Astronomy Blog

Marvin W. Huddleston, FRAS - Astronomy Blog!

Sometimes when I am alone under the Stars, I look out into Space and wonder if our works look as small to God as His look Great to us.

Herbert Clinton Carroll (my Grandfather), April 1937

Countdown to the Texas Star Party 2020:

Days
Hours
Minutes
Seconds

Great are the works of the Lord,

studied by all who delight in them. 

Psalm 111:2

ASTRONOMY BLOG
MARVIN W. HUDDLESTON, FRAS


“I know nothing with any
certainty, but the sight of the
stars makes me dream.”

— Vincent van Gogh

Captain's Log
Stardate 2458793.35040
November 5,2019

Today is my Granddaughter,
Isabella's 9th Birthday!!
Happy Birthday Isabella!

Today is also (although much less unimportant) both Election Day as well as the kick off of the newest season of The Curse of Oak Island!

This is the 7th season of the series The Curse of Oak Island, which I have followed since it’s inception on January 5, 2014. The first few years I skeptically kept up with the show, more recently I’ve taken the theories more seriously.

The team have done a good job bringing in bonafied scientists and other guests, and I was very happy when they brought in an Astrophysicist and Aerospace engineer, Travis S. Taylor.

Dr. Taylor proposed a theory that the Constellation Taurus (The Bull) was .aid out on the island as a map to find the treasure. One thought that has come to my mind includes M1, The Crab Nebula.

Associated with the Constellation Taurus is the well known Planetary Nebula M1, otherwise known as the Crab Nebula. M1 was first reported by Chinese Observers in 1054AB, and the nebula discovered in 1731 by the British Amateur Astronomer Hohn Bevis (no relation to Butthead).

The Crab Nebula is the left over remnant of a Supernova seen by the Chinese. Seeing that it would have been pretty commonly known 64 years later when the depression was first discovered.

So my question is why wouldn’t these originators of the supposed treasure not have used this famous supernova remnant location in their map if overlaid on the island?

I plan to update this section adding the other Astronomical theories I’ve heard about, including Orion and other theories.

Captains Log
Stardate 2458765.398907
October 8, 2019

As I write this I am on vacation visiting my Son in Vancouver, Washington near Portland. So far it’s been a restful trip. We are having to adjust to much cooler temperatures than they are experiencing in the Dallas area despite a nice coolfront that hit the area Sunday night. My wife is here on business and I was blessed to get to tag along. I hadn’t seen my Son in over a year.

I am sad to report that my oldest Son, Bradley Huddleston, had to have his beloved toy chihuahua, Abbie, put to sleep yesterday. Please keep him and his daughter Serisa in your prayers. It’s always hard loosing a pet – they are members of our families – not pets.

The exciting news today is the 20 new moons discovered around Saturn. With the addition of these small orbiting bodies (they are around 3 miles in diameter each) this temporarily makes Saturn King in the area of the number of  moons orbiting solar system planets. I saw temporarily because I’m betting new discoveries will place Jupiter back in the lead in the near future.

Saturn now has 82 known moons, and Jupiter has 79 known. Jupiter has the largest, Ganymede, which is around 1/2 the size of earth. It could easily be classified as a planet if it were not in orbit around Jupiter.

Saturn's 20 New Moons discovered recently - each moon has a diameter of ~ 3 miles

This planet sized moon is larger than Mercury and Pluto, and just a little smaller than Mars.

If it were not orbiting Jupiter, it clearly would have been classified as a planet in its own right. It very likely has salty ocean under it’s surface composed of ice.

This moon is about 4.5 Billion Years old, and orbits Jupiter about 665,000 miles from Jupiter’s cloud tops.

It is 1635 miles across, with a average temperature of ~- 171 to 297 degrees.

Galileo Galilei discovered Ganymede on January 7, 1610.

On a personally exciting note, I am about to order a Baader Hyperion Mark IV 8 – 24mm zoom eyepiece thanks to a very generous donation. This will be a great eyepiece for public astronomy outreach as well as for my personal solar system studies. It features a clickstop configuration, effectively replacing most of my eyepieces.

During my close to 59 years in Astronomy, zoom eyepieces for telescopes have typically been poor in quality and performance. It appears this eyepiece is a game changer. One day I may add the TeleVue 3 – 6mm Zoom Eyepiece which would yield a 339 to 677X capability (please note the 8SE Theoretical Magnification limit is 406X, so the price tag for the TeleVue eyepiece would be hard to justify).

Subaru telescope discovery images have about one hour between each image.  Background stars and galaxies do not move in these images, while the newly discovered Saturnian moon, highlighted with an orange bar, shows motion between the two images. Three have prograde motion, 17 have retrograde motion.

Baader Hyperion Mark IV 8 - 24mm Zoom Eyepiece

I have had a multitude of recommendations for this eyepiece for use with my Celestron Nexstar 8SE SCT Telescope.

Many, many people rave about this eyepiece. It allows magnifications ranging from 85 to 254X using a single eyepiece.

Click Stops are located at:

8mm          85X

12mm        102X

16mm        127X

20mm        127X

24mm         254X

 

Baader Hyperion Mark IV 8 - 24mm Zoom Eyepiece

The Baader Zoom is quite large, resembling a coke can I’ve been told, and weighs in at a reported 1lb. It is reported to be a good match for use in a Binoviewer!

Captains Log
Stardate 2458753.22611
September 26, 2019

The Rambling Observer will again be at Ft. Griffin State Historic Site near Albany Texas helping out with their Star Party this Saturday; we head out tomorrow. The Stars & Skies of Texas Star Party starts at sundown on the ballfield.

If you would like to view the Wonders of the Universe – come on out! We’d love to see you and enjoy some sights of the galazy and Cosmos with you.

I will be trying out a new accessory to my Telescope, a Celestron Nexstar SE8. It is a Sky Portal WiFi Module. Hoping it works as intended and not another thing I have trouble with staying connected…I will conduct a review of it in time.

Captains Log
Stardate: 2458747.15590
September 20, 2019

I have started taking SQM-L readings and running through the ‘Loss of the Night’ (LOTN) app every day the sky is moonless and weather clear at my home observing site. Starting in October (1st) I have a spreadsheet established to record the data in a format I can manipulate into graphic charts. Any Astronomy fan is invited to join our efforts at your primary residence. Run SQM-L readings and add to those LOTN readings. I try and acquire more than 17 star readings in order to lessen the statistical errors, but have to admit that it becomes hard for me due pain that develops in my neck.

My goal is to recruit other observers to do the same and  put the data in a usable format for this region. Other areas need the same data to be recorded. I wish there was an A.L.P.O. type organization where such data could be accumulated and offered kin database format to help various researchers.

Owning an SQM-L meter isn’t absolutely necessary, but I believe in an effort to standardize the data it certainly is desirable. The more SQM-L readings available, the coordinator of such an effort has better tools to evaluate the level of damage artificial lighting is producing over time in various areas.

I am getting back into a bit of Astronomical Photography, having bought a SkyWatcher Star Adventurer Pro Pack. However, my roots from earlier days in Amateur Astronomy seem to be peeping back up. I’ve always felt Amateur Astronomers had a great deal of value as data gatherers and collectors. I mean how many astrophoto’s of M31 do we need anyway? 

Are we just artists? There is nothing wrong with that, but it is my opinion that what differentiates true Astronomers from Amateur Astronomers is not profession or degrees, but rather that true Astronomers collect and offer valuable data to the scientific community through their efforts as opposed to merely creating artwork.

I seek to gather scientific data in everything that I do in STEM. I’ve always been more a Scientist than an amateur. I do not see myself as an Amateur Astronomers near as much as I do an Astronomer. It may not be my paid profession, but it is my avocation (minor profession).

Amateur Astronomers of the type I recognize on a higher level such as myself are Scientists, and a true part of the scientific community.

I guess what I am proposing here is that there are Professional Astronomers, Amateur Astronomers, and Advanced Amateur Astronomers.

