Friday, October 21, 2011

Waking up....

Jerry had to fly to Chicago for the day. So I dropped him off at DCA at 4:30 am, drove home and promptly went back to sleep. Now, I'm trying to wake up but playing on phone instead... found Blogger app...

But of the recent apps, I think Dropbox is the most useful. Basically get some free space in the cloud, save files to a special directory on your computer, then access and edit from any other enabled computer or device. For me, editing the Observatory attendance spreadsheet is always tough because I always forget my little slips of paper from the night before or worse get working on other stuff and forget entirely. Last night though, I edited the spreadsheet directly from my phone.

If you want to try Dropbox, let me know so that I can invite you and we can both get more free space.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pluto in the Solar System Toy Box

Since I run a campus observatory, I'm often asked about what I think about Pluto getting "demoted." First, Pluto wasn't demoted, it was reclassified. Unfortunately, the astronomers/IAU aren't exactly clear yet on the classifications -- I'm personally leaning towards the Star Trek classifications myself.

Here's how I explain it:

When you are young and you only have a few toys -- a crayon, a doll, a puzzle -- it makes sense to put them all in one toy box. But as you have more birthdays, you get more toys. Now you have lots and lots of crayons and coloring books, lots of toy cars, lots of Legos. Now it makes sense to have a container for each kind of toy. All of the crayons and coloring books could go in one box while the Legos would go in another. It wouldn't make sense to mix them all up.

And that's how it works in astronomy. For a long time, we only knew about the 'planets' and that included Pluto. But then we started learning more and more about the outer Solar System and we recognized that Pluto doesn't quite belong in the same box as the other planets.

And it's not like this is the first time this has happened! Back in the 1800's when the asteroids (at least that's what we call them now!) were first being discovered, they were also classified as planets. But after about 50 years (and several dozens of asteroids), the astronomers finally agreed that the objects they were discovering weren't like the other planets and because of their star-like appearance, called them asteroids (aster is the Greek word for star).

And as we learn more about own Solar System and observe planets in other solar systems, we will eventually find a classification scheme that works. We should be excited that we have new boxes to use as we sort through the objects in our Solar System!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

New IPad and apps

Hmmm, interesting... I got an IPad from Santa... Having fun playing with it. Hunting through apps. But, help me out here... Why does one need an app to do some stuff like adding to your blog or updating your status? Wouldn't it be easier to just go to the webpage?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


So I have a FB friend page for the DI Flyby primarily so that I can use that account to setup a fan page for the EPOXI mission (rather than using my login which is already being used for fan pages for the UM Observatory and MAC)... And now I've setup twitter links between the accounts. And it's a mess!

So, I think that when I update the EPOXI fan page, it updates the spacecraft twitter (cometexplorer) which is setup to update the DI Flyby friend page...
Doesn't go the other way though. I don't think. I've got a few months to experiment, but I gotta get all that straight before the encounter in November.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Another Thanksgiving... more pics

So, just got back from Colorado... Thanksgiving Trip 21-28 Nov 2009... Mom, Dad and Uncle P (visiting them from Hungary) joined us... Filled up my CF card so I had to load in my second card... but I forgot that I had done that, so when I started downloading today, all I saw were the pics that I had taken onto the CF2... momentary bit of panic before I remembered CF1... which is downloading now.... Grand total of 654 pics from the Colorado trip... And I see that I owe you some pics from last year!

Another year!

Well, that about says it!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Venus, Jupiter and the Moon

We had a very nice Thanksgiving weekend... nice in the sense that we got to relax, spend time with family, etc, but not great since it was cloudy every night so I couldn't get shots of Venus approaching Jupiter. And yesterday started out just as bad... completely clouded over in the morning, looked like it might clear up as I was heading to work, then totally overcast when we went to lunch. At that point, I had given up so I hadn't bothered to really head out of the office at sunset to check... Well, about 5 minutes before I had to head off to teach class at the Observatory, I started getting phone calls about what the bright “stars” are beside the Moon (I run the campus observatory)… After dutifully answering that the “stars” were actually the planets Venus and Jupiter, I hopped up and ran to the car to get my tripod and set the camera up and took a couple of shots. Headed off to class and took some more with the students in the foreground. Will get the pics downloaded and posted this morning…

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Recent activity...

Last Sunday (31 Aug) was another one of those awesome observing nights... and since there was no work the next day... and Jerry was out of town... and it was new moon... Well, I concentrated on taking some flats and then lots of short exposures of M57... but I haven't gotten around to processing them... I'll try to do that this week along with posting some pics from a hike a few weeks ago. And I still need to process a bunch of pics that I took while visiting MAC friends down in SC...
And my 20yr high school reunion is coming up...