw rocks at an armed man. Don’t stand next to a guy throwing rocks at an armed man. Remember, David killed Goliath with five smooth stones and a sling. Actually, he knocked him out with a rock and went over and cut his head off with a sword. Rocks are dangerous. So are guns. Don’t be stupid.

  21. OFD says:

    It is very possible that the deceased was mentally ill, as heard from at least one of the bystanders’ live comments as it went down, and known as such in that area. You and I are not gonna throw rocks at an armed man or men; clearly that guy was not in his right mind. So you blow his ass away?

    David could get away with his slingshot rocks because there weren’t three or four more Goliaths standing there next to the first one. Then we might have a different story, with King Goliath wrasslin’ round with Bathsheba and singin’ and dancin’ before the Lord.

  22. Miles_Teg says:

    OFD wrote:

    “Mr. OFD wants a Mossberg 20-gauge and a Sig-Sauer P226 Elite.”

    I thought 20-guage was for wimminz.

  23. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Recoil can be an issue for older guys as well. All of my shotguns are 12-gauge, although I lost all of them in the river. Same for Barbara, although she lost hers in the river as well.

  24. Rolf Grunsky says:

    We moved to North York (a suburb of Toronto) in 1950 and at the time the skies were quite dark. You could see the Milky Way with little trouble. Even in ’57, the skies were still quite dark. I remember ’57 because that was the year there was an incredibly bright aurora. Everyone in the neighourhood came out to see it. Fast forward to 2015 and I live downtown, only the brightest stars are visible although I could see both comets Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake.

    I used to friend’s cottage up at Pointe au Baril, north of Parry Sound. The cottage was on Tonches Island and the sky was pitch black. You could see a slight air glow along the horizon. The last time I was there was in ’85 or ’86, I’m not sure of the year but Jupiter was in opposition. I was sitting outside around 2AM and could see a faint shadow of my hand against a white rock that was cast by Jupiter. I miss those dark skies. What I found interesting then was on dark moonless nights with heavy overcast, I could always see, just barely, the silhouette of the trees against the sky.

    Ask any three people about firearms in Canada and you will get at least nine opinions. The RCMP have gone from the noble upholders of the law (The Northwest Mounted Police) to just another bunch legal thugs. Historical fact: until the Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional (after the repatriation), the RCMP carried “Writs of Assistance” that served as blank search warrants. They could enter any place at any time for any reason. They still think they can.

    The situation with the High River seizures is ambiguous. Did they only take guns that were not secured (i.e. not in gun lockers) or did they break into gun lockers and take them? Someone also commented that the guns were returned. Our current (federal) government appears to have no interest in placing more restrictions on long guns. For all their faults (and they have oh so many) the conservatives did scrap the long gun registry in spite of the outcry from Quebec and the general urban population. We don’t seems to be worse off without it. My position on guns has changed over the years as well. Thirty years ago I would have said the I would never have a gun at home. Living in the city now, I still don’t want to have a gun but if I lived in rural or even a semi-rural area I would probably have and learn to handle a shotgun. On the subject of handguns I remain ambivalent, leaning towards keeping them mostly restricted, most of the time.

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