I do not intend to suggest an Advanced Amateur Astronomer is better than an Amateur, just that the motivation of the Amateur Astronomy is nothing more than that of a hobbiest, whereas the Advanced  Amateur defines a person actually doing Astronomy on a higher level. They are collecting usable scientific data for the purpose of furthering our understanding of the Universe, they are true Citizen Scientists.

Captains Log
Stardate 2458731.07868

September 4, 2019

We had a great Star Party last Saturday night, August 31st at the Ft. Griffin State Historical Site near Albany, Texas. About 20 people came out to enjoy the night sky with us.

The image shows my Celestron SE8 set up facing North getting ready to align on Polaris.

I plan to be at the next one September 28th, then go back in October for new moon and will camp at the Astronomy Specific Camping area they have at the park.

My SQM-L readings were 21.39, and about 500 stars were visible to the unaided eye.

 

Figure B (above) is my Loss of the Night report for the evening of September 1st around 11pm in the City of Albany, TX near the Ft. Griffin State Historical Site. Limiting magnitude was 4.62, and SQM-L reading was 21.39. About 500 stars were visible.

Figure 3 (above) is a typical Loss of the Night App report (August 29, 2019, 10:13om) from my home in Mesquite Texas. SQM-L reading was 16.82 and about 25 stars were visible.

This is typical for Mesquite.

I was very impressed with the skies at Ft. Griffin. Ther stars seen by the unaided eyes were spectacular. The Milky Way very bright, I had to turn angle my SQM-L away from zenith to get accurate readings. Breathtaking.

The Andromeda Galaxy was clearly visible without optical aid. When I pointed that out to some children and youth at the Star Party they were impressed to learn they were seeing an object outside our Galaxy. I explained to our guests at the Star Party that everything they saw in the sky were a part of the Milky Way Galaxy, with the exception of Andromeda.

Ft. Griffin holds their Star Party on the Ball Field, which serves as a perfect venue for a public event. Sky glow was to our North and South, but was not terrible. 

Loss of the Night App. In my continuing commitment to public STEM, I want to highlight the Loss of the Night App. You do not need to have a background in Astronomy to participate. All you need to do is go to your plan store and down load the app.

The idea is you click “Start Observing Stars” and the app points you around the sky where potential stars can be located. You identify if you can see them or not.

The illustration to the left gives you an idea how this works. Follow the arrow as it  turns until it centers the target star, then affix your eyes on that spot and move the phone over. Do you see the star or not?

I always try and do more than 17 stars. After you reach 17, you continue until you decide to stop. Just follow the directions.

The more starrs you observe, the better your results and less the statistical error you have.

This information gives us your limiting magnitude, which is the dimmest stars you can see. It tells you the number of stars you can see in the sky at any given time.

I try and do an observation as often as I can. The more data you report on a location, the better the data set you obtain is. 

The Night Sky is an endangered resource. We do so much to preserve wildlife and nature, but think so little about the necessity of preserving the night sky for our children.

As a substitute teacher, I have been amazed at how few of the students I encounter have ever seen the Milky Way Galaxy, and even more amazed at the number of adults who have seen it.

So we Astronomers go out in the boon-docks to view the night sky, only to find city-folks bringing their light pollution with them when they go camping.

 

Astronomers in our area have to drive hours outside the city to be able to see the night sky. The light some from the DFW area is huge.

The illustration to the right is an example of the problem. This Apartment Building in Mesquite Texas are correct with the down facing lighting, but the lights pointed at the sky serve no purpose other than aesthetics. All that light, amplified millions of times in Mesquite, have ruined our views of the night skies and robbed our children of their right to see and learn from the night sky. This is exactly why we can only see on average 25 to 50 stars at night in Mesquite.

All we ask of you when you camp is that you think of what all that lighting around your campers are doing to other campers views of the night skies. When you retire to your comfy beds, please – please turn off your outside lighting! The illustration of the campers glaring lights is a premo example. I was camping at Ft. Griffin State Historic Site in Texas for three nights, and this camper pulled in after I’d already been there and set up my observing site. That light made it almost impossible to see anything to my north-west. And there was no reason for it to have been left on ALL NIGHT.

I’d even politely invited the owners to come over and take a look through the telescope in hopes that they would turn off the outside light. They weren’t interested, but the light stayed on all night.

This was opening day for hunting, and I wonder how they would have liked it if I’d followed them yo their hunting blind and turned a boom box on as high as the volume would go and stayed there scaring off their game all day. That is what they had done to me!

Think as well what you and your family are losing sitting under all this lighting. If you would turn off all the decorative lighting and lay out under the stars you would be astonished at the memories you have been missing by bringing your bad lighting practices with you into nature. Lay back onto a lawn chair and study the night sky looking up. You will see beauty as God intended it to be seen. Meteors, satellites, constellations…your children will one day thank you! 

The image below and illustrations of acceptable and unacceptable Lighting Fixtures is from the International Dark Sky Association.

The International Dark Sky Association writes that it is estimated 30% of all outdoor lighting is wasted by unshielded lighting. Inefficient use of outdoor lighting results in a waste of over $3 Billion a year.

Lighting and a reduction in crime is not a proven fact, and as a matter of fact studies show it may be exactly the opposite. Chicago has a study that indicates increased lighting in alleys may  actually increase crime.

Shadows caused by lighting provide hiding spots for criminals, and vandalism and similar nighttime activity.

Glare also causes increases in automobile accidents and endanger pedestrians. Your nighttime vision is negatively affected making you less able to see, increasing the danger of nighttime driving. It boils down to economics if nothing else.

Captains Log
Stardate: 2458719.55572
August 23, 2019

If you are interested in actually making a contribution to science instead of just sightseeing the Cosmos as most Amateur Astronomers do, let me encourage you to check out Zooniverse. That platform offers everything from studying Gravitational waves to classifying Radio Meteor Echoes. This blog concentrates on the Radio Meteor Echo project.

The image to the left is a spectrogram of meteor data obtained by the BRAMS network I just classified.  

BRAMS (Belgian RAdio Meteor Stations) is a Belgian network of radio receiving stations using forward scattering to detect and characterize meteoroids falling into the Earth’s atmosphere.

 

To date I have classified almost 800 spectrograms for the network, some contains as many as 30 or more meteor echoes each. For us Amateur Astronomers, this is a great program allowing comfortable contributions to the Science of Astronomy to be made in the comfort of our home. On the Zooniverse platform I have submitted a total of around 79,000 classifications for a number of projects. 

This network concentrates on Meteor Showers like the Perseids in August. The system produces massive amounts of data that must be classified.

A dedicated transmitter/beacon (red triangle on the map above) is located in the south of Belgium and emits toward the zenith a pure sine wave at a frequency of 49.97 MHz and with a total power of 150 Watts. The incident radio wave is reflected on the ionized trail left behind the meteoroid when it falls into the atmosphere. About 30 receiving stations (blue dots in the image above) are spread all over Belgium and record radio signals reflected off meteor trails (hereafter called meteor echoes). Pictures of the transmitter and of one receiving antenna (located in Uccle) are visible respectively in the left/right parts of the image above.

If you are interested in more information and would like to get involved, go to Zooniverse.com and search for the Radio Meteor Zoo.

Every day a huge amount of data is produced by the BRAMS network with thousands of meteor echoes registered, which requires the use of automatic detection algorithms. BRAMS radio data are usually presented as images (called spectrograms, see definition below) and automatic detection algorithms try to detect specific shapes associated with meteor echoes. However, none of them can perfectly mimic the human eye which stays the best detector. 

Captains Log
Stardate: 2458718.69852
August 22. 2019

Just as I have done with Precipitation, making daily records and reporting scientific data on the weather conditions at my station TX-DA-52, I have started doing with the night sky outside my home on Spiceberry Lane.

The conditions are much worse tonight, with a limiting magnitude of .8 – meaning only the brightest stars are visible tonight. I could see less than a dozen stars.

Sky conditions could not be much worse tonight. My observations are being recorded between two street lights a block apart, which in and of itself is bad enough.

As the data shown to the left, last night limiting magnitude was 3.2. I miss the sky of my youth, when limiting magnitude in my yard rivels the best of conditions we can find far from home. I’d say it rivaled Atoka OK, a two and a half hour drive north.

We have lost our night sky – it is tragic to say the least. Today’s youth have no idea what they have been robbed of, nor do we adults clearly understand the damage it is causing on them nor society.

:Looking into the sky and seeing myriads of stars above as a youth I believe gave me a perspective on my responsibilities to make this society and planet a better place to live.

Todays youth instead are self-centered…

Security is a necessity, especially in this society. You have to be concerned with vandalism, theft, violent crime. But I strongly believe first of all that our attempt to increase security in many cases do exactly the opposite. Glare prevents seeing much if the dangers in an urban center, and illuminate the very things thieves and criminals target. Therefore unlike the thief of yesteryear, they can clearly see without flashlights that might give them away.

Another issue is the waste of financial resources and taxe money. Instead of directing light where it belongs, the lights shown to the right spread the light needlessly out and up. The inefficiency of the light is intensely costly to cities and taxpayers. 

Spiceberry Lane Mesquite TX

Captains Log
Stardate 2458717.71770
August 21, 2019

Light Pollution - Loss of the Night

My, how things have changed in the past 50 years. When I was young I remember having an incredible view of the night sky.  Probably no more than ten miles from where this photo was taken I could clearly and easily see the Milky. The stars above were constant companions in my nighttime treks.

This photo was taken tonight in the parking lot of my sons apartment complex. I need to get some Loss of the Night app readings from this location and offer some data on this location, not far from Town East Mall.

I feel we humans have a birthright of being able to see the nighttime sky. It is being stolen right before our eyes, and most people never notice.

Sky Quality Meter

I started using the app Loss of the Night recently to make some scientific contributions to the constant fight against Light Pollution.

I am working on obtaining a Sky Quality Meter (SQM) tyo supplement those observations which I will take at home and while we are out on the road in our Casita at various observing sites.

Let me invite readers to join in these studies. The app is available through your app store. No Astronomical experience is necessary. You launch the app, it leads you to a star, and you report on its visibility. It’s as simple asa that.

The Unihedron Sky Quality meter is more for Amateur Astronomers and others in the scientific fields related to Astronomy. I wish to build a database using one along with the Loss of the Night App to help fight light pollution. I figure starting out I need to build a database of scientific measurements for various parts of Mesquite.

Tonight I determined the limiting magnitude using the app alone was 3.2 +/-1

I observed 37 stars and this was my first night of serious use. I am looking forward to doing analysis during football games at Memorial Stadium in progress, which is a mere 1/4 mile from my home. That will be enlightening information on the effects we experience with ther blaring lights during games.

I have over the past 14 years often asked high school students if they have ever seen the Milky Way, which I have said many times before. It amazes we are raising a whole generation of youth who are unaware the night sky offers such beauty. Most have never seen the Milky Way, and how much sadder can we get as a species.

Its no wonder our youth today view themselves as the center of the universe. The fail to realize how they are only a small speck in this vast universe, and thus overemphasise their personal importance in the great scheme of things. 

Screenshot of The SkyX Professional of August 31st Ft. Griffin Sky looking South

Captain's Log
Stardate 2458715.06417
August 19, 2019

I have two pieces of news that are exciting. The Rambling Observer and Mrs. Rambling Observer will be at the Ft. Griffin Star Party August 31st and at the October 19th Dinosaur Valley State Part Star Party. So you can plan a camping trip and come on out and learn about this great universe we reside in and see objects with our telescopes. The South sky for that night and location is shown above for 9pm.

I have opened a RADA store on this webpage, if you are on my home page you will see on the top left of my menus a place that reads ‘Buy RADA.’ Click that item and you will be taken to RADA, place an order there and we get commission for your purchase. I started selling RADA back around 2010, I saw the product and fell in love with it – especially when I discovered it is USA made using all USA raw materials. Tired of /Made in China?’ – then buy and gift RADA Cutlery and Kitchen products.

Well, it feels weird not being in school today, the school year starts today and I am not there. I will be working at the most some 1/2 days, so I really need to generate a new income stream.

Captains Log
Stardate 2458708.76135
August 13, 2019
At Home In Bed Instead of Watching the Perseids!

I will never forget the night I ‘discovered’ the Seven Sisters back in the mid to late 1960’s. I stood in the street of my house in Balch Springs Texas looking over an alley that pointed straight for the cluster of stars. They were Spectacular!

My first telescopic view of the cluster was through a 2.4 inch Refractor Telescope (probably a TASCO brand). I stood there tracking them as they moved higher and higher as the earth rotated. I recall when I finally sighted them in the Telescope (which I recall was quite a feat with the crummy little finder scope) the sight took my breath away. I just could not believe anything could be so beautiful.

Fast forward to 2002 at the Texas Star Party, I turned my 18″ Starmaster Newtonian Telescope with GOTO Tracking, my friends a space over thought I was getting choked on something! I could CLEARLY, without question, see the Nebulosity accompanying the cluster. I almost could not believe my eyes!

As a young Astronomer in the 60’s after discovering the Pleiades I became aware reading about the cluster that they were enshrined in beautiful nebulosity. I recall seeing photo’s of it and seeing it designated on star charts. But I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever personally own a telescope capable of seeing it with my own eyes. That nebula has its own designation, NGC 1975.

The cluster is famous for the brightest 7 stars, but they actually contain hundreds of stars gravitationally bound to one another. They enlighten a blue reflection nebula. Spectroscopy shows the nebula to be identical in composition with the young hot blue stars whose light it reflects.

The cluster is 1/50th the age of our Sun, estimated at 100 million years old. So when you look up and see the Pleiades remember you are looking 100 million years into the past. When the light you see left the cluster racing toward Earth at the speed of light earth was a hothouse with dense jungle. Dinosaurs walked the earth and were in their hayday, their fossils can still be found.

So, next time you look up and see the 7 sisters think about what the spot where you stand might have been like and what you might see around you had you been standing there as the photons of light left hat star system and speeded your way.

We are all time travelers you know…

Captains Log
Stardate 2458708.30675
(otherwise known as the Julian Date)
August 12, 2019

The Perseid Meteor Shower

Tonight and in the morning the Perseid Meteor shower peaks. This year, however, the moon will be nearly full and the brightness from it will hinder the show quite a bit. The shower has it’s best show when the moon is not bright in the sky (new moon is perfect).

This year the show will not be at its best, but you will still be able to see brighter members of the shower. 

With the moon in the sky and bright as it will be, your best bet is to lay back in a lawn chair facing away from the moon. Brest time will be in the wee hours of the morning, several hours before Sunrise. However, Perseids can be seen in mid evening as well, so you can start looking anytime after the twilight is completely done. Google these factors to find the times for your location.

It is best to get away from the city light dome to get the best show. Let your eyes dark adapt – give them 20 or 30 minutes of complete darkness. Don’t be looking at your phone, that will never allow your eyes to get dark adapted. Give yourself an hour or two of observing. You will not walk outside and look up seeing a sky full of shooting stars! They will come in groups and lulls can noticed between them.

You can tell when you have seen a Perseid opposed to a sporadic meteor by tracing it back to its point of origin. If it is a Perseid, it will be traceable back to the Constellation Perseus .

July 17 to August 24th is the actual duration of the shower, and it overlaps with other showers as well. So to see a true Perseid you have to get used to their appearance and characteristics. Various showers have their own, and it is something you have to get used to like anything else – patience and experience.

Meteor showers are the result of earth crossing the debris field of comets. The Perseids are material left behind by the Comet Swift-Tuttle (a comet 8 miles in diameter orbiting the Sun at 95,293 mph) that was discovered on July 16, 1862 by Lewis Swift using a 4 1/2 inch Telescope. Then Horace P. Tuttle saw the same comet nights later at Harvard College Observatory from a balcony. David Levy in his book ‘Guide to Observing Meteor Showers’ says he was preparing to join the Union Army to fight in the Civil War. It may have been seen as early as 69BC by a Chinese observer. It has an orbital period of 133 years.

When you see a Perseid streak through the sky, that fragment of the comet is entering the atmosphere at a speed around 130,000 miles per hour!

The Comet itself was last visible in 1992 and I saw it at the age of 37. It is not due again until July 2126, so if I can just live to be 171 years old I can see it again! Where is a vampire when you need one? In 3044, the comet may pose a threat to our planet. It will come within .05 AU of earth.

Swift Tuttle is the largest solar system object to regularly cross our planets path!

Notice the number of Meteor Showers, (currently 112), and realize every one of these are the result of a Comet that crosses the path of our planet Earth. Any one of those comets, crossing our path around the sun at just the wrong time, can impact earth. That should be a sobering thought…

Next year the Perseids peak during last quarter moon 43%), and in 2021 the Waxing Crescent moon (18% on the 12th and 27% on the 13th) will provide us a great opportunity to see this great shower! The moon on those nights sets early evening so peak hours between midnight and dawn will be great!

So, get outside with your family and loved ones and enjoy the show!

Captains Log
Stardate 2458705.32244
August 9, 2019

Great news! The Rambling Observer will be at Ft. Grriffin State Park volunteering with their Star Party, August 30th 2019

You can come out and enjoy the park and a star party too. I plan to become a regular  (every New Moon possible) contributor at this event.

I will be there with my 8″ Celestron SE8 SCT  (Schmidt Cassegrain) Telescope and hopefully the Oberwerk 25 x 100mm Astronomical Giant Binoculars.

We will enjoy sharing the night sky with park guests.

Captains Log
Stardate 2458705.26229
August 9, 2019

Naked Astronomy

Atronomy – Naked (Unaided Eye) Astronomy is the best way to start out doing Astronomy, and by far the cheapest. You will get very little out of Astronomy unless you learn your way around the sky.

Naked eye

Naked eye
Naked eye, also called bare eye or unaided eye, is the practice of engaging in visual perception unaided by a magnifying or light-collecting optical device, such as a telescope or microscope. Vision corrected to normal acuity using corrective lenses is considered “naked”.

Don’t underestimate the value of Naked Eye Astronomy. I have a friend named David Swann who has primarily been doing this sort of Astronomy a lot longer than I have been into Astronomy. His idea of an upgrade was to buy a pair of 80mm Binoculars.

David has recorded and submitted scientific data on Meteor Showers for many, many years, and he has over 10,000 Variable Star Observations recorded with the American Association of Variable Star Observers.

When I got into Astronomy this is how I started. I will never forget the night I first saw the Pleiades rising. It was as though I had discovered Pluto!

First, buy a nice Planisphere. I recommend one in particular, David Lervy’s Northern Hemisphere and have embedded a link to it – just click the word above. It is available in 11 and 16″. I recommend the larger one.

What is a Planisphere, Here’s a definition.

Planisphere

A planisphere is a star chart analog computing instrument in the form of two adjustable disks that rotate on a common pivot. It can be adjusted to display the visible stars for any time and date. It is an instrument to assist in learning how to recognize stars and constellations.

You can pick this one up for around $20 in the 16 inch size. Set it up – simply find today’s date, turn the dial for the current time (say 10pm), align the pointer under the time to the date. Use it to learn the Constellations, set the planisphere tp the current date, go outside somewhere away from street and neighborhood lights and trace out the designs you see. Identify and learn the brightest stars, such as Vega or Arcturus.

Try and go outside every night and identify the constellations and stars. Repetition is your friend.. The more you go outside and study the night sky, the better you will learn the sky.

Also use one of the many available Planetarium apps available. I use Sky Safari 6. You set it up (follow the directions) then hold it up against the sky, it identifies what you are seeing.

Image by David Malin

Messier 33, in the constellation Triangulum, also known as NGC 598 or the Triangulum Galaxy, has always fascinated me. It’s angular dimensions are  73 x 45 arc-minutes, so its quite large. However, its surface visual magnitude is 5.7 so it’s clearly visible with the naked eye, but still poses difficulty locating it in a telescope without GOTO capability. It’s a great target for Binoculars! One of the best times to observe M33 is October.

Charles Messier added it to his catalog in August 25, 1764, but it appears to have already been known before his time.

I remember when I was young trying to find it in the sky. It was a bit difficult to locate for me, but in my 6 inch reflector it was beautiful.

My first observation of it in a Telescope was around 1964. I remember spying it in a 4 inch telescope. I find averted vision to help when trying to locate and observe this beautiful Spiral Galaxy. Wikipedia defines Averted Vision:

Averted vision is a technique for viewing faint objects which uses peripheral vision. It involves not looking directly at the object, but looking a little off to the side, while continuing to concentrate on the object. This subject is discussed in the popular astronomy literature but only a few rigorous studies have quantified the effect.

This technique i s very useful when peering through the eye of a telescope. It is remarkable how looking direct on at an object can produce one effect while averting your vision just a little off the same object brings out details you other wise missed. Try it sometimes if this concept is new to you.

Although at magnitude 5.7 technically it is a naked sky object, you will need a very dark sky. You will not be able to see it in any light polluted site. For most of us, it is the most distant object visible to us with the naked eye. It is at a distance of  2.9 million light years. When you look at M33, realize that its motion is bringing it toward our solar system! It is about 1/2 the size of the Milky Way Galaxy. The Andromeda and M33 are only separated in the sky by around 15 degrees.

Image courtesy of Stellarium

Captains Log
Stardate 2458702.74149
August 7, 2019

This image is from the Hubble Space Telescope of my favorite object – Omega Centauri (NGC 5139), which is in the Constellation of Centaurus.

Most northern latitude astronomers cannot see it because it is too low in the sky. I have been  blessed with the opportunity 3 times now in my Astronomy career to have viewed it from near the McDonald Observatory, near Ft. Davis Texas.

None other than Edmond Halley (of Comet Halley fame) first identified it as a non stellar object in 1677. He identified it as a Nebula, and it wasn’t until 1830’s that John Herschel recognized it as a Globular Star Cluster.

Omega is at a distance of 15,800 light years and has a diameter of 150 light years. From a dark sky site, it appears about as large as the Full Moon.

So in late April when I viewed it often while attending the Texas Star Party, I peered into space and ancient photon’s of light struck my eyes, photon’s that left Omega Centauri almost 16,000 years ago.

Omega Centauri actually is a dwarf galaxy that encountered the Milky Way galaxy in a cosmic collision – leaving what we see now as a Globular Cluster. It is 11.53 Billion Years old.

The Milky Way Galaxy is home to some 250 globulars. One of the things that are special about this object in the night sky is that it is easily visible in dark conditions by the unaided eye.

The best time to see it is in late April to early May. 

A good way to find it is to locate the star Spica when it reaches its highest point in the sky in late April to early May. This is called a transit. Look 35 degrees below Spica and you will see Omega.

Observers north of 35 degrees north latitude cannot spy Omega, you need to be at a more southern latitude (below 35 degrees).

I’ve never seen it below 30 degrees north latitude. Southern Hemisphere observers get all the fun it would seem! They can observe Omega Centauri high in the sky!

As Globular Star Clusters go, Omega is a bit unique. It is composed of several generations of stars, unlike its peers which are normally composed of very young stars. It also rotates faster than typical Globulars.

So, Astronomy fans, next April/May get down to at least a latitude of 35 degrees to see this spectacular sight!

Captains Log
Stardate 2458696.6528
July 31, 2019

Marvin Huddleston, Time Traveler

I have just returned from 4 nights (well, 3 nights and one stormy one) of Astronomy using the Casita Spirit Deluxe. It was a great week. The skies were really nice and and the Casita proves to be a fantastic astronomy tool!

I was laying out on the cot last night for about 4 hours. I could not help but think of my grandfather (Herbert Clinton Carroll (Big Daddy)). 81 years ago, he probably gazed out into space as I was doing watching meteors and gazing at the Milky Way. I wish I had known him. Then an idea popped into my mind.

When I left the Dallas area I had no thoughts or plans to step into a time machine to go back to 1938 to meet my grandfather and share and discuss  the universe. I did not consider there is a Cosmic way that weekend that I could reach out to the very time when my Grandfather was in the prime of his life. He would continue after penning those thoughts, he would live through WWII making contributions that aided the United States to defeat the evil of Hitler. THat he would travel to the mainland and meet his grandson, causing him to become fascinated with the same night sky he was fascinated with.

In April 1938, 81 years ago, light from these stars left their system traveling in all directions, including earth. As Herbert gazed up at the night sky, light from these stars fired protons toward Herbert, that traveled 27 light years after he wrote down his thoughts one night the year he died. 54 years after that, his Grandson laid back on a cot also looking up at the night sky in wonder and in awe. Light arrived on earth 81 years after he wrote his thoughts as his grandson looked out into the universe thinking about him wishing he he’d truly known his grandfather.

Right now, it gives me a chill to think stars 81 light years away as I write this are firing photon’s toward me that will arrive in the year 2,100. Think about that.

Jesus Christ walked this earth around 2,000 years ago, yet light left stars 2100 light years from us  that are just arriving on earth now! Thus, you have been, in a way, transported two thousand years into the past.Jesus Created those stars and he sustains those stars.

We are all but stardust. In the beginning, a singularity started expanding, and under the guidance of God creating stars that explode (going nova and supernova) , shooting energy and matter into space that coalesce creating things such as stars, solar systems, planets. And God took this matter and formed man out of it…this God created the dust of the earth he took making man.

Think about history…every event in history happens with eternity in the background. As humans walk the earth and history happens, cosmic events occur sending out matter and energy as history occurs reaching earth during our modern age. As we carry out history our star fires off its energy sending it out into the cosmos. Millions, thousands, Billions, Trillions of years from now that lite reaches other worlds carrying our history along with it.

Yet only man, as far as we know, is alive in this universe to experience History and Cosmology. To wonder if cosmic energy that left a star when his grandfather gazed into the heavens would arrive now, at this time, at this place…

The Bible asks similar cosmic, mind boggling questions:

“What is man, that thou art mindful of him?”

It is my educated belief that God witnesses History, past, present, and future from a vantage point outside our dimensional reality in such a way that it is happening all at once.

I started researching stars 81 light years from earth and found these preliminary candidates :

81.0BD+37 42G0 V?AndromedaHD 1562, Hip 1598, SAO 53817
81.2HR 7294 AG4-6 V?CygnusHD 179958, Hip 94336, SAO 48193, ADS 12169 A
81.2HR 7293G4-6 V?CygnusHR 7293, HD 179957, BD+49 2959 B, SAO 48192, ADS 12169 B
81.3HR 1747 AG0 V?LepusGl 198, HD 34721, BD-18 1051, Hip 24786
81.5HR 672 AG0.5 IVb?Cetus-PiscesSubgiant IVb, HD 14214 , BD+01 410 A, Hip 10723
81.7BD+13 1655G5-K2 V?Canis MajorisGJ 2057, HD 57901, Hip35872
81.9BD+63 1882G8 V?CepheusHD 215500, Hip 112245, SAO 20223

In effect, I became a time traveler. I saw, 81 years later, light that left star systems, traveling at the speed of light, which arrived on our planet the night my grandfather was having cosmic and spiritual thoughts under the stars .

 Time travel is a reality…

Astronomy can be Frustrating - and yes, Stressful!

Note to Self…when you are so anxious to use a new tool like a Sky Watcher Star Adventurer, take your camera with you on the trip! Yep, you guessed it! I left my camera bag at home…and I drove over 2 hours from home mainly learn to use a Skytracker drive, with no camera to mount onto it. I left it home, an adapter necessary for connecting the Casita to the Genny…I am praying my wife can get into contact with my friend David who can bring up my camera and a couple other things when he comes tonight.

One thing I think TAS needs to require of from it’s members using the site is that they sign in. Failing to do so should be cause to lose usage of the site. We need to know who is and has been here, and be able to gauge how much traffic we have here at Atoka. I bet half the people here last night didn’t sign the book.

Well, it’s almost 2pm, and I believe I am alone under the star (the Sun). Last of the Mohicans from the Saturday night crowd at Atoka, but my friend David is coming and my wife is going to connect with him and have him bring my cameras.

I was very happy with my Westinghouse iGen 2500 last night. I turned off the air conditioner and ran the Gen night with the MaxFan blowing in (I went to bed around 3am). When I got up it had 1 liter of gas left!! My only complaint is how loud it is. I hope one day to be able to park beside someone with the Honda 2200 for comparison on site as to how loud it is compared to ours. Only problem is so far I cannot get it disconnected from the truck. I think the lock is in a bind and I am not sure which master lock key goes to it. I finally figured it out and now have it the distance allowed by the Casita power cable (25 feet?). Timing how long it runs the Air conditioner on Eco mode.

GOOD NEWS – I contacted my friend David, so now it looks like I may have my Cameras tonight!

Free tip: BlackoutEZ window covers are great for not only blocking light but also for helping cool the Casita. I just re-installed two on my large dinette East windows. I am leaving the one for the large window off for now. I want to sit here sharing my vast wisdom with for my follower and be able to see such things as the Coyote that passed very near my camping spot an hour or so ago. I can already feel a difference sitting here at the dinette. I am talking with the folks about some issues I have had with the covers velcro. I will keep you updated in future posts.

Turn off the outside white lights, never use blue lighting (I have it on my porch – someone who started the idea of blue lighting to support our Police didn’t do any research), and look up and see the beautiful sky!!

For now, Au revoir!

Captains Log
Stardate 2458692.78358
July 28, 2019 (1:50am)

The Perseus Double Cluster, NGC 869 & NGC 884

It is nearing 2 am and I am still awake, but this time not because I am in pain of any sort (well, in all honesty I am always in some sort of pain with Fibromyalgia).

No, tonight I am sitting in the Casita at the Atoka Ok Astronomy site of the Texas Astronomical Society/ I’ll bet ‘ole Tom Noe never realized that after he was gone I would be sitting on the west end of the concrete pad that he constructed for an Observatory in our new Casita. Well, thank you Tom. This is perfect for the Casita and me. I am greatly enjoying observing here. 

I was just looking at the Double Cluster in Perseus. They are two open star clusters, NGC 869 and 884. They lie at a distance from us of about 7502 light years (thus when you look at them you are peering back in time about that number of years). They are 12.81 million years old. They are 3.7 and 3.8 magnitude, easily visible to the naked eye. They represent the jeweled handle of the Greek god Perseus’ sword in mythology. But let me tell you, don’t settle for the naked eye view. View them in a good telescope at low power – they are worth the trouble. When you see them this way, they open the words of the Psalmist to a spectacular reality:

“The Heavens declare the Glory of God (ps 19:1).”

I’ve been strolling around the milky way galaxy, occasionally peeking at light coming from outside our galaxy, such as that coming from the Andromeda Galaxy. You are aware that everything you see in the night sky with possibly two exceptions in the northern latitudes are parts of our Galaxy, the Milky Way. Don’t you winder if there are humans in the Andromeda Galaxy looking at our Milky Way…what do they know it as? What is their name for our corner of the Cosmos? And what do they know their own Galaxy as? You can bet it’s not Andromeda.

So, speaking of the Andromeda Galaxy, and M33 for that matter, I wonder how my Grandfather felt on that April night in 1937 looking out into space, and did he have Andromeda in mind at all when he wrote my favorite quote,

Sometimes when I am alone under the stars, I look out into space and wonder if our works look to God as small as His looks great to us?

I wish I had known him. I only saw him twice, first time in ’61 then again sometime after that. Then he died in 1965…

I was just looking at M31 and M33 (Andromeda and another galaxy closeby in the sky in my 8 Inch Celestron Telescope. When I would look at these two line of sight neighbors, sometimes I think of the possibilities and get a chill. Literately.

How could anyone not?

The Great Andromeda Galaxy, M31 sometimes called NGC 224

Captains Log
Stardate 2458691.17264
July 26, 2019

 

Why did the bicycle lay around on the couch all day?? Because it was two tired…

I am passionate about Astronomy no doubt, but I have a myriad of other interests such as gardening, coin collecting, weather, etc. etc. etc.

I will be the speaker September 10th at the North Texas Water Garden Society. My main topic will be the Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow Network, but I will fit Astronomy into the presentation somehow! 

I have a lot to do before I can leave for the Observatory this weekend, including finding some misplaced items like a camera timer I have no idea where I hid from myself. That is my greatest superpower, hiding things from myself. I’m the best at it! I fixed the door on the fridge, now I need to get my gas cans filled for the generator, check the tires, etc. I use a checklist when we tow and it is pretty extensive. I also have an extensive list of the Astro items I need to load also. I have not decided if I am going to leave Saturday or Sunday yet.

The Constellation Scorpio, the Scorpion, is the first Constellation my 8 year old granddaughter has learned. We were outside the other evening and Isabella pointed and said “there’s the Scorpion!” Ah, the sweet sound of success! She also has learned the star Arcturus, also known as Alpha Scorpio. It has a temperature of 8,360 F, and is at a distance of 36.66 light years, and shines at .04 magnitude. Papa bought her a Constellation activity book when I was at TSP this year. Last birthday, she got a Robert Reeves Celestron telescope for her birthday. I was going to San Antonio before we gave her the telescope and I met with Robert at his home and he signed it for her.

When you look at the heart of the Scorpion, Arcturus, you are seeing light that left that star over 36 years ago. In Astronomy, you are always working with light from the past, not the present. I have to admit, Scorpio is my favorite constellation!

Also, realize when you are looking at any constellation, you are seeing a grouping of stars that are not close together. If you traveled to a star like Arcturus, then started searching for Scorpio, you would discover it is not there. The alignment that makes Scorpio look as it does is merely a matter of perspective. The stars from our point of view merely seem to create the great scorpion in the sky. They are not close together and are not bound together by gravity.

Cool, huh?!

 

The Constellation Scorpio

Captains Log
Stardate 2458690.44453
July 25, 2019

Did you duck?

Earth had a visitor, and it kind of snuck up on us. An Asteroid discovered just days ago, named 2019 OK (Ironic – an impact would not have been ok), 328 feet in diameter passed the earth at a distance of only 45,360 miles traveling past us at 251,449.5 miles per hour. By planetary and astronomical standards, we are talking about a near miss, about a fifth the distance to the moon.

Let’s just assume we completely missed seeing it and it impacted earth over New York or Dallas (near me). The city would have been obliterated. It would have been like a Nuke had been detonated in the city, or some 30 times the energy released on Hiroshima.

This is a serious threat to planet earth. While grant chasing scientists go in league with fear mongering liberal politicians, wasting Billions of dollars to fight Anthropomorphic Climate Change, we are grossly under funding real science like the search for such threats such as an asteroid with a bulls-eye on our planet.

Am I a climate change denier? No.

Climate change is real, very real, But Climate Change is Solar & Geologically driven, and there is virtually nothing man can do to affect it one way or another. It is a normal condition of Planet Earth. Any funding on fighting it is a complete waste of time and resources that should be aimed at something we can actually do something about, like avoiding an Asteroid or Comet impact with earth.

Ok, enough of that, let me climb off my soap box…

If you enjoy my blogs, please consider helping fund me by clicking the Help Fund me Tab on my homepage… 

 

Captains Log
Stardate 2458690.16344
July 25, 2019

I was amazed how fast my new Oberwerk 25 x 100mm Binoculars arrived. Todd shipped them via FedX Monday, and they arrived on my doorstep Tuesday! The 25 x 100’s have center focus, they are also offered in a single focus configuration, but for Astronomy I believe these are the best option. They are filly broadband multi-coated, and they are waterproof and Nitrogen filled. These are going to be great for Astronomy and I plan to make good use of them.

I will be using them for public outreach in Astronomy and Psalm 19. I once owned a pair of Apogee’s in the 20 x 100mm class. Those had built in filters, which were interesting, but I seldom used the filter. Apogee model I owned are no longer offered and Apogee itself may be out of business. They were much cheaper on the pocketbook too. But I got the Oberwerks used for about the same price as the Apogee’s and saved several hundred dollars.

The Casita had a problem I had to fix before heading north to Atoka this weekend. The fridge door hinge had broken and I had to purchase a repair part from Little House Customs. I dreaded the project, and had some issues getting it completed. But finally it was and its ready for the trip.

I am finally getting used to SiteGround which I am using for this website. I am working on the Links page breaking the menu down with drop downs for various categories. And many other menu items are being set up that have drop downs as well.

One new addition is a new page, I’m calling it Casita Book for now. I am writing a book of sorts on the Casita Travel Trailer and asking people to donate if they find it useful. I hope this works – I need to start developing an income, and this is one of the ideas I’ve had to do so.

Today my goal is to get the Celestron SE8 I own out and set it up on the table, then install a Feathertouch focuser I bought a good while back but never installed it. Back when I owned a Starmaster 18 inch Newtonian it had the feathertouch, and I loved it. So this will be a nice addition to the Celestron.

My observing plans are to stay multiple days at Atoka. Only concern is now there is a chance of Thunderstorms or a shower on Accuweather for Monday. Otherwise – it looks like a nice time for a shakedown cruise of my Starship Stormy. I plan to start working on the double star list for the Astronomical League program.

Please note that in my blogs and postings here on Rambling Observer frequently a key word will have a link attached. All you have to do is click the keyword and it will direct you to that site, like the word Astronomical League. Click the first mention of that name and it will direct you to the AL.

 

Captains Log
Stardate 2458687.20252
(July 22,2019)

Today’s major project needs to be repairing the door on the Fridge in the Casaita. It is a Dometic brand 4 cu foot fridge, obviously cheaply made. the main point of stress is the top hinge which has failed and I’ve bought a product from Little House Customs to repair it with. The part is called a FRIDGE HINGE REPAIR/DAMAGE PREVENTION KIT, and Little House sells it for $21.95. I wish I had been warned about this BEFORE it broke!

I’m getting excited at the prospect of getting the Casita up to Oklahoma for some Astronomy at the Texas Astronomical Society’s Atoka Observatory site. Weather looks so far to be cooperating.  Mostly sunny during the period I am shooting for. Not sure if I will go up as early as Friday – I am seriously thinking of skipping the meeting and going on up, but could possibly wait until Sunday afternoon. I have a Milliard TriFold Mattress ordered for the side Dinette of our Casita Spirit Deluxe like the one we have for the main dinette. What I plan on next weeks trip to do is to have the side dinette set up for my sleeping and use the larger dinette as my table and star chart research area. This will be great when we have a need for a 3rd bed, like when the granddaughter accompanies is on our explorations!

Wednesday night is the Reasons to Believe Dallas Chapter meeting. I need to go this month but also need to watch gas costs as I have the Atoka trip coming up. And I invite any readers to check out the RTB Dallas Chapter (Click the name above which is a link embedded). Meeting times are also listed on their Facebook page.

The EXCITING news is that within the next several days I have an Oberwerk 25 x 100mm Giant Astronomical Binocular coming! I had to sell some items to buy this, but found a slightly used one from a new friend named Todd. He’d upgraded from these to a 110mm Oberwerk! Saved me a couple hundred dollars! These will be used with the Farpoint Parallelogram Mounting system which I already have.

Captains Log
Stardate 2458685.94444
(July 21, 2019)

The Weather is looking promising at this time for my planned trip to Atoka, OK for a round of stargazing next week (Saturday 27 – Friday August 3rd). I will be excited to get up there finally with our Casita. I only wish Robin could accompany me but her work responsibilities do not align where she can be away from work that week.

I am so excited! My new friend Todd is hopefully shipping me as pair of Oberewerk 25 x 100mm Giant Astronomical Binoculars Monday if he can find the box large enough to ship them. I sold an item in order to buy those, and they are going to pair well with the Farpoint Parallelogram mounting system I already have waiting! This trip will also be the shakedown cruise for a Startracker I have for Astrophotography. I just need to decide if I am going to skip the meeting Friday night of the Texas Astronomical Society and head on up, or wait and leave either Saturday or Sunday even.

So I am enjoying my second cup of coffee and eating toast, I have to have something in my stomach so I can take my meds.

A new Tab has been added under my blog drop down menu Theology/Biblical Teaching. So if you are interested you can find those discussions there. I may also be adding a Counseling tab there. still thinking about that one.

I attended the Grapevine Coin Show yesterday and actually came out having spent very little money. I did a lot of horse trading, and bought a new Dansco Album for Mercury dimes and filled a few holes in my Roosevelt album. I traded and obtained the 2019 Silver Reverse Proof Set that needs to be broken open today and placed in the Dansco Albums which complete 2019 in my sets. I am one of these coin collectors who stay’s mostly in common coinage we carry around in our pockets. I am not like a guy I saw yesterday at the coin show shelling out thousands of dollars for coins he’d purchased from one dealer…wow.

Combining my interests is another fun activity, how about you? I combine Astronomy and Coin Collecting by building a collection of Astronomy & Space themed Coinage. Most of that stuff comes from overseas in the form of The International Year of Astronomy coinage which the United States did not participate in. The U.S. has this year issued some Apollo commemorative coinage for the manned moon missions of the late 60’s & 70’s which I do not have.

I need to start reviewing products, and will be doing so during my Casita Astronomy trip to Atoka. However, I may start as soon as today. The only problem is I hate to start on a sour note. The heaviest thing on my mind right now was my experience with a TSP vendor whom I ordered the Parallelogram mount from. They had a huge display at TSP and I’ve been ordering a number of small items from them (and they have a neat T-Shirt I want, Astrogeezer). But the situation of ignoring my complaint after buying a Farpoint mount from them and the lack of any kind of documentation is unacceptable…and their piss-poor excuse of shipping container is of equal concern. Maybe I will start by reviewing something else first.

Captains Log
Stardate 2458684.17311

(July 19, 2019)

Someone asked me what the Stardate thing was all about, Startrek? Yes and no. I had star trek in mind when I started doing that, but it actually is as Astronomy thing. The Julian Date is defined thus

” Julian day is the continuous count of days since the beginning of the Julian Period and is used … The Julian date (JD) of any instant is the Julian day number plus the fraction of a day since the preceding noon in …. The Lilian day number is a count of days of the Gregorian calendar and not defined relative to the Julian Date. “

I bet you the Startrek folks had the JD in mind when they did their Stardate lob the captains used.

A quick search on Google about the Star Trek Stardate designation says  ” Stardate. … A stardate is a fictional system of time measurement developed for the television and film series Star Trek. In the series, use of this date system is commonly heard at the beginning of a voice-over log entry, such as “Captain’s log,stardate 41153.7. Our destination is planet Deneb IV …”. 

Please note there are several errors in my first blog I am aware of. I am having trouble getting it edited, technical difficulties! I’m working on it and also hope to reverse the order of my blog with newest at the top.

I attended the Dallas Coin Club last night and only spent $9! For that I got two Coin Sets on the Apollo missions, a paper money Dansco folder, and a very nice frame to house two very old Lunar Charts I have, one dated November 7, 1773. Both were probably from the same very old book.

I am very excited about a purchase I have in progress. I am waiting to be paid for an item I think I have sold, getting the buyer to pay me via PayPal. I have made a new friend on Facebook who is selling me a pair of Oberwerk 25 x 100mm Giant Astronomical Binoculars. He already marked them sold and is holding them for me. These will be used in public Astronomy outreach. The are much like another pair I used to own I used during the Transit of Venus public outreach event years ago. Large Astronomical binoculars and Parallelogram mount s are perfect for public use, and a 25x makes for a spectacular view.  I will try and post pictures later. I also plan to get a YouTube up possibly today as well.

Signing off for now Stargazers! Turn the outside lights off and keep looking up campers! 

Captains Log
Stardate 2458680.04466
(July 7, 2019)

My morning meditation is on Proverbs 19:21 (ESV):

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

As I planned out my life as a young man, I desired to attend College and eventually Seminary (Graduate School). I married my High School Sweetheart on February 13, 1976, having graduated from Mesquite High School in May, 1975 (Yea SKEETERS!). My secondary goal was to pursue science and get a degree in Astrophysics or something. Who knows, I remember thinking. I might make it to the moon one day!

But (and my English teacher back in high school is rolling over in her grace right now, I am aware you should never start a sentence with ‘but) my plan and the calling I felt in 1973 was to serve God as a full time Youth Minister in churches. I quickly discovered that life gets in the way of our plans. God had other plans. Elsewhere in Scripture He reveals to us that ‘the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…’ I missed the fact that my wife points out. I did end up a Youth Minister, I just did it a different way (I’ve substitute taught for the past 14 years now). It’s too bad the churches do not see what people like me do that fall outside their design for paid ministry.

I have often pondered what I would do differently today if I could go back in time (much like the main character in my favorite movie, Mr. Destiny) and do it all over again correcting my many, many, many mistakes and correcting all my poor choices. But life doesn’t work that way, thank the Lord! No, as we progress through life the direction we take if we are Christian are the exact things that God wants for us and our very steps are being ‘ordered by the Lord.’ God looks at time from a Kingdom perspective, we look at time much differently. We nee the past, present and future in a linear fashion, God on the other hand is outside our dimension and sees time as past, present, and future as though they are all happening at once.

My destiny was different than I had imagined it would be. By now my plan was to be nearing retirement, draw a well earned pension from Ministry work, and live out my retirement years sipping a drink out of a straw in a  coconut with one of those little umbrellas. God had other plans that I was unable to even grasp, and min many ways still cannot grasp.

As I sit in our Casita enjoying my coffee and a wonderful cool morning. I have the large side dinette window open and the Fantastic Fan on the top of the Casita drawing in air, which makes for a nice morning breeze. Yes, I think I could live like this…

But my mind wanders. New moon this month is July 31st, 7:52am and I pray for good weather in Oklahoma with no recent rains resulting in the TAS Atoka site muddy or the ground soft. People get stuck out there and that wouldn’t be any fun at all pulling a 2500 pound travel trailer with it and/or the F150 stuck in the mud.

I am looking forward to using my Skywatcher Star Adventurer Pro with my Canon T6i and start the process of learning that system. Back around the time of Comet Halley in 1986 I build a very crude Skytrackere. It was composed of a 1/24th rph motor, a Whataburger straw for polar alignment, and the parts were epoxied together. One of the parts was from a maintenance key used to open commercial Toilet paper dispenser. It was epoxied to the motor with a hole drilled into it to hold the straw polar alignment . You simply adjusted the straw until it was roughly parallel with the motor shaft. A Camera head was epoxied to the end of the shaft where a bolt was frilled and threaded to screw on the camera ball head.

I’ve photographed Comet Halley, Comet Hyakutake, and Comet Hale-Bopp among others with that crude device. The best I ever was able to do were 10 minute or less exposures. But it worked. The Star Adventurer Pro opens up a whole new field of Astrophotography to me. I will be able to take hour or longer exposures if I wish to. That might be useful for instance if I am trying to detail the radiant of a meteor shower.

The other thing running in my favor is owning a Casita, as well as the improvements on a Lease Site at the TAS Atoka Observing site. I own the site originally done  by my late friend Tom Noe. He erected a 16 x 20 foot concrete pad, ran crude electrical to it, and built a pier for a future telescope mount. I recently found out that his original plan was to build an Observatory featuring none-other than Clyde Tombaugh’s observatory dome. But all that remains of Tom’s dream is the concrete pad. Not even the electrical was installed, but it’s there for me to one day connect to the TAS Power grid. It can only be used for low amperage telescopes, computers or similar items, it cannot be used to power the Casita.

So, to use the Casita at Atoka we have a Westinghouse iGen 2500 Generator. It will produce the 25 amps of power, 2500 peak watts and 2200 sustained running watts. I will need to power the trailer. I will be doing a review of the generator under reviews soon, and plan first to do my first review on the Casita as a travel trailer choice. IMHO fiberglass trailers are the only game in town, and for us the Casita cannot be beat. It tows like a dream, you hardly notice it behind the 2015 Ford F150 we tow it with. It’s had three trips out, first to Copper Breaks State Park, second to Ft. Davis for the Texas Star Party (Robin wasn’t able to make that trip due to business obligations and travel. and third to Dinosaur State Park near Glen Rose.  I guess if you include the tow home from the Rice Texas Casita assembly plant its been towed 4 times now.

I plan to do a full review of the Casita Travel Trailer and eventually do a comparison between it and the many knock offs that have sprang up over the years. I will also be reviewing mods and the many, many products the various manufacturers want new Travel Trailers owners to think they cannot live without.

However (there high school English teachers, I actually did learn some proper English and Grammar), suffice it to say for today that as my Blog progresses, my reader (that was intentional too) can follow the adventures of Marvin & Robin Huddleston as they face the pinnacle of their life and experience…

I can promise you, it will not be dull by any stretch of the imagination!

Captains Log
Stardate 2458681.500000
(July 17, 2019)

It is my goal to add a blog every day or so, and someday’s there may be several; yesterday I ran into some technical issues (operator ignorance should I admit) so I missed doing one.

Admittedly, a lot of my blog will have to do with Astronomy. But I will be blogging on other topics as well, including Theology as it is one of the many areas of interest to me. All of our Casita adventures will be covered, if not here under a specific tab for Casita. I may add another tab and place Theology and Biblical Counseling there. This is still a work in progress so it will evolve with time.

So, that being said, were you aware there was a Lunar Eclipse this week? It was a partial lunar eclipse, the last lunar eclipse of 2019, and was only visible from Australia, Africa, South America, most of Europe, and Asia. The eclipse missed all of North America, except for the very southern and eastern parts of the continent. The other astronomical draw is the dance of the planets Jupiter and Saturn with the waxing gibbous moon. See Sky & Telescope or Astronomy Magazine for more information on this and other astronomical sights the rest of this week.

If you visit My Favorite Links you will find an already extensive listing of websites. It is my goal for this to become the goto-place to find anything Astronomy, so please help by suggesting links I have not yet included including Astro-vendors and report any broken links to me for correction.

My current project is acquiring a set of Oberwerk 25 x 100mm GIANT Astro Binoculars. I am working on a deal right now with a new friend I’ve made. I’m broke, on Social Security and basically otherwise unemployed right now  so I’ve had to become a sort of wheeler-dealer in obtaining items such as the Oberwerks and Farpoint Astronomical Parallelogram mount I’ve already obtained for them. I am not able to buy one of these at the new retail price, these are two years old but have only been used about 4 times and in like new condition. I will be reviewing both of these items soon in my reviews section. The Oberwerk Bino’s offer an incredible 2.4 degree field of view and 25x magnification. They are perfect for public outreach events.

I’ve been messing with medical stuff yesterday and today. You can read all about it under my Help Fund me tab, which takes you to my Go-Fund-Me Campaign or campaigns. For those of you who know me personally I’m having to swallow my pride once again and put the word out so you will know I need your help. I’m leaving it up to the Lord, all I can do is establish a vehicle by which someone can personally help and try as best I can get the word out of the need. I do not wish or intend to hound anyone with this. If you receive a duplicate request please understand it gets confusing sending this sort of thing out. I only intend to send these requests personally out to family, friends, and personal acquaintances. So if you receive a personal request from me I count you among my personal circles of influence. There is the possibility someone might receive my personal request to become a part of my fundraising team by mistake. This has already happened once so far, but I will share later on how God used that and I realized it wasn’t by accident after all.

I’ve learned in my life there is no such thing as a coincidence…at least not in a Christians life.

I am scheduled to see a urologist next week, I still have kidney stones. I have not been able to date to do anything about them other than having MRI’s sonograms, numerous doctors visits, etc. The reason being last fall they wanted ~ $5,500 for the outpatient procedure and we had not met hospital deductible. Having had two stays in the hospital already this year now should be the time to get this taken care of.

Ah jeez…better run for now. I just got a letter in the mail from the Neptune Society that I just cannot wait to shred.

 

Huddleston Observatory...I like the sound of that!

The internet as it is today, I thought most junk mail would be history! But this card comes in today's mail...I might be trying a RamblingObserver.com one!

Captains Log
Stardate2458682.500000
(July 18, 2019

Loosing weight using a drink & eating your regular diet? No Way!

I am sitting here sipping my morning coffee. As I do so I’m awaiting 10am when I am doing a live raffle for a coin I’ve sold. We use a random number generator life so everything is on the up and up. I’ve loved coin collecting since I was about 6 years old. I mostly collect common coins, you know the type coin you might find in your pocket change. Lincoln Cents, Jefferson Nickles, Roosevelt dimes, Washington Quarters (right now State Quarters) Kennedy Half Dollars…that sort of thing. I am a member of the Dallas Coin Club which meets tonight and looking forward to the meeting…

Ok, so, that is done. We had 5 players all hoping to win a Donald J. Trump Inauguration, January 20, 2017 coin certified and graded by PCGS as MS69. I am selling a lot of coins that I own that are graded. With my health concerns I no longer see these coins as an investment. My preference is to translate these into cash that can be invested in equipment that I can use to do STEM education and Psalm 19:1 ministries public outreach events. What good are these things doing me or anyone else sitting in a bank safety deposit box anyway?

God has been good. If the weather predictions hold for the week of July 27 to August 3 I plan to be at the Texas Astronomical Society observing site for the first time with our Casita Travel trailer, where I will be using a new Skytracker drive with my Canon T6i camera. I also hope to have a new to me pair of Oberwerk 25 x 100mm Giant Astro Binoculars on that trip. Timing is everything and I am not sure I will be able to receive them in time, but if we do it will be fun checking those suckers out! They will be used a lot in Public Outreach in Astronomy.

One of my coin collecting projects is I am trying to establish a coin collection related to Astronomy. The US Mint has a new series of coins out celebrating the Moon landings (Apollo program.” I have a number of coins from around the world from 2009 when most of the world celebrated the International Year of Astronomy by minting both coins and stamps. Personally I am disappointed that the US Mint did not participate in that event.

On another note let me give everyone a health trick my wife and I have learned. We are in a weight loss program called Naturally Slim. One of the things that we have learned is a drink called H2Orange. You mix 7 parts water to one part orange juice (not from a concentrate – it has to be the real deal). It helps curb your appetite for snacks during the day and is a miracle mix for us diabetics. It has really helped me regulate my blood sugar. I can tell you all these diet programs seldom work long term. Naturally slim does. The only restriction you find in NS is to eliminate sugar for the first 21 days. After that you work it back into your diet. You eat just about anything else. But they teach you how to eat…how to slow sown your metabolism and the rate at which you eat your meals. They also teach you how to use ‘hunger busters’ which help you between meals when you get the snacking bug. You are taught the concept of becoming a “true thin…” It is expensive as I understand it but it is one of the few programs that really work. Check it out by clicking the link I’ve provided (click the program name). My wife’s company actually pays for ours…

In closing today, let me point you to a blog I encourage you to follow. Jayewalking the World. I’m about to add a link under my Favorite Links tab. Janell was my wifes’ bosses boss until recently. I love when people go out of the ordinary and pursue dreams! She and her husband have set and started fulfilling the dream of climbing the world’s 10 greatest mountains